Pictured here are the decaying remains of Belcamp College in Balgriffin, North Dublin.
The college was founded in 1893 and the complex was created around the stately mansion of Belcamp House.
Belcamp House itself is visible here in the picture, and is the 3 story brown building with the curved façade. It was designed by James Hoban, architect of the White House in Washinton DC and was itself the location of an oval office, a precursor to its better known American cousin. The house was built in the 1770's for Sir Edward Newenham and was a place that saw much Irish history. On the grounds of the house stands the Washington Memorial, a small castle beside the artifical lake built in honor of George Washington. Newenham built this in 1778 and it was the only monument to Washington built during his lifetime.
In 1893, the Oblate fathers founded the Catholic college as a boarding school, and this saw the construction of the large dormitories and halls which are the red brick buildings to the left. In more recent times, these were sub divided into modern classrooms when the school no longer had borders. To the right of the house itself you can see the boarded up remains of the college chapel. At one time, this chapel housed a priceless marble alter and six pairs of extremely valuable Harry Clarke stained glass windows.
The pile of rubble in front of the red brick building to the left of the image is all that remains of the newest part of the school, a single story complex constructed in the 1960's.
Due to dwindling numbers of new students, in 2004 the 208 acre property was sold by the Oblate fathers to Gannon Homes for 105 milion euro. This purchase consisted of 8000 square meters of buildings (some listed) and all 208 acres of land, 110 acres of which was zoned for redevelopment. Even though it was sold in 2004, student attending were allowed to remain on to complete all of their exams, and the last students left in 2009 at which point the school closed its doors forever.
The site was never developed due to the ecnomic downturn and Gannons loans of 1 billion euro were taken on by NAMA.
This meant that the complex came to be owned by NAMA, the state owned National Asset Management Agency, formed to deal with the many toxic property related debts of Irelands building boom and bust.
Over the following years, the building fell into a serious state of disrepair, and despite the intentions of security stationed here, it became a target for vandals. Every sash window in the Georgian mansion was broken, the oak floorboards ripped up. Its marble fireplaces were removed and stolen, and its elegant brass fittings and lights were taken. Holes were smashed in the doors and walls and copper piping was ripped out. Eventually those who would see this beautiful place destroyed got their own way.
Locals who watched the proceeds of what happened here likened it to an asylum, with hoodlums driving stolen cars around the grounds, riding horses through the corridors while waving weapons and smashing the building to pieces. The entire site became a major no go area. To note I use the word hoodlums purely to be in line with site etiquette, my own choice of words would be much more extreme than this.
In April 2011, the decay of the college and the house came to a head when the entire complex was burnt to the ground. The night sky around this area was lit up as a number of fire engines battled for hours to control the blaze. The fire caused the roof of the house to collapse and totally destoyed the mansion and the iconic oval room. The red brick former dorm of the school was entirely gutted. Since then, the house has become nothing more than a charred ruin.
Ironically, those who destroyed this place were free to do as they wished. Today, those who have a genuine interest in the history here are very unwelcome.
Thankfully in the weeks leading up to its destruction, the priceless windows and alter were removed from the church and given to the National Museum of Ireland for safe keeping. The future of this house however is less certain, and many people are calling for it to be rebuilt to its previous glory. Many say that NAMA should be held accountable for the destruction here and forced to pay for the repairs.
I know this shot is not a particularly good photo, but its as close as I could get to the place due to it being very much fenced off and closed to visitors. Its a place I wanted to post for a while, as it has a personal connection for me.
This is where I went to school. I played snooker on the second floor of the great mansion. I swam and fished in the lake here as a child, and attended mass in the chapel while marvelling at the colors of the Harry Clarke Windows. The furrowed ground in the foreground here were once GAA and football pitches where my friends and I would play sports. Now that land is leased from NAMA by local farmers, and crops are grown. I hear that 2012 provided a particularly successful potato harvest.
I spent many a sunny afternoon in class here wishing to be anywhere else!
Its amazing how badly some historic sites in Ireland are treated and Belcamp College is just another in a long line of important buildings that were allowed to be destroyed. Sadly, with Irelands finances still in a state of chaos, it seems unlikely that this historic place will be saved.
And for those who like ghosts, Belcamp was home to no less than three terrifying tales! There was the tale of the young son of Newenham, who drowned in the artificial lake soon after its completion, and whose ghost was said to haunt the house and grounds. There was the tale of the gardener who was found beheaded by his own saw in the forest, and there was the legend of the Banshee who supposedly haunted the woods here. Interestingly, there were a number of occasions where local homes in the surrounding residential estates were destroyed by fires, and the owners swore they saw the bansee present as their homes burned. Perhaps she was a sign of things to come!
No doubt, legends created to scare the students who started fresh here, but I remember many nights walking through the grounds when a mist rose two or three feet from the ground, and all those legends seemed very believable.
Thanks for looking.
Critiques | Translate
cornejo (41303) 2014-01-20 11:58
Hi Noel, very good picture of this interesting view of this College, beautifully captured in this beautiful and interesting image, with good sharpness, depth, light and color. Very good and interesting job well done, congratulations my friend. Thanks for sharing this interesting work.
Good night and happy week.
Warm greetings from southern Spain.
photoray (13981) 2014-01-20 15:45
Fine panorama of Belcamp House and College in back of the field and accentuated in shadows.
An excellent historical background, and I can understand your attachment to school work here.
I am sad to learn of the College's demise and vandalism. Especially since its main house was designed by James Hoban.
The loss of historical heritage is too frequent. In the Colonies many of our historical structures are demolished to benefit the Rich and frequently replaced by modern commercial structures.
Instead of destroying, we all could benefit by preserving and protecting. To lose our history is to lose our humanity...
theswedish (680) 2014-01-20 18:44
You should be a writer (as well as a photog). Touching and sentimental. I fear for Ireland, you have a generation brought up on excess (spoiled) and to me they have no connection with the Irish youth I knew whilst in Derry (I worked there in my twenties). I hope they catch the little buggers and their sentence involves cleaning the school up.
Corry (4508) 2014-01-20 20:38
Une belle vue panoramique sur ce vieux bâtiment. J'aime bien la lumière légèrement basse qui éclaire les lieux. Les sillons de culture donnent de la profondeur à l'image. Bien fait.
Subhogen (4067) 2014-01-21 2:17
Sad to hear your tale of this old college. A decaying college seems so strange to my Indian ears, because our population is so huge that the most inferior of colleges in the most remotest corner is always full of students (thus doing good business).
I can feel your anger and pain as a past pupil of this place.
I find nothing remarkably wrong with this photo. And your note is just excellent. Thanks for sharing.
aleXundar (1256) 2014-01-21 9:47
What a terrible story! I can understand your feeling.
By leaving a vast space in the foreground, you have somehow minimized the pathetic condition of the site, at least in the image.
As a photo, it is a very well composed shot with rich colours and a perfect composition.
Don't get upset my friend. Let's hope "till hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates..."
jhm (151376) 2014-01-22 8:25
Thank you very much for your interesting notes about this unique building.
Exactly a springtime picture with the green fruits in foreground.
Everything wonderful sharp and clear.
Excellent depth and perspective picture.
But your picture is very well taken.
Nice done, TFS.
Enjoy the day ahead,
fabbs99 (17133) 2014-01-22 10:38
Great colorful shot from Belcamp College in Dublin.It is truly a lovely sight.TFS.
jurek1951 (42196) 2014-01-22 23:42
a spectacular photo with attractive composition and superb details, great perspective,
danos (96688) 2014-01-23 9:03
very nice the view as the presentation of the colourful buildings of Belcamp College as surrounded from this beautiful environment.I like the created layers with the light and colour management to enhance the quality and the clarity of the scene.Well done.
krzychu30 (15512) 2014-01-24 1:35
excellent presentation of this College!
I think the weather was here very important to make this scene so captivating and expressive.
Bright,vivid colors as well as the contrast between them are superb.
Althout it´s also very sad to see such magnificent and formerly splendid buildings has been falling into disrepair.
Have a nice day
lousat (89740) 2014-01-25 8:49
Hi Noel,the abandoned buildings are always very interesting,and i like a lot to watch at this,a great capture in an excellent symmetry between the green carpet and the blue of sky,spectacular quality of detail and colors.Have a nice evening and thanks,Luciano
Romano46 (18472) 2014-01-25 11:48
in questa tua foto gli edifici sono meno imponenti di quanto solitamente ci mostri, ma in compenso c'è una grande armonia di colori per la bella fusione del verde del terreno con l'arancio della costruzione e con l'azzurro del cielo.
L'insieme è molto piacevole soprattutto per questo incontro di forme e di colori, il tutto sempre con ottima nitidezza e luce molto ben distribuita.
Straordinarie e più che esaurienti le tue note.
Ciao e buon fine settimana
mcmtanyel (21810) 2014-01-26 20:04
I am so sorry to hear what has become of your alma mater. I wrote "hear" rather than "read" because I could almost hear the anguish of your voice in the lines. I think this is a beautiful photo - it conveys its message very effectively and that is the primary function of photos. The framing is excellent, the furrow lines take the viewer's gaze to your subject. The shadows are lovely and the sky is immaculately blue.
I hate to see educational institutions fail - with heartfelt sympathy,
Miguel82 (27674) 2014-01-27 9:08
Noel, farmlands nearby a very ancient college of Dublin conurbation, perfect hues, excellent subdue light, very clear shot, your pov is great with the whole building into the frame, all the best Noel, greetings!
- Copyright: Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) (30459)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2014-01-20
- Categories: Daily Life, Architecture, Ruins
- Camera: Canon EOS 60D
- Exposure: f/8, 1/160 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): College Campuses [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2014-01-20 8:09