Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Anonymous
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We can get a reasonably good look at the back of those two Kildare Street houses from the roof of the multi-storey car park behind Molesworth St.

Unfortunately this doesn’t really help!

The brick fronted house has a cruciform roof, but no central chimney stack (corner fireplace), unless this has been removed, and it’s rear elevation shows no sign of a return. I remember the adjoining rendered house when it was renovated as the new ‘Taylor’s Gallery’ premises, and it was the architect, Ross Cahill-O’Brien, who did an amazingly inventive job on the house, that adding those pointy roof lights and the wrought iron date to the facade, if I’m not mistaken.

The door surround of the rendered house is pretty conclusive evidence that the design of this house, and no doubt it’s neighbour, was, in the late 1750s, following a very traditional (old-fashioned) path rather than dabbling with any of this, cutting edge, ‘Georgian’ nonsense.

The other prime candidates for being post Rocque ‘Billies’ are the Moore Street national monument houses, and those houses are even more ‘Billy’ like in that they have, both, the returns, and the corner fire places, of the characteristic ‘Billy’

One perplexing aspect of both the Moore Street houses and these Kildare Street houses is that they all have top floor window arrangements that don’t hint at ever having been pinched inwards to acknowledge that they were confined into the profile of a gable,

There’s two possible explanations for this: (a) They were’t ‘Billies’ and never had front gables, or (b) They had ‘Billy’ gables that solely fronted the triangle of the roof and were essentially independent of the top storey.

Naturally, I’m going to go with (b)!

. . . for two reasons: Firstly, we know that a category of ‘Dutch Billy’ existed where there wasn’t an actual attic storey, just an attic, often with little, semi-ornamental, openings like the little lunette window on the Camden St. house, or the similar feature on the recently posted example from Limerick.

Secondly we know that, throughout the ‘Billy’ period, curvilinear gabled houses were built where the gables were totally blank, without any openings into the attic spaces, and without any impact on the spacing of the windows below. No. 10 Mill Street would be a very early example of this (there is pinching of the upper floor windows by virtue of the second floor windows being perhaps 120mm narrower than the first floor windows, but the degree of pinching is minimal), and Speaker Foster’s house (around the corner on Molesworth Street) would be a 1730s example, where three Dutch gables, supported by three separate roof volumes, rose over a perfectly evenly spaced 5 bay facade in a way that, had photographs and prints not existed, we would never guess was the original arrangement.

Speaking of Limerick, there’s a great painting from c. 1837 of the quays with the cathedral tower in the background, by William Turner de Lond, which shows two fine ‘Billies’, one still intact and the other, masked by a flat parapet.


This painting is published in ‘Ireland’s Painters 1600-1940’, which I’m putting on my list for Santa.

I wonder is the house I’ve marked with an X in this 1960s aerial view, posted by Tuborg, one of the two ‘Billies’ depicted in the painting, the steps in the quay wall appear to roughly correspond!

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