Research guide: Architecture

This guide provides an overview of the sources relating to the topic of architecture held in the Special Collections and Archives department at the Glucksman Library.

It outlines the various types of archival and printed material relating to architecture and architectural history held at UL, and suggests other archive services and online resources which may be of interest to researchers.

P27/60/3: Side and perspective elevations of a labourers’ dwelling, design no. 2, prepared by the Land Improvement Department of the Board of Works, c. 1890s-1920s.

1. Overview

We hold both primary and secondary sources relating to Architecture.

Primary sources
Family and estate archives often feature architectural records, such as sketches, drawings, plans, and elevations, which document elements of the built environment including churches, schools, hospitals, railway stations, farm buildings, mills, and public and private houses. Photographs and picture postcard collections also present valuable sources for tracing developments in architectural styles through time, while map collections reflect the development of rural and urban space.

Secondary sources
We also hold a number of printed texts relating to architectural history and features, as well as individual buildings, estates and towns in the general special collections, as well as the Norton and Leonard Collections.


This guide refers to material held in Special Collections and Archives only. For more information on the Glucksman Library’s main collection, including journals and databases, consult the LibGuide here, or search the main library catalogue.

2. Key archive collections and highlighted documents

click any image below to zoom

P27 The Allott Papers

This collection contains architectural material relating to improvements carried out to utility buildings at Odellville, Co Limerick between 1880 and 1900. These include:

  • Plan and elevation of out-offices, 1883
  • Plan, elevation, and sections of a proposed barn, 1898
  • Coloured plans and elevations of three designs for labourers’ dwellings, prepared by the Land Improvement Department, Board of Works, Dublin, c1890s



P6 The Armstrong Papers

This collection contains a wealth of material of architectural interest. These include:

  • Architectural drawings, estimates, and correspondence relating to additions and improvements made to Moyaliffe Castle, County Tipperary in 1864
  • Architectural drawings, specifications, estimates, and correspondence relating to the construction of stables, coach house, and various outbuildings at Moyaliffe Castle under the Landed Property Improvement Scheme, 1860s
  • Architectural drawings, public notices, account books, and correspondence relating to the Clodagh River District Drainage Scheme, 1860s-1890s
  • Quantity of photographs of Moyaliffe Castle and grounds from c. 1870s to c1980s showing the evolution of the estate
  • Quantity of photographs of Ballinacor House and grounds in County Wicklow, c1915—1965
  • Quantity of photographs of country houses in Ireland and the UK, c1900—1959



D/3196 The Dunraven Papers

This collection contains material relating to the building of Adare Manor, Co Limerick in 1830—1860, and improvements made to the village of Adare and some of its key buildings, 1810—1855. Some of the collection highlights include:

  • Building leases granted in the early 1800s to rejuvenate the building stock of the village; many of these incorporate a location map and building specifications (size of building, materials to be used, expected duration of building works)
  • Account books relating to purchases of rough stone and stonemasons’ work at Adare Manor, 1832—1845
  • Letters and estimates from the architect Augustus Welby Pugin (1812—1852) relating to proposed interior works to Adare Manor, 1846—1848
  • Letters and accounts from the architect PC Hardwick (1822—1892) relating to the construction of Adare Manor, the restoration of the Trinitarian and Augustinian Churches, the conversion of the Fever Hospital into a Christian Brothers’ monastery and school, and works done to the Desmond Castle

Please note that we do not hold the architectural drawings listed in the catalogue. These remain in the private possession of the Dunraven family. Contact us for further information.

Researchers interested in researching the building history of Adare Manor are also advised to consult Memorials of Adare Manor, written by Edwin, 3rd Earl of Dunraven and his mother, Caroline Countess of Dunraven in 186, available in the Leonard Collection, DS/222.


P1 The Glin Papers

This collection contains a large quantity of material relating to the restoration and renovation of Glin Castle in the 1950s, for example:

  • Correspondence with Clifford Smith & Newenham architects and civil engineers, regarding work carried out
  • Twenty-five plans, elevations, and drawings of proposed renovations, both for interior fittings and exterior alterations, including drawings for a new cottage and paving on the castle grounds
  • Accounts relating to renovations, 1959-1966



P51 The Limerick Papers

This collection contains material relating to the Pery family, Earls of Limerick. It includes an interesting scrapbook compiled in 1868-1869 to contain sketches by the Edward William Godwin, the architect of Dromore Castle. The sketches are architectural by nature, but not all of them relate to Dromore Castle. The album also includes rare photographs of Dromore Castle taken at various stages of its construction. Also included in the collection is a sketch of fireplace tiles by Godwin.

P51/5/4/1: Photograph of masons at work during construction of Dromore Castle, County Limerick, c1868-1874.


P43 The Tim Looney Papers

This collection contains some material relating to Shanbally Castle, Co Tipperary, although regrettably nothing concerning John Nash, who designed the building in c1808. Note in particular the following:

  • Accounts prepared by architect James Pain relating to improvements made to Shanbally Castle in the 1840s
  • Plan, elevation, and section of proposed vineries for Shanbally Castle, 1905
  • Plan, elevation, and section of a proposed range of greenhouses for Shanbally Castle, c1905—1910
  • Plans, elevations, and sections of a proposed gate lodge for Shanbally Castle, c1906—1912
  • Large quantity of estate correspondence (1814—1948) and account books (1744—1943), which may shed light on building works on the estate



P40 The O’Mara Papers

This collection contains architectural material relating to the three homes occupied by Stephen O’Mara, director of the Bacon Company of Ireland and three-times Mayor of Limerick during his lifetime. Collection highlights include:

  • Architectural plans showing alterations made to Strand House, Limerick in 1930
  • Architectural plans and correspondence relating to the building of New Strand House, 1940s
  • Architectural plans and correspondence relating to the building of Ivy Bank House, Ennis Road, Limerick, 1958—1959
  • Correspondence with TP Kennedy Architect and the Most Reverend Michael Browne, Bishop of Galway relating to the proposed architectural competition for the design of Galway Cathedral, 1940


P40/321/38: Interior design sketch for New Strand House by T. P. Kennedy Architect, c. 1936-1940


The archival holdings in relation to the architecture of the campus buildings at the University of Limerick themselves are quite limited. Contact the department for further information.

3. Key reference texts

There is a wealth of books available on architecture and architectural history in Special Collections and Archives. Here are just a few to get you started on your research:

Contemporary accounts of towns and individual buildings are a useful source for architectural historians. Good starting points include:

Search the library catalogue here

4. Other sources

Rare books
Travel books also contain useful descriptions of buildings and can help with the dating of a structure. The McAnally travel collection is an invaluable resource in this regard.

Kylemore Abbey pictured in WH Allen, Through Connemara in a Governess Cart, 1893

Postcards depicting buildings and streetscapes can provide useful clues to the evolution of urban and rural settlements. The Norton and Leonard collections contain an extensive range of postcards arranged by county.

Maps are another helpful source in tracing the development of a settlement or the evolution of a country estate. There are a number of maps included in the Norton collection, the most notable of which is John Speed’s Maps of Ireland (London, 1612) (Norton DS/43). See also the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (Limerick), published by the Royal Irish Academy (2010). Contact us to inquire about the rest of our map collection.

Engineering project: Ardnacrusha
We hold a full run of progress reports published by Siemens as well as a large number of photographs taken during the construction of the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station in Co Clare (1926—1929). For more, see

Siemens Lithograph of Ardnacrusha Power Station, 1920s.

5. Further reading and resources

Archaeological Survey of Ireland
The Historic Environment Viewer allows you to search all known archaeological monuments and sites and buildings of architectural merit in Ireland. You can search by county and thereunder by townland and/or by class of structure (e.g. ringfort, towerhouse, church, country house) you are interested in.

Archiseek (Irish Architecture Online)
This website contains a wealth of information on public, domestic and municipal buildings, including demolished ones, in Ireland and overseas. You can browse buildings by province/ county, or do a keyword search for a specific building, building type, or location.

British Architectural Library Catalogue
This database allows you to search the collections of the Royal Institute of British Architects. You can search by keyword or category.

Dictionary of Irish Architects
This database contains details of architects, builders, and craftsmen born or working in Ireland between 1720 and 1940. You will get a biography of each person, a list of their known works, and bibliographical sources to further your research.

Irish Architectural Archive
This archive is based in Dublin and collects and preserves records of Irish architecture from the earliest structures to contemporary buildings. You can search their collections of books, manuscripts, and photographs by using their online catalogue.

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH)
This database contains descriptions, photographs, and location maps of Ireland’s built heritage from post boxes and thatched houses to country houses and public buildings. The Building Survey is divided into individual survey areas by county, and you can refine your search by specifying the date range, type of building, and/ or location that you are interested in. The Garden Survey contains an inventory of historic gardens and designed landscapes associated with country houses and how well they have survived. You can search the inventory by keyword, or by county.

Representative Church Body Architectural Drawings Catalogue
This is an invaluable resource if you are interested in the history and construction of Church of Ireland churches and cathedrals in the 19th century. You can search the catalogue by keyword, or browse by item or collection.