Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

English architect, for whom see Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 (RIBA 2001), 550-551. Donaldson, who as honorary secretary of the RIBA had been consulted by the founders of the RIAI in 1839, was elected an honorary member of the newly-established Irish institute in that year.(1) In 1842 he presented the institute with a copy of a lecture on architecture which he had given at the University of London.(2) After having been appointed in 1855 one of two commissioners to enquire into alleged waste of funds and poor workmanship connected with the erection of certain Irish lunatic asylums,(3) he made a three-week official tour of Ireland in 1857.(4) His impressions of the country, chiefly of its antiquities, formed the subject of a lecture to the RIBA on 26 April 1858, which was published in The Builder.(5) He later returned to Ireland on holiday, a visit which prompted him to write to the The Builder on the subject of the 'foul neglect' of Ross Abbey, where 'the very floor was strewed with the scattered remains of the dead', and the dilapidated condition of Athenry Friary, 'strewed with confused blocks of the ruined walls' and 'used for the vilest and foulest purposes of human nature'; by contrast the ruins of Muckross were 'most judiciously kept, avoiding the trim drawing-room appearance of our Tintern', though 'even here fragments of human skeletons lay about to be trodden under foot'.(6)


(1) 3 letters from Donaldson, May-Dec 1839, in RIBA archives; Frederick O'Dwyer, 'The foundation and early years of the RIAI' in John Graby ed, 150 years of architecture in Ireland (1989), 10.
(2) RIAI council meeting minutes, 5 Dec 1842.
(3) B 13, 25 Aug 1855, 402.
(4) B 16, 1 May 1858, 287-289.
(5) The MS. of this lecture is in the British Architectural Library manuscripts collection, RIBA/MS.SP/13/22.
(6) B 21, 3 Oct 1863, 698.

Author Title Date Details
Donaldson, Thomas Leverton 'Wayside memoranda of an architect, during a tour in Ireland; more especially with raeference to some of its ancient remains' 1858 B 16, 1 May 1858, 287-289. (Paper read to RIBA, 26 Apr 1858.)