No 21 Aungier Street is designated under 4 different legal principles; National Monuments and Sites Act, Article 38 protecting all original materials and use, Section 19 Revenue Act amortising costs against tax and access to the public, 2000 planning and Development act on the list of the RPS (Record of Protected Structure)
- 1992 the building was recognised by Dublin Civic Trust as a late 17th century building. It was reported to the relevant department and was given status – protective status under the monument and sites act and registered as a National Monument.
- 1995 The Bord Pleanala reversed the demolition order on it. Because of its status, an appeal was made to the word and the Bord reversed the decision by DCC and the building was vested in the ownership of the Dublin Civic Trust.
- 1995-97 Research to prove historic and material significance – the dating of timber frame walls which are very early. The timber dating of the early staircase to 1680. This is the only full staircase of its kind going up 4 floors with 6 turns in it – it has early pear shaped balustrades the same as the ones in the Royal Hospital.
Number 21 Aungier Street is a substantial late 17th-century mansion one of the oldest recorded buildings in the city, a structure of outstanding architectural and historical significance, built during the 1660s on lands leased by Sir Francis Aungier to Robert Reading, Esq., an influential colleague of the Duke of Ormond, and was subsequently home to the Earls of Rosse, supporters of King James II at the Battle of the Boyne.
The building is a rare surviving example in Dublin of the transition in building technology from late medieval timber framing to brick and masonry construction.
It substantially retains its original plan and layout, consisting of four rooms, arranged around a centrally positioned staircase and two massive chimney stacks, flanked by smaller closet rooms.
The internal walls are timber-framed and are similar in character to those found in Numbers 9- 9A Aungier Street, a 17th-century mansion that has more recently come to light, a building recognised for its rarity by Dublin City Council, conservation department.
The staircase in No.21 survives intact, it rises six flights through the building, featuring squared newels, a wide heavy handrail and handsome pear-shaped balusters characteristic of the late 17th century and is the only means of accessing the upper floors.
Renovation of the building
In 1992, planning permission was granted for demolition of the building, which was subsequently overturned by An Bord Pleanála in acknowledgement of the mansion’s outstanding architectural significance. Through Dublin Civic Trust’s intervention, (then) Dublin Corporation arranged for a site swap with the developer who had originally purchased it from the Corporation, and subsequently vested the property in Dublin Civic Trust in 1995.
The Dublin Civic Trust undertook a major year-long programme of structural stabilisation, conservation and restoration as a pioneering built heritage demonstration project, which was grant aided by Dublin Corporation and the Department of Environment.
This included extensive steel and masonry bracing, reinstating the roof, repointing the late Georgian façade of c.1810, salvaging and refurbishing all original joinery elements, lime plaster wall and ceiling repairs, and the careful reinstatement of windows to exact historic profiles. A stand-out element of the works was the meticulous consolidation and repair of the rare original staircase and timber-framed walls.
Upon completion of the essential conservation works, Dublin Civic Trust sold the property under our Revolving Fund Scheme to a private owner who undertook to complete the building and operate it as a 15-bedroom heritage guesthouse with associated café at ground floor level. The grant of permission for this use (Ref: 2678/96), which operated until approximately the year 2000, was conditioned on reasonable public access being afforded to the first-floor level, in addition to full public access at ground floor level. Under the same grant, a planning condition required an agreement to be signed under Section 38 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 1963 (amended) stipulating the preservation of the original staircase, original timber beams and medieval timber partitions, original free standing chimney stacks, and the restored front and rear walls. A further condition requested that “no further subdivisions of the important ground and first floors shall be permitted.”
- On completion of the restoration in 1997 the Dublin Civic Trust – the building was launched by the then minister Liz Mc Manus – a section 38 agreement was drawn up protecting all original material identified and stating that this would not be removed or interfered with in the foreseeable future – this was signed by Dublin Corporation.
- Section 19 under the Revenue act was obtained on the building which entitled a would-be purchaser to amortise the restoration costs against their tax liability. This was subsequently used by the new owner.
Since approximately the year 2000 Number 21 was pressed into unauthorised use as a long-term hostel providing residential accommodation for the Immigration Service, and latterly to the Department of Justice as a step-down facility for young offenders. This use was in breach of the authorised guesthouse use which afforded public access to the property and facilitated the appreciation and enjoyment of its unique heritage features.
Irish Times, March 2nd 2017: Olivia O Kelly
Irish Times, March 26th 2017: Olivia O Kelly