When Angels Come Calling
It’s all change on and off Baggot Street in Ballsbridge, south Dublin. The Unicorn and l’Écrivain restaurants are history. Larry Murphy’s watering hole has closed although Searson’s and The Waterloo continue to serve thirsty customers. Wilton Place, where Baggot Street meets the canal, is being transformed. Wilton Park House and the other office blocks are demolished, waiting to be replaced by architects Henry John Lyons’ on trend glazed office led mixed use scheme which will include LinkedIn’s European headquarters.
Wilton Park House was the home of the Industrial Development Agency. Architects Tyndall Hogan Hurley’s block was, perhaps, an acquired taste, an unforgiving sort of beauty, but it had an impressive fortress-like appearance with its granite walls and horizontal bands of irregular spaced windows interspersed with stainless steel panels. Those windows held significance: the higher the grade of IDA manager, the more windows they could claim for their office. Not every commercial building can boast of status denoting fenestration. Hierarchy continued with the tea trolley: plain biscuits on the first to fifth floors; chocolate coated biscuits for senior management on the top floor. The ground floor staff restaurant serving subsidised meals was a place for everyone to gain their “IDA stone”.
Pembroke Road is a continuation of Baggot Street to the south of the canal. Little has changed along this stretch of grand Georgian terraces and villas. Architectural details only have been updated. Dublin based architect John O’Connell points out, “The patent reveals of the sash windows were painted white in Victorian times to reflect light.” Pembroke Hall on Pembroke Road is a tall two bay three storey over basement mid terrace townhouse. It has that wall to window ratio so pleasing to the eye that Dublin does best. And of course a grand doorcase with fanlight. An internal fanlight extends natural light through the entrance hall and up the staircase.
The house has been sensitively restored and converted to accommodate 12 bedrooms for holiday lets. Contemporary furnishings include steel framed desks designed by Patrick McKenna of Wabi Sabi and headboards designed by Helle Moyna of Nordic Elements. There’s more change to the southeast of Pembroke Hall. The Berkeley Hotel (famous for its late 20th century tapestries) and Jury’s Inn (infamous for its all-nighter Coffee Dock) have been replaced by new luxury apartment blocks called Lansdowne Place.
Over to Pembroke Hall owners Ian and Hilary McCarthy: “Ballsbridge has a wonderful history that goes back to the Viking invasions of the 8th and 9th centuries. A legendary battle was fought here between the Irish and the invading Danes. A Viking grave and burial mound was uncovered not far from where Pembroke Hall is today. Medieval Dublin was a sprawling city served by two major roads. You can still walk along the route today from St Stephen’s Green to Merrion Row and along Pembroke Street, then on across the River Dodder and south to the sea at Blackrock.”
“Ballsbridge – or ‘Balls Bridge’ as it was then – was and still is a prosperous settlement. It had a linen and cotton printers, a paper mill and a gunpowder factory. The farmland that surrounded it was owned by the Fitzwilliam family. In 1833 it was inherited by George Herbert, the 11th Earl of Pembroke. It was George Herbert who created the Pembroke Road you see today which was and is part of the larger Pembroke Estate in Dublin.”
“Georgian Dublin was one of the most fashionable cities in Europe. Wealthy aristocracy lived in tall elegant terraces of brick houses of which No.76 Pembroke Road is one. George Herbert’s lands were close to the city’s three most beautiful Georgian garden squares: Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square and St Stephen’s Green. He built magnificent residences all along Pembroke Road. His name lives on in one of Dublin’s grandest wide boulevards and his name is remembered at Pembroke Hall.”
“We acquired the house in 2017. It had been in use as a guesthouse previously but it was closed for some years after the economic difficulties of 2008. We refurbished the house extensively over six to eight months, keeping faith with its history and historic features. Our online reviews are nine plus and we are delighted and thankful for that.”
“We believe Pembroke Hall is very special. We want to provide guests with a very comfortable experience when they, stay based on three elements: a good night’s sleep in a super comfy king or super king sized bed; excellent WiFi; and a super shower. We decided not to do food because our location is minutes away from fantastic eateries that provide wonderful food all day. We are just a 15 to 20 minute walk from the city centre.”
“Our location is wonderful. The Aviva Stadium is moments away and is the home of Irish rugby and soccer. On 13 November 2021 Ireland won against the All Blacks at the stadium – our third victory against this world winning team! There are an array of local eateries, parks and transport facilities on our doorstep. You can walk to the city centre for shopping, Trinity College, Dublin Castle, government buildings and Dublin’s wonderful art galleries. Not forgetting the Guinness Storehouse too. We hope this gives you a feel and flavour for Pembroke Hall.”