Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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I wish you’d give some advance warning CologneMike when you’re going to post new Limerick ‘Billys’, I’ve just drooled on my keypad !

Like Graham, I love that pedimented doorway and wherever it comes from, if it’s not actually original to the house (and I’m thinking of that single ornate doorcase on Chamber Street) it is very close in style to the Bank Place doorway! . . . and that new pair on Sheep Street? is also the closest we’ve seen in Limerick to a chunky central chimney stack. Am I right in saying that the site of the three Billys on Sheep Street is the site that is currently still vacant with just a palisade fence surrounding it?

These fantastic photographs from Limerick would tend to support the contention that there really was an extensive period when the urban landscape of Ireland, right across the social spectrum, was completely dominated by a single architectural style, the ‘Dutch Billy’!

I quoted the American travel writer, J Stirling Coyne on one of the Limerick threads recently, this was what he had to say about ‘King’s Island’ on his visit to Limerick in 1841:

”The English-town has all the antiquated appearance of a close-built fortress, of the latter part of the seventeenth century: it’s venerable cathedral, narrow streets, and lofty houses, chiefly built in the Dutch or Flemish fashion . . ”

To what extent could Billys have been present in the early phases of the outward expansion of the city, beyond the walled city of 1691, and before a standard Georgian pattern emerged in Newtown Perry?

The Bank Place houses are not standard Georgian, they have ‘Billy’, or certainly transitional, features, as have several examples at this end of the new town including surviving houses on Gerald Griffin Street and Denmark Street and there’s even that suggestion of masked ‘Billys’ in the old photographs of Georges Street (demolished).

And what about Cork?

Remember the detail of the Butt painting from about 1757! It turns out that there’s a similar view, in print form, by Anthony Chearnley from a few years earlier (I think 1750) and it seems to depict a urban landscape that is totally dominated by curvilinear gables.

Detail of Butt’s view of Cork (c. 1757)

Chearnley’s view from about the same vantage point in 1750

I marked an interesting five bay house on the left hand side, that in Butt’s view has some kind of Mansard roof, or vertically hung slatework on the third floor and dorners on the fourth. In Chearnley’s earlier view, this house is depicted as a classic five bay, three storey, twin Dutch Billy, just like the Francis Place drawn Queen Street house and no. 10 Mill Street, both in Dublin.

Most of the houses seen in the distance over the rooftops of the Quay-front buildings, including a great arc I take to be present day Patrick Street, are recognisably ‘Billys’.

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