Saturday, 7 July 2018

Heraldry at Emo Court

Emo Court, between Portlaoise and Portarlington, is a country villa designed by architect James Gandon (1743-1823), who also designed the Custom House and the Four Courts in Dublin. The house is an example of neo-Classical style, emulating that of ancient Greece and Rome. The house is surrounded by the gardens and parkland which were first laid out in the eighteenth century. Gandon designed Emo Court in 1790 for John Dawson, the First Earl of Portarlington. When the earl died in 1798, the house was incomplete. Work was then ceased until the 1830s, when the second earl completed the garden front and commenced work on the interior. Starting in 1860, the third earl oversaw building of the copper dome on the rotunda, as well as work on the interior and construction of a bachelor wing. When the last of the Portarlingtons left Emo Court in 1920, the house fell into decline.

The Jesuits purchased the house in 1930 and used it as a novitiate. In 1969, the order sold Emo court to Major Cholmley Dering Cholmley-Harrison who began the process of restoring Emo Court and its grounds.

Today Emo Court and its gardens are owned and managed by the Office of Public Works.  Check the Heritage Ireland website for details of opening hours and events.

Heritage Website

There is much detail on the interior of the house on:

The arms associated with the Earls of Portarlington are those of Dawson and Damer

Dawson Arms

The Dawson arms supported by a tiger with the motto strapped around its body

R (Robert) Barton 1854

Damer Arms

The detailed history of the Damer-Dawson family is given in:

Ephraim Dawson, who purchased the town of Portarlington in 1710, was a banker who had married Ann Preston from Emo. For her, he built Dawson Court near the village. That house no longer remains. Their son William Henry (created Viscount Carlow in 1776) married Mary Damer. Their son John married Caroline Stuart, the daughter of the Earl of Bute, and consequently increased in wealth and standing. He was created the first Earl of Portarlington in 1785.

A full history of the Damer family can be found at:

Joseph Damer III died in 1798 and his only surviving son, succeeded as Earl of Dorchester. Joseph's sister, Mary Damer was married to William Henry Dawson in 1737. The second earl assumed the extra name of Damer allowing the family name to become Damer-Dawson

The quartered arms of Damer and Dawson along with supporters, motto and coronet of an earl dated 1896

One of the remaining pieces of furniture remaining from the time of the Damer-Dawsons

For a colour version of the arms see:

The following photos depict the freize on the outside of the house.

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