Thursday, March 18, 2010


Foreword by The Knight of Glin

This, the twelfth volume of the Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, was launched at the No. 1 Pery Square hotel in Limerick, next door to the Georgian house preserved by the Limerick Civic Trust. In this context, it is sad to note the recent death of Denis Leonard who did so much to save this fine example of domestic architecture, and, indeed, so much else in the city of Limerick. His enthusiasm and commitment will be long remembered.

As usual, there is great variety to the contents of the Journal, which reflects its deliberately wide scope, from architecture, painting, sculpture and the decorative arts to patronage, travel and history of demesnes. As often, one of the themes running through the articles is, perhaps surprisingly, a fluid tale of migration – of individuals, styles and motifs. We have the sad story of a Mayo artist and an American poet on Capri, the monument in Florence to the Italian architect of Castletown; the French goldsmiths of Dublin, and the influence of the antiquities of Asia Minor and Iberia on Ireland. Highly appropriate, given our launch in the city, is the piece by Judith Hill on Plassey House just outside Limerick, which commemorates and Indian battle and is now owned by the University of Limerick.

This is the last of the issues to be edited by William Laffan, to whom I, and the Society, are very much indebted. I am very pleased to announce that Conor Lucey has agreed to take over as editor. Dr. Lucey, who lectures at University College Dublin and at National College of Art & Design, was awarded the Desmond Guinness scholarship in 2005, and has already served on the editorial board of the Journal. His study of Michael Stapleton, published by the Churchill House Press, was acclaimed by my old friend John Harris – praise indeed! Dr. Lucey is founding editor of the new journal Artefact, as is contributing to the new Art and Architecture of Ireland, Vol. IV (Royal Irish Academey) as well as other forthcoming publications. We are delighted that a young scholar of his calibre has agreed to take over the reins.

Several forthcoming publications and events might be flagged, in particular two collections of essays. One, The Eighteenth Century Dublin Town House, is edited by Christine Casey, who is organising a seminar on stuccowork in Trinity College Dublin in April 2010. In addition, Lynda Mulvin is editing a volume on neoclassicism, which will be of great interest to members of the society. In early summer, the remarkable photographs by Patrick Prendergast of Irish country house interiors will be on show at the Irish Architectural Archive in Merrion Square. Twenty years ago, at the behest of Lord Belmore, Prendergast travelled around Ireland photographing houses still in the possession of the families of the builders. This resulted in an archive of some 2,000 intimate ‘behind the scenes’ shots of the Irish Big House, a selection of which will be on show. Having seen these photographs, I know that they will be a revelation to all those interested in the topic.

In difficult economic times, which the Society feels acutely, it is pleasing to welcome the happy diversion that the erudite contents of this Journal offer. However, the scholarship that the Journal embodies also has a very serious purpose which goes to the heart of the Society. The understanding of Ireland’s past is manifested in her art, architecture and material culture must permeate our activities and inform our decision making processes. Despite its manifest importance, it is proving increasingly difficult to attract funding for this Journal, though I am extremely grateful to the Esmé Mitchell Trust and the late Sir Alfred Beit’s Apollo Foundation for very welcome grants. I ask that members and supporters to all that you can to help this invaluable publication by subscribing and encouraging others to do so.


Frederick O’Dwyer:- Robert West, Christopher Myers and St. James’s church, Whitehaven

Philip McEvansoneya:- New Light on he artistic and personal aspects of the second version of ‘The Last Circuit of the Pilgrims at Clonmacnoise’ by George Petrie

Livia Hurley:- Wiliam Burton Conyngham’s antiquarian tour of the Iberian Peninsula, 1883-84

Terence Dooley:- Castle Hyde and the Great Famine, 1845-51

Brendan Rooney:- The painter and the poet: Michael George Brennan (1839-71) and Laura Catherine Redden (1839-1923)

Judith Hill:- The several incarnations of Plassey: Plassey House, University of Limerick

Lynda Mulvin:- Charles Robert Cockrell’s encounter with Ireland: drawings, observations and buildings

Jessica Cunningham:- Dublin’s Hugenot goldsmiths, 1690-1750: assimilation and divergence

Tom Dunne:- Sensibility and the sublime in the storm paintings of Thomas Roberts (1748-77)

Michael McCarthy:- The monument to Alessandro Galilei in S. Croce in Florence, 1737

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