Demolition of Rising leader’s home ‘illegal’, claims his grandson
The ruins of the 1916 leader The O’Rahilly’s former home in Ballsbridge
September 30 2020 02:30 AM
The grandson of the 1916 leader known as The O’Rahilly has claimed the demolition of his former home in Ballsbridge yesterday morning was illegal.
The bulldozers moved in on the historic property at 40 Herbert Park before dawn, and within hours it was reduced to rubble to make way for a block of luxury apartments and a hotel development.
Dublin City councillors had recently voted to start the process of having the building included on its list of protected structures, but An Bord Pleanála (ABP) had already approved an application by the developer, Derryroe Ltd, to raze the building in the face of opposition from heritage groups and some local residents, as well as descendants of The O’Rahilly.
But although the planning board had given the go-ahead for the demolition, Proinsias Ó Rathaille, the grandson of The O’Rahilly, has said it was his view that a commencement order for the work, which in effect rubber stamps the decision of ABP, had not yet been issued by Dublin City Council (DCC).
In response to a query by the Herald, DCC said it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the demolition.
“Once the city council has ascertained the facts it will take any appropriate action,” a spokeswoman said.
The conservation section of the council wrote twice – the first letter was in April – to gain access to the property, so an inspector could decide if it was suitable to be added to the protected structures list.
However, no access was ever granted to the historically significant building.
The issue of the commencement order will form part of the council’s investigation.
Mr Ó Rathaille also said the claims that the house had no historic relevance were not true, and that all the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation had been at meetings in the house, and the address had been written on a letter by The O’Rahilly as he lay dying just off Moore Street, having been shot while leaving the GPO.
“That house should be a national monument. A process was underway to have it listed but An Bord Pleanála had its decision made before we could put it in place,” he said.
“They went in around 6am yesterday and knocked it. They did it at dawn, just like the leaders of the Rising were executed at dawn,” Mr Ó Rathaille added.
He said a revolver belonging to Michael Collins was found hidden in the kitchen of the house during renovations in the 1970s, and that three Irish Presidents, Éamon de Valera, Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh, and Douglas Hyde, had also been in the house.
“It should be a museum. My heart sank when I saw the pictures of the house after it was knocked down,” he said.