The Irish Aesthete Recommends II

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The Buildings of England architectural series begun by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner in 1945 is justifiably celebrated, but the Irish equivalent is less well-known most likely because this remains a work-in-progress. The first volume, devoted to North-West Ulster and written by Professor Alistair Rowan, appeared in 1979 and since then a handful more have been published. The latest to come out covers South Ulster (Counties Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan) and has been compiled by Kevin Mulligan. Like its predecessors, the book makes for fascinating reading, not least thanks to the author’s engaging prose (I like his description of Gosford Castle as ‘a great brawny pile’). One of the most important aspects of these books is that they are not unduly reverential about either the past or the present: there is a frankness of language that one rarely finds in architectural discussion. And the work comes with ample illustration, both colour and black and white. Included here are two illustrations by the author’s brother Liam Mulligan, that above showing the main staircase at Castle Leslie, County Monaghan (designed by W.H. Lynn and dating from the 1870s) and that below of the 17th century oak staircase at Richhill Castle, County Armagh. Text and pictures alike make this an essential addition to the library – together with the earlier volumes, of course.
The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster by Kevin V Mulligan is published by Yale University Press at £35.

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