I decided to visit some of the locations in the Summer of Heritage Programme. The next few posts will cover some of the places I visited. My first stop was the Stillorgan Obelisk.
The Stillorgan Obelisk was built in 1729, and is the first obelisk to be built in Ireland. It was built on the grounds of Stillorgan Park House by Lord Allen who commissioned the famous architect Edward Lovett Pearce to design it.
Edward Lovett Pearce was Lord Allen’s nephew and one of the leading architects of his time (his other works include the original Houses of Parliament on College Green and Castletown House) and took inspiration for it from Bernini’s Obelisk in Rome.
The obelisk stands at 100 feet tall and is made of granite and is believed to have been built as a monument to his wife, Lady Allen, or possibly, more likely, as a folly. It is unusual for many reasons, the most obvious of which is the rustic style base that does not match stylistically the obelisk itself. The space in the rustic base is surprisingly spacious.
You can see the obelisk on Killiney Hill from the top of the Stillorgan obelisk, oddly, you don’t seem to be able to see this obelisk from the one on Killiney Hill.
The Second Viscount of Stillorgan, Joshua Allen, had his favorite horse buried beneath the obelisk. Female human remains were found under the obelisk, it is not clear if she had an accident or suffered from foul play, but, her head had suffered a injury that was suggestive of some type of violence.
Even though this obelisk stands at 100 feet, a lot of local people know nothing about it. When this obelisk was built, it would have been a landmark that would have been seen for a long way in any direction. These days, it is incredibly well hidden behind trees and in a built up area. I have driven by the obelisk many times without ever having seen it. I first became aware of it about two years ago.
If you get a chance to go on the Summer of Heritage Tour next year, I would recommend it. Even if you don’t go to the obelisk, there are lots of interesting places to see.