Flying High


A crowning with laurel occurs in the central section of a painted ceiling in one of the first-floor rooms at Rathfarnham Castle, County Dublin. Measuring just eighteen by sixteen feet and formerly known as the breakfast or small dining room, this space has on stylistic grounds been attributed to James ‘Athenian’ Stuart; the proposal is supported by a comment made by Lady Shelburne in 1769 that some of the castle’s interiors were then being decorated ‘after Designs of Mr Stuart’s.’ For a long time it was also believed that the ceiling itself had been painted by Angelica Kauffmann who certainly came to Rathfarnham during her visit to Ireland during the winter of 1771-72, and while in the country painted a portrait of the building’s then-residents, the Earl and Countess of Ely, together with the latter’s two nieces (now in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland). However, as Grainne Madden has observed, while quite delightful, the quality of workmanship here ‘is not as highly finished as one would expect from comparisons with authenticated works’ by Kauffman.

7 comments on “Flying High

  1. Wow! I live very close to Rathfarnham Castle, have never noticed this beauty before 🙂

  2. Rathfarnham Castle is a wonderful building but it is unfortunate that not that many people seem to know of it / visit it. As far as I know, the tour of the building is free.

    • Yes, Rathfarnham ought to be more visited: I believe some remedial work is taking place on the site at present. Tours are, I think free, but they are tours…

      • I used to work in the tearooms there when I was in secondary school. The overnight security guard used to tell us about his little interactions with ghostly beings quite often, very entertaining. I think the basement has been used for plays etc over the years. The remedial work seems to be ongoing for quite some time. I think they need to purchase furniture for the place next, it is very sparse inside!

  3. Mairtin D'Alton says:

    I love this building. Please post more and help it become better known.

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