Posted on 04 April 2012.
Leinster House, 1911
Architecture-inclined travelers will have a rare opportunity September 10-18 to explore Irish Palladianism and Classicism in a tour sponsored by the Virginia Society AIA. Offered in cooperation with the Center for Palladian Studies in America, and the Virginia Center for Architecture, this eight-day tour, centered in Dublin, with two days in Northern Ireland, features a broad overview of Ireland’s distinctive classical architecture and the emergence of Irish Palladianism in public and private buildings of the Georgian era. Download the brochure and registration form. The tour has qualified for 30 AIA/CES learning units.
EVP/CEO John Braymer has developed the tour with Professor Alistair Rowan, who is organizing the itinerary and will act as expert guide throughout the trip. Rowan is editor of the Yale Buildings of Ireland series of Pevsner Guides; in 1988 he was elected Slade Professor Fine Art at the University of Oxford; he has served as President of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) and of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland; and he has pursued a distinguished career at the University of Edinburgh, University College Dublin, and University College Cork, and as Principal of the Edinburgh College of Art. Early in his career he qualified as an architect, so he brings a direct practical experience and understanding to his analysis and discussions of architecture. He also knows Palladio’s architecture well having led several Italian tours for the SAHGB.
In addition to visiting significant Palladian sites, participants will explore the rise and popularity of Classicism in Ireland in its various aspects — domestic and institutional — without passing up the occasional medieval setting that begs for a look. The tour considers classical architecture in Ireland, from its fragmentary introduction in the seventeenth century, to the emergence of Irish Palladianism and the superb government buildings and country houses erected from the 17th c. through the Age of Neoclassicism. For a taste of an earlier age, participants will also visit some noted examples of medieval classicism in Ireland at the Celtic site of Monasterboice, the early Romanesque church of King Cormac’s at Cashel and St. Molaise’s house at Devenish Island in Co. Fermanagh.
Casino at Marino
Palladio at Large: The Irish Story
Classical Architecture and Palladianism in Georgian Ireland
September 10–18, 2012
- Trinity College
- Leinster House
- Dublin Castle
- Powerscourt and Russborough House
- Casino at Marino
- Florence Court and Castlecoole
Portico detail of Castlecoole. Photo by Andrew Humphreys
Monday, September 10
We will gather in the foyer of the Mespil Hotel in Georgian Dublin at 4:30 p.m. for an introductory walking tour of the Georgian city and the Pembroke estate—the fashionable region around Fitzwilliam and Merrion Squares in the 18th c. southern extension of the city. We will visit two fine Mid-Georgian houses at 85 & 86 St. Stephen’s Green, with superb ‘Palladian’ and Rococo plasterwork, before stopping for drinks at the Irish Architectural Archive. Our opening dinner will follow in the Victorian Schoolhouse Restaurant, a short amble from our hotel along the 18th c Grand Canal.
Tuesday, September 11
After breakfast at the hotel, we will travel by coach to County Wicklow to visit the Powerscourt demesne with formal gardens centered on the ‘Sugarloaf’ mountain and the shell of a great Palladian house contrived from an earlier structure by the architect Richard Castle in 1731 and extended in the 19th century. From Powerscourt we cross the hills to Russborough House, developed from 1742, the perfect example of a small Irish Palladian house with center, flanking colonnades and symmetrical wings containing the stables and kitchen in symmetrical blocks. Lunch will be enjoyed in the nearby village of Blessington before afternoon visits in County Kildare to the sprawling ruins of Jigginstown House, the first brick house to be built in Ireland and the first attempt at a symmetrical Classical design in the tradition of Jacobean houses in England. We end the day at a center of ascendancy power, Ireland’s truly monumental Classical house, Castletown at Celbridge (1722-32), the seat of the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, William Conolly. The façade, like a Roman palace dropped down in the irish countryside, is the work of the Florentine architect, Alessandro Galilei while the flanking colonnades and wings are by Richard Lovett Pearce and Richard Castle.
Wednesday, September 12
This day is devoted to two excursions on foot, before and after lunch, in Dublin city center. Dublin is a closely-packed city that boasts two medieval cathedrals, cheek by jowl, with an essentially eighteenth-century environment of brick and stone-built houses and churches. Members of the party are encouraged to undertake just as much or as little as they want to or feel able to manage. A detailed programme will be provided at the time of the visit so that people may drop in and out of the tour as best suits them. Highlights of this day are Marsh’s Library at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the oldest Public Library in Ireland designed by Sir William Robinson in 1701 and unchanged since the days of Queen Anne; St. Werburgh’s, an unspoilt early Georgian church by Edward Burgh of 1718; the Upper and Lower wards of Dublin Castle and the Irish Houses of Parliament (the Bank of Ireland head office from 1803 to 1978). This remarkable complex is the masterpiece of Edward Lovett Pearce and a major work of Irish Palladianism. The octagonal House of Commons was converted into the principal banking hall to designs of Francis Johnston in 1802 but Pearce’s rich interior of the Irish House of Lords survives intact.
We take lunch together in ‘The 1592 private restaurant’ of Trinity College, which is the University of Dublin founded by Queen Elizabeth I in that year. The visit of the afternoon includes all the significant structures in the beautiful and extensive campus of the College with the magnificent Library by Thomas Burgh, the Neo-classical Chapel and Examination Schools built to designs of Sir William Chambers and the Provost’s House, the finest Palladian town-house in Ireland, designed in 1759 for Provost Francis Andrews. We finish at Richard Castle’s Leinster House, in Kildare Street, built in 1745 as the town house of the 20th Earl of Kildare (later Marquis and Duke of Leinster) and now the Dàil, seat of the Irish Parliament.
Thursday, September 13
This day is devoted to an exploration by coach of the inner suburbs of the Georgian city with several stops punctuated by some walking. We start at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, a handsome courtyard building begun in 1680 for Charles II and designed by Sir William Robinson as a hospital for pensioners of the Irish army. We proceed to Dr. Steeven’s Hospital, another courtyard building of 1719 by Thomas Burgh and from here cross the river to view the exteriors of James Gandon’s greatest public buildings—the Custom House of 1780 and the Four Courts of 1784 – high points in the history of European Neo-classicism. We will take lunch today on the top floor of a famous Dublin eating house, ‘The Winding Stair’, beside the Halfpenny bridge and overlooking the river Liffey. In the afternoon we plan to visit a number of remarkable early Georgian town houses in Dominic Street and Henrietta Street, once the most fashionable part of the city. We will visit the Rotunda Hospital by Richard Castle, the oldest public maternity hospital in Britain and Ireland, founded in 1751 with, at its center, a square chapel filled with superb plasterwork and set above a Palladian ‘four column’ entrance hall. Further afield is the exquisite Casino at Marino built as a trianon for the Earl of Charlemont to designs of Sir William Chambers at Clontarf.
Friday, September 14
After breakfast we travel south-west by coach to County Kilkenny, the power base throughout the Middle Ages of the Butler family whose younger scion, James Butler, rose to the rank of First Duke of Ormond in the time of Charles II and was, for a while, the virtual ruler of Ireland. The Duke entirely encased the Norman castle of his predecessors in a skin of light renaissance architecture designed by Sir William Robinson. Only the Corinthian gateway of 1686 remains as the castle was redeveloped in the Georgian period and again in the early nineteenth century when its medieval appearance was restored. We will visit the castle and the medieval cathedral of St.Canice (1251 – 85) with the Round tower of the earlier Celtic church. Lunch will be taken at the innovative Kilkenny Design Centre in Georgian stables directly opposite the castle. In the afternoon we will travel to County Tipperary to visit the remarkable medieval complex of the Rock of Cashel, with its round tower, the perfectly preserved Romanesque chapel built by King Cormac in 1127 and the ruins of the 13th-century Cathedral and Bishop’s lodgings. Time and weather permitting we may also walk to the evocative ruins of Hoare Abbey, below the rock, before taking an early dinner in the cellar restaurant of Cashel Palace Hotel. This house is a superb design of Edward Lovett Pearce for Bishop Theophilus Bolton in 1730.
Saturday, September 15
Today our tour shifts focus leaving Dublin, the Republic of Ireland and the euro zone to spend two days in Northern Ireland, in County Down and County Fermanagh, which remains a part of Britain and is in the sterling area. Two themes characterise this visit to the north: the aristocratic architecture of the Protestant ascendancy expressed in large country houses and small towns and the monastic monuments of the Celtic church. Travelling north by coach we make a detour in Co. Louth to visit the evocative complex of buildings and High crosses at Monasterboice, which date from the 9th century. We travel on to cross the bare eroded landscapes of the Mountains of Mourne to Downpatrick, visiting the miniature complex of the Palladian Southwell Schools, before moving to the great house of Castleward, one of the most perfect expressions of English Palladianism in Ireland set above the waters of Strangford Lough.
After Castleward we travel to the little 18th-century town of Hillsborough created from 1742, by and for Wills Hill, Viscount Hillsborough and first Marques of Downshire, who hoped to move the seat of the Bishop of Down to his own new town. It has a pretty Market square, an ambitious Georgian Gothick church and a 17th-century fort turned into a garden folly. From Hillsborough we go to the rather plain Georgian church which is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Clogher in Co Tyrone and from here to Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. A long day ends at Westville hotel Enniskillen between Upper & Lower Lough Erne.
Sunday, September 16
We hope to be able to arrange for a morning visit by river cruiser from Enniskillen to the medieval monastic sites on Devenish Island in Lower Lough Erne. The complex of early Christian buildings includes one of the best preserved Irish round towers dating from the 12th century, parts of a Romanesque church and substantial remains of a late Gothic Augustinian abbey built in 1449. There follows the two greatest country houses of the County: Florence Court – a charming building begun in 1758, with delightful Rococo plasterwork – and Castlecoole, a long and low Neo-classical house built for the Earl of Belmore between 1790 and 1797. Faced in white Portland limestone that was shipped from Dorset in England, Castlecoole is a building of the most perfect poise and elegance, contrived by the major British architect, James Wyatt, then at the height of his powers.
Monday, September 17
We return to Dublin with a rich day visiting Bellamont Forest at Cootehill, County Cavan, one of the most scrupulous and intellectually satisfying designs of Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, built between 1725 and 1730 for Thomas Coote; the galleried St. Peter’s Church in Drogheda of 1753 and Townley Hall of 1800, an austere and very beautiful house by Francis Johnston which quotes one of the ideals of Neo-classicism in its symmetrical plan and domed, central circular stair.
Back in Dublin for our last evening, we plan to hold a festive final dinner in one of the 18th-century club buildings in the St. Stephen’s Green. From here members may saunter back through the Georgian streets to our hotel or, if they prefer, take a taxi home.
Tuesday, September 18
Farewells and departures will follow breakfast at the hotel.
(The exact final schedule may change slightly to take advantage of best opportunities.)
Tour includes three- and four-star hotel accommodation, with daily breakfast, seven lunches, five dinners, coach transport, all entrance fees, and expert guidance throughout. Airfare and airport transfers are not included in the tour fee. Tour cost per person (based on double occupancy) is $ 2950, with a single supplement of $450.
A deposit of $750 per person ($1200 w/ single supplement) should be paid immediately to reserve your place. Final payment is due July 15, 2012. Although the Virginia Society of the AIA anticipates an enthusiastic response to this tour, enrollment is limited to 36, and the Society reserves the right to cancel this offer should the tour not reach a minimum of 20 participants.
Prefer to register by mail? Download a registration form.
Tour includes three- and four-star hotel accommodation, with daily breakfast, seven lunches, five dinners, coach transport, all entrance fees, and expert guidance throughout. Airfare and airport transfers are not included in the tour fee.