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Wednesday 24 January 2018

Arson attack guts listed building by White House designer

Belcamp College, which was gutted by fire
Belcamp College, which was gutted by fire

Louise Hogan

Arson attacks that gutted a historic property were condemned as "wanton criminal damage" last night.

The latest in a series of fire attacks on Belcamp College, in Balgriffin, north Dublin, has destroyed the main house and caused the roof to partially collapse. The listed building was designed by Kilkenny-born architect James Hoban, who was responsible for the White House in Washington, and it also featured an oval room which has been gutted.

Fire crews managed to bring the huge blaze under control early yesterday morning after several hours battling back flames. Forensic teams were yesterday carrying out detailed examinations of the scene.

Most of the marble fireplaces, copper wiring, brass fittings and oak floorboards had been stripped from the building by looters over recent weeks, while almost every single sash window in the entire property had been smashed by vandals.

Last week developer Gerry Gannon and Fingal County Council's heritage officer organised the removal of six pairs of valuable Harry Clarke stained glass windows from the former school's chapel to the National Museum of Ireland for safekeeping.

Mr Gannon said security staff at the 208-acre property, which is now in the NAMA loan portfolio, had been attacked.

"We strongly condemn this type of wanton criminal damage, and any members of the public who are aware of persons involved in this criminal activity should report it to the gardai," a Fingal County Council spokeswoman said.

Mr Gannon purchased the property from the Oblate Fathers in 2004 for €105m for development after the religious order closed the school due to dwindling numbers.

A spokesman for the religious order, who set up the school there in 1893, described the arson attack as a "very unfortunate end to a very historic house".

The council said it had been satisfied the security measures had been sufficient to secure the premises until recent weeks.

Irish Independent

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