Lord Charlemont’s Mysterious Tunnels at Marino

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Heritage Week, now in progress, opens various little-known attractions to the public. These include a series of mysterious tunnels built by Francis Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont (1728-1799) underneath the lands in the vicinity of the Casino at Marino in Dublin. The Marino tunnels, used by the IRA for firing practice during the War of Independence, may be visited at set times (http://casinomarino.ie).

Marino House is gone and most of the parklands built over, but the exquisite neoclassical Casino and the secret tunnels remain. The Irish Times of 19 August 2016 posited a suggestion as to why Lord Charlemont had the tunnels constructed: ‘His personal physician, Dr Charles Lucas, had also written a treatise on the health-giving benefits of water, so he was probably following instructions when he built the tunnels’.

It is true that Lucas was a great believer in the medical benefits of water and bathing and wrote a three-part treatise entitled An Essay on Waters (London 1756). However, an emphasis on subterranean bathing is not evident in Lucas’s voluminous publications. Perhaps the classically-influenced Charlemont, who had visited Rome in his youth, was endeavouring to replicate the famous underground of that city, where baths, temples and other built-over constructs have survived.

Charlemont was also a prominent member of the Society of Dilettanti, whose founder, Sir Francis Dashwood, of Hellfire Club notoriety, had a series of underground caves excavated between 1748 and 1752 near High Wycombe in England (http://goo.gl/szE1AV). It is not suggested that the more sober Charlemont indulged in the subterranean devil worship and orgies with which Dashwood’s name is associated. Yet the two men clearly shared a penchant for expensive tunnel construction, the reasons for which which are not entirely clear.

This post was written by Sean Murphy who would be delighted to hear from anyone who may have ideas about the possible reasons that Charlemont had the tunnels constructed. His email address is sjbmurphy (at) eircom.net or just add a comment below.

A compact biography of Charles Lucas (1713-1771)

Print from portrait of Charles Lucas by Sir Joshua Reynolds (courtesy of Teylers Museum)
Print from portrait of Charles Lucas by Sir Joshua Reynolds (courtesy of Teylers Museum)

I have just uploaded to Academia.edu an amended version of my compact biography of Charles Lucas, the eighteenth-century Irish patriot, author and medical doctor. In contrast to figures such as Swift and Grattan, Lucas Continue reading A compact biography of Charles Lucas (1713-1771)

Website Launch: Mapping State and Society in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

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‘Mapping State and Society in Eighteenth-Century Ireland’ is a new free online resource currently under development at UCD. The project aims to provide a free electronic platform for research projects that are using spatial and other data in order to create online maps and further data relating to state and society Continue reading Website Launch: Mapping State and Society in Eighteenth-Century Ireland

The Georgian Pop Up Museum in Limerick

What was the Georgian Pop Up Museum? It was a locally produced, volunteer led and run project showcasing Limericks rich Georgian history and built heritage in one of Limericks oldest buildings (c. 1770). The project was designed, conceived and run by Dr Ursula Callaghan, Historian and Cáit Ní Cheallacháin, Conservation Architect, Continue reading The Georgian Pop Up Museum in Limerick

Swift’s footnotes, sinister slush funds, suspect patronage and the peculiar horrors of Holyhead

The following post was first published on Conrad Brunstrom’s blog on 19 October 2014. He has kindly given us permission to re-blog it here…

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Yesterday morning was devoted to an Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society committee meeting in South William Street in Dublin.  There, in elegant stuccoed surroundings, we convened one of our regular Continue reading Swift’s footnotes, sinister slush funds, suspect patronage and the peculiar horrors of Holyhead

New Books: Patrick Walsh, The South Sea Bubble and Ireland: Money, Banking and Investment, 1690-1721

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The image on the cover of my new book reproduces the Ten of Clubs from a famous set of playing cards produced in London in the aftermath of the South Sea Bubble, the famous stock market crash of 1720. Each card in the deck depicted a different group of investors in Continue reading New Books: Patrick Walsh, The South Sea Bubble and Ireland: Money, Banking and Investment, 1690-1721