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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.

The Loss of a Georgian Gem: Vernon Mount, Co. Cork

28.04.2020

Posted by IGS

A once great house from an epoch that resonated with the stirrings of national self-determination in America and France, and with a hidden but rich cultural history spanning three continents, was engulfed in flames in July [2016]. Visible over a sizeable part of Cork City, the fire itself drew thousands of onlookers – the historic Vernon Mount burned on its steep escarpment overlooking Cork.

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Vernon Mount, c. 1910 (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

Many people compared the impact of the fire on the community to the inferno which destroyed the old Cork Opera House in December 1955. There was shock and outrage that such a calamity had been visited on such a well-known and loved landmark, by an act of wanton vandalism.

The vast numbers who observed its demise were a far cry from the packed attendance at the initial public meeting held on a November evening in a local church hall in Douglas village seven years previously. There, the first germ of the idea of restoring the grand old house came to life as part of the creation of a park that would connect suburbs and city on the former city landfill that faces Vernon Mount.

At that meeting, the ad-hoc organising committee had prepared a presentation, and invited guest speakers from both City and County Councils. This co- operative approach was to become a feature of the campaign, and the meeting unanimously approved the proposal for a renovated Vernon Mount connected to the new park. The meeting was just the first of many such public engagements with the local community and quickly drew a wider audience both online and off.

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Minerva casting away the spears of war’, formerly mounted on the ceiling of the drawing room, painted by Cork artist Nathaniel Grogan (1740-1807) - now lost. (Image taken by IGS in 2008)

Early in the process, the group – now named the Grange Frankfield Partnership (GFP) – developed its strategy to include three key and interlinked components; an extended park to incorporate open space lands on the escarpment to the south of the capped city landfill and located in Cork County, the creation of a cycleway/walkway route linking both land units and necessitating the construction of a ‘green bridge’ over the separating N40 motorway, and the jewel in the crown – the incorporation in the extended park of Vernon Mount House as an iconic feature of outstanding heritage and cultural value.

Within a year, after plenty of groundwork and lobbying, the group met the then Cork County Manager, Martin Riordan. After an initially cautious reception, discussion warmed to the point where he was complimenting a well-constructed strategy.The meeting ended with a commitment to help the endeavour in whatever way he could.

This success in drawing support from the Council was to result in the extension of the park planning study on the city landfill to the adjacent County lands, thereby producing a physically integrated plan and in the process dramatically changing the context and setting of Vernon Mount.

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Vernon Mount (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

That leap forward led to the design of the proposed cycleway/walkway, including over-bridge, and the acquisition of land at the southern entry point. In addition, significant publicly funded restorative works commenced on the roof of Vernon Mount House, the structure having become endangered by deterioration and weathering. Central to the success of the project was the early appearance of a benefactor, whose generous support funded the design and printing of initial flyers, attractive display panels, professional PR assistance, and the creation of an informative and attractive website (www.vernonmountpark.ie).

The Vernon Mount Lecture Series, enthusiastically supported by Douglas Library, was a key part of engaging the public in the initiative and has been an unqualified success. It maintained a permanent focus on the house, maintaining public interest and support for conservation of this singular building. GFP in recent times was on the crest of a wave as a result of a deeper engagement with the Irish Georgian Society. Through GFP’s website, contact had also been made by the custodians of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s ancestral home in Virginia, USA, and a commitment elicited to help our efforts in Cork.

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Lobby of Vernon Mount (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

The key barrier to restoring Vernon Mount was the intractable difficulty of engaging meaningfully, if at all, with the owners of the house. Their indifference impeded not only a sustainable future for the house, but also an adequate regime of maintenance and security as it lurched from one crisis to another.

A most disturbing sign of the continuing threat to the house came shortly after the roof was repaired in 2012, when youths entered and accessed the roof itself. Although apprehended by the Gardai the threat remained as the sealed windows and doors became a constant target for vandals. GFP was painfully aware that time was not on its side as it ramped up its efforts to gather sufficient support to convince the public authorities that unless drastic measures were taken to protect and preserve the house, it would not survive. We made strenuous efforts to bring other organisations in to help with this shared ambition.

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Drone footage of Vernon Mount after fire, July 2016, courtesy of Evan Kelly Visuals)

The enigma remains as to what might have been. Faced with the usual panoply of threats that endanger many protected heritage buildings, namely the:

- incapacity or indifference on the part of owners
- reluctance of planning authorities to become too financially or legally embroiled
- uncertainty of State involvement
- limited resources of conservation NGO’s and semi-states
- erratic popular interest and support for conservation
It will require a monumental and persistent effort to succeed.

Ironically none of these factors hindered GFP’s progress, as focussed action won friends and influenced people and organisations. Sincerity and persistence of effort were rewarded by generous help, support and advice from all quarters. In the end, it wasn’t lack of money that undid our efforts, rather the indifference of the owners to its legal obligations to safeguard the house, an exceptional failure by the local authority when alerted to the impending disaster, and society’s apparent ambivalence to ongoing vandalism.

All is not lost, however, and both GFP and IGS believe a diamond still exists in the ashes – the graceful, curvilinear shell of the house must be saved. It should continue to stand as a monumental vestige of a once great house of an epoch whose revolutionary history resonates in the centenary year of our national commemoration.

Thank you to Tony Foy and Brendan Kelleher of the Grange Frankfield Partnership for co-writing this article. This article is taken from the 2016 edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review, our annual members' magazine.

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A Generous Donation - William Laffan

27.04.2020

Posted by IGS

A longstanding member has donated a collection of Irish miniatures to the Society which first went on display at Castletown in 2016. The selected group featured here focuses on the Boyle family, Earls of Shannon and on members of the FitzGerald family of Carton – notably an oversized posthumous portrait of Lord Edward by Horace Hone.

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Lady Emily Mary Lennox, wife of the 1st Duke of Leinster, by Gustavus Hamilton, in a carved wooden frame

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Lord St. George FitzGerald – son of William Robert FitzGerald, 2nd Duke, as a child, on gilt metal and verre eglomise frame (Irish School circa 1790)

Castletown, home to Lord Edward’s aunt Louisa, is, of course, a most appropriate home and the tragic decline of the FitzGerald’s fortunes is poignantly foreshadowed in depictions of the young brothers Desmond (killed accidentally in the First World War) and Maurice (the 6th Duke) who died in a psychiatric institution a few years later. 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’.

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Maurice FitzGerald, 6th Duke of Leinster, by Miss Annie Howard (1888) on gilt metal frame

The Irish Georgian Society 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) which rather highlighted the absence of miniatures in the otherwise comprehensive showcasing of Irish fine and applied arts. This gap has been comprehensively filled with this donation which includes works by the finest Irish artists working in miniature such as Nathaniel Hone and Henry Kirchoffer. Sincere thanks are to the Irish donor, who wishes to remain anonymous.

William Laffan is an independent art historian, editor and curator.

This article is taken from the 2016 edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review, our annual members' magazine.

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The Irish Georgian Society and Castletown

22.04.2020

Posted by IGS

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The Red Drawing Room, 2018 (Photo by Paul Tierney, The Office of Public Works)

On 23 June 2018, Castletown celebrated 50 years since it was officially opened to the public by Erskine Childers, the then Minister for Tourism, in June 1968. This year’s event was organised by the three bodies who have orchestrated the restoration during this period— – the Irish Georgian Society, the Castletown Foundation and the Office of Public Works. The event was held to acknowledge the involvement, much of it voluntary, of so many people during the past five decades. The trials and fun of the early days of clearing and restoration were outlined by Professor Roy Foster in his June address to the guests in the Long Gallery, but in particular he stressed the long and critical involvement of the Irish Georgian Society in securing a viable future for the house.

Today Castletown is of course State- owned and has, since 1994, been expertly conserved and developed as a cultural and tourist attraction by the OPW who run the house, aided by the Castletown Foundation in an advisory capacity.

With the passage of time and the advent of other projects, it is easy to forget that Castletown is the greatest success story of the Irish Georgian Society to date. The significance of the house and the scale of the project captured public attention in the late 1960s and gave the Society publicity and a definitive following, both in Ireland and abroad.

In The Irish Georgian Society: a Celebration (2008) Robert O’Byrne has chronicled the Society’s role in and heroic struggle to saving the house from 1967 when on its 10th anniversary in 1967, when it moved its headquarters from Leixlip Castle to Castletown. After Desmond Guinness had purchased Castletown and 166 acres, the house and its immediate surroundings were held by the Castletown House Co. Ltd., then by the Castletown Trust, and finally in 1979 by the Castletown Foundation, which achieved its own charitable status. Until the Society moved back to Leixlip Castle in 1983, Castletown was its principal focus, and even after that date the Society’s fortunes were inextricably linked in the public mind with that of the house.

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Castletown features in the earliest issues of the Bulletin: in 1962 there was a notice regarding the opening of the house, described as “one of the most fascinating houses in Ireland”, in August by the Conolly–Carew family, described as ‘one of the most fascinating houses in Ireland’; entry was 2/6d in aid of parish funds .The first issues of the Bulletin in 1958 featured the Conolly Folly on their covers, and throughout the 1960s, the publication frequently pictured engraved images of either the folly, the sphinx gate piers, or the Print Room photographed by Lucinda Lambton - indicating that the importance and fate of Castletown was firmly on the Society’s agenda. The first actual involvement in either Castletown, or indeed the first active conservation project for the Society, was the 1962-5 restoration of the Conolly Folly, then owned by Lord Brocket. The formula for future campaigns was immediately set: – a fund raising event lead by Mariga and Desmond, a public appeal with lists of subscribers, and ultimately contributions from Board Failte (now Failte Ireland) and a government Amenity Grants Scheme. When, in 1968, the Society bought the folly for £1,000, the funds came from Rose Saul Zalles, thus commencing the long American involvement in the saving of Castletown.

From 1967, many editions of the Bulletin chronicle the enormous task involved in readying the house for opening and the slow process of restoration. There was a palpable sense of excitement in the challenge that lay ahead, perhaps more so than in any other project subsequently undertaken. As well as the lists of repairs needed to make the house safe and usable, the restoration of the kitchens, the Boudoir painted surfaces, the cleaning of the Hall overmantel landscape, the painting by Roland Pym of murals, and the presentation of the rooms were described. From the very beginning the success of Castletown relied on volunteers, and the Society was careful to acknowledge and thank all those who came to clean the rooms and guide visitors. Clearly this was a lot of fun and in later years Ann Crookshank recalled the satisfaction she had in rolling slices of fresh white bread down the delicate walls of the Print Room in order to remove layers of grime.

Realising the limited appeal of even a house as great as Castletown, the Society was keen that the house become a vital part of cultural life in Ireland and be available to everyone from the very beginning. The Bulletins list all manner of performances held in the house, including those by the Chieftains, Siobhan McKenna, the Dublin Shakespeare Society, the Dublin Baroque Players and the Festival of Music in Great Irish Houses. In addition there were ‘musical picnics’, lectures, a planning conference and the well- publicised hunt balls, ensuring which ensured that the house came to life. Exhibitions relating to the decorative arts widened the appeal: in 1970 Patricia Cockburn’s shell pictures were shown; and in 1971, as part of Rosc, Patrick Hickey organised the Irish Delft display, which drew 1,000 visitors between October and December.

Furnishing Castletown was a primary objective for the Society. Desmond had of course bought the core of the original contents from the Conolly-Carews both before and at the 1966 auction, and these remained on loan until the late 1980s, when they were bought by the Castletown Foundation. These original items gave an authenticity to the displays, particularly in the Red Drawing Room— but with sixteen or more rooms open to the public, the overall impression was of an empty house. In 1968, Desmond wrote in the Bulletin about the difficulty of opening the house, how its character was bound to change and how “books propped open by old fashioned spectacles....help dispel the rusty atmosphere of the museum”. Lists of items that were required included leather bound books (“not necessarily readable”), items that came from Castletown, Irish ‘Chippendale’ furniture, silver and glass, maps and architectural drawings. These appeals were successful, and in this way, not only did the rooms regain some of their former appearance, but significant Irish and Continental pieces were introduced to the collection, including such as the Headfort suite and the Lucca Bed. While most of these were not original to the house, many of these items were fine examples of Irish furniture of the 18th or 19th centuries and in some cases very similar to items recorded in the early inventories. These gifts became part of the impetus to set up a charitable trust;, and hence the Castletown Foundation was established, as an educational trust, with an emphasis on the fine arts, to take over ownership and administration of the house, and continue the programme of restoration.

The purchase of the Lucca Bbed for £3,500 in 1971 from Geoffrey Bennison by the newly founded Dallas Chapter for £3,500, is indicative of the importance of the fourteen American chapters of the Society to the Castletown cause. The chapters in London, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, New York and Massachusetts in particular raised money, repatriated original items and gave other crucial gifts to the house. In addition, charitable foundations (for example, the John Brady Foundation, the Patrick and Aimee Butler Foundation, and the Lehmann Foundations), as well as scores of individuals, generously gave funds and items to the cause. The long list of those who donated generous gifts and loans has in recent years been recorded on donor boards in the east ground floor axial corridor at Castletown.

Over the years, as the Society developed, other campaigns dominated its agenda, but even after the office moved back to Leixlip Castle in 1983, the commitment to Castletown continued with events like the 25th Anniversary Silver Ball held in the house in aid of the restoration of the Green Drawing Room, which was also funded by the Chicago Chapter. This project was followed in 1989 by a major restoration of the Long Gallery, once again funded by the Chicago Chapter. During the lean years, when the house was owned and run by the Castletown Foundation, its income was derived from door receipts and the rents from six flats and the restaurant. This was not sufficient to maintain the building, and funds raised in America and the UK through the chapters were vital in keeping the house open. Just as important were the funds raised by the chapters (in particular the London Chapter) to help secure the original contents which that the Castletown Foundation had succeeded in purchasing from Desmond Guinness by 1988.

Perhaps the greatest continuing legacy for the Society at Castletown are its important furnishings, which are displayed in the house. Most of these were conditional gifts made through the Society to the house, where they continue to embellish and educate. What better way for the Society to continue its involvement in one of the great Irish conservation success stories?

Christopher Moore was a member of the Castletown Foundation 2000-2018, and Chairman 2013-18, and is now is a Patron of the Foundation.

This article is taken from the 2018 edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review, our annual members' magazine.

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​Cork City Heritage Plan (2021-25)

21.04.2020

Posted by IGS

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St. Fin Barre's Cathedral (William Murphy)

The Irish Georgian Society submission for the proposed new Cork City Council Heritage Plan 2021-2025 highlighted the following opportunities to promote the city’s architectural heritage:

  • Newly published and forthcoming publications on the built heritage of Cork City provide important new sources of information. The Heritage Plan could use these resources to generate greater awareness of the importance and the need for the conservation of Cork’s historic building stock. Of particular note in this regard are ‘Buildings of Ireland - Cork City and County’ (Yale, 2020) and the pending Cork city themed volume of ‘Irish Architectural & Decorative Studies, the Journal of the Irish Georgian Society
  • Cork City has experienced a huge level of development in recent years which should present an opportunity to promote investment in its rich stock of historic buildings. In championing the city's architectural heritage, the Heritage Plan should seek to promote urban regeneration through events such as the "Unlocking Upstairs" event held in 2019 and through the promotion of the Living City Initiative.
  • The recent expansion of the boundaries of Cork City presents new opportunities but also challenges for its built heritage, especially as the city grows. Blarney is one such area which is now facing pressure from development and where a sensitive and informed approach to any new building works is essential. The Irish Georgian Society has proposed that the Heritage Plan seek to highlight the town's built heritage through initiatives such as the Heritage Council's Town Centre Health Check scheme. Special seminars on the town's built heritage could also be considered, possibly based on those the Irish Georgian Society has delivered for Westport in association with Mayo County Council.

The public consultation for the Cork City Heritage Plan remains open until 30 April on www.corkcity.ie

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Lost Ireland - William Derham

15.04.2020

Posted by IGS

The following article is taken from the 2016 edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review, our annual members' magazine.

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Mount Tilly, Buncrana, Co. Donegal. This delightful terrace likely began life as one large house built about 1717 when the town of Buncrana was first laid out. The Dutch-style gables would have been a common sight in places like Dublin at the time. One interesting feature of note is the outside stone stair leading to the first floor. Sadly, both building and stair appear to have been demolished in the 1930s.

The images on the following pages are just a tiny sample of some 500 that fill the pages of Lost Ireland: 1860–1960, the book which I was asked to put together by a small London Publisher, Hyde Park Editions, early in 2014. As the title suggests, the vast majority of the buildings and structures featured no longer exist. A few exceptions were made such as Carstown House in Co. Louth or Carrigglas Manor in Co. Longford, in an effort to focus some attention on them while hope of their salvation is still possible, but by and large this is a book chronicling destruction. The very fact of their ruin and decline is illustrative of the history to which these structures have formed the backdrop – the people who lived and worked in them; the events that unfolded in or about them; the narratives and stories that describe their eventual loss.

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Weaver’s Hall, The Coombe, Dublin City. Weaver’s Hall was built for the weaver’s guild in 1745 and survived until 1968, when it was demolished. The first floor contained the actual hall where the members of the guild would have met. It was a large handsome room, with much fine detail executed in carved wood, including the overmantle. It was once hung with a tapestry by John Van Beaver, which was sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

Where the actual structures are no longer around to be investigated themselves, old photographs like these are sometimes the only evidence of the one-time existence of a particular edifice. They are often the only means we have of reading them, that is, of interpreting their physical form, their construction, their symbolism, and working out what all of that says about the times that they witnessed – our past. It is hoped that, from this point of view, the published images prove intriguing and interesting to those who choose to open the pages and engage with them, even if sometimes indulging a little in nostalgia.

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Palace Anne, Ballineen, Co. Cork. Palace Anne was built c. 1714 for one Arthur Bernard. It was constructed of imported red brick and featured Dutch-inspired gables – three over the main block and one over each of the two small pavilion wings either side. At one point it also boasted suitably impressive panelled interiors too. After it was sold in the mid nineteenth century the house fell into disrepair, as shown here. One of the wings was converted for use as a residence and all but that converted wing was demolished in the late 1950s. It survives today in a derelict condition. (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

The book attempts to give a representative spread of Irish architecture in all its varied, disappeared forms: quite literally from the field gate to the “big house”; and from Donegal to Kerry. The book is divided up by province, and then alphabetically by county, and a concerted effort was made to present an even geographic spread. An effort was also made to balance the sometimes better- known images of Georgian Dublin and of particular stately homes, with images of places that haven’t had so much limelight. With that in mind, there are some omissions. Dublin and Antrim for instance, could each have been many pages longer.

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Bellevue, Delgany, Co. Wicklow. This elaborate ceiling once covered the private chapel at Bellevue House. The house was quite a plain structure, built in 1754 for the banking family of La Touche. The chapel was added in 1803 to the design of Richard Morrison. The house fell into disrepair in the first part of the twentieth century an was demolished in the 1950s. (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

An introductory essay sets out, in broad strokes, a brief account of Ireland’s built heritage and of the circumstances that led to so much of its destruction. It is intended as a first step for those who are inexpert, and perhaps just curious. The photographs however speak for themselves and will hopefully be useful to readers of all ranges of interest and levels of knowledge.

Lost Ireland, 1860-1960 (Hyde Park Editions, 2016) by William Derham can be purchased from the IGS bookshop.

William Derham is a curator at Dublin Castle and is a graduate of architecture from the Dublin Institute of Technology and holds a postgraduate degree in Building Repair & Conservation from Trinity College Dublin. He was joint editor, with Dr. Myles Campbell, of The Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle: An Architectural History (Dublin, 2015).

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Dear, Faithful, Loyal And Generous, A Tribute To Jeremy Williams by Dr Nicola Gordon Bowe

10.04.2020

Posted by IGS

The following is part of a fond tribute penned by the late Dr Nicola Gordon Bowefor Jeremy Williams who died on Christmas Eve 2015, which was reproduced in the 2016 edition of the Irish Georgian Society Review. Talented, idiosyncratic, and mourned, his friends and admirers contributed to a memoir Jeremy Williams: One of a Kind (2020) to remember a singular man and the Irish Architectural Archive on Merrion Square mounted an exhibition of his work, the drawings from that show can be viewed online on the IARC website, and which we've shared below.

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The Casino at Marino (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

What a wonderful tribute to Jeremy that so many of the friends, colleagues and clients garnered on his continual peregrinations throughout Ireland, Scotland, England, Europe and beyond should have assembled in memory of a dear, faithful, loyal and generous friend. We all know Jeremy would go anywhere for a good party, and it is our great loss that he isn’t here to enjoy this one. Like you, I still can’t believe that Jeremy really has gone, suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving the life he relished so fully, and that we shan’t see his ubiquitously welcome face, hear his excitedly crescendo-ing voice, helpless laughter, and enjoy his familiar company again. But perhaps it’s fitting that, if he had to leave us, it was after a pre-Christmas supper with old friends, and on the doorstep of the book-lined Victorian house overlooking the 18th century graveyard of St. Catherine’s in the Liberties; the house which a legacy from his grandmother had enabled him to acquire years ago as his eyrie and architectural office.

I first met him at an arcane Trinity Arts Society lecture, organized by George Wynne Willson, on ‘Op- Gothic Architecture’. Architecture was Jeremy’s greatest love, the result of lifelong explorations, first on a bike as a student; then on a scooter; by Eurorail and in a succession of cars which came after the pea-green one he inherited from his grandmother, replete with a silver lamé eiderdown in the back - into which he would burrow on overnight trips. An open gate (as they mostly were then) leading up to a classic house of the middle or larger size or, even better, a castle served as an invitation to investigate what lay at the end of the drive. As many of you know, not only was he great fun on such explorations, but also a brilliantly informed guide. I remember him, en route to the Laois Hunt Ball, hoisting the front wheels of his car up onto a rockery, to give his passengers a headlight-illuminated introduction to the ground floor plasterwork of a house whose occupants had already left for the Ball – when suddenly suspicious Gardai arrived! Others remember him reversing erratically to look at a house he’d missed, quite oblivious of the queue of cars behind him frantically doing likewise!

As he travelled the length and breadth of this country, which he knew inside out, he recorded in his wonderfully assured spidery drawings the exteriors and interiors of buildings – some threatened, others re-imagined by him with the fine rococo plasterwork ceilings he rescued and successfully re-installed with the help of stuccodore Tommy Leydon. A devotee of the Irish Georgian Society, his concern about the ubiquitous threat to Victorian buildings in Ireland, led to the formation of the Irish Victorian Society in 1974 as an informed conservation pressure group.

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Saloon of Russborough, Co. Wicklow (Courtesy of the Irish Architectural Archive)

His many clients valued his unique ability to seamlessly incorporate the old with the new. For them he matched his inspired references to historic architecture with the workmanship of his team of builders and artist/ craftspeople, using carefully chosen materials, salvaged and new. For the extent of his work, witness the sheer quantity of job files, which are to be housed along with their attendant drawings and his impressive architectural library in the Irish Architectural Archive. On his ceaseless expeditions at home and abroad, in search of architecture and the music he loved to see and hear performed, he would establish temporary roosts, making often unexpected connections from his wide reading and first-hand knowledge, contributing ever-creative - but guileless - gossip, entertaining and relishing the company of those he met. Travels to India, Morocco, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Egypt with friends opened new horizons beyond his beloved Belgium, Germany and France. As long as Jeremy had his overnight bag, his sketchbook, pencils and pens, his radio, and current reading matter or writing material, he was in his element. Like Montaigne, his thoughts seemed to go to sleep unless they and he wandered.

His magically romantic drawings were published in books which reflect his unique knowledge and sketching skills: in 1989, Renagh Holohan’s The Irish Chateaux; in search of the Descendants of the Wild Geese, for Lilliput Press; in his privately printed illustrated record of a grand weekend Shooting Party at the Chateau du Fayel in 1994; and the same year, in his invaluable county-by- county Companion Guide to Architecture in Ireland 1837-1921 for Michael Adams’ Irish Academic Press. In the introduction, the eminent architectural historian Mark Girouard acknowledged Jeremy’s gift, notable in the best gazetteers, of “providing compulsive browsing” while “making the buildings which he describes seem desirable” by illuminating “them with a few deft phrases”, bringing them to life with engagingly idiosyncratic references to the people who built them and lived in them. Nearly four years ago, his carefully selected retrospective of 160 Watercolours and Drawings mounted at Damien Matthews’ majestic salerooms in Dublin’s Capel Street emulated the desire Jeremy shared with the late Knight of Glin - to see Joseph Leeson’s vision “of an Italian palace by a German architect embellished by Swiss stuccodores and Irish craftsmen” re-instated in their original settings in the seven principal interiors of Russborough. The exhibition featured other original re-constructions of richly stucco’d interiors, lost staircases, what he deemed Dublin’s “ten most beautiful reception rooms”, Gothick follies, neo-Palladian fantasies, rustic retreats, and sections illustrating the creative “Spell of Steel” and the “Lure of Resin”. The works on show concluded with homages to the work of his sculptor friend and craftsman/builder colleague, David Durdin Robertson at Huntington, Kilshannig and Clonmannon, and to Tommy Leydon’s skillfully transplanted stucco ceilings.

Let us hope that Jeremy is orchestrating celestial picnics amongst Arcadian follies, regaling his beloved mother, and admired fellow free-spirits such as Mariga Guinness, Jelena de Belder, Christel Boorman and Aggie Bernelle with fantasies loosely drawn from life on earth.

Jeremy Williams: One of a Kind

Jeremy Williams: One of a Kind, edited by Dermot Scott and published by Lilliput Press (2020) is available from the IGS Bookshop.

Nicola Gordon Bowe (1948 – 2018) was an art historian, author and educator.

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