Monday 2 June 2014

Book launch: Dukes of Leinster, 1872-1948; 5 June
Newly published by Four Courts Press, The decline and fall of the dukes of Leinster, 1872–-1948: love, war, debt and madness, by Terence Dooley, will be launched on Thursday 5 June in The Carlton Suite, Carton House, Maynooth, Co Kildare. The event will be hosted by Conor Mallaghan.

The book tells the story of how, in a 70-year period, the dukes of Leinster fell from being Irelandʼs premier aristocratic family, close friends of the British monarchy, secure within the worldʼs most powerful empire, to relative obscurity in an independent Irish Free State (Irish Republic after 1949) that did not recognize titles.

And while in 1872, when this work opens, the 3rd duke of Leinster resided in some grandeur in the Palladian Carton House, the 7th duke would die impoverished in a one-room bedsit flat in St Georgeʼs Drive, Westminster, London, just over a century later in 1976.

The Leinster story moves from the small town of Maynooth, Co. Kildare, to London, to continental Europe, to an asylum in Edinburgh, to the US, before completing the circle and ending back in Maynooth in the 1940s.

The narrative of the family's decline and fall unfolds against such historical watersheds as the Land War of the 1880s; the simultaneous rise of the Home Rule movement; the breakup of Irish landed estates after 1903; the Great War of 1914-18; the revolutionary turmoil of 1916-23; and the 1920s global economic depression. The impact of such events has featured prominently in the historiography of the decline of the Irish landed class, both north and south. However, little attempt has been made to combine that history with private lives and experiences.

This book sets out to rectify this. In the process, it reveals the tragic personal story of Hermione, 5th duchess of Leinster, and her three sons, gathered from sources previously unused by historians of the Leinsters.

Terence Dooley is associate professor and director of the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates, NUIM. He is the author of several books on country houses and the land question in 19th- and 20th-century Ireland; his most recent is an edited volume with Christopher Ridgway, The Irish country house: its past, present and future (2011).

If you'd like to attend the launch, let the publishers know by email or phone: +353 (0)1 453 4668

The 304-page, colour illustrated book is available now from Four Courts Press. ISBN: 978-1-84682-533-0, Catalogue Price: €24.95; Web Price: €22.45.