Irish Georgian Society

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Conservation Birr Theatre

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Historical background

Birr Theatre, also known as Oxmantown Hall, was erected in 1888 to the design of James Fuller. It is an extremely ornate building and was used as a theatre until 1965 at which point it became the town hall. Previous to 2001 the entire building was restored and refurbished for its present purposes. However, the building was still in need of modern services, such as wheelchair access at the emergency exit as well as repairs to other areas of the site. The Irish Georgian Society awarded a grant of €2,540 to the works.

Brief description of project

In addition to the need for general roof repairs, extensive stone repairs were required at the main entrance. The deteriorated cast-iron fence and wheelchair exit were also addressed with attention to sympathetic interventions and fabric retention.

Architectural description

The structure is a gable-fronted, random coursed stone building of two-storeys across three bays. It was originally built in the Tudor Revival style as a parish hall for Saint Brendan’s Church of Ireland. The façade breaks forward and contains roughcast rendered panels. There are also seven bays along the side which lead to a rear extension. The pitched roof is of slate and has overhanging eaves with a pulvinated frieze to the front and carved timber bargeboards. The breakfront is supported by timber heraldic brackets with shields on tooled stone pedestals. A mixture of square-headed window openings with stone mullions and timber casement windows with stone and red brick surrounds abound. The main timber doorway contains an intricate tooled stone cornice and foliate spandrels. Cast-iron fencing set into tooled stone plinth walls front and complete the site.