Edwin Wyndham Quin

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Quin, Edwin Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Dunraven, a prominent archaeologist, was born 19th May 1812. According to Sir Bernard Burke, the family is one of the few of Celtic origin in the Irish peerage. At Eton he showed a strong taste for astronomy; and he afterwards spent three years at the Dublin Observatory under Sir William Hamilton. Natural science occupied much of his attention; and being a man of quick perceptions and untiring industry, he succeeded in acquiring much more than a superficial knowledge of many questions. He was also deeply interested in the study of Irish antiquities, and was a prominent member of the Royal Irish Academy, the Celtic Society, and several archaeological associations.

His chosen friends were men such as Graves, Stokes, Petrie, Reeves, and Todd. He succeeded to the peerage on his father's death in 1850, and was created a peer of the United Kingdom in 1866. He accompanied the Comte de Montalembert to Scotland, when engaged upon his Monks of the West, one volume of which is dedicated to "Praenobili viro Edvino Wyndham Quin, Comiti de Dunraven." He carried his antiquarian investigations to France and Italy, and as he advanced in life became more and more engrossed with the study of archaeology in general, and of Irish archaeology in particular, and to this pursuit eventually devoted all his leisure. Attended by a photographer, and often accompanied by his friends Dr. Stokes, of Dublin, and his daughter Margaret, he visited nearly every barony in Ireland, and nearly every island on its coast. Scarcely any architectural remains of value escaped his notice. He made his investigations with a view to the publication of an exhaustive work on the architectural remains of Ireland, profusely illustrated with photographs, his main object being to vindicate the artistic and intellectual capabilities of the ancient and mediaeval Irish.

His death at Great Malvern, 6th October 1871, at the age of 59, was no doubt greatly accelerated by exposure and over-exertion during his investigations. The result of his labours has been given to the world, at the expense of his family — Notes on Irish Architecture, by Edwin, 3rd Earl of Dunraven: edited by Margaret Stokes, London 1875 and 1877 — two superb volumes, with 125 illustrations, most of them large photographs. The Athenaeum well says that "the permanent photographs and the woodcuts which enrich the work are uniformly admirable, and leave nothing to be desired as to number or merit. The learned world is greatly indebted to both the Earls of Dunraven and to Miss Stokes for producing and publishing so noble a record of antiquity." Opening with views of Dun Aengus, and other rude stone erections, we are given exquisite representations of the principal early churches in Ireland, and are then led, by the round towers, to the more ornate churches of the ioth century.

The whole field of Irish architectural archaeology is covered. The introduction is by Miss Stokes; the historical notes mainly by Dr. Reeves, Ferguson, Hennessy, and Graves have also given assistance; and there are many extracts from Petrie's notes and published writings. Not the least important features — indeed the most interesting to many archaeologists — are the views of Continental buildings of types similar to the round towers, the tabular list of the Irish round towers, with the names of the supposed builders and the probable dates of erection, and the map of the tracks of Norse invasions. What may be called the spirit of ancient Irish architecture is brought out in this book in a style never previously attempted in pictorial representations.


54. Burke, Sir Bernard: Peerage and Baronetage.

184a. Irish Architecture, Notes on: Earl of Dunraven; Edited by Margaret Stokes. 2 vols. London, 1875-'7.

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