Heritage site faces ‘West Brit’ wrecking ball

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Efforts are underway to save a building which played a pivotal role in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence in Dublin, the home of the 1916 martyr known as ‘The O’Rahilly’.

Heritage activists, republicans and members of GAA clubs named after the legendary rebel have travelled to protest at No 40 Herbert Park in Ballsbridge, Dublin. The house is due to be demolished to make way for a giant aparthotel and apartments.

Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, known as The O’Rahilly, was the only leader of the 1916 Rising to die in battle, and the detached Edwardian house was his home. Two neighbouring houses in the same style have already been pulled down.

In June of this year, The O’Rahilly’s grandson, Proinsias O’Rahilly, called for the house to be on the Record of Protected Structures and listed as a National Monument, pointing out that “the meetings which took place in the house played a pivotal role in the foundation of the State”.

Roger Casement, Éamon de Valera, James Connolly and Michael Collins were among those who met in the house and as late as the 1970s a revolver belonging to Collins was discovered in its rafters, Mr O’Rahilly said. He said that he was “lost for words” that the demolition of the house was being pursued.

Another relative of the 1916 leaders, Honor O Brolchain, grand niece of Joseph Mary Plunkett, who herself lives close by Herbert Park in Donnybrook, also objected on the grounds of both the cultural and historical importance of the building and on its architectural merit.

In her written submission, Ms O Brolchain noted that “The O’Rahilly house had constant traffic, particularly of the Rising Leaders, Volunteers and members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.”

Sinn Féin councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha has also objected to the planned demolition. “It is amazing that anyone would say that this in not a building of major historical significance,” he said.

However, permission for the development was granted late last month to the McSharry and Kennedy families, the owners of the nearby Herbert Park Hotel.

Anti-Imperialist Action called on anyone with an interest in the heritage, history or culture of Ireland to resist the demolition of The O’Rahilly’s home. They said they had rallied to “defend Ireland’s revolutionary history” from “West Brits” who they said were “openly flying the Union Jack” on their hotel.

Holding placards that said ‘Ireland’s History Not for Sale’, members of the AIA and Macradh/Irish Socialist Republican Youth this week protested the planned demolition. They attracted support from passers by, but also drew the attention of Special Branch police, who noted the details of banners and placards before leaving.

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