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The vision of the Irish Georgian Society is to conserve, protect and foster a keen interest and a respect for Ireland’s architectural heritage and decorative arts. These aims are achieved through its scholarly and conservation education programmes, through its support of conservation projects and planning issues, and vitally, through its members and their activities.

The Irish Country House and the Art of John Nankivell​: Kinturk, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

11.06.2020

Posted by IGS

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Kinturk, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

Drab in its garb of modern pebbledash and out-scaled by bulky, non-descript institutional buildings in car parks, the long plain garden front of Kinturk stands poised on its grassy terraces, looking somewhat inured to its setting. It represents a large nineteenth-century addition to the Georgian house of the Pollard family, whose long association earned them the right to name the adjoining village. The Pollards trace their descent in Ireland to Captain Nicholas Pollard who, participating in the Earl of Essex’s campaign during the Nine Years War, was rewarded with lands in Westmeath. His son built a castle at Rathyoung, in evidence by 1659 when it is shown in the townland of ‘Kilturk & Rathyong’. After early marriage alliances with important local dynasties, the family were quickly assimilated and before the end of the century, their property erected into a manor and renamed Castlepollard, Walter Pollard set the family roots even deeper when he rebuilt the mediaeval parish church in 1679, placing the family vault in the south transept.

By the eighteenth century a new house had been built at Kinturk, immediately south of the village with a large demesne spreading away to the south east. The entrance front, facing north west, represents the Georgian building inherited by William Dutton Pollard on the death of his elder half-brother Dillon in 1803. Most likely built by their father William around the time of his marriage in 1763, it is a tall, rather conventional, three-storey block of five-bays, with a simple tripartite plan, just one room deep and retaining some attractive rococo plasterwork. In 1821 William Dutton Pollard engaged the London architect Charles Robert Cockerell to remodel and extend the house, Cockerell having been brought to Ireland by James Lenox Naper to design a new house at Loughcrew. Cockerell, whose pursuit and methodical study of the antiquities in Greece and Asia Minor between 1810 and 1817 helped to expand knowledge of Greek architecture and brought a new rigour to neo-classicism, added an assured tetrastyle Ionic portico to the entrance front, neatly integrated with the existing rhythm of the window openings. His choice of Greek Ionic capitals on unfluted columns, also used on a larger scale at this time at Loughcrew and at the Hanover Chapel in London, is interesting given that after reviewing Naper’s completing house, and unhappily considering it ‘sadly plain’, vowed to ‘never again use the Athenian order except in small scale’. Cockerell also extended the façade with short, single-storey wings, set back slightly on either side and decorated with a niche. These helped to integrate the seven-bay, wide-eaved block built across the rear to form the new garden front with its advancing big-windowed central frontispiece. Inside, this provided a suite of three grand rooms with restrained neo-classical decoration, accessed by an impressive toplit stair hall at the heart of the plan, which with a spinal corridor rather seamlessly united the two phases of building.

Three of William Dutton Pollards grandsons – Walter, Francis and Montague - inherited Castlepollard in succession between 1892 and 1915. Montague succeeded just a week after the death of his eldest son, William, killed in action in India but outlived him by just a few months, dying in August that year. Castlepollard then passed to his second son Arthur, who sold the house in 1934 to the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who operated a mother-and-child home here until 1971 when the property was acquired by the Midlands Health Board.

The above text, written by Kevin V. Mulligan, is from the catalogue that accompanied the 2018 exhibition 'Vain Transitory Splendours': The Irish Country House and the Art of John Nankivell, and it can be purchased online from the IGS bookshop.

You can purchase some of John Nankivell's drawings from the IGS bookshop.

Kevin V. Mulligan is an independent architectural historian.

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Exhibiting Art in Georgian Ireland: The Society of Artists's Exhibitions Recreated: Alexander Pope

08.06.2020

Posted by IGS

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Portrait of John Bowes, Lord Chancellor, Alexander Pope (1763-1835). Pastel on paper, RDS Collection, Dublin.

Alexander Pope was born in Cork in 1763, the son of artist Thomas Pope, and he trained under Hugh Douglas Hamilton as well as at the Dublin Schools. In 1777 and 1780, he exhibited drawings and small portraits in crayon at the Society of Artists Exhibition. He visited Cork and practiced there as a miniaturist for a few years before moving to London. He showed regularly at the Royal Academy up until 1821 with many of his portraits being engraved. Over the course of his career, he moved away from small pastel portraits inspired by Hugh Douglas Hamilton to focus on neo-classical full length portraits. He was married three times and died at home in Bedford Square in 1835.

Over the coming weeks, leading up to the second anniversary of our exhibition 'Exhibiting Art in Georgian Ireland: The Society of Artists's Exhibitions Recreated', which opened at the City Assembly House in June 2018, we will be sharing some of the works of the artists whose works were reassembled in that exhibition.

The above text and research was compiled by Aoife Convery in 2018.

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Cruinniú na nÓg 2020: Free Online Workshops for Children - 13 June

04.06.2020

Posted by IGS

The Irish Georgian Society and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are hosting a series of free online Cruinniu na nOg children's conservation and traditional craft workshops on Saturday 13 June.

Cruinniú na nÓg is a national day of free creativity for children and young people under 18.

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How Stained Glass is Made, 10.00am
A free children's conservation and craft workshop by Liam McCorkell of Glasshaus Studio, Navan, Co. Meath.

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Gilding and Historic Paint Effects, 11.30am
A free children's conservation and craft workshop for Cruinniú na nÓg 2020 with Ruth Bothwell of Decowell Studio, County Antrim.

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Georgian Architecture: its origins and inspiration, 1.00pm
A free children's illustrated talk by Arran Henderson of Dublin Decoded

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Cracking Stone with Fire, Water, Plugs and Feathers, 2.30pm
A free children's traditional building skills workshop by Philip Quinn of Stonemad, Holycross, County Tipperary

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Wood conservation workshop, 4.00pm
Dissolved insect poop and laser guns, the restoration of 200 year old doors in Carton House with Sven Habermann, Letterfrack Conservation, Co. Galway

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Please note: to participate in these free conservation workshops, it is necessary to download Zoom https://zoom.us/download (free to download) onto your computer/tablet or smart phone in advance of the workshop.

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'Capard: An Irish Country House & Estate' wins Nilsson Local Heritage Writing Award 2020

02.06.2020

Posted by IGS

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Capard: An Irish Country House & Estate written by historian Ciarán Reilly and published by the Irish Georgian Society has won the prestigious Nilsson Prize for Local Heritage at Listowel Writers Week.

This award is for the best work of heritage or history published in Ireland within the last year. The 2020 Festival Awards were announced online, as the Festival was unable to go ahead as a result of the nationwide lockdown.

This book charts the history of Capard House and estate from the arrival of the Pigott family in Ireland in the 1560s to its present-day restoration. Lavishly illustrated throughout, the story of Capard challenges many of the stereotypical interpretations of the Irish country house.

The book is available to purchase online from the IGS bookshop, priced at €40.00 (hardback).

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Who are the Young Irish Georgians?

27.05.2020

Posted by IGS

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YIG festive historic pubs of Dublin crawl, November 2018

The Young Irish Georgians (YIGs for short) were was originally established in the early 2000s, out of a desire to organise events for Irish Georgian Society (IGS) members aged 18 to 40. After a hiatus, the YIGs were revived in 2016, by Zoë Coleman, Programmes and Communications Coordinator and Roisin Lambe, Membership and Events Coordinator. Roisin and I felt that the YIG events were an important part of the Society’s outreach, and a way to engage younger members of the Society who are early career professionals, students or recent graduates, with an interest in attending events with their peers.

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A fashion history tour of the Liberties, September 2016

The bi-annual ‘Conservation without Frontiers’ Summer School— run by the IGS in partnership with Ulster Architectural Heritage (UAH) since 2015—had demonstrated to us that amongst our younger members there is an appetite for organising events and site visits that demonstrated conservation in action, so the events we organised follow in this vein. In September 2017 we visited the recently restored Read’s Cutlers for an exclusive ‘behind the shutters’ tour of the building, which had been modified in 1764 as part of the Wide Street Commissioners.

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YIGs at Newbridge House, Co. Dublin, February 2018

Our first event of 2018 took us to Newbridge House, Co. Dublin (c. 1747) on a crisp Saturday in February, where we were welcomed by Cathal Dowd Smith, Cobbe Family archivist and YIG member, who led us on a comprehensive tour of the house and stables, introducing us to the eclectic Cobbe collection held there, and the Family’s collection of Old Master paintings and Irish furniture.

In September our first YIG event of the autumn took us to Castletown House to visit the Castletown archive, on a tour led by Nicola Kelly, archivist at the OPW-Maynooth University Archive & Research Centre. Longstanding IGS member June Stuart generously welcomed us into her home at Kildrought House, Celbridge, for tea, before our tour of the Tea Lane Graveyard, a conservation project supported by the Irish Georgian Society in 2017.

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YIG in No. 11 North Great George's St in March 2019

In February 2019, the YIGs enjoyed an architectural tour of North Great George's Street, with an introduction by architect Merlo Kelly, visiting No. 11, No. 26 and No. 38. For our summer event we ventured out of Dublin on a day trip to Limerick and Newtown Pery, learning about the development of the city throughout the 18th century, with a particular focus on the Newtown Pery area. IGS Limerick member Rose Anne White kindly led our group on a tour of No. 2 Pery Square.

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YIGs at the rear of No. 2 Pery Square, now The People's Museum of Limerick, August 2019

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YIGs outside 81 North King Street, December 2019

Our closing event of 2019 was a seasonal social in Smithfield, beginning with a visit to 81 North King Street, the home and practice of James Kelly, and taking a look at some built heritage on North King Street to place the house in context. Afterward we relaxed over some prints in Walsh's of Stoneybatter.

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After hours tour of Dublin Fragments exhibition in the City Assembly House, February 2020

For our first event of 2020, we organised an evening tour of Georgian Leinster House, where we had the opportunity to see the recently restored rooms, with their beautiful plasterwork by Stapletown and the Le Franci brothers. Before the onset of the pandemic in 2020 we enjoyed an after hours tour of Dublin Fragments with curator Peter Pearson.

In tandem with the Irish YIG events programme, IGS London run a number of events for their YIG members throughout the year.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Young Irish Georgians, you can sign up to our mailing list, or if you would like to propose an event, please contact Zoë Coleman (zoe.coleman@igs.ie).

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The Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle: A Bicentennial Celebration (2015)

27.05.2020

Posted by IGS

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"The Castle Chapel, when completed, will unquestionably present one of the finest examples of the Gothic style of Architecture extant in Europe."

Such was the expectation of one enthusiastic newspaper correspondent as he watched the Chapel Royal take shape within the walls of Dublin Castle in 1810. The Chapel Royal was designed by the prolific Irish architect Francis Johnston in 1807. It was not the first chapel building at the castle but, architecturally, it was undoubtedly the foremost. It was built as a lavish replacement for the comparatively lacklustre chapel that occupied the same site next to the Record Tower in the Lower Yard. A captivating confection of Gothic fan vaulting, virtuoso plaster ornament and heraldic stained glass, the Chapel Royal crystalized the pretensions and confidence of the British administration in Ireland in the wake of the Act of Union of 1801.

From its opening on Christmas Day 1814, the new chapel served as a central focus of the spiritual and social life of successive lords lieutenant, or viceroys, who continued to represent the interests of British monarchs in Ireland until 1922. Its primary function was as a setting for regular Anglican worship each Sunday, with dedicated pews reserved for the lord lieutenant and his household. On more prestigious occasions, it played witness to all the protocol and pageantry of royal visits, such as that of King George IV, who attended divine service in September 1821. Far from being solely a place of religious ceremony, it gradually developed as an extension of the social life of the State Apartments: an arena in which piety and pomp went hand in hand.

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One hundred years later, political expediency had necessitated the appointment of a Roman Catholic viceroy, as a token of Britain’s conciliatory attitude to the ever-louder cries for Irish independence. The selection of Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent as viceroy swiftly prompted criticism of the ‘anomalous position’ of the Chapel Royal, as an Anglican chapel that could not be attended by the new Catholic viceroy but that still remained ‘a charge on the taxpayers.’ But it mattered little. The first Catholic viceroy for centuries soon became the last ever viceroy of Ireland. Following the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922 the Chapel Royal’s future looked uncertain. In 1943, it was re-dedicated as a Roman Catholic church for use by the Irish Defence Forces. Its eventual closure for major renovations in 1983 signalled a renewed period of dormancy from which it has once again begun to emerge.

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Two centuries after its completion, a new project has sought, for the first time, to comprehensively examine and document the history of this landmark Gothic Revival building. This project was conceived by the General Manager of Dublin Castle, Mary Heffernan, in conjunction with architectural historians Dr Myles Campbell and William Derham and has led to two tangible outcomes. An exhibition of artefacts relating to the chapel, many of which have remained in obscurity for several decades, will be on display in the State Apartments at Dublin Castle. Pinnacles, Pomp & Piety: 200 Years of the Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle runs from 24 September 2015 to 6 March 2016. In addition, a lavishly illustrated book of essays, The Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle: An Architectural History, edited by Campbell and Derham, has been produced by the Office of Public Works.

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Drawing on an abundance of new archival material, the bicentennial project has attempted to foster a meaningful understanding and interpretation of the position of the Chapel Royal in the artistic, social, political, economic and spiritual life of Ireland. It considers a range of themes from the music of the viceregal court to the significance of the building as the first Gothic Revival church in Dublin. Central to this is the notion of the chapel and its architectural development as a barometer of the changing position of religion in Irish life. There have been some illuminating finds. New light has been shed on topics such as the involvement of forgotten local and international craftsmen; the vitriolic criticisms of Roman Catholic influences on changes made to the chapel by Lord Carlisle, during his tenure as viceroy in the 1850s; and a surprising intervention made by former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, in 1990.

Chief among the objects on display in the exhibition will be a magnificent chalice and alms dish that form part of the original collection of Chapel Royal plate; a gift from William III in 1698. This will be the first time the plate has returned to Dublin Castle in almost a century. It comes as a result of the generosity of Christ Church Cathedral, in whose care the collection now rests. Additional items will include the original Dublin-made Arts and Crafts altar chairs; historic drawings; and a collection of embossed Chapel Royal prayer and music books.

All of these efforts coincide with a vibrant new chapter in the Chapel Royal’s history. The recent completion of conservation works by the Office of Public Works has inspired a new interest in the building and has made it suitable once again for public assembly. It now features on the Dublin Castle guided tour. In addition to its enhanced role as an integral part of the Dublin Castle visitor experience, it will also be made available for events in the future. Throughout the year, a series of public concerts is offering a flavour of the music that would once have been heard within its walls. Several of these are being recorded and broadcast by RTÉ Lyric FM. This series of concerts will culminate in a Christmas celebration to bring the chapel’s two-hundredth year of use to a fitting close. And as a new year opens, it is anticipated that the chapel will once more be at the heart of life in Dublin Castle, and that the expectations of the optimistic newspaper correspondent of 1810, will now be more fully appreciated.

Dr Myles Campbell is a curator based in the Office of Public Works at Dublin Castle

This article is taken from the 2015 edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review, our annual members' magazine.

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