Ranelagh zoning case comes full circle for Arthur Cox

Ardstone engaged firm to advise on challenge over land where founder once studied to be a priest

Submissions to Dublin City Council reveal that Ardstone Capital have engaged solicitors Arthur Cox to advise on a prospective High Court challenge over the zoning of property at Milltown Park, Ranelagh.

Ardstone paid some €65 million in 2019 to buy Jesuit order lands and received permission in December to build 667 apartments on the 10-acre site. Now the project could be upended by a zoning change, which severely limits the scope for residential development on former institutional lands.

That the affair might well end up in the Four Courts is nothing new. Still, any case would have some resonance for Ardstone’s lawyers given the connection between the original Arthur Cox, founder of the firm, and Milltown Park, site of the former Jesuit Theologate.

Cox was a legal colossus in the nascent Irish State, with a career at the centre of the corporate fray for four decades, and a spell in the Seanad. But he abruptly changed direction in retirement. After his wife’s death in 1961, he sought at the age of 70 to become a priest. Archbishop John Charles McQuaid was not keen on him becoming a Jesuit but agreed to ordain him if he studied for two years at Milltown Park, where seminarians were expected to lead an ascetic life.


The solicitor moved there from Shrewsbury Road, took private tuition and was ordained in 1963. Eugene McCague, former managing partner in the firm, wrote in a 1994 biography of Cox that “he sought and received no special favours, apart from a telephone in his room so that his office could continue to contact him”. They don’t make them like that any more.