Abandoned Belcamp House and College, Dublin 17, Ireland

Belcamp House│Abandoned World Photography Urbex

Belcamp House is rooted in Irish history after having housed several political and revolutionary figures who paved the way for the 1916 Independence, such as Countess Markievicz, Bulmer Hobson and Sir Edward Newenham.

Other famous Irish figures who once graced the ivy-clad, red-brick mansion include parliamentarian Henry Grattan, Dublin-born actor and Emmy-winner Brendan Gleeson, golfer Philip Walton, and Frank Cummins, the Irish GAA star.

But despite having a colourful and impressive history, the 208-acre site has sadly fallen victim to a series of fires, extreme looting and vandalism, and vicious attacks since it became abandoned in 2004.

For example, a former student of Belcamp College was found shot on the grounds of Belcamp House in 2021. Several site security guards were also hospitalised after locals attacked them with machetes whilst riding horses through the abandoned hallways.

Keep reading to discover the fascinating history behind Belcamp House and what’s become of it today. But first, a little history lesson! 

The History of Belcamp House, Raheny, Dublin, Ireland

In 1778, Belcamp House was built for Sir Edward Newenham, a member of the Irish Parliament and huge supporter of the American Revolution. The four-storey Georgian building was designed by Kilkenny native James Hoban, who was also the architect of the White House in Washington DC.

The original site comprised of a large farmhouse with twelve bedrooms, outhouses, stables, a walled garden and was situated on seven acres of farmland.

In 1793, Newenham sold the estate to pay off his mounting debts.

In 1884, the Belcamp estate was purchased by the Oblate brothers who then built and established Belcamp College.

In 1903, the Oblate brothers added residential wings as well as a redbrick Gothic revival style chapel (St. Mary’s). The renowned chapel was designed by architect George Coppinger Ashlin and containing stained glass windows by the famous artist Harry Clarke.

These historically significant buildings, along with the walled gardens, still stand today, and served as inspiration for the design of the new homes at Belcamp, adding another layer of history to this site for a new generation of dwellers.

In late 1909, Countess Markievicz and a small group of Na Fianna Éireann members made Belcamp House their home. The group created their own private commune, which enabled them to live off the land while they practiced shooting and military drills. Irish freedom fighter revolutionaries such as Con Colbert, Eamon Martin, Paddy Ward, Garry Holohan, Seamus Kavanagh and the Reynolds brothers were all part of the “Belcamp Commune”.

Unfortunately, the Belcamp Commune didn’t last long and the Inghinidhe na hÉireann had to move out after they racked up a loss of £250.

In 1972 the historic Belcamp Hall was placed on the protected structures list.

In 2002, a security guard for the Belcamp site was shot but managed to survive.

In 2004, developer Gerry Gannon (Gannon Homes) purchased the property from the Oblate Fathers for €105m for development after the religious order closed the school due to dwindling numbers.

Gannon’s development proposal included converting the property into apartments, while hopefully retaining as many of the original furnishings as possible and restoring the infamous Washington Tower.

In 2007, one of Mr Gannon’s firms was granted permission to convert the derelict Belcamp school buildings into 30 apartments, but the plan never came to fruition.

In 2009, the Chapel of the Novitiate of the Oblate Fathers of St. Mary Immaculate was closed to the public.

During 2011, the Belcamp House and surrounding historic buildings were set on fire a number of times, and looting become rife. The fires destroyed the main house and caused the roof to partially collapse. Additionally, most of the marble fireplaces, copper wiring, brass fittings and oak floorboards had been stripped from the building by looters during the weeks prior to the fires, while almost every single sash window in the entire property had been smashed by vandals.

The vandals kept attacking the site throughout 2011, which at the time was under the protection of security guards. The final straw was when a group of hooligans on horses brandishing machetes terrorised and attacked the security guards.

Shortly after, 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. The stained glass was replaced by double-sided bullet-proof glass and the site security was increased.

By 2016, two more fires engulfed Belcamp House and the disrepair got even worse, despite the fact it was a listed, heritage building. In the summer of 2016, a section of the school building directly abutting Belcamp Hall was demolished, with the agreement of the planning authority, as a consequence of the trespassing and arson attacks on the property and in order to prevent access to the Hall and further damage.

In 2016, it was also the target of the investigation for a man who had been missing for 12 years, Patrick Lawlor.

In 2017, Gannon Homes got the go-ahead to build initial 165 housing units on the north Dublin site.

After work finally began on the site, the first brand new Belcamp houses were launched to the market in 2020.

A new phase was launched in 2022, with 33 new houses on offer. These include three-bed terraced houses with a floor area of approximately 1,215sq ft that are priced from €425,000. The three-bed end-of-terrace type is a similar size but is priced from €445,000, The four-bed end-of-terrace and semi-detached homes start at €510,000 and have a floor area of approximately 1,474sq ft.

The scheme was designed by CCK Architects, who wanted the houses to complement the redbrick of the historic buildings that are still on the site. There are future plans to completely refurbish Belcamp Hall, one of the older buildings, and convert it into apartments.

Over 100 houses have been sold at the development to date.

In August 2021, a homeless man who was a former student of Belcamp College was found on the site, crawling on the ground after being shot. But the violence didn’t end there. In the same month, a security guard for Belcamp House who was sitting outside the property in this car, had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance after he suffered a serious attack.

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