John Randal Plunkett
In August 1896 the house was purchased by John Randal Plunkett.
Plunkett was a maltster and ran the family malting business, Plunkett Brothers. The malting business had been started by his grandfather, John Plunkett in 1819 and then passed to his son, Randal Plunkett, John Randal's father.
They supplied Guinness & Co. with their malt (see Plunkett Brothers advertisement on right), with written recommendation from Arthur Guinness, Sons & Co. 
In a book describing the Industries of Dublin, written in 1887, an article on the Plunkett Brothers, Maltsters and Patent Malt Roasters described their unique malt roasting process and stated that his grandfather had, in fact, invented the process of roasting malt. 
John Randal Plunkett's main residence was at 83 Merrion Square South.  In the early days, Plunkett Brothers had their premises at Belview, a street off James' Street, as well as other storehouses around the city. But around 1895, about the same time he bought Earlscliffe (probably as a summer residence), Plunkett acquired new premises for the company in Islandbridge, called Bellevue Maltings.
Bellevue, Islandbridge stayed in the family, firstly as a business premises but later also as a residence, until the company was wound up around the 1970's. It is now an apartment complex called Belle View Maltings.
John Randal Plunkett was married to Cecilia Read from Kensington, London.
Cecilia came from a well known family of surgeons. Her mother was also called Cecilia Mary Read (nee Landon) and her father was a surgeon called Thomas Laurence Read.
According to Cecilia's father's obituary, his father was a friend of Dickens and Thackeray!
John Randal and Cecilia had eight children, three of whom died at a young age, including their daughter Sheelagh (Sheila Isabel Mary) who was drowned at the age of 21 when the SS Leinster was torpedoed by the Germans in 1918. 
The Plunkett family were related to St. Oliver Plunkett through his niece, Ismay. 
The Plunketts did not stay in Earlscliffe too long as the house was put up for rent in June 1901  and in October 1901 Earlscliffe was sold to Professor John Pentland Mahaffy, soon to be Provost of Trinity College Dublin (but not as soon as he would like!).
John Randal died 14th April 1915, three years before his daughter drowned on the SS Leinster. 
As Earlscliffe was primarily used as a summer residence, at the time of the 1901 census (31st March 1901), Earlscliffe itself was unoccupied. However, the property was being managed over winter by the residents in the Gardener's cottage at Earlscliffe. These were Hugh Lynch and his wife Anne. Hugh was the gardener/caretaker and, according to the census, he was 80 years old at that time. His wife, Anne, was 68. Hugh was originally from Co. Meath and Anne was from Wicklow.
In the 1901 census, Earlscliffe was the first house listed on the form for Censure, with the Gardener's cottage as the second house listed. Both are said to be owned by R J Plunkett. 
Scrollable timeline covering related events
The following link displays a scrollable timeline related to John Randal Plunkett, showing births, marriages, deaths and major events in their lives and in their home and working environments.
List of Earlscliffe Residents
-  Advertisement found in "Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890 , pages 561 - 562.
-  "The Industries of Dublin. Historical, statistical, biographical." An account of the leading business men, commercial interests, wealth and growth. Published 1887 by S. Blackett in London . Found on the internet http://openlibrary.org/books/OL22883379M/The_Industries_of_Dublin. on 10th Jan 2019
-  The 1901 census information from the National Archives found on the internet http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1901/Dublin/South_Dock/Merrion_Sq__South/ on 10th June 2010. At that stage Plunkett was recorded as being a 51 year old Roman Catholic and head of the family! The Thom's Irish Almanac & Official Directory~1897, as listed in "Extracts From Various Trade Directories 1834 To 1910" states that it was 33 Merrion Sq. South, but this is an OCR glitch http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~chrisu/howth/howth_dir5.htm
-  Nearly all of the background and detail around John Randal Plunkett was very kindly given to me by the great grand daughter of John Randal Plunkett, Aideen Byrne.
-  Additional information on J R Plunkett's family kindly provided by E. Michael D. Scott
-  Irish Times June 15, 1901, pg 11
-  A History of the County Dublin, Francis Elrington Ball, originally published in six volumes (1902-1920). Volume 5 "Howth & its Owners" , Chapter 9 "As a Packet Station and After" https://archive.org/details/historyofcountyd05ball
-  Calendars of Wills and Administrations, 1915 http://www.willcalendars.nationalarchives.ie/reels/cwa/005014919/005014919_00313.pdf
-  As taken from the Census of Ireland, 1901. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai003675704/
This page was last updated on 20-Dec-2020 .