Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

Home Forums Ireland ‘Dutch Billys’ Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’


Just a few more points about the houses on the south side of College Green.

That twin roofed house, as depicted by Shaw, at no. 32 seems to have been given a make-over sometime after 1850, before being demolished along with it’s little neighbour in the later 19th century to be replaced by the big pedimented bank building that survives today.

And some corrections on the Clancartys

It turns out that the Third Earl died in 1676, so if he was the one that built the mansion on College Green we’ll have to move the construction date back. His successor, Donogh [there are various spellings] would have been only about seven when he assumed the title the 4th Earl of Clancarty and twelve in 1682 when the house was depicted on that College Green Map, so he’s unlikely to have been doing much building. I don’t know what the guardian structures were, maybe there was some great aunt running the show.

On the specifically ‘Dutch’ appearance of the gables on the Clancarty house, assuming that the Tudor print does in fact depict the mansion we suspect was built in the 1670s or early 80s, how does that fit in with certain origins of the ‘Dutch Billy’ theories which may have been put forward? . . . . and what is a Gaelic Catholic family doing building a house whose design seems to consciously evoke Protestant Holland?

Well, there are a couple of facts that need to be acknowledged.

1. ‘Dutch’ gables feature as a fashionable architectural device in England throughout the 17th century and a number of prominent new country mansions incorporated a triple gabled arrangement from as early as the 1620s.

Raynham Hall, the garden front [c.1620s], this unidentified mansion from a Hollar print [c.1647] and Kew House, the river front, [c.1630s]

Next door to the Clancarty house, the old West front of Trinity was essentially an elongated version of the entrance front at Raynham Hall with a classical pedimented centrepiece and curvilinear gabled end pavilions, although these were of the more familiar, early-mid 17th century, double curvilinear ‘Holborn’ type profile.

2. When we speculate that the ‘Dutch Billy’ phenomenon can be explained, at least in part, as a uniquely Irish celebration of the Protestant triumph in 1690, this is not to deny that it grew out of an already existing building tradition. What we’re saying is that the distinguishing characteristic of the ‘Dutch Billy’ movement was the way that the signature ‘Dutch’ gable became the predominant feature in Irish street architecture for a half century post 1690, at a time that the same feature began to rapidly peter out in England.

3. And then there is the Clancarty family themselves, Lords of Muskerry, owners of Blarney Castle, and patrons in perpetuity of Failte Ireland, this was not your usual family.

That Third Earl, who we’ve speculated may have been the builder of the College Green house, was Callaghan MacCarthy, the second son of Donough, the first Earl. He was training to be a priest in France when the unlikely news arrived that his elder brother had been killed in action in the ship carrying the future James II in battle with the Dutch fleet. This news was closely followed by the news that his father, the Earl had died three weeks later, closely followed by news of the demise of the Earl’s infant grandson. The net effect of all three deaths being to propel Callaghan into line to take the Earldom.

I’ve no cause to speculate that Callaghan’s gratitude for this sudden change in fortunes, attributable to a Dutch cannonball, was in any way manifest in the architectural style of his new town house, but we are talking about a man who bolted out of his French seminary, married a daughter of the Earl of Kildare and converted to Protestantism, all before you could say ‘bolted earl’.

For the record, Callaghan’s son another Donough, the 4th Earl reconverted to Catholicism on the accession to the thrown of James II and apparently hosted and entertained the monarch, presumably in the College Green house, on his arrival in Dublin in 1689.

Latest News