The house of the O’Rahilly, a famous historical landmark once home to the 1916 Easter Rising leader Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, was tragically and deliberately demolished in the early hours of Tuesday morning, September 29.
The move by developers under cover of darkness at 6am came despite the vote by Dublin City Council two weeks earlier to preserve the house and make it a listed building.
Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, known as ‘An Rathailleach’ (in English, The O’Rahilly) was the only leader of the 1916 Rising to die in battle. His home was used for meetings during the Rising period, and he lived at the house before he was killed.
The destruction of the home at 40 Herbert Park, Ballsbridge was carried out on behalf of Kennedy and McSharry (Derryroe Ltd), owners of the Herbert Park Hotel.
An Bord Pleanála, the Irish planning authority, had given the developers permission to build an apartment block and hotel extension. The authority granted the decision despite opposition from historians, the statutory heritage body, An Taisce, and the Department of Culture and Arts.
The former home of the Kerry legend was the 20th house directly connected to the Easter Rising that has now been destroyed. Some suspect an ongoing effort by the authorities in the 26 County state to remove all visible reminders of Ireland’s independence struggle.
“In no other state would such deliberate destruction be tolerated,” said Ogra Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin’s youth wing. “This is the latest example showing how out of touch this government is with preserving its empire shattering, proud and noble history.”
Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews added: ”It’s really disappointing. It’s a green light for developers to come in and knock our heritage and historical sites.
“Particularly in the light of the fact the council had started the process to list it as a preserved building - so there’s question marks over the legality of it.”
Speaking in the Dublin parliament, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín denounced the demolition as “cultural vandalism”, while Republican Sinn Féin called for action against the developers and protection orders for other sites.
“In many ways this obscene act of violence against our revolutionary history typifies the vacuous greed and soulless nature of the society that is being shaped by the political and financial elites who know the price of everything and the value of nothing,” RSF said.
The remembrance group ‘Kerry’s Fight for Freedom’, closely associated with the O’Rahilly, also expressed their profound sense of loss. In a social media post they wrote: “Goodbye Darling and Goodbye 40 Herbert Park. So this is how we treat the home of The O’Rahilly; a man who willingly laid down his life for Irish Freedom; a man who wound the clock and stayed to hear it strike. Shame, shame, shame on those who allowed this happen”.