The vision and commitment to create Tara’s Palace originated from an idea put forward by Ron McDonnell, President of the Irish Antique Dealers Association.
The seeds that grew into the project were sown in conversations that took place in early 1978 in the aftermath of the failure of Irish interests to acquire Titania’s Palace and return it to Ireland. The loss of Titania’s Palace to Ireland disappointed deeply, but out of that sense of loss, the dream of creating another similar work of art for children was dedicated. It was born out of a mixture of sadness and determination. The sadness at the loss gave way to a strong determination that the skill of Irish crafts people who created Titania’s Palace could once again produce something of equal beauty, splendor and craftsmanship. Ron, together with his Wife Doreen and his antique dealer colleagues, Paul Johnston, Gerry Kenyon and Jane Williams were confident that the challenge of recreating another miniature masterpiece could be answered emphatically by Irish craftsmen of the present generation, as they had done so magnificently for Titania’s Palace two generations earlier. On that basis the antique dealer group combined with the Irish tourism interests led by Matt Mc Nulty and formed a loose consortium to undertake the project of building a new Palace of equal magnificence and splendor to Titania’s Palace. It was to be called“Tara’s Palace” and like its predecessor would be made in 1:12 scale.
The vision of Tara’s Palace was inspired by the great Titania’s Palace, created by James Hicks the finest Irish cabinet maker of the 20th century and his staff – principally master cabinet maker Fred Early to the designs of Sir Neville Wilkinson. It was not just a doll’s palace, but also a genuine work of the art in miniature. It was intended for his handicapped daughter Guendolen and took 15 years to build between 1907 and 1922. In its later phase it was used extensively to earn money for children’s charities and actually toured the USA and South America for that purpose.
From the beginning Tara’s Palace benefited from tremendous support and good luck. The originating members and their network of friends, customers and colleagues that stretched across the globe sent treasured miniatures for use in the project. With support from the tourism authorities, an important collection by the superb miniature pieces by the Irish craftsman, Fred Early, who had made much of the furniture for Titania’s Palace were acquired at auction in London.
Immediately the decision was made to create Tara’s Palace Ron and Doreen cleared a room on the third floor of their business premises at 16 Kildare Street and the construction of the Dolls Palace got underway. Under Ron’s careful and diligent research and supervision, his craftsmen, Tommy Clancy, Paul Geoghegan, Con Lee, Michael Walton and John Forde, soon produced the carcass of their 22 roomed masterpiece. It was based on three Great Irish Houses of the 18th century, Castletown House, Carton House and Leinster House. It was designed to awaken the imagination of children and the wonder of everyone at the quality of its decoration, furnishings and detail, which were executed by master craftsmen and leading artists.
Friends and antique dealers donated miniatures they had collected and treasured. Individuals and companies sponsored rooms, artists and crafts people created new miniature works. Ordinary people, who became aware of the project, were inspired to contribute everything from needlework to miniature peat buckets, to parquetry flooring made from ancient bog oak.
Tara’s Palace as seen today is a collaboration of many talents and contributions as well as great generosity. The motivation had been to create one of the world’s greatest dolls houses to the highest standards of craftsmanship so as to remain true to the original ideal of contributing in a unique way to charitable purposes for children in Ireland.
As a result of the foresight and generosity of the founders, Tara’s Palace is today managed and cared for by the Trustees of Tara’s Palace Trust established by the will of Ron and Doreen Mc Donnell in 1994.
The Trustees express their thanks to all those, who have contributed and whose names are recorded in The Book of Donations at the Palace and on this web site.