Upper Leeson Street Area Residents Association

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Obituaries

Rosemarie Mulcahy

 

3rd April 1943 - 5th September 2012

 

Historian of Spanish Art and a specialist in the Age of Phillip 11, Rosemarie was the eldest daughter of Tom and Lil Scully, who owned a religious art shop in Dublin. On leaving school she worked first as a fashion model. Finding a visit to Spain agreeable, she and another Irish model presented themselves to the couturier Pedro Rodriguez in Madrid, since they thought they would like to work for him. Amazingly,each was taken on, and with that, Rosemarie's love affair with Spanish Art began. Later she worked for Balmain in Paris before returning to Dublin to study. As a mature student of twenty-seven, she embarked on a degree in history and the history of European painting at UCD. Her mentors were Professor Kevin B. Nowlan and Dr. Francois Henry.

Rosemarie took her BA in 1973, an MA at the University of London in 1975 and a Ph.D at TCD, where her supervisor was Anne Crookshank. She spoke Spanish fluently, had many friends among the contemporary artists and art historians in Spain and in 2001 was presented with the Cross of the Order of Isabel la Catolica, for her services to Spanish art. Notably generous and practical in her engagement with young people, many of whom benefited from her help and guidance, she taught an undergraduate module in Spanish art for fourteen years at UCD where she became an honorary senior fellow in the History of Art and adjunct Professor. Rosemarie was, for a while, the secretary of An Taisce; she served on the executive committee of the ROSC exhibition of 1988; was an honorary Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and a founder member of ULSARA.

In 1970, she attended the Scottish Civic Trust Conference on the Georgian New Town of Edinburgh, a fundamentally important event establishing many of the basic parameters for the proper conservation of our eighteenth-century architectural  heritage. Soon she was working for ULSARA bringing her energy, her determination and her indomitable sense of what was right, to focus on the key issues affecting our area at that time. When in 1973, a house in Leeson Park was acquired by a lawyer, who planned to use it as legal premises, ripping out the bathroom and kitchen and turning the entire back garden into an ugly car park, Rosemarie and Carmencita struck. The house had been set in flats: they traced the women who had been turned out of the house to flats in Ballymun; they took affidavits from them and presented these documents to the Corporation housing department. They told RTE of the illegal change of use, hired a caravan which was parked across the front of the house to receive journalists the very day the lawyer planned to move in. In the face of such a protest he backed down. That was a moment of great triumph

Throughout a busy life of wide ranging and exceptional achievement Rosemarie remained tireless in the defense of the area she lived in. It was her understanding of the endless vigilance needed to protect the area, coupled with her sense of duty and her sheer courage that kept her going in the 1990s and the 2000s, objecting to poor proposals in planning applications, meeting individuals and officials and never giving up until the day that her sudden and unexpected death robbed us of a lively champion and friend.

Kevin B Nowlan

 

November 2, 1921- February 4, 2013

 

Kevin was Ireland's veteran campaigner for the conservation of Georgian buildings and of old Dublin generally. A seemingly indefatigable man, he sought to imbed in the national consciousness an understanding of the worth of our architectural heritage and fought manfully on every issue from the demolition of houses in Fitzwilliam Street by the ESB, to the Taylors' Hall, Wood Quay and most recently, the long running threat of development and the legal wrangle that ensued at Dartmouth Square where he lived for almost 50 years.

 

An only child, Kevin was educated at Belvedere College, Dublin. He read history and political economy at UCD before qualifying as a barrister at the King's Inns in 1945. He took his doctorate at Peterhouse, Cambridge, working on the politics of Repeal and travelling to archives all over England with the distinguished Trinity don, George Kitson Clarke. Later he studied in Paris and at the University of Marburg in Germany, about which he loved to reminisce. On his return to Dublin he joined the staff of the department of history in UCD where he soon became Associate Professor of Irish History, a post that he held until his retirement in 1983.

 

As his time as a teacher came to an end, his efforts in the service of Irish buildings were redoubled. He served as President of An Taisce, Vice-President of the Irish Georgian Society, Chairman of the Castletown Foundation, Director of the Alfred Beit Foundation, a member of the Dublin Civic Group, President of the Dublin Civic Trust and as an active member of ULSARA.

 

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Kevin, after his stature, was the talent that he had for engaged and engaging friendship. Many more than 500 people attended his funeral Mass on the 6th February in the Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners in Rathmines, and that- for a batchelor who died at the age of 91- is a tribute that speaks for itself. Kevin had the knack of making people feel that they were important to him. The number at his funeral proved  that there were many different circles that claimed his time and allegiance, circles within which he always seemed to be the central figure, full of energy, a fount of accurate information- for he had the trained mind of a great historian- and a source of tremendous fun.

 

One of his circles was the academic world of UCD where, as an inspiring and original teacher, the view of history that he put forward was far removed from the narrow nationalism of conventional Irish politics. Though baptised Kevin Barry, names that placed him firmly within the nationalist tradition, a favorite tale from his boyhood was of the family dog, taught on the command 'Die for Ireland' to roll over on his back.

Kevin was an internationalist, widely travelled and at home in many cultures. That is why the German government honoured him in the 1980's with the award of the Federal Cross of Merit for his service to German culture. It is what led him to fight for the preservation of so much Ascendancy architecture in the 1960's- not then a fashionable thing to do.

Robert Mooney

 

Robert Mooney spent his early years in Westport and Ballina where his father, originally from Waterford, was the branch manager for Bank of Ireland. His maternal grandparents lived in Palmerston Park in Dublin and owned the Eliot Irish Poplin Company which made fabrics used by designers such as Sybil Connolly.

 

When Robert himself moved to Dublin to pursue a career in banking and finance, he and his wife Carmel first rented the St Bartholomew’s Chaplain's House in Clyde Lane. They loved the neighbourhood of Ballsbridge and were pioneers in seeing the potential for residential development in mews lanes. Within a few years they had built their own mews house in Raglan Lane where they brought up their three children. Carmel is one of Ireland's best-known artists and Robert shared her interest in the visual arts. He was chairman of the Contemporary Art Society for many years and was instrumental in establishing the art collection in the Royal Hospital Donnybrook.

 

Always concerned about the local environment, Robert became actively involved in the residents association and succeeded Desmond MacAvock as Chairman of ULSARA in the early 1990s. He cared deeply that the neighbourhood should remain vibrant and that the interests of residents should be protected. During the many years he served as Chairman of ULSARA he was more than generous with his time, offering support to the many people who sought his advice about planning or other neighbourhood issues. He was a wonderful listener with an open mind who believed in the importance of dialogue and encouraged residents to come together to solve problems which arose in the area as well as to make friends. During his time as Chairman he maintained very good relations with Dublin City Council and with An Garda Síochána in Donnybrook.

 

Robert was a man of broad vision who read widely about the cycles and trends of society and as a result was always quick to see what factors were likely to affect the residential character of the area. Over the years along with the ULSARA committee, he worked with Dublin City Council to draft Dublin City Development Plans which introduced guidelines for the conservation and protection of many Georgian and Victorian properties and green spaces in our area. Nevertheless, knowing that serious planning issues can arise unexpectedly, Robert prudently suggested that ULSARA build up a contingency fund to be readily available if needed to cover the costs of planning or legal advice and Oral Hearings. He was well aware before it happened that if the hotels and other properties in the Ballsbridge Triangle were sold for large sums the redevelopment plans would require extremely careful monitoring and inevitable battles with vested interests. When this came to pass, thanks to Robert's foresight, ULSARA was already galvanised to act in the interests of local residents and of the area as a whole.

 

 

 

 

Through his dedicated work with ULSARA he contributed greatly to maintaining and enhancing the wonderful residential neighbourhood of Dublin in which he lived. Robert's genuine concern for others and his warm personality are missed by all who knew him.Insert body text here ...

A number of our valued members have passed away recently. Robert Mooney, Rosemarie Mulcahy, Kevin B. Nowlan and and Desmond MacAvock all made huge contributions to ULSARA and their work was of immense importance in conserving the locality and environs that we enjoy today. We remember them with affection and gratitude and are pleased to publish tributes from people who knew them well.

Desmond MacAvock

b. 1919 - 8 February 2013

 

Desmond MacAvock, who died on 8 February aged 91, was born in Ballina, Co Mayo, where his parents owned a business which he eventually inherited. Before he came to Dublin, he had already shown his interest in his surroundings in his election to the Ballina Urban District Council, where he took the chair three times. Later, for many years, he would be chairman of ULSARA, and during this time the original Upper Leeson Street Association widened its remit to include the triangle between Herbert Park/Clyde Road and Pembroke Road, including Waterloo, Wellington, Raglan and Elgin roads and their mews, which of course extended the area of influence and gave the association more weight. He succeeded Carmencita Hederman, the original chairman, and was succeeded in turn in the 1990s by Robert Mooney, whose early death we noted in 2009.

 

Desmond MacAvock was until his death as passionately concerned with his environment as he had been 40 years ago when he joined ULSARA. He was trained as a painter in Paris under André Lhote, having been encouraged by Eugene Judge, a Mayo cubist artist member of the White Stag group. He later joined the small band of respected Dublin art critics, writing for The Irish Times and other publications. In his early days he became an expert on farming matters and was always ready to advise his friends on planting. On his return to Ireland he met and married Adele, with whom he settled in 23 Westland Row where they opened a language laboratory.

 

With the arrival of their children, and the absence of recreational space in Merrion Square, the family moved to Wellington Road. Here again, as in his native Ballina, Desmond became involved in his locality, which was facing a proliferation of offices. Such intrusion in a residential area of significant historical and aesthetic interest was wrong, he felt. The biggest campaign during his chairmanship was to prevent offices being opened in 22 Leeson Park. The committee hired a caravan and camped at the site till they won. Other big fights they won were against a proposal to build a high rise office on the corner of Raglan Road and Elgin Road, the demolition of Litton Hall, and the rescue of Ranelagh Gardens from development.