The Irish country house: its past, present and future (2011)

Terence Dooley & Christopher Ridgway (editors)

This volume of essays emanates from the highly successful Historic Houses of Ireland Conference held at NUI Maynooth each year since 2003. Edited by: Terence Dooley, Director of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at NUI Maynooth, and Christopher Ridgway, Curator of Castle Howard in Yorkshire, UK.


  • R.V. Comerford: Foreword
  • Patrick Walsh: William Conolly and Castletown
  • Finola O’Kane: The making of Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin
  • Judith Hill: The uses of the past in Adare, Co. Limerick
  • Patrick Cosgrove: Irish landlords and the Wyndham Land Act, 1903
  • Ciarán J. Reilly: The burning of country houses in Co. Offaly during the revoloutionary period, 1920-3
  • Olwen Purdue: Big house society in Northern Ireland, 1921–69
  • Terence Dooley: Social life at Castle Hyde, 1931–88
  • Karol Mullaney-Dignam: The Music in the Irish country house project
  • Danielle O’Donovan & Jennifer McCrea: Education and the historic house
  • Christopher Ridgway: Making and meaning in the country house
  • Allen Warren: The Twilight of the ascendancy and the big house



‘Interesting reading … we have come a long way in reimagining the country house’, Patricia McCarthy, Irish Arts Review (Autumn 2011).

‘Several broad themes are addressed within The Irish Country House, namely the construction and architectural styles of these buildings and their associated demesne landscapes; the demise of landlordism in the early part of the twentieth century; the fate of these houses in both the Republic and Northern Ireland; the role of music in the Irish country house and the use of “big” houses today as educational facilities and tourist attractions. The volume strikes a good balance between case study-focused chapters and those with a broader scope … From academics interested in accessing some of the latest research in the field of historic house, estate and demesne landscape studies, to those involved in the management and running of these houses as educational facilities and tourist attractions, to local and state authorities and the general public, this well illustrated, very readable book comes highly recommended’, Jonathan Cherry, Irish Literary Supplement (Fall 2011).

‘For some [country houses] were a symbol of oppression and decadence. Now they are simply a fascinating example of history brought to life … this book provides a long and intensely interesting argument for the preservation not only of a house itself but of its written records, its muniments. For these are the history of the place, of the estate, of the village or town, of the townland, of its farms and holdings … in other chapters there is a disturbing examination of our most vicious expression of animosity, that triumph of reprisal and sometimes undisguised greed, which for years made Ireland resemble the Zimbabwe we learn of today with cattle drives, stolen stock, and the sometimes brutal destruction of thriving farms … The Irish Country House: its past, present and future celebrates above all the ability of such places to transform themselves, time after time’, Mary Leland, Irish Examiner (July 2011).

‘This collection of essays on the history of Irish country houses showcases scholarship in a variety of areas relating to the cultural history of this important facet of colonial and elite society life … Individual articles include tables, period photographs and illustrations. Contributors include historians from a variety of Irish universities’, Reference & Research Book News (August 2011). 


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