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.

Conservation Without Frontiers cross-border summer school - Full programme available


Posted by IGS

The full programme for the 2017 Conservation without Frontiers summer school is now available to download: CLICK HERE.

You can BOOK ONLINE. To make your booking through the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society CLICK HERE.

Tickets cost €70 (1 day) or €220 for the duration - for IGS/UAHS members.

The ticket price includes transport between venues, and a pick up in the morning and evening on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information contact

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Lismore Opera Festival, 1st to 4th June 2017


Posted by IGS

Now in its 8th year, the festival will feature two performances of Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera, L’Elisir d’Amore in its 500 seater pop up opera house on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd of June, situated in the stunning surroundings of Lismore Castle Stables and Gardens; this years’ festival has an Italian theme and features vocal and instrumental recitals in four of the most beautiful big houses along the Blackwater River, Salterbridge House, Cappoquin House, Tourin House and Fortwilliam Estate as well as violin recital by Patrick Rafter in the wonderfully atmospheric St. Carthage's Cathedral on Sunday 4th June at 6pm.

The festival has also recruited renowned local chef Eunice Power who has devised an Italian themed formal and informal dining option accompanied by specially selected wines and bubbles to be served in the stunning walled gardens of Lismore Castle over the festival weekend.

In conjunction with the RDS, the festival is thrilled to announce details of a new Performance Award.  This award, to be named the RDS Collins Memorial Performance, will be given to a previous RDS Music Bursary Winner to be selected annually by the Artistic Director of Lismore Opera, Dieter Kaegi and will include a professional performance opportunity at the Lismore Opera Festival each year for the next three years.  The first recipient is, violinist Patrick Rafter (2015 RDS Music Bursary winner) who will give a recital at the 2017 Lismore Opera Festival. This is the beginning of a wonderful musical collaboration between the two organisations and further strengthens the festivals commitment to providing performance and employment opportunities to young Irish artists.

Since its foundation in 2010, the festivals mission has been to grow in size and duration. Without the support of Lord and Lady Burlington and Giancarla and Michael Alen-Buckley the festival would not have reached its eighth year. The support of new sponsors Kildare Village & JLT Ireland and its patrons, a new Friends' Programme and an Ambassador of Lismore Opera Festival programme, The David Ross Foundation, local authority funding, and increased tickets sales will afford Lismore Opera Festival the opportunity to develop the festival and ensure its sustainability into the future. The festival has ambitions to expand its programme of events and number of performances, to attract even bigger numbers of visitors to the region as well as to create more employment and performance opportunities for emerging and established Irish artists.

The festival also presents audience development and access programmes, young audience education programmes, on the job training through the Lismore Opera Festival Mentor Programme, and provides performance opportunities for emerging Irish singers as part of its mission to bring the pleasure and sheer fun of opera to a wider audience.

This year the festival will present, a special audience development performance of L’Elisir d’Amore for local school children and youth groups, to date circa 3,000 children have attended opera for the first time thanks to the Lismore opera festival.

Lismore Opera Festival Mentor Programme

The festival provides professional mentorship opportunities to young people who wish to pursue a career in opera/theatre or performing arts. We offer hands on, on the job experience in the areas of costume; hair & makeup; lighting design; sound and stage management.

Each year the festival selects a small number of applicants who can shadow and learn first-hand from our professional team whilst working on one of our productions.

The Lismore Opera Festival is kindly supported by Lord and Lady Burlington of Lismore Castle; Giancarla and Michael Alen-Buckley; Kildare Village; JLT Ireland; Failte Ireland;  Waterford Co. Co.; The David Ross Foundation & Friends of Lismore Opera Festival.

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Book of the Month: Making Magnificence


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Book of the Month: May 2017
Making Magnificence: Architects, Stuccatori, and the Eighteenth-Century Interior by Christine Casey

This book tells the remarkable story of the craftsmen of Ticino, in Italian-speaking Switzerland, who took their prodigious skills as specialist decorative plasterworkers throughout Northern Europe in the 18th century, adorning classical architecture with their rich and fluent décor.  Their names are not widely known – Giuseppi Artari (c.1690–1771), Giovanni Battista Bagutti (1681–1755), and Francesco Vassalli (1701–1771) are a few – but their work transformed the interiors of magnificent buildings in Italy, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, and Ireland.  Among the interiors highlighted in this deeply researched, beautifully illustrated volume are Palazzo Reale in Turin, Upper Belvedere in Vienna, St. Martin in the Fields in London, the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, Houghton Hall in Norfolk, and Carton House in Ireland.

For the month of May, you can purchase this book at the special price of €50 (RRP €60)

Published by Yale University Press

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Limerick Chapter: Tour of Abbey Leix House


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Abbey Leix: A rare opportunity to visit & lunch at this splendid house 

You are invited to join the Limerick Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society on a tour of Abbey Leix House in Co. Laois. This country house dates from 1773, and is surrounded by gardens and woods; our visit will coincide with the spectacular bluebell display. 

An incredible opportunity to visit and lunch at the spectacular Abbeyleix House. All proceeds of this tour are going to our Small Works Scheme to repair historic architectural street features in Newtownpery, LImerick City. You can read more about that Scheme here.

Drinks and buffet lunch will be provided. Numbers are strictly limited and booking is essential. 

Price: €100 per person. Book online via this link.

Meet outside No. 1 Pery Square Hotel, Limerick at 9am. Carpooling is encouraged. Arrival at Abbey Leix at 11am. 

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Cork Chapter Presentation of an ‘Irish Georgian Society Commemorative Glass’


Posted by IGS

Glass Gilding has long been revered in Cork, as is evidenced in towns such as Clonakilty and Skibereen. The City Council’s rebranding of Mac Curtain Street as ‘The Victorian Quarter’ should prize its availability in authentic refurbishments. Traditional Sign Crafts and Decorative Painting Skills have long been championed by the Cork Training Centre. The upcoming retirement of instructor Gerry Fitzgibbon prompted a renewed commitment to such valued tuition through the launch of its City and Guilds accredited course on Decorative Painting Skills. Recently, members and friends enjoyed a lecture and demonstration, by Gerry, organised by the Cork Chapter. Needless to say, they were resolute in their support of keeping such skills alive.

To find out more about the Traditional Sign and Decorative Painting Skills courses offered by the Cork Training Centre, visit

Image: Geraldine O’Riordan (IGS Cork Chapter) presenting an ‘Irish Georgian Society Commemorative Glass’, to Donough Cahill, Executive Director, on behalf of Gerry Fitzgibbon and the Cork Training Centre in acknowledgement of their support to the Traditional Decorative Arts.

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IGS submission RE: Lower Lee Cork City Flood Relief Scheme


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Re:       Lower Lee Cork City Flood Relief Scheme

The Irish Georgian Society welcomes this opportunity to comment on the Lower Lee Cork City Flood Relief Scheme as part of the on-going public consultation currently being held by the Office of Public Works. 

The Irish Georgian Society is a membership organisation, which encourages and promotes the conservation of distinguished examples of architecture and the allied arts of all periods in Ireland. These aims are achieved through our education programmes, by supporting and undertaking conservation works, publishing original research, planning participation and fundraising. The Society has had a marked and widely acknowledged impact on the conservation of built heritage in the state and has wide experience of the problems associated with the restoration, repair and maintenance of the fabric of historic property.

The Society considers that that the implementation of appropriate flood protection measures is of critical importance to ensuring the long-term conservation and viability of the historic core of the City of Cork. The Society acknowledges that difficult choices will have to be made in choosing the appropriate flood protection measures for the River Lee and that it is inevitable that a balance will have to be struck between the negative impacts of works on the historic built environment and landscape and the positive impacts associated with the management of flooding incidents of the River Lee (including the positive impacts reduced flooding will have on buildings of architectural and cultural heritage importance in Cork City). It is clear that pursuing a “business as usual” approach to the on-going problems associated with the flooding of the River Lee is unsustainable.

However, the Society is concerned about the extent of intervention to the historic quay walls of Cork City Centre proposed under the Lower Lee Cork City Flood Relief Scheme. The removal of original historic fabric and the construction of proposed new structures is likely to result in both a significant negative impact on the architectural heritage of Cork City and a significant change to the character of river corridors. The experience of the Netherlands, considered to be world leaders in flood protection, is particularly instructive. Heavy criticism and strong opposition to intrusive flood defence works in the river area of the Netherlands, which resulted in the demolition of historic buildings and loss of historic character, triggered the establishment of numerous commissions of review (e.g. the Becht Commission in the 1970s and the Boertien Commission in the 1990s) and resulted in several revisions of approach in order to reduce the impacts of reinforcement on, inter alia, the cultural and historical value of the landscape. Intrusive, structural flood protection works in the historic city centres of the Netherlands are notably absent, with an emphasis instead on a system drainage ditches, canals and pumping stations.

While the Society welcomes proposals the repair, cleaning and repointing of historic quay walls, which will result in positive impacts, the Society has serious concerns about the following works proposed under the Lower Lee Cork City Flood Relief Scheme due to the scale of loss of historic fabric and the extent of change to the historic built environment:

·         Removal of low limestone ashlar parapet walls at Grenville Place, Batchelor's Walk, Kyrl's Quay and Coal Quay and replacement with concrete walls, which in some areas will be clad with concrete.

·         Removal of open parapets consisting of nineteenth century cast-iron bollards and horizontal bars and replacing these with concrete walls. This will obstruct the views to the river, which, at some points, are of considerable cultural and historical importance.

·         Removal of open parapets consisting of nineteenth century limestone bollards and horizontal bars and replacing these with concrete and in some places glass walls. This will obstruct the views to the river, which, at some points, are of considerable cultural and historical importance.

·         Removal of modern railings and capping walls and replacing these with concrete walls and railings.

·         Many of the proposed public realm enhancement works, which are at odds with the character of the historic centre of Cork.

Heritage and Ireland’s historic environment is estimated to account for €1.5 billion or 1% of the State’s Gross Value Added (GVA) and some 2% of overall employment (approximately 65,000 employment positions).  The Heritage Council’s 2011 publication Economic Evaluation of the Historic Environment Ireland sets out the following:

‘In addition to the contributions of the historic environment sector 'inner wheel' and built heritage construction components, the historic environment also has a significant impact on people's decisions to visit Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland's Visitor Attractions Survey provides much valuable information on visitor attractions in Ireland and highlights for example that no fewer than 4 of Ireland's top 10 paid admission attractions fall within the strict definition of the historic environment…

While substantial direct expenditure accrues as a consequence of these and other historic environment attractions and sites (including admissions fees and ancillary spend on souvenirs/ retail etc.), on a fundamental level the historic environment also serves as a central motivating factor for wider tourism to and within Ireland…

Notably, results from a recent survey of visitors to Ireland reveal an overwhelming majority alluding to elements of the historic environment as being 'very important' in their consideration of Ireland for a holiday…

In summary:
Including indirect and induced effects, it is estimated that tourism expenditure attributable to the historic environment supports more than 17,000 (17,129) FTE employees in Ireland.

In terms of national income, this translates into an economic impact of approximately €650 (645) million towards Ireland's GVA.’

Proposals set out in the Lower Lee Cork City Flood Relief Scheme for significant structural works along historic quay walls would not seem to be consistent with international best practice for flood protection in and around historic urban cores. The historic centre of Cork is a unique urban landscape, which is the result of centuries of interaction between humans and nature. While it must be acknowledged that the character of the River Lee corridor cannot remain static, works which result in a significant or profound change to the historic character of the river corridor should only be pursued as a last resort in circumstances where there is no other alternative. Moreover, aside from the importance of preserving our cultural heritage for future generations, the importance of the interrelationship between the historic built environment and the historic River Lee corridor to the tourist economy cannot be underestimated. In this regard, it is considered significant that other European countries have achieved successful flood prevention and mitigation along river corridors without the need for the destruction or profound alteration of the historic built environment. The Irish Georgian Society respectfully submits that the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Lower Lee Cork City Flood Relief Scheme does not clearly identify why there is no other alternative but to remove or alter so much of the historic quay wall in Cork City.

The Society would welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss the issues outlined above. If we can be of any further assistance to this important initiative, please not hesitate to contact us.

(Image: Proviz Creative for OPW)

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