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Killiney History | April 17, 2024

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‘Marino/Abbey Lea History and its Harry Clarke Connection’ presentation by Pippa McIntosh held at Abbey Lea on 19th October 2022

‘Marino/Abbey Lea History and its Harry Clarke Connection’ presentation by Pippa McIntosh held at Abbey Lea on 19th October 2022
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 | author

Photos of the event which took place at The Australian Ambassador’s Residence, Abbey Lea (formerly Marino), Killiney.

The audience enjoy the presentation which took place in The Library room at Abbey Lea.
Pippa giving the presentation

A comprehensive research project led by Pippa McIntosh, fiancée to Gary Gray the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, on the history of the residence of the Australian Ambassador has been shared with the Killiney Community. Invited to present her research by the Killiney Bay Community Council, Ambassador Gray and Pippa welcomed locals into their home and combined the event with the opportunity to showcase Australian wines and produce from local Irish-Australian artisans.

In her presentation, Pippa focused her discussion on one aspect of her extensive research project – the culturally significant link between previous owners of the house, the Right Hon. L.A. Waldron (who owned the house from 1898-1923) and Sir Robert Woods (whose family owned the house from 1924-1950) to the internationally renowned Irish stained-glass artist, Harry Clarke. During Waldron’s time, the house was significantly remodelled following a fire in 1909 and the house, as it stands today, still reflects this design.

As uncovered by the late art historian Nicola Gordon Bowe, Harry Clarke was a regular guest at the residence and was commissioned by both Waldron and Woods (who were friends) to create both illustrated and stained glass works for their respective collections.  Many of these works have a specific connection to Marino, be it the inclusion of Waldron’s family crest into designs, or the beautiful view from the house of Killiney Bay looking south down to Bray Head and the Wicklow mountains, which featured in works for both Waldron and Lady Margaret Woods, wife of Sir Robert.

Although much of the original Clarke artwork has been removed from the house by previous owners, their connection to the house and their beauty has been carefully recorded, with images of the works appearing in a number of publications and articles by Bowe. The presentation began with an overview of the history of the house and then focused specifically on the Waldron and Woods periods, when Clarke frequented the house and the works were created.

A larger-than-life character, L.A. Waldron (or Larkey as he was known by his friends) was well known for hosting lavish parties which took place at the residence, boasting an extensive guest list of Ireland’s creatives who attended on a regular basis. Descendants of the Woods family, who owned the house after Waldron, were present at the event. Robert Woods, who is the grandson of Sir Robert Woods, and his son Robert (Robbie) were there on the night. Robbie has followed in his great grand-father’s (and grand father’s) shoes and become an ENT specialist. Also in attendance was Robert Lambkin, a former stockbroker from Waldron’s firm which continued on after Waldron passed in 1923. Attendees on the night were given a detailed insight into the world of stained-glass fabrication by David Caron, an art historian who is expert in the field. We were also joined by stained-glass artist Alan Tomkin, and cabinet-maker John Smyth, known artisans in their respective fields.

Read more about the history of Abbey Lea/Marino here.

Pippa talks about Harry Clarke’s ‘Madonna and Child’ (1915)
David Caron , art historian, describes the fabrication process of the Harry Clarke works
Post presentation reception
Catherine Kerr, Robert Woods and Barbara Gerstenberger enjoying the event
Robert Woods in conversation with Gary Gray, Australian Ambassador

Catherine Kerr and Michael McShane examine the stained glass door, possibly from the glasshouse, which was saved during restoration works. Photo courtesy of Esther Kinuthia.
Christmas card design by Harry Clarke for Laurence Waldron, 1916. The silhouette of Killiney Bay and Bray Head can be seen in the distance.