IT has been Dublin city's unofficial artists' residence for decades. Its colourful façade has become a landmark in the capital and it was even used to hide Irish patriots from the British.
But Dublin City Council is now locked in an eviction battle with eccentric city sculptor Gerard Dowling, who believes he has every right to keep possession of the multimillion-euro home he never paid a penny for.
Dowling didn't attend a scheduled court hearing into the matter last week because, he claims, he was not furnished with the appropriate paperwork requesting his presence.
But the three-month adjournment to October will hardly register in a battle that has been raging, says Dowling, since 1991.
It was then that Dublin City Council first contacted him over his now notorious art hanging outside No 47 Middle Abbey Street, the property in question.
Since then, the local authority has attempted to have Dowling removed from the house he calls his home and his studio. Dublin City Council is now seeking a Circuit Court injunction restraining him from trespassing in a building where he has only a basement tenancy arrangement. It is also seeking his eviction for non-payment of rent.
However, Dowling clearly regards the entire four-storey building as his residence and claims it fell to him through the late baker, Michael Kennedy, who, in turn, inherited from a relative in the United States.
"I had an agreement with Michael Kennedy; that is the history. The agreement was that I pay the rates in the basement," he said.
The entire house itself could be seen as a work of art; its walls are covered with installations ranging from crisp packets to traffic cones and in every floorboard and wall, cracks and old age give an ominous sense of insecurity. Not many people would want to live there, but for Dowling it is an important fight.
"I don't believe the corporation owns it," he says, strolling around the dilapidated rooms he says are of Dutch design in a rare version of a Georgian building. "Thomas Clarke hid out here from the British because you could get out here into the sewer and over to the GPO."
Although the house has been valued in the millions – €2m by some, €3m according to the artist himself – Dowling has no wish to sell the place where he first began working with his father John in 1972, before eventually moving in in 1989.
"I have a place to live and a place to work and that is all I need. Money is of no use as long as I can survive and eat," he says. "I had a calling to be an artist; my father was an artist, I grew up with it. I think it was worth €3m last year but €3m to me makes me dizzy."