These conjoined townhouses on St Stephen's Green South, originally the Catholic University of Ireland and now owned by University College Dublin, are probably the finest example of 18th-century Georgian architecture in the city that are open to the public.
Built in 1738 for Irish MP Hugh Montgomery, No.85 has a sombre façade that hides a spacious, elegant interior. When it was bought by the Catholic University in 1865, its superb plasterwork was thought too smutty for young men, so the female nudes were covered up. Juno's curves are still hidden by a rough costume although other figures have been returned to their natural state.
The house contains the famous Apollo Room, with lavish panels depicting Apollo and the Muses, and a magnificent saloon where allegories promoting prudent economy and government are framed by rococo shells and foliage. No.86 was begun in 1765 by Richard Whaley, father of notorious gambler Buck, and was later bought by the university. Head to the top of the house via the back stairs to see poet Gerard Manley Hopkins's spartan bedroom and study, which has been carefully preserved. Restoration work has improved the hall, stairs and landing at No.86.