Irish Georgian Society

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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.

IGS submission to Limerick City & County Council Re: Development proposals at Bishop’s Quay Limerick


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Architects' impressions of how the Bishop's Quay development will look - left and below (Image: Healy Partners Architects)

Re: Development proposals by Kirkland Investments Limited at Bishop's Quay, Lower Cecil Street, & Henry Street, Limerick
Planning Application: 16800 (Limerick City and County Council)

The Irish Georgian Society wishes to object to this planning application given the extensive internal alterations being proposed to no. 104 Henry Street (the Bishop’s Palace) and because of the significant detrimental impact the proposed 15-storey tower would have on the setting of the Bishop’s Palace and of the adjoining 105 Henry Street, a protected structure.



The Bishop’s Palace was constructed c. 1775 for Edmund Sexton Pery, 1st Viscount Pery, along with no. 105 Henry Street and was purchased by the Bishop of Limerick in 1784. It is included in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH, reg. no. 21517022) in which it is designated as being of ‘Regional’ importance for its architectural, artistic, and historical interest. In spite of its evident significance, the building is not included in the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) in the Limerick City Development Plan 2010-16. The adjoining house, no. 105 Henry Street, is included in both the NIAH (reg. no. 21517021) and in the Record of Protected Structures (ref. 051), both of which identify it as being of special architectural and artistic interest. 

The NIAH notes that the two houses are amongst “the grandest and most formally realised townhouse pair built according to a Palladian concept of the flanking range of outbuildings”.  This position is also reflected in Judith Hill’s report, 104 Henry Street, Limerick, Historical Assessment, which accompanies the planning application. In this she observes that “the design of the Bishop’s Palace and the adjacent house are remarkable for their scale and conception in the context not only of Limerick but of Irish Georgian urban architecture”.

The Irish Georgian Society has a particular concern about the impact of the proposed 15 storey tower on the character and setting of these two important Georgian buildings.

The Architectural Impact Assessment prepared by ARC Architectural Consultants and submitted with the application makes the following observation on the visual impact of the 15 storey tower:

View 7: from the junction of Henry Street and Glentworth Street
In the view the southern glass wall of the proposed 15 storey commercial building is seen above and behind nos. 104 and 105, a striking change to their setting. The potential visual impact of the proposed development, viewed from this location, is predicted to be ‘significant’. The potential of negative responses from viewers looking from this location is likely to be greater than from locations along the River.

The Irish Georgian Society concurs with this position and is of the view that the structure would have a significant detrimental impact on the character and setting of the two eighteenth century buildings. On this basis, we would contend that this element of the proposal would not fulfill the following provisions of the Development Plan (Special Standards Applying to Medium & High Rise Buildings) which are taken into account in considering high buildings:

  • The need to suitably incorporate the building into the urban grain;
  • The proposal should be very carefully related to, and not have any serious disadvantages to, its immediate surroundings, both existing and proposed, and especially to any other high buildings and prominent features in the vicinity and to existing open space (author’s emphasis).

The Irish Georgian Society also notes the provisions of Chapter 11 (Views Prospect) of the Plan which states that “local views of significance are also very important to the character and legibility of areas within Limerick. Local views will be identified on a case-by-case basis through the planning process. There will be a presumption against proposals that would cause unacceptable harm to local views of significance and their settings”. Furthermore, Policy LBR. 5 of the Plan states that “it is the policy of Limerick City Council to protect the intrinsic character and scale of the City and the City Skyline”.

On the grounds that the 15 storey tower would have a negative effect on the architectural integrity of nos. 104 and 105 Henry Street and that this would be contrary to the provisions of the Limerick City Development Plan, the Irish Georgian Society urges that permission be refused for this part of the development.


Change of use of no. 104 Henry Street (the Bishop’s Palace)

In describing nos. 104 and 105 Henry Street, Judith Hill notes that that the “houses were built on a larger scale than contemporary terraces in Limerick, [and that they had] larger rooms and consequently larger windows”. In the Bishop’s Palace she describes a “vast room” on the ground floor “that stretched from the front to rear with two windows on each façade” and notes that “the grandeur derived from handsome proportions and high levels of lighting was matched by the detailing”.

Hill notes that though many of the rooms in the Bishop’s Palace were later to be subdivided, the interventions “are reversible and much original material remains: the stair from ground to second floor; the stair from second floor to attic; the stair to the basement; most of the cornicing; the shutters, architraves and timberwork around the windows; doors and their architraves and linings; ceiling plasterwork in the entrance hall”. She asserts that “a full inventory is needed to quantify exactly what remains”. In concluding, Hill states that “the Bishop’s Palace stands out significantly in the context of Newtown Pery, both on Henry Street and from the river. It also stands out as a significant domestic building in the national context. It should be a protected structure”.

In their Architectural Impact Assessment, ARC describe how the proposals could result in “the loss of character and significant negative impacts on the heritage of the house”. Of particular concern to the Irish Georgian Society is that the report cautions how “the division of main rooms has the potential to result in the loss of lengths [of] cornices or in cornices being hidden behind false ceilings”.  It also notes that the proposed lift would result “in the potential loss of cornices, and the loss and/or moving of doorcases at each level”. Furthermore, they note that the potential “loss of many historic doors and doorcases” on the basis of proposals from the fire safety consultant and make strong recommendations against such a course of action. Other interventions are also flagged including “the proposed removal of the inner wall and doorway of the present front hall”.

The Irish Georgian Society regrets that the applicants have not sought to determine new uses for the Bishop’s palace that would allow the reinstatement of original floors plans and the removal of later partitions. Furthermore, the Society objects to the level of interventions proposed as part of the works programme given that they would involve a considerable loss of historic fabric. For this reason, we urge Limerick City Council to refuse permission for this element of the planning application.



The Irish Georgian Society appreciates that the development proposals would provide a means for the restoration and re-use of the Bishop’s Palace. However, we are strongly of the view that the significant interventions proposed to the building itself and the substantial negative impact of the proposed 15-storey tower on the setting of two important eighteenth century buildings do not justify the intensity and invasive nature of the development proposal. On these grounds we would urge that permission be refused.

Donough Cahill
Executive Director, IGS

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The Irish Georgian Society Gala Dinners 2016


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The Irish Georgian Society Requests the Pleasure of Your Company at The Irish Georgian Society Gala Dinners

Guest Speakers: Sir David Davies, President of the Society and Mr. William Laffan, Author and Curator

Topic: Exploring the Architectural History and Landscape of Abbey Leix, An Illustrated Lecture

Dress: Suits, Ties and Glamorous

New York
Tuesday 11th October 2016 at 7.00pm
The University Club of New York, One West 54th Street

Thursday 13th October 2016 at 6.00pm
The Casino, 195 E. Delaware Place, Chicago

Saturday 15th October 2016 at 6.00pm
The Somerset Club, 42 Beacon Street, Boston

For more information contact Michael Kerrigan, Executive Director, IGS Inc. Email or phone +1 312 961 3860 

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Private Tour of Two of Yale’s Art Museums


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The American Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society visited the Yale Center for British Art on Saturday, Sept. 24th. The Yale Center for British Art was founded by Paul Mellon ( 1907 -1999), an unparalleled collector of British art. The collection is the most comprehensive representation of British art held outside the United Kingdom.  The tour was led by Mr.Christopher Monkhouse, the Curator of European Decorative Arts at The Art Institute of Chicago. Christopher organized the great Irish exhibition at the Art Institute in 2015, where the Yale Center of British Art was among the largest lenders.

Amy Meyers (Director of the Yale Center for British Art) addressing the group

Scott Wilcox, Deputy Director of Collections, with US Board Member Susan Burke conferring with Director Amy Meyers.


Board member Susan Burke viewing the wonders of A Macaw, Ducks, Parrots and Other Birds in a Landscape (1708-10) by Jacob Bogdani, 1660–1724, 

We were met by Amy Meyers, the Director of the Yale Center for British Art, who welcomed our group and gave us an overview of how the collection was formed and an overview of the recently completed year long renovation of the 1977 Louis Kahn designed building that houses the Center at Yale.  Scott Wilcox, Deputy Director of Collections, then led us on a walking tour of the collection, joined by Beth Miller, Deputy Director for Advancement and External Affairs who was instrumental in organizing the event.

Following the tour, our merry group had an enjoyable lunch nearby and then visited the Yale Art Gallery, where we were met by Patrica E. Kane, Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts​, who organized the exhbit​: 'Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650–1830', which has recently opened.

Board members Beth Dater, Patrick Killian and Chantal O'Sullivan in the Long Gallery

Exploring the Founder's Room at The Yale Center for British Art

Our leader, Christopher Monkhouse, observing the goings-on in The Founder's Room, YCBA, with Good friend Claire Edwards

This private tour was also a great success and very much enjoyed by our band of Irish Georgians.

The private tours ended with a small reception before our guests went on their way.​

Words: Michael Kerrigan, Executive Director (USA)

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Young Irish Georgians - Architectural and Lost Fashion History in the Liberties


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The Liberties was the thriving textile district of Dublin from the late 1600s onwards and over the years there has been every kind of textile production in this quarter from silk and linen weavers, leather tanners, cloth dyers and poplin manufacturers. This tour took a stroll through the fascinating fashion and textile history with a look at where and how textiles were produced and taking in buildings of architectural and cultural significance from Tailors' Hall on Back Lane, the Iveagh Markets on Francis Street to the heart of the silk weaving area of Weavers Street and Newmarket Square.

Our tour was led by fashion historian Ruth Griffin. Beginning at the arch of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) Ruth took us on a journey through the centuries, detailing the history of the Guilds that thrived in the Liberties district from the 17th century onwards.

The Liberties was a district that fell just outside Dublin’s medieval city walls, in the 17th and 18th centuries French Huguenots (fleeing religious persecution in France) arrived in Dublin, settling mainly in the Liberties, where they became part of the existing weaving guilds. They were experienced silk weavers and their expertise contributed to the establishment of a thriving silk and poplin industry. Poplin (a fabric composed of wool and silk) was admired for its rich texture and lustre, and was widely used in Irish and English dress.

The group had the opportunity to see inside Tailors Hall, the city’s oldest surviving guild hall - saved from demolition in the 1980s by the Irish Georgian Society. Tailor’s Hall had a variety of different uses, including a meeting place for the Tailors' Guild and other Guilds, it was used for entertainment, teaching, as an army barracks and a court house. The back lane behind Tailor’s Hall housed shoe and leather factories, some even operating up until the 1990s.

From Fumbally Lane, the group studied the last intact Georgian house (‘Atkinson House’) on New Street (one of Dublin’s oldest streets despite its name!). This Georgian house was once owned by Richard Atkinson, the Silk Merchant, industrialist, philanthropist and two time Lord Mayor of Dublin. Atkinsons pioneered the manufacture and trade of Irish poplin - transforming it from a cottage industry into a factory one and establishing a market for it abroad. Atkinson’s was the leading manufacturer of Irish poplin in the Victorian period, and Queen Victoria’s trousseau contained Atkinson’s Irish poplin, woven in the Liberties, in 1837 she had granted Atkinson’s a Royal Warrant.

In the 17th century, European tradesmen settling in the area brought their own distinctive architectural styles to the city, such as gable-fronted houses or ’Dutch Billys’ as they were known. One such house was the Dowager House on 10 Mill Lane, near Newmarket Square - the townhouse of the Brabazon family. The Brabazons, who later became Earls of Meath, were the dominant landowners in the Liberties for over 300 years, and many of the street names reflect this: Meath Street, Brabazon Street and Ardee Street. Newmarket Square was laid out by the second Earl of Meath in the 1620s.

In 2009, Dublin City Council noted that the house “appears to be the last extant double gabled Dutch Billy” in the city. The house is currently undergoing conservation, and change is rapidly happening in the area, as new student flats are being constructed close by in Blackpitts.

The tour concluded at Weavers Square, where Weavers Hall once stood and those who remained headed to beloved Liberties haunt Fallons pub for a pint of Guinness and King crisps!

Young Irish Georgians events are organised for all members of the Society under 40 years of age. Join our mailing list if you would like be notified of upcoming events:

Thank you to our guide Ruth Griffin, and to Ian Lumley for faciliating a visit inside Tailor's Hall.

View more photos from the tour on our facebook page.

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Desmond Guinness Scholarship 2016 open for applications


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Desmond Guinness Scholarship 2016

The Desmond Guinness Scholarship is awarded annually by the Irish Georgian Society to an applicant or applicants engaged in research on the visual arts of Ireland including the work of Irish architects, artists and craftsmen at home and abroad, 1600-1900.  Preference will be given to work based on original documentary research. The Scholarship is intended primarily for applicants who are not yet established at an advanced professional level in research or publication of the visual arts. From 2015, the Scholarship has been supported by members of the Society's London Chapter.

The Scholarship does not have to be awarded in any one year, and the decision of the assessors, appointed by the Irish Georgian Society, is final.

The total value of the scholarship fund available for distribution is in the region of €1,000.

Application forms must be submitted (by post) by 2pm, Wednesday 26th October 2016

Download an application form and guidelines here

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Benefactors’ and Patrons’ Lunch at No. 12 Henrietta St


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On Saturday 10th September we were delighted to host a lunch for the Society's Benefactor and Patron members at No. 12 Henrietta Street, the home of Ian Lumley. Before the lunch guests were led on a private tour of the King's Inns Library and Dining Hall, led by Dr. Edward McParland, an expert on the work of James Gandon (1743–1823) and co-author of James Gandon: vitruvius hibernicus (1985). Dr. McParland described the architecture of these buildings in the wider context of the development of Henrietta Street, Dublin's earliest Georgian street, which was extensively developed by Luke Gardiner during the 1720s. The changing fortunes and character of Henrietta Street was particularly noted with the ongoing conservation work currently being undertaken by Dublin City Council at No. 14 Henrietta Street, to establish it as a tenement museum, showing its development from a mansion for Dublin's wealthiest citizens in the Georgian period to a tenement housing more than 100 of Dublin’s poorest citizens.

Eddie McParland leading a tour of the King's Inns - taking in the Library and Dining Hall, designed by James Gandon 

Eddie McParland detailing the architectural design of Gandon's Dining Hall at King's Inns to the group

King's Inns Dining Hall, designed by James Gandon c.1800

No. 12 Henrietta St - the eclectic setting for our Benefactors' and Patrons' Lunch

Mary Bryan (IGS Board member), Roisin Lambe (Membership and Events Administrator), Sindy Broe and Kay Mitchell

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