Posted by Tracy Fahey on January 07, 2008 in Guest Blog, Ms Tracey Fahey tagged with

The Neo-Gothic or Gothic Revival style of architecture in Ireland borrows heavily from the English Neo-Gothic revival; indeed, some exponents of the English revival such as A. W. Pugin and Thomas Rickman design buildings in Ireland.  However, the Gothic style that never really died out in England as it continued to be the chief style of ecclesiastical architecture; in fact it had achieved something of a vernacular tradition, with masons passing on the Gothic building techniques from father to son.


However, in Ireland, there was no such continuous tradition, so although there are some supreme examples of ‘classic’ Neo-Gothic architecture and design (see the blog on Lismore Castle for an example), other buildings are more regional, more idiosyncratic and more interesting in form.  Most do not embrace the complete Gothic style, but adopt a pick’n’ mix attitude with the addition of exterior Gothic battlements, or interior Gothic ornamentation; often contrasting vividly with opposing architectural styles within the same building.  For wealthy landowners the Gothic style offered a chance to remodel the exterior and parts of the interior of existing houses in the new, fashionable style.

However, unlike in English, where medieval ecclesiastical architecture dominated domestic design, such as Fonthill Abbey, the Anglo-Irish become enamoured of the castle form.  This form is of course a staple Gothic one, a stock-setting of the earliest Gothic novels such as the Monk and the Castle of Otranto.  However, in Ireland, it has a distinct form, architecturally plagiarised from its predecessor, the Norman castles that still proliferate in the Irish countryside. For the builders of such Irish Gothic mansions as Tullynally Castle, Glin Castle (1780) and Slane Castle (remodelled in the Gothic style 1795), the castle was intended to dominate the countryside and to claim architectural supremacy over its humble neighbours, the tenant cottages.


(See the blog for entries on Birr Castle, Iastrae Castle, Castle Rackrent and Leap Castle for more information)


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