24 April 2021

Victorian villas in Dalkey,
a pioneering medical
discovery, and royal visits

Iniscorrig on Coliemore Road, Dalkey … built as a summer residence for Sir Dominic Corrigan (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

On the way back from Bulloch Harbour and a walk through Dalkey Village last week, Coliemore Road was lined with a number of elegant houses looking out to Dalkey Island and the Irish Sea. These Victorian Villas were built in the 19th century as summer residence for prosperous people who found the new railway line allowed them to escape to the sea airs while they continued their professional practices in the city centre.

They include houses such as Rockview, now on the market, Cliff Castle, recently sold, Inniscorig, built for a pioneer in Victorian medicine, and Queenstown Castle.

I have written in the past about Dakey’s mediaeval castles, but these romantic, castellated villas and mansions had no mediaeval historical background; instead, they were suburban statements of wealth by the post-Famine professional classes in Dublin.

Inniscorrig is one of these romantic mansions, with a spectacular and coastal position and its own private harbour. The working harbour is one of only two in private hands in Dublin and provides direct sea access.

Inside, there are sea views from all the principal rooms. The accommodation extends to 536 square metres, including a lodge house, and the grounds extend to 0.3 hectare (0.75 acre) along the shoreline, with panoramic coastal views that stretch from Dun Laoghaire over the bay to Howth Head, taking in the rocky seashore and Dalkey Island.

Brass plates in Saint Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, commemorate Sir Dominic Corrigan and his family … he built Inniscorrig in 1847 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Inniscorrig was built in 1847 by the Dublin physician Sir Dominic Corrigan (1802-1880), who first diagnosed the heart condition known as Corrigan’s Pulse.

Corrigan was born in Thomas Street, Dublin, on 2 December 1802, the son of a dealer in agricultural tools, and was educated in Saint Patrick's College, Maynooth. There he was inspired to study medicine by the physician in attendance, and spent several years as am apprentice to the local doctor, Edward Talbot O’Kelly.

Corrigan studied medicine in Dublin, later transferring to Edinburgh Medical School where he received his MD degree in 1825. He then returned to Dublin and set up a private practice, first at 11 Ormond Street, later at 12 Bachelor’s Walk, and from 1837 at 4 Merrion Square West.

His work with many of Dublin’s poorest people led to him specialising in diseases of the heart and lungs, and he was a hard-working physician throughout the Great Famine. He was also physician to Maynooth College, the Sick Poor Institute, the Charitable Infirmary Jervis Street (1830-1843) and the House of Industry Hospitals (1840-1866).

Corrigan’s application to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland was rejected in 1846. But he was appointed physician-in-ordinary to Queen Victoria in Ireland in 1847, and he received an honorary MD from Trinity College Dublin two years later.

Corrigan challenged the opposition he had faced in the RCPI by sitting the college's entrance exam with the newly qualified doctors in 1855. He became a fellow in 1856, and in 1859 was elected president, the first Roman Catholic to hold the position, and ge was re-elected president an unprecedented four times.

He was a member of the senate of the Queen’s University from the 1840s, and became its vice-chancellor in 1871. He was President of the Royal Zoological Society of Dublin, the Dublin Pathological Society, and the Dublin Pharmaceutical Society. He was a member of the board of Glasnevin Cemetery and a member of the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Committee.

He was given the title of a baronet, with the designation ‘of Cappagh and Inniscorrig’, in 1866, partly as a reward for his services as a Commissioner of Education. He was elected a Liberal MP for Dublin at a by-election in 1870. In Parliament, he actively campaigned for reforms in education in Ireland and the early release of Fenian prisoners. But his support for temperance and Sunday closing of pubs may have antagonised his constituents and he did not stand for re-election in 1874.

Corrigan married Joanna Woodlock, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and sister of the Bishop Bartholomew Woodlock of Ardagh, in 1827. They were the parents of six children, three girls and three boys. Their eldest son, Captain John Joseph Corrigan, died on 6 January 1866 aged 35 years and is buried in Melbourne, Australia. His grandson succeeded him as the second baronet.

Corrigan died at Merrion Square, Dublin, on 1 February 1880, and he is buried in the crypt of Saint Andrew’s Church, Westland Row. A statue of Corrigan by John Henry Foley stands in the Graves Hall of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin. The Corrigan Ward in Beaumont Hospital is named in his honour.

His title was inherited by his grandson, Sir John Joseph Corrigan (1859-1883), but he died at the age of 23 and with him the family title died too.

Sir Dominic Corrigan built Inniscorrig as his summer retreat in Dalkey in 1847. Later, it was the home of the architect John Joseph Robinson (1887-1965), the architect of Galway Cathedral, who made Inniscorrig his home from 1940 until his death in 1965. His father, John Loftus Robinson (ca 1848-1894), was the architect of Dun Laoghaire Town Hall.

Prominent guests at Inniscorrig included King Edward VII and King George V. Their visits are commemorated by a crown and star set in pebbles into the patio terraces on either side of the front door along with elaborate plasterwork motifs throughout. Corrigan himself is commemorated in a granite bust over the front door.

The interior plasterwork includes Tudor roses and mosaics, and there is a fifth bedroom in the tower. The Italianate gardens link the house and grounds, with arched granite statue niches either side of the front door combining with a series of Gothic arches. They protect a ‘secret garden’ and frame the views of the islands and the sea.

A decked terrace off the sea-front elevation leads to a lawn terrace and to the harbour terrace. Protected from westerly winds, this large harbour terrace provides a harbour-side sanctuary and an entertaining plaza. There is a tidal swimming pool and a boathouse, and the harbour includes a working winch, and boasts a separate.

When this Gothic Revival mansion went on sale in 2015, it was described as Dublin’s latest ‘most expensive home,’ with an asking price of €10.5 million. Inniscorrig sold after two years on the market.

Cliff Castle was once a popular venue for wedding receptions and 21st birthday parties (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Neighbouring Cliff Castle sold at auction for more than £2.5 million in 1999. It was built as a private residence in the 1840s, and was a popular hotel until the 1980s. It was run by the McGettigans and earlier by the Phelans of the Miami Showband.

Cliff Castle was known as a venue for wedding receptions and 21st birthday parties, and, during the 1960s for its afternoon tea dances.

It has a floor area of around 6,000 sq ft, and is now a five-bedroom family home. The internal features include a turret room with a roundel of stained-glass set high overhead in the domed ceiling.

Cliff Castle, with its battlement towers, stands on three-quarters of an acre with extensive water frontage, its own harbour and a large suntrap garden behind high walls.

Rockview stands on a quarter-acre site and is on the market (Photograph; Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Rockview is another Victorian home on Coliemore Road with a sea-front site of about a quarter of an acre with direct shoreline access.

Rockview is a five-bedroom house and is on the market through Sherry FitzGerald, with an asking price of €5.25 million.

Queenstown Castle is a castellated Victorian property further up Coliemore Road. It is no longer a private residence for a single family but has been converted into five apartments.

Queenstown Castle has been converted into five apartments (Photograph; Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Updated: 24 April 2021; thanks to Georgina Sweetnam for coredctions to the dates for John Robinson, father and son.

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
67, the Old Synagogue, Kraków

The Old Synagogue in Kraków was built in 1407 and is the oldest Jewish house of prayer in Poland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

This week, I am offering photographs of synagogues that have welcomed me over the years and offered a place of prayer and reflection. My photographs this morning (23 April 2021) are from the Old Synagogue in Kraków.

The seven main synagogues in he heart of the old Jewish District of Kazimierz in Kraków form one of the largest complexes of this kind in Europe, second only to Prague. This unique district has been on the list of Unesco world heritage sites since 1978.

From the early 12th century, Kraków was an influential centre of Jewish spiritual life, including Orthodox, Chasidic and Reform communities that all flourished side-by-side. Before the Nazi German invasion of Poland, Kraków had a Jewish community of 60,000-80,000 people in a city with a population of 237,000, and there were at least 90 Jewish prayer houses.

The Old Synagogue (Synagoga Stara), at the south end of Szeroka Street, was built in 1407, making it the oldest Jewish house of prayer in Poland. The present appearance of the building date from remodelling between 1557 and 1570. The parapet and Gothic interior, with ribbed vaulting supported by slender columns, date from this period.

In accordance with Jewish traditional practices, the interior of the hall is almost bare. The east wall retains its ornamental Aron haKodesh or sanctuary for the Torah scrolls. The only item of furniture is the bimah or reading desk used for reading the Torah, with its surrounding decorative ironwork.

Today, the Old Synagogue houses the Galicia Jewish Museum. The museum exhibits include synagogue furnishings and objects, items used in Jewish rituals and festivals, display boards on the history of the Kazimierz District, and the story of the Holocaust. The numerous items related to religious ceremonies include candle holders, both Chanukah and menorot lamps, covers for the Torah, parochot Holy Ark covers, tallit prayer shawls, and kippahs or yarmulkes. The collection of books and prints includes 2,500 volumes of Hebrew manuscripts. The paintings on exhibit include oil paintings by Maurycy Gottlieb, Józef Mehoffer, Tadeusz Popiel, Jerzy Potrzebowski and Jonasz Stern.

Most of the synagogues in Kraków were ruined during World War II. The Nazis robbed them of all their ceremonial objects and decorations and used the buildings to store ammunition and military equipment.

By the end of the 1940s, the post-Holocaust Jewish population of Kraków had dwindled to about 5,900. A generation later, this number had fallen even more dramatically to about 600. In recent years, many of the synagogues and prayer-houses have been restored, and these seven synagogues are all within walking distance.

A monument on the plaza in front of the Old Synagogue commemorates a group of local people who were murdered for their resistance to the Nazis.

The Old Synagogue now houses the Galicia Jewish Museum (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 6: 60-69 (NRSVA):

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ 68 Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

A monument on the plaza in front of the Old Synagogue commemorates local resistance to the Nazis (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (24 April 2021) invites us to pray:

We pray for cooperation and friendship across borders. Let us resist nationalism and work together for the common good.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Shattered gravestones make a Holocaust memorial in a Jewish cemetery in Kraków (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org