Redevelopment plans submitted for Dublin’s Aldborough House
Derelict mansion was second-biggest private residence in Dublin, next to Leinster House
Aldborough House in Portland Row, Dublin. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
The last Georgian mansion built in Dublin, Aldborough House on Portland Row, could be saved from dereliction under new plans for its redevelopment submitted to Dublin City Council.
Built in the the late 1790s by Edward Stratford, second Earl of Aldborough (although not fully completed until 1803, two years after his death), the house was the second-biggest Georgian private residence in Dublin, after Leinster House.
The house, which has been vacant for much of the last two decades, is in an advanced state of decay largely due to severe water damage.
Its owners, Reliance Investments Ltd, are seeking planning permission to refurbish the building for use as offices and to construct two new “office wings” and an underground car park.
Despite being built as an aristocratic townhouse, Aldborough House has spent little time in residential use since its construction. In 1813 it was bought by a former Cistercian monk, Prof Gregor von Feinaigle, who ran it as a school, and by the mid-1840s it had become an army barracks.
Throughout the 20th century it was in State ownership. In the 1940s its gardens were lost when they were taken over by Dublin Corporation for the construction of social housing, leaving it with very limited grounds.
It was used as a depot for the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, and remained in almost continuous use up until 1999 when it was sold by by Telecom Éireann, at the time of its privatisation, to the the Irish Music Rights Organisation (Imro).
Although it had been considerably altered through the 20th century, it was in the last 17 years that its decline set in. Imro had intended to use it as its headquarters, but this plan fell through in 2005 and it sold the house on to a company called Aldborough Developments which got planning permission in 2006 to convert it to a private hospital. It never went ahead with the development and the company was subsequently wound up.
Despite calls from heritage organisations such as Irish Georgian Society, An Taisce and the Dublin Civic Trust to intervene to save the house, the building has remained vacant.
Dublin City Council undertook emergency repairs to the roof in 2011 at a cost of €80,000 to prevent its collapse. In 2013, a suspected arson attack caused further damage and the council spent more money securing the building.