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.

1916 Commemorative Cultural Event in Chicago, June 2016


Posted by IGS

Mr. Turtle Bunbury, the award-winning historian, was the featured guest at the 1916 Commemorative Cultural Event hosted by the Consul General of Ireland in Chicago in conjunction with The Irish Georgian Society.  Turtle Bunbury’s presence at this event to mark the Centennial of 1916 Rising was made possible by Rose Marie O’Neill, a long standing supporter of the Society and Mr. John Vaile, an active supporter of the Society and member of the Chicago Committee.  Orla McBreen, the recently arrived Irish Consul General, presiding over the proceedings, which included music and Turtle’s presentation based on his book, The 1916 Rising – The Photographic Record.

Mary McCain, Director of the DePaul Irish Studies Program interviewing Turtle Bunbury

The event was held at the Chicago Cultural Center, completed in 1897 as Chicago’s first central public library. It contains the world’s largest stained glass Louis Comfort Tiffany dome – 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass.

The Consul General of Ireland, Orla McBreen, introducing Mr. Turtle Bunbury and his presentation: 'Easter Dawn, Alternative Perspectives on 1916'

One of the domes at The Chicago Cultural Center, the former Chicago Public Library, completed in 1897

Judge John Curry, Professor Mary McCain, former United States Ambassador to Ireland James Kenny

Patti Fahey of the Chicago Chapter posing a question to the speaker

Mr. Turtle Bunbury making an impassioned point to a spellbound crowd

Rick Danaher and friends

View more pictures from the evening on our facebook page.

Photographs: Michael Mascari

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Conservation Project Update: Lion’s Gate, Mote Park, Co. Roscommon


Posted by IGS

The Lion's Gate at Mote Park, Co. Roscommon is attributed to the celebrated Georgian architect James Gandon and comprises a triumphal archway with a Coade Stone lion mounted on top and has gate lodges to either side. Today the structure is in poor condition with weather action causing damage to its stonework and the legs of the Coade Stone lion fractured in places. Funding from the Irish Georgian Society and other donors has supported an appraisal of these issues by an expert in sculpture restoration and has contributed towards necessary repair works.

The pictures show the crane in place removing the Lion from the Gate

Detail of the damage to the legs of the Lion that needed urgent conservation work

The Lion after being carefully lowered to the ground

The Lion at the Coade workshop in Wilton, England, where the coade stone is currently being repaired

Frank Scott of Roscommon Heritage Group writes:

The Gate on which  the Lion stands is a James Gandon designed piece from 1787 and this is the first (and last) time he has been removed for repair work.

The Roscommon Heritage Group has for 25 years being trying to get the funds to fix the Lion as it was badly damaged, we think, when the lead was stolen. This Lion has also had bees living in it from the time it was put up and we felt that they were important too, so a lot of effort was put into keeping their group alive and of recording their DNA.

We have had help from the Bee Research Group in NUI Galway and some local bee keepers and we have managed to rehouse the bees in new hives in the area.

Removing the Lion took nearly 8 hours and with all the disruption not one person got stung all day! As soon as the Lion was lowered to the ground the damage showed up as 3 legs simply fell off, so it would not have made it through one more storm. The Lion should be back and reinstalled at Mote Park by September.

This conservation work has been made possible by grants from the Irish Georgian Society, the local council and other donors for which we are very grateful.

Images: Frank Scott


Project Supporters

IGS London Chapter

The Heritage Council

IGS New York Chapter

IGS Chicago Chapter

Roscommon Heritage Group

The Heritage Council

David Stutzman (IGS New York)

Patricia Sullivan (IGS New York)

Kathy Gilfillan (IGS New York)

Alicia and Norman Volk (IGS New York)

Robert and Kathleen Collimore (IGS Chicago)

Thomas Cooney (IGS Chicago)

Charles Tupta (IGS Chicago)

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Picnic Tour of the Follies and Curiosities of County Wicklow…


Posted by IGS

A summer picnic tour of 'places of interest' and a delicious lunch was organised by Pat Murray and John O'Brien on Saturday (30 July 2016)

The group visited the Stillorgan Obelisk, La Touche Monument in Christ Church Delgany, an Imogen Stuart door in Newcastle Church, Kilbride Mausoluem, Kilbridge pyramid and church.

There were refreshments in Hunters Hotel's lovelygardens, a delicious picnic lunch provided by Seamus Hogan in the gardens in Kilmacurragh and a visit to Avoca Mills.





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Press release: stabilisation of Vernon Mount, Co. Cork


Posted by IGS

The Irish Georgian Society calls for urgent action to be taken to safeguard and consolidate the remains of Vernon Mount to ensure it will continue to play a role as a unique Cork landmark.  To achieve this, an immediate appraisal of the building must be undertaken by structural engineers with suitable conservation expertise to determine a methodology for its stabilisation.

In appraising drone footage of the site, an initial analysis shows the survival of significant elements of the building including its distinctive bowed front and convex side bows, as well as its chimney stacks and side walls. Though clearly much has been lost internally, key structural sections that give the building its identity remain standing and must be stabilised.

Once the site is made safe, the next priority should be an archaeological sifting of the interiors with the aim of salvaging artefacts that may have survived. Such an excavation followed the recent devastating fire at Clandon Park, a National Trust property in Surrey, England, and resulted in the recovery of plasterwork fragments, an early eighteenth century state bed and other items. One wonders what might be found in Vernon Mount.

Cork County Council must play a lead role, not least due to the public reaction to the fire but also to its role in safeguarding our architectural heritage through implementing the conservation legislation. There is precedence for the rebuilding of fire damaged historic buildings and much can be learnt from these: Slane Castle, Co. Meath, Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow and, most recently, St. Mel’s Cathedral, Longford.

An enormous amount of time and money has been spent in seeking to safeguard Cork’s finest neo-Classical villa and this would all be to waste if an immediate push is not taken to save what remains and to plan for the future. The time to act is now!


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PRESS RELEASE: Vernon Mount - Loss of a Georgian Gem


Posted by IGS

The Irish Georgian Society is dismayed at the destruction by fire of Vernon Mount, Co. Cork, a Georgian architectural gem.

Vernon Mount is a protected structure of national importance whose endangerment has long been recognised by local, national and international organisations. Its destruction by fire will have a enormous impact on the architectural heritage of the country as a whole and will be felt in particular by the local community which has championed its cause.

Vernon Mount stood as possibly the finest surviving example in Ireland of a Georgian classical villa on the outskirts of a major city. Its significance was further enhanced by the presence of exceptional neo-Classical paintings of mythological subjects by Cork artist, Nathaniel Grogan, which sadly are now lost forever.

The fire and loss of Vernon Mount in the face of efforts by a wide range of interest groups (including the Irish Georgian Society, the Grange Frankfield Partnership, and the World Monuments Fund) should now demand that a more effective means of protecting our most important and most vulnerable historic buildings is established. The Government must play a central role in this review and reverse the continued lack of financial support for built heritage and fully address the lack of implementation of existing legislation. The Irish Georgian Society will play a pro-active role in campaigning to ensure this is achieved so as to prevent the avoidable diminution of our built heritage.


The ceiling murals painted by Cork artist Nathaniel Grogan are now believed to be lost

Irish Georgian Society campaign to save Vernon Mount, 2007

More information on Vernon Mount can be found via this link on the Irish Georgian Society's Buildings at Risk Register.

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Conservation Grants Scheme 2016


Posted by IGS

The Irish Georgian Society's Conservation Grants Scheme 2016 was announced yesterday at a small ceremony at the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. In all, fourteen historic buildings successfully received a grant from the IGS.

In announcing the awards, Primrose Wilson, Chair of the Society’s Conservation Grants Committee, said "the Irish Georgian Society's grants programme plays an important role in helping to protect our built heritage as many of the grants provided are used for essential roof, gutter and window repairs. The maintenance and repair of these features is vital to prevent the decay of historic fabric through water ingress and the onset of damp, both of which can be disastrous in old buildings".

The total value of grants amounts to €56,500. Funded by the London Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society, these grants will help owners and guardians of architecturally important historic buildings to fund essential works which may not otherwise be possible.

St Michael’s Church, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath 
Works description: Refurbishment of two Gothic sash windows at the east end of the church.
Grant awarded: €2,000
St Michael’s Church (CoI), Castlepollard, is a Hall type structure with bell Tower, spire and pinnacles. Its external walls are finished in a combination of stonework and lined rough cast (harling finished) lime render. The front boundary is constructed of iron gates with railings on a stone plinth. The Church was built in 1821 by the Pollard family who founded the original settlement which has now become the town of Castlepollard. It is a perfect example of a Georgian Town Church and comprises a focal point of the town’s Georgian Square.

Maunsell Chapel, Tea Lane Graveyard, Celbridge, Kildare

Works description: Roof repairs
Grant awarded: €3,000
The Maunsell Chapel was constructed in 1820 by the Maunsell family of nearby Oakley Park and adjoins an earlier mausoleum of the Conolly family of Castletown. It lies within the Tea Lane Graveyard whose origins extend back to Early Christian times with associations with Saint Mochua and is situated alongside the remains of a medieval church. The restoration of the mausoleum is being led by the Tea Lane Graveyard Committee whose aim is the conservation and preservation of this significant heritage area. 

Stradbally Hall, Stradbally, Co. Laois

Works description: roof repairs including repairs to chimney stacks
Grant awarded: €5,000
Stradbally Hall was built in the 1770s by the Cosby family and extensively renovated in an Italianate-style one hundred years later under the direction of the architect Charles Lanyon. It is a nine-bay two-storey over basement house with a tetrastyle Doric portico to its centre, a four-bay two-storey over basement bachelor wing, and a three-bay double-height pedimented arched loggia to its former entrance front. It has been home to the Cosby family since the mid-sixteenth century and survives as one of the great country houses of Ireland. Essential to the survival of these houses is an effective programme of maintenance and repair to hold back the forces of decay. The current works to the roof and chimney stacks will help in securing it for future generations to appreciate.

Collon Parish Church, Collon, Co. Louth

Works description: repairs to the east gable parapet
Grant awarded: €5,000
Collon Church was designed by Rev. Daniel Augustus Beaufort (1739 – 1821), an amateur architect and rector of Collon and Navan parishes. It is a free-standing five bay church designed in the Perpendicular style, and is loosely modelled on English perpendicular churches such as Kings College Chapel, Cambridge. The facades are articulated by staggered buttresses surmounted by pinnacles and large limestone framed windows with perpendicular tracery. The gabled east elevation of the rectangular chancel which faces the public road is flanked by octagonal turrets and a pair of single storey porches. This is the second year the Irish Georgian Society has provided grant aid to the Friends of Collon Church in their sterling efforts to save this architecturally important building.

Scots Church, Athy Road, Carlow, Co. Carlow
Works description: emergency roof repairs.
Grant awarded: €5,000
Scots Church, Carlow, was completed in 1818 to the designs of the architect Thomas Alfred Cobden. It has a compact form and simple design that is articulated by a front elevation of classical composition. Over a period of time defective slates and flashings has led to water ingress that has given rise to significant damage within the roof. If not remedied, this could further harm the church’s octagonal ceiling and lead to the onset of timber decay. 

Ballynagar House, Abbey, Loughrea, Co. Galway
Works description: roof repairs
Grant awarded: €5,000
Ballnager House was constructed c. 1807 to the design of the architect Richard Morrison (1767-1849) for the Aylward family who had moved to Galway from Waterford in the mid-17th century. It is a five-bay two-storey house over a raised basement with a shallow pedimented single-bay entrance breakfront, and bow ends to gables. Remnants of an earlier house survive in a three-bay three-storey return. The repair of the roof of Ballynagar will ensure the building is weather tight and halt the potential for decay through wet and dry rot.

Dublin Civic Trust, 18 Upper Ormond Street, Dublin

Works description: repairs and reinstatement of shutter boxes and of missing window sashes to each of the four floors to the rear of the building
Amount awarded: €6,000
No 18 Ormond Quay is the focus of an ambitious conservation and refurbishment programme by the Dublin Civic Trust which will see the revitalisation of building that has long stood empty and forlorn. It is comprised of two adjoining structures: the later one of which faces onto the quays and stands four storeys over basement, with the original blind arcaded shopfront to the ground floor and with yellow, wigged brickwork to the upper floors which regrettably is covered with 20th-century pebbledash. The earlier structure, built c. 1765, lies to the rear and is reputed to have been the first home of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy. 

Boyle Courthouse, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Works description: Roof repairs
Amount awarded: €3,000
Constructed c. 1830 to the designs of the architect Samuel Jackson, Boyle courthouse comprises a detached three-bay two storey building with flanking recessed single-storey entrance bays, Giant order pilasters to the façade with string course, cornice and round-headed recessed blind doorways. It served as a venue for sittings of the Petty and Quarter Sessions and, following independence, sittings of the Districts and Circuit Courts. The courthouse closed in 2012 with sittings moved to the Carrick on Shannon and Roscommon Courthouses but is now the focus of a refurbishment programme led by Boyle Courthouse Development Ltd.  

Birr Castle, Birr, Co. Offaly
Works description: repairs to roof and parapet walls
Amount awarded: €5,000
Situated on the site of a Norman fortification of c. 1170, Birr Castle was built and extended during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and represents one of the surviving great houses of Ireland. The current façade was completed c.1840 and comprises a central three-bay, thre storey over basement entrance block with two-storey over basement flanking wings. Its slate roof hidden lies behind a crenellated parapet and a variety of window openings include pointed-arched openings with tooled stone surrounds, hoodmouldings and cast-iron casement windows. Effective maintenance programmes are vital to ensure the longevity of such houses with roof repairs of particular importance.  

Royal Society Of Antiquaries, 63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
Works description: repair of cracked chimney breast in first first floor reception rooms
Amount awarded: €1,500
No 63 Merrion Square is the home of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI) and comprises a three bay, four storey over basement house. It was constructed c. 1780 by John Sandwith whose lease required that he construct a ‘good and substantial dwelling house with lime and stones, or with bricks and lime and stones, or with bricks and lime, well roofed and covered with slates, not less than 30 ft. in the front and 3 stories and a half high above the cellars at least, and shall make an area of 8 ft. wide at the front of the said house…. . .’ Plaster work in the house is by Andrew Callnan (on behalf of surveyor Bryan Bolger) and shows the influence of Michael Stapleton. The RSAI bought the house in 1917, also buying the remainder of the lease from the Pembroke estate for £500. 

Ross House, O’briensbridge, Co. Clare
Works description: sash window repairs
Amount awarded: €5,000
Ross House was constructed c. 1819 on the site of a late 17th century house and is attributed to the architect Francis Bindon. It is a six bay, two storey over basement house with a hipped roof and wide eaves. It consist of two parts with an earlier residential element standing perpendicular to a later structure that once contained staff quarters and stables. The main block retains its original six-over-six sash windows which comprise an integral part of its character.  The Irish Georgian Society’s grant will ensure that the windows in Ross House will survive for future generations to appreciate.

Ledwithstown, Ballymahon, Co. Longford
Works description: support of condition report on the roof to gain a clear understanding of the structure and to facilitate a prioritisation of repair works.
Amount awarded: €3,000
Built in the 1740s to the design of the architect Richard Castle, Ledwithstown is considered one of Ireland’s finest eighteenth century houses of the middle size. It is a square house of two floors over groin vaulted basement and attic floor and has a tripartite doorway with pediment and cut stone steps. It is very well proportioned with brick based cornice, fielded and raised panelling on the ground floor with some shell decorations. There are two staircases, unusual for a house of its size, with egg and dart cornice on the main stair ceiling. The 1st floor plain and dentil cornices, and plaster panels and timber fielded panels with dentil cornice. The house has been the subject of an exceptional refurbishment programme by the Feeney family over recent decades and vital works are now required to halt water ingress through the roof. The report funded by the Irish Georgian Society will allow a thorough analysis of the roof and the specification of works.

Kildrought House, Celbridge, Kildare
Description of works: dismantling, underpinning and restoring the carriage entrance opening onto Celbridge main street.
Amounted awarded: €5,000
Kildrought was built by Robert Baillie in 1719 to the design of Kildare architect Thomas Burgh who also designed the Library of Trinity College, Dublin and has been carefully restored by its current owner. It is a three storey early Georgian merchant’s house that originally had two reciprocal, pedimented carriage entrances, though one was later filled in and developed prior to acquisition by the current owner. In 1747 the two outbuildings on the north side were extended and incorporated into the whole but later the leasehold was separated. The interiors were remodelled in 1862 but the present owners have sought to reinstate the design of the past house. 

Albert's House, 18 O'connell Street, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

Works description: Refurbishment and restoration of shop front
Amount awarded: €3,000
Built c. 1825, Albert’s House was constructed c. 1825 and since that time has served as a shop, a home, a workhouse, a police barracks, and as a bakery until it was severely damaged by fire. A programme of restoration is being implemented to secure the future of the building. Immediate works to the shopfront will halt processes of decay and ensure it will continue to form an essential part of the historic character of the street.

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