An archaeological dig is under way in a northside park to establish how much remains of a demolished Victorian mansion built by the Guinness family.
Testing of the site at St Anne’s Park in Raheny, which is currently occupied by two large mounds, will be carried out over the next three days, according to Dublin City Council’s Parks and Biodiversity section.
The dig will aim to establish the extent of subsurface remains of St Anne’s Mansion, which dates back to 1873 and was once intended as the official residence of the Taoiseach before it was destroyed by a fire in 1943.
The work is being financed by Dublin City Council and carried out by Archaeology and Build Heritage Ltd.
It will involve the opening of two trenches across the main area of the mansion under the south mound. Once any information discovered is recorded, the site of the dig will be backfilled.
In a Twitter post, Dublin City Council said people should “not be alarmed” if they see digging in St Anne’s Park over the coming days.
St Anne’s Park is a former estate built up from 1835 by two great-grandsons of Arthur Guinness – brothers Arthur and Benjamin Lee Guinness.
Named after a holy well on the site, St Anne’s was mainly developed and expanded by Sir Arthur Edward Guinness, who was known as Lord Ardilaun.
As Lord and Lady Ardilaun had no children, the estate passed to their nephew, Bishop Plunkett, in the 1920s.
However, he found he could not maintain such a large estate and sold it to Dublin Corporation in 1939 for £55,000, retaining Sybil Hill – now St Paul’s College – and 30 acres of parkland as a private residence.
Just over 200 acres of the estate was developed for public housing, with 270 acres kept as parkland. In 1968, the ruins of St Anne’s Mansion were demolished, while the Red Stables – now restored as a café and centre for artists – survived.
Tweeting his reaction to the archaeological dig, artist Jim Fitzpatrick – best known for his iconic image of Che Guevara – said: “We were gifted that magnificent house and all we did was neglect and destroy it.
“I was in the ruin many times with my mates for a smoke and there was loads of old military stuff, including German WW1 helmets. Irish army had used it during WW2. What a loss. All that remains is the avenue.”
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