Russborough House, Blessington. County Wicklow     1755

Russborough House was built in 1755 and is the longest house in the country with a facade of over 700 feet in length. It is also regarded as one of Ireland’s most beautiful houses. It was designed and built in the Palladian style by Richard Cassels, one of the greatest architects to have worked in Ireland in the 18th century. Cassel’s other works include Powerscourt House, Carton House, Leinster House, The Connoly Folly and The Rotunda Hospital. Russborough was built for Joseph Leeson (as in Leeson Street), 1st Earl of Milltown. In 1952 Sir Alfred Beit, and his wife Clementine, bought the house and filled it with a priceless art collection. This collection was inherited from his uncle Alfred Beit founder of the De Beer diamond company whose collection included works by Goya, Vermeer, Gainsborough and Rubense. The house has subsequently has the record of being one of the most robbed houses. It has been robbed by the IRA in 1974, then by Martin Cahill (The General) in 1986 and then by armed raiders in 2001. The house is now open to the public and has beautiful gardens, crafts, a playground and even a hedge maze.