A little history about the RDS.

                                             Flora (pictured above), goddess of flowering plants.

New norms and old friends at the RDS Members' Club
The official ‘Welcoming Committee’ is standing by with open arms. Well, they would do … if they had any arms. Our magnificent marble busts are back in the Members’ Club corridor at last, in place for the return of indoor dining. And, in case you’d forgotten them, the roll call includes:
Master engineer, Alexander Nimmo (1783-1832), who made surveys for the Bog Commission in Kerry and Galway, as well as charting two-thirds of Ireland’s coastline for the Fishery Board. In his spare time, he directed the construction of 243 miles of road in the wild west of Ireland, as well as more than 40 piers along the western coastline.
The father of Irish geology, Sir Richard Griffith, Bart., (1784-1878) was Mining Engineer to the Royal Dublin Society from 1812. Best known for ‘Griffith’s Valuation’ – his endurance-testing nationwide survey of nearly 20 million acres of land and about 1 million buildings – he also made surveys of the bogs of Ireland and the coalfields of Leinster.
Courtier and legendary wit, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), served a short but successful term as lord lieutenant of Ireland from 1745-46. He famously stated that the RDS had done ‘more good to Ireland with regard to arts and industry than all the laws that could have been framed.'
A single maid amongst men, it’s a mystery how Flora (pictured above), goddess of flowering plants, got mixed up with our league of extraordinary gentlemen. Mind you, she could also be Ceres, goddess of food crops, which would be more in line with Dublin Society thinking. Either way, she brings a whisper of womanhood to the manful company – not to mention a splendid hairdo.
President of the Royal Dublin Society in 1829, Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey (pictured below) (1768-1864), was lord-lieutenant of Ireland from 1829-30, and again from 1831-33. A supporter of Catholic Emancipation, he established a system of elementary education in Ireland. He lost a leg at Waterloo. You would never know from looking at the bust though.
John Philpot Curran (1750-1817) – ‘the dreamiest of all the scamps of Trinity College’ – was an Irish politician, orator, lawyer, judge, and later, Master of the Rolls in Ireland. A celebrated wit, he was combative but principled, fighting five duels during his lifetime. Beware! His countenance suggests a sixth may well be in the offing...
During the course of his four polar expeditions, Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock (1819-1907) surveyed and charted vast areas of unknown Arctic coastline. Nicknamed the ‘Arctic Fox’, he collected vast quantities of fossils on his voyages, many of which he presented for research and exhibition at the Society’s headquarters.
Who could forget Gregor von Feinaigle (1760-1819), the Cistercian monk turned Professor of Mnemonics? In 1812, he gave a series of lectures on his new system of education at the Royal Dublin Society (to the disapproval of some), and later established the well-attended Feinaiglian School at Aldborough House, close to today's Five Lamps.
The Dublin Society’s first registrar, William Maple (1679-1762), was a chemistry demonstrator in Trinity College and Keeper of the Society’s collections at the Irish Parliament House. Conservation treatment has failed to remove 250 years of ingrained smoke and smog stains, hence he is now affectionately known as ‘the chimney sweep’!


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