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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.

'Making Victorian Dublin' project website goes live

12.12.2018

Posted by IGS

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The quarrymen, stonemasons and craftspeople who cut, carved and constructed Ireland’s splendid Victorian buildings have been long lost to history, overshadowed by the architects and patrons who designed and commissioned them. Today Trinity College Dublin launched a ground-breaking research project which will illuminate the hidden history of one of Dublin’s most iconic Victorian buildings.

For the last two years the ‘Making Victorian Dublin’ project, funded by the Irish Research Council, has dissected and analysed Trinity’s Museum Building — regarded as one of the finest and most influential examples of Victorian architecture. Built in the 1850s, the building has been home to the college’s Departments of Engineering, Geology and Geography for almost 160 years. The building was pioneering in its patriotic use of Irish marble and decorative stone and established a taste for Connemara marble and Cork Red limestone which spread across Ireland to Britain, the United States and even as far as Cape Town in South Africa.

To mark the launch of the project today, a new interactive website (www.makingvictoriandublin.com) allows the public to explore and navigate a 3-D digital scan of the splendid building. Users will be able to admire the splendid double-domed main hallway, the richly decorated interior carvings and 32 spectacular columns of coloured Irish stone.

The website also showcases new and exciting findings on the architecture, materials and sculptures of the building conducted by researchers from the Department of Geology and the Department of History of Art and Architecture. The team’s research, involving building surveys, extensive archival research and quarry visits, has led to new insights into the pioneering role of the Museum Building in the employment of Irish decorative stone and new understandings of the industry which sourced, supplied and crafted this stone.

Christine Casey, Professor in Architectural History, commented: “Too often we remember those who paid for these buildings and those who designed them. Architectural history is strong on telling the story of the patrons and architects and weak on those who translated design and ambition into reality. Ireland’s historic buildings were created by generations of craftsmen from raw materials extracted and cut by quarrymen and stone carvers. This project has sought to illuminate this largely hidden history by foregrounding the history of building materials and craftsmanship.”

Patrick Wyse Jackson, Associate Professor of Geology, added: “Built at the start of the golden age of Ireland’s decorative stone industry, Trinity’s Museum Building set out to showcase the extraordinary potential of Irish decorative stone. Featuring stone from right across the country the building is an Irish geology lesson in itself — in a few strides a visitor can encounter stone from the length and breadth of the country. The dominant use of Irish stone and the depiction of native Irish plants and animals in the building’s carvings were in keeping with a post-famine drive to promote and exploit Ireland’s natural resources through various Great Exhibitions and the newly launched ordnance and geological surveys.”

www.makingvictoriandublin.com

Images: Museum Building, 1853-7, Trinity College Dublin (Architects: Thomas Newenham Deane, Benjamin Woodward)

The 'Making Victorian Dublin' project is supported by the Irish Research Council.