Intro Text 

David Gunning is the Decade of Centenaries dlr Historian in Residence for 2021.

David is taking inspiration from the archives, collections and heritage buildings under the custodianship of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and has developed a programme of exhibitions and events for Autumn/Winter 2021.  The programme explores new perspectives on the Big House in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown with a focus on the shifting social foundations in the run up to, during and after the War of Independence. 

In October, the new publication "Haunted Houses and Creepy Castles of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown" was launched with words by David Gunning and illustrations by Katelyn McKenna. It brings the stories and folklore associated with several big houses in the county to spooky life and is available to purchase in dlr LexIcon and Dubray Books.

Continuing to explore the social context of the big house in 1921, the Historian in Residence led the discussion at the first Big House Book Club, with readers meeting in Marlay House in October to discuss Elizabeth Bowen's "The Last September", set in a big house during the War of Independence. 

David has prepared a wonderful online exhibition, Cottages in Livery, focusing on the humble (and not so humble) gate lodges of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.  Explore their role in the landscape of the past; as expressions of the style of the residents of the big house, as a home for the men and women working on big estates, as a security measure against intruders and as a welcoming first impression to visitors. Many gate lodges have been lost, but many remain dotted around the county in new contexts their original builders could not have imagined.

More is to come in December/January, with another Big House Book Club, the launch of an outdoor exhibition focusing on the role of Dún Laoghaire pier in the Treaty negotiations - "The Gateway to Independance", online talks and an exhibition to accompany the launch of a new book on the Big House in dlr. Keep an eye here for details and dates as we have them.

David’s recent publications include What’s in a Name – Dunleary, Kingstown, Dún Laoghaire and the award-winning Divine Illumination as part of recent dlr Decade of Centenaries programmes. He has a deep interest in the built heritage and history of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and worked as a tour guide for the dlr Summer of Heritage series for a number of years. He most recently worked as the Archivist in Residence at dlr Lexicon and his innovative dlr Cinema Book Club, based on the theme of The Big House, ran for several years at the library.

David is currently researching and collating information for the  2021 programme - if you have any anecdotes, memories, objects, photographs or stories you would like to share relating to any of the Big Houses in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, please contact David at