A Co Monaghan group is to restore the James Wyatt-designed Lady Dawson temple near the Monaghan/Cavan border.
Dating from the late 1700s, the temple is set on a wooded island in a lake on the former estate of the Dawson family, Earls of Dartrey. It was built by Thomas Dawson MP to house an elaborate monument to the memory of his wife, Anne, who died at the age of 36 in 1769.
Noel Carney of the Dartrey Heritage Association said the MP had the temple built so he could see it as he worked in his first-floor office in the house across the lake.
Modelled on the pantheon in Rome, the red-brick and limestone temple was a grandiose project, even for the landlord classes. Its Carrera marble sculptures are by Joseph Wilton.
Romantic as the gesture seems, it appears the MP was able to recover from his loss as he married for a second time a year later. History does not record what his second wife thought of the temple.
Over the years the monument has been vandalised and the temple in which it is set has fallen into decay. Mr Carney said the cost of restoration was estimated at about €750,000, a figure he said could be reduced to €500,000 through voluntary work.
Funding is being provided by Monaghan and Cavan county councils and a grants scheme from the Department of the Environment.
© 2007 The Irish Times