Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect and antiquarian, of Dublin. Harold Leask, the son of ROBERT H. LEASK ROBERT H. LEASK , civil engineer and architect, was born in Harold's Cross, Dublin, on 7 November 1882. He was apprenticed to his father in 1898 and then worked with a firm of Dublin ironfounders(1) and in a Waterford drawing office, before spending two years in the office of GEORGE PATRICK SHERIDAN GEORGE PATRICK SHERIDAN . He then re-entered his father's office but left in 1908 or 1909 to take up employment in the Office of Public Works as a temporary Assistant Surveyor. In September 1909, after being placed first in the examination held to fill a vacancy on the permanent staff, he was appointed Assistant Surveyor (Grade II). In 1910 he was transferred for some months to the Board's district office in Dundalk. By 1915 he had become principal draughtsman at the Board's head office on St Stephen's Green.(2 ) In June 1920 he was promoted to the rank of Assistant Architect. He succeeded ANDREW ROBINSON  ANDREW ROBINSON as Inspector of Ancient Monuments in October 1923 but continued to carry out some architectural work for the Board until 1930, when the post of Inspector became full-time.(3)

The study of historical architecture and archaeology was Leask's lasting passion. As well as writing guides and reports for the Office of Public Works, he contributed many articles to the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and other learned journals.(4) His books, Irish Castles and Castellated Houses and Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings remain the standard works on the subject. Many of his publications are illustrated with his own meticulous drawings, which are also to be found in Volumes I, II, IV and V of the Georgian Society Records, the Irish Builder,(5) the Architects' Journal,(6) the AAI Green Book and elsewhere. He also gave numerous lectures on archaeological and architectural topics and guided many excursions to look at Irish antiquities. He received an honorary M.Arch. from University College, Dublin, in 1942(7) and an honorary D.Litt. from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1951.(8)

Leask retired from the Office of Public Works in September 1949. As a member of the National Monuments Advisory Council and the Ancient Monuments Advisory Council of Northern Ireland, he continued to contribute to the preservation of the national heritage after his retirement. In 1951 he published a third edition of Irish Castles and Castellated Houses, which had first appeared in 1941, and then embarked on his second major work, Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings, published in three volumes between 1955 and 1960. In spite of failing health and eyesight, he pursued his archaeological interests until the end of his life. He died at home on 25 September 1964, survived by his widow, Ada K. Longfield (1899-1987), an authority on Irish decorative arts, whom he had married in 1940.(9) Husband and wife are buried in the same grave in Mount Jerome Cemetery.

Leask is described as very tall and thin, with 'a sort of crispness' of manner,(10) generous with his time and knowledge and scrupulously honest. His obituarist in the RIAI Yearbook observed that 'pretention, inaccuracy and unconscientiousness were so foreign to his nature that they shocked him and aroused his anger and scorn; but otherwise he was kind and tolerant'.(11) His recreations included photography, golf and rifle shooting. Between 1924 and 1935 he exhibited views at the Water Colour Sotiey of Ireland's annual exhibitions.

Drawings and manuscripts by Leask are to be be found in the National Library of Ireland, the library of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Office of Public Works archive in the National Archives. Some are also held by the Dublin architect Austin Dunphy, with whom Leask was collaborating on a proposed book on Irish seventeenth-century houses before his death.(12) An album of photographs of antiquities and other views taken by Leask in the 1930s is in the Irish Architectural Archive (Acc 81/79) as are also the blocks for Irish Churches and Monastic Buildings (Acc. 84/40) and a photocopy of the bookplate which he designed for himself.

AAI:(13) elected member, 1899; First Prize, Class of Design, 1904;(14) Institute Prize, 1905;(15) hon. secretary 1905,1906,1909; Lynch Prize, 1906;(16) committee member, 1906-8,1912-15,1917-19,1926-31; Vice-President's Prize, 1908;(17) vice-president, 1911; founded Ramblers' Club with L.F. GIRON;(18) president, 1915,1916,1917; hon. librarian, 1922-25. Lectures: 'Some Excursions', 2 November 1916, 'Bective Abbey and the mansion of Old Bawn, Co. Dublin', 11 April 1918,(18) 'Monastic Plans', 9 January 1919, 'An English Holiday', 10 January 1922,(19) 'Architects in Arden', 11 December 1923, 'Shropshire', 14 April 1925,(20) 'Some ancient Irish buildings and their preservation', 17 February 1931,(21) 'Some Irish National Monuments', 20 March 1934, 'Dublin Doorways of the 18th Centrury', 27 October1952.(22)
RHA: hon. member, 1944.
RIA: elected member, 1930.
RIAI: member, 1920;(23) hon. fellow, 1952.(24)
RSAI:(25) member 1910; hon. general secretary, 1916; fellow, 1920; president, 1941-1944; hon. fellow, 1950.(26)
Kildare Archaeological Society: president, 1942-57.(27)

Addresses: Work):(28) 37 College Green, 1903-1904; 25 Suffolk Street, 1905; 37 College Green, 1906-1908; Board of Works, Dublin, 1909; Board of Works, Dundalk, 1910; Board of Works, Dublin, 1912-1949.
Home: (29) 11 Ashfield Terrace, Harold's Cross Road, 1883; 10 Ashfield Terrace, Harold's Cross Road, <=1896 until death (house renumbered as 418 Harold's Cross Rd in early 1930s).

See WORKS(30) and BIBLIOGRAPHY  BIBLIOGRAPHY (excludes publications listed in bibliography of Leask's writings in JRSAI 96 JRSAI 96 )



References

All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the accounts of Leask's life in AAI Green Book (1916), 9-11, and Oibre 7 (May 1969), 11-12 and from the obituary in RIAI Year Book 1966, 53-54 . Other obituaries are in IB 106, 10 Oct 1964, 777, Irish Times, 26 Sep1964, and JRSAI 96 (1966), ?. Photographs of Leask include those in in AAI Green Book (1916), frontispiece, (reproduced in IB 57, 20 Nov 1915, 498), JRSAI 72 (1942), 1 (reproduced in Oibre 7, 11) and Irish Times, 26 Sep 1964, accompanying obituary.

(1) Building News 109, 17 Nov 1915, 577, in summarizing the article on Leask in AAI Green Book (1916), gives the name of the ironfounders as Kearl's; however, no business of this name appears in The Post Office Dublin Directory for 1900.
(2) The account of Leask's career until 1915 follows the account in AAI Green Book (1916), which differs in many respects from that in Oibre.
(3) F. O'Dwyer, 'The architecture of the Board of Public Works 1831-1923' in Public Works: The Architecture of the Office of Public Works 1831-1987 (1987), 31.
(4) For a list of his published writings, see JRSAI 96 (1966), ?.
(5) IB 50, 22 Feb,7 Mar,2 May 1908, 106,134,273; 51, 20 Mar,24 Jul 1909, 172,458; 94, 10 May 1952, 483.
(6) AJ 74, 16 Dec 1931, 810; 75, 3 Feb 1932, 192.
(7) IB , 1 Aug 1942, 274; a group photograph following the conferring is in Irish Independent, 17 Jul 1942.
(8) IB 93, 21 Jul 1951, 746.
(9) Appreciation of Ada K. Leask, Irish Times, 12 Nov 1987.
(10) RIAI Year Book (1966), 54.
(11) See note 9, above.
(12) Obituary in Irish Times, ? ? 1964.
(13) Information from AAI Green Books unless otherwise stated.
(14) IB 46, 18 Jun 1904, 392.
(15) IB 47, 3 Jun 1905, 385.
(16) IB 48, 16 Jun 1906, 477.
(17) IB 50, 13 Jun 1908, 381.
(18) Information from Jones, who was a member of the club; Jones notes that all the drawings made by members of the Ramblers' Club, which was formed to give members of the AAI an opportunity to sketch and measure some of the old buildings in and around Dublin, are in the National Library of Ireland.
(18) IB 60, 30 Mar 1918, 161.
(19) IB 64, 28 Jan 1922, 38.
(20) IB 67, 18 Apr 1925, 285.
(21) IB 73, 28 Feb 1931, ?.
(22) IB 94, 10 May 1952, 482.
(23) RIAI lists of members.
(24) IB 94, 2 Feb 1952, 122; RIAI Year Book (1953), 3.
(25) information from IB 83, 1 Mar 1941, 105, unless otherwise accounted for.
(26) IB 92, 29 Apr 1950, 434.
(27) Jones.
(28) From membership lists in AAI Green Books.
(29) From Thom's directories and notice of death in Irish Times.
(30) It is often not clear whether Leask's drawings for the Office of Public Works represent his own design or that of another, more senior architect.


24 work entries listed in chronological order for LEASK, HAROLD GRAHAM


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUNDRUM, DUNDRUM ROAD, CRIMINAL LUNATIC ASYLUM
Date: 1908
Nature: Drawn by HGL (who must therefore have started work in OPW in 1908 and not in 1909 as stated in |Oibre| 7 (1969), 11)
Refs: Drawing(s) in Office of Public Works archive, National Archives

Building: CO. OFFALY, TULLAMORE, POST OFFICE
Date: 1909
Nature: Drawings signed by HGL and G.W. Crowe for 3-storey, 4-bay block with neo-Georgian door.
Refs: Drawings in Office of Public Works archive, National Archives

Building: CO. KILDARE, ATHY, HOUSING SCHEME (PROPOSED)
Date: 1909
Nature: HGL entrant in competition for houses on Woodstock St and Matthew's La. (For description of competition see B 96, 29 May 1909, 657)
Refs: Undated drawings, signed and addressed 37 College Gn, Dublin, and specifications in collection of Lt. Col. Con Costello, Tullig, Dublin Rd, Naas, Co. Kildare (photocopies in IAA RP.D.216); IB 51, 10 Jul 1909, 437

Building: CO. WEXFORD, WEXFORD, CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY?, CUSTOM HOUSE
Date: 1910
Nature: Survey by HGL.
Refs: Survey plan, dated 11 Nov 1910, in NA OPW5HC/4/765

Building: CO. ROSCOMMON, CASTLEREA, POST OFFICE
Date: 1911
Nature: Single-storey, neo Georgian, drawn by HGL.
Refs: Designs, signed by HGL and dated 1911, in Office of Public Works archive, National Archives

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CASTLE STREET, DUBLIN CASTLE
Date: 1911
Nature: George's Hall, new supper room for visit of King George V and Queen Mary. With M.J. Burke. Brick-clad concrete and steel.
Refs: Designs in NA, OPW5HC/1/62;  ;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 356.

Building: CO. DONEGAL, BUNBEG, COASTGUARD STATION
Date: 1911
Nature: Wireless telegraph station (bungalow) and 2-storey torpedo instructor's house.
Refs: Drawings, 1911, in NA/OPW drawings collection (old ref. O.7.7)

Building: CO. ROSCOMMON, ROSCOMMON, POST OFFICE
Date: 1911-12
Nature: Contract given to A. Hull & Co., Ringsend, Oct 1910 but drawings by HGL of 2-story, 3 bay brick post office with hipped gables dated 1911.
Refs: Drawing(s) dated 1911 by HGL in NA, OPW Drawings Collection OPW5HC/4/; IB 52, 15 Oct 1910, 644

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CHANCERY STREET, LAND REGISTRY
Date: 1911-13
Nature: Land registry, drawn by HGL, possibly to design by J.H. Pentland. 'GWC' also involved.
Refs: Drawing(s) in NA, OPW5HC/1/109-112

Building: CO. LOUTH, DROGHEDA (NEAR), COASTGUARD STATION
Date: 1912
Nature: New terrace of flat-roofed cottages 'at mouth of Boyne' drawn by HGL.
Refs: Drawing(s) in NA, OPW5HC/4/535

Building: CO. GALWAY, TUAM, POST OFFICE
Date: 1912
Nature: Neo-Georgian. Drawn by HGL. Tenders invited 1912.
Refs: Design signed by HGL and dated 1912 in NA, OPW drawingscollection, old ref. E.8.3; B 103, 20 Sep 1912, 341

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PEARSE STREET, NO. 001-8 (POLICE HEADQUARTERS)
Date: 1912-1915
Nature: 'the building of which perhaps he was most proud' (Oibre). With A. Robinson and M.J. Burke.
Refs: Drawings formerly in OPW, Stephen's Green, now(?) in National Archives, Office of Public Works collection (not in online catalogue); Oibre 7 (May 1969), 11;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 453-4.



Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PHOENIX PARK, SPA LODGE
Date: 1913
Nature: Addition of wings, drawn by HGL.
Refs: Design, signed by HGL and dated 1913, in Office of Public Works archive, National Archives

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, LORD EDWARD STREET, NO. 014 (LABOUR EXCHANGE)
Date: 1914
Nature: With M.J. Burke for OPW.
Refs: National Archives, OPW drawings collection, OPW/5HC/4/969;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 373.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, LORD EDWARD STREET, NO. 014 (LABOUR EXCHANGE)
Date: 1914
Nature: With M.J. Burke for OPW.
Refs: National Archives, OPW drawings collection, OPW/5HC/4/969;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 373.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HAROLD'S CROSS ROAD, MOUNT JEROME CEMETERY, PETRIE MEMORIAL
Date: 1914
Nature: Celtic (based on Clonmacnoise slab); designed under direction of Robert Cochrane; drawings prepared by HGL
Refs: IB 56, 14 Mar,25 Apr 1914, 149,246(illus.); RIBAJ 23 (1915-16), 1 Apr 1916, 190

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, SHELBOURNE ROAD (BALLSBRIDGE), POST OFFICE
Date: 1915
Nature: Addition of storey to building of 1889 drawn by HGL.
Refs: Design, signed by HGL and dated 1915, in NA, OPW5HC/4/617

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, INNS QUAY, FOUR COURTS
Date: 1925-1932
Nature: HGL involved in restoration.
Refs: Oibre 7 (May 1969), 11

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, O'CONNELL STREET LOWER, GENERAL POST OFFICE
Date: 1925-1932
Nature: In destroyed area, 1916. Reconstruction 'very largely Leask's work'(Oibre) but according to Casey design team was 'headed by T.J. Byrne' and 'comprised H.G. Leask, W.H. Cooke, D.M. Turner and J. Fairweather, who reportedly had the greatest input'.
Refs: Oibre 7 (May 1969), 11;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 147-149.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY, CUSTOM HOUSE
Date: 1925-29
Nature: HGL influenced reconstruction.
Refs: Oibre 7 (May 1969), 11

Building: CO. CARLOW, KILLOUGHTERNANE, CHURCH
Date: 1941
Nature: Ancient church restored under direction of HGL.
Refs: JRSAI 72 (1942), 98-100

Building: UNITED STATES, PITTSBURGH (OHIO), UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, CATHEDRAL OF LEARNING
Date: 1947
Nature: HGL designs Irish Room, using Cormac's Chapel as his model.
Refs: Drawings in TCD Library; Oibre 7 (May 1969), 11

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, O'CONNELL STREET UPPER, NO. 011-13 (HAMMAM BUILDING)
Date: ?
Nature: HGL involved in design.
Refs: Oibre 7 (May 1969), 11;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 214.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PHOENIX PARK, VICE-REGAL LODGE
Date: ?
Nature: Work on West Wing? drawn by HGL.
Refs: Drawing(s) in Office of Public Works archive, National Archives

Author Title Date Details
Leask, Harold Graham 'The education of the ideal architect' 1907 IB 49, 30 Nov 1907, 814. (Paper read to AAI.)
Leask, Harold Graham 'Some early eighteenth-century work in Dublin' 1909 IB 51, 20 Mar 1909, 168.
Leask, Harold Graham Inaugural address as president of AAI] 1915 AAI Green Book (1917), 13-27; IB 57, 20 Nov 1915, 498-501 (under title 'The War and Architecture')
Leask, Harold Graham 'St Lawrence's Altar Tomb, St Mary's Church, Howth, Co. Dublin' 1916 AAI Green Book (1917), 28-30
Leask, Harold Graham 'Fireplaces and casement windows' 1922 AJ 55, 29 Mar 1922, 472.
Leask, Harold Graham 'A national style: a plea' 1930 AAI Green Book (1931), 37-40.
Leask, Harold Graham 'Glendalough' 1931 IB 73, 6 Jun 1931, 504.
Leask, Harold Graham 'The Casino, Marino' 1934 JRIAI (1934), 18. (Reprinted(?) in IB 76, 15 May 1934, 386d.)
Leask, Harold Graham 'Early Irish Architecture' 1937 IB 79, 3 Apr 1937, 301..
Leask, Harold Graham 'Ancient objects in Irish bogs' 1941 [IB 83, 7,21Jun,5,19 Jul,2 Aug 1941, 281,312,334,346,372.
Leask, Harold Graham [Inagural address as president of RSAI] 1942 JRSAI 72 (1942), 1.
Leask, Harold Graham 'Slade Castle, Co. Wexford' 1951? JRSAI 81 (1951), 198.
Leask, Harold Graham [Review of Victorian Architect by J.D. Forbes] 1954 JRSAI 84 (1954), 189.
Leask, Harold Graham Obituary and list of published works 1966 JRSAI 96, Part 1, ?. (Offprint in IAA, RP.B.1.8.) NB. THIS BIBLIOGRAPHY ONLY INCLUDES THOSE OF LEASK'S PUBLISHED WRITINGS WHICH DO NOT APPEAR IN JRSAI LIST.
Leask, Harold Graham 'Rahan, Offaly. The larger church' ? Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society 12 (?), 111.
Leask, Harold Graham 'Mediaeval flooring from Greatconnell Abbey, Co. Kildare' ? Journal of the County Kildare Archaeological Society 12 (?), 273.