Architect Maurice Craig dies aged 91
THE DEATH has taken place of Belfast-born architectural historian, writer and poet Maurice Craig at the age of 91.
Known as Ireland’s first conservation warrior, Craig had been at the forefront of the movement to save Ireland’s historic buildings from demolition since the 1940s.
His seminal work Dublin 1660-1860 The Shaping of A City, which charts the evolution of Dublin through the golden era of architecture, was first published in 1952 to academic acclaim. However, it was not until the book was re-issued in 1969 during the height of the campaign to save Georgian Dublin from demolition that Craig came to wider public notice.
He likened the overblown Celtic Tiger-era buildings to English Jacobean architecture, which he regarded as “hideous . . . simply because a lot of people who had very little architectural education became very rich very quickly with hideous results”.
His concerns about the deterioration and neglect of Georgian Dublin were clear in Dublin 1660-1860, in which he wrote: “To walk up Henrietta Street today is a striking and saddening experience. Though it contains only some 16 houses, they are of so palatial a cast that one easily understands how it remained the most fashionable single street in Dublin until the Union, long after many rival centres of social attraction had been created.”
In his later years he became more optimistic about the future preservation of Georgian Dublin. The historic buildings and streetscapes had “fared better than I feared”, he said.
“North Great George’s Street has survived through individual effort, and Mountjoy Square has been rebuilt in facsimile, although Henrietta Street is in a more parlous state. But I would be very worried about the Liffey quays,” he said, speaking in 2006.