Dr Alison FitzGerald


Associate Professor

Rhetoric House
(01) 708 6257


Dr Alison FitzGerald is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. Her research interests include the history of collecting, retailing and leisure. Her monograph Silver in Georgian Dublin, making, selling, consuming was published by Routledge in 2016 (hardback) and 2019 (paperback). Dr. FitzGerald is a graduate of University College Dublin (BA, MA) and the Royal College of Art, London (PhD). She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Irish Georgian Society, Irish Research Council (IRC), Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, University College Dublin and Yale University.

Dr FitzGerald is a Director of the Castletown Foundation, an charitable educational trust to manage and conserve for future generations Castletown, Ireland’s most significant Palladian house and its important collections of Irish Georgian paintings and furniture. She is also a member of the editorial board of Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies, the Journal of the Irish Georgian Society, and a member of the antique plate committee of the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin, the last surviving trade guild in the city. Her current research project focuses on commercial recreation in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Ireland, from automata and popular science to menageries and human exhibits. 

Research Interests

Dr FitzGerald is an historian of material culture, the relationship between people and things.  Her research is concerned with the way in which objects can be mined as historical evidence, to shed light on the individuals and groups who made, bought, used, valued, discarded, or even destroyed them.  Her work to date has focused mainly on Irish material culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in the context of developments in the British Atlantic world.  Specifically, it deals with the history of collecting, guilds, leisure, retailing and urban history; a particular area of expertise is the history of Irish silver.  In 2016, she published the monograph Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling consuming (Routledge) which explores the intricacies of one of Dublin’s most significant trades during a period of unprecedented competition and expansion in the market for luxury goods.  

Dr FitzGerald has contributed to major exhibitions nationally and internationally as a decorative arts specialist.  She had a significant role in the seminal exhibition Ireland Crossroads of Art and Design 1690-1840, held at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015.  Presenting over 300 objects drawn from public and private collections across North America, it attracted more than 100,000 visitors during the opening weeks, and was the first international exhibition celebrating the Irish as artists, collectors and patrons over a period of 150 years.  Dr FitzGerald advised the curatorial team on potential loans, contributed to the exhibition catalogue, published by Yale University Press, and was an invited speaker at a symposium marking the opening of the exhibition. In 2017, she was commissioned by the National Gallery of Ireland to write an essay on the designs of the Victorian artist Frederic William Burton, to coincide with the Gallery’s retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work.

In terms of external engagement, Dr FitzGerald’s research on Irish design history & decorative arts has resulted in various professional consultancies and public service activities.  In 2016, she joined the Board of Directors of the Castletown Foundation, a charitable educational trust which works in partnership with the Office of Public Works to manage and conserve Ireland’s most significant Palladian house and its important collections of paintings and decorative arts. In 2017, she was appointed to a panel of advisors to the Heritage Council and charged with assessing the historical significance of silver artefacts proposed as potential Heritage Donations to national and regional collections in Ireland. In 2018 she organised a symposium, in partnership with the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Georgian Society, to mark the 21st anniversary of the opening of the silver galleries at the National Museum of Ireland;  a book arising from this symposium, edited by Dr FitzGerald and including chapters by three of her recent postgraduates will be published in 2020.

Dr FitzGerald's current major research project builds on her research into the history of Georgian Ireland, but focuses on a new and under-researched area: the history of recreation and leisure.  While the history of sport and theatre have received scholarly attention, there has been no systematic analysis of the range of commercial entertainments that distinguished urban life in Ireland, particularly from the eighteenth century onwards. These included automata, circuses, exotic animals, human exhibits, panoramas, scientific exhibits and waxworks.  Provisionally entitled Spectacles and shows: exhibitions and entertainment in Ireland c.1750-c.1870, this project aims to address that lacuna.  In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship by Yale University (Lewis Walpole Library) to carry out initial work for this project and is currently investigating the history of urban recreation, particularly commercial entertainment, in Ireland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Year Publication
2016 FitzGerald, A. (2016) Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling, consuming. London: Routledge.

Edited Book

Year Publication
2020 Alison FitzGerald (Ed.). (2020) Studies in Irish Georgian Silver. Dublin: Four Courts Press,

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2007 Alison FitzGerald (2007) 'Oliver St. George’s passion for plate'. Silver Studies, :51-61.
2007 FitzGerald, A. (2007) '‘Astonishing automata: staging spectacle in eighteenth-century Dublin’, Irish Architectural & Decorative Studies'. THE JOURNAL OF THE IRISH GEORGIAN SOCIETY, 10 :18-34.
2005 FitzGerald, A. (2005) 'Cosmopolitan commerce: the Dublin goldsmith Robert Calderwood'. APOLLO-THE INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE OF THE ARTS, :46-52.
2001 FitzGerald, A. (2001) 'The production of silver in late-Georgian Dublin’, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies'. THE JOURNAL OF THE IRISH GEORGIAN SOCIETY, 4 :8-84.

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2017 FitzGerald, A. (2017) 'Frederic William Burton: crafting designs characteristic of Ireland' In: Frederic William Burton: for the love of art. Dublin : National Gallery of Ireland.
2015 FitzGerald, A. (2015) 'A sterling trade: making and selling silver in Ireland' In: Ireland: crossroads of art & design, 1690-1840. London and New Haven : Yale University Press.
2012 FitzGerald, A (2012) 'Fighting for a 'small provincial establishment': the Cork goldsmiths and their quest for a local assay office' In: Raymond Gillespie and R.F. Foster(Eds.). Irish provincial cultures in the long eighteenth century. Dublin : Four Courts Press. [Full-Text]

Conference Publication

Year Publication
2014 FitzGerald, A. (2014) Carton and the FitzGerald's. Carton House, August 2010 'Desiring to look sprucish': objects in context at Carton
2009 FitzGerald, A. (2009) The eighteenth-century Dublin townhouse: form, function, finance. National Gallery of Ireland, May 2008 Taste in high life: dining in the Dublin town house
2008 FitzGerald, A. (2008) 'Bare bones of a fanlight': Georgian Dublin, Newman House, May 2006 The business of being a goldsmith in eighteenth-century Dublin

Other Journal

Year Publication
FitzGerald, A. 'Rustic Sophisticate' Irish Arts Review, 30 (2) :102-105.
2014 FitzGerald, A. (2014) 'Territory' Irish Arts Review, 34 (4) :76-77.
2007 FitzGerald, A. (2007) 'Jewellery’s new wave' Irish Arts Review, .

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2020 Alison FitzGerald (2020) Eighteenth-century urban cultures Selling spectacle: urban recreation in Georgian Ireland Queens University Belfast, .
2019 Alison FitzGerald (2019) Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies Research Seminar Series The challenges of 'second-city syndrome' in eighteenth-century Dublin Queens University Belfast, .
2019 Alison FitzGerald (2019) Invited lecture series, Waterford Museum of Treasures Silver in Georgian Dublin: making, selling, consuming Waterford Museum of Treasures, .
2018 Alison FitzGerald (2018) Dublin City Council/National Museum of Ireland, Culture Club Programme Silver in Georgian Ireland National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, .
2018 Alison FitzGerald (2018) Silver in Georgian Ireland Dublin's silver trade during the long eighteenth century National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, .
2018 Alison FitzGerald (2018) MA Research Seminar, Department of History of Art & Cultural Policy, UCD Sources and research methods for understanding the silver trade in Georgian Ireland Newman House, .
2017 Alison FitzGerald (2017) Postgraduate research seminar, Department of Art History & Cultural Policy, University College Dublin Irish Georgian silver: historiography, methodologies and primary sources Newman House, .
2017 Alison FitzGerald (2017) Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, Fellow Research Presentation Spectacles and shows: exhibitions and entertainment in Ireland 1750–1870 Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University, .
2017 Alison FitzGerald (2017) Dublin Festival of History Silver in Georgian Dublin Terenure Library, .
2015 Alison FitzGerald (2015) Castletown Winter Lecture Series Taking tea with the Georgians Castletown House, .
2015 Alison FitzGerald (2015) Celbridge Historical Society Annual Lecture Series Buying luxury goods in eighteenth-century Dublin Kildought House, Celbridge, .
2015 Alison FitzGerald (2015) Ireland: crossroads of art & design, 1690–1840 Ireland: crossroads of art & design, 1690–1840 Art Institute of Chicago, .
2015 Alison FitzGerald (2015) Carton Winter Lecture Series The 'great customers of plate': country-house silver Carton House, Celbridge, .
2015 Alison FitzGerald (2015) Irish Georgian Society Annual Lecture Series Patina or novelty? Buying luxury goods in Georgian Dublin City Assembly House, Dublin, .
2014 Alison FitzGerald (2014) Sotheby's Institute of Art, London, Research Seminar Series Irish Georgian silver Sotheby's Institute of Art, London, .
2014 Alison FitzGerald (2014) Russborough revisited Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown and the consumption of silver in eighteenth-century Ireland National Gallery of Ireland, .
2013 Alison FitzGerald (2013) Object matters History's 'little black joke': Cromwell's cabinet? National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, .
2012 Alison FitzGerald (2012) Research Seminar, Department of Art and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin The business of luxury in eighteenth-century Dublin Trinity College Dublin, .
2012 Alison FitzGerald (2012) Irish Fine and Decorative Arts Society Research Talks Neednots and must haves: buying and selling silver in eighteenth-century Dublin Kildare Street and University Club, .
2012 Alison FitzGerald (2012) Dublin City Research Group, Annual Symposium Credit, capital and commerce: business strategies in Dublin's luxury trades during the long eighteenth century Trinity College Dublin, .
2012 Alison FitzGerald (2012) Irish Architectural Archive, Annual Lecture Series Hospitality and high living in Georgian Ireland Irish Architectural Archive, .
2011 Alison FitzGerald (2011) University of Leeds, Research Seminars Department of Art History The most genteel of any in the mechanic way? The silver trade in 18th-century Dublin Leeds University, .
2010 Alison FitzGerald (2010) National College of Art & Design, MA in Design History & Material Culture Irish Georgian Silver NCAD, .
2010 Alison FitzGerald (2010) Annual Conference of the Centre for Historic Irish Houses and Estates, Maynooth University Desiring to 'look sprucish': objects in context at Carton Carton House, Celbridge, .

Book Review

Year Publication
2018 FitzGerald, A. (2018) Douglas Bennett, ‘The Goldsmiths of Dublin, six centuries of achievement’ (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2018). BREV
2013 FitzGerald, A. (2013) Book review of Christine Casey & Conor Lucey (eds), Decorative plasterwork in Ireland and Europe: ornament and the early modern interior (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012. BREV
2011 FitzGerald, A. (2011) Book review of Mairead Dunleavy, Pomp and Poverty, A history of silk in Ireland (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011. BREV
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2023) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Teaching Interests

Dr FitzGerald's teaches modules on material and visual culture, primarily in the early-modern period.
Current courses which she leads or contributes to include:
HY131: The Practice of History (7.5 credits)
HY132: Documents in History (7.5 credits)
HY233: Picturing the Renaissance (5 credits)
HY313: Art Design and Society in Seventeenth-Century Europe (5 credits)
HY278: Domestic Worlds: The Georgians at Home (5 credits)
HY355: The Business of Luxury: The Decorative Arts in Eighteenth-Century Europe (5 credits)

Dr FitzGerald also contributes as a guest lecturer to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in other academic institutions including the National College of Art & Design, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin.