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The Hon. Desmond Walter Guinness[1] (born 8 September 1931) is an Anglo-Irish author on Georgian Art and Architecture and a conservationist. He is the second son of the author and brewer Bryan Guinness, 2nd Baron Moyne and Diana Mitford (later Lady Mosley). He was educated at Eton, Gordonstoun and Christ Church, Oxford.[2]

In 1958, he bought Leixlip Castle, Leixlip, County Kildare, Ireland, where he continues to live with his second wife, the former Penelope Cuthbertson, whom he married in 1984. As a member of the extended Guinness family, he has a number of well-known relatives, such as Garech Browne. He has been Master of the North Kildare Harriers.

Irish Georgian SocietyEdit

Castletown house

He and his first wife, Mariga (the former Princess Marie Gabrielle of Urach), founded the Irish Georgian Society in April 1958 to help to preserve Irish architecture of all periods. This was timely as the Irish planning laws were enacted only from 1963.[3]

The IGS became involved in numerous projects and started publishing quarterly bulletins. Some early preservations or campaigns were at: Damer House (Tipperary), The Conolly Folly (Kildare), Mountjoy Square, Tailors' Hall, Hume Street (Dublin) and the Dromana Gateway, (Waterford).

The IGS also held Georgian cricket matches played to the rules of 1744.

In 1967–79 the Guinnesses bought and started to preserve Castletown House, in Celbridge, Kildare, said to be the finest Palladian house in Ireland.[4][5]

In more recent years he has founded a scholarship for students of architecture.[6][7] He stood down as President of the society in 1990.

His conservation work has been recognised by many American and English cultural groups, and Europa Nostra. In 1980 he was made an honorary Doctor of Laws at Trinity College Dublin. In 2001 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and was awarded the gold medal of the Eire Society of Boston.[8] He is a member of the Society of Dilettanti in London. In 2006 he was presented with a Europa Nostra award by the Queen of Spain. In 2010 he headed the Saint Patrick's Day parade in Seattle.[9] In June 2014 he was awarded an honorary lifetime membership of the Royal Dublin Society.[10]


Married at Oxford in 1954 to Princess Henriette Marie-Gabrielle ("Mariga") von Urach, daughter of Prince Albrecht von Urach and a granddaughter of King Mindaugas II of Lithuania, by whom he had a son, Patrick Desmond Carl-Alexander, and a daughter, Marina.[11] Through Patrick he is a grandfather of the fashion model Jasmine Guinness.[12] His daughter Marina is a patron of the arts and of Irish musicians including Glen Hansard, Damien Rice, and the band Kíla. Marina has three children of her own: Patrick (by Stewart Copeland of The Police), Violet (by photographer Perry Ogden), and Finbar (by record producer Denny Cordell). [13]

In 1984 he married Penelope Cuthbertson, daughter of the socialite Teresa Jungman, and a granddaughter of the artist Nico Wilhelm Jungmann. There are no children of this second marriage[14][15]

His brother is Jonathan Guinness, 3rd Baron Moyne. He is the older half-brother (on his mother's side) of Max Mosley, former President of the FIA.

Philanthropic and social activitiesEdit

He has also been a member of Irish groups such as the Iveagh Trust, the CKAS,[16] the RIAC[17] and the Kildare Street & University Club.


  • Portrait of Dublin (New York, Viking Press, 1967)
  • Georgian Dublin (Batsford, B.T., Ltd.1979) ISBN 978-0-7134-1908-5

Three books with Julius Trousdale Sadler:

With William Ryan:

  • Irish Houses and Castles; with William Ryan. (London: Thames & Hudson 1973).
  • The White House: An Architectural History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980). ISBN 978-0-07-054352-2

With Jacqueline O'Brien, wife of the famous racehorse trainer Vincent O'Brien:

  • Dublin – A Grand Tour (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1994)
  • Great Irish Houses and Castles (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.) ISBN 978-0-8109-3365-1 (December 1998) and in paperback (Weidenfeld & Nicolson September 1993) ISBN 978-0-297-83236-2.

He has also written numerous articles such as: Thomas Jefferson: Visionary Architect. Horizon, 22 (1979): 51–55.

Further readingEdit