Lord Charlemont’s Mysterious Tunnels at Marino


Heritage Week, now in progress, opens various little-known attractions to the public. These include a series of mysterious tunnels built by Francis Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont (1728-1799) underneath the lands in the vicinity of the Casino at Marino in Dublin. The Marino tunnels, used by the IRA for firing practice during the War of Independence, may be visited at set times (http://casinomarino.ie).

Marino House is gone and most of the parklands built over, but the exquisite neoclassical Casino and the secret tunnels remain. The Irish Times of 19 August 2016 posited a suggestion as to why Lord Charlemont had the tunnels constructed: ‘His personal physician, Dr Charles Lucas, had also written a treatise on the health-giving benefits of water, so he was probably following instructions when he built the tunnels’.

It is true that Lucas was a great believer in the medical benefits of water and bathing and wrote a three-part treatise entitled An Essay on Waters (London 1756). However, an emphasis on subterranean bathing is not evident in Lucas’s voluminous publications. Perhaps the classically-influenced Charlemont, who had visited Rome in his youth, was endeavouring to replicate the famous underground of that city, where baths, temples and other built-over constructs have survived.

Charlemont was also a prominent member of the Society of Dilettanti, whose founder, Sir Francis Dashwood, of Hellfire Club notoriety, had a series of underground caves excavated between 1748 and 1752 near High Wycombe in England (http://goo.gl/szE1AV). It is not suggested that the more sober Charlemont indulged in the subterranean devil worship and orgies with which Dashwood’s name is associated. Yet the two men clearly shared a penchant for expensive tunnel construction, the reasons for which which are not entirely clear.

This post was written by Sean Murphy who would be delighted to hear from anyone who may have ideas about the possible reasons that Charlemont had the tunnels constructed. His email address is sjbmurphy (at) eircom.net or just add a comment below.

Postgrad Bursary Winner Profiles: Alvin Chen


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Alvin Chen is a D.Phil candidate in History at Christ Church, University of Oxford. He is interested in Eighteenth-Century European intellectual history, Enlightenment intellectual history and historiography. He will be speaking about his research in this area at the ECIS Annual Conference on 10-11 June 2016

Favourite archive:
Bodleian Library, British Library, and the National Library of Scotland

Favourite museum, gallery or heritage site:
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and National Palace Museum in Taipei

Most exciting place or time in the eighteenth-century:
I would say Strand, London, in the 1760s.

Best online resource:

Best book of 18th century interest:
Blair Worden’s Roundhead Reputation and J.G.A. Pocock’s Barbarism and Religion, especially volumes III, IV, and V

What eighteenth century figure would you most like to have a drink with?
I haven’t really thought about this. William Strahan might be a good drinking partner. It would be interesting to learn more details about eighteenth-century publishing industry.

What will you be talking about at the ECIS Annual Conference 2016?
My D.Phil thesis is on George Berkeley’s criticism of free-thinkers’ idea of an ‘enlightened age’. At the moment I am looking at Berkeley’s responses to free-thinkers’ mathematisation of natural philosophy, and their visions of human progress in terms of moral philosophy and political economy. My paper at the Annual Conference will be about Berkeley’s reflection on the problem of social stability, and the way in which this may enrich the present discussion of the theme by historians of Enlightenment political thought.

Postgrad Bursary Winner Profiles: Ciaran McDonough


Ciaran McDonough is a doctoral research scholar at NUI Galway. Her research looks at nineteenth-century Irish antiquarianism and she will be speaking about her work at the ECIS Annual Conference on 10-11 June 2016. You can find out more about Ciaran’s research by visiting her academia.edu page or by following her on twitter.

Favourite archive:
The Royal Irish Academy

Favourite museum, gallery or heritage site:
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

Most exciting place or time in the eighteenth-century:
Dublin in the 1780s and 1790s – such a hub of activity!

Best online resource:

Best book of 18th century interest:
Clare O’Halloran, Golden Ages and Barbarous Nations – a brilliant guide to eighteenth-century antiquarianism.

What eighteenth century figure would you most like to have a drink with?
Charles Vallancey. Having spent the past few years researching this fascinating character (and laughing at his ideas), I would like to see the man behind the mad ideas!

What will you be talking about at the ECIS Annual Conference 2016?
I work on nineteenth-century antiquarianism and will be discussing some of the problems I have faced in working on a definition of an ‘antiquarian’. My paper at the conference will focus on what the term meant in the eighteenth-century and what antiquarian research consisted of in this time period. I will also make reference to the discrepancies in usage between the terms ‘antiquarian’ and ‘scholar’. Did the use of these terms reflect the type of work carried out? When Charles O’Conor referred to Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh as an ‘antiquary’, did he mean that Mac Fhirbhisigh carried out different work than himself? O’Conor has subsequently been referred to as a ‘scholar’ – is this another difference? My paper will attempt to answer these questions.

Lost Shelley Poem Made Public

ECIS members may be interested in a recent article from The Guardian about a lost poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley which was made public for the first time in more than 200 years last week.

The 172-line poem, accompanied by an essay and Shelley’s notes, was written in support of the Irish journalist Peter Finnerty, who had been jailed for libelling the Anglo-Irish politician Viscount Castlereagh.

Follow this link to read the full article, ‘Lost Shelley poem execrating “rank corruption” of ruling class made public’, on The Guardian website

CFP: Dutch-Belgian Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Conference

The Dutch-Belgian Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies (DBSECS) annual conference will take place in Brussels on 10-11 March 2016.

The theme of the conference will be ‘Flavours of the Eighteenth Century’. The organisers have been in touch to encourage ECIS members with an interest in the subject to consider participation.

Click on this link to download the Call for Papers, which is open until 23 November.

Limerick Early Modern Studies Forum Conference, 20-21 November 2015

The Limerick Early Modern Studies Forum will host a two-day conference on 20-21 November on the theme ‘Moments of Becoming: Transitions and Transformations in Early Modern Europe’.

The conference takes place at the University of Limerick.

Further information is available on the Forum’s website at https://emslimerick.wordpress.com/moments-of-becoming-conference/

Literary Landscape of Ireland Storymap

Literary landscape

Michelle from Ard na Sidhe Country House, in Co. Kerry has put together an interactive StoryMap called ‘A Literary Landscape of Ireland’ to celebrate all of Ireland’s most prolific writers and poets.

This StoryMap highlights many of the places that inspired the writers and poets involved, as well as the locations where the writers grew up and attended school.

The entry on Jonathan Swift might be of particular interest to ECIS blog readers.

Follow this link to view the Literary Landscape of Ireland StoryMap in a new window.

Resources: Journal•Lists

journal lists

Journal•Lists is a free subscription service that emails you historical novels, periodicals and diaries in short e-installments.

It has been designed to recapture the process of reading in installments that was a key part of the reading experience in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also offers a new way of reading diaries and letters that encourages a closer connection with their authors’ daily lives.

The first Journal•Lists goes live on 14 August with James Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. If you sign up, you will receive each entry of Boswell’s diary on the anniversary of the day it was written.

Upcoming Journal•Lists will include The Spectator and Lord Byron’s Ravenna.

Go to www.journallists.wordpress.com to find out more.

Member Profiles: Philip Walsh

Philip Walsh

Philip Walsh is currently a doctoral student at UCD finishing his PhD thesis on ‘The Blakes of Ballyglunin: Catholic merchants and landowners of Galway Town and County in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’. He will be speaking at the 2015 Annual Conference in Cork.

What is your favourite museum, gallery or heritage site?
The Battle of the Boyne site does a great job of bringing history to life for all ages.

What is your favourite online resource?
Eighteenth-Century Collections Online is indispensable for anyone studying the eighteenth century.

Your favourite book/poem/painting/object of 18th century interest?
Gulliver’s Travels is a great read and has hardly dated.

What 18th century figure would you most like to have a drink with?
Meeting up with Turlough O’Carolan on some back road pub, with his tunes and undoubtedly stories, would be a fascinating experience.

What will you be talking about at the ECIS Annual Conference 2015?
Younger sons posed a challenge for the remaining Catholic landowners of Ireland in the eighteenth century, whether from a feeling of familial obligation or the cold hard reality of estate management. For the Blakes of Ballyglunin, County Galway the second son from the first two generations of the eighteenth century were given a substantial child’s portion and sent to the West Indies to make their fortune. Both did this to great effect. When these younger sons had made their fortune, they did not return to Ireland but to England, where subsequent generations were knighted and became part of the English gentry. I will be exploring the effect of this on the wider family, the financial implications and the continued links between the families in Galway, the West Indies and England.

Member Profiles: Maeve O’Dwyer

Maeve O'Dwyer

Maeve O’Dwyer is a third year Art History PhD from the University of Edinburgh interested in all things C18- especially classicism, portraiture, sculpture, the Grand Tour and ideas of identity, especially Irishness. She will be speaking at the 2015 Annual Conference in Cork. Feel free to contact her ahead of the conference on Twitter @ODwyerMaeve.

What is your favourite museum, gallery or heritage site?
That’s a tough question. I’d have to say the Vatican Museum. They have one of my favourite sculptures, the Sleeping Ariadne, and there’s always a feeling that there’s more to see around the corner.

What is your favourite online resource?
The Internet Archive, for easy access to resources digitized and uploaded by other institutions.

What is your favourite book/poem/painting/object of 18th century interest?
I’d have to say the fabulous 1774 portrait of Thomas William Coke, by Pompeo Batoni. I’d love to get to Holkham Hall to see it in person.

What 18th century figure would you most like to have a drink with?
James Caulfield, Lord Charlemont. I’d ask him about his sense of identity, his portraits, and whether he was really mugged twice on his own land because he insisted it remain open to the public.

What will you be talking about at the ECIS Annual Conference 2015?
I’ll be discussing 1750s Rome, with a focus on the visual evidence of Irishmen abroad at a time when the Grand Tour itinerary was only just beginning to be set. I’ll consider how influential the Irish were in setting the standard for imagery of Grand Tourists for decades to come, and the possibility of reading a tension between Irishness and Britishness into their portraiture.

ASECS Prize Winners 2015

Many congratulations to the Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society members who have been awarded prizes by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies this year!

  • The ASECS 2014-15 Editing and Translation Fellowship award of $1,000 went to Aileen Douglas, Associate Professor of Irish literature and Director of Research at Trinity College in Dublin. She will use the prize money for travel to the Newbery Library in Chicago to work on a scholarly edition of Elizabeth Sheridan’s novel The Fairy Ring, or Emeline, A Moral Tale, first published in Dublin in 1780 and then in London in 1783. Novelist and diarist Elizabeth Sheridan was the youngest of four siblings, all of whom would, as adults, achieve varying degrees of success as writers, particularly her older brother, the dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
  • The A. C. Elias, Jr. Irish-American Research Travel Fellowship was awarded to Michael J. Griffin, University of Limerick and David O’Shaughnessy, Trinity College.
  • Finally, the Hans Turley Prize in Queer Eighteenth-Century Studies was awarded to Declan Kavanagh for his project ‘”A Motel Figure, of the Fribble Tribe”: Charles Churchill’s Poetry and the Racialization of Effeminate Discourses’.



A compact biography of Charles Lucas (1713-1771)

Print from portrait of Charles Lucas by Sir Joshua Reynolds (courtesy of Teylers Museum)
Print from portrait of Charles Lucas by Sir Joshua Reynolds (courtesy of Teylers Museum)

I have just uploaded to Academia.edu an amended version of my compact biography of Charles Lucas, the eighteenth-century Irish patriot, author and medical doctor. In contrast to figures such as Swift and Grattan, Lucas Continue reading A compact biography of Charles Lucas (1713-1771)

Pickering & Chatto Sale Opens Today


Pickering and Chatto have kindly informed us that they are having a sale! 40 of their major works are now available at a discount of 40%. The sale just opened and ends on Monday, 23 February 2015.

The following titles are available while stocks last:

Website Launch: Mapping State and Society in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

Collins barracks

‘Mapping State and Society in Eighteenth-Century Ireland’ is a new free online resource currently under development at UCD. The project aims to provide a free electronic platform for research projects that are using spatial and other data in order to create online maps and further data relating to state and society Continue reading Website Launch: Mapping State and Society in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

ECIS Christmas gifts

We have been busy putting together our Christmas gifts and thought we would share out wish list of eighteenth-century-themed gifts with you. If you have any more suggestions please add them in the comments box.

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Want to brush up one your eighteenth century geography? Try this eighteenth-century globe.

ECISgift 6You can get Napoelon Bonaparte Continue reading ECIS Christmas gifts

The Georgian Pop Up Museum in Limerick

What was the Georgian Pop Up Museum? It was a locally produced, volunteer led and run project showcasing Limericks rich Georgian history and built heritage in one of Limericks oldest buildings (c. 1770). The project was designed, conceived and run by Dr Ursula Callaghan, Historian and Cáit Ní Cheallacháin, Conservation Architect, Continue reading The Georgian Pop Up Museum in Limerick

Eighteenth-century women at work: the Dairymaid

dairymaidI have been thinking lately about eighteenth century female jobs. While it was not unusual for women to assist their husbands in their professions, such as printing, what jobs were considered exclusively female? A large number of women would have been hired as domestic servants but men too had a place Continue reading Eighteenth-century women at work: the Dairymaid

Best of the Net: Monday 1 December 2014


The Irish Aesthete is fast becoming my favourite built heritage blog. They posted this week on New Park estate in Co. Kilkenny and the Newport family in ‘Don’t bank on it’. You can find it here.

Coming up to Christmas we are looking forward to catching up on some reading. Just in case Continue reading Best of the Net: Monday 1 December 2014

Francis Higgins ‘The Sham Squire’

The National Library of Ireland is working to make many of its resources available online. There is an impressive range of material already available through their online catalogue. I was browsing through some images recently and came across this print of Francis Higgins (1745?-1802).

Francis Higgins Belphegor or the Devil Continue reading Francis Higgins ‘The Sham Squire’

History on twitter

imageHere at ECIS blog we are big twitter fans. The social media network is increasingly being used to promote projects, expand engagement and create impact. I wanted to share some of the historians (or twitterstorian) and projects, and institutions that I feel are good tweeters. If you have any accounts you Continue reading History on twitter

Best of the net: Monday 3 of November 2014


‘It shouldn’t happen to a bishop’- the Irish Aesthete looks at the history behind the splendid Bishop’s Palace in Waterford City. you can find it here.

The Irish Times published their list of Ten books that have never gone out of print here and it seems to have omitted Gulliver’s Travels, a Continue reading Best of the net: Monday 3 of November 2014

Swift’s footnotes, sinister slush funds, suspect patronage and the peculiar horrors of Holyhead

The following post was first published on Conrad Brunstrom’s blog on 19 October 2014. He has kindly given us permission to re-blog it here…


Yesterday morning was devoted to an Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society committee meeting in South William Street in Dublin.  There, in elegant stuccoed surroundings, we convened one of our regular Continue reading Swift’s footnotes, sinister slush funds, suspect patronage and the peculiar horrors of Holyhead