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.

256 comments on “About

  1. Hoof Hearted says:

    I can report he is now firmly anchored in the correct place and, I can see, has already been active; prodigiously posting comments. I am in no doubt that these will provide abundant material for debate at our next soiree!

  2. Hoof Hearted says:

    I note from the Irish Times that a pair of spectacles belonging to W B Yeats have sold for an eye popping 10,000 EURO. We were wondering if the Irish Aesthete has acquired these as he has a tendency to be found sporting such delightful round frames?

    • If only (sadly the budget doesn’t stretch to a pince nez of that price…)

      • Hoof Hearted says:

        Understood. However 10K for Yeats’ old specs seems a paltry sum compared to other frenzied sale room activity this week. The absurd sum paid for Salvator Mundi (contrast it with the thirty pieces of silver) leaves me at once astounded and perplexed- I thought there was little market for Christian art. I need to de-code Da Vinci.

  3. Hi there, is it possible to sign up for alerts whenever there’s a new post? I’ve only discovered this site today and have just spent the last two hours trawling through your archives!

    • Thank you for getting in touch. There ought to be a ‘Follow’ button on the opening page of the site and if you use that, you will be informed of new posts automatically. I hope this works and thank you for your interest…

  4. Dear Mr O’ Byrne,

    We are currently involved in a conservation led restoration of one of 6 of O’ Dochartaigh connected Castles in Uslter – O’ Doherty’s Keep which is located at Tullyarvan, Buncrana, County Donegal. May I ask if you have ever covered O’ Doherty’s Keep and it’s history in your writings or if not could you direct me to useful sources of such historical material?

    Best regards,
    Ronan O’ Doherty.

    • Thank you for getting in touch. Although I know of O’Doherty’s Keep I have not visited the site, nor written about it.
      A good first port of call for you would be the Irish Architectural Archive, which is likely to have useful material for you.
      Next time I am in Donegal I shall try to make a point of visiting the keep…

  5. jane OKEEFFE says:

    Robert, thank you for referencing Voices from the Great Houses Cork and Kerry in your fine piece on Dromore Castle. It was a pleasure to meet and record Jane Waller on her family history

  6. John Cowperthwaite says:

    I apologize, Robert. Did I miss a recent article on Dromore Castle(the Pery Castle, that is.)?

  7. Scott Hayes says:

    Dear Robert, Any idea where I might purchase a copy of “After a Fashion ….” The Little Museum stock has been devoured?

  8. Hello Robert,

    I contact you in relation to an exhibition on Sybil Connolly we are working on at The Hunt Museum. This is due to open on April 19th. I am developing the public programming around the exhibition. Might it be possible to speak to you about this?

    Many thanks,


  9. Denise Botting says:

    What a wonderful website this is!! Thank you so much. I have just spent a long time looking through the Meath pages and I am speechless. Wonderful work. May I ask if you could look at a photo of a Tower house in Meath and see if you have ever come across it? I could send it to you by email. Thank you.

    • Thank you for getting in touch, and for your kind comments which are much appreciated. I see you are now following me on Facebook, so you ought to be able to send me the image that way? Please let me know if this is possible…

      • John Cowperthwaite says:

        Robert: I, also, wish to add my comments to your comments about the Antiquities of Ireland. I am across the Pond, in Maine, and was introduced to your Blog in preparation for my family genealogy work back in 2013. I picked your brain, and files on Dromore (Limerick).
        Your posts are fascinating and each is consumed by not myself but also my Interior decorator wife. You, sir, are an inspiration to save for another plane ticket. Many thanks.

      • Thank you for getting in touch, and for the kind comments – very glad both you and your wife enjoy what you find here: please spread the word, always delighted to find more readers…

  10. Benedict says:

    Dear Robert,

    My name is Benedict. I love your work and your wonderful blog! I would very much like to ask you for help, could you share your email? Please don’t ignore it.

    All good wishes,


  11. Dominic Owen says:

    Good morning Robert

    Staying in an hotel in Christchurch and tuned in to see you on a programme about Irish Castles. Hope all is well. Regards Dominic Owen

  12. Karen Rochford Tinsley says:

    Greetings, I wonder if you have any information about Cork House, the Dublin mansion of Lord Cork c. 1652. I understand he rebuilt the NW tower and the mansion was contiguous to it. Looking at several old maps and artistic representations, I’m a little confused: Cork Tower was supposedly named for Boyle’s contributions to the rebuilding of the tower, but it seems Castle Street is closer to the NW tower location, and Cork Hill curves in front of the NE tower (Storehouse?). I am working on a historical piece, and would like to be as accurate as possible how Cork House was situated relative to the Castle. If there are any descriptions of Cork House to be had, I would be forever grateful.

  13. Marie Broderick says:

    I am wondering if you have any information about 13 Merrion Square?

    This building was sold two years ago and I can’t find any information about it online.

    I understand that at one time it was a solicitors firm. I have a signed document here to that effect. I think the date on the form is August 1988

    Do you have any information about the ownership of this building in the late 1980s…?

    Kind Regards

    Marie Broderick

  14. D Cusack says:

    Hi Robert, apologies for first name terms, I came across your excellent site yesterday when looking for more information on Killeen Castle, and made comment under ‘Killeen with Kindness’. I was delighted to see the Lady Emma Frances Plunkett (1826-66) paintings of the original castle, which I hadn’t seen before. I was invited to visit the castle (the ‘stone’ castle was built by Geoffrey de Cusack in 1181 and the church beside it (a National Monument) built by Lady Joan de Cusack (1441) and her husband Sir Christopher Plunkett. The interesting thing is that the over 250 years when Killeen Castle was the seat of the Cusacks, is never mentioned ! For those of your readers who are interested in Meath and it’s past you are welcome to have a look at my scribblings on Wiki CUSACK.
    Regards Dermot

  15. Belinda Spruce says:

    I’ve just stumbled across an article “Making the most of our own”. We bought, renovated and poured everything in to one of these large Georgian farmhouses, part of the Wrixon Becher Estate. Your article shone quite some light.

  16. Brian C Phelan says:

    As a Tipp exile living in Cobh I enjoy your blog very much, especially
    since you are partial to Tipp. Have you any info on a quaint building, The Teapot Church at Ballymacarbery Co Waterford

  17. Brett Fitzgerald says:

    Hi Robert, you seem to be hitting quite a mark on my family history back to Ireland. I have just ordered your Sir Hugh Lane book, as he is a distant cousin (3rd) via my Persse / Newenham lineage. (You have written of these families in your blogs). Look forward to reading the book.

  18. spanrz says:

    Hi Robert, you seem to be hitting quite a mark on my family history back to Ireland. I have just ordered your Sir Hugh Lane book, as he is a distant cousin (3rd) via my Persse / Newenham lineage. (You have written of these families in your blogs). Look forward to reading the book.

  19. Richard Synge says:

    Dear Robert, I’ve been a fan of your website for a couple of years now and am amazed now to discover that you were the first curator of the restored Damer House in Roscrea. Congratulations! I was there last week and found that an ancestor, protestant Bishop Nicholas Synge of Killaloe, was one of the 18th century tenants of the house. Now I would like to see if anyone has more detail of that period, but haven’t made headway with the Roscrea Heritage Society. Can you suggest another line of inquiry? Many thanks in advance, Richard Synge

    • Thank you for your email and kind comments. I am not familiar with Nicholas Synge, altho’ Edward (Bishop of Elphin) of course one knows – presumably a kinsman? Let me think about what might be discovered: unfortunately I do recall that the history of the house in the 18th century is rather poorly documented…

      • Richard Synge says:

        Thanks, Robert, for the quick response. Nicholas was younger brother of Edward of Elphin and also progenitor of most of the other so-called Irish Synges, including the playwright.
        It was indeed Nicholas’ son Edward who built Syngefield in Birr, not too far from Roscrea.
        Thanks for the remark about documentation — perhaps there are still clues somewhere — and any further thoughts will be very welcome! Regards, Richard

      • sopwell says:

        I may be able to help Richard Synge a bit as I have a portrait of Nicholas Synge (in the attic!) as well as one of his wife Elizabeth Trench. I am a Trench.

  20. sopwell says:

    Dear Robert (if I may). I have only started following you yesterday and there is so much of interest for me to go through. I notice that you have mentioned mausolea on several occasions and wondered if you have ever visited the one that still belongs to me and I had restored with the help of the Heritage Council as well as Galway County Council in about 2001. It does appear in Maurice Craig’s book Mausolea Hibernica, although some of the information there is not correct. He does however state that it is the largest mausoleum (in area) in Ireland. It is the Ashtown Mausoleum located on what was part of the Woodlawn demesne. I know that you have been nearby to a mausoleum in Aughrim as well as visiting my friend George G at Ballinderry. Regards Roderick Ashtown.

  21. Justin Bari says:

    Dear Robert, I am doing a presentation in a poetry class on Mary Tighe in Powerpoint presentation. I wanted to make sure to give proper credit where appropriate. Is it possible for me to use the picture of the inscription of Mary Tighe’s grave in my presentation that I found on your blog? I didn’t want to do so without knowing the terms of use. Thank you.

  22. Richard Synge says:

    Dear Robert, can I take you up on that offer to contact Roderick Ashtown so that I can keep trying to track down that elusive ancestor? Thanks and best regards, Richard

  23. Richard Synge says:

    Thank you Robert: contact successfully established…

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