Part of the RIAI Network

Silver Conservation Medal Winner

  • The Main Guard
  • Architect:
    Margaret Quinlan of Margaret Quinlan Architects
  • Award Year: 2002-2004
  • Location: Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
The Main Guard


The refurbishment of The Main Guard was undertaken on behalf of Margaret Quinlan's client, the Office of Public Works. Speaking at the presentation of the Silver Medal to M Quinlan, Paul Keogh, President, RIAI, said, "The Main Guard is possibly the oldest surviving classical public building in Ireland and was, like many other national architectural treasures, neglected and forgotten and had little chance of surviving in its original, purposeful and beautiful form. Urban development has swept away many similar building in cities and towns around Ireland. Miss Quinlan's dedication and perseverance in restoring and conserving this building is as much a testament to her passion as to her considered and sensitive response to how an historic building can be restored and revitalised for the benefit of the wider community as a whole."

James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, built the Main Guard in 1675 as the courthouse for the Palatinate of administrative area of County Tipperary. In 1715, the Palatinate jurisdiction was extinguished. In about 1810, the ground floor, a loggia of open arches, was converted into shops, a basement excavated and additional floors inserted. It was not until 1994 that the building was declared a national monument. The Office of Public Works began painstaking renovations at this stage. After ten years it was finally re-opened to the public with the open arches again a feature of the streetscape of Clonmel.