DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has granted permission for the demolition of Ireland's oldest theatre.
Aldborough House on Portland Row in County Dublin is to be knocked down to make away for new offices.
Built throughout the 1790s by Edward Stratford, second Earl of Aldborough (although not fully completed until 1803, two years after his death), the theatre was the second-biggest Georgian private residence in Dublin, after Leinster House.
The house has been vacant for much of the last two decades and is in an advanced state of decay largely due to severe water damage and vandalism.
Planning permission was granted to Reliance Investments Ltd. in May for the conversion of Aldborough House into an office complex and for the complete demolition of the theatre wing to facilitate building two new five-storey “office wings” in its grounds, despite criticism of the project by the Department of Heritage and various conservation organisations.
A new campaign by the Friends of Aldborough House, spearheaded by Brice Stratford – a historian and theatre director descended from the family of the Earls of Aldborough – seeks to protect the building in situ, or to secure a site for removal and restoration of the theatre elsewhere.
Brice Stratford has stated: "Ireland's contribution to theatre in the 18th century was huge and lasting; to permanently and irreperably destroy the best physical link we have to this extraordinary past, let alone the loss of the oldest theatre building in the country, is beyond comprehension.
The Irish Georgian Society said it had "grave concerns about the scale and intensity of new development and the extent of internal alteration proposed."