In 1931, Russborough House was sold to Captain Denis Daly, who sold it twenty years later to Sir Alfred Beit, who like Joseph Leeson, was another avid collector of art. Sir Alfred and his wife, Lady Clementine, were immensely wealthy. The Beit family had earned their fortune through mining in Africa, and Sir Alfred’s uncle had co-founded the famous De Beers Diamond Mining Company.
The Beits’ love of art began when Alfred’s grandfather began collecting. He left it to his son Otto, who left the collection, and the passion for art, to his son Alfred. He lined the walls of Russborough House with works by masters such as Goya, Velázquez, Vermeer and Rubens. Unfortunately for the Beits, their collection had become internationally famous. Paintings were stolen from the house in 1974. And it was raided again by the infamous Martin Cahill and his gang in 1986, this still remains Ireland’s largest art heist. Thankfully, a number of works were recovered, but the raid left a number damaged beyond repair. In 1988 the Beits donated the majority of their collection to the National Gallery, where you can find them on display in the Beit Wing. Russborough was broken into on two further occasions, but the paintings were recovered both times.
The Beits established the Alfred Beit Foundation that has managed the house since 1976. Sir Alfred died in Dublin in 1994 and Lady Beit continued to live on at Russborough until her death in 2005. Today Russborough is an enchanting place to visit. Along with the beautiful house and art you can also enjoy the gardens and the extensive 200 acre parkland. The parkland surrounding Russborough House was laid out in an 18th-century style and original demesne features still exist, such as a walled garden, an ice house, lime kiln, grand entrance arch, field obelisks and terracing, and a circular hippodrome. There are a number of trails to enjoy, and it offers a lovely day out at any time of the year.