Events at Dromana House

Sunday 3rd  September 2017



Art, architecture, gardens and the intrepid traveller: a passage to India.



11.00 – 11.30:    Kathleen James-Chakraborty: The gate-way at Dromana

11.30 – 12.00:    Mary Ann Prior: The Gardens of the Great Moghuls: The VilliersStuart connection.

12.00 – 12.30:    DISCUSSION

12.30 – 14.00:    LUNCH

14.00 – 14.30:    Peter Murray: Changes in British racial attitudes in India in the early nineteenth century: James Achilles Fitzpatrick and his wife Khair un-Nessa Begum, the East India Company, and the paintings of Thomas Hickey and George Chinnery

14.30 – 15.00:   Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel: The Maharajah of Gwalior and the Church of the Ascension in Timoleague, Co Cork.

15.00 – 15.30:   DISCUSSION

15.30:                 CONCLUSION AND TEA

Booking essential places limited: email Tel: 024 96144 or 086 8186305

Morning Coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and seminar €70 pp or two for €125



Kathleen James – Chakraborty:

Kathleen James-Chakraborty is Professor of Art History at University College Dublin. In addition to her books on Erich Mendelsohn, modern German architecture and culture, including the Bauhaus, she is the author of Architecture since 1400 (Minnesota, 2014) and the editor of India in Art in Ireland (Ashgate, 2016). James-Chakraborty is a member of the Royal Irish Academy, a trustee of the Chester Beatty Library and a member of the board of the National Museum of Ireland.

Kathleen taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of California Berkeley, the Ruhr University Bochum, and Yale University, where she was the Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History.


Mary Ann Prior:

Mary Ann Prior has worked for over twenty years as an Art Curator, Director and Advisor for private, museum and corporate collections.  She was born and educated in the UK and gained an M.A. in Cultural History from the Royal College of Art.  Mary Ann was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to study 19th century photographic collections at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; the Peabody Museum, Harvard; the Museum of Modern Art, NYC and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. Subsequently, Mary Ann worked as an Associate Curator of Photographs at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.  On her return to the U.K. she worked as Art Advisor/Curator to two American companies, Pfizer Inc and Bank of America, as well as Camellia PLC, a British-based global agricultural conglomerat

In 2009, she returned to the USA to take up the position of Executive Director of Oklahoma Contemporary (Oklahoma City, OK) and its satellite gallery, Marfa Contemporary (Marfa, TX), working for the New York-based collector and philanthropist, Christian Keesee.  Her most recent position was Director of Collections at Vulcan Inc, Seattle, a private company owned by Paul Allen the co-founder of Microsoft. At Vulcan Mary Ann oversaw acquisitions and spearheaded three high-profile art initiatives on behalf of Mr. Allen: the launch of the inaugural Seattle Art Fair in 2015, and its second edition in 2016; the opening of Pivot Art + Culture(a gallery and concept space) in South Lake Union, Seattle, and a major five-venue U.S. touring exhibition, ‘Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection’.  In 2012, she published her first book, ‘An Indian Portfolio: The Life and Work of Emily Eden’ (Quartet Books, London).  She is now researching the life and work of Constance Villiers Stuart, with particular emphasis on her relationship with India.

Dr Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel

Dagmar has been a member of the Department of History, University College Cork with a special research interest in Medieval History. She has lectured and published widely on the connections between Ireland and Europe from 600 to the 18th century. She has a special interest in art and architecture, both medieval and modern and, particularly, in the buildings

Peter Murray

An art historian and curator, Peter Murray has published extensively on Irish and international art, ranging from the seventeenth century to the present. Co-editor of Volume V of the recent Yale University Press encyclopaedic Art and Architecture of Ireland, he has served on many boards and committees, including chairing the Council of National Cultural Institutions. He was firstly curator, then director of the Crawford Art Gallery, a post from which he has recently retired.


The Gate-way at Dromana

An exotic fantasy on the bank of a tributary of the Blackwater River, the Dromana Gate is typically referred as Ireland’s only example of “Hindu Gothic” architecture. The term is not strictly true as the Indian elements are derived from seventeenth-century Islamic precedents, including most likely the Jami Masjid in Delhi, erected by Shah Jahan, the same emperor who built the celebrated Taj Mahal. The Gate Lodge, which was originally fronted by a matching bridge, almost certainly references buildings in Brighton, where Dromana’s owners, Henry Villiers Stuart, from 1839 Lord Stuart de Decies, and his wife, the former Pauline Ott, had apparently honeymooned. Although Stuart apparently traveled to India, he referred to it in a political speech advocating Catholic Emancipation. This may or may not have had a bearing of his choice of style, but certainly references to India abounded among those in Ireland who remained critical at this time of the Act of Union. Finally, although its date remains something of a mystery, this charming structure was probably erected in the early 1830s.



In the late heyday of the East India Company, a number of artists with close Irish connections, notably George Chinnery and Thomas Hickey, travelled to India seeking their fortune. Both artists painted the protagonists in one of the greatest tragic love stories of those times. The story revolves around James Achillles Kirpatrick, a colonial administrator, and the woman he met and fell in love with ‘Bibi’, Khair un-Nessa Begum, daughter of a local ruler. Politics, race and religion all played a part in their relationship and eventual fates. This talk looks at Kirkpatrick and Bibi’s lives, as represented in the paintings of Chinnery and Hickey.



The secrets of the Church of the Ascension at Timoleague still need to be unlocked. Founded in the eighteen-thirties, it received its present exuberant interior decoration during the early decades of the twentieth century. It functions as a memorial to members of the Travers family of adjacent Timoleague House and to Surgeon-General Aylmer Crofts, born in the vicinity and later active at the court of Gwalior. As a token of his unending gratitude the Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia contributed funds towards the splendid mosaics which were installed during the years 1918 to 1925. Diocesan architect at the time was WH Hill of the famous Cork architectural family, whose cousin HH Hill, father of Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe, designed the present Arts-and-Crafts house for the Travers family which was built after the burning of its predecessor in the 1920s. The Hill family were responsible for much of Cork’s best architecture and can be credited with ‘changing the face of Cork’.