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Sixty Years of the Irish Georgian Society!

60 Years of the Irish Georgian Society! (1958-2018)

On this day 60 years ago, in reply to a letter (pictured) from the Hon Desmond Guinness to The Irish Times in July 1957, a group of Georgian enthusiasts gathered at Carton House, Co. Kildare, with the express aim of re-establishing the Irish Georgian Society.

In the intervening sixty years the Society has grown to a membership of over 2,000 with Chapters throughout  Ireland, in London and in the USA. The Society’s mission to protect and promote Ireland’s built heritage and decorative arts has been core to all that we do. Many historic buildings of note across the island of Ireland have been saved thanks to the efforts of the Society's champions and supporters. We continue to fulfil our mission through undertaking and supporting conservation projects, and through our Conservation Education Programme, our Scholarship Programme, and our membership events. Our conservation grants programme, established to support small but significant conservation projects, has been funded through the support of members in the UK and the USA. 

The faces in the Society have changed over time but our passion for promoting Ireland's fragile built heritage is what unites us. Thank you to all for your support and if you're not already a member, consider joining us today.
We have a special membership offer running all this week, and 10% off all the books in our bookshop!

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1950s - The Irish Georgian Society was established in 1958 by our co-founders, the Hon. Desmond Guinness and Mariga Guinness. The first project the Society undertook was the conservation of the Conolly Folly that lies between the Castletown and Carton estates, and features as the Society's logo in recognition of this.
Image: Mariga Guinness at no. 50 Mountjoy Square; Irish Georgian Society co-founders Mariga and Desmond Guinness
1960s - Desmond Guinness purchased Castletown House in 1967 to save the house and the parklands around it from developers, and in 1968 opened it to the public for the first time. Mariga Guinness tirelessly led public campaigns to save Mountjoy Square from being demolished and Tailor’s Hall from falling into ruin. Volunteers have always been central to the Society's efforts, and this was no more evident than the many enthusiastic volunteers who worked at restoring Castletown in its early years.
Image: Volunteers at Castletown House; Mariga Guinness stands in dilapidated Summerhill, North Dublin City
1970s - The Society became involved with significant conservation projects in Roundwood, Co. Laois and Damer House, Co. Tipperary. An enthusiastic IGS volunteer Bryan Molloy was heavily involved in both, but sadly passed away at a young age in 1978. A stone plaque at Damer House commemorates his involvement with the project. In Dublin, IGS provided an interest-free loan to Michael Casey for his restoration of No. 13 Henrietta Street, a former tenement building.
Image: Michael Casey and family in their home at No. 13 Henrietta Street; Damer House, Co. Tipperary
1980s - The Society became involved with Doneraile Court, Co. Cork, the former home of the St. Leger family, in the late 1970s and a young IGS volunteer Arthur Montgomery was a key figure behind the house's ongoing restoration for the next decade. The IGS commissioned surveys of monuments around Ireland and continued to raise money and awareness of buildings at risk across the country, including Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon.
Image: An IGS appeal for funds and volunteers for Doneraile Court, Co. Cork; gothic gateway entrance to Strokestown Park demense (c. 1790), Co. Roscommon
1990s - Desmond FitzGerald, Knight of Glin, became chairman and president of the IGS in 1990, and held this role until his death in 2011. The Quarterly Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society, which had been issued since the Society’s foundation in 1958, was succeeded in 1998 by Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, the Journal of The Irish Georgian Society with Dr Seán O'Reilly serving as its inaugural editor. The Society provided grant aid to a three-year conservation project on No. 20 Dominick Street in the late 1990s to return the Robert West designed interior and exterior of the building to its original splendour.
Image: Cover of Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies; restored interior of No. 20 Dominick Street, Dublin, decorative scheme by Robert West, conserved and restored through IGS support.
2000s - A significant bequest from Fred Hughes, Andy Warhol's business partner, provided generous funding for the Society’s conservation grants programme which supported such projects as the Dromoland Gazebo, Co. Clare, the Dartrey Mausoleum, Co. Monaghan and the Dunfillan Conservatory, Co. Dublin. In 2008, the Society celebrated its 50th anniversary and marked the occasion with the restoration of the Robert Adam designed interior decorative scheme for Headfort House. To celebrate 50 years "Fights and Fun", The Irish Georgian Society: A Celebration, by Robert O'Byrne, and provided a detailed history of accomplishments of the Society. 
Image: IGS at Dartrey Mausoleum, Co. Monaghan; restoration of the Eating Parlor at Headfort House, designed by Robert Adams (photo by Richard Ireland)
2010s - The further development of the Society’s Conservation Education Programme saw the introduction of the Conserving Your Dublin Period House lectures and a series of study days that explored Ireland’s rich decorative arts heritage. Through support of the Society’s London Chapter, our conservation grants programme was also relaunched and has provided assistance to over 40 houses, churches and follies around the country.
Image: Heritage Housekeeping Study Day, Russborough, 2015; thatching demonstration at the Traditional Building Skills Exhibition, Portumna, Co. Galway, 2016.
2018 - Our 60th year sees the completion of the restoration of the City Assembly House on South William Street which the Society has undertaken in partnership with Dublin City Council. The building is home to the Society’s offices and bookshop, but its centrepiece is the Knight of Glin Exhibition Room. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Castletown. This summer the Society will host our inaugural exhibition in the building - Exhibiting Art in Georgian Ireland. The exhibition will be free to the public, and a full education and events programme will be confirmed later this Spring.
Image: Facade of the City Assembly House (photo by Stephanie Joy); Portrait of an officer of an Irish Volunteer Regiment in a wooded landscape, holding a spontoon, John Trotter (died 1792). Private collection.
Membership of the Irish Georgian Society
To mark our 60th anniversary we will be giving a free gift with all memberships purchased from Monday 26th February to Saturday 3rd March. To avail of this offer purchase instore or contact the office on

Individual membership starts at €60 per year, with student membership costing €15. IGS members are entitled to a range of benefits with their membership card. You will receive a 10% discount 
in our bookshop, free entry to OPW Historic Properties across Ireland, a 10% discount when making a reservation through the Irish Landmark Trust and special members rates for lectures, study days and tours. 
Join & Support!
Connect with the Irish Georgian Society
The Irish Georgian Society is a not for profit organisation that is registered as a charity in Ireland, the USA and UK.
Support our work by donating to us or by becoming a member.
Copyright © 2018 Irish Georgian Society, All rights reserved.
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Irish Georgian Society
City Assembly House
58 South William Street
Dublin, 2

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