I wrote a little bit about this new book in December, but it deserves a lot more ink as it has been a near-constant companion since I received it.
“Irish Country Furniture and Furnishings 1700-2000” (Cork University Press) by Claudia Kinmonth is a complete update to her 1993 book with a similar title. That 1993 book became difficult to find at a sensible price, and so this new version is most welcome.
If you have any interest in traditional crafts, furniture or utensils, you will love this book. It is filled with hundreds of full-color photos of beds, spoons, stools, chairs, settles and dressers. But it is not merely a picture book. Kinmonth’s sharp text puts the pieces in context using historical records, poems, historical illustrations, paintings and vintage photos of Irish interiors.
So much of this wonderful historical stuff has disappeared in Ireland. Old pieces were discarded for modern steel and linoleum. Many of the traditional cottages have disappeared. And the people who made them left Ireland in waves (many of them settling here in the United States). This Irish history is an important part of America’s history, as so many of us have Irish blood.
Last year, Lucy and I toured Ireland for a week and spent most of our time exploring museums and places that specialized in the decorative arts. So there are some familiar pieces in this book. But Kinmonth has uncovered many new finds. Things you’ll never see on the Internet.
That trip filled my sketchbook with drawings of vernacular pieces, everything from settles that convert to a bed to Sugan chairs to mealbins. This book supplied even more gorgeous examples for inspiration.
Also important to note: as a physical object the book is nice. The interior is printed on a quality, bright, coated paper. The signatures are sewn for durability. And the cloth-covered boards are wrapped with a dust jacket. It is absolutely worth the retail price.
— Christopher Schwarz
17 thoughts on “Recommended: ‘Irish Country Furniture and Furnishings’”
It’s a great book, and a very substantial update over the first edition. Thanks for the heads-up.
If like me you found this “sold-out” or at an overpriced mark-up in December.
You can order direct from the publisher for a little over $50 including shipping to the US..
Go to : email@example.com
Delivery is reasonably fast and as Chris say’s it a great book.
Great option. Thanks for posting the link!
That’s an email address for the publisher. Here’s a link directly to the book on their site:
Thanks for posting this!
I’m looking forward to receiving that book! I ordered it in December and received an email on January 28 saying that the shipment was delayed. It must be popular or the challenges of C-19 are causing the delays. Either way it does not matter to me, I will be happy when it gets here whenever it gets here.
My publisher tells me the reprint of my book is still on a ship heading for the USA, it’s due to arrive on March 14th, then apparently it takes about a week to reach the bookshops. This is up to date today, on March 9th 2021. It sold out of its first edition print run of 3000 copies, in just 3 weeks, prior to Christmas (which amazed me), so the stock of the reprint is what is now on the high seas heading your way (which strikes me as wonderfully old fashioned, and well suited to the historic subject matter)! I hope this helps, thanks for your patience. Claudia
I hope that at least a few copies of the reprint remained in Ireland, as I ordered one directly from Cork University Press (to go to Belgium, which is why I ordered from them) just the other day … 🙂
Look forward very much to reading it, too!
Nearly 30 years ago I drove a complete circuit of the Republic and Northern Ireland (after attending 10-day U.S./Ireland government-sponsored study seminar on the history of the violence there) staying in countryside B&Bs. I saw very little old furniture in these places but I did meet nice older couples in the north whose children had moved permanently to Europe, Australia and the U.S. for better jobs and a more stable place to raise their families. A sad situation then, but society and the economy has improved greatly since I was there. I am ready to do it again if we ever get past this Covid-19 and I don’t get too old to put up with the airline cattle-car way of doing business.
I purchased this book on your previous recommendation, so happy I did, I have been engrossed in all the historical info regarding the people as well as the homes and furniture.
It’s a heavy book at 500 plus pages yet I find it hard to put down. Thanks
You can also order through Barnes and Nobles for 45 dollars and free shipping
Those enclosed bedsteads must have been pretty common in northern Europe. I saw alcove beds with sliding doors in an open air musuem in northern Germany – looked almost like built-in furniture. It was probably a way to stay warm in cold winter months.
Covered beds are a carryover from the old thatched roofs and meant to prevent creepy crawlies falling on you in the middle of the night. Though I’m sure there were other benefits like you mention keeping warm at night.
Nice short film of Irish Folk Furniture :
And here is a direct link to Claudia Kinmonth’s charming 41 minute Utoob video about the book.
Incidentally, at 33:26 in the above-mentioned video, Ms. Kinmonth shows and explains a furniture piece she calls a “meal chest”. It’s use was for storing bread-making ingredients. But much to my surprise, it has the familiar slant-top box-form Meagan Fitzpatrick is writing for us about–the Dutch Tool Chest. There’s a whole new DTC provenance possibility!
Brilliant, thankyou for your positive comments on my work, I really appreciate it! Claudia Kinmonth
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