Russborough House was built between 1741 and 1755 for the 1st Earl of Milltown Joseph Leeson based upon a design by Richard Cassels. Cassels was an engineer and architect who came to Ireland in 1728 and is renowned as having designed some of our most prominent state buildings and distinguished homes. Leinster House, the Rotunda Hospital, Carton House, Powerscourt House and the Printing House in Tirnity College are examples of Cassels lasting legacy. Russborough is a fine example of Palladian architecture and the interior of the house is breathtaking, containing some ornate plasterwork by the Lafranchini Brothers, who also worked with Cassels on Carton House.
The house remained in the possession of the Earls of Milltown until the sixth earl’s widow died in 1914, it was then passed to a nephew named Edmund Turton. The house then moved into the hands of Captain Denis Bowes Daly before being bought by Sir Alfred and Lady Beit in 1952. The house and its substantial art collection were opened to the public in 1978. Alfred Beit died in 1994 but Lady Beit remained in residence until her death in 2005. The art collection has been victim to four thefts, firstly in 1974 by an IRA cell including British heiress Rose Dugdale (an interesting character), a further burglary happened in 1986 by the infamous criminal Martin Cahill and later by one of Cahill’s associates Martin Foley in 2001 and 2002. Most of the paintings stolen were subsequently recovered but some of the finer items of the collection have been moved to the National Art Gallery in Dublin.
Russborough House is a true gem of Irish architecture, its landscaped parkland and wide variety of trees and plants make a quick trip from Dublin well worth it.
GPS: 53.14161, -6.56954