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Tour Russborough House, 'the Most Beautiful House in Ireland'

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Upon coming into his inheritance in the 1740s, a mogul's son named Joseph Leeson made two major investments: a seat in parliament (oh, 18th-century politics!) and a custom-built manor that remains the longest (about 700 feet) and, as the editors of this month's Elle Decor argue, most beautiful estate in Ireland. Beyond the limestone gateway, through the beech trees, and past the limestone façade, there lies room after parquet-floored room brimming with ornate plasterwork and 18th-century antiques, most the jeweled colors and golds of a giant treasure chest. Though Russborough House has been open to the public since 1978, the collection of fixtures Leeson, who apparently died "extremely rich, [as] an old debauchee," cultivated is also indexed and on decadent display in the pages of Elle Decor. Details (and photos of course) from the story are below.

From Leeson's death onward, the house passed uneventfully from aristocratic heir to semi-distant cousin until, in August 1952, the place sold to a bigwig named Sir Alfred Beit, who went about restoring the manse's former splendor, "replenishing its rooms with glorious paintings, such as the only Vermeer then still in private hands, along with works by Goya, Velázquez, Rubens, Frans Hals, and Gainsborough," or so ED writes. The Beits died without an heir and left their prized possessions—which includes 20th-century armchairs covered in oxblood leather, a George III-style mahogany-inlaid table, rosewood plant stands, and a Venetian glass chandelier, and that's only in the library (above)—for public ogling.

The tapestry room oscillates around a Regency mahogany and brass table, while matching ivory silks—designed by Wilson's of the Strand in 1794—adorn the gold trimmed English State bed and settees.


The dining room is anchored by an 18th-century mahogany table and 20th-century lacquer-and-parcel-gilt chairs.

Per Elle Decor:

"The saloon's Louis XVI gilt-wood chair is upholstered in a Gobelins tapestry, the 18th-century portrait of Thomas Conolly is by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and the 18th-century mantel was crafted by Thomas Carter the Younger of London; the mahogany-and-satinwood parquet flooring is original to the house."

· Irish Heritage: Inside the Russborough House [Elle Decor]
· All The Printed Page posts [Curbed National]