A Boarded Up Boarding School

The town of Portarlington, which straddles the border between Counties Laois and Offaly, dates from the mid-1660s when founded by Henry Bennet. An ardent supporter of Charles II, he was rewarded by the king with large grants of land in this part of Ireland, and sought to make the most of this gift by establishing a new settlement. Since he had been created Baron Arlington in 1665 (and made Earl of Arlington the following decade), he decided to call the town Port-Arlington, hence its name. The original English colony was not a success but at the start of the 1690s, a number of Huguenot families, religious refugees from France, came to Portarlingon and thereafter the town flourished. Dating from 1697, Arlington House, on French Church Street, was one of the first buildings to be erected by a Huguenot settler, Daniel Le Grand Chevalier Seigneur du Petit Bosc who lived here until his death in 1737. He was responsible for the rear section of the house, to which a new front with pedimented façade and first-floor Diocletian window was added in the mid-18th century. It later became a boarding school, one of the pupils who attended there being Edward Carson. In more recent years, despite its history and importance to the town, Arlington House has stood empty and allowed to fall into the present state of near-total ruin. It is, naturally, listed by the local authority for protection.

6 comments on “A Boarded Up Boarding School

  1. J Brendan Woods says:

    A listed building left to total ruin by the local authority of the populace. What is it about about this nation of ours ???

  2. Would make a fine town/community hall a shame to be left like that.

  3. It was deliberately left to go to ruin by builders McCormack & Kelly. A local youth kicked out the clock in the pediment in the 1990’s. Local historian Ronnie Matthews led a committee that secured a grant to secure the building in 2002, the same day that Laois County Council removed the roof as unsafe. The render was removed from the exterior as part of a TV show.

    • claudius1889 says:

      Just a question, how is it that those builders were not prosecuted for leaving the house to rot? I know that there are hundreds of historical buildings in Ireland in need of care or restoration, but something could, or should, be done; at least repair the roof. End of rant

  4. David orford says:

    The builders were granted permission to demolish the house by Laois Co. Co. but this decision was overturned by An Bord Pleanala, so what did they do ? They left the front door open and allowed people to salvage whatever they wanted. Vandals did their work and Laois Co. Co. finished the job by issuing an order for the owners to remove the roof. An Irish solution to an Irish problem. The late Ronnie Mathews researched the history of the house from the 1690’s to the 1980’s which is fascinating. My grandfather spent a lot of money on restoration work in the 1960’s, all in vain unfortunately. My family were forced to leave Arlington House in 1983 after 50 years, after fighting tooth and nail to remain in the house. So sad to see such an historic house in such a state, it would only happen in Ireland.

  5. […] County Laois has featured here on a couple of previous occasions (see A Boarded Up Boarding School « The Irish Aesthete and On the Market « The Irish Aesthete). In both instances, astonishment was expressed that so […]

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