About

Robert O’Byrne is a writer and lecturer specialising in the fine and decorative arts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, among them Luggala Days: The Story of a Guinness House (Cico Books) and The Last Knight: A Tribute to Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin (Lilliput Press). A former Vice-President of the Irish Georgian Society and trustee of the Alfred Beit Foundation, he is currently a trustee of the Apollo Foundation. Among other work he writes a monthly column for Apollo magazine (http://www.apollo-magazine.com), and also contributes to each issue of the quarterly Irish Arts Review (http://www.irishartsreview.com). All opinions expressed herein on Ireland, her landscape, architecture and artefacts are his own.

334 comments on “About

  1. raymond blair says:

    Dear Sir – thank you for wonderfully informative and attractively presented features – being from Donegal I particularly enjoyed your feature on the Bishops Palace in Raphoe with its clever title, “From Bishops to Bullocks”. I have enjoyed all your articles on historical sites in Donegal and look forward to seeing some more in due course – Raymond Blair, Vice-President, County Donegal Historical Society

    • Brian F Ross-Murphy says:

      Raymond as you are the VP of the Co Donegal Historical Society I wonder what details you have, if any, on Carricknagore House, Killybegs. I know that it was occupied by a Post Captain, Stephen Fovil in 1833 the year he died. It was subsequently occupied by William Barrett his son-in-law and sessional crown solicitor for the County. I believe it was last occupied in 1952 by the Hamilton’s who were related to the original owners. Following this it fell into disrepair. It has recently been purchased by my cousin, Chris Joyce of Killybegs and of the Joyces of Merview, Co Galway. Kind Regards Brian F Ross-Murphy

  2. Cathal Byrne says:

    You may have spotted this already but the painting of Oonagh Guinness by Philip de Laszlo which you described in your (excellent) book on Luggala as being whereabouts unknown since 1995 has turned up at auction at Ahlers & Ogltree Auction Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia (via The Saleroom). $30-50K + fees and it could be yours! Rgds, Cathal

  3. yvonne Bishop says:

    Dear Sir
    I just wanted to subscribe to receive your posts.
    Thank you in advance
    Yvonne Bishop
    Switzerland

  4. BA&CC says:

    Hi,
    We are looking into the possible restoration of St. Brigid’s Hospital Ballinasloe and were wondering if we could use your images and report and any other information you have to support our proposal?
    Warmest regards

  5. Annabel Farrell says:

    Apologies if you already got this, I’m not sure if it went…I was wondering whether a house built in 1870 was a bit too modern?! Slevoir House near Terryglass, Victorian Italianate on the edge of Lough Derg in Tipperary. Australian-owned which must be a bit unusual, and currently lived in and run as an Airbnb by Australians who are friends of the owners. Not the most beautiful house but a wonderful location.

    • Thank you for getting in touch. As you’ll appreciate, everything is rather on hold – not least the opportunity to visit anywhere – so I really can’t comment on the building in question. Perhaps when travel outside a 5km radius is permitted again… Meanwhile, stay well.

    • Vincent Delany says:

      Slevoir seems to be influenced by Queen Victoria’s Osborne House on the Isle ofWight with asymmetrical elements.

  6. Richard Synge says:

    In case Annabel is interested, Slevoir House was once a classic Georgian country house — and home to my great great grandfather, Francis Synge, between 1840 and 1870 — after which it was sold to a General Hickey who rebuilt it in its present Italianate style. The General’s descendants continued there for some time afterwards but it has indeed changed hands in more recent years. The lakeside location is very special.

  7. Vincent Delany says:

    In relation to Slevoir house, General Hickey had a fine steam yacht called the Meta which was wrecked on the slipway and quay near the house. The steering wheel of the Meta survives in the current Lough Derg yacht Club (founded in the 1830s).

  8. Denys Breen says:

    Dear Mr O’Byrne, I have just watched the 4 videos on Mount Talbot. Fascinating, and sad. In the mid 1970s my mother attended the auction at neighbouring Clonbrock (since destroyed by fire, sadly). In the pages of a book acquired at the auction we found a copy of the Roscommon Herald dated 1897. It had been kept because it contained an article about a presentation by the Mount Talbot tenants to mark the occasion John Talbot’s arrival at with his new wife. I think you have seen that article, because the drawings of Mr and Mrs Talbot shown in the video appear in that article.

    • Thank you for your message. Yes, I am familiar with the article in question. If you’re interested in reading more about Mount Talbot, and other houses in that part of the country, I recommend a Facebook page called the Landed Estates of County Roscommon, run by Paul Connolly who also produced a very fine illustrated book on the same subject a couple of years ago…

  9. Juliana Park says:

    Dear Mr. O’Byrne, A wholehearted thank you for making available to all this wonderful resource of Irish design history. Your passion for the subject is much appreciated. Greetings from France.

  10. Dear Mr. O’Byrne,

    I was in touch some weeks ago – via FB. I am currently conducting research for an upcoming art film project involving Georgian architecture. This research is supported by two organisations. I was hoping to get in touch.

    Kind regards,
    Mieke

    • Thank you for getting in touch. I did post on my Facebook page some weeks ago that for reasons known only to FB I am unable to read my messages, and therefore asked to be contacted via here, as you have now done so. Please let me know what is the nature of your enquiry?

    • Vincent says:

      Georgian Architecture is too big a subject to take on. You need to focus:
      A focus could include:
      Italian influences on Ireland’s great houses.
      The streetscapes ofGeorgian Ireland.
      Georgian craftsmanship.
      The developers of Georgian Dublin.
      Etc
      If you need any information- perhaps I can be of assistance.
      Vincent Delany FRIAI MA(hist)

  11. Dear Robert, many thanks for your continued interesting articles. I know I mentioned it before but could you do a piece on Kilsaran House, Co.Louth please. I could assist in the later years if you wish as I had a close relation growing up with Mrs. Frida Chester Walsh. Regards, Gareth McMahon

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