One of a Kind

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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.

A Mere Shell of Itself

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A corner of the Shell House in the gardens of Kinoith, County Cork, otherwise known as the Ballymaloe Cookery School. This charming octagonal structure was created by artist Blott Kerr-Wilson in 1995 to mark the silver wedding anniversary of Kinoith’s owners, Tim and Darina Allen. As you can see, the whole interior is covered in an enormous variety of shells, at least some of which – those formerly holding a mussel or scallop – passed across the tables of Ballymaloe House.