The Knight’s Move

Donal Hickey discusses the Berkeley Library exhibition which he curated in the Irish Architectural Archive’s Architecture Gallery. The exhibition runs until the end of the second week of January 2018.


Berkeley Library Exhibition, Architecture Gallery, IAA. Photo: Paul Tierney


The concept for this exhibition began with discussions with Dr Ellen Rowley when she asked me to look at some material on the Berkeley Library at the Irish Architectural Archive. There I found a small box containing over 280 black and white photographs which begged to be displayed. The images document the progress of a New Library at Trinity College, designed by Ahrends Burton Koralek (ABK) and constructed by G & T Crampton, between 1961 and 1967. From the beginning I discussed this photographic record as a continuous timeline around which a narrative could be constructed to document the evolution and progress of the design and construction of the New Library.


Berkeley Library Exhibition, Architecture Gallery, IAA. Photo: Paul Tierney


The Architectural Gallery is a room I am familiar with from my time working in London. It had a previous existence as the lining of an exhibition room in the Royal Institute of British Architects at Portland Place. A neat symmetry offered itself as I could now revisit my experiences of London architecture while interrogating the origins and influences legible, explicit or implied in the Berkeley library and the archives at the IAA and Trinity College.


Berkeley Library Exhibition, Architecture Gallery, IAA. Photo: Paul Tierney


The presentation of this exhibition is intended to be open-ended for you the audience to imagine other connections beyond those illustrated. Even now as I write I am adding other clues and references which might assist a more complete reading of the design process and its complex influences. It is not hard to imagine the fervour and intensity of ABK’s collaboration which is evident in the final building and explicit in the selection of sketches and drawings of various versions of the project. Architecture is their gift: a silent legible mechanism, a conduit for our experience.


Berkeley Library Exhibition, Architecture Gallery, IAA. Photo: Paul Tierney


As in the game of chess, where the knight’s move allows a piece to move in an unorthodox fashion relative to the other pieces on the board, combining the orthogonal and diagonal directions to shift across both plains, the Berkeley tilted the spatial game in Trinity College, introducing a dynamic relationship with the traditional order of the campus.

Donal Hickey
December 2017

The full catalogue of the Berkeley Library exhibition is available here:

The Berkeley Library exhibition continues in the Architecture Gallery, Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, until Friday 12 January 2018.

The Architecture Gallery is open to the public from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesdays to Fridays.

Homes for Workers: a ‘House and Home’ blog

The Dublin Artisans Dwellings Company was a semi-philanthropic private enterprise established in June 1876 to provide quality housing for the city’s working classes, and to make a profit while doing so. Capital raised through share issues and Government loans was used to build houses. The rents collected – and the Company’s rents were always considered high – were used to repay the loans, maintain the building stock, pay dividends to the shareholders, and remunerate the directors.


The Company’s earliest developments were blocks of one- or two-roomed flats but it quickly concluded that flats, though cheaper to build, were less popular and therefore less profitable than individual houses. Most of the Company’s schemes consisted of terraces of single-storey cottages and two-storey houses laid out in groups of parallel streets, a template readily followed by Dublin’s municipal authorities and hence one that came to characterise whole areas of the city well beyond the boundaries of the Company’s activities.

Infirmary Road Scheme, 1885-1886


To control costs and speed of construction, a small number of common house designs was used across the Company’s schemes. The simplest house, designated Type A, was a two-roomed cottage with one fireplace and was in use from the early 1880s to the late 1890s. The Type E cottage, a three bay, three roomed (living room and two bedrooms) single storey dwelling was the most common of all house types constructed by the Company, used in at least sixteen separate schemes from 1883 to 1909.

Type E Cottage, John Dillon Street, 1885


Tyoe E Cottage, Rialto Scheme Extension, 1895


The outbreak of World War I interrupted building activity, a hiatus prolonged well beyond the end of the war by a protracted rent strike. Three further schemes were built from 1929 to 1933. The basic dwelling had now evolved into an eight-roomed house with a kitchen, an internal bathroom, front and back gardens and mains electricity.

House, Rialto, 1933 – the last DAD Co. development


Citing what it regarded as unfair competition from local authorities, who were now providing working-class housing irrespective of profitability, the Company found itself unwilling to develop further schemes after 1933. In 1961 it adopted the policy of selling off its houses and using income generated to invest in purely commercial property. The last of the houses were sold in 1979 and the Company, by now renamed D.A.D. Properties Ltd, was taken over by Rohan Holdings in 1984.

Between 1879 and 1933, the Company built 3,600 dwellings in over thirty major schemes across Dublin City, in Dun Laoghaire and Bray, most of which survive in use to this day. They constitute a legacy of distinctive neighbourhoods and communities established and sustained though the provision of decent housing.

Type C House, Dun Laoghaire, 1896. Loaned for copying by Gregory Dunn, 2016


The business records of the Dublin Artisans Dwellings Co. were acquired by the Archive in 1979, with a second tranche arriving in 2000. Photographs of the Company’s architectural drawings were acquired in 1990, while dozens of the original drawings, once presumed destroyed, were deposited with the Archive by the Military Archives in 2015. In 2016 Greg Dunn loaned for copying an original drawing for a C type house in Dun Laoghaire.  Most recently, in 2017 a series of files from the early 1960s to the late 1970s detailing the sales of individual properties was acquired via the National Archives of Ireland. This latest acquisition will soon be incorporated into the main collection catalogue which is available here

Colum O’Riordan
July 2017

Trophy extension: a ‘House and Home’ blog

Proposed new billiard room for Mr E. Winston Barron, Woodstown House, Co. Waterford, Ashlin and Coleman, 1904 (76/1.168/64)


Woodstown House is an elegant Regency villa overlooking Waterford harbour. It was built, or rather an earlier house was substantially altered, in 1823 by Robert Chapland Carew, later first Baron Carew, as a present for his wife, Jane Catherine Cliffe. The architect was George Richard Pain. A year before their wedding, Jane had attended ‘the most famous ball in history’ held by the Duchess of Richmond in Brussels on 15 June 1815, the night before the Battle of Waterloo. It is said that Jane danced with the Duke of Wellington. Born in 1798, she died in 1901 aged 103.


The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball by Robert Alexander Hillingford (1870s)


Woodstown remained in Carew hands until 1903 when it was sold to Edward Alphonse Winston Barron. He asked the architectural firm of Ashlin and Coleman to make proposals for alterations and additions to the house, a somewhat unusual choice as the practice was almost exclusively known for its Gothic ecclesiastical works. George Coppinger Ashlin was a son in law of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, the Gothic revivalist par excellence, and formed a partnership with Pugin’s son, Edward, in 1861. Pugin and Ashlin eventually became Ashlin and Coleman in 1903. The choice of architects might however be explained by the fact there was a Barron family connection to the firm. Sir Henry Page Turner Barron, Edward’s first cousin, had employed Pugin and Ashlin to work on Ferrybank Catholic Church, in Co. Waterford.


Woodstown House, 1985 (IAA survey photograph)


Ashlin and Coleman proposed a Classical re-rendering of the façade of Woodstown, and the additions of a gallery, a library with neo-Celtic decorations and a new billiard room. Top lit, with deep upholstered settees and a convenient lavatory, this would have been a distinctly masculine space ideally suited to the military man and bachelor which Edward Barron was. 


Proposed new billiard room, detail


As it happens, none of Ashlin and Coleman’s proposals for Woodstown were executed. In 1945 the house was purchased by Major Dering Cholmeley-Harrison who later owned Emo Court, Co Laois. In 1967 he let Woodstown House to Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the assassinated US president.  During her stay she described it as ‘typically Irish — 39 bedrooms and one bathroom’.

Jackie Kennedy during her visit to Ireland, 1967, with Desmond Guinness in Castletown, Co. Kildare (IAA photo)


Anne Henderson,

A residence for Mrs Bagwell : a ‘House and Home’ blog

Laurence McDonnell


The architectural practice of McDonnell and Dixon was formed in 1917 by Laurence Aloysius McDonnell and William A. Dixon and based at 20 Ely Place, Dublin. Both men were born in Dublin. McDonnell served his articles with J.J. O’Callaghan, while Dixon was trained by McDonnell before becoming his partner. The practice still continues today at the same address.


McDonnell and Dixon, Unfinished perspective of a proposed residence for Mrs Bagwell, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, c. 1920. Pencil on paper, 380mm x 550mm, 2008/16


This residence for Mrs Bagwell is a charming Arts and Crafts influenced two-storey house in a style which might best be described as early twentieth-century British colonial. A flight of steps leads to a small terrace, demarcated by ball finials. The centrally placed entrance has large tripartite windows on either side and is surmounted by a substantial cornice which runs the width of the building and visually supports the slated mansard roof. The façade is completed by projecting bays at either end of the house, each with three sash windows embellished with shutters. At first floor level the roof is punctuated by dormer casement windows and surmounted by two fine stone chimneys. Despite the number of different window types, the façade reads as a coherent and satisfying whole.

This is  one of two elevations in the same hand – that of Laurence McDonnell – for a house for a Mrs Bagwell. The alternative scheme has a full-height first floor rather than a mansard roof.

McDonnell and Dixon Detail of alternative proposed residence for Mrs Bagwell, c. 1920.


The drawing is unfinished but includes the lone figure of a woman in a long skirt, a portrait perhaps of the otherwise yet-to-be-identified Mrs Bagwell. Unfortunately it has not been possible to identify the house or to say if either this, or the alternative scheme, was ever actually built.

Mrs Bagwell?


Simon Lincoln

Victoria/Ayesha/Manderley: a ‘House and Home’ blog

Victoria Castle, c. 1915


Victoria Castle is situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking Killiney Bay, Co. Dublin, ‘as commanding and beautiful’ a site, according to the Dublin Penny Journal of 1841, ‘as could possibly be imagined’. Probably designed by architect Sandham Symes for Robert Warren, a property speculator who had made his fortune by selling parcels of land to the then emerging railway, it sits alongside Warren’s other developments of Mount Eagle and Killiney Castle.

Failed speculation prompted the sale of Victoria Castle, and most of Warren’s other interests in Killiney, in 1870. Humphrey Lloyd, Provost of Trinity College, acquired the house at the cost of £5,000, becoming the first of a succession of owners over the next fifty years.

Ralph Henry Byrne, W.H. Byrne and Son, Elevation of Entrance Court Façade, Victoria Castle, 1927


In the mid-1920s an unexplained and calamitous fire gutted the house. A watercoloured dyeline elevation in the Irish Architectural Archive is evidence of the building’s restoration in 1927-8, a project undertaken by its new owner, the wealthy Sir Thomas Talbot Power of the whiskey dynasty. He availed of the architectural services of Ralph Byrne of W. H. Byrne and Son, a prolific office best known for its extensive ecclesiastical portfolio. The cost of the restoration amounted to £5,540 and the works were completed in six months by contractor G. and T. Crampton. A comparison of this elevation of the courtyard façade with photographs of the castle prior to 1928 shows that while Byrne retained much of the character of Syme’s castellated Dalkey-granite pile, he simplified its appearance and modified its tower.

Poster for 1925 film adaptation of ‘She’


After the restoration, the house acquired a new name, Ayesha Castle, after H. Rider Haggard’s sorceress, the original ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’, who rises from the flames in his popular 1887 novel She. It remains in private ownership, and was renamed Manderley in 1997.

Aisling Dunne,

Edgeworthstown House, Co. Longford: a ‘House and Home’ blog

Edgeworthstown by Lucy Edgeworth, 1825


Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Anglo Irish politician, writer and inventor, inherited the estate of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, in 1782. He moved with his family from England and, in the words of his eldest daughter, the novelist Maria Edgeworth, ‘the very day after his arrival he set to work and continued perseveringly, fencing, draining, levelling, planting’ to improve the demesne. Over a course of years from 1782 to 1812 Edgeworth also made extensive alterations and additions to the old house, according to his own designs, in order to make a comfortable residence for a large family. (He married four times and fathered twenty-two children.) The remodelling was extensive and resulted in a house with a particularly idiosyncratic exterior.

Edgeworthstown, c. 1880


The Archive holds a small collection of material relating to Edgeworthstown, including a number of watercolours which are attributed to Lucy Edgeworth, a daughter of Richard’s fourth wife Frances Anne née Beaufort, and his twentieth child. One watercolour view shows the south front of the house as it stood in 1825, viewed through the by-now well established trees. A central veranda is clad in a creeper which also covers the three bay extension to the right, added in 1807 to create additional space for the library.

The Library, Edgeworthstown, c. 1880


A second drawing is a pen and ink sketch entitled ‘Maria’s room’; it is inscribed on the rear as being of ‘Maria in bed, face behind curtain, Harriet [Lucy’s full- and Maria’s half-sister] reading’. This sketch is one of a small set of interior scenes which were apparently made by Lucy shortly before she left the family home to be married in 1843. It is an intimate study providing an insight into the very private space of the by then seventy-five year-old much-published novelist.

Maria’s room by Lucy Edgeworth, 1846


Maria’s bedroom was famously small. Even after her father extended it in 1812 by the addition of an oriel window, the room measured a mere ten feet square. The addition of the new window ‘gave great additional light and cheerfulness’.

Edgeworthstown, c. 1860


Unfortunately, however, it was not one of Richard’s better designs: badly built, the window fell out before the end of the century.

It is remarkable to see in Lucy’s drawing the amount of furniture which could be accommodated in the small space: the capacious tent bed, the very tall tallboy, at least two chairs, and what appears to be a washstand. The sketch also includes tantalising items we cannot fully identify such as the object in front of the washstand: is it an embroidery or tapestry screen, or could it be some novel creation of Maria’s ever inventing father?

Dr Eve McAulay,

A pleasure palace for an archbishop; a ‘House and Home’ blog

House and Home is the title of the Irish Architectural Archive’s fortieth anniversary exhibition and a short series of blogs, beginning with this one, will explore some of the material in this exhibition.

One of the most curious items in the entire Archive collection is an engraved topographical view ostensibly showing a grand Irish house – the maison de plaisance, no less, of the Archbishop of the Province of Munster.


Although the imprint information is missing from this copy of the engraving, it was originally produced in Paris between c. 1750 and c. 1770 by Jacques (or James) Gabriel Huquier. Known as Huquier fils, he was an engraver, print dealer, wallpaper manufacturer and portrait painter. It is an example of a vue d’optique, a genre of engraving intended to provide the illusion of depth when viewed through a device known as a zograscope or diagonal mirror, hence the image was printed in reverse. Huquier fils produced a number of topographical vues d’optique depicting buildings in Austria, England, France, Germany, Spain and further afield. Most vues d’optique were brightly tinted after printing to enhance depth perception, although this example was not.

Beyond these facts, matters are less straightforward. From the steeple of the church in the background to the arcade supporting the terrace with its extensive formal gardens, to the mansard-roofed palace building itself, nothing in this view is remotely Irish.

What of the Archeveque de Munster? There is not now, nor has there ever been, an Irish cleric with the title ‘Archbishop of Munster’. The closest equivalent is the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly who from 1754 to 1779 was Michael Cox, builder of Castletown Cox, Co. Kilkenny. It would be nice to think that this is a notional French fantasy of what Cox’s proposed new house might look like. But no, a copy of the engraving in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France bears its true title: Vue Perspective du Palais Royal de la Sarcuela, maison de plaisance du Roy d’Espagne.

Vüe_Perspective_du_Palais_Royal 2


It is in fact a copy of a 1665 engraving by Louis Meunier of the Zarzuela Palace, Madrid.


When, where, why, and by whom was the engraving reprinted with a new title and an Irish location? Answers to those questions remain to be found.

Colum O’Riordan,
Irish Architectural Archive


New exhibition

House and Home: residential projects from the collections of the Irish Architectural Archive

Featuring over forty original architectural drawings, as well as publications, models and photographs, for residential projects in Ireland, House and Home marks the fortieth anniversary of the Archive. An important criterion for the selection of these projects was that they should include at least one item acquired in each of the years of the Archive’s existence. House and Home is therefore a cross-section through the strata of the Archive, an expression of the richness and depth of its holdings. House and Home runs in the Architecture Gallery from Wednesday 26 October 2016 to Friday 31 March 2017.

Theatrical performance in IAA

Il coraggio del proprio tempo

A multi-media theatrical performance in Italian with English subtitles by the Fondazione Franco Albini

Conceived, written and directed by Paola Albini, Il coraggio del proprio tempo is the story of the Modern Movement and Design. The text is integrated with authentic videos and pictures of the time and is an overview of Italy between the two World Wars and of the intellectuals of the time. It is the story of Rationalism in Italy, the central role of the city of Milan and the life of the people who fought against a totalitarian regime in order to establish a Movement based on social redemption.

Wednesday 19 October, 8pm to 9.30pm

Free Admission – Places Limited – Reservations at