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|Formation||1958 by Desmond and Mariga Guinness|
|Headquarters||City Assembly House, 58 South William Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, D02 X751|
The Irish Georgian Society is an architectural heritage and preservation organisation which promotes and aims to encourage an interest in the conservation of distinguished examples of architecture and the allied arts of all periods in Ireland. The aims of this membership organisation are pursued by fundraising, education, grant issuance, planning process participation, lobbying, and member activities.
The society was founded in 1958 by the Hon. Desmond Guinness and his late wife Mariga and since that time many buildings of significant architectural merit have been saved through their work and the work of members and supporters. The next President of the society was Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin, who died in 2011, followed by Patrick Guinness. Among the founding members was Percy Le Clerc, the inspector of Irish National Monuments.
A fully illustrated book by Robert O'Byrne on the society's first 50 years was published in 2008.
Membership and funding
The society is a membership organisation of about 2,000 members whose purpose is to promote awareness and the protection of Ireland's architectural heritage and decorative arts. The society's work within the Republic of Ireland was managed by the Irish-registered Irish Georgian Society, registered as a charity in 1970. In 2008 the Irish Georgian Foundation was set up to run the financial and charitable aspects, leaving the IGS as a membership body. The boards of both were merged in 2013 for reasons of governance, and the IGF is now the legal entity, while the IGS name and logo are retained for emotive purposes.
The conservation efforts are funded by the members' participation in the society's events programme, the fundraising of its chapters, by donations and bequests and by sales from the society's online book and gift shop. A large proportion of the society's income comes from supporters outside Ireland. In the US, the organisation has been registered as a charity since 1968 as the Irish Georgian Society Inc. In the UK, the organisation fundraises as the "Irish Georgian Trust".
The activities of the Irish Georgian Society have included the saving of threatened great buildings such as Castletown House, County Kildare; Damer House, County Tipperary; Doneraile Court, County Cork; Roundwood, Co. Laois; Tailors' Hall, Dublin and 13 Henrietta Street, Dublin, and the restoration of mid-eighteenth-century panelled rooms at Ledwithstown, County Longford; these were led by the first president, Desmond Guinness, and in the early years, his wife also. Guinness retired from leadership in 1990. Projects since then include the repair of the early nineteenth-century south tower roof at Barmeath Castle, Co. Louth; the restoration of the pavilion cupolas of Kilshannig, Co. Cork, built in the 1760s to the designs of the Italian architect Davis Ducart; and, in association with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the World Monuments Fund and the Headfort Trust, the restoration of the superb Robert Adam decorative schemes at Headfort House, County Meath.
Another major project, which started in 2008, was the restoration of Dublin's 1760s City Assembly House in South William Street, the first purpose-built public exhibition gallery in Britain or Ireland. From 1809 it was the debating chamber of Dublin Corporation for nearly a century, and was the scene of many famous speeches by Daniel O'Connell.
The society runs a range of events, educational, exploratory, instructional (for example for property owners), some for members, some open.
- "About Us". igs.ie. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- "JOHN PENTLAND MAHAFFY". Hermathena. Trinity College Dublin. 1920. pp. v–viii. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- Maume, Patrick. "Dictionary of Irish Biography - Mahaffy, Sir John Pentland". dib.cambridge.org. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- Ronald Porter, "Desmond Fitzgerald: Last of the Knights of Glin and champion of Ireland's heritage", Independent, October 2011
- "Lifetime devoted to preserving Ireland's past". The Irish Times. 16 March 2002. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
- "The Honourable Desmond Guinness". European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
- Robert O'Byrne (2008). The Irish Georgian Society: A Celebration : [the Fiftieth Anniversary of Its Establishment]. Irish Georgian Society. ISBN 978-1-906429-02-7.