Emo Court is a country villa designed, but not built by the famous architect James Gandon (1742 – 1823). Gandon is best known for his great public buildings in Dublin which include ‘The Custom House’ and ‘The Four Courts’. Gandon designed Emo Court in 1790 in the neo-classical style, reflecting the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome for John Dawson, the First Earl of Portarlington. Nearly 200 years passed before Emo Court became the grand house that it is today. When the Earl died in 1798, the house was still incomplete. No more work was done until the 1835, when the second Earl hired the English architect Lewis Vulliamy and the Dublin architects known as Williamson to complete the garden front and work on the interior. Another Dublin architect, William Calbeck, was hired in 1860 by the £rd Earl. Calbeck oversaw the building of the copper dome on the rotunda, as well as work on the interior. He also supervised the construction of a bachelor wing. When the last of the Portarlingtons left Emo Court in 1920, the house fell into decline. The Jesuits purchased the house in 1930 and used it as a seminary. In 1969, the order sold Emo Court to a Mr Cholmeley-Harrison. With the advice of Sir Albert Richardson and Partners, he began the laborious process of realising Gandon’s vision for Emo Court and its grounds. Today, the house, garden and park of Emo Court are owned and managed by the Office of Public Works.

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