County Offaly: Birr's Georgian Terraces

Birr is among the most architecturally significant towns in Ireland, and retains a generous range of quality urban buildings dating back to the early eighteenth century. Churches, shopfronts, terraces of fine houses, church halls, schools, convents, all share a setting of inspired town planning that had elegant malls, squares and vistas laid out in a coherent fashion. The town owes much of this architectural legacy, to the successive Earls of Rosse. One of the primary architectural developments was the laying out of Cumberland Square during the 1740s; its centrepiece was a tall Doric column supporting a statue of the Duke of Cumberland. The square was later renamed Emmet Square in honour of the patriot Robert Emmet. The square was one of two open squares at either end of the long Main Street. The southern Market Square is situated in the core of the older part of the town. The town gradually expanded northwards from the eighteenth-century Cumberland Square development. Both Oxmantown Mall, the wide thoroughfare that leads from the gates of Birr Castle to Emmet Street, and John's Place were laid out as plots during the 1820s, although some were not built on until the mid-1830s. On both streets there were variations in the types of house built, although all conform to a pleasant, if provincial, reading of the Georgian style. Particularly striking is the retention of so many of the small original features, such as windows, railings, walls, street-furniture and gardens, that have been lost in so many other towns in the county. John's Place is a wide, pleasant urban space with a crescent-shaped green and houses lining both sides. Several of these houses are terraced and have similar wide doorways with columns, decorative architraves and spoked fanlights. Original ironwork, glazing patterns and limestone steps are also in situ, and it is the retention of these features that gives these terraces their lasting appeal.

Cumberland House, Emmet Square, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Detached five-bay three-storey over raised basement former house, built c.1760, with gabled breakfront to facade and gabled bay and lean-to extension to rear. Now in commercial use. Set back from Emmet Square. Pitched tiled roof with rendered chimneystacks, rendered parapet walls and coping to gables. Ruled-and-lined render to walls with sill course to first floor,…


Cumberland Column, Emmet Square, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Freestanding ashlar limestone Doric column, erected in 1746, mounted on an ashlar pedestal with plinth and cornice. Located at the centre of Emmet Square. Lamp posts to each corner and protective cast-iron bollards surrounding platform. Formally supported statue of the Duke of Cumberland which was removed in the early twentieth century. Plaque inserted to pedestal…


Square News, Emmet Square, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Terraced four-bay four-storey house, built c.1760, with three-storey canted-bay to east of façade and shopfront to ground floor. House fronts directly onto Emmet Square. Pitched tiled roof with rendered chimneystacks and cast-iron rainwater goods. Hipped roof to canted bay. Ruled-and-lined render to walls with stucco quoins, rendered plinth and fluted pilasters to ground floor. Replacement…


Dooly's Hotel, Emmet Square, John's Place, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Corner-sited eight-bay three-storey inn, built c.1745, with integral carriage arch to south with single-storey above and adjoining perpendicular six-bay two-storey wing to south. Fronts directly onto Emmet Square. Pitched slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystacks and cast-iron rainwater goods. Roof to southern wing is hidden by curvilinear parapet with painted illustration and date…


Wesleyan Chapel, Emmet Street, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Detached three-bay double-height gable-fronted Wesleyan chapel, built in 1820, with single-storey central entrance porch, abutting school, built in 1896, to rear. In use as a Methodist Church. Chapel set back from street. Pitched slate roof with rendered chimneystack and stone coping to gable front. Ashlar limestone walls to façade with date plaque to pediment. Smooth…


Saint Brendan's Church of Ireland Church, Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Detached Church of Ireland church, built in 1815, to a design by architect John Johnson, with four-bay nave and five-stage tower. Extended in 1876 by the architect Sir Thomas Drew. Pitched slate roof hidden by castellated parapet. Ashlar limestone buttresses to random coursed limestone walls to cornice and castellated parapets with pinnacles. Various window openings:…


Cumberland Terrace, Emmet Street, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Semi-detached four-bay two-storey over basement house, built in 1861, with shared integral carriage arch to centre, return and flat-roofed extension to rear. Set back from street. Hipped slate roof with rendered chimneystacks, terracotta ridge tiles and cast-iron rainwater goods. Smooth render to walls. Plaque above integral carriage arch reads: 'Cumberland Terrace 1861'. Timber sash windows…


Cumberland Terrace, Emmet Street, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Semi-detached three-bay two-storey over basement house, built in 1861, with shared integral carriage arch to centre, return and extension to rear. Set back from road. Hipped slate roof with rendered chimneystacks and cast-iron rainwater goods. Smooth rendered façade with roughcast render to gable-end and rear. Plaque above integral carriage arch reads: 'Cumberland Terrace 1861'. Timber…


Saint Brendan's Market, Emmet Street, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Detached two-bay two-storey gable-fronted former church hall, built in 1845, flanked by crenellated entrances and with two-storey return, two-storey extension and entrance porch to north. Now used as a market. Set back from street. Pitched slate roof with rendered chimneystack, terracotta ridge tiles, timber bargeboards and cast-iron rainwater goods. Ruled-and-lined render to façade. Roughcast render…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Semi-detached three-bay three-storey house, built c.1820, with return and extension to rear. Set back from the road. Hipped slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystacks and cast-iron rainwater goods. Ruled-and-lined render to walls. Replacement timber casement windows with stone sills. Round-headed door opening with coved surround, timber spoked fanlight and replacement timber panelled door…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Semi-detached three-bay three-storey house, built c.1820, with return to rear. Set back from road. Pitched slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystacks and cast-iron rainwater goods. Ruled-and-lined render to walls. Timber sash windows with tooled stone sills. Round-headed door opening with coved surround, timber spoked fanlight, timber panelled door and limestone threshold. Bounded by…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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End-of-terrace three-bay two-storey over basement house, built c.1820, with integral carriage arch and return to rear. Set back from street. Pitched tiled roof with terracotta ridge tiles and rendered chimneystacks. Smooth render to walls. Timber sash windows with tooled stone sills. Round-headed door opening with moulded surround, spider web fanlight and tooled stone threshold. Timber…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Terraced three-bay two-storey over raised-basement house, built c.1820, with return to rear. Set back from street. Pitched slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystack with terracotta pots and cast-iron rainwater goods. Roughcast render to walls with smooth render to basement. Rendered quoins and plinth course. Timber sash windows with stone sills. UPVC replacement windows…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Terraced four-bay two-storey over basement house, built c.1820, with integral carriage arch and return. Set back from street. Pitched slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystack with terracotta pots and cast-iron rainwater goods. Smooth rendered walls. Timber sash windows with stone sills. Segmental-headed door opening with coved surround timber spoked fanlight and timber doorcase…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Terraced six-bay two-storey over basement house, built c.1820, with integral carriage arch, return and extension to rear. Set back from street. Pitched slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles, stone coping to gable-end, rendered chimneystacks with terracotta pots and cast-iron rainwater goods. Roughcast rendered façade with walls with sill course to ground floor and eaves course.…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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Terraced five-bay two-storey over basement house, built c.1820, with integral carriage arch. Set back from the street. Pitched tiled roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystacks with terracotta pots and cast-iron rainwater goods. Roughcast rendered walls. Timber sash windows with tooled stone sills. Round-headed door opening with coved surround, timber spoked fanlight and timber panelled…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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End-of-terrace five-bay two-storey over basement house, built c.1820, with integral carriage arch. Set back from road. Pitched tiled roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystacks and cast-iron rainwater goods. Render has been removed to reveal random coursed limestone facade with ruled-and-lined render to gable-end. Timber sash windows with tooled stone sills and yellow brick surround.…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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One of a pair of four-bay three-storey over basement houses, built c.1820, with carriage arch to east. Set back from road. Pitched tiled roof with terracotta ridge tiles and rendered chimneystacks. Roughly dressed course limestone walls with ruled-and-lined render to gable end. Timber sash windows with tooled stone sills and tooled stone surrounds. Replacement windows…


Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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One of a pair of four-bay three-storey over basement houses, built c.1820, with carriage arch to west. Set back from road. Pitched tiled roof with terracotta ridge tiles, rendered chimneystacks and cast-iron rainwater goods. Roughly dressed coursed limestone walls with ruled-and-lined render to gable end. Timber sash windows with tooled stone sills and surrounds. Round-arched…


The Stables Restaurant and Guest House, Oxmantown Mall, TOWNPARKS (BB. BY.), Birr, County Offaly

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End-of-terrace four-bay two-storey house, built c.1820, with integral carriage, abutted by single-storey extension which links converted former L-plan outbuilding, now used as a restaurant. Set back from street. Pitched tiled roof with terracotta ridge tiles and rendered chimneystacks. Roughcast render to walls. Timber sash windows with tooled stone sills. Segmental-headed door opening with coved rendered…