Summer Reading/Viewing

I hope you are all enjoying our “summer”! Some things I have come across that might be of interest:


I read Bill Bryson’s Book “At Home“. It is a really interesting read, especially if you are interested in social history. While he covers a huge breadth of material, I really liked the parts about how houses developed from the middle ages through the nineteenth century, servant life, and how household commodities evolved. It’s all written in a very readable style.

Feast and famine: a history of food in Ireland 1500-1920” is a slightly more academic read, but it has good sections on the nature of Irish diet, where food came from and of course the story of the potato in Irish diets.

A new book just published is Dooley and Ridgeways’ “The Irish Country House: It’s Past, Present, and Future“. Terence Dooley has done great work in documenting the rise and fall of Irish country houses, and this latest book is sure to be a must-read for anyone interested in the subject. It’s published by Four Courts Press and there is a good review in the Irish Times. Looking forward to getting it.

Of course, if you haven’t seen it already, our new Journal is now available for reading – and it has just been added to Google books!


Some website recommendations include:

  • Powerscourt Estate, now on Facebook, with some Lewis Wingfield photographs of the estate from 1860.
  • A lovely post on the Building 19th Century Ireland blog (remembering Enniskerry Hospital would have been built in the early 1800s)
  • Some information on the new Irish Landed Estates database on Pue’s Occurences (nothing yet for Leinster)
  • A post I wrote on the lovely new National Library blog on using the Prints and Drawings Department


Russborough House have installed a new exhibition which is really well worth visiting. You can view a lot of it online, but a tour of the house and a wander through the exhibition is really well worth it. Their website is:

Fota House has, I think, the gold standard in house tours. You get a real sense of what life was like upstairs and downstairs in these large county houses. Their website is:

Kilruddery House is open, and the gardens are well worth a visit (I didn’t get to the house yet!). They are an important link in the history of Irish gardens. Website:

Many great houses are open to the public through the year at various times to avail of the Section 482 tax breaks. You can see the list of houses open on the Failte Ireland website.

Remember the website library and links pages if you are looking for more!

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