From the mid-eighteenth century Irish country houses flourished. Landowners generated easy income leasing land to tenants. As their wealth increased, so did the size of their country mansions. But factors such as the Great Famine, land reforms, the increasing expense of maintenance and the IRA targeting the houses during the War of Independence took their toll. Gradually, abandoned and forgotten, the houses sank into decay. In 2008 Tarquin Blake found his first abandoned 'Big House' and so began exploring the lost architecture of Ireland. Here, he documents what is left of fifty mansion houses with brief histories and beautiful photographs of the haunting ruins. Included are Mountpelier Lodge (Dublin Hellfire Club), the birthplaces of Daniel O'Connell and the Duke of Wellington, and the one-time homes of Grace O'Malley and of brewing family the Smithwicks of Kilkenny. The inclusion of details from the 1911 Census offers a glimpse of the closing days of the aristocracy and their mansions.
Tarquin Blake, explorer, photographer and historian is author of the website www.AbandonedIreland.com
In 2008 Tarquin Blake found his first abandoned 'Big House' and then began to document the closing days of the landed aristocracy in Ireland and the demise of their country mansion houses.
His acclaimed, bestselling book 'Abandoned Mansions of Ireland', published by The Collins Press, documents the crumbling remains of fifty mansion houses. Included are the birth places of Daniel O'Connell and the Duke of Wellington, and the one-time homes of Grace O'Malley (the pirate queen) and the Smithwicks of Kilkenny (brewers). Beautifully photographed, his striking and evocative images convey an indefinable beauty in the decay and abandonment of what were amongst the finest houses in Europe. He writes about their history and folklore, telling of troubled times and private hardship.
Tarquin Blake lives in County Cork.