I was reminded about the Irish Estates with Irish Life celebrating its 75th birthday and mention of my thesis in the recently published Art and Architecture of Ireland, Vol. IV Architecture 1600-2000 (AAI)(eds.) Rolf Loeber, Hugh Campbell, Livia Hurley, John Montague & Ellen Rowley. I grew up close to this unusual housing estate, attending the primary school directly across the road. It still captures my imagination to this day. I have written about the history of the Irish Estates for 2ha Issue #4 A foreign country, we do things differently here. You can order any of their back issues here.
Those Curious Houses in Corbally,
the story of the Irish Estates
|Photograph taken from Seán Curtin's Limerick, A Stroll Down Memory Lane|
|Land Registry of Deeds map of estate|
|Taken from 'Our Catholic Life' Summer Issue 1962|
Recognising the urgency to accommodate the housing needs of the emerging professional middle classes Limerick Corporation identified 'Mr Vaughan's Lands at Corbally' in 1935 as suitable for a housing site with picturesque views of the river Shannon. This site too was once a fine mansion called Lanahrone House (referred to as Albert Villa in Griffiths Valuation 1850) . Lanahrone House was the nineteen-room residence of St Clare Hobson and stood well in from the road and commanded a splendid view of the river . Its gate lodge was on Corbally Road near the Constabulary Barracks (today Sunnyside Montessori School). This greenbelt to the north was far enough outside the city to be near the countryside but still easily commutable to the urban centre. It epitomised the Garden City model of early twentieth century urban planning. The era of the 'big house', the last bastion of luxury in Ireland was over. A request was made 'to take the necessary steps to acquire portion of the lands as a housing site' . The land remained undeveloped for a decade with the Town Planner scheduling it as 'a high-class residential area' according to the City Manager's Minutes. Having first established that there was a housing shortage and based on representations received from the Department of Industry & Commerce, Aer Lingus and the various transatlantic airlines who had bases at Shannon Airport Irish Life Ltd  saw Corbally as the perfect location for family accommodation for their staff. All was needed was a contractor with the means to construct these homes.
|Irish Estates entrance 1961. Photo taken from Seán Curtin's Limerick, A Stroll |
Down Memory Lane
|Image taken by author|
|Photographs taken by author in December 2009|
|Irish Estates today. Photograph taken May 2014 courtesy of Patrick Edmund Lynch patricklynch.ie|
|Corbally House, typical of the houses in the area before the advent|
of suburbia. The Irish Estates stylistically are reminiscent of these
|Aerial photo of Limerick city taken mid 20C (taken from Limerick Museum & Archives). Top left of photo is the undeveloped, green Corbally area close to the city centre.|
1 Mary McCarthy 'The provision of rural local-authority domestic space: a comparative north-south study, 1942-60', RIA Proc. 11C (2001), 288.
2 ‘We have little doubt that if the housing shortage is ever to be effectively met, the state will have to augment its own particular housing effort by helping the private builder by means of subsidies.’ (Irish Builder, 24 Mar 1923, 218).
3 DLGPH, Memorandum on housing, 12 July 1943, National Archives, DTS/13059A.
4 John Logan,’ Frugal comfort: housing Limerick’s labourers and artisans 1841-1948,’ in Irwin, Ó Tuathough & Potter (eds), Limerick, history and society (Dublin, 2009), 575.
5 Peter Harbison et al. Irish art and architecture: from prehistory to the present, (London, 1993), 244.
6 Not to be confused with Corbally House nearby which was built in 1824 and is today Corbally House Nursing Home on the Mill Road.
7 Shannon built up a thriving business in the Cornmarket where he traded as a wholesale ironmonger and ships chandler. He owned property totalling 284 acres including George Street, Bedford Row and Robert Street. His business ventures stretched as far as the Baltic region and Russia.
8 Maurice Lenihan, (1866) Limerick; its history and antiquities, ecclesiastical, civil and military, 473.
9 Seán Spellissy (1998) The history of Limerick city, 142.
10 John Fleming and Seán O'Grady, St Munchin's College, 1691-1761, 110.
11 Park House is recorded in the Down Survey Map of Limerick in 1657.
12 Griffith's Valuation of Limerick City, 128. Described in 1856 as a large mansion house 'erected by the late Mr Shannon' and occupied by John Co. Drydale. National Archives: Encumbered Estates Court Rentals (O'Brien), Shannon, 19 July 1856, 41:28, MRGS 39/019/-39/020.
13 Kevin Hannon, 'The Corbally District,' Old Limerick Journal, 26 (1989), 25.
14 Limerick City Council Minute Books 3 Oct. 1935 L/MIN/18.
15 Now Irish Life & Permanent
16 'Submitted offer of Mr D.J. O'Malley, Solr. to purchase the fee simple interest of the Corporation in the plot of ground situated at Corbally adjacent to Athlunkard Bridge, containing 37 perches.' L/MIN/20.
17 'Cement workers to hold up building' Irish Times, 30 Aug. 1947 and L/MIN/34.
18 L/MIN/21 Limerick Archives.
19 Irish Builder 98, 11 Feb. 1956: 111.
20 Interview author conducted in 2009 with Mr Paddy Reidy, resident of Abbey Avenue.
21 CSO, Census of population of Ireland, vol.4, 1946 (Dublin, 1954), 214-5.
22 ‘Irish estates being wound up,’ 10 Oct. 1964, Limerick Leader.
23 Irish Times, 7 Apr. 1982.
24 Today the ground rents are only collected for the houses of Plassey Avenue within the estate. E. Gilleece ‘The building types that defined modern Limerick city and the issues arising from the valuation and conservation of mid-twentieth century architecture’, (MUBC, UCD, 2011), 223.
25 'Mansion males way for flats; ceilings saved for state', Irish Times, 24 June 1954.