Russborough is often referred to as Ireland’s most beautiful house. It is also Ireland’s longest, with a facade of over 700 feet in length. It was designed by Richard Cassels, one of the greatest architects to have worked in Ireland in the 18th century, in the Palladian style. Cassels (who anglicised his name to ‘Castle’) was born in Germany but was of French Origin. His other works include Powerscourt House, Carton House, Leinster House, The Connoly Folly and The Rotunda Hospital. Russborough was designed for Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown and built between 1741 and 55. The principal feature of the interiors are the rococo plaster-work and the ceilings, by the master stucoists Paul and Philip Lanfrachini. In 1952 Sir Alfred Beit, and his wife Clementine, bought the house and filled it with a priceless art collection. This was inherited from his uncle Alfred Beit (founder of the De Beer diamond company) and included Goyas, Vermeers, Gainsboroughs and Rubenses. The house has subsequently been robbed on 3 separate occassions by the IRA in 1974, Martin Cahill (The General) in 1986, and was ram raided by armed raiders in 2001. the house is now open to the public and has beautiful gardens, crafts, a playground and even a maze.

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