Dublin’s Ely House was supposedly built as a townhouse in 1771 by Henry Loftus, 3rd Earl of Ely, though recent research suggests he may have bought it from developer, Gustavus Hume. It was originally built with six bays. In 1811 Nathaniel Callwell added the left entrance door to create two houses and the central entrance hall was re-planned. The house remained in private ownership until Lady Aberdeen secured the lease for use as the Women’s National Health Association headquarters circa 1908. In 1923 the present owners, the Knights of St. Columbanus, acquired the building. The Knights applied to the Irish Georgian Society in 2003 for funds to restore the Palladian window in the stairwell as part of a larger conservation programme. Inappropriate repairs, damaged flashings, and water ingress had left the window in poor condition. The Society, recognising the importance of this project, provided over sixty percent of the window project funds.
Brief description of project:
The repair of the Palladian window entailed cleaning the granite stone, removing cement repairs and corroded iron bars, re-fixing the stone arch with stainless steel rods, fitting matching stone grafts with stainless steel pins, and providing new lead flashings.
The majestic building, now restored, continues to serve the Knights of St. Columbanus and stands as an important example of Dublin’s rich Georgian architectural and cultural history.
The house is a brick terraced house of seven bays and four storeys with a pitched roof and brick chimneystacks. Sash windows of nine-over-nine exist on the ground and first floors, while windows of six-over-six and three-over-three configuration are to the second floor and third floors, respectively. The left entry door added in 1811 is graced with Ionic columns and is topped by a fanlight. Each window on the first floor also maintains an early-nineteenth century cast iron balcony. The interior is ornate and boasts impressive Neoclassical detail, the most significant feature being the grand, Portland stone staircase. It features an extravagant, wrought iron and panelled balustrade with carved gilt-wood which portrays the Labours of Hercules. At its base is a statue of Hercules which is joined to the handrail. The rest of the stairhall displays intricate plasterwork complete with festoons, masks, and flower-baskets.