Family in dispute over en-suite bathroom at Lambay Castle

Company controlling island wants to rent castle as tourism venture to ‘high-end’ clients

Lambay Castle: the 16th-century property was extended by Edwin Lutyens

Lambay Castle: the 16th-century property was extended by Edwin Lutyens

 

A family row has arisen over plans to install an en-suite bathroom in the guest wing of Lambay Castle, designed by renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, on Lambay Island off the north Dublin coast.

The Lambay Estate Company, controlled by Alex Baring, the seventh Baron Revelstoke, was last June granted permission to upgrade the historic buildings on the island, including the 16th-century castle, to make them suitable for commercial use.

The company intends to rent the castle as a tourism venture to “high-end” clients. Fingal County Council has granted permission for it to let the castle, which was bought by the famous British banking family more than 110 years ago and has been in private use since, for up to 70 nights a year.

The company last August made an application to amend the permission granted to add an en-suite bathroom. This was granted by the county council last month, but has now been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

The appeal has been made by one of Lord Revelstoke’s cousins, Beatrice Kelly, and her husband Niall McManus. The couple have an address in Kilkenny but describe themselves as having been temporary residents on the island for 40 years and 10 years respectively. Up to mid-2012 they provided their expertise in the areas of heritage, geology and renewable energy to the company for free, they said.

In their appeal, they said the case that the bathroom was necessary to make the commercial venture a success had not been made. It was “alarming” that the return on the “massive investment” into Lambay’s infrastructure “hangs on whether a single room can have an en-suite bathroom or not”. A conservation plan should be carried out before any bathroom works, they said.

The couple had previously objected to the plan to open up the castle and other buildings to tourism.

Lambay, the largest island off the east coast, was acquired by the Baring family in 1904. The third baron, banker Cecil Baring, later commissioned Lutyens to convert and extend Lambay Castle; the architect was later godfather to his son Rupert.

Lutyens made the original medieval castle habitable bycreating a courtyard of buildings containing extra bedrooms and other rooms, with grey pantile roofs sweeping down almost to the ground and an enclosing curtain wall, including a bastioned gateway.

Lambay Castle and many of its outbuildings are protected structures in the Fingal county plan. The island is also a designated nature conservation area, with the largest concentration of seabirds in Ireland, including cormorant, gannet, kittiwake and puffin.