Irish Houses and Gardens
by Sean O'Reilly
(Hardback; 40.00 IRP / 60.00 USD)
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For over 100 years, Country Life has been publishing regular articles on country houses of Ireland and Great Britain. From the start, its definitive texts were illustrated with specially commissioned photography by some of the century's pre-eminent architectural photographers, a practice which endowed the magazine with a unique photographic archive. The magazine was first drawn to Ireland shortly after 1910, and soon the then-new and growing interest in Georgian architecture led its writers to explore the unique contribution made by Irish architects and craftsmen to the development of the 18th century house. The result was a series of magisterial articles on such major monuments as Castletown, Castlecoole, Caledon and Russborough. The beauty and comprehensiveness of these illustrations, taken predominantly on glass-plate negatives, is without equal.
Yet the magazine had wider interests that then Georgian tradition alone: its influential enthusiasm for the work of Lutyens led to photographs of the architect's work in Ireland, including Lambay and Howth, being published soon after the buildings and gardens were completed, and the magazine remained sensitive to the inspiration Lutyens derived from medieval and classical Irish traditions. In the 1960s, broadening tastes led Country Life's writers to explore the country's major Victorian houses, such as Adare Manor and Humewood Castle.
As the pace of loss and destruction of so many houses quickened in the middle of the century, the magazine's photographs became an increasingly important, and often unique, record of what had gone. Perhaps most poignant of all are those which capture Powerscourt's magnificent interiors before they were destroyed by fire in 1074. Even where houses have survived, dispersal of their contents means that Country Life's photographs are the finest, if not the only, records of their furnishings.
Here, Sean O'Reilly, one of Ireland's leading architectural historians, has selected over 200 of the archive's most outstanding photographs, featuring twenty major houses which range in date from medieval castles to the 20th century decorative delights of Birr. His text provides the essential historical background to an appreciation of some of Ireland's greatest buildings, making this book not only an important survey, but also a portfolio of classic photographs of unrivalled beauty and significance.
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