One of a Kind


Looking not unlike a gigantic lemon squeezer: a hollow octagonal limestone obelisk with angled ribs and graduated elliptical piercings to faces. It stands in the grounds of Garbally, County Galway, an estate formerly belonging to the Trenches, Earls of Clancarty. It is sometimes proposed that the obelisk was originally the spire of St John’s Church at nearby Kilclooney after that building was damaged by fire. However an inscription on the base advises ‘This spire finished in December 1811 was erected from a design presented gratuitously by J. T. Grove Esq. Architect of the British Post Office and Board of Works to Richard Earl of Clancarty’. John Groves was an English architect and although he produced designs for a couple of other projects in Ireland, this is his only extant work here making it very much one of a kind. Garbally remained in the hands of the Trench family until the last century: since the 1920s it has been a school.

7 comments on “One of a Kind

  1. Jonathan Miller says:

    I have seen a picture of this before, and think it must be based on the spire of James Gibbs’ St Martin in the Fields, London. Loosely! The church was admired and emulated in a number of countries, particularly America.

    This would be an effective design for an obelisk.

  2. Patrick says:

    This looks like the top section of a church spire and seems incongruous with the pedestal .

  3. the Elegant Economist says:

    It reminds me of an old-fashioned tulip vase. What fun it would be to grow a startlingly-coloured shrub out of the holes, in the rather irreverent manner of Christopher Lloyd!

  4. Fascinating as always. Your other commenter above is observant and quite right I think, to note it’s very reminiscent of Saint Martin in the Fields, (although I hadn’t thought of it, even though I studied awhile scarcely 100 yards away (in Central St Martin’s) nearby and passed that lovely church all the time, on the way to the Nat Gal or NPG. Also enjoyed your non-nonsense characterization as resembling a giant lemon squeezer, which indeed it does! A lovely artifact nonetheless.

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