• Russborough is a Palladian mansion built from local granite 275 years ago which now has a protected view to preserve the vista that persuaded the First Earl of Milltown to build Russborough in its current location with its magnificent unspoilt views of the Wicklow Mountains and Blessington Lakes.


Three extended families have lived in Russborough over the last 275 years from each of the six Earls of Milltown (1740 - 1930) to Colonel & Maeb Daly (1931- 1951) to Sir Alfred & Lady Beit (1952- 2005) and finally The Alfred Beit Foundation established by Sir Alfred & Lady Beit.


Two forced occupations have taken place at Russborough, firstly by British troops in the civil war of 1798 where many of the original wooden floors of the house were lifted and used for firewood and secondly by the ' old IRA' in 1922 during the civil war of that time.


Two fires have taken place at Russborough with the first being in 1964 in the main house caused by a faulty heating boiler whilst the second nearly destroyed the West Wing in 2010 and was caused by builders who were restoring the wing.


One ghost has 'lived on ' through all of these events over 275 years and is still lurking somewhere between bedroom number 1 and bedroom number 9!


When telephones were first introduced into Ireland, Russborough's telephone number was 'Blessington 3'. Of greater importance in the locality must have been the Catholic priest whose telephone number was 'Blessington 1' and the local doctor who was 'Blessington 2'.


Almost 100 years ago Sir Alfred Beit travelled around the world taking film and photographs including thousands of 3D images. In the exhibition centre see his home movies from India, Egypt (on top of the pyramids) and Bali and a large selection of his wonderful 3D photographs from the 1920's.


• The Beit fortune was created by Alfred Beit, uncle of Sir Alfred Beit, who established the De Beers diamond company in the 1880s and after he died in 1906 it was confirmed he had been the second wealthiest man in the World! The 20,000 sq. ft. head high beech hedge Maze at Russborough, built in the 1980s, has the shape of a diamond at its centre as a tribute to Alfred Beit.


• Falconry dates back 5,000 years in Ireland to fossil remains at Newgrange. 5,000 years later the National Bird of Prey centre, based at Russborough, displays many birds of prey including the three species released recently into Ireland's mountain ranges. See the Golden Eagle, the White Tailed Eagle and the Red Kite which have recently been released into counties Kerry, Donegal and Wicklow where Russborough's itself is located.


Half of the West Wing was originally built as stables for the finest and most valuable horses on the estate. They remained stables for well over 200 years and no doubt these horses were treated better, and lived in much better conditions, than many of the estate workers who looked after them.


• There are 10 stone carved lions on the estate with two at the front of the house, two at the back and six on top of the original 1750s main entrance archway (three looking at you as you enter and three more looking at you as you leave).


At the front and at the back of the house two 'ha ha's' have been built in order to prevent cattle from encroaching close to the house itself and to improve the view for the owners.


• Lady's Island is a beautiful part of the estate surrounded by a moat and with a red Japanese bridge required to cross it. The tallest and rarest trees on the estate are planted here including douglas fir, silver fir, scots pine and it now also hosts the fairy trail for young children to explore.

Four robberies have taken place in the house from the IRA attempt by Rose Dugdale in 1974 deemed at the time to be 'the biggest art robbery in history' following which Rose Dugdale was captured and imprisoned; to the robbery in 1986 by Martin 'The General' Cahill who was
later assassinated in 1994; to further robberies in both 2001 and again in 2002. Fortunately, all of the most valuable paintings were eventually recovered and are now on display in the National Gallery of Ireland.


There have been two extremely generous gifts of treasures from Russborough to the people of Ireland which can now be seen in the National Gallery of Ireland. In 1902 the Countess of Milltown donated much of the contents at Russborough including paintings, furniture & sculptures which resulted in one of the wings at the NGI being named 'The Milltown Wing'. In 1987, Sir Alfred & Lady Beit donated 17 painting masterpieces, conservatively valued at €100 million in today's terms, to the same NGI leading to a further wing at the National Gallery being called 'The Beit Wing'.


• The ruins of the old Russborough Post Office remain on the edge of the estate. Apart from serving the local community with postal services it was also the location of the Russborough tramway stop for the Blessington to Poulaphuca tram which operated from 1888 - 1932. The first Chairman of this tramway was the 6th Earl of Milltown who lived at Russborough and whose tomb & that of the Countess of Milltown can still be seen on a walk around the estate.


 From the front of Russborough you can see the Poulaphuca Reservoir. This was originally the River Liffey until it was flooded during 1939, in front of Russborough, to create a reservoir for Dublin's water supply. Over 80 families were forcibly relocated and at times of very low water in the lake you can still see the remnants of the farm houses which had to be evacuated. The 4th Earl of Milltown's tomb remains under water.


• The underground Ice House at Russborough was built 275 years ago and preserved ice for the First Earl of Milltown so that when he invited friends and family for Summer parties he could offer his guests ice with their drinks and desserts. In 1750 this was a 'wow'factor.


The very first building on the Russborough estate was the lime kiln which was recently restored and 'fired' as it would have been in the 18th century. The kiln was originally built to produce quicklime which itself was used both for fertiliser on the land but more importantly to produce lime mortar required to cement together the locally sourced granite blocks from which the Palladian mansion is constructed.

The Hippodrome was built by the 4th Earl of Milltown about 200 years ago in order to train horses and is the only such building in Ireland. Today it has a canopy on it so that music, theatre and even weddings can be held in it.


Wonderful trees abound at Russborough including a sequoia planted in 1861 by the then Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VII in the UK. In more recent years there are trees dedicated to Ninette de Valois who was born locally in Blessington and founded the Royal Ballet in London. Irish oaks were planted by each of the last two Presidents of Ireland, President Mary McAleese during her visit of 2011 and President Michael D. Higgins during his visit of 2015.


The walled gardens date back to the 1750s. At that time the greenhouses had no oil fired heating to keep plants from dying on frosty Winter nights so young apprentice gardeners were obliged to sleep close to the greenhouse and stoke the peat fires during the night to keep the temperatures up. Produce from the garden was used to support up to 100 employees and family living in 'The Great House'. Today volunteers from the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland, which is 200 years old itself, are restoring the walled garden to its former glory.


• The Families (and ghosts) of Russborough. Since its construction in the 1740’s Russborough has been owned by three families. From 1740 until 1931 the seven generations of the Earls of Milltown lived at Russborough. From 1931- 1952 Colonel & Maeb Daly and their two children called Russborough their home. From 1952 until 2005 Sir Alfred & Lady Beit lived here and now The Alfred Beit Foundation operates the house and estate. Today, the Russborough ghost ‘lives on’ between Bedroom number 1 and Bedroom number 9!’

Contact us in Blessington, Co. Wicklow, to acquire more information about our great stories.