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It was the
6th Viscount Fitzwilliam (succ 1743)
who began the massive development of the area, starting in the 1750s,
which soon turned it into Dublin's (indeed Ireland's) most desirable area.
This was continued by the
7th Viscount Fitzwilliam.
He left the estate
to his relative the
11th Earl of Pembroke
It thereafter became
known as the "Pembroke" Estate.
The Earls of Pembroke continued the development of the area.
The estate still exists in some form, though much reduced in size.
See the current Earl of Pembroke.
These vast estates extended through SE Co.Dublin
from Merrion Square in town
along the coast through Merrion out to Blackrock,
inland through Mount Merrion to Dundrum
and beyond to the Dublin mountains.
It was the largest family-owned estate in County Dublin,
and an absolute goldmine as the city exploded southwards from the late 18th century onwards.
Indeed cumulatively it was probably the most valuable estate in Ireland,
and is still the premium location in Dublin today.
Given that the
total value of all real estate in Ireland
€ 200 billion,
the value of all property on the old Fitzwilliam/Pembroke estate today
could be around € 20 billion.
This whole area is also famous as Dublin 4,
denoting the address
(or commonly just used as shorthand for the mindset)
of Ireland's liberal intelligensia.
And Dublin 2, the premium office area in the city,
is much of the land inside the Canal, around the two Fitzwilliam squares.
An even worse vandalism was narrowly averted:
the Catholic church purchased Merrion Square
from the Pembroke Estate
and planned to build a cathedral
on the site.
But luckily this plan was eventually scrapped.
"I can understand that the consortium of belted earls
and their ladies and left-wing intellectuals
who can afford the time to stand and contemplate in ecstasy
the unparalleled man-made beauty of the two corners of Hume Street
and St. Stephen's Green
may well feel that the amateurish efforts of Mother Nature
in the Wicklow Mountains are unworthy of their attention."
- Kevin Boland,
Minister for Local Government,
defending the destruction of Georgian Dublin, 1970.
Also expressing an official line of hatred of all of Ireland's
actual surviving architecture,
and a bleak harking back to dull nature
and an imaginary Celtic past.