Life in the Country House in Georgian Ireland


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Patricia McCarthy

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A deft interweaving of architectural and social history

For aristocrats and gentry in 18th-century Ireland, the townhouses and country estates they resided in were carefully constructed to accommodate their cultivated lifestyles. Based on new research from Irish national collections and correspondence culled from papers in private keeping, this publication provides a vivid and engaging look at the various ways in which families tailored their homes to their personal needs and preferences. Halls were designed in order to simultaneously support a variety of activities, including dining, music, and games, while closed porches allowed visitors to arrive fully protected from the country’s harsh weather. These grand houses were arranged in accordance with their residents’ daily procedures, demonstrating a distinction between public and private spaces, and even keeping in mind the roles and arrangements of the servants in their purposeful layouts. With careful consideration given to both the practicality of everyday routine and the occasional special event, this book illustrates how the lives and residential structures of these aristocrats were inextricably woven together.  

Published in association with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Patricia McCarthy is an independent architectural historian based in Dublin.

“Patricia McCarthy opens the door on a gilded Irish age…a magisterial, beautifully-illustrated and elegantly-written examination of the Irish of the big house in the decades before and after the Act of Union.”—Des Breen, Irish Examiner

“If you had the resources, Georgian Ireland must have been a very agreeable place to live…  an highly informative and entertaining read.”—James Yorke, Spectator

“The study of Irish country houses has, in some respects, lagged behind that of their English counterparts. This is one of several recent works that not only materially close that gap, but clarify the particular character of society and architecture in Ireland as distinct but inextricably related to that of England. Perhaps even more significantly, it’s a book that clearly articulates the enormous interest and cultural importance of these buildings.”—John Goodall, Art Newspaper

‘Questions of circulation and decoration, of functionality versus ostentation, coalesce suggestively in this book … [A] brilliant interweaving of architectural and social history.’ - William Laffan, World of Interiors

‘In a scholarly new book, architectural historian Patricia McCarthy has drawn on plans for dozens of great Irish houses, as well as family documents, letters and novels, to discover how people lived in Irish country houses, and what made them distinctively Irish.’ - Mary Greene, Irish Daily Mail

“[A] handsome and erudite book”—Clive Aslet, New Criterion
ISBN: 9781913107000
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
272 pages, 8 1/2 x 9 3/4
132 color + 65 b/w illus.