This robust well-braced table exemplifies the fashion for 'strong and well constructed' furniture promoted by the architect and author Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (d. 1852). When he cooperated with J. G. Crace (1809-1889) of Wigmore Street in the manufacture of furniture for the Medieval Court of the 1851 Great Exhibition, Pugin explained his wish to create furniture, which 'could come moderate and suit gothic homes'. 'Good bracing' was to him essential, and he informed Crace that 'The strength of wood-work is attained by bracing the various pieces together on geometrical principles. This is beautifully exemplified in ancient roofs, either in churches or domestic buildings; the constructions of these, so far from being concealed is turned into ornament'. Amongst the various publications that demonstrated his interest in construction was 'A series of Ornamental Timber Gables from Existing Examples in England and France of the Sixteenth Century', and this was published four years before his 'Gothic Furniture in the Style of the 15th Century' appeared in 1835. The most celebrated furniture in this manner was that designed by Pugin for the New Palace of Westminster, but it continued to be manufactured by firms such as J. G. Crace, Holland & Son and Gillow of London and Lancaster throughout the century. This table was commissioned for Tulira Castle, County Galway, which was built for the poet Edward Martyn by George Ashlin in the 1880s and furnished by John Dibblee Crace (1838-1919). It then passed by inheritance to his cousin Mary, Lady Hemphill. A pattern for a braced table of closely related form was issued in Richard Charles's Cabinet-Makers' Book of Designs, London, 1866 (E. T. Joy, Pictorial Dictionary of British 19th Century Furniture Design, p. 502).
Edward Martyn, along with William Butler Yeats, formed part of the nationalist revival of interest in Ireland's Gaelic literary history. He was a founder of the Irish Literary Theatre (in 1899) which sought to develop a school of Celtic and Irish dramatic literature. In 1914 he helped found the Irish Theatre in Dublin which concentrated on Irish-language and great continental dramas.