Irish Georgian Society

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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.

Planning Matters - Flesk Castle, Co. Kerry


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


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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A fond farewell to our colleague Zoë


Posted by IGS


Zoë Coleman, Emmeline Henderson, Donough Cahill, Róisín Lambe and Olivia Brosnan at Castletown House in June 2018 celebrating the Society's 60th anniversary

After five years working with the IGS, our Programmes and Communications Coordinator Zoë Coleman is starting a new position with Dublin City Council Culture Company in the new year. Throughout her time with the Society she has done a stalwart job in supporting fundraising initiatives, managing events in the City Assembly House, editing the Irish Georgian Society Review, and managing IGS digital communications. She will be hugely missed by all but we wish her very well in her new position and are delighted that she will continue her involvement with the Society through the Young Irish Georgians and City Assembly House Committee. Bon Voyage Zoë!

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DISASTER ADVICE SEMINAR, Wednesday 9th December 2020


Posted by IGS



The Irish Georgian Society was delighted to partner with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to deliver the Disaster Advice Seminar, which took place on the morning of Wednesday 9th December 2020. Over 170 people joined the webinar which outlined how to help owners and custodians of an historic property, where possible, to prevent or reduce the risk of disaster striking their property by fire, floods, storms, lightening strikes or vandalism, and to lessen the damage caused should disaster occur.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan gave the opening address and officially launched Disaster: A guide to prevention and preparedness in the historic built environment, which is the latest volume in the Advice Series of publications for those responsible for the care and conservation of historic building.

Download the publication:

The Society would like to thank Jacqui Donnelly, Senior Architect at DeptHLGH's who is the Advice Series editor and convened and chaired the seminar.

The Society also wishes to thank Margaret Quinlan, keynote speaker and Disaster Advice publication author; Helena Bergin, Architectural Conservation Officer Fingal County Council; Alicia Clements, Birr Castle; Paul Collins, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Gavan Woods, CEO St. Patrick's Cathedral for delivering informative presentations encompassing topics to include the creation of disaster risk management plans; climate vulnerability assessments; and considerations when insuring historic structures.

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Planning: Blackwater River Valley, Co. Waterford


Posted by IGS


Photo illustrating view of proposed windfarm from Headborough House, a nine-bay two-storey over basement house, built c.1830 incorporating an earlier structure of c. 1680.

The IGS has objected to a proposal for 8 wind turbines standing up to 155m meters high on a site in the Drum Hills, overlooking the Blackwater River Valley in west County Waterford. If granted, this proposal would have a considerable detrimental impact on the character and settings of protected structures of Regional and National interest in the Blackwater Valley, would compromise views along designated Scenic Routes, and would also compromise the tourism potential of the area.

Writing about the Blackwater Valley in the 1790s, the antiquarian and artist Daniel Grose noted that “too much cannot be said of those picturesque scenes [it] affords which multiply as you proceed up the stream”. The Blackwater continues to be celebrated today through the Ireland’s Ancient East initiative, and with castles, houses and churches forming a backdrop for the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival. One wonders how permission could be granted for a major development that would only undermine the area’s special interest and squander the potential to draw more visitors to enjoy its outstanding scenery.

Read the IGS submission here.

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Remembering Desmond Guinness (1931-2020): Desmond Guinness and the London Chapter


Posted by IGS


Desmond Guinness and friends at a 18th-century fancy dress party at Chandos House, London in 1977

Catapulted into the IGS’s London Chapter in 1974 by becoming a member of its Committee without yet being a member of the society, I met Desmond Guinness and soon recognised his kindness and warmth. The IGS London was in its infancy, but had started organising events, of which little information survives, for its 190 UK members. We benefitted from Desmond using his enthusiasm and charm on contacts, and taking part when possible. He certainly attended the first ‘dressing-up’ event that the Chapter, under Nick Thompson, organised — the 1977 Georgian party at the Royal Society of Medicine’s Chandos House, Queen Anne Street, designed by Robert Adam around 1770.

In 1980, Desmond and Penny moved to the Cotswolds in England, and in 1982 organised a weekend tour including a visit to Daylesford House, then owned by Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. This was the start of a very significant time for us, although records of events and other activities are rather sketchy. Never a committee member himself, Desmond inspired our members and opened doors that were otherwise closed. He also encouraged his wide circle of glamorous friends to support events and join in the fun by working his magic to charm potential and already charmed hosts and members. Desmond and Penny moved to London near the Kings Road, a key location being near to both the Chelsea Arts Club, of which he was a member, and the Irish Club in Eaton Square where the London lectures were held. Parties in the Arts Club welcomed new members, and Nick Thompson recalls him as ‘an ornament to the Chapter, as well as an inspiration… in its Golden Age’. Friends were inveigled into opening their doors to the Chapter — one Persian-Irish couple owned a house in Mallord Street, its previous owners had been Augustus John and then Gracie Fields. Thanks to Desmond, a wonderfully exotic evening was spent lolling on ottomans and eating Persian delicacies, accompanied by the music of The Chieftains. David Mlinaric, a very close friend, was another who caved-in to visitations.

Desmond persuaded his father, Lord Moyne, to allow the Chapter to visit Biddesden in Hampshire, [an unforgettable tour by torch-light] and to be received by his aunt ‘Debo’, the Duchess of Devonshire, at Chatsworth. His friendship with John Paul Getty Jr resulted in playing the Georgian Group twice at cricket according to the 1744 rules on his private cricket ground at Wormsley [near High Wycombe], Desmond provided replica 18th century bats and organised the IGS team — sadly beaten soundly — while members enjoyed a stunning picnic lunch! We also visited Getty’s private house in Cheyne Walk where Rossetti had once lived. The extraordinarily wealthy Edward James was another great friend and he often lived at Leixlip in the years before his death in 1984. We visited both of James’s houses — West Dean itself [where Desmond gave a brilliant talk about his friend], and Monkton, a house on the estate designed for his mother in 1902 by Lutyens and that James had surreal-ised in the 1930s.

Chapter lectures during those years attracted large numbers of London members and other devotees. Desmond said modestly that he had only one lecture, with several titles. He spoke brilliantly on Castletown and the work of the Society, and once about the White House, having managed to commandeer the US Embassy as the venue, complete with drinks!

The London Chapter gave a number of fund-raising parties, often in costume. Desmond always loved such events. Fascinated by Carlos de Bestegui’s famous Bal Oriental of 1951 at the Palazzo Labia in Venice, he gave a lecture about it to the Chapter, with members of his family [including grand-daughter Jasmine] dressed in the harlequin costumes worn by the acrobats who’d entertained Bestequi’s guests. He supported the Ruby Ball of 1998 for the IGS’s 40th anniversary, and the Emerald and Gold Ball for its 50th in 2008. Many of Desmond’s wealthy and famous friends attended in 2008 through their loyalty to him and, by association, the work of the Society.

The Chapter has always adhered to Desmond’s serious agenda: to educate, and to support conservation projects in Ireland. Castletown, Ledwithstown, and Headfort are three of many beneficiaries. His work and example will continue to inspire London as it supports the Society’s work by providing its Conservation Grants Scheme with €330,000 since 2014 to help fund about 70 projects.

John R Redmill, Patron, IGS London. This was originally featured in the Irish Georgian Society Review (2020).

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