Built as a pleasure house for the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfeild, first President of the Royal Irish Academy, this ornate structure, three miles north of Dublin, is the finest example of neo-classical architecture in Ireland. Meaning 'small house by the small sea', the 50 ft sq dwelling was built from 1755 to the mid 1770s as a garden pavilion on the Earl's estate. It subsequently fell into neglect until taken into state ownership in 1930. Now restored by the Office of Public Works, the structure represents the aspirations and decadence of the Irish ruling classes. From the outside, it looks like one big room, flanked by stately columns and crowned with a Roman funery urn-style chimney. Ascend the stone steps, however, and walk inside to discover no fewer than 16 elegantly attired rooms spread across three floors. The cellars are rumoured to hold macabre secrets about Caulfeild's interest in the occult. The interior is closed during Dec-Jan, but group bookings can be made by prior arrangement.