Maurice Craig – Ireland’s first conservation warrior
Architectural historian Maurice Craig began his battle against the demolition of historic Irish buildings in the 1940s. He’s now nearly 90 and a new edition of his book about Irish mausoleums is about to be published
“I’ve been remarkably lucky,” says architectural historian Maurice Craig as he approaches his 90th birthday and as the new edition of his book Mausolea Hibernica , which was illustrated by his son Michael, is about to be published. Meeting the right people at the right time, he says, led to the publication of his books on architectural history, bookbinding, poetry and a collection of belle lettres called The Elephant and the Polish Question which, he says was a critical but not a commercial success: “Booksellers didn’t know what category to put it under.”
He doesn’t relish being 90 – “it’s not very nice, I don’t recommend it” – but he is still a dedicated storyteller, both verbally and in print. Despite cursing his declining memory he still recalls complete poems and songs from the past and is not inhibited about performing them to illustrate a point or to periodically keep himself and others amused.
Through his writing, campaigning and photographs of an Ireland that has now disappeared, he made people aware that our historic buildings were national treasures that should be saved from demolition – because of this, he has now become a national treasure himself.