Designed for the first Earl of Milltown by Richard Castle in the 1740s, Russborough stands in stately repose at the base of the Wicklow Mountains, overlooking a large park that falls to the valley of the River Liffey. The well-preserved Palladian mansion and its surrounding demesne were donated to the Irish people in 1978 through the generosity of the estate’s second owners, Sir Alfred and Lady Beit. While the demesne contains one of the most intact and important designed landscapes ever created in Ireland, it has not been accessible to the public in the 30 years that Russborough has been open for visitation. Most of the original outbuildings, the 18th-century water features, and the historic structures in the wider demesne are in urgent need of repair, including the bridge to Lady’s Island, the lime kiln, and the ice-house. Loss of historic natural features, including mature broad-leaved woodland and parkland trees, is a very serious problem that must be met by a vast and well-researched replanting program. Renewed attention toward the stewardship of the demesne will restore the integral relationship between the house and its designed and natural landscapes, and preserve the integrity of the whole of Russborough.
Since the Watch
In late 2014 the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland launched a campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the Russborough garden. The scope of the project includes reinstating the garden paths to their original layout and dimensions, repairing the surrounding brick and stone walls using traditional techniques and materials, restoring the curvilinear glasshouse, and adding a new modern glasshouse to the grounds. March 2015