Number 5, South Leinster Street

View of the Friends of the National Gallery rooms in No.5 South Leinster Street, Dublin


History & Restoration

No. 5, South Leinster Street, which houses the Friends of the National Gallery offices and members’ rooms,  was built circa 1757. It went through many changes before its incorporation into the Millennium Wing and restoration, from near ruin, in 2005-08.

Four neoclassical plasterwork ceilings were added in the late 18th century when the rear elevation was bowed.  A ballroom, erected in the garden, is unique to Dublin and now a feature of the Wintergarden Café in the Gallery.  The house’s first recorded owner was barrister Arthur Wolfe, from 1780-1803. Its second, from 1818-26, was Archibald Hamilton Rowan, leader of the United Irishmen.  By 1850, Wilson’s Linen Warehouse was on the ground floor, followed from 1874-83 by the interior decorators, Thomas Panter & Son, whose presence remains in a gilded and painted ceiling, plaster wall panel and Egyptian columns.  The staircase was removed about this time (the recent replacement is copied from No. 6 next door). Subsequent tenants included a bathroom shop, restaurant and night club. 

A gilt columned mantelpiece and rococo mantelpiece with fruits have been introduced on the ground floor and three marble Georgian-style ones on the first (one with inlays as made by Pietro Bossie in 1790s Dublin) to replace those lost in the past.