At the start of the 18th century a large house, called Delville - known at first as The Glen - was built on the site of the present Bon Secours Hospital, Dublin. Its name was an amalgamation of the surnames of two tenants, Dr. Helsam and Dr. Patrick Delany (as Heldeville), both Fellows of Trinity College.
When Delany married his first wife he acquired sole ownership, but it became famous as the home of Delany and his second wife - Mary Pendarves. She was a widow whom Delany married in 1743, and was an accomplished letter writer.
They couple were friends of Dean Jonathan Swift and, through him, of Alexander Pope. Pope encouraged the Delaneys to develop a garden in a style then becoming popular in England - moving away from the very formal, geometric layout that was common. He redesigned the house in the style of a villa and had the gardens laid out in the latest Dutch fashion creating what was almost certainly Ireland's first naturalistic garden.
The house was, under Mrs Delany, a centre of Dublin's intellectual life. Swift is said to have composed many of his campaigning pamphlets while staying there. He and his life - long companion Stella were both in the habit of visiting, and Swift satirised the grounds which he considered too small for the size of the house. Through her correspondence with her sister, Mrs Dewes, Mary wrote of Swift in 1733: "he calls himself my master and corrects me when I speak bad English or do not pronounce my words distinctly".
Patrick Delany died in 1768 at the age of 82, prompting his widow to sell Delville and return to her native England until her death twenty years later.