Historic lighting brought back to life

The Argory lighting appeal

See the conservation team in action every Wednesday throughout July and August. Learn how to clean and care for our collection during a guided tour.

The Argory was built in 1824 and up until the early 1900s the house was lit by firelight, oil lamps and candles. In 1906, Captain Shelton Bond made the decision to have the historic fittings converted to gas lighting which had become a new and widespread technology in cities and major towns in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Rare survivor

The Argory’s acetylene gas installation and light fittings are an exceptionally rare survivor of a form of domestic lighting that enjoyed a period of popularity from the last decade of the nineteenth century, until the late 1920s. What is particularly remarkable about the acetylene fittings is that many of the original glass shades are unbroken, which is a testimony to the care and diligence of the servants who tended the fittings.

The conservation team at The Argory will welcome Rupert Harris, Metalwork Advisor to the National Trust, who will carry out the process of delicately removing the gas wall brackets, harp pendant lamps, and ‘surprise’ pendants in the upstairs corridor and bedrooms.

Pendants and chandeliers

As well as some rare surviving examples of acetylene fittings, such as the gasolier in the dining room and the ‘surprise’ pendants in many of the upstairs rooms, The Argory also boasts some impressive Argand lamp chandeliers that were installed when the house was first built in 1824. These chandeliers were later adapted to acetylene gas lighting and will also be restored as part of the conservation project.

House and Collections Manager, Daniel Taylor commented 'The acetylene gas lighting is a rare survivor of the wonderful technologies that existed in an Irish country house at the turn of the century and we are exceptionally lucky to be the custodians of the collection. We want to ensure that it is conserved for another hundred years and beyond, that it becomes a focal point within the house and enhances our visitors experience.'

We aim to have the project completed by the end of 2017.