Updates

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 proposals for Georgian House Museum

02.02.2021

Posted by IGS

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Planning Department, Dublin City Council, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8

Re: Nos 29 & 30 Fitzwilliam Street Lower / Nos 61 & 62 Mount Street Upper Dublin 2.

Ref. 3972/20

Dear Sir, Madam,

This planning application proposes the change of use from museum to residential of the ESB’s Georgian House Museum at No. 29 Fitzwilliam Street Lower.

The Irish Georgian Society wishes to object to this proposal as it would result in the sad and significant loss of a museum of Dublin home life for the period 1790 to 1820 which for over 25 years had a stated aim “to make accessible the social, decorative, cultural, and political history of the Georgian capital” (www.numbertwentynine.ie).

In considering this proposal, the Irish Georgian Society notes that it supports the principle of reinstating residential uses for Dublin’s Georgian buildings stock and the provision in the Dublin City Development Plan “to maintain and enhance these areas as active residential streets and squares during the day and at night-time” (Land Use Objective Z8). Furthermore, it is noted that the Society supported the report ‘The Future of the South Georgian Core’ (2013) which encouraged the use of the area’s historic buildings for residential purposes.

Notwithstanding this, the Irish Georgian Society strongly believes that the Georgian House Museum at No. 29 Fitzwilliam Street provides an important public purpose which outweighs any benefit that may arise from its conversion to apartment use. It is noted that the Museum is identified in the Dublin City Development Plan as one of the city’s Main Cultural Attractions (Fig 18, pg. 206) placing it within the “cultural cluster in the environs of Merrion Square” (11.2.2 Achievements, p. 202).

It is contended by the Irish Georgian Society that the change of use from museum to residential of one of the city’s “main cultural attractions” would be contrary to the following stated policies of the Dublin City Development Plan:

CHC24: To ensure the continued development of Dublin as a culturally vibrant, creative and diverse city with a broad range of cultural activities provided throughout the city, underpinned by quality cultural infrastructure.

CHC29: Dublin City Council will see insofar as possible to protect the cultural and artistic use of buildings in established cultural quarters.

Since the opening of the Georgian House Museum in 1991, the ESB has successfully managed the venue in association with the National Museum of Ireland, an achievement both institutions are to be commended for. In considering this partnership, Policy CHC33 of the Dublin City Development Plan should be noted. This states that it is a policy of the Council:

To support the national cultural institutions and facilitate the provision of fit-for purpose, sustainable cultural infrastructure such as museums, libraries, theatres, exhibition spaces, cinemas, and music venues in the city centre, suitable for all ages and accessible to all living, working or visiting the city and which reflect the role of Dublin as the capital city.

To this end, the Irish Georgian Society urges Dublin City Council to proactively engage with the ESB and the National Museum of Ireland to ensure the future of the Georgian House Museum, a venue that fits the criteria in the aforementioned policy.

Prof. Christine Casey noted that "the city house was an occasion for the display of wealth and status, of presenting and doing justice to one's place in society" (The Eighteenth-Century Dublin Town House, 2010). While there are excellent museums elsewhere in Dublin, none of these explore the original function of the grand red-brick terraced houses that line its squares and streets and which are such a distinct feature of the city. With other Georgian cities such as Edinburgh and Bath presenting this important part of their histories through dedicated townhouse museums, it would be to the detriment of Dublin if its residents and visitors were no longer able to have a similar experience.

The Irish Georgian Society is of the view that the change of use of the Georgian House Museum to residential purposes would see the loss of an important cultural and educational venue that tells an essential part of Dublin’s history. As such, it would appear contrary to the stated policies of the Dublin City Development Plan and so we would urge that permission be refused.

Yours sincerely

Donough Cahill, Executive Director IGS

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Conserving your Dublin Period House online talks

26.01.2021

Posted by IGS

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For 2021 the annual spring Conserving your Dublin Period House, presented in partnership with Dublin City Council, goes online.

Enrol on this twelve week talks programme to gain expert advice on the care and conservation of your period house. The talks will be of particular interest to owners of houses listed as Protected Structures or located within Architectural Conservation Areas. These talks will also benefit building professionals and practitioners and are approved for CPD by the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, Engineers Ireland, the Irish Planning Institute and the Heritage Contractors.

Download the full Conserving your Dublin Period House programme or visit events page.

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Permanent closure of the Georgian House Museum, Dublin

25.01.2021

Posted by IGS

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Permanent closure of the Georgian House Museum, Dublin

The permanent closure of the ESB's Georgian House Museum at No. 29 Fitzwilliam Street will be a sad and significant loss to the public presentation of Dublin's eighteenth-century heritage. Announced through a planning application with Dublin City Council which seeks a change of use of the building from museum to residential purposes, the ESB have indicated that the move is being driven by a number of factors including "budgetary realities" and a "changed cultural environment".

Though this may be so, since its opening in 1991 when Dublin held the position of European Cultural Capital the museum has provided an unique opportunity for visitors to experience the architecture and the fine and decorative arts of a Georgian townhouse. The ESB is to be commended for its vision in creating the museum and sustaining it for so many years and in doing so demonstrated its credentials as a company with a “commitment to preserving Ireland’s heritage and environment”. In tempering this praise, it should be noted that the reconstruction and refurbishment of the house and of its neighbours in the late 1980s was on foot of an agreement with Dublin Corporation allowing the ESB to exceed standard plot ratios for nearby office blocks.

If the closure of the Georgian House Museum on Fitzwilliam Street is inevitable, the ESB should continue its commitment to Dublin's heritage through leading a drive for an alternative location. While the city possesses some very fine museums located within townhouses such as the Little of Museum of Dublin and No 14 Henrietta Street, these do not fully capture or present original home life of a Georgian townhouse.

Prof. Christine Casey has noted that "the city house was an occasion for the display of wealth and status, of presenting and doing justice to one's place in society" (The Eighteenth-Century Dublin Town House, 2010). With its Georgian House Museum the ESB sought to explore this from the basement through to the attic and in doing so provided a glimpse as to how Dublin’s many Georgian houses may have been furnished and lived in over 200 years ago.

With other Georgian cities such as Edinburgh and Bath presenting this important part of their histories through dedicated townhouse museums, it would be to the detriment of Dublin if its residents and visitors were no longer able to have a similar experience.

Image Credit: http://www.numbertwentynine.ie/

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2020 Desmond Guinness Scholarship awarded to Priscilla Sonnier

08.01.2021

Posted by IGS


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The 2020 Desmond Guinness Scholarship was awarded to Priscilla Sonnier to support her PhD research on portraits of elite Irishwomen and how they evolved throughout the eighteenth-century to reflect the ‘patriotic’ sensibilities of the Protestant Ascendancy. Ms Sonnier is a PhD candidate at University College Dublin.

Nele Lüttman's study on 'German Architects in England and Ireland 1700-1750' was also acknowledged, and she was awarded the Desmond Guinness Prize.

The Scholarship and Prize were announced by Dr David Fleming, please click here to watch the announcement.

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Planning Matters - Flesk Castle, Co. Kerry

08.01.2021

Posted by IGS

The IGS has objected to the proposed development of a house to the front of Flesk Castle, Co. Kerry that would intrude upon its principal view to the west towards the Lakes of Killarney and the mountains beyond. Flesk Castle was built on an elevated site in a Gothic Revival style c. 1820 to the design of its owner, John Coltsmann, with a possible professional input from the Pain brothers. Having stood as a ruin since the 1930s, it is being given a new lease of life through the vision and dedication of its current owners who should be encouraged in their endeavours in every way. Building a new house that would compromise views that are integral to its architectural and historic interest would certainly not be the best means of achieving this. The IGS submission can be read in full by clicking here.

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IGS Offices Closed for Christmas Break

22.12.2020

Posted by IGS

The Irish Georgian Society offices will be closed from Wednesday, 23rd December and will reopen on Monday, 4th January.

The Irish Georgian Society Bookshop will also be closed for this period - Any orders made after 23rd December will be processed when we reopen on 11th January 2021.

Wishing you a happy Christmas and New Years.

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