Irish War News

A Relic of 1916

The Irish Architectural Archive has a very clear collecting or acquisitions policy. If you like, you can read it here but what it boils down to – and the clue really is in our name – is that we collect architectural material. We define ‘architectural’ pretty broadly; we are interested in material of any kind relating to buildings of every kind across the length and breadth of Ireland. Even so, not everything in an architectural collection falls within this all-encompassing definition. We have numerous waifs and strays, items with tenuous or no architectural connections. In 1994, while sorting through a large collection of press cuttings about architects and buildings, we found one such stray; a small, folded, tattered sheet of newsprint which on closer examination turned out to be an original copy of Irish War News, the newspaper issued by Republican forces on Tuesday 25 April 1916, exactly 99 years ago tomorrow. It bears on its back page the ‘Stop-Press’ news that the Irish Republic has been declared.


Copies of Irish War News are quite rare, rarer even than original copies of the Proclamation though not as valuable. A small, undated, newspaper clipping stuck to the front of ours records that a copy of the Proclamation sold ‘recently’ for £7 and a copy of Irish War News ‘of which journal only one issue was printed, the price being a penny’ fetched 25s.




Our Irish War News will shortly be handed over to the professional conservation care of Liz D’Arcy of Paperworks Conservation Studio who will clean and stabilise it and reunite the separated halves, making it fit for inclusion in the Archive’s first exhibition of 2016, of which more anon.

Colum O’Riordan,
24 April 2015.

Cinema building and the Strongest Woman in the World

In 1985 the Irish Architectural Archive acquired an album of photographs recording the building of the Savoy Cinema, O’Connell Street, Dublin. With twenty-five images spanning the period from July 1928 to January 1930, the images show key moments in the construction process and are of interest for a whole host of reasons. They detail, for example, the speed with which a building of this period was erected, the nature of the construction site, with flat-cap wearing labourers in their shirt sleeves,



and its ‘railway’,


and the very modern looking structural steel (including the skeleton of a never-completed internal dome).


The site billboard records not only the astonishing scale of the enterprise – a 3,000 seat cinema – but also the complete project team,


while the post-construction images reveal in some detail the highly-ornate ‘Venetian’ themed decorative scheme, with its elaborate ‘Bridge of Sighs’ proscenium arch and ‘Doge’s Palace’ curtain, all of which must have been quite overwhelming to the Dublin audiences of 1930.


Also captured are fragments of the buildings which formerly stood on the site,


and some of the surrounding buildings, for instance those on the south side of Cathedral Street and the west side of Upper O’Connell Street.


But, as so often with purely architectural photographs, it is the incidental details which bring the album to life. The construction was obviously a source of interest and amusement to Dubliners, whether alone

Man 2

or in crowds.


Cars were rare but not unknown, though starting them could be a bit of a bother.


It is legitimate to wonder how or why a pram might have been left unattended at the site entrance.


And just when you thought mobile  advertising hoardings are a relatively modern invention you find that the Dubliners of 1928 had their ass-drawn antecedents.


The real wonder of this shot of course is the dramatic news that Katie Sandwina, the World’s Strongest Woman, is making her first visit to Ireland. Famous across Europe and North America, Katharina Brumbach (1884-1952), aka Katie Sandwina, could bend iron, out-pull horses and lift her husband above her head with one hand. Now what film could be more exciting than that?

Colum  O’Riordan,
February 2015

Pretty as a Picture: pattern books from Palladio to Fitzsimons

Designs for Cottages, Cottage Farms and other Rural Buildings, Joseph Gandy (1771-1843), 1805.

Recently the architectural critic Shane O’Toole donated to the Irish Architectural Archive a book which had belonged to his father, a copy of Designs for Cottages, Cottage Farms and other Rural Buildings, published in 1805 by the English architect Joseph Gandy (1771-1843). This ostensibly simple work contains page after page of designs, some of them deceptively modern in appearance, displaying ideas for ‘modest’ country residences. It is an important addition to the growing collection of architectural pattern books held by the Archive.

Residence for a Curate and Family, with a Cellar under the Parlour, and two or three Bed-chambers above. Plate XVII, Designs for Cottages, Cottage Farms and other Rural Buildings, Joseph Gandy, 1805.

The history of the pattern book is a long one. Its origins can be traced to the Ten Books on Architecture of the Roman architect Vitruvius (c. 80-70 BC). However, the idea of pattern books really came of age with the publication of I Quattro Libri dell’ Architettura (The Four Books of Architecture) by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) in 1570. Villas and palazzi of refined elegance and beauty were displayed on his pages, and through the wide dissemination of the book, available from the 1660s in English translations, the Palladian style became an inspiration to architects from Christopher Wren to Inigo Jones to Edward Lovett Pearce. The Archive holds a copy of the 1742 edition of Giacomo Leoni’s translation of the Quattro Libri  which once belonged to James Gandon, and later to William Henry Byrne.

Part of the title page of 1742 edition of Giacomo Leoni’s translation of Palladio’s Quattro Libri with the signature of James Gandon. The William Darcy who also signed the page is otherwise unknown.

Architectural treatises soon developed into more than discussions on the use of the classical orders for grander houses and public buildings, so that by the late 18th and early 19th centuries they became a means for architects to display their suggestions for more modest buildings.  British architects such as John Plaw, Francis Goodwin and John B. Papworth produced books on rural residences, villas, cottage ornée, gate lodges, cottages and farm buildings. Irish examples of the genre are quite rare but include Twelve Designs of Country Houses by ‘A Gentleman’, published in Dublin in 1757, and Lady Helena Domvile’s Eighteen Designs for Glebe Houses and Rural Cottages, 1840, all the rarer because of the gender of the author.

House 4 from Eighteen Designs for Glebe Houses and Rural Cottages, Lady Helena Domvile, 1840.

Gandy stated in his introduction to Designs for Cottages that he was influenced by a Board of Agriculture publication discussing the need to improve ‘the conditions of the Labouring Poor’. He notes that ‘we should combine convenience of arrangement with elegance in the external appearance’, and says his designs are ‘offered as hints for the consideration of Country Gentlemen, and others, who build, and who are sufficiently aware of the use and importance of consulting Architects upon these occasions, by which disappointment, and eventually great expenses, may be avoided’. For Gandy, the pattern book is an architectural calling card, advertising an architect’s abilities and encouraging potential patrons to seek out his professional services. He never intended that anyone would actually build from these published drawings.

Bungalow Bliss, Jack Fitzsimons, first edition, May 1971.

Guides, manuals and pattern books didn’t die away after the 19th century, and thanks to another recent acquisition here at the Archive we are reminded of that. In 2013, Jack Fitzsimons placed in the Archive a set of each of the published editions of his seminal Bungalow Bliss, a series of design books that served as a template for so many houses in the Irish countryside, later donating many of the original drawings for the first edition. From 1971 to 1998, through at least twenty-six reprints and twelve separate editions, Fitzsimons’s books included drawings, details of services, information on grants, town planning, contracts and decoration for modest two- to four-bedroom homes. For a fee (£10 in 1970) the full set of measured drawings and specifications could then be ordered. Robert Molloy TD, the Minister for Local Government, noted in the introduction to the first edition that, while property developers provide housing for the urban dweller, for the rural and small town resident the site, design and construction of a house had to be done ‘on his own initiative’ and therefore help was needed. Fitzsimons added that ‘while [the book] is intended primarily for those with little or no knowledge of the subject it is hoped that it may also prove a useful reference book for those already engaged in any sphere of housing’. Here was a pattern book from which the author did intend people to build. And build people did.

Design No. 1. Bungalow Bliss, Jack FItzsimons, 1971.


Aisling Dunne,
Irish Architectural Archive,
October 2014.

An experiment in sustainable architecture

Frank Gibney (1905-1978) was an architect and planning consultant whose career spanned the period from the early 1930s to the early 1970s. A planner before the profession really existed in Ireland, he prepared detailed plans for several towns including Tralee (1939), Drogheda (1940), Navan (1943), Waterford (1943), Cavan (1945), Listowel (1947), Ballina (1950) and Tullamore (1950). Although perhaps now best remembered for the villages and developments which he designed for Bord na Móna workers in the 1950s, the connections he established when working on these town plans led him to work as a housing architect for at least sixteen different local authorities. From dozens of ‘one-off’ rural cottages for Kerry County Council to large urban housing estates for Waterford Borough, Gibney’s houses are to be found right across the country.

Layout drawing for Bord na Mona housing scheme, Ardra, Bracknagh, Co. Offaly (St Broughan’s Park). Frank Gibney Collection, IAA (2014/63).


St Broughan’s Park, Co. Offaly. (c) Google.

Gibney’s working method for both the local authority and Bord na Móna housing was to set out schemes using a basic palette of generic house designs. Lay-out drawings show the placing, in block plan, of houses on particular sites, with an indication of which house types are to be built. This approach led to obvious efficiencies in design and construction costs. While the houses themselves are basic and repetitive, distinction and variety was given to each scheme by the use of ‘feature’ houses, more elaborate versions of the core types, inserted to add emphasis or punctuation. But what really makes Gibney’s schemes stand out are the distinctive layouts. His oval design for a small estate of 20 houses in Stradbally, Co. Laois (Brockley Park), or the tadpole shaped Bord na Móna estate at Bracknagh, Co. Offaly (St Broughan’s Park) are just two examples, both deriving their curving forms from Gibney’s careful consideration of site, aspect and orientation.

Layout drawing for housing scheme for Laois County Council, Stradbally, Co. Laois. (Brockley Park), 1950. Frank Gibney Collection, IAA (2014/63).


Brockley Park, Stradbally, Co. Laois, 2014. IAA

During the construction hiatus enforced by the Second World War, Gibney had time to indulge one of his many interests – building with clay. ‘Emergency conditions’, he wrote,  ‘have forced us to look inwards upon our own natural resources and to extract therefrom the maximum substance for the primaries of life – Food, Fuel, Clothing and Shelter’. When it came to the last of these, shelter, Gibney proposed a ‘practical… simple’ solution – the clay cottage. After all, he says, ‘there is nothing new here, for the building of dwellings in rammed earth and thatching of roof with straw, reeds or heather, was at one time a thriving Craft in our country’.

Proposed Clay Cottage for Castlecomer Collieries, 1943. Frank Gibney Collection, IAA (2014/63).

In 1943 he produced a drawing for a Clay Cottage for Captain Prior-Wandesforde of Castlecomer Collieries. This was to be no mere paper exercise; a sample cottage, based on the drawing, was in fact erected at Cloneen Co. Kilkenny, a few miles outside Castlecomer. A basic bungalow, traditional in plan yet – as Gibney was anxious to point out – nearly twice as large as contemporary local-authority-built labourers cottages, the Clay Cottage was finished in early 1944 and was ’warm, dry and comfortable.’

Construction was straightforward: ‘the walls, two feet thick, are constructed with sub-soil clay from the Cottage garden, removed immediately from excavation without watering and rammed hard between timber panelling. Straw reinforcement was only used in the internal partition walls, they being twelve inches thick. Surfaces of walls were plastered and lime washed white. The windows are timber double hung sashes fitted into wood jamb linings and cills built in the walls as part of the panelling.’ The fireplaces and chimneys were brick-built and the cottage was supplied with a flushing toilet, hot and cold water, ventilated sub-floors and a ‘modern drainage system’. The thatch was treated with ‘fire and vermin solutions’.


What made the building truly practical for Gibney – and particularly ‘sustainable’ in the modern sense – was the fact that ‘practically all material was found on site – clay from [the] garden, timber from nearby oak-trees, straw from harvest, and all work executed by local Craftsmen’. Even the boiler, located in the living room, was made by a local blacksmith. So fired was he by the success of the Clay Cottage that Gibney could see nothing but a bright future: ‘the writer believes that this mode of construction could be considerably developed in alleviating Rural Building problems, both in housing, farm buildings, workshops, Community halls, and even small Churches’. Alas it was not to be. The increasing availability of more modern building materials after 1945 meant that even Gibney himself had to abandon clay for concrete. But perhaps the Clay Cottage was an idea ahead of its time.

Copies of Frank Gibney’s town plans (2013/9) and drawings from his architectural practice (2014/63) were donated to the Irish Architectural Archive by his son, also Frank Gibney. Work is ongoing to catalogue and make accessible this record of the work of a remarkable and fascinating man. All quotations above come from an unpublished note by Frank Gibney attached to his Clay Cottage drawing. For more on Frank Gibney and his work see his entry in the IAA’s Dictionary of Irish Architects.

Colum O’Riordan,
August 2014

Rooms for all

I would like to introduce you to our wonderful rooms here at the Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

This magnificent Georgian house, located in the heart of Dublin’s south city centre, is one of the great Georgian houses of Dublin. Built for the speculative developer Gustavus Hume in the mid 1790s and situated directly across Merrion Square from Leinster House, this is the largest terraced house on the Square and is the centrepiece of its east side. Light-filled, spectacularly-proportioned, interconnected reception rooms on the piano nobile of this Georgian palazzo offer a range of venues and facilities.

Bespoke catering

We are the perfect venue if you are planning an event, big or small. We have excellent facilities for business meetings or private corporate entertaining. We are ideally suited to host a wide variety of corporate events, be it a board meeting, breakfast briefing, working lunch or training session.

Flixible seating
Flexible seating

We have a fully equipped multi-media lecture room that can seat up to 55 people. Our meeting room can accommodate 20 people for a board meeting. The three rooms combined can host up to 250 people for a reception.

Shopping opportunities

We are a perfect city centre location for a trade show, product or book launch, or indeed a fashion show or musical recital.

Room to dine
Room to dine

As you can see, the rooms vary in size and decoration, and they can be used either separately or in combination, according to your requirements.

Music and lighting

No. 45 is the perfect venue for a small conference in the heart of Dublin city centre. We offer complimentary Wi-Fi; a projector, screen and microphone are all available on request.

Room for all

Hiring the rooms provides the Archive with much needed extra income. If you know of anyone looking for a unique location for an event or special occasion please contact us. We would be delighted to send you further information or to arrange a visit to view the venue.

Anne Henderson,
Events Officer,

Hanging in the Archive

The opening of the Architectural Association of Ireland Awards on 27th May last marked an important milestone in improved options for exhibitions in the Irish Architectural Archive. In March of this year the Archive installed a new picture hanging system in two of our first floor rooms, the Rachel McRory Meeting Room and the Model Room. Until now, it was not possible to have temporary exhibitions in these spaces as attaching objects to the walls with hooks or nails would have interfered with the historic panelling in the rooms. The walls would have had to be repaired and repainted on a regular basis, something which would have been neither desirable nor affordable.

AAI Awards exhibition panels in the IAA
AAI Awards exhibition panels in the IAA

A number of considerations needed to be taken into account when the decision was taken to install the hanging system. First and foremost, the system had to allow for the maximum number of hanging options. Secondly, it was a requirement that the system have a minimal impact on the historic interiors of No. 45 Merrion Square. Given the rooms are over 5m in height, the system needed to have a low visual impact in the rooms. And finally, the system had to be straightforward for Archive staff and other exhibition installers to use.

The system chosen consists of a narrow high-level rail installed just below the decorative plasterwork frieze. As it is only 1cm deep and installed 4.5m above floor level, the rail is barely noticeable, especially when not in use. From the rail, long transparent cables are suspended. Attached to the cables are secure hooks from which objects can be hung. The transparency of the cables allows them to ‘disappear’ against the walls, minimising the impact on the architectural features of both rooms.

IAA Model Room with AAI Awards installation screen and bench, and photographs handing on new system
IAA Model Room with AAI Awards installation screen and bench, and photographs handing on new system

One final piece of equipment was needed to complete the system, a tall ladder with a working platform to allow for the attaching of the cable to the hanging rail.

Simon Lincoln adjusting hanging cables during exhibition installation, with Steven McNamara of Roji Designs and Elspeth Lee of the AAI

It is intended that these first floor spaces will feature regular exhibitions of material from the Archive’s photographic collections, while exhibitions of original drawings and documents will remain in the Architecture Gallery on the ground floor. It is also hoped that the flexible new hanging system will encourage more outside use of the rooms for events and exhibitions, providing opportunities for the Archive to generate much needed revenue. Enquiries about the use of the rooms can be sent to

Simon Lincoln,
Outreach and Exhibitions Officer,

A small but charming Place

The Irish Architectural Archive is incredibly fortunate to be able to constantly grow its holdings through the generosity of donors. To date, some 3,090 donations are recorded in our Accessions Register. These can come in the form of the entire office archive of an architectural practice with tens of thousands of drawings and related documents, or they can be a single item – a book, pamphlet, photograph, document or drawing.

Late last year, the Archive was contacted by Kate Gunn, Newbury, England, who asked if we might accept a donation of ‘a small framed (rather charming) old pen and ink drawing’ in memory of her father, the historian Arnold Taylor. Naturally we responded that we would be delighted to accept such a donation. The drawing was passed by Kate to a good friend of the Archive, an Irish lawyer living in London, and he brought it to 45 Merrion Square earlier this month.

Drawing of St Laurence’s Gate by Francis Place, framed. IAA 2014/30.

The drawing is indeed small – it measures just 18cm by 19cm in its frame – and it is charming. A view of St Laurence’s Gate, Drogheda by the English painter and antiquarian Francis Place (1647-1728), it dates to 1698, making it one of the earliest known views of what Harold Leask called the finest surviving barbican in Ireland (Irish Castles and Castellated Houses, Harold Leask, Dublin, 1941, p. 21). Place landed in Drogheda in 1698, which is presumably when he produced this drawing, perhaps while making observations for his panoramic view of the town. He travelled on to Dublin and Kilkenny before leaving Ireland via the port of Waterford in 1699.

West side of St Laurence’s Gate viewed from Laurence Street, c. 1880. IAA Collection.

While most early views of St Laurence’s Gate, whether engravings or photographs, show the west or interior (town) elevation, this drawing shows the east or exterior side of the barbican. It has been said of Place that ‘his views are not only topographically accurate but have a clarity of vision which is not found again until the late eighteenth century’ (The Painters of Ireland c.1660-1920, Anne Crookshank and the Knight of Glin, London, 1978, p. 53). A comparison of the drawing with a 1959 photograph of the structure from the AA Collection in the Archive bears out just how accurate Place has been. Worth noting in particular are the positions of the windows and loops in the two towers.

Drawing of St Laurence’s Gate by Francis Place, unframed. IAA 2014/30.
East side of St Laurence’s Gate, 1959. AA Collection, IAA.
Drawing of St Laurence’s Gate by Francis Place, detail.

Given this accuracy, the recording in this drawing of elements of the building no longer extant is particularly valuable. The crenulated gate structure at the base is gone, as are flanking walls. There is also a strong indication that the tower on the left may in fact have been taller than it is now, interesting given that the barbican, even in its present sate, is considered extremely tall for its type.


Drawing of St Laurence’s Gate by Francis Place, detail.

The thatched cottage to the left of the gate, an example of a vernacular structure whose external form remained unchanged for centuries, might be considered characteristic of Place; he included a similar cottage in his view of Granagh Castle, Co. Kilkenny. Perhaps the only oddity in the drawing is the somewhat out-of-scale figure to the right of the gate.

Not all donations to the Archive are as old as this drawing, not all are by as talented an artist as Francis Place, not all depict an outstanding building such as St Laurence’s Gate. But each is valuable in its own way; each is important. And each is accessible in the Reading Room in 45 Merrion Square to anyone who wishes to visit, peruse the catalogues and explore the Archive’s ever increasing holdings.

With thanks to Kate Gunn and John Taylor for donating the Frances Place drawing of St Laurence’s Gate, Drogheda, to the Irish Architectural Archive in memory of their father Arnold Taylor.


Colum O’Riordan,
General Manager,
April 2014


Identity crisis

In the Archive Blog last month we read about the work involved in identifying an unknown house in an old photograph brought in to us by a member of the public. Furthermore, thanks to Aisling’s intricate detective work, we learned about the history of a pair of houses in Glenageary, ‘Sharavogue’ and ‘Kilcolman’, one now long disappeared, and we were shown a tantalising glimpse into the lives of those connected to the two houses.

Here in the IAA we also have our own small collection of waif and stray images: photos of street scenes, buildings and ruins, all waiting to be reunited with their identity. These photos have been gathered over the course of the lifetime of the IAA, and we like to revisit them every so often and see if we can progress any further in our efforts to identify them.

As with all researchers using the Archive, we can follow standard steps as part of the process of researching the history of a building. In addition to the use of long-established methods and sources, the progress of research has of course been revolutionised by the internet. As well as a straightforward Google search, the use of Google Street View has transformed our capability to trace the identity of elusive buildings and streets. Suggestions of potential locations – no matter how far-fetched – can be tried and tested within moments.

Following in the theme of our current exhibition, Dublin Shops, we have here a small selection of images related to the subject of shops.


Our first enigmatic image was ultimately solved within seconds by the speedy internet skills of Anne Henderson here in the Archive. Unusual surnames can be a very useful starting point and we seized upon ‘C. Colbert Grocer’ in the hopes of a possible clue. Although a simple Google text search for the name yielded nothing, the same query through a Google image search immediately led us to the discovery that this was indeed North Main Street in Youghal, Co. Cork. Further confirmation followed via Google Street View where, a century of change notwithstanding, we could still see the marked projection of the ‘Lynch’ premises in the distance which remains to this day ( However, the distinctive ‘Dutch Billy’ gable front of ‘C. Colbert Grocer’ (so evocative of Youghal’s ancient and important history) has sadly disappeared without trace.


Our next image we think might be of Main Street, Ahascragh, Co. Galway. We think this because of its provenance as part of the Clonbrock Photographic Collection, copies of which are held here in the IAA. Although we can see Monaghan and J. Byrne shops, unfortunately the photo is just not quite clear enough to make out the detail of the street fronts, roof lines and gables. Even Google Street View cannot always solve our mysteries: here it is just not possible to replicate the broad angle of the original photograph and so, until we get further evidence, we are for the moment unable to confirm this tentative attribution. We think it dates from the late 19th Century but we would welcome any suggestions from historians of costume about the distinctive knitted shawls worn by most of the women. We can see a busy market day scene: there is considerable interest in whatever is being sold on the street outside Monaghan’s shop. Once again, we would welcome any insights from our readers.


Our third view is of a distinctive urban shop or pub front: that of an M. McConnell, number 40 of an unknown street. Although the facade with its distinctive windows and dual door arrangement looks like an old curiosity shop of the 19th Century, we strongly suspect this photo actually dates from some time in the 1940s. This is for two reasons. Firstly, it is suggested by the provenance and context of the rest collection (all of the rest of the photos in the collection date from this era). Secondly – and more tantalising – is the clue of what looks like an Art Deco style porch, possibly of a cinema, projecting from the street frontage of the neighbouring premises. It evokes what must have been a very notable juxtaposition of contrasting styles of architecture. We checked for an M. McConnell in the Dublin Directories (again the provenance of the collection would suggest a Dublin location), but without any success. Even though Directories can be unreliable, they are a useful starting point, and should always be a first port of call for this sort of query. The absence of an M. McConnell from the Directory could be for a variety of reasons and does not necessarily mean it is not a Dublin building. It just means we haven’t found our building yet.


Our final image is of a shop belonging to a ‘Samuel Davis & Co.’ which appears to be No. 1 on the corner of an unidentified street. It is a handsome shop front and comprises three windows, each framed by barley sugar columns, displaying wares including (as far as we can see) candles, teas, coffees, herbs [?] and spices. Initially it was thought that the building might be at the junction of Baggotrath Place and Baggot Street Lower (the former H. Williams, now Tesco supermarket), but the street numbering and occupancy history of the building on that site do not support this as a possibility. The style of slating on the gable wall of the building is a feature quite typically found in buildings of Cork, but our efforts to follow this up in Cork Trade Directories has not yielded an answer either. Using the Dublin Directories to search by name and trade, we find a possible candidate appear from circa 1883: a ‘Samuel Davis & Sons, tea merchants, 17 & 18 High Street & 11 Rood Lane, London’. However, that leaves us with an unsatisfactory discrepancy in street numbering which does not tie in with our photo. (SEE UPDATE BELOW)

And so we cast our final image before the readers of the Archive Blog, in the hope that we may progress further in our search to find the location of Mr Davis’s shop. In fact, we’re planning to cast many more of these waifs and strays before you in the coming months via our Facebook and Flickr pages in the hope that you will be able to put names to photographs.

In trying to identify images we have learned of the importance of looking out for the smallest of details, the possible clues, and consequent implications they all can give. Nevertheless no matter how searching the eye, there are always some secrets held within photos which will never be revealed. It is therefore appropriate to depart with the biggest mystery of all in this old photograph of Mr Davis’s shop: just who is the woman in the window upstairs?


Eve McAulay,
Irish Architectural Archive,
March 2014.



Identity Crisis Update!

Thanks to the keen eye and researching skills of Dr Alicia St Leger, Cork,  one of our anonymous buildings has now been identified as No. 1 Parnell Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.,-7.696766,3a,90y,223h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1s2W_o3Bj8UqQ1skjOApN6Zw!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x48432e1d7e877cd7:0x1b15db652c0825bd!6m1!1e1

Now somewhat altered, it is nevertheless still distinctly recognisable as the building in our photograph. The shingled gable with the arched side door still remains (although the two windows in the side elevation have since disappeared). The rhythm of the windows on the ground floor of the entrance front is also the same, although the position of the entrance has been moved. Finally, the arrangement of the windows in the first floor can also be recognised from our original picture, although, as Dr St Leger points out, the woman in the window has since vanished!

Not wishing to base the attribution entirely on the formal appearance of the building, Dr St Leger has also provided us with additional corroborating historical evidence from the website

This is a very useful and comprehensive website and, under a section marked shops it lists No. 1 Parnell Street as being occupied in 1901 by a Davis & Co. Grocers.

We have our building!

Many thanks to Dr St Leger for taking the time to carry out such thorough detective work.


Eve McAulay,

3 April 2014.

Name that building

As part of our work here in the Irish Architectural Archive, we welcome researchers and readers through our doors, people with questions and requests for information of many different kinds. At times these come in the form of a visual test – a photograph of an unidentified building. ‘Where is this?’ is the question most often asked, followed by ‘who built it, when and for whom?’

Recently we had just such a request for help from a reader. Could we identify a building in an old photograph, a handsome Victorian house with adjoining green house.


Happily, Simon Lincoln, our Exhibitions Officer, recognised it as Sharavogue, a large detached house in Glenageary, Co. Dublin. In our own collections we had photographs of the house at the time of its sale in the mid 1980s looking remarkably unchanged from the earlier image and so we were able to confirm the identification.


So what else could we tell about ‘Sharavogue’ – did we have any other documents in the Archive to tell us the story of this suburban villa? Could we procure a date for its construction or even an architect’s name?

We didn’t have drawings for the house, so the search started with old postal directories to see when Sharavogue was first mentioned. The style of architecture suggested a date pre-1900 but when we checked our collection of Thom’s Street Directories for the late 1800s we encountered a problem: the house did not seem to appear at all. Of course house names often change. A quick check on an old Ordnance Survey map of the area confirmed that the house was originally named St. Andrew’s and the directories indicated that it was built sometime between 1875 and 1883.

From the map we could see that another house sat on the neighbouring corner plot, seemingly of the same dimensions and shape. Could we be looking at twins, houses built to identical designs at the same time? Today the neighbouring plot is occupied by a housing estate, Kilcolman Court, named after Kilcolman, the possible twin of St. Andrew’s/Sharavogue. Kilcolman no longer stands, (having been demolished by 1972) and, while there is no mention of either St. Andrew’s or Sharavogue in the Archive’s Dictionary of Irish Architects (, there is a record of alteration work being done to Kilcolman in 1911 by the architect James Purcell Wrenn.

We know something of James Purcell Wrenn, as his letter books are held in the Archive, but the name Wrenn struck a further chord. The directories listed Andrew Wrenn as the original owner of St. Andrew’s. He was a successful merchant and proprietor of a number of businesses in Dublin, including the Bleeding Horse Tavern at the top of Camden Street. James Purcell was in fact Andrew’s son. He inherited St. Andrew’s, ran an estate management business from the house and carried out some work on his neighbour’s house.

However, the question of who originally designed the pair of houses still remained. Turning again to the Dictionary of Irish Architects, we found a reference to the fact that in 1877 the architect Robert J. Stirling invited tenders for the erection of ‘two new villas’ in Glenageary – could these be our two houses? On looking at Stirling’s list of works in the DIA we can see that in 1871 he carried out alterations and improvements to the Bleeding Horse Tavern, Upper Camden Street, for none other than Andrew Wrenn. Also worth considering is that the original owner of Kilcolman was a Mr. Gleeson, a merchant and businessman with properties on Thomas Street. Did Wrenn and Gleeson have a professional relationship and decide to invest in land to get away from the busy city? Having already employed Stirling on his commercial premises, did Andrew Wrenn now ask him to design two fine new villas near the sea?

These are tantalising questions and we have yet to fully answer them. But, in a way that is completely typical of even the most cursory search in the Archive, the identification of a previously unknown building in an old photograph leads to a web of interconnections, filling in some details of the history of the house and opening the possibilities of more to come.

Aisling Dunne,
Irish Architectural Archive,
February 2014

An introduction to 2014 from the Chairman of the Irish Architectural Archive

At the start of another year I would like to bring you up to date on recent developments at the Irish Architectural Archive.

At the end of 2013, David Griffin retired as Director after 28 years of loyal and dedicated service to the Archive. David’s encyclopaedic knowledge particularly of Georgian architecture has been made available to so many people over the years. We are sorry to lose him but are pleased that he has agreed to make his expertise available to the Archive and its members in a voluntary capacity.

The Board has decided to combine the roles of Director and Administrator in the Archive and replace them with a new role of General Manager. Colum O’Riordan, who started his twentieth year with the Archive on 2 January 2014, has been appointed to that post. His dedication and expertise will be invaluable in that role. We look forward to working with him in the years ahead to build and develop the work of the Archive.

Thanks to the closure of the Archive in July and August (or, more bluntly, to not having to pay our loyal staff for two months), together with the great success of our fund raising efforts particularly from our members, we finished 2013 with a small cash surplus. Our sincere thanks to all involved.

We have been informed  that our grant for 2014 from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has been reduced by a further 6% or €15, 000. This will have to be replaced by fund raising before we can balance our budget for 2014.

We are very grateful to all those supporters who pledged financial support for 2014 and 2015 as well as last year. We would ask those who contributed for one year and those who were not able to support us last year to consider making a small commitment for 2014. Forms are available here.

Despite the lack of resources 2013 was a good year for exhibitions and lectures, with five shows in the Architecture Gallery and two in the first floor rooms. The number of readers and other visitors continued to increase. The number of visits to the Dictionary of Irish Architects website now stands at over 361,500 and more than 1.3 million pages have been viewed, as clear an example as any of the growing demand for access to the services only the Archive can provide.

We look forward to some exciting exhibitions and other events in the year ahead as we continue to grow and develop the Archive to serve all our members and users.

I would like to place on record my thanks to our members, supporters and Board members for their support in what was a very difficult year for the Archive. I would particularly like to thank our loyal staff who despite all the problems continues to serve our users in their usual friendly efficient and professional way.


Michael Webb,
Irish Architectural Archive.
January 2014