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.

Collection of Irish Georgian Society miniatures on display at Castletown


Posted by IGS

A longstanding member has donated a collection of Irish miniatures to the IGS which has recently gone on public display in the Print Room at Castletown. The carefully selected group focuses on the Boyle family, Earls of Shannon and on members of the FitzGerald family of Carton. Paul Caffrey who has written a book on the subject notes: ‘few historic family collections of miniatures have survived in Ireland making this a truly remarkable collection of national importance’.

The IGS has had a long relationship with Castletown and the OPW and Castletown Foundation who run it, and, over many years has lent important paintings and furniture to the house. Many of these were catalogued in the fine volume Castletown, Decorative Arts (OPW, 2011).

Images of the minatures collection will be featured in the 2016 edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review, which will be published and delivered to all members in October 2016.

Visit Castletown's website for vistior information and opening hours.

Images courtesy of Linda Kearns.

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Heritage Week 2016 at Beaulieu House and Gardens


Posted by IGS

Built c. 1700, Beaulieu is one of Ireland’s earliest surviving country houses and is still lived in today by descendants of its original owners. The house is situated on the banks of the River Boyne and lying close by is a walled garden dating from c. 1720 which remains largely original to its early design. At the entrance to the walled garden is a three-sided pavilion dating from the 1760s with a pedimented portico overlooking lawns to one side, on its southern facing side, tripartite window openings allow light to flood in. 

The Irish Georgian Society has secured funding in the US, UK and Ireland to go toward the restoration of the pavilion, which stands today in a precarious state. The Heritage Council has also provided a grant toward the preparation of a conservation report for the restoration of the Garden Pavilion. 

For Heritage Week 2016 Beaulieu hosted a walking tour of the gardens on Thursday 25th August. The tour was led by architect Richard Mc Loughlin (of Lotts Architecture), who gave the group a history of the house, gardens and Garden Pavilion. Richard has prepared a conservation report on the Garden Pavilion, and will be advising the owners of Beaulieu on how to sensitively restore and conserve the pavilion for future generations of visitors to Beaulieu.



Photos: Cara Konig

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Thomas Jervais window project in The Irish Times, 22 August 2016


Posted by IGS

We were thrilled to see Nick Bradshaw's evocative photograph of the Thomas Jervais window being reinstalled in Agher last week, featured In Monday's The Irish Times!

(Click to enlarge)

You can find out more about the Thomas Jervais conservation project here.

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The history of Agher Church and House


Posted by IGS

Agher church stands just outside the garden of Agher House and so formed part of the estate. Jonathan Swift was rector at Agher from 1699 until his death in 1745.  In 1804, a new church was erected to seat one hundred. The cost was mainly borne by the local land-owner, Samuel Winter, who made a gift of £450 and later, to make up the short-fall, a loan of £168. The church is renowned for its east window. Made in Dublin by Thomas Jervais, it is the second earliest known piece of Irish-made stained glass. The unusual subject is St Paul preaching to the Athenians on top of Mars Hill outside the Court of Areopagus. The design was inspired by a cartoon of Raphael and was created by painting on glass rather than using stained glass. The window was originally erected in the private chapel of Dangan Castle, the seat of the Wellesley family, which burnt down in the 1809. The window was presented to Agher by the O’Connor family, who were then occupying Dangan. Soon after the new Agher church was constructed Samuel Winter erected a family burial vault in the churchyard. Agher church was re-built in 1902.

Agher House stood south of Summerhill village until 1945 when its ruins were removed. The yard with its rows of old style out offices has survived. There was an underground passage leading from the basement of the house to the yard so the servants could not be seen by the occupants of the house. Close to the house was an ornamental pond. There were two avenues into the house; the one which went by the church was the back avenue which led to the farmyard.

In 1652 Samuel Winter, who had received an MA at Cambridge, was made Provost of Trinity College and managed to acquire land in Offaly and at Tullyard, Trim.  Following the restoration of Charles II Winter was removed from his position at Trinity College. From his first marriage he had five sons. Samuel, his eldest succeeded him. Two sons, Ebenezer and Gonaught, inherited only 100 acres between them, and that only on condition that “they should reform their wicked lives.” The Winters inter-married with local and newly arrived families particularly the Bomfords.

Francis Winter was born about 1690 and as a younger son had to find his own living as a woollen draper in Dublin. When his older brother, Samuel, died he inherited all the Winter estates. Francis married Margaret, eldest daughter of Bernjamin Pratt of Agher. Another branch of the family established themselves at Cabra Castle, Kingscourt. Benjamin Pratt became the first of the Pratts to settle at Agher. The original property of 1150 acres included the townlands of Agherpallice, Ballintogher, and the detached townland of Genetts (Ginnetts) near Galtrim to the north. Benjamin Pratt died in 1706 aged 67 and was succeeded by his second son, Benjamin. This Benjamin married twice, firstly to Jane Nugent and secondly to Elizabeth Moore. His daughter and heiress Margaret married Samuel Winter. Their son, Samuel Winter, was born in 1741 and brought up with his two sisters by their uncle, John Pratt. In 1771 when Benjamin Pratt died Samuel Winter inherited the Pratt estates including Agher, Killeter, Co. Cavan and Killynon, Westmeath. This united the Winter and Pratt estates.

Samuel then rebuilt Agher House and moved to Agher in 1776. The cost of building was such that parts of the estate were sold to generate the necessary revenue. In 1778 and again in 1784 he was High Sheriff of Meath. In 1784 his under sheriff disappeared with public funds and Samuel had to make good the loss. He died aged 70 on 19th May 1811 and was the first occupier of the Winter vault, which he had constructed. His eldest son, John Pratt Winter, was born in 1768 and educated at Rev Oliver Miller’s school at St Mary Abbey, Trim. He became a barrister and magistrate. Marrying Anne Gore, the couple made their home at Eccles Street, Dublin. The couple then moved to Agher until their home at Tullyard was completed.

In 1798 John Pratt Winter resigned his position as captain in the Lawyer’s Corps of the Yeomanry as he could not accept the government’s actions of ill treating the ordinary people and burning the houses of the peasantry.

In 1803 John was appointed a Resident Magistrate for Meath and Kildare; in 1804 he was made Deputy Governor of Meath and in 1805 High Sheriff. His father died in 1811 and John inherited Agher and the other Winter estates, all of which were heavily charged to provide portions for the younger children under the terms of his parent’s marriage settlement. He stayed on at Tullyard until his mother died in 1814 when the whole family moved to Agher.

In 1817 his financial position was so serious that he was forced to lease Agher and take his wife and the younger members of the family, including young George and Samuel Bomford to live in a boarding house in Paris.

They remained there for seven years, returning in l824. John Pratt Winter was known to the Bomford family as “The Ruffian.” John Pratt Winter died in 1846. John’s sister, Anna Maria Winter, never married but did published three books; “Some Thoughts on the Moral Order of Nature,” “The Fairies and other Poems” and a poem “The Ideal Confidant.” 

Samuel Winter, the eldest son of John Pratt Winter, was a justice of the peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Meath. In 1837 he was elected High Sheriff of Meath and in 1851 of Cavan. Samuel died in 1867 and was buried with his wife, Lucy, in the Winter vault at Agher Church.

A member of the family, Samuel Pratt Winter, left Ireland in 1833 for Van Diemen’s Land. Another member of the family, John Pratt Winter, was a captain in her Majesty’s 17th regiment of light dragoons (lancers). He fell gloriously leading the second squadron of his regiment in the heroic but disastrous charge of the Light Cavalry Brigade on the Russian army at Balaklava before Sebastopol in the Crimea on 25th October 1854 in the 26th year of his age. A memorial in the interior of Agher Church commemorates this member of the family.

James Sanderson Winter was born in 1832 and succeeded to the estate. James erected a number of new estate buildings including a school and stewards house. James Sanderson Winter died unmarried on 10th July 1911 and was the last Winter to be buried in the family vault at Agher. His estates were passed to his nephew, Lieut-Colonel Edward Winter Purdon, the eldest son of his sister Elizabeth Anne, with the proviso that he took the surname of Winter, which he did in 1912.

When Edward Winter Purdon died in 1927 Agher passed to his eldest son, Captain Charles Edward Purdon-Winter. In 1936 Agher was sold to the Land Commission, which split the estate into separate lots. The house fell into ruins and was removed.

Words and research: Noel French 

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Conservation project update: Thomas Jervais window reinstated in Agher Church


Posted by IGS

Thomas Jevais window being reinstalled by the York Glaziers Trust (photo: Nick Bradshaw)


IGS Board member Johnnie McCoy, IGS Executive Director Donough Cahill, conservator Emma Newman (York Glaziers Trust), Reverend Janice Aiton, IGS Board member Primrose Wilson and local historian Noel French

The Thomas Jervais window in situ at Agher Church, Co. Meath

Thomas Jervais window in situ at Agher Church

On Sunday 21st August, a Songs of Praise afternoon was held at Agher Church to commemorate the reinstatement of the Thomas Jervais window there. York Glaziers Trust reinstalled the window at Agher last week (15-19th August), with the Irish conservator and YGT trainee Emma Newman.

This project was funded through grants and donations from The Heritage Council, Department of Arts Heritage & the Gaeltacht through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2016, The Primrose Trust, IGS London Chapter, IGS New York Chapter, IGS Chicago Chapter, Orla Coleman (IGS New York), Mary Lynn Cooney (IGS Chicago), Thomas Cooney (IGS Chicago), Arthur Wellesley, 9th Duke of Wellington, Select Vestry of Rathmoylan Union of Parishes and Meath County Council.

Project champion and co-ordinator was Deirdre McDermott (conservation architect, planner, urbanist and IGS volunteer) to whom the Irish Georgian Society is most grateful. 

Read about the progress of this project:
Restoration of Thomas Jervais window, Agher Church
Conservation project update: Thomas Jervais window removed for conservation work
Conservation project update: Thomas Jervais Window in York Glaziers Trust Studio

Download an information booklet relating to the Thomas Jervais window project here.

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Conservation project update: Re-pointing the City Assembly House


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Work is underway on the re-pointing of the brick and stone work of the front elevation of the City Assembly House which will hugely enhance its character and transform views along South William Street. These works are necessary so as to remove cement pointing that was applied in the 1950s which has resulted in the spalling of the fabric of the façade and left a dreary elevation that belies the great interest of the building’s interiors. Failing to address this issue would have resulted in the continued deterioration of the brick and stone work over time and exacerbated future repair needs. Urgent repair works are also being carried out to replace lead flashing above the windows, over the doorcase, and on the parapet so as to halt water ingress.

The principal sponsor of this work programme is the Jerome L Greene Foundation with additional support from The Ireland Funds and Dublin City Council, and also from Nolan Group Stone Brick Restoration which is undertaking the works.

Keep an eye on the IGS website and the next edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review for more detailed updates.

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