Georgian architecture for Schools, Leaving Cert Art-History: cracking the Georgian architecture question, our workshop tour for schools

Ireland is full of superb art and art history secondary school teachers.  Yet the syllabus covers a lot of ground and some students, unsurprisingly, can struggle with the Georgian Architecture question, a question that comes up on both the Higher and Ordinary level Leaving Cert Papers, year after year.

We believe the answer is to go “back to basics” and to explain to the students in clear, simple language, exactly what lies behind and beneath the surface of Georgian architecture.   What are the differences between the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Orders, the obvious differences and the less obvious ones!  What exactly does the word “proportions” mean and what are the proportions of Georgian architecture?  Where do they come from?   Why exactly did they become so fashionable, and what, if anything, do they “mean”

What did the likes of Edward Lovett Pearce, Richard Cassels, James Gandon, Francis Johnson,  all leading exponents of architecture in this famous Georgian period do, that made them so famous and so sought after?

All this discussion is held in and around the interiors and exteriors of half an dozen outstanding examples of Georgian architecture, in Dublin city centre.   By concentrating on relatively small group of key buildings, terms, ideas and architects from the Georgian era, (approximately 1720 to 1830) it helps understanding and bring the era, concepts and creative personnel to life.

The resulting insights, are designed to give teachers, and students, an edge in forthcoming Leaving Cert exams.

The “walk and talk” takes place in and around the College Green and Trinity College area.  Architects and designers include Thomas Burgh, Edward Lovett Pearce, James Gandon, Richard Casssels and Hugh Darley, among others.   

The tour is designed to help students understand both the origins and the underlying principals of the Georgian style, as well as notes on materials, and a “glossary” or in other words, a working knowledge of key terms and ideas. 

The interpretation and discussion of buildings is led by Arran Henderson, an art historian and writer who conducts tours for the Irish Georgian Society and other cultural organizations.   Arran has led over a dozen of these special tours for Leaving Cert students, and nearly 150 tours in Dublin in general, which often focus on architecture of the Georgian period.

Worksheet:    To assist teachers and classroom/exam performance, the tour also concludes with two useful study sheets.   One is handout for students, a summary of notes on key Georgian Dublin buildings, both featured on the tour and other important examples of the style.

The other sheet is a “refresher” test.  This is given to teachers/ group leaders at the end of the tour, usually sent by email,  for follow-up and revision work later, back in the classroom.

We even have additional support material available, free of charge, available on request.  These includes sample answer pages and analysis of past questions, from both the Ordinary and higher Leaving Cert questions of the last 10 years.

Fees and notes:    Generally, schools offer this tour to students as an extra-mural activity.  Fees are thus usually paid by parents but delivered by the teacher accompanying the class-excursion.    For larger educational groups, of 18 pupils upwards, fee €10 per/student.  (Just €6 for DEIS schools)

For smaller educational groups (17 pupils and less) a flat fee of €150 applies.     (Just €100 for DEIS schools).   Please note that all fees are collected prior to tour,  nearly always by the teacher/ orgainser. Schools or groups or teachers who wish or prefer to collect the money from their students and then pay in advance, via electronic payment, are also welcome to do so.

How to inquire and book.

To inquire or to reserve a tour, please choose a weekday date,  then email    If you include the words Georgian school Tour + the preferred date in the subject header, that is greatly appreciated, and assists a timely response.   eg:  Subject header:   “Georgian school Tour, Monday  06/11/19.  ?  “

Final note: Variations, two-stage and bespoke tours.

Some teachers, including Leaving Cert History teachers, may wish to do the alternative route Georgian West tour, around Dublin Castle and adjoining area, This is focusing more on (1) the transition from Medieval to Enlightenment/early Georgian street plan and design, and (2) on the crucial role of the Wide Streets Commission, 1753 onwards.

We are naturally anxious to help in any way and will discuss and accommodate any specific requirements or emphasis you may have.

Leaving Cert History/ Honours History teachers, as well as Third level; A or S-Level teachers/tutors and lecturers should please contact Arran at the same email as above to discuss specific requirements.

The same applies to any teacher handling Language Colleges, special language needs or disability.

If you know of a teacher in a school who may benefit from the information all the social media sharing buttons are below.

Other Dublin Decoded events for visitors to the city and for recreational or historical interest groups, should see our main home with art history and architectural walks page here.

The Guide:

Arran has written and researched extensively on aspects of visual culture, art history, architectural and design history for publications like the Irish Arts Review.  25+ teaching experience, with many ages and abilities however allows him to make material accessible and engaging for students and young people.

As guide he has led walks for the Irish Georgian Society, the leading agency for advocacy, education on and protection of Ireland’s 18th century architectural heritage. He has also conducted tours for Open House; the showpiece event of the Irish Architectural Foundation; and Culture Night and other leading cultural and state institutions, including Failte Ireland.

Arran’s firm Dublin Decoded is rated by visitors among the best in the capital, around #6 according to the tourism site TripAdvisor, (from 300+ cultural activities listed in Dublin).  

The tour is also relevant for Leaving Cert History groups

The tour is also relevant for Leaving Cert History groups, giving insights into 18th and early 19th century Irish politics and society.   Note that the excursion is aimed in the first instance for Leaving Cert Art History school groups.   So teachers bringing History, rather than Art history, groups should specify this fact please,  in the first contact email as we may then adjust content and often even our route, accordingly.

Bray Gael Scoil on a Georgian tour, in the House of Lords











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