Randal MacDonnell, weaver of fantasies who catalogued the great houses of Ireland and claimed aristocratic lineage – obituary

Randal MacDonnell, who has died aged 69, was an architectural historian who styled himself Count Randal MacDonnell of the Glens.

He arrived in Ireland from Manchester in the late 1960s at a time when many of the great houses of Ireland and splendid buildings of Georgian Dublin were falling to the developer’s wrecking ball. MacDonnell set about making an inventory which would culminate in his book The Lost Houses of Ireland (2002).

Had he been less eccentric he might have found a place as one of the great protectors of Ireland’s architectural heritage. His tendency, however, to reside in his own peculiar fantasy world and his refusal to ascribe to himself any occupation other than “gentleman”,…

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