By Edmund Joyce
Borris House has been in constant occupation since the MacMurrough Kavanaghs moved their principal seat from Poulmounty (near St Mullins) to Borris in the mid sixteenth century. For the most part, Borris is presented as an early 19th century neo-gothic pile and is considered one of Sir Richard Morrison’s most successful re-workings of an earlier house. However, his work at Borris was mostly superficial and clues to the earlier phases of development are still legible in the extant fabric. The various phases of development at Borris can be linked to changing fortunes and political ambition (with the Morrison involvement c.1813 coinciding with the acquisition through inheritance of the Butler estates at Ballyragget). Despite a destructive attack by rebels in 1798, an expected attack in 1922 and a proposal to demolish the house completely in the 1950s, the house survives and the Kavanaghs remain steadfast. This talk will explore the whirlwind of growth the ensued over the first three hundred years of occupation, and the retrenchment of scale that occurred in the mid-20th century.
Edmund Joyce is a lecturer at The South East Technological University since 2004. He lectures in Architectural History, Building Conservation and sustainable land management. His special areas of interest include architectural history, historic landscapes and material culture. He has written extensively on material culture in the long eighteenth century. Borris House and MacMurrough Kavanagh family history have featured extensively in his research and publications, including: Borris House and elite regency patronage, (Four Courts Press) and ‘Lady Harriet Kavanagh’ in Women in the Country House in Ireland and Britain, (Four Courts Press). He is currently working on a publication, titled Great Irish Households, inventories from the long eighteenth century which is to be published by John Adamson, Cambridge.
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