The History Of Portobello House

Everything you need to know about our school’s building in Dublin City.

You have seen it under the pouring rain and during the sunniest of days, you know every creaking door and uneven step, you have looked through every window and visited all floors…or have you? It’s time you take a deeper look into our building’s history, there are secrets waiting to be revealed.

Atlas Language School building with overlook on Grand Canal

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Portobello House

Our school has a lot of amazing features that make it the perfect location to improve your English and discover Dublin at the same time, but its elegant building has to be one of our favourites. Located beside Portobello Harbour, off Lower Rathmines Road and Richmond Road, and sitting right at the edge of the Grand Canal, the Atlas building is also known as Portobello House, and its history goes way back.

During the Nineteenth and Twentieth century

Portobello House as a hotel in 18th century

Portobello House was originally designed by James Colbourne and constructed as a hotel in 1805-1807, with the name of “The Grand Canal Hotel”. For many years, it was an important location on the canal, never more so than during the famine when many people were leaving the midlands to emigrate. The Hotel closed in 1835 and after that, the house was used as an asylum for the blind. Spooky!

Portobello House as a hotel in 18 century

In 1911 it became a nursing home, where the famous expressionist painter Jack Butler Yeats (1871–1957) spent several years before his death. You will find a plaque about him right next to the Atlas entrance door.

Painting of Portobello House on Portobello Canal

After 1972

Portobello House changing over the years

The building then went through a refurbishment by G. & T. Crampton in 1972. The architects for these works were Costello, Murray and Beaumont. After that, Portobello College was established here in 1989, as a private institute for education. It still maintains its status of institutional building nowadays, being the location of our beloved school.

Atlas Language School on Portobello Harbour today

The building has been seen sporting different colours over the years, from yellow to grey, but it has always remained a place where everyone that enters manages to feel welcome. Ask Teddy, and he will confirm!

Atlas Teddy in front of Atlas Language School

Written by Maria Anna Saija

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