06 Oct 2022

Buildings in county Kildare feature prominently in an exhibition and new book of art by artist Adrienne Symes

Buildings in county Kildare feature prominently in an exhibition and new book of  art by artist Adrienne Symes

Adrienne Symes

On Tuesday, April 26, family, friends and others gathered at The Irish Georgian Society’s premises, City Assembly House on South William Street, Dublin to launch, Follies Ruins and Monuments of Ireland by Adrienne Symes.

Some of the work will feature at an upcoming seminar in Maynooth University about Great House Burning in the 1920s.

The exhibition of paintings and drawings is  open to the public from Tuesday, April 19, until Friday, May 6. The opening hours are (Monday–Saturday, from 10.30am–5pm). On Monday, May 2 (Bank Holiday), they are from 11am–4pm.

Those attending the opening were reminded of the presence and work of the late Hon Desmond Guinness, among others, whose photo portrait hangs on the wall close to the entrance. The exhibition, opened by Dr Edward McParland, comprises oil paintings and etchings with a theme of follies, ruins and monuments of Ireland.

Among the Kildare constructions in the 43-piece exhibition are the Connolly Folly in Celbridge, the Boathouse at Leixlip, Foxes Earth, Larch Hill, Gibraltar in Larch Hill, Bacchus and Lake Temple at Larch Hill, the Temple seat at Leixlip Castle and the Watch House at Airlie Stud. Other scenes are from Laois and Offaly.

Adrienne has been studying and observing these structures for many years. The quirkiness of follies in particular appeals to her, their function in many cases unknown. While some are just interesting structures that act as a focal point in the landscape of a country house; others serve as a summer house or a watch house; and others are monuments to people long gone.

Several of the paintings and etchings in the exhibition feature much larger buildings which were destroyed in the Great House burnings of the Civil War 1922-23 (some of which were subsequently rebuilt). 

She said she has enjoyed discovering and depicting these buildings and will continue to seek out more, countrywide. The pandemic curtailed some of her work due to lockdowns but she says there is much more to be done in the future. 

Part of the works in this exhibition have been displayed in the Irish Architectural Archives as part of the Great House Burning exhibition and some will transfer to Maynooth University during the Great House Burning seminar.

The book is now in some bookshops. It can be bought directly from the artist The cost is €20. For further information see


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