UCC ACE Short courses

The Culture of the Big House: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music and Dining Culture of the Anglo-Irish CLOSED

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    The Culture of the Big House: Art, Architecture, Literature, Music and Dining Culture of the Anglo-Irish CLOSED

  • Code


  • College

    Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    Nine weeks (including one Saturday morning field trip), Thursdays 7-9 pm, from 30 January to (Saturday) 23 March

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications

    Cert of Attendance

  • Fees

    €230 See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    Friday 17 January 2019

  • Venue

    Western Gateway Building, Room G14, UCC

  • Start Date

    Thursday 30 January 2019

Course Outline

The Irish 'Big House' has a long-established history, made familiar by the fiction of Sommerville and Ross, Elizabeth Bowen, and others. The Big House was a tribute to the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, and many of these homes were destroyed during the Irish Civil War. The earliest of the great houses were built during the early eighteenth century. A half century later, Ireland's golden age of Palladianism saw the construction of magnificent homes such as Castletown in Co. Kildare and Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon, later followed by a return to the gothic style such as Castle Ward, Co. Down and Glin Castle, Co. Limerick. The Adam style of interior design found in many of the homes is associated with Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-1792) and became popular in Ireland from the 1770s. One of the best-known proponents of this style was James Gandon (1743-1823), designer of Dublin's Custom House and the Four Courts. Abbey Leix in Co. Laois (1773) is a fine example of the Adam style. The beginning of the nineteenth century ushered in the Regency style of architecture and dignified homes such as Mount Stewart, Co. Down. By mid-century, the Victorian Age ruled, and we find the grand style epitomised by Kylemore Abbey.

This short course aims to introduce the public to cultural aspects of the Irish “Big House” tradition through a broad thematic survey of the culture of the Irish Country house in historical context; The Anglo-Irish class; Irish Grand Tourists; Art of collecting; Gothic Revivalism; house, kitchen, and garden; diet, dining and the food economy; “Big House” literature: from Maria Edgeworth to Molly Keane; the re-emergence of the “Big House”.

Course Content

January 30   The Grand Tour I: The eighteenth century and the lure of Italy (Dagmar Ó Riain)

February 6   The Irish Big House in a historical context (James Cronin)

February 13  Architectural styles of Irelands' great houses (JC)   

February 20  Women and the Country House (Maeve O’Riordan)            

February 27  Music and identity in the Anglo-Irish home (Tony Hartnett)

March 5        The Grand Tour II: Romanticism in the nineteenth century  (DOR)

March 12      The Anglo-Irish Ascendency in literature (i) (Eibhear Walshe)    

March 19      The Anglo-Irish Ascendency in literature (ii) (EW)

March 23      Tour of Fota House and Kitchens (Regina Sexton)  

Course Practicalities

Who teaches this course:

James Cronin, Anthony Hartnett, Dr. Dagmar O Riain-Raedel, Dr Maeve O'Riordan, Regina Sexton, Dr Eibhear Walshe


Short courses are non-assessed.


Why Choose This Course

This course will be of interest to anyone interested in art history, historical and cultural studies.  The course offers students an interdisciplinary introduction into the art and culture of the Anglo-Irish class and will introduce students to critical approaches from related disciplines of art history, literary studies and history.


Applicants must be over 18 years of age by course commencement

Fees and Costs

The fee for this course is €230.

How Do I Apply

The closing date for applications is Friday 17 January 2020. Fees are listed in each course description. Students register and pay fees before course commencement as follows:

1. Register and pay online by clicking the Apply Now button below. Course commencement is subject to sufficient enrolment. In the event of a course not commencing applicants will be informed and their fees will be returned.

2. Payment may also be made by credit or debit card, cheque, postal order or bank draft made payable to UCC and these should be returned together with a completed application form to Short Courses, Adult Continuing Education, The Laurels, Western Road. Application forms are available from the office or they may be downloaded from the link below.

3. Students may also hand in completed application forms to the office at ACE between 9:15am and 5pm each day prior to the closing date. We regret we are unable to accept cash.


Application Form Jan 2020

Contact details for this course

Year 1 Modules

Year 2 Modules

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact