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 Objection to the Proposed Demolition of Cork's Revenue Building


Posted by IGS


Planning and Development Directorate

Cork City Council

City Hall

Anglesea Street


2nd September 2019

Re. Redevelopment of the Custom House site at North Custom House Quay and South Custom House Quay, Custom House Street, Cork City to provide a 240-bedroom hotel, 25 no. hotel serviced suites, and a range of commercial uses including retail, office, food and beverage, distillery, tourism and leisure.

Ref. 1938589

The Irish Georgian Society is a membership organisation that promotes an awareness and the protection of Ireland’s built heritage through educational programmes, supporting conservation projects, and campaigning for the protection of buildings at risk. The Society has considerable concerns about the very significant impact this planning application could have on Cork’s built heritage given the proposals to demolish the Revenue Building, a protected structure of regional architectural interest that lies within sensitive complex of national heritage interest, and the plans to construct a 34-storey building in its place.

Proposed demolition of the Revenue Building

The Custom House and the Revenue Building (PS818) are identified as protected structures in the Cork City Development Plan 2015-21 (the City Development Plan) and, together with the Bonded Warehouses (also protected), are considered by the Plan (Section 8.18) as being “particularly emblematic of Cork’s maritime heritage”. This also notes that “along with Haulbowline Island, [it] is one of the two most important Georgian dock complexes outside Dublin and one of three surviving Georgian docks complexes in Ireland”. The South Docks Local Area Plan, 2008 (SDLAP) describes them as “unquestionably the most important surviving port related structures to survive in the upper harbour area”.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage designates the Custom House (identified as the Harbour Commissioner's Office ref. 20506372) as a structure of National importance and the Revenue Building (identified as Customs Offices ref. 20506373) as being of Regional importance. It states that the Revenue Building forms “part of an important complex of buildings located behind the Harbour Commissioner's Office, [that it] displays a fine use of building materials traditional to the area [and that it] also retains timber sash windows and has been well maintained”.

The City Development Plan and the Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2004) (the Guidelines) give consideration to proposals for the demolition of protected structures. The City Development Plan (Objective 9.24) states that “Proposals for demolition of a Protected Structure shall not be permitted except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be showed that a greater public interest will be served which outweighs the loss to the architectural heritage”. The Guidelines also states that “the Act provides that permission may only be granted for the demolition of a protected structure or proposed protected structure in exceptional circumstances”.

The Irish Georgian Society has grave concerns about the current proposal to largely demolish the Revenue Building given that it forms an integral part of the Georgian Custom House Docks area, that it is a designated protected structure, and that its individual significance has been recognised by the NIAH. The proposal to construct a 34-storey structure in place of it, though presumably to fund works to other protected structures on the site, should not be considered to comprise the “exceptional circumstances” suggested by legislation and the City Development Plan to justify its demolition. Our architectural heritage is an irreplaceable resource which once lost is gone forever. The Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines for Planning Authorities states:

“Our architectural heritage is a unique resource, an irreplaceable expression of the richness and diversity of our past. Structures and places can, over time, acquire character and special interest through their intrinsic quality, continued existence and familiarity. The built heritage consists not only of great artistic achievements, but also of the everyday works of craftsmen. In a changing world, these structures have a cultural significance which we may recognise for the first time only when individual structures are lost or threatened. As we enjoy this inheritance, we should ensure it is conserved in order to pass it on to our successors.”

Proposed construction of a Tall Landmark Building

In considering the South Docks Local Area Plan the Planning Supporting Statement accompanying the application states that “until such time as a new LAP is adapted… the SDLAP remains valid and weight can therefore be applied to this policy document” (section 5.5).

The SDLAP identifies five sites within the South Docks as being suitable for Tall Landmark Buildings and in doing so does not list the Custom House Docks area as one of these. On the contrary, in recognising the heritage importance of the area, it specifically states that “focal landmark buildings in sensitive locations (e.g. Customs House/Bonded Warehouses) should be modest in height due to the architectural, historical and cultural significance of the site” ( It also states that “due to the heritage sensitivity of the Harbour Commissioners’ Office and distinctive Bonded Warehouse, the scope for redevelopment may be limited” (5.2.1).

In considering building heights, the City Development Plan aims to “Ensure that development reflects and is sensitive to the historical importance and character of the city, in particular the street layout and pattern, plot sizes, building heights and scales” (Objective 9.1, Built Heritage and Archaeology). It also states that development proposals “should respect the height, mass and scale of surrounding buildings, should not compromise protected views and prospects and should draw upon positive characteristics of the surrounding environment to create a sense of place, security and vitality” (Objective 13.21 City Centre Design Quality and Context). It is respectively suggested that the construction of a 34-storey tower in the centre of a complex of buildings that constitute one of the most important Georgian dock complexes in the country would not be “sensitive to its historical importance and character” nor “draw upon positive characteristics of the surrounding environment”.

The Irish Georgian Society is of the view that the construction of a Tall Landmark Building on the Custom House Docks site would be contrary to the provisions of the South Docks Local Area Plan and the Cork City Development Plan and should not be granted planning permission.


In conclusion, the Irish Georgian Society is of the view that this development proposal does not present the “exceptional circumstances” required by legislation and the City Development Plan for the demolition of the Revenue Building, a protected structure of Regional importance. Granting permission for its demolition on these grounds could set a very worrying precedent for similar proposals that could undermine the effectiveness of protected structure designations. Furthermore, the Tall Landmark Building proposed in its place would quite clearly not be consistent with the provisions of the SDLAP and the City Development Plan. For these reasons the Irish Georgian Society urges Cork City Council to refuse permission for this planning application.

Yours sincerely,

Donough Cahill

Executive Director IGS

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Wilhelmina Weber Furlong: A Retrospective


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Wilhelmina Weber Furlong: A Retrospective

Knight of Glin Exhibition Room, City Assembly House, South William Street

1 to 29 August 2019

Exhibition times Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00am to 5.00pm Sunday, 12.00pm to 5.00pm

Celebrating the life and legacy of Wilhelmina Weber Furlong (1878-1962), one of America’s earliest avant-garde Modernist painters, the Irish Georgian Society will present the first major exhibition of her work outside the United States this August in Dublin.

Weber Furlong was a major American artist who pioneered Modern impressionistic and still-life painting at the turn of the twentieth century. Considered as one of the first female Modernist painters in the early American scene, Wilhelmina Weber Furlong had a long association with the Art Students League in New York, the pioneering art school who offered the same opportunities for men and women, uncommon in the 19th century.

The precursor to an American Movement, Wilhelmina Weber Furlong was a largely forgotten artist until the work of her great grand nephew Clint Weber and the Weber Furlong Collection in highlighting her contribution to American art. Her influence on important American Artists is now understood through her position in Manhattan at the famed Art Students League, her circle of friends (all celebrated artists of the early Modernist movement), and her popular studio and art galleries in Manhattan.

The exhibition will also feature works by her Irish American husband Thomas Furlong, a well-known muralist and art teacher.

The exhibition is presented by Clint B Weber, Director and Curator of The Weber Furlong Collection of Modern Art; Mona Blocker Garcia of the International Woman’s Foundation and artist Martin De Porres Wright, in association with the Irish Georgian Society.

About Wilhelmina Weber Furlong: In 1913 ahead of the famed Armory Show and after her return from Paris and Mexico City, Weber Furlong opened one of the first Modernist painters art studios and gallery at 3 Washington Square North in Manhattan, New York. Called the Yellow Shop it was publically hailed by the New York Post and the New York Tribune as the “New School of Modernist Painters” and a “bright and colorful place where one could see paintings and crafts representing the new things to come”. At this time in1913, Weber Furlong was also exhibiting in St. Louis at the Artist Guild of St. Louis and she was part of the progressive change in St. Louis when women were not allowed to show their work in public alongside men this movement had begun in 1886 at Washington University. This shift was a result of women suffragists and bold individuals willing to champion change.

By the early 1890s, her student years were spent as one of the first women activists allowed to exhibit artwork alongside men, thanks to the efforts of a restructured man’s art student club at Washington University called the Artist Guild of St. Louis. Through this important venue and on into the mid 1890’s she showed her work alongside Edmund Wuerpel, Emile Carlsen and William Merritt Chase in St Louis. During this time Weber Furlong was also a student at the Art Students League of New York and later the executive secretary while the Modernist movement took hold. Wilhelmina Weber Furlong was also active with the Whitney Studio Club during the formative years of the organization. Throughout the 1950s Weber Furlong was actively painting, exhibiting, and teaching while developing art curriculum in Warren County New York. During this time, she was communicating with Alfred H. Barr at Museum Of Modern Art in Manhattan. She is also responsible for the first full time hiring of art teacher in Warren County New York public schools.

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Temporary closure of the City Assembly House


Posted by IGS


Members should be made aware that the City Assembly House and IGS bookshop will be closed to the public for a private event from Monday 22 July and normal opening hours will resume on Monday 29 July.

During that period, if you have any membership or bookshop inquiries, please contact the office via email ( or by phone on 01 679 8675. Normal office hours of 9.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday will apply.

Thank you for your understanding.

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A Student's Perspective of 'Conservation Without Frontiers' Cross-Border Summer School 2019


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Summer School group at Ballyhaise House, Co. Cavan

This year’s ‘Conservation Without Frontiers’ summer school took place in Co. Fermanagh and Cavan. The 3-day school focused on exploring many challenges facing Irish towns, and the opportunities for enhancement through sustainable heritage-led regeneration to benefit built heritage, the local economy and the wider community. It was exciting, refreshing and re-assuring to see such important subject matters being tied back to our current and most relevant concerns, such as climate change.

Cole-Monument-Enniskillen-students-6.jpg#asset:12379Students pictured at the Cole Monument (1845-57), Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh on the first day of the summer school

Guilty to admit, but before attending the summer school, I had imagined the three days to be a series of tedious lectures on histories of architecture or perhaps monotonous speeches on historic plasterwork. It was exactly the opposite of my naive expectations. Student participation was central to the summer school; and in a sense this school assisted us in bridging the gaps between our academies by introducing us to tangible conservation and significant heritage issues.

In this short blog, I could tell you about the amazing sites and buildings we’ve been to, the humorous pub quiz evenings we’ve had, the new connections we’ve made or perhaps describe how spoilt we felt after all the food, wine, coffee and jam scones we’ve received and so much more. However, in this blog, I would like to highlight a few of the many important lessons that I had learnt during these wonderful couple of days. Lessons which I may not have learnt if it wasn’t for this school.

Alistair-Rowan-at-Florencecourt-Co-Fermanagh-Ian-Lennon-pic.JPG#asset:12367Alistair Rowan at Florencecourt, Co. Fermanagh

The first day of the school kicked-off by underlining several pressing issues on vital topics such as vast vacancy, town-planning, governing systems and adaptive re-use. Professor Alistair Rowan had nailed an excellent talk on the buildings of Fermanagh, where he not only raised awareness in terms of preservation dilemmas, but also encouraged us to always question our stance and ethics towards conservation. ‘Should some buildings be conserved in a specific way? If so, how? Is it the right thing to do? How can we integrate the new with the old in conservation?’ I found this interrogating aspect extremely valuable, as it makes us question the norms and current standards in preserving our heritage, hence bringing them under a new light.

CWF-summer-school-Dr-Philip-Crowe-in-Enniskillen-Methodist-Hall.JPG#asset:12372Dr Philip Crowe of Space Engagers presenting in the Methodist Hall, Enniskillen

Later, Dr Philip Crowe explored international case studies with us such as Scotland, Denmark and France, on how vacancy data is created and used, and further elaborated on incentives for the reuse of vacant buildings in town centres for sustainable communities. Speaking of our UN SDGs and natural limited resources, Dr Crowe pointed out that ‘vacancy’ itself should be viewed as not only vacant space but rather as a waste of spatial resource which is highly limited.

Miriam-Delany-Free-Market-presentation-CWF-summer-school-2019-Ian-Lennon-image.JPG#asset:12366Architect Miriam Delany's 'Free Market' presentation in Enniskillen for CWF summer school 2019 (Image: Ian Lennon)

Miriam Delaney had brought the 2018 Venice Biennale to us by describing the Irish Pavilion ‘Free Market’ which explored the common space of market towns across Ireland. These places have undergone fundamental change in recent times, especially due to increased car-parking areas, while the markets’ purpose as spaces of exchange and congregation has weakened sufficiently. With the exposure at the Biennale, these small towns resonated on an international scale and has once again reinforced the need to preserve townships and settlements as distinct urban morphologies in an era of increasing mobilisation and urbanisation.

Students-gathered-outside-Mason-Hall-Co-Cavan.jpg#asset:12370Summer school students gathered outside the Masonic Hall, Co. Cavan for the 2nd day of CWF summer school

The second day opened in the Masonic Hall in Cavan where Romy Kanitz elaborated on the hands-on practice behind architectural conservation in Ireland. She described not only its theory, but the actual practical working process which they undertook in the refurbishment of Cavan Town Hall, elaborating on the challenges and the decision factors which informed each step of the project. Conservation works can often bring about different corporate structures and cultures, where the involvement of multiple organizations such as consultants, contractors and suppliers are assembled as a team. Romy highlighted the most important factor in their process and perhaps a lesson for all, which was strong communication and organization skills.

Viktoria-Hevesi-Conor-Hamill-Angela-Reuda-Primrose-Wilson-Edward-McParland-Zinnie-Denby-Mann-Kevin-V.-Mulligan.jpg#asset:12368Viktoria Hevesi (TUD), Conor Hamill, Angela Reuda (TUD/OPW), Primrose Wilson, Edward McParland, Zinnie Denby-Mann (UCEM) and director Kevin V. Mulligan outside Kilmore Parochial Hall, Co. Cavan

The summer school encompassed many subjects through site visits, tours, lectures. We explored many current built-heritage case studies in order to consider different approaches to the integration of heritage into the wider social, economic and environmental context. I could fill an entire book with all the things I’ve learnt from everyone throughout the three days. Thank you to all the organizers, volunteers and everybody involved in this brilliant program to give us these wonderful opportunities. I look forward to attending even more events organized by the UAHS/IGS.

Viktoria Hevesi, Architecture student, Technological University Dublin

The 2019 Conservation without Frontiers summer school was supported by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, Cavan County Council, Department of Heritage, Culture and the Gaeltacht under the Co-operation with Northern Ireland Funding Scheme, The Apollo Foundation and Hamilton Architects.

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Queen’s University Belfast and Cardiff University project - stakeholder engagement with the planning systems


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A research initiative being undertaken jointly through Queen’s University Belfast and Cardiff University is contrasting stakeholder perceptions of planning in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales. It is designed to explore the role and extent of stakeholder engagement with the planning systems; views of the planning systems in relation to the public interest and other issues; changes in perceptions, based on a survey of a comparable stakeholder population in Northern Ireland, carried out in 2011; perceived relationships between various stakeholders; and priorities for reform or change.

The research is based on a major online survey of individuals to represent those citizens and public, private and voluntary sector interests with direct involvement with the planning systems. This survey will be live from the end of June until 30 September 2019 and members and supporters of the Irish Georgian Society have been invited to participate in this. The survey can be accessed at and further information is available here.

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North Great George’s Street – A Unique Story of Effort and Success


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The rejuvenation of North Great George’s Street, one of the principal streets of Georgian Dublin, into a living, breathing street is celebrated in this exhibition. The exhibition was organised by the members of the North Great George’s Street Preservation Society, (NGGSPS), which this year is celebrating 40 years since its foundation. Each member has played their individual part in restoring the street and its houses to their former glory.

North Great George’s Street was originally built as town houses for the gentry between the middle and end of the 18th century. The Act of Union in 1801 quickly marked its decline when the gentry moved to London. The street then became home largely to the medical and legal professions, but it went into massive decline in the early part of the 20th century in poverty ridden Dublin as many of the houses were turned into tenements.

In the early 1970’s, a far-seeing group of individuals bought houses (some still occupied by tenants at the time) that were often in an advanced state of dereliction. Over the years, these owners have painstakingly refurbished the houses and turned them into homes. The NGGSPS, supported by the North Great George’s Street Residents Association, has played a vital role in the conservation of the architectural fabric of the buildings. All this work on the individual homes has been painstakingly carried out at each owner’s expense and restored to meet the highest standards of the houses as they were first built.

The Preservation Society was founded in 1979 by Senator David Norris, Harold Clarke and Desiree Short and other home owners of the street made up the members, including the Loreto Order and Belvedere College. It, together with the North Great George’s Street Residents Association, has worked closely with Dublin City Council, the Georgian Society and the An Taisce to ensure the preservation of the street.

Chairman of NGGSPS, Tom McKeown said: “While all the original houses are ‘protected structures’, there are still huge risks in the form of over-development of the houses themselves and the mews lanes surrounding them. In order to reduce these risks, the NGGSPS is working closely with Dublin City Council to have the area designated an Architectural Conservation Area. This would offer an increased level of protection to the street and highlight the still existing need to improve the sadly neglected public domain including pavements, railings and facades”.

Vice President of The Georgian Society, Camille McAleese added: “When the wonderful, gorgeous Dublin city was crumbling or in a perilous state, North Great Georges Street was one of unique architectural merit where a growing number of private householders had already demonstrated a public-spirited concern. Their aim was to conserve their homes in North Great Georges Street for their own enjoyment and that of fellow citizens and future generations. It is imperative that NGGPS receives full support from all the relevant organisations to support their laudable work” she added.

North Great Georges Street is one of Dublin’s most beautiful and intact Georgian Streets. It is the challenge of the present generation who started the vision to bring the street back to its former glory and to continue the work to ensure the street will be enjoyed for many generations to come.

1 to 7 July 2019
Daniel O'Connell Room, City Assembly House, 58 South William Street, Dublin 2

Exhibition opening hours:
Monday 1 July to Saturday 6 July, 10am—6pm
Sunday 7 July, 12pm—6pm

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