Events at Dromana House

Abstracts & Biographies:

From Dromana to Kew
How does a portrait of a Scottish nobleman find its way to an Irish country house? John Stuart (1713-1792), 3rd Earl of Bute, served as Prime Minister of Britain under George III.
Keenly interested in botany, Bute advised Princess Augusta, the Dowager Princess of Wales, about garden matters at Kew, thus forming the nucleus for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Seamus O'Brien discusses Bute's important pioneering role and the development of the gardens at Kew from then to the present day.

Seamus O'Brien manages the National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow, a garden long-famed for its Himalayan and Southern Hemisphere plant collections. He received his horticultural training at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, in Dublin, and holds an International Diploma in Botanic Gardens Management from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. He has travelled the globe to study plants in their native habitats and his next publication In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker will be produced by Kew Publishing in October 2018.

Annes Grove: Georgian House and Robinsonian Garden
Annes Grove, an early eighteenth century house in North Cork--and home to the Annesley family for many generations--has now been transferred, along with its gardens, to the Office of Public Works. Thus, in uncertain times for many of Ireland’s great houses, the future of Annes Grove has been assured. This talk examines the evolution of both house and garden through the years, with emphasis on the William Robinson style of planting that prevailed in the early twentieth century. The contrast between the bright future that state care holds for Annes Grove, and the lamentable history of Vernon Mount, another eighteenth century house near Cork, destroyed by fire in 2017, will also be highlighted.

Peter Murray is a writer and art historian. Co-editor of Vol V of the Art and Archtecture of Ireland, published by the RIA and Yale University Press in 2014, he is a regular contributor to the Irish Arts Review and other journals.

Sustainable Environments and the Big House:
Tree Planting and Woodland Management at Coole Park

Reading through Lady Augusta Gregory’s journals one is struck by the abundance of references to the planting of saplings of ash, beech, birch, larch, larkspur, lime, oak, spruce, sycamore and yew. A keen amateur planter, she held a life-long interest in forestry alongside an appreciation of the cultural value of the arboreal landscape. This dual regard is articulated in an article on ‘Tree planting’, one of her early works that was published in the Irish Homestead of February 1898. By that time, she had taken charge of her marital home at Coole with an eye to protecting and developing the family’s legacy after the death of her husband, Sir William Gregory, in 1892. As custodian of the estate for her son Robert (1881-1918), this paper argues, Lady Gregory understood environmental stewardship as an integral part of estate management, spending both time and a significant proportion of her income on the upkeep of Coole’s woodland.

Anna Pilz is a scholar of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Irish Literature. She has published on Irish writing of the long nineteenth century, Irish theatre history, and Irish women’s writing. A chapter on Lady Augusta Gregory and woodland management has just been published in a collection of essays on Women and the Country House in Ireland and Britain (Four Courts Press, 2018). Pilz is currently working on a manuscript on trees, inheritance and estates in Irish Writing (forthcoming with Liverpool University Press).

"From Clonmel to Youghal via the Colonies -
Lady Blake (Edith Blake, née Osborne) 7th February 1845 - 18th April 1926

Lady Blake was a botanical artist that had a particular interest in painting butterflies and moths on the plants they lived on. Her work is diverse in its nature, she also painted other fauna and did some landscape work as well but she is best known for her botanical work.

Edith Blake (née Osborne) was born at Newtown Anner, Co. Tipperary, on 7 February 1845. She was the eldest daughter of Catherine Isabella and Ralph (Bernal) Osborne. She was extensively educated and well travelled during her life. By the time of her death in 1926 she spoke nine languages fluently. Against her parent's wishes, aged 28, Edith married an RIC inspector named Henry Blake. The marriage was a success and accompanied by Edith, Henry went on to become colonial governor of the Bahamas, Newfoundland, Jamaica, Hong Kong and Ceylon.

During these postings, Lady Blake recorded plants and flowers in a series of watercolour paintings that are remarkable for their accuracy and artistic skill. She took a great interest in the development and welfare of the countries they were posted to, and with her husband they became extensive collectors of artefacts that interested them on their travels.

After retirement from the colonial service, Sir Henry and Lady Blake lived at Myrtle Grove in Youghal, where many of her paintings are displayed to this day. A large number of her paintings form part of the collection in the Natural History Museum in London.

Iona Murray

Iona Murray is Lady Blake’s Great Great Granddaughter and she has inherited her great great grandmother’s love and passion for flowers and botanicals and currently lives in Myrtle Grove and looks after her family’s collections and archives, she is currently assimilating Lady Blake’s papers, letters and diaries into a book. "

Private Landscapes: The demesne painting of Thomas Roberts
1748 - 1777
The landscaping of the private, or 'Demesne' grounds of great landowners in the second half of the eighteenth century was part of the wider drive for 'Improvement'. It was influenced by the English fashion established by 'Capability' Brown, but there were distinctive Irish features, which were beautifully captured in the paintings of the brilliant, young Waterford born artist, Thomas Roberts. This talk will look particularly at what they reveal of the mind set of the landowners who commissioned them, and the ideas of landscape that influenced the painter.

Tom Dunne, Professor Emeritus of History, UCC, has published extensively on Irish art c.1750-1850. He helped to curate a number of major exhibitions in the Crawford Art Gallery, and written for its catalogues. He was commissioned also to write for publications of the National Gallery of Ireland, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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