Lost poet's society house where WB Yeats used to visit on the market for €2m
Number 51 was home to Irish literature's banished bard
Published 15/04/2016 | 02:30
Historians suggest the 1916 Rising and subsequent struggle for freedom might not have taken place without the preceding reassertion of Irish cultural independence.
A lively rebirth in theatre, language, literature, folklore, music and craft from the 1880s was manifested in the Irish literary revival and this re-established Irish identity.
The names of most of its key proponents shine today: Lady Gregory, Standish O'Grady, Douglas Hyde, Percy French, Sean O'Casey, Charles Gavan Duffy and of course WB Yeats. All but one: few will recall the name of poet journalist TW Rolleston.
Despite being one of the revival's 'heavyweights', many - including Trinity College's Head of English, Professor Eve Patten - believe TW was written out of popular Irish history because his views piqued the nationalist rump of the literati.
In fact, Thomas William Hazen Rolleston, then living at a fine spread at 51 Killiney Hill Road, was part of almost every vital 'happening' of the literary and cultural revival scene. He was founder (along with Yeats) of the London based Rhmer's Club - a group of poets who met regularly for chat and to critique one another's works and later to publish vital anthologies.
In 1892, with Yeats and Duffy, he set up the Irish Literary Society. He assisted co-op movement founder Sir Horace Plunkett in the management of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society and was key, with Hyde, in setting up the Gaelic League. He became the first managing director of the Irish Industries' Society, which preserved endangered Irish crafts.
He was an editor, a journalist, poet, author, a botanist, a sailor, an actor, a rugby player, a competitive horseman and a very fine musician. Born the son of a judge in Offaly, Rolleston lived for a time in Germany before founding the Dublin University Review in 1885 in which he published Yeats; he published Poems And Ballads Of Young Ireland (1888) and wrote the influential Myths And Legends Of The Celtic Race.
Although a close friend of Yeats in the 1880s and 1890s, their relationship became strained over political views and literature outlook as the new century opened. A big falling out appears to have ensued between Rolleston and the others in relation to a pro empire pamphlet from Rolleston published in 1901, possibly in relation to the Boer War.
It caused the normally placid Arthur Griffith to condemn him along with Duffy and finally his old friend Yeats took umbrage. Yeats was churlish when riled and finally described Rollestan in his memoirs as his "intimate enemy".
The former IRB member moved to London in 1908 where British Intelligence enlisted his services based on his German experiences. He died there in 1920. The owners of TW Rolleston's long time home at 51 Killiney Hill Road have found a photograph of a relaxed-looking Yeats taken with the Rolleston children in the 1890s in what is believed to be the back garden of No51 - from the days when the developing poet would visit the home of his fellow scribe.
The 1840s built property is currently on the market for €2m with much of the interest to date coming from abroad. It's biggest asset is a two thirds of an acre garden site in one of Dublin's most scenic suburbs. This is a double fronted five-bedroom home within walking distance of Killiney Beach.
Its period features are largely intact, including ceiling covings and cornices, fireplaces and shuttered sash windows. The 2,583 sq ft includes an entrance hall, drawing room, dining room, breakfast room, utility, kitchen and family room.
The first floor return has a large double bedroom with a hallway leading to the guest WC. There's a family bathroom, dressing room (currently in use as a guest room) and another large double bedroom.
The first floor has a landing with two double bedrooms. The second floor has a double bedroom and a study. The former coach house has been converted, providing a bright family room, which opens on to a courtyard for al fresco dining. There's a lawn tennis court in the gardens and a series of outhouses for storage purposes. And of course there's the attached forgotten garden party legacy of WB and WT.
51 Killiney Hill Road,
Killiney, Co Dublin
Asking price: €2m
Agent: Savills (01) 2885011