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Royal Irish Academy Art and Architecture of Ireland Project

Art and Architecture of Ireland Project

At just over 17kg, the new five volume Art and Architecture of Ireland (Yale University Press and the Royal Irish Academy) is a weighty contribution to Irish art and architectural in every way. The fruition of almost ten years research and writing, coordinated by ten volume editors and with over 250 contributors, the text, to be launched by an Taoiseach Enda Kenny on 16th November, examines Irish visual culture from the medieval period to the year 2000. Funded by the Naughton Trust and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the project is the most extensive piece of research ever carried out in Irish art history.

Dr Rachel Moss, from the Department of History of Art and Architecture at TCD is the editor and principal author of volume 1, which covers the period c.400-c.1600AD. ‘The task of condensing 1,200 years of Irish artistic creativity into 600 pages was daunting ‘ says Moss ‘but it presented a unique opportunity to showcase the real stars of the period, like TCD’s Book of Kells, together with the lesser known gems’. Written for the general reader, the volume’s 350 separate essays and almost 600 colour images introduce and contextualize key works. While many of these are now displayed in museums and libraries, readers are also familiarised with the numerous medieval buildings and sculpted stones that still dot the Irish landscape that provide an evocative window to our past.

Volume IV in the series is devoted to architecture. Dr Ellen Rowley, White Post- Doctoral Fellow at the Trinity Irish Art Research Centre (TRIARC), is a co-editor of this volume, as are Livia Hurley and John Montague, both graduates of the Department, while former lecturer in the Department, Catherine Marshal is co-editor of volume V, the Twentieth century. Staff, emeritus staff, postgraduates and graduates of the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Library at TCD have also made significant contributions to this project.

At €475 for the full set, The Art and Architecture of Ireland is not cheap, but the RIA has gifted a set to every County Library, north and south, and plans to make a digital version available to secondary schools, free of charge, early in 2016.

A comprehensive series of events has been planned over the autumn to celebrate this landmark in the scholarship of Irish art history. The first of these events in Trinity takes place on Thursday 20 November at 7.30pm in the Emmet Lecture Theatre with a lecture delivered by Professor Lawrence Nees of the Department of Art History at the University of Delaware. Professor Nees is one of the foremost scholars of the art of the early Middle Ages and will be in Ireland together with a number of other internationally renowned art historians to celebrate the launch of the Royal Irish Academy Art and Architecture of Ireland. He will deliver a lecture entitled “The Eagle Capitals in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem”.

For more information on Art and Architecture of Ireland see the project website (external).