O’Rahilly house at risk after being damaged by vandalism
Windows broken at house once lived in by Rising leader The O'Rahilly
Proinsias Ó Rathaille, grandson of The O’Rahilly, outside the badly vandalised house of The O’Rahilly at Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, Dublin, on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
An application has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála for the demolition of number 40 Herbert Park, the home of Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, known as The O’Rahilly, who was the only leader of the Rising to die in battle.
The McSharry and Kennedy building families, owners of the Herbert Park Hotel, want to build an aparthotel and 105 apartments up to 12 storeys tall, fronting on to Herbert Park on the site of three Edwardian villas, including number 40.
The board is not expected to rule on the application until next month. Meanwhile, Dublin City Council is considering a request to add number 40 to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).
However, Proinsias Ó Rathaille said the destruction of the house has already begun, with windows smashed in recent days, and the garden shed, where his grandfather assembled rifles for the Rising, demolished.
“The ground floor windows are broken, as well as some on the first floor. The house is completely open to access now and to the elements and I am terrified for it at this stage.”
The gardens surrounding the house, which might have been listed for preservation as part of the setting of a protected structure, have been cleared away.
“The house now resembles a pink salt cellar standing alone in the middle of a pool table,” he said.
A notice stating the site is being monitored with CCTV by Alpine Security has been erected on the railings of the house, but there does not appear to be any manned security presence on site.
“CCTV, if it is there, is clearly not enough. Anyone can just walk up to the house. The house has to be sealed up and immediately secured pending a decision of An Bord Pleanála, or its listing on the Record of Protected Structures. What’s happening here is an act of cultural vandalism, ” said Mr Ó Rathaille, who is also a member of the 1916 Relatives Alliance.
The house was built in 1907 for the World’s Fair Irish International Exhibition to promote Irish industry. The O’Rahilly was the first occupant of number 40 in 1909 and his widow, Nancy, lived there until her death in 1961.
Lordglen Ltd, the hotel owners’ development company, was in 2018 granted permission for the demolition of numbers 36 and 38 as part of the extension of an aparthotel, and 18 apartments in two blocks. However, this scheme never went ahead. The company subsequently bought number 40 and is now seeking , in the name of Derryroe Ltd , another of the hotel owners’ companies, to demolish it and redevelop the site of all three houses.
The company did not respond to requests for comment. Alpine Security said it was not in a position to answer questions in relation to the site.
A spokeswoman for the council said while number 40 is not currently on the RPS, “the process has begun” of assessing it for protection.