Professor Terence Dooley
Professor Terence Dooley, MA, Ph.D. (NUI), H. Dip. Ed. was NUI Fellow in the Humanities 2001-03. He specialises in Irish social and political history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the history of Irish country houses and the landed class; land and politics in independent Ireland; the working of the Irish Land Commission from 1881 to 1992; the revolutionary period 1916-23; and local history in Ireland. He is Director of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates.
Terence’s first major monograph, The decline of the big house in Ireland (2001), was described by Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin, and President of the Irish Georgian Society in Country Life as: ‘a brilliant and penetrating study of the reasons why the Republic of Ireland has so few surviving historic houses and collections.’ As well as being very well received in academic circles, the book became a national bestseller and has since been seen as pivotal in the shift of public and political attitudes towards the country house in Ireland. A report in the Irish Times of 16 July 2011, on the tenth anniversary of its publication, concluded: ‘It is a decade since Terence Dooley published The decline of the big house in Ireland, a work that will surely be seen as seminal in changing attitudes towards the topic. Since then the number of art and architectural students addressing aspects of the Irish country house and its history has grown considerably, not least thanks to the establishment of a Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates under the auspices of NUI Maynooth’s History Department.’
In 2003, Terence was commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Irish Georgian Society to write a report on the issues facing historic houses in Ireland and to make recommendations on how these issues could be addressed in the future. The report, A future for Irish historic houses? A study of fifty houses (2003), highlighted the increasing risks faced by Irish historic houses in both private and public ownership, in particular the challenge of financing their conservation and of finding sustainable uses for them into the future. It emphasised that the preservation of all remaining historic houses, as well as their contents and their surroundings, was a national imperative. The report subsequently informed government policy and led to the establishment of the Irish Heritage Trust in 2006.
Meanwhile, in 2004, Terence was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates (CSHIHE) within the History Department at NUI Maynooth.
Since its establishment, the CSHIHE has raised approximately €1.5 million in funding from a number of sources including an annual grant from the Office of Public Works (thus creating a unique public-private partnership), private benefactors, government departments and fundraising events such as golf classics. These funds have supported the refurbishment of Junior Infirmary on South Campus of Maynooth University as an office block for the CSHIHE; the day to day administration of the Centre (including a part-time administrative assistant); and marketing and promotion. However, most of the funding has been dedicated to educational research activity with a very strong emphasis on wider outcomes aimed at enhancing the public understanding of the complex history of the country house and landed estate and the promotion of an awareness and appreciation of Ireland’s built heritage. Thus, funding has been allocated to the organisation of twelve Annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conferences and numerous other seminars and workshops; exhibitions; the creation of databases; publications; the provision of five post-doctoral research fellowships; and numerous minor research projects carried out by undergraduate and postgraduate students of the History Department.
The Annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conferences are an important part of the CSHIHE’s educational brief to provide a forum for debate and the dissemination of new heritage-related research findings. The conferences have attracted audiences from a broad cross section of Irish society and overseas including owners and managers of historic properties; heritage professionals; academics and students; specialists in architecture, landscape and conservation; secondary school teachers; and those with a general interest in the built heritage. The success of these occasions has been determined by the range of topics, the quality of speakers, and the mix of audiences. Moreover, overseas speakers have generously facilitated tours for groups from the CSHIHE to Yorkshire, Paris, Moscow, Sicily and St Petersburgh.
Other educational initiatives have included the development of modules at undergraduate level on the social, political, economic and cultural history of Irish country houses, their architectural evolution, their material culture and the creation (and destruction) of their surrounding landscapes. Teaching modules have also included visits to the UK which have enabled a comparative study of country houses in Ireland and Yorkshire in collaboration with the Yorkshire Country House Partnership (see below).
An important development was the introduction in September 2010 of a MA in Historic Houses Studies, offering modules on historical context, architectural design, material culture, heritage and tourism, restoration and conservation. The development of the MA programme reflected current strengths and is forward-looking with modules designed to promote international collaboration (as with the Yorkshire Country House Partnership), to take cognisance of the future role of heritage and cultural tourism in boosting the Irish economy, and, indeed, to consider the impact of globalization and issues of sustainability which will be significant in terms of the future of historic properties. The MA is now run as part of the MA in Irish History Programme. Three monographs have been published based on MA in HHS theses: Edmund Joyce, Borris House, Co Carlow, and elite regency patronage (Dublin, 2913); Ruth Thorpe, Women, architecture and building in the east of Ireland (Dublin, 2013); Ann O’Riordan, Agrarian agitation and the burning of Ballydugn House, Co Galway, 1922 (Dublin, 2015).
In 2011, Terence initiated another important collaborative project with the National Library of Ireland which along with the CSHIHE funded a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship to achieve the key objective of ensuring that the extraordinary resources – estate rentals - which are the focus of this joint project are made accessible to researchers at all levels of scholarship and understanding.
The work of the CSHIHE is also focused upon linking the fruits of academic study with contemporary heritage issues at historic properties, and collaboration has been at the heart of these activities. The Historic Houses Association of Ireland (founded in 2009) has been a welcome partner, keen to show how many of their properties have educational assets that could be deployed in a number of ways. There is the acknowledgement that countless projects could be fashioned in relation to specific houses that would allow students and owners to work closely to the mutual benefit of both parties; the ‘Music in the Irish Country House Project’ and ‘Famine and the Country House and Estate’ being cases in point.
In 2008 the establishment of the Archive and Research Centre at Castletown, under the joint auspices of the OPW and Maynooth University, has presented further opportunities for those working in architecture, the decorative and fine arts, landscape, and conservation. Launched by President Mary McAleese, the Centre aims to facilitate the care and study of archives that deal with the history of Irish estates, their houses and inhabitants. It now houses about ten significant collections, including Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin’s furniture archive and many of his personal papers.
The CSHIHE, in association with the OPW, has also organised a very successful series of seminars at Castletown, addressing key issues relating to the management and understanding of the historic house in Ireland. These gatherings are aimed at those working across the historic house sector - managers, curators, academics, administrators, guides, education officers, marketing personnel, house staff and other heritage professionals.
Since 2004 the Yorkshire Country House Partnership based at the University of York, England, and the CSHIHE have held a highly successful series of seminars, conferences and exhibitions in Yorkshire and in Ireland. Like the CSHIHE, the YCHP is committed to re-evaluating the role and meaning of the historic house in its broadest understanding, encompassing architecture, families, collections, landscapes and archives. It has been widely acknowledged within the heritage sector that these events have been instrumental in refashioning the interpretation of the historic house in the UK, Ireland, and Europe.
Moreover, these activities have now placed the CSHIHE at the forefront of European Country House studies, which recently has led to the establishment of a European Forum for the Study of Country Houses and Landed Estates with collaborating partners from the universities of Oxford, Bangor, Dundee, Queens University Belfast, and Groningen, as well as the YCHP. This will expand over time.
Such is the extent of its activities in the eight years since its inception that the Centre can fairly be said to be leading and determining the debate with regard to historic houses in Ireland, and, indeed, much further afield, both in academic terms (through research, teaching and publication), and in a more general political sense. The range of organisations, departments and individuals linked with the Centre through these diverse activities is testimony to the central tenet that those working across the entire spectrum of the built heritage sector cannot do things in isolation. Academic research needs to demonstrate a public outcome in addition to its own intrinsic requirements; equally for those who work in the heritage sector their knowledge and understanding is best enhanced by taking advantage of such research. Moreover as the historic house grows in significance so too does its appeal as a visitor attraction. Consequently the collaborative efforts of scholars, owners, managers and other professionals can also translate into economic activity with a defined public value.
The fruits of the CSHIHE’s labours are best encapsulated in the following quotations:
‘It is a decade since Terence Dooley published The decline of the big house in Ireland, a work that will surely be seen as seminal in changing attitudes towards the topic. Since then the number of art and architectural students addressing aspects of the Irish country house and its history has grown considerably, not least thanks to the establishment of a Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates under the auspices of NUI Maynooth’s History Department.’ Irish Times, 16 July 2011.
‘Above all, these were the years of increasing heritage consciousness [early twentieth century], led not only by The Irish Georgian Society and smaller groups such as the Landscape Alliance from Waterfall in Cork, but given strength and status by the work of Dr Terence Dooley of Maynooth, whose Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates is crucial to the rehabilitation of so many Irish properties'. Mary Leland, ‘Celebration of history, heritage and hospitality’ in the Irish Examiner ,’ 2 April 2011.
'The attitudes of people to the Big House have changed significantly in recent times, not least due to the work of Terry Dooley and the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates here in Maynooth’. Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht at the opening of the Historic Houses of Ireland Conference at Maynooth, 8 June 2011.
‘In addition to this book and several others … Terence Dooley has done much in establishing the study of the big house and landed estate firmly within contemporary Irish historical research and in advancing our understanding and appreciation of these important components of Ireland’s landscape and society’. Dr Jonathan Cherry in Irish Economic and social History (vol. xxxvi).
Public service, 2003-
• 2010-14 Member of Board of Kildare Fáilte.
• 2010- Member of Committee on Genealogy and Heraldry (National Library of Ireland).
• 2010-15 Member of steering committee, Failte Ireland Tourism Destination Development Plan, Kildare and Wicklow.
• 2010-15 Member of communications and education sub-committee, Failte Ireland Tourism Destination Development Plan, Kildare and Wicklow.
• 2009- Member of OPW/ Maynooth University Archive and Research Centre, Castletown House, Steering Committee.
• 2007-09 Chairman of the Advisory Panel to Advise the Irish Heritage Trust.
• 2006-15 Member of Meath County Heritage Forum (Cultural Heritage and Education Group).
• 2005-06 Advisor to Steering Group for the establishment of the Irish Heritage Trust.
• 2004-10 Member of Steering Committee of Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government project ‘Survey of Designed Landscapes’.
• 2002-03 Advisor to An Chomhairle Leabharlanna on project entitled: ‘Our cultural heritage: a strategy for action for public libraries’.
• The History Show, RTE, 4 May 2014 [Twelfth Annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conference] http://www.rte.ie/radio1/the-history-show/programmes/2014/0504/614578-the-history-show-sunday-4-may-2014/
• Sean O’Rourke Show, RTE, 7 May 2014 [Twelfth Annual Historic Houses of Ireland Conference] http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9%3A10278934%3A0%3A%3A
• Pat Kenny Show, Newstalk, 13 May 2014, [Decline and fall of the Dukes of Leinster, 1872-48, Love, war, debt and madness]http://www.newstalk.ie/player/listen_back/13240/9822/13th_May_2014_-_The_Pat_Kenny_Show_Part_2
• The Last Word with Matt Cooper, Today FM, 25 June 2014 [Decline and fall of the Dukes of Leinster, 1872-48, Love, war, debt and madness] http://www.todayfm.com/player/shows/The_Last_Word_with_Matt_Cooper/7/12581/25th_June_2014_-_The_Last_Word_with_Matt_Cooper_Part_3
• The Big House, TV3, four one hour series, April-May 2013 • The Home Place, Araby Productions, two one hour documentary series, RTE, 9-10 May 2011.
• The murders at Wildgoose Lodge: agrarian crime and punishment in pre-Famine Ireland [The History Show ‘Book of the month’ with Myles Dungan, RTE, 2 January 2011.]
• Lesser Spotted Ulster: the parishes of Killanny and Inniskeen, UTV, 4 Nov. 2009
• ‘The built heritage in Ireland’, Dublin 103.2 FM, 1 Mar. 2009 • OPW/NUIM Archive and Research Centre at Castletown, Nationwide, RTE 1,
• The murders at Wildgoose Lodge, radio documentary, LMFM, 27 October 2008 (shortlisted for best local radio documentary, 2008).
• The murders at Wildgoose Lodge, interview with Dr Patrick Geoghegan on ‘Talking History’, Newstalk 106, 13 July 2008
• Pat Kenny Show, interview on The murders at Wildgoose Lodge, 15 October 2007.
• Guns and neighbours: the murder of the Pearson family at Coolacrease in Hidden History series, RTE, 23 October, 2007.
• Nationwide Special: country life and heritage weekend, RTE, September 2006
• Eoin O’Duffy: an Irish Fascist, in Hidden History series, RTE, December 2006.
• The Culture Show, BBC 2, October 2005
• You thought you knew about the border, BBC 1, July 2005.
• Land is gold: the story of the Lansdowne estate in Kerry, in Hidden History series, RTE 1, May 2005.
• European Tour Weekly, Sky Sports, May 2005.
• The Arts Programme, BBC 2, May 2005.
• Off the Shelf with Andy O’Mahony (discussion on Terence Dooley, ‘The land for the people’: the land question in independent Ireland (Dublin, 2003), October 2005, RTE Radio One
• Pat Kenny Show, RTE Radio 1, September 2005
• Pat Kenny Show, RTE Radio 1, May 2005
• Morning AM [discussion on Terence Dooley, The decline of the big house in Ireland] TV3, June 2001.
• Regular contributor to a variety of local radio stations.
Four Courts Press
Irish Historical Studies
Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes d'Histoire
Irish Theological Quarterly
Irish Journal of Sociology and Anthropology
External examiner, University of Limerick, 2010-2014
External PhD examiner, Trinity College Dublin, Queens University Belfast (x2)