The Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates (CSHIHE) sits within the Department of History at Maynooth Universtiy. It is a unique public-private venture, supported by the Office of Public Works as well as a number of private benefactors. It aims to secure and enhance public appreciation of historic properties by supporting education, research and scholarly publication.
In addition to promoting research into historic houses, their estates and families, third-level educational initiatives have included the development of undergraduate modules on the social, political, economic and cultural history of Irish country houses, their architectural evolution, their material culture and the creation (and destruction) of their surrounding landscapes. Teaching modules have also included visits to the UK which have enabled a comparative study of country houses in Ireland and Yorkshire in collaboration with the Yorkshire Country House Partnership.
Since 2003, one of the key activities of the Centre is the organisation of an Annual Historic Houses Conference to provide focus and recognition for new scholarship and other developments in the field of built heritage studies throughout Ireland and wider Europe.
The CSHIHE has also established close collaborative links at national and international level with various bodies concerned with cultural heritage and the built environment. These include the Yorkshire Country House Partnership (Professor Chris Ridgway, Chair, https://ychp.org.uk/); the Institute for the Study of Welsh Estates (Dr Shaun Evans, http://iswe.bangor.ac.uk/); Centre for the Study of Scotland’s Land Future (Dr. Annie Tindley, https://scotlandslandfutures.org) and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (Dr. Oliver Cox, https://torch.ox.ac.uk/); and Dr. Olwen Purdue at QUB.
In 2008, the CSHIHE and OPW came together in collaboration with Maynooth University Library to establish the OPW-Maynooth University Archive and Research Centre at Castletown (OMARC). Located on the first floor of Castletown House, OMARC facilitates the care and study of archives and other sources relating to the history of Irish country houses, landed estates and the decorative arts.
The founder and director of the CSHIHE is Professor Terence Dooley.