For over a hundred years Country Life has been publishing definitive articles on the country houses of Great Britain and Ireland, illustrated with specially commissioned photography by some of the century's pre-eminent architectural photographers. Taken predominantly on glass plate negatives, the beauty and comprehensiveness of these illustrations is without equal, making the Country Life photographic archive a truly amazing resource. After the turn of the twentieth century, the growing interest in Georgian architecture led Country Life's writers to explore the unique to the development of the eighteenth-century house contribution made by Irish architects and craftsmen. However, as the pace of loss and destruction of so many houses quickened in the middle of the century, the magazine's photographs became an increasingly important, sometimes unique, record of what had gone. Here Sean O'Reilly, one of Ireland's leading architectural historians, has selected two hundred of the archive's most outstanding photographs and provided the essential historical background required for an appreciation of some of Ireland's greatest buildings, making this book not only an important survey, but also a portfolio of classic photographs of unrivalled beauty and significance.
Sean O'Reilly studied in Dublin before lecturing on art and architectural history in a number of institutions throughout Ireland, most notably Trinity College, Dublin and the School of Architecture at University College Dublin (UCD). He worked with the Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin for more than a decade. He has written extensively on post-medieval architecture, especially on eighteenth-century houses and nineteenth-century churches, the latter an aspect of his doctoral study. He is the author of Irish Houses and Gardens: From the Archives of Country Life, published by Aurum. He is Director of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, formerly the Scottish Georgian Society, editor of the Irish Georgian Society's journal, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, previously its Bulletin, and is at present making a special study of the development of Roman Catholic church architecture in the nineteenth-century. He continues to advise on historic buildings and to lecture in Ireland and Britain on areas of his special expertise. Recently he married and moved to Edinburgh.