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Caroline Martha McGee

Caroline McGee

PhD Student


Caroline graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2009 with an honours BA degree in History of Art and Architecture and Spanish. For the next two years she worked as research assistant on an Irish Research Council-funded project, Reconstructions of the Gothic Past, in the Irish Art Research Centre at Trinity College. This role enabled her to acquire professional expertise in digital management of cultural heritage assets and the creation of web resources for teaching, research and the general public. A key deliverable of the project was the creation of the website Gothic Past (external), a digital resource for the study of Irish medieval architecture and sculpture. Caroline is now pursing PhD research in the Department of History of Art and Architecture. The subject of her doctoral study is nineteenth-century Catholic church-building activity and the associated church furnishing market in Ireland. Her wider research interests include arts patronage by Irish diasporas and religious communities, the impact of Empire on trade, urbanism, and the application of new media technologies to research, teaching and cultural heritage collections management. She sits on the Council of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, advises on the digital management of cultural heritage assets, has lectured and written on Irish art and architecture and maintains the Gothic Past website.


‘Art industry, religion and cultural identity in Ireland, 1850 - 1922’
Caroline’s doctoral research investigates an important but little studied area of Irish history: the activity of migrant church furnishing firms in Ireland, within the broader context of Catholic church-building projects, from the post-Famine period to the establishment of the Irish Free State.  The goal of this multi-disciplinary study, which combines in-depth archival research with fieldwork, is to allow a more nuanced picture to emerge of the relationships between religion, commerce and the arts in Ireland during the period. In order to achieve this goal the thesis considers the range of church-building projects and the scale of commercial activity in the church furnishing market during the period; the business practices of the principal foreign firms trading in Ireland then; the roles of patrons and artisan craftsmen in the creative process; the relationship of expenditure to quality of design and execution and the impact of impending fiscal and political independence from Britain on migrant church furnishing firms in Ireland at the turn of the twentieth century. This doctoral study is being supervised by Dr. Christine Casey, Senior Lecturer in Architectural History and is supported with funding from the School of Histories and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin, the Irish Georgian Society, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Thomas Dammann Trust.

Selected Papers:

  • September 2014: 'Under the Influence - The Jesuits in Ireland', Catholic Historical Society of Ireland Annual Conference, Belvedere College, Dublin. 'A reverence peculiarly its own': Jesuit Patronage of the Arts in Ireland 1850 - 1921'.
  • November 2013: Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, 53rd Roscrea Conference (Invited speaker). ‘Exploring the Gothic Past website: a teaching and learning resource’ & ‘Catholic church-building in the nineteenth century’.
  • March 2012: Panel Convenor – The Look of the Irish, American Conference of Irish Studies, International Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana. ‘Building Catholic Ireland at Home and Abroad’.
  • July, 2011: Annual Conference of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland, Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool. 'Irish Elites in Nineteenth Century Munster: Constructing Catholic Charleville'.
  • September 2010: Belfast: The Urban Experience Conference, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast. ‘A noble Church in the most Catholic quarter of a bitterly Protestant and Presbyterian city: communicating religious identity in West Belfast at the turn of the twentieth century’.


  • '"A Reverence Peculiarly its Own": the Boys' Chapel at Clongowes Wood College', Studies: an Irish Quarterly Review, v. 103, no. 412, Winter, 2014/2015.
  • ‘Visiting 19th century artists to Ireland” in Painters & Painting 1600 – 1900: Art & Architecture of Ireland, Volume II, ed. Nicola Figgis, [Forthcoming, 2014]
  • ‘A noble Church in the most Catholic quarter of a bitterly Protestant and Presbyterian city: communicating religious identity in West Belfast at the turn of the twentieth century’ in Belfast: the emerging city, 1850 - 1914, ed. Olwen Purdue, (Dublin, 2012)