I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Behind the Facade

Behind the Facade

Cathal Moore
The Building Site in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, by Arthur Gibney (Livia Hurley and Edward McParland, editors), Four Courts Press, 295pp, €35.00, ISBN: 978-1846826382 The published literature related to the building practice, techniques and building materials available in Ireland in the eighteenth century is not extensive. The late author, Arthur Gibney, of The Building Site in Eighteenth-Century Ireland completed his thesis “Studies in Eighteenth-Century Building History” for his doctorate from the University of Dublin in 1997. He had hoped to publish the work but unfortunately his death in 2006 prevented him doing so and the task has now been completed by Livia Hurley and Edward McParland as editors. They have performed a considerable service to the field of Irish architectural history by opening up Gibney’s research to a wider audience. Gibney brings to the work his experience as a practising architect as well as a historian. The opportunity he had to examine exposed structural building fabric in important public and domestic buildings, such as the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin Castle, 13 Henrietta Street, Mornington House (Merrion Street), Castletown Cox, Co Kilkenny and Castletown, Co Kildare inform his observations and amplify his text. His professional experience on projects for the Old Library, Trinity College and on Dr Steevens’s Hospital, among others, also enlightened him. The book is organised by individual chapters on specific trades, with related skills such as carpentry and joinery treated together. The first two chapters provide an introduction to the organisation and measurement of building projects from 1670 to the end of the eighteenth century and the nature of building contracts for the period. The early part of the period in Ireland, from 1670, when Gibney’s survey begins, is heavily influenced by two factors. The aftermath of the fire of London in 1666 changed what had been largely medieval building practices before the fire by introducing building regulations for the rebuilding of London designed to ensure that such a disaster was not repeated, and these building regulations were adopted in Ireland too, modernising construction methods. The second factor was the influx into Ireland of Protestant artisans, encouraged to settle in the country because of the scarcity of competent native craftsmen who could interpret the new forms of classical ornament and the use of new building materials. As Gibney observes, the establishment of a separate guild of joiners, wainscotters and ceilers (ceiling-makers) in Dublin in 1700 provides evidence for the growing opportunities for…

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