Tara House (Queensland Irish Association) - History in Pictures
By JOL Admin | 10 November 2015
In 1919, businessman, architect and politician James Cowlishaw financed the Queensland Irish Association's (QIA) purchase of a building (later known as Tara House) on Elizabeth Street in Brisbane's CBD by a mortgage of £8,000 (purchase price was £11,000 - $815,000 today). Sadly the QIA fell upon hard times and in October 2015 went into liquidation. Subsequently Tara House was sold in November to a private investor for $8.1 million.
Designed by noted Brisbane architect Richard Gailey, Tara House was constructed for James Hunter between 1877 and 1879. Before Cowlishaw obtained the premise in 1919, it was occupied by Messrs Unmack & Heussler (1879-84) and later owned by merchant Alexander McArthur (1884-99). According to the Queensland Heritage Register the building underwent extensive renovations in 1927-28 - " saw the demolition of the original back wall and the addition of a reinforced concrete and steel extension. At the same time the interior of the first floor was remodelled. A panelled, arched ceiling to the rear half of this floor is decorated in modelled fibrous plaster with angels, harps and Australian floral motifs in gold relief. The walls are panelled in silky oak; the floor is hardwood. Lead light panels in the ceiling and one end wall depict the four counties of Ireland and the Queensland coat of arms, while other leadlight windows are located in the north-east side wall". The building was named Tara House in an official ceremony on 28 June 1948.
Tara House was placed on the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992 due to the original facade (still intact today), the workmanship of the internal renovations, and its historical significance for its association with the Irish community in Brisbane and the Queensland Irish Association.
Below is a selection of images of Tara House from our collections.
Reception for Eamon de Valera (seated second from left against the window), Irish Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, at the Queensland Irish Association Clubrooms in Brisbane. The visit to Australia was part of a world tour as a guest of Irish Societies, 1948. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 36097
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