OPW- Office of Public Works


The OPW grew during the Great Famine of 1845 – 1852, when it was given the task of running relief works by means of Treasury loans. From the late 1850s, it was given responsibility for looking after police barracks, coastguard stations, national schools, post offices, customs buildings, the royal universities and lunatic asylums.

The OPW carried out vast arterial drainage schemes on the Irish river system in the 1850s and 1860s, which altered the landscape significantly. It also undertook many substantial public commissions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the National Museum and the National Library. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was responsible for important commissions in Dublin such as the developing Dublin Castle, restoring the Royal Hospital and redeveloping Government Buildings in Merrion Street.

The OPW was given the authority for preserving Ireland’s National Monuments under legislation enacted in 1882 and 1892.


Today, the OPW’s responsibilities relate to three main areas:

  • Estate Portfolio Management
  • Heritage Services
  • Flood Risk Management

The OPW provides accommodation for government services and manages much of the State’s property portfolio. It is now taking the lead on the Property Asset Management aspect of the Public Service Reform Plan.

It also has responsibility for caring for 780 heritage sites, including national monuments, historic parks, gardens and buildings.

It is the government’s principal engineering agency, providing an engineering service to the Flood Risk Management and Estate Portfolio Management functions of the OPW as well as to other government departments.