An Act of Philanthropy



The model village of Talbot’s Inch stands above the river Nore to the immediate north of Kilkenny city. The extraordinary development was devised and created by Ellen, dowager Countess of Desart (née Bischoffsheim) who, having failed in efforts to retain possession of her late husband’s home (the now-demolished Desart Court) in 1907 built a new house for herself here called Aut Even (from the Irish áit aoibhinn meaning ‘beautiful place’). The architect responsible was William Alphonsus Scott, his work much inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, and one suspects especially that of Voysey. Lady Desart had already employed him to design the 26 houses that comprise Talbot’s Inch, intended to house workers from the Greenvale Woollen Mills and the Kilkenny Woodworkers’ Company, both located across the Nore; in this, she was inspired by her brother-in-law, the Hon Captain Otway Cuffe, President of the local branch of the Gaelic League. Occupying two sides of a communal green and comprising either semi-detached pairs or short terraces, none of the buildings is identical but they share many characteristics, such as dormer attic windows set in steeply pitched sprocketed roofs, the use of decorative brickwork panels and chevron-detailed chimneystacks. Not far away – see below – is Tigh-na-Cairde (now called Oak Lodge) also by Scott and completed in 1907 for the Woollen Mills manager. Although there have been a few interventions on the site (and there is currently a planning application for more houses to be constructed at one end of the green), Talbot’s Inch survives reasonably intact, a monument to Ellen Desart’s philanthropy: she would later go on to become a Senator in the first Seanad Éireann, (the first Jewish person to do so)  and would also succeed Captain Cuffe as president of the Kilkenny branch of the Gaelic League.


6 comments on “An Act of Philanthropy

  1. Michael Thomas says:

    Her sister was Lady Fitzgerald,married to the Knight of Kerry

  2. Mícheál Ó Máirtín says:

    Tá an t-alt seo thar a bheith spéisiúil. Go raibh míle maith agat as é arinnt

  3. Deborah T. Sena says:

    What wonderful fantasy architecture! Hope some of the interiors are also intact. Split opinion on how the new row of houses could be added. Some don’t want copycat, but hopefully tastefully done with the same craftsmanship and attention to detail (if possible, today).

  4. Nice arts and crafts features.

  5. blakemccoytv says:

    Interesting! Thank you for sharing

  6. […] year, with regard to his designs for the model village of Talbot’s Inch, County Kilkenny (see An Act of Philanthropy « The Irish Aesthete). Born in 1871, Scott was the son of an architect who established his own practice in Drogheda, […]

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