No Longer Triumphal

A former entrance to the Rathfarnham Castle estate in County Dublin. Constructed of granite and taking the form of a triumphal arch, the building’s design according to James Howley (in his 1993 book The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland) was inspired by the Porta Portese in Rome: both share a number of features including engaged Doric columns, square recessed panels above niches, and a balustraded top above the arch. One obvious difference is that inside the Rathfarnham entrance can be found a keystone made from Coade stone and representing a hirsute Roman God. When Howley was writing, the architect responsible for this work was unknown, but more recently in his Gazetter to the Gate Lodges of Leinster (2016) J.A.K. Dean has proposed Francis Johnston, the design based on James Wyatt’s entrance to Canterbury Quad, Christ Church College, Oxford: Dean points out that Johnston’s early patron, Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh, was a graduate of Christ Church and had provided the funds for the rebuilding of Canterbury Quad. Alas, despite such a distinguished pedigree, today the Rathfarnham arch languishes neglected on a tiny strip of land, surrounded by housing estates and intermittently subjected to vandalism. It deserves better than this: why might it not be moved into the grounds of Rathfarnham Castle, which would provide a safer home than is the case at present.

3 comments on “No Longer Triumphal

  1. Patrick says:

    It is difficult to see the council moving it when they won’t even cut the Ivy . .

  2. DAVID J GRIFFIN says:

    Dear Robert,
    Could not agree more.
    Should be moved.
    David ( J Griffin)

  3. Deborah T. Sena says:

    Just read the Wikipedia article about the estate. It claims the arch was built to celebrate the Loftus family reclaiming the estate. So, since they no longer do, it is somewhat appropriate (although regrettable) that it is neglected. Moving it to the estate masks its original purpose of marking the estate boundary. Although you could say it resets that boundary. The story needs to be told, not just architecture for architecture’s sake alone. Sorry, I’ll stop harping on this point.

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