Small but Perfectly Formed


A cottage in Johnstown, County Kildare. This is one in a series of two terraces that runs along a side of the village’s main street, once a busy thoroughfare since it lay on the main route running from Dublin to Cork and Limerick; since the advent of the nearby N7 it has become much quieter. These single-storey, three bay cottages date from c.1880 and were therefore presumably built by Dermot Bourke, seventh Earl of Mayo who was then the local landlord and lived close by in Palmerstown. Their distinguishing feature are the gothic double-windows to either side of the open porch. Thankfully the owners have resisted the urge to modernise the buildings and thereby destroy the charm of their uniformity.

6 comments on “Small but Perfectly Formed

  1. Gaye Vaughan says:

    The railings mirror the grid pattern on the lower section of the gothic windows. A great example of less is more.

  2. Brian Mc Cabe says:

    Don’t know where you got your information Robert, but they are much earlier than 1880s. Gothic Revival was a late 18th/early 19th century initiative. These cottages were already old when they were mentioned in William Makepeace Thackeray’s travelogue “Irish Sketch Book” in 1842. From my own research, they seem to have been built in the 1810/1820 period and, most likely, by the 4th Earl – certainly not the 7th. (One of the proud owners)

    • Thank you for getting in touch. Coincidentally I am re-reading Thackeray’s Irish Sketchbook of 1842 and therefore have it to hand, and lo he writes of Johnstown ‘where the houses are of the Gothic sort, with pretty porches, creepers and railings…’ My source was the Buildings of Ireland website which is usually reliable, but since your fame as Johnstown’s local historian has reached even my remote corner of County Meath I bow to superior wisdom…

  3. brian rogers says:

    I love the estate rail but the modern style gates spoil the overall authenticity of the
    period cottage. may i take this opportunity to thank you for such an interesting website. could i also ask would you be able to specify what the shade of white or cream used on typical estate rail & entrance gates.
    Thank you
    Brian Rogers

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