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.

James Wyatt's Irish Masterpiece: Castle Coole Study Day


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James Wyatt’s Irish Masterpiece: Castle Coole Study Day

The Irish Georgian Society, in partnership with the National Trust, Northern Ireland, is delivering a study day celebrating the rich architectural heritage, decorative interiors and designed landscape of Ireland’s finest eighteenth-century neo-classical house, Castle Coole, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

Castle Coole has been home to the Lowry Corry family since the late seventeenth century. A Queen Anne mansion built by John Curle replaced the earlier defensive castle and at the close of the eighteenth century this in turn was replaced by a house of unparalleld architectural grandeur, built to designs by James Wyatt for Armar Lowry-Corry, the 1st Earl of Belmore. Castle Coole continues to be home to Lord Belmore and his family.

The keynote speaker will be Dr John Martin Robinson, the acknowledged authority on James Wyatt. Other distinguished speakers include: Frances Bailey; William Laffan; Dr Patricia McCarthy; Dr Edward McParland; Christopher Monkhouse; Terence Reeves-Smyth; Dr William Roulston; and David Skinner. The study day commences at 11am with tea and scones and a welcome from Lord Belmore. In addition to the study day lectures, there will a tour of Castle Coole and lunch.

Tuesday 12 November 2019
Castle Coole, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Tickets: €90 to include tea/coffee and lunch
Tickets (with coach): €120 (departing at 8.30am from the Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin, returning to Dublin for 7.45pm)
Click here to download the full programme.

Buy tickets here.

Image: John Preston Neale (1780–1847), A View of Castle Coole (National Library of Ireland

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Desmond Guinness Scholarship 2019 open for applications


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Desmond Guinness Scholarship 2019

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.

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. The award will be made before the end of November 2019.

Applications must be submitted by 2pm, Monday 28 October 2019.

Please note the following:

  • Applications must be made online through this form: http://bit.ly/DGscholarship19
  • No additional information or any other accompanying material will be accepted.
  • All questions must be answered and incomplete applications will not be considered. Late applications will not be accepted.
  • The Scholarship will not cover tuition fees.
  • A confidential reference supporting the application must be sent separately by post by the closing date to the following address: Desmond Guinness Scholarship, Irish Georgian Society, City Assembly House, 58 South William Street, Dublin 2

If you have any further queries about the scholarship please contact:

Zoё Coleman (zoe.coleman@igs.ie) or by phoning 01 679 8675.

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Culture Night 2019 at City Assembly House


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The City Assembly House was built for the Society of Artists (1766-70), and restored by the Irish Georgian Society (2013-18). For this year's Culture Night programme, City Assembly House is excited to host a group exhibition by Pallas Studios artists and performances by Irish Baroque Orchestra and Irish Youth Baroque Orchestra in the Knight of Glin Exhibition Room.

Friday 20 September, 7.30pm

Irish Baroque Orchestra launches their 2019-2020 season amidst the inclusive, vibrant backdrop of Culture Night in Dublin. They are joined for this special event by mezzo-soprano Katie Bray, who recently won the Audience Prize at the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Join IBO from TIME to hear a selection of items from their upcoming performance of Vivaldi's Griselda with Irish National Opera, as well as selections from their recent CD 'Welcome Home Mr Dubourg'. Brochures for their 2019-2020 season will also be available.

Conductor Peter Whelan; Mezzo-Soprano Katie Bray

Wednesday 18 September - Saturday 22 September

Pallas Studios is an artist-led organisation, dedicated to the facilitation of contemporary artistic production and discourse. They are hosting a group exhibition in the Knight of Glin Exhibition Room featuring contemporary works, on show at these times:

10-3 Wednesday

10-5 Thursday

10-10 Friday

10-6 Saturday


We look forward to welcoming you to the City Assembly House all week long!

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Call for papers: “Welcome and Unwelcome Guests: The Visitor and the Country House”


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The 18th Annual Historic Houses Conference, 11-13 May 2020

Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates,
History Department, Maynooth University

The theme of the 18th Annual Historic Houses Conference, to be held at Maynooth University on 11-13 May 2020, will be ‘Welcome and Unwelcome Guests: The Visitor and the Country House’.

Download call for papers here.

Country houses have always been a magnet for visitors, rarely have their doors been entirely closed to the outside world. In early days individuals with the correct social credentials could gain entry, while visitors such as royalty were self-invited guests. With the rise of the railway and then the motor-car, houses have become accustomed to mass visits, spawning the heritage industry of today.

However, houses have also attracted less welcome incomers: looters, arsonists, emigrés, revolutionaries, the politically undesirable, carpetbaggers, and even photographers whom one owner described as worse than burglars.

This conference will explore the many kinds of visitors who have crossed the thresholds of country houses and how they have recorded their impressions – whether in sketches, journals, guest-books, works of fiction, photographs, or on the pages of Trip Advisor. Have owners always been hospitable towards their guests, and have visitors respected what was on offer in these houses? How have owners adapted their homes from residences into public attractions? Can private entertainment and commercial activity live side-by-side, satisfying invited guest and paying tourist alike, while generating pleasure and profit for all?

Papers on any aspect of country house visiting in Ireland, the UK, Europe, or the wider world will be considered. Abstracts of no more than 400 words should be sent to Professor Terence Dooley and Professor Christopher Ridgway before 5 January 2020 at the following addresses: terence.a.dooley@mu.ie and cridgway@castlehoward.co.uk

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IGS Objection to the Proposed Demolition of Cork's Revenue Building


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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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