Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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The eighteenth-century Dublin town house
Form, function and finance
Christine Casey, editor

Review by Sean O’Reilly, Irish Arts Review [Spring 2011]

‘There can be few things more satisfying than a book that brings erudition and insight to the cherished and familiar, and honours its subject by tempering heart-felt applause with sober reflection and honest evaluation. Without resorting to a story-writer’s tricks, where character and plot can so easily stand in for a good solid critique of the real subject, this book does all this and more for its theme, the Dublin town house of the 18th century. Like a good collection of short stories by Raymond Chandler, it layers narratives along an ostensibly straightforward theme (here, the town house); includes speculation & intrigue (the finances of development), style & class (residents and usage); and boasts some exceptional moments that lift it above even the best of the rest of the genre, notably a particularly intriguing content and a fine production … yet this volume still possesses an exceptional uniformity which can only be the result of masterly oversight by its editor, Christine Casey … And what else makes it so special? It’s that rare combination of scope and depth, with the town house “in the round” … so this book is also an important reminder of the health of the discipline in Ireland and beyond … a touch of class, [this book] provided a hugely engaging experience, and just the kind of thing to fascinate a Marlowe’.

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Well, that was short and sweet . . . . . very sweet

I think we may have had a brief go at this when it came out first, before Christmas, but would anyone have any objection if we go through it in a bit more depth in the coming weeks?

I should say at the outset that there is fascinating new material in this publication, and a least three of the articles, those by Niall McCullough, Brendan Twomey and Robin Usher, address somewhat the contribution of the gabled tradition to the story of 18th century Dublin, but you’re still left largely having to read between the lines to appreciate this contribution in what is, essentially, yet another carry-on-regardless Georgian eulogy.

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