Celerating its centenary in 2008, the Municipal Gallery is named after Hugh Lane, nephew of Yeats's friend Lady Gregory and noted art patron who determined to leave his fine collection of French and Irish Impressionist art to the city (provided a suitable gallery was built to house it). Despite a number of vituperative poems from Yeats, Dublin Corporation did not come up with a gallery, forcing Lane to bequeath his pictures to London.
At the eleventh hour he stipulated that Dublin could have them if they provided a gallery, but this codicil to his will was unwitnessed when he went down with the other passengers on the Lusitania, torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915. London stuck to the letter of the law for decades, but the matter was recently settled in Irish favour (though a number of the paintings still rotate between Dublin and London).
After extensive renovations, the gallery reopened in May 2006 and now uses the full three floors. Lane's collection of Manets, Coubets and Renoirs is on the ground floor (but don't miss Irish artists Walter Osbourne and Roderic O'Conor), as are Harry Clarke's marvellous stained-glass windows, and Francis Bacon's London studio, which, in a Herculean feat of excavation, was moved piece by piece from 7 Reese Mews and reconstructed here behind glass. Visitors gape at its half-completed canvases, dirty paintbrushes, bottles of booze, books, dust, magazines and sublime filth. Bacon was born in Dublin and brought up in Wicklow.
He left at the age of 16 and, ever after, even the thought of Ireland induced a panic attack, but perhaps he retained some affection for it since his heir, John Edwards, bequeathed the studio to the Hugh Lane, where it has become a major attraction. The gallery has also upped its collection of paintings by Bacon. New since the renovation is a Sean Scully Room - the only space in Ireland dedicated to this major Irish-American contemporary artist. Also a big draw for the gallery is its highly succssful 'Sundays at Noon' programme of free musical concerts (there are around 30 a year, ranging from jazz and world groups to classical recitals - check the website for upcoming dates).