President Higgins unveils a plaque at the National Botanic Gardens to ground-breaking designer Richard Turner

8 March 18

On March the 8th, President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, and his wife Sabina will visit the National Botanic Gardens to unveil a plaque to Richard Turner in Curvilinear House, on behalf of the National Committee for Science & Engineering Commemorative Plaques.

Richard Turner was an innovative designer in the C19th and the high quality and decorative details of his glasshouses were famous throughout Europe.  Blue plaques are normally sited on buildings in which the subject once lived.  In many instances the building has been replaced or even lost entirely and the placement of a plaque is made difficult.

The Curvilinear Range at the National Botanic Gardens were faithfully restored by the Office of Public Works in 1994.  The restoration was innovative and scientifically ground breaking, and many techniques were specifically developed during the project.  At the time the President was the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and his department oversaw the funding of the restoration and he marked the occasion of its public opening by planting an Arbutus tree nearby.  It is an iconic building and standing in such a popular well visited site making it an admirable memorial to the work of the iconic ironsmith Richard Turner.  Brian Smyth, current chairman of the Plaques Committee, thanked the President for his participation in the unveiling of this plaque on behalf of the committee.


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Notes to Editors:

Richard Turner (1798 – 1881, Dublin)

Richard Turner was born in 1798 into a family with long associations with the iron trade.  He was an innovative designer, and the high quality and decorative details of his glasshouses were famous throughout Europe.  His ironworks, the Hammersmith Works, were at Ballsbridge in Dublin.  Besides the Curvilinear Range at the National Botanic Gardens, his works include the Palm House at Belfast Botanic Gardens; and the Great Palm House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  His design for the Crystal Palace at the Great London Exhibition of 1851 was only rejected in favour of that of Paxton on the grounds of cost and speed of erection.

His intuitive grasp of engineering design, and his pioneering skill at producing curved glazing bars of wrought iron to a standard plan, gave his buildings a lightness and elegance of design unmatched at the time.

President Higgins will unveil the plaque this morning at 11.30am, Thursday, 8th March.  The plaque will be located inside the Curvilinear House.  Media are welcome to attend.