Dr Alison FitzGerald

History

Associate Professor
Lecturer

Rhetoric House
42
(01) 708 6257

Biography

Dr Alison FitzGerald is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. Her research interests include the history of collecting, retailing and leisure. Her monograph Silver in Georgian Dublin, making, selling, consuming was published by Routledge in 2016 (hardback) and 2019 (paperback). Dr. FitzGerald is a graduate of University College Dublin (BA, MA) and the Royal College of Art, London (PhD). She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Irish Georgian Society, Irish Research Council (IRC), Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, University College Dublin and Yale University.

Dr FitzGerald is a Director of the Castletown Foundation, an charitable educational trust to manage and conserve for future generations Castletown, Ireland’s most significant Palladian house and its important collections of Irish Georgian paintings and furniture. She is also a member of the editorial board of Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, the Journal of the Irish Georgian Society, and a member of the antique plate committee of the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin, the last surviving trade guild in the city. Her current research project focuses on commercial recreation in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Ireland, from automata and popular science to menageries and human exhibits. 

Research Interests

Dr FitzGerald is an historian of material culture, the relationship between people and things.  Her research is concerned with the way in which objects can be mined as historical evidence, to shed light on the individuals and groups who made, bought, used, valued, discarded, or even destroyed them.  Her work to date has focused mainly on Irish material culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in the context of developments in the British Atlantic world.  Specifically, it deals with the history of collecting, guilds, leisure, retailing and urban history; a particular area of expertise is the history of Irish silver.  In 2016, she published the monograph Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling consuming (Routledge) which explores the intricacies of one of Dublin’s most significant trades during a period of unprecedented competition and expansion in the market for luxury goods.  

Dr FitzGerald has contributed to major exhibitions nationally and internationally as a decorative arts specialist.  She had a significant role in the seminal exhibition Ireland Crossroads of Art and Design 1690-1840, held at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015.  Presenting over 300 objects drawn from public and private collections across North America, it attracted more than 100,000 visitors during the opening weeks, and was the first international exhibition celebrating the Irish as artists, collectors and patrons over a period of 150 years.  Dr FitzGerald advised the curatorial team on potential loans, contributed to the exhibition catalogue, published by Yale University Press, and was an invited speaker at a symposium marking the opening of the exhibition. In 2017, she was commissioned by the National Gallery of Ireland to write an essay on the designs of the Victorian artist Frederic William Burton, to coincide with the Gallery’s retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work.

In terms of external engagement, Dr FitzGerald’s research on Irish design history & decorative arts has resulted in various professional consultancies and public service activities.  In 2016, she joined the Board of Directors of the Castletown Foundation, a charitable educational trust which works in partnership with the Office of Public Works to manage and conserve Ireland’s most significant Palladian house and its important collections of paintings and decorative arts. In 2017, she was appointed to a panel of advisors to the Heritage Council and charged with assessing the historical significance of silver artefacts proposed as potential Heritage Donations to national and regional collections in Ireland. In 2018 she organised a symposium, in partnership with the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Georgian Society, to mark the 21st anniversary of the opening of the silver galleries at the National Museum of Ireland;  a book arising from this symposium, edited by Dr FitzGerald and including chapters by three of her recent postgraduates will be published in 2020.

Dr FitzGerald's current major research project builds on her research into the history of Georgian Ireland, but focuses on a new and under-researched area: the history of recreation and leisure.  While the history of sport and theatre have received scholarly attention, there has been no systematic analysis of the range of commercial entertainments that distinguished urban life in Ireland, particularly from the eighteenth century onwards. These included automata, circuses, exotic animals, human exhibits, panoramas, scientific exhibits and waxworks.  Provisionally entitled Spectacles and shows: exhibitions and entertainment in Ireland c.1750-c.1870, this project aims to address that lacuna.  In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship by Yale University (Lewis Walpole Library) to carry out initial work for this project and is currently investigating the history of urban recreation, particularly commercial entertainment, in Ireland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Books

  Year Publication
2016 Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling, consuming.
FitzGerald, A. (2016) Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling, consuming. London: Routledge. [Details]

Edited Books

  Year Publication
2020 Studies in Irish Georgian Silver
Alison FitzGerald (Ed.). (2020) Studies in Irish Georgian Silver Dublin: Four Courts Press. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

  Year Publication
2007 'Oliver St. George’s passion for plate'
Alison FitzGerald (2007) 'Oliver St. George’s passion for plate'. Silver Studies, :51-61 [Details]
2007 '‘Astonishing automata: staging spectacle in eighteenth-century Dublin’, Irish Architectural & Decorative Studies'
FitzGerald, A. (2007) '‘Astonishing automata: staging spectacle in eighteenth-century Dublin’, Irish Architectural & Decorative Studies'. THE JOURNAL OF THE IRISH GEORGIAN SOCIETY, 10 :18-34 [Details]
2005 'Cosmopolitan commerce: the Dublin goldsmith Robert Calderwood'
FitzGerald, A. (2005) 'Cosmopolitan commerce: the Dublin goldsmith Robert Calderwood'. APOLLO-THE INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE OF THE ARTS, :46-52 [Details]
2001 'The production of silver in late-Georgian Dublin’, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies'
FitzGerald, A. (2001) 'The production of silver in late-Georgian Dublin’, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies'. THE JOURNAL OF THE IRISH GEORGIAN SOCIETY, 4 :8-84 [Details]

Book Chapters

  Year Publication
2017 'Frederic William Burton: crafting designs characteristic of Ireland'
FitzGerald, A. (2017) 'Frederic William Burton: crafting designs characteristic of Ireland' In: Marie Bourke (eds). Frederic William Burton: for the love of art. Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland. [Details]
2015 'A sterling trade: making and selling silver in Ireland'
FitzGerald, A. (2015) 'A sterling trade: making and selling silver in Ireland' In: Laffan, W. and Monkhouse, C (eds). Ireland: crossroads of art & design, 1690-1840. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. [Details]
2012 'Fighting for a 'small provincial establishment': the Cork goldsmiths and their quest for a local assay office'
FitzGerald, A (2012) 'Fighting for a 'small provincial establishment': the Cork goldsmiths and their quest for a local assay office' In: Irish provincial cultures in the long eighteenth century. Dublin: Four Courts Press. [full-text] [Details]

Conference Publications

  Year Publication
2014 'Desiring to look sprucish': objects in context at Carton
FitzGerald, A. (2014) 'Desiring to look sprucish': objects in context at Carton Carton and the FitzGerald's. Carton House, August 2010 [Details]
2009 Taste in high life: dining in the Dublin town house
FitzGerald, A. (2009) Taste in high life: dining in the Dublin town house The eighteenth-century Dublin townhouse: form, function, finance. National Gallery of Ireland, May 2008 [Details]
2008 The business of being a goldsmith in eighteenth-century Dublin
FitzGerald, A. (2008) The business of being a goldsmith in eighteenth-century Dublin 'Bare bones of a fanlight': Georgian Dublin, Newman House, May 2006 , pp.127-135 [Details]

Other Journals

  Year Publication
'Rustic Sophisticate'
FitzGerald, A. 'Rustic Sophisticate' Irish Arts Review, 30 (2) :102-105. [Details]
2014 'Territory'
FitzGerald, A. (2014) 'Territory' Irish Arts Review, 34 (4) :76-77. [Details]
2007 'Jewellery’s new wave'
FitzGerald, A. (2007) 'Jewellery’s new wave' Irish Arts Review, . [Details]

Conference Contributions

  Year Publication
2020 Selling spectacle: urban recreation in Georgian Ireland.
Alison FitzGerald (2020) Selling spectacle: urban recreation in Georgian Ireland. [Plenary Lecture], Eighteenth-century urban cultures, Queens University Belfast [Details]
2019 The challenges of 'second-city syndrome' in eighteenth-century Dublin.
Alison FitzGerald (2019) The challenges of 'second-city syndrome' in eighteenth-century Dublin. [Invited Lecture], Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies Research Seminar Series, Queens University Belfast [Details]
2019 Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling, consuming.
Alison FitzGerald (2019) Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling, consuming. [Invited Lecture], Invited lecture series, Waterford Museum of Treasures, Waterford Museum of Treasures [Details]
2018 Silver in Georgian Ireland.
Alison FitzGerald (2018) Silver in Georgian Ireland. [Invited Lecture], Dublin City Council/National Museum of Ireland, Culture Club Programme, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks [Details]
2018 Dublin's silver trade during the long eighteenth century.
Alison FitzGerald (2018) Dublin's silver trade during the long eighteenth century. [Conference Organising Committee Chairperson], Silver in Georgian Ireland, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks [Details]
2018 Sources and research methods for understanding the silver trade in Georgian Ireland.
Alison FitzGerald (2018) Sources and research methods for understanding the silver trade in Georgian Ireland. [Invited Lecture], MA Research Seminar, Department of History of Art & Cultural Policy, UCD, Newman House [Details]
2017 Irish Georgian silver: historiography, methodologies and primary sources.
Alison FitzGerald (2017) Irish Georgian silver: historiography, methodologies and primary sources. [Invited Lecture], Postgraduate research seminar, Department of Art History & Cultural Policy, University College Dublin, Newman House [Details]
2017 Spectacles and shows: exhibitions and entertainment in Ireland 1750–1870.
Alison FitzGerald (2017) Spectacles and shows: exhibitions and entertainment in Ireland 1750–1870. [Oral Presentation], Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, Fellow Research Presentation, Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University [Details]
2017 Silver in Georgian Dublin.
Alison FitzGerald (2017) Silver in Georgian Dublin. [Invited Lecture], Dublin Festival of History, Terenure Library [Details]
2015 Taking tea with the Georgians.
Alison FitzGerald (2015) Taking tea with the Georgians. [Invited Lecture], Castletown Winter Lecture Series, Castletown House [Details]
2015 Buying luxury goods in eighteenth-century Dublin.
Alison FitzGerald (2015) Buying luxury goods in eighteenth-century Dublin. [Invited Lecture], Celbridge Historical Society Annual Lecture Series, Kildought House, Celbridge [Details]
2015 Ireland: crossroads of art & design, 1690–1840.
Alison FitzGerald (2015) Ireland: crossroads of art & design, 1690–1840. [Invited Lecture], Ireland: crossroads of art & design, 1690–1840, Art Institute of Chicago [Details]
2015 The 'great customers of plate': country-house silver.
Alison FitzGerald (2015) The 'great customers of plate': country-house silver. [Invited Lecture], Carton Winter Lecture Series, Carton House, Celbridge [Details]
2015 Patina or novelty? Buying luxury goods in Georgian Dublin.
Alison FitzGerald (2015) Patina or novelty? Buying luxury goods in Georgian Dublin. [Invited Lecture], Irish Georgian Society Annual Lecture Series, City Assembly House, Dublin [Details]
2014 Irish Georgian silver.
Alison FitzGerald (2014) Irish Georgian silver. [Invited Lecture], Sotheby's Institute of Art, London, Research Seminar Series, Sotheby's Institute of Art, London [Details]
2014 Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown and the consumption of silver in eighteenth-century Ireland.
Alison FitzGerald (2014) Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown and the consumption of silver in eighteenth-century Ireland. [Invited Lecture], Russborough revisited, National Gallery of Ireland [Details]
2013 History's 'little black joke': Cromwell's cabinet?.
Alison FitzGerald (2013) History's 'little black joke': Cromwell's cabinet?. [Invited Lecture], Object matters, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks [Details]
2012 The business of luxury in eighteenth-century Dublin.
Alison FitzGerald (2012) The business of luxury in eighteenth-century Dublin. [Invited Lecture], Research Seminar, Department of Art and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin [Details]
2012 Neednots and must haves: buying and selling silver in eighteenth-century Dublin.
Alison FitzGerald (2012) Neednots and must haves: buying and selling silver in eighteenth-century Dublin. [Invited Lecture], Irish Fine and Decorative Arts Society Research Talks, Kildare Street and University Club [Details]
2012 Credit, capital and commerce: business strategies in Dublin's luxury trades during the long eighteenth century.
Alison FitzGerald (2012) Credit, capital and commerce: business strategies in Dublin's luxury trades during the long eighteenth century. [Invited Lecture], Dublin City Research Group, Annual Symposium, Trinity College Dublin [Details]
2012 Hospitality and high living in Georgian Ireland.
Alison FitzGerald (2012) Hospitality and high living in Georgian Ireland. [Invited Lecture], Irish Architectural Archive, Annual Lecture Series, Irish Architectural Archive [Details]
2011 The most genteel of any in the mechanic way? The silver trade in 18th-century Dublin.
Alison FitzGerald (2011) The most genteel of any in the mechanic way? The silver trade in 18th-century Dublin. [Invited Lecture], University of Leeds, Research Seminars Department of Art History, Leeds University [Details]
2010 Irish Georgian Silver.
Alison FitzGerald (2010) Irish Georgian Silver. [Oral Presentation], National College of Art & Design, MA in Design History & Material Culture, NCAD [Details]
2010 Desiring to 'look sprucish': objects in context at Carton.
Alison FitzGerald (2010) Desiring to 'look sprucish': objects in context at Carton. [Invited Lecture], Annual Conference of the Centre for Historic Irish Houses and Estates, Maynooth University, Carton House, Celbridge [Details]

Book Review

  Year Publication
2018 Douglas Bennett, ‘The Goldsmiths of Dublin, six centuries of achievement’ (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2018).
FitzGerald, A. (2018) Douglas Bennett, ‘The Goldsmiths of Dublin, six centuries of achievement’ (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2018). Book Review [Details]
2013 Book review of Christine Casey & Conor Lucey (eds), Decorative plasterwork in Ireland and Europe: ornament and the early modern interior (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012.
FitzGerald, A. (2013) Book review of Christine Casey & Conor Lucey (eds), Decorative plasterwork in Ireland and Europe: ornament and the early modern interior (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012. Book Review [Details]
2011 Book review of Mairead Dunleavy, Pomp and Poverty, A history of silk in Ireland (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011.
FitzGerald, A. (2011) Book review of Mairead Dunleavy, Pomp and Poverty, A history of silk in Ireland (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011. Book Review [Details]

Teaching Interests

Dr FitzGerald's teaches modules on material and visual culture, primarily in the early-modern period.
Current courses which she leads or contributes to include:
HY131: The Practice of History (7.5 credits)
HY132: Documents in History (7.5 credits)
HY233: Picturing the Renaissance (5 credits)
HY313: Art Design and Society in Seventeenth-Century Europe (5 credits)
HY278: Domestic Worlds: The Georgians at Home (5 credits)
HY355: The Business of Luxury: The Decorative Arts in Eighteenth-Century Europe (5 credits)

Dr FitzGerald also contributes as a guest lecturer to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in other academic institutions including the National College of Art & Design, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin.