This innovative new study examines the significance given to the country house in Ireland under the Union and how this is represented in the works of Edgeworth, Lever, Trollope, Martin and Somerville, Bowen and Lady Gregory. The Irish country house is set in a classical and European context as the centre for 'the good life' and the pinnacle of 'civilisation'. In Ireland, that inherited tradition was challenged by an alternative culture nominated as 'savage'. The dichotomy between 'civilisation' and 'savagery' is a commonplace of writing about Ireland from Giraldus Cambrensis to J.A.Froude. That matrix is revitalised in this book which explores the conflict between cultures and the ironic symbiosis between the civil and the savage for which the country house provides the focus. By setting the conflict within a European context, this book reorientates Irish cultural studies away from nationalist concerns with racial identity and towards the reinterpretation of Ireland within a wider, European union.