In 2012, inspired by his passionate interest in Ireland’s architectural heritage and concern for its preservation, Robert O’Byrne started writing a blog called The Irish Aesthete. He subsequently moved onto other social media and now The Irish Aesthete is a well-established presence on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, as well as YouTube where he set up his own channel in 2020. The Irish Aesthete also has an ever-growing presence on Instagram with more than 35,500 followers. Architects, designers, decorators and historians from around the world now come to The Irish Aesthete for information on Ireland’s historic buildings.
Since his subject was architecture, Robert recognised the need to accompany any text with images. However, having never before taken a photograph, indeed having never even owned a camera, from the start he used his mobile phone, teaching himself how to create strong pictures that would hold the attention of viewers. Since then, his photographs have received widespread acclaim and appeared on book covers, in magazine and newspaper articles and on many other sites. In 2019 a book featuring some of his images – The Irish Aesthete: Ruins of Ireland – was published in Britain and the United States.
After a decade of travelling throughout the island, Robert’s collection of photographs, covering everything from grand country houses to ancient monasteries, now runs to more than 50,000 and covers all 32 counties in Ireland. To mark The Irish Aesthete’s tenth anniversary, he is presenting a complete set of these images to the Irish Architectural Archive, so that anyone interested in the subject may have an opportunity of seeing them. For the month of December 2022, the IAA will host this exhibition, The Irish Aesthete: Ten Years in the Making, which includes a selection from this now very substantial collection.
This exhibition has been generously sponsored by Sonbrook.