THE Taoiseach was yesterday challenged to see the ruined building once home of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the Dublin-born 18th century writer he had praised in his Westminster address.
Historian and archaeologist Dr Mark Clinton said given the run down condition of the house in Dublin's Dorset St, he could not believe Mr Ahern should single out Sheridan for mention and then admit the house was in his own constituency.
Dr Clinton, a member of An Taisce's National Monuments and Antiquities Committee, said of the house which developers want to demolish and replace with apartments: "This is one house the Taoiseach did not invest in." He said either Sheridan, whose plays include 'School for Scandal' and 'The Rivals', was a writer who deserved to be mentioned alongside Shaw, Beckett and Joyce, or he wasn't. "Either he's important or or he isn't, and either it's a house worth saving or it's not, but the fact is at the moment it's a ruin," he said.
He added: "It is always possible to restore it." The building, listed as a protected structure, has had the plaque acknowledging Sheridan's birthplace removed.
Dr Clinton joked that he hoped Tony Blair had not been so impressed by the Taoiseach's reference to Sheridan that he had asked for a visit to the Dorset St house. "What's he going to say? 'Ahhhh Tony, can you give us a few weeks till I get Paddy the Plasterer to have a look at it?'," said a bemused Dr Clinton. The day before the Taoiseach's reference, An Taisce had been preparing to take part in the launch of a new alliance of heritage groups which had listed the house as a key priority.
Sen David Norris, of the Heritage Protection Alliance, said he plans to appeal the permission given by the City Council for demolition and replacement with apartments. "It's bizarre that the Taoiseach has just mentioned it. It's a listed building and I would like to see it reinstated."