Institute of Classical Architecture & Art

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Great Country Houses & Gardens of Northern Ireland & The Republic

May 25-June 1, 2013

Arranged by Classical Excursions

Inspired by the architecture of Inigo Jones, who was the first to establish the Palladian style in 17th century England, followed by Lord Burlington, William Kent, Colen Campbell, and other early 18th century English architects, Ireland at the same time developed its own dramatic Palladian movement starting with the new façade for the country house, Castletown, designed by Allessandro Galilei in 1719. He provided details that reflected Palladio’s villas in the Veneto, such as colonnaded connections that linked the main building to end pavilions.

The leading architect of Palladian country houses in Ireland was Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, who provided interior details at Castletown and the design for Bellamont Forest, c. 1730, among other work. He developed a style that combined baroque inventiveness, movement and boldness with the somberness of the English Palladian style. These and other outstanding Irish Palladian country houses will be viewed during this tour with the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.

Over the past several years a bright new political and economic era has been ushered into Northern Ireland and the glorious country houses of the province are an architecturally classical heritage to be discovered. This exclusive tour will include a stay at the privately owned Ballywalter, an Italianate Palazzo built in 1846 and now the family home of Lord Dunleath, along with a two-night stay at Belle Isle Castle, home of Lord Nicholas Hamilton. The tour concludes in the Republic of Ireland with a three night stay at a four star hotel located in the heart of Dublin.

This exclusive tour is led by Lani Summerville of Classical Excursions, who has organized four previous tours to Northern Ireland and the Republic.


  • Mount Stewart, Newtownards, County Down: Originally built in 1804 and later extended, the first architect was George Dance, the teacher of Sir John Soane. Filled with magnificent antiques, the Regency-styled house contains 22 chairs used at the Congress of Vienna (1815) and given to Mt. Stewart’s owner, Lord Castlereagh, British Foreign Secretary and member of the Londonderry family. Mt. Stewart’s gardens cover 80 acres and are considered the most complete in Ireland, thriving in the area’s subtropical microclimate. Overlooking Strangford Lough is the exquisite small banqueting pavilion inspired by the Temple of the Winds in Athens.
  • Florence Court, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh: An important Irish Georgian mansion, it was named after Lady Florence Cole, the wife of Sir John Cole, the owner who had built around 1730 the finally proportioned center block of the house. A later generation in the 1760s added flanking arcaded wings with end pavilions. The vigorous treatment of the exterior is repeated in the interior. Lavish Rococo plaster decoration is featured which was painstakingly restored after a fire in 1955. The Venetian Room, staircase and dining room have the most elaborate plasterwork. The house is filled with 18th-century Irish furniture.
  • Castle Coole, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh: Considered the finest Neo-classical country house in Ireland, it nearly bankrupted its owner, Armar Lowry-Corry, Earl of Belmore, in his attempt in the 1790s to outdo his brother-in-law and neighbor, the Earl of Enniskillen, at Florence Court. The quality of the Portland stone masonry is exceptional, with the design on all four sides of equal perfection. It continues inside, with harmonious unity and balance in the joinery and plasterwork. The final plans were executed by the English architect, James Wyatt. The plasterer was Joseph Rose, who had been hired by Robert Adam to work at Syon House and Harewood England. Another glory of Castle Coole is that almost all of the Regency furniture is original and still in place.
  • A two-night stay at the privately owned Ballywalter Park, hosted by Lord Dunleath. Built in 1846 for Andrew Mullholland (whose son became the first Lord Dunleath) and designed by the prominent Belfast architect, Sir Charles Lanyon, the house is the best-preserved example of the Italianate palazzo style in Ireland.
  • A private visit and tea at Barons Court, hosted by His Grace, Duke of Abercorn. The house was started in 1779 by the architect George Steuart (who also designed Attingham Hall in Shropshire 1783). Later architects involved in redesigning and completing Barons Court were John Soane and Richard and William Morrison. The result was a powerful seven-bay house with a rotunda located in the heart of the building. The main pediment contains the family coat of arms. The interiors range from the classical coffered rotunda encircled by a ring of Ionic columns to a typical Morrisonian library redecorated by the prominent English decorator, David Hicks.
  • A two-night stay at Belle Isle Castle, built in the 16th century and currently owned by the Duke of Abercorn for his son Lord Nicholas Hamilton to reside in.
  • A visit to Castletown in County Kildare, Irelands first Palladian house to be erected with proper classical proportions and designed by a professional architect, Alessandro Galiliei (1691-1737). This house is said to have inspired the White House.
  • A tour of the incredible Palladian jewel Russborough House. Built in 1741 by Joseph Leeson. “No other Palladian house in Ireland equals it either for its architecture or its spectacular setting”.
  • Dinner at Leixlip Castle, the home of Desmond Guinness, founder of the Irish Georgian Society and major leader of restoration in Ireland. Leixlip is one of the original 12th century Pale Towers (defense fortresses surrounding Dublin and contains a fabulous print room.
  • A rare visit to the Marsh library founded in 1701 as Irelands first public library. One of the few early 18th century buildings in Ireland still preserved and used for its original purpose, the library contains over 25,000 books from the 16th—18th centuries.
  • A tour of the rarely seen Provosts House, owned by Trinity College. This grand mid-18th century town house is the only 18th century mansion in the Republic of Ireland that still retains is original function and form.
  • A visit to the privately owned 18th century Lodge Park, the home of Robert Guinness. Known both for its grand architecture and amazing 18th century gardens.
  • Marino Casino, the pleasure pavilion designed by Sir William Chambers and considered to be one of the most perfect buildings in Europe.
  • A tour of the newly created Titanic Exhibit in Belfast, located in the historic Harland & Wolff shipyards, where the Titanic was built.
  • A three-night stay at a four-star hotel in central Dublin.

Tour Price: $4995.00 per person, based on double occupancy. Tour price includes a $500 tax-deductible donation to ICAA. A single supplement of $750.00 per person applies. The tour is limited to a small number of participants. Early registration is therefore suggested. Please contact Lani Summerville of Classical Excursions to register at or (413) 551-7331.