Clonalis, Castlerea, County Roscommon

contact: Pyers and Marguerite O’Conor Nash

Tel: 087-3371667

(Tourist Accommodation Facility): April 1- October 5th.

email: info@clonalis.com

www.clonalis.com

listed opening dates in 2020: Jun-Aug, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 11am-5pm, last tour 3.45pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €8, child €5, family groups catered for.                                                                                                                                                                                       

Clonalis House is arguably the finest expression of the Victorian-Italianate style in County Roscommon.

Stephen and I were invited to join friends for a weekend in County Westmeath and took the opportunity to visit Clonalis House in County Roscommon. We were particularly eager to visit the house once Stephen heard that it is the house belonging to the O’Conor Dons. The O’Conor Dons are descended from the last High Kings of Ireland. Stephen knew the last High King of Ireland, Father Charles O’Conor, at school, as a gentle elderly priest sweeping leaves in Clongowes Wood College. Stephen has affectionate memories of him, and was impressed by his humility and contentedness. Unfortunately since Father Charles became a Catholic priest, the line died out. The house was bequeathed to Father Charles’s sister, Gertrude, who married Richard Rupert Nash, and passed then to her son Pyers, who added the name O’Conor to his last name Nash. The term “Don” refers originally to hair colour, and there was another branch of the O’Conor family called “Rua” or red, but the line has died out. However, the term “O’Conor Don” is a title, applying to the Chieftain of the O’Conors of Connacht.

We were running late as I find Google always underestimates the time it will take to any destination over an hour away, so we arrived just in time for the last house tour at 4pm. I took the wrong turn as we drove up the long entrance driveway, turning off to the self-catering holiday homes in a former courtyard, by mistake. I was in such a rush that I didn’t notice the beauty of the drive up to the house, which I stopped to appreciate on the way out. The drive is one third of a mile long, stretching through parkland.

We had contacted the O’Conor Nashes in advance, and a young historian who now gives tours of the house welcomed us. She has a lot of facts to learn! The house is bursting with history. The family, impressively, can date their genealogical tree back to 1100 BC; there is a book detailing their pedigree in the library, signed and legitimised by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms, in 1825. There is also a chart in the library listing the male line, which goes back to 75AD. The family produced 11 high kings of Ireland and 24 kings of Connacht. [1]

Our guide began the tour outside. She pointed out a large stone in front of the house. It was brought from Rathcroghan in County Roscommon, about nine miles from the house. Upon this stone, called the Coronation Stone, the High Kings of Ireland were crowned.

There is an indentation like a footprint on the top of the stone, and this is supposed to be where each king put a foot during his coronation. According to Mrs. Pyers O’Conor-Nash’s entry in Sybol Connolly’s book, In An Irish House, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in London in 1988, one of the last to be crowned king of Connacht was Felim O’Conor, who was killed in the battle of Athenry when fighting against his Connacht neighbours the de Burghs and the de Berminghams in 1316.

The Clonalis website describes the ceremony of inauguration of a king. He symbolically married the soil over which he was to rule, and the sacred stone acted as the King’s bride in the ceremony known as “Banais Ri” (the King’s Marriage”). This stone was probably used to inaugurate thirty O’Conor kings!

I was impressed immediately by the symbol on the house of the arm holding the sword:

Randall MacDonnell tells us in his book The Lost Houses of Ireland that in 1175 Roderick O’Conor, the High King of Ireland, agreed to the following: “Henry [King Henry II of England] grants to Roderick, his liege King of Connacht, as long as he faithfully serves him, that he shall be King under him…and as his man.” This agreement is known to history as the Treaty of Windsor, which St. Laurence O’Toole had negotiated on behalf of the Irish High King. Sadly, Roderick’s own sons plotted against him so, in 1187, he abdicated and spent the remainder of his life as a religious in the Abbey of Cong in the west of Ireland. According to the website, at the height of O’Conor\O’Connor power, as High Kings of Ireland in the 12th century, Tuam and Dunmore in Galway were their Ecclesiastic and Administrative centres. O’Conor castles from the 14th century can be found in Ballintubber, County Roscommon, and in Roscommon town, and the one is Ballintubber is still owned by the family, although they have not resided there since the seventeenth century.

Possession of the lands can be traced back to the O’Conor Dons for over 1,500 years. The original house was built in the late seventeenth century, and incorporated a medieval castle, but it flooded regularly due to its position by the River Suck, so a new house was built by Charles Owen O’Conor Don and the family moved in 1880 to the present house. The old house is now a ruin and can be seen from the driveway. On the official website, the current resident, Pyers O’Conor Nash (his mother Gertrude married a Nash, after being born an O’Conor), writes touchingly that Charles Owen built the new house also because the old house made him too sad, as he lost his parents when living there, at the age of seven, and then at the age of 27, lost his wife Georgina.

The River Suck. We passed this on the way out (and in, when I was driving too carefully to notice!). What a romantic spot!

The current house is two storeys over basement with a dormered attic. It was designed by a young popular English architect Frederick Pepys Cockerell. It is a mixture of Queen Anne Revival and Victorian Italianate style. Frederick Pepys Cockerell had spent time studying architecture in Italy, and was attempting to establish a practice in Ireland (he also built Blessingbourne in County Tyrone for the Montgomery family) [2]. It has a rendering of cement and is one of the first concrete houses constructed in Ireland [3]. Cockerell died shortly after building work at Clonalis began in 1879.

The Italianate feature is the central projecting tower, containing the main entrance in a balustraded porch, and a pyramidal roof. The front double-leaf door inside the porch is timber-panelled and glazed, and is flanked in the porch by sidelights. The porch has Doric pilasters, and Ionic pilasters on the storey above. Mark Bence-Jones, in his Irish Country Houses, points out the scroll-pediments over the windows on the ground floor, some set in round-headed recesses. [4]

The high-pitched roof is carried on a cornice of elaborately moulded brackets. The chimneystacks are tall and wide: some of them are decorated with mouldings and recessed panels; others are pierced with arches. [see Bence-Jones]

You can see photographs of the interior of the house on the Clonalis website.

We entered the large Hall. To my untrained eye, the décor looked quite medieval. This is probably due to the large oak staircase beyond an archway, the fireplace, and the banner hanging over the stairs, which reminded me of the tattered banners than hang in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The banner, our guide explained, was carried by Denis O’Conor Don at the coronation of George V in 1911. Later we saw the military uniform which Denis wore to the coronation in a museum room in the house. Denis O’Conor Don was the first person to represent Irish Gaelic families at an English coronation. Our guide referred us to the Ionic columns of marble, explaining that the pink colour of the marble is unusual, and is from Mallow in County Cork. The ceiling of the hall has a modillion cornice and arches. [5]

We walked though the broad arched corridor which leads from one side of the hall to the main reception rooms: the Drawing Room, Dining Room and Library. Terence Reeves-Smyth describes:

The first of these to be entered is the large and rather charming drawing room, which has fine Boulle furniture and some beautifully modelled figures of Meissen, Limoges and Minton porcelain.

The room is bright and airy with large windows and lovely mirrors, and marble chimneypieces which were transferred by Cockerell from the old house. Reeves-Smyth continues:

In the library mahogany bookcases are over 5000 books, including the diaries of Charles O’Conor of Belnagare (1710-90), the great historian and antiquary.”

We were bowled over by the library, as is our tour guide, as she told us that she would not dare touch any of the books – and we are not allowed to either! We itched to, of course. I longed to see if the cream bound set of Jane Austen was a first edition. Bence-Jones writes that the bookcases are mahogany, designed by Pepys-Cockerell. Much of the library was collected by Charles O’Conor of Belnagare. We saw the genealogical pedigrees, and our guide used the portraits, mostly in the dining room, to tell us more about the history of the family. You can see great photographs of the library on the Irish Aesthete’s website. [6] The marble chimneypiece is flanked by niches for turf, and was also designed by Pepys-Cockerell.

I was interested to hear that one of the family, Hugh O’Conor, founded Tucson, Arizona! When I visit my sister in the U.S., I fly in to Tucson. Another ancestor, Major Owen of Ballintubber, lost his lands under Cromwell, regained them under Charles II and mortgaged them to raise troops for James II. The family were able to buy back some of the land but some was never recovered. Major Owen backed the wrong man, as indeed did my Baggot ancestors, being loyal to the Catholic James II rather than supporting William III, James’s son-in-law and nephew (Charles II arranged for his brother James’s daughter Mary to marry William III, to appease the Protestants, to prove that despite his brothers’ leaning toward Catholicism, he was raising his children to be good Protestants).

It was Parliament who invited William III to be King of England and to replace James II. Battles took place in Ireland as James II went to Ireland to raise troops. The Irish were loyal to the monarchy and not as many had converted to Protestantism, as in England or Scotland. William however brought troops from nearly a dozen countries. I hate to hear the bad names James has been called, and he was in fact an excellent military man as proven by his earlier leadership of the British navy. But ultimately William III was crowned king alongside his wife Mary, and Major Owen O’Conor lost his land!

The website tells us that the fortunes of the family were devastated and they were reduced to peasantry. It was Denis O’Conor (1674-1750) who recovered 600 acres of their former land, while living in a mud cottage in Kilmactranny in County Sligo. In 1820 the “Ballanagare” [there seems to be a variety of spellings of this townland] O’Conors, another branch of the family, succeeded to the O’Conor estates at Clonalis as the Clonalis branch became extinct in the male line.

The O’Conor family remained Catholic, and they have a Catholic chapel in the house. Our guide pointed out a chalice on the altar. It can be taken apart into three pieces, to be more easily hidden, as required during the time when Catholic priests were outlawed. The chalice belonged to Bishop Thaddeus O’Rourke, he consecrated it in 1722. He had to go into hiding and stayed with the O’Conor family. Many houses have secret “priest’s holes” where Catholic priests could hide. The altar in the chapel is called a penal altar as it was taken from the original house and dates to the time when masses had to be celebrated in secret. There is a photograph of the Father Charles whom Stephen knew in Clongowes, standing next to a cross in the National Museum. The cross was commisssioned by Turlough Mor O’Conor, who reigned from 1119 to 1156, so is nine hundred years old! It is called the Cross of Cong. Turlough Mor O’Conor was not just king of Connacht but High King of Ireland. See the website for more about this King and his cross. It bears the inscription, “A prayer for Turlough O’Conor, King of Erin, for whom this shrine was made.” [7] Turlough Mor founded a port in 1124 which was later developed into the city of Galway. He is buried in Clonmacnoise. [see 3].

The website has terrific accounts of the family history. You can read more about the Penal Laws and about Denis O’Conor, who regained the O’Conor property, which is now farmed by the O’Conor Nash family.

The house contains two museum-style rooms, displaying historical items from the family. One room displays letters and documents. The first president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, was a neighbour, so there are letters from him. Charles Owen O’Conor (1838-1906), who joined the Irish Liberal Party and became MP for Roscommon, was President of the Society for the Preserving the Irish Language, a precursor to the Gaelic League. When he died, Douglas Hyde wrote of him: “It was owing to his foresighted statesmanship that the Irish language was originally placed by Parliament upon the curriculum of the Board of Intermediate Education and from that day until his death he never ceased… to champion its cause. Few men in Ireland know how much they owe to the watchful care of the O’Connor Don in this matter.” It was this Charles Owen who built the house in the 1870s. He also wrote the book, The O’Conors of Connacht.

One of the oldest documents is, according to Marguerite  O’Conor-Nash, “the last judgement handed down by the Brehon lawmakers.” Stephen and I puzzled over that, wondering who exactly determined Brehon laws, but that is research for another day! The day we visited, I was most excited to see the signature of King Louis XVI of France, the king who was beheaded, husband of Marie Antoinette. I was also excited to see a letter penned by the author (and surprisingly, cleric – surprising if you read his novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, as it contains rather risque material!) Laurence Sterne. Reeves-Smyth also notes that there are pieces written by such famous personalities as O’Connell, Parnell, Gladstone, Trollope, Napper Tandy, and Samuel Johnson. It was a pity we were on the last tour of the day; I could see that Stephen longed to linger.

After Catholic Emancipation the O’Conor family played a pivotal role in Ireland’s history as Members of Parliament for County Roscommon, as one can see from the letters.

The other museum room had artefacts such as clothing and antiques, armour, etc. The family treasure their piece of history from the famous blind musician Turlough Carolan (1670-1738) whose memorial one can see in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, who often played at Clonalis, and once remarked “When I am with the O’Connors, the harp has the old sound in it.”

The house is surrounded by formal lawns and terraces, with fine views over the park. We wanted to start our drive back to Westmeath before darkness, but took a few minutes to walk outside, and the beauty of the gardens enticed us to explore further.

The garden front of the house. The house has 45 rooms!

The garden front has projecting ends, and a centre which breaks forward. Bence-Jones describes how the centre is crowned with a pedimented dormer gable and a balustraded balcony on very heavy console brackets. The side projections are also surmounted with balustrades and smaller dormer gables. In the centre is a doorcase with scrolled pediment. [8]

This is the view from the garden front of the house:

garden front and the back of the house
The stone wall at the side of the house had a great sculpture of a fox (or dog).

Then we walked further around, to the back of the house, down a path, past the sweeping view of parkland trees, into a wooded area leading into a splendid garden.

Past the sweep of magnificent trees:

The wooded area into which we could not help but be enticed:

The woods lead to a splendid garden.

We saw the signs for the “penal grave” and a bomb shelter, so couldn’t leave without seeing those!

The penal grave.

One of the residents of the house during World War I worried that the area would be bombed by a Zeppelin, and built the bomb shelter:

With sadness at leaving such a wonderful place, we slowly drove away up the driveway.

But we still couldn’t quite yet drag ourselves from the area. How could we leave without trying to find the intriguingly named location on our map, the “elephant’s grave”? We could see pillar in the near distance in a graveyard and wondered if that could be it, so abandoned the car to have a look. Unfortunately it was not the elephant’s grave and we didn’t find it, but we did come across the O’Conor graves. [9]

[1] MacDonnell, Randal. The Lost Houses of Ireland. A chronicle of great houses and the families who lived in them. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. London, 2002

[2] Terence Reeves-Smyth, Irish Big Houses, published in 2009 by Appletree Press Ltd, Belfast.

Also http://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Clonalis%20House

[3] Paul Connolly, The Landed Estates of County Roscommon. Published by Paul Connolly, 2018.

[4] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/31920004/clonalis-house-cloonalis-co-roscommon

and Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses [originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978]; Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[5] https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/18/architectural-definitions/

[6] https://theirishaesthete.com/2019/01/07/the-books-will-still-be-there/

[7] https://clonalis.com/oconors-kings-of-connacht-high-kings-of-ireland/

[8] Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses [originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978]; Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[9] For more about the elephant grave, I am grateful to Stephen who found an article about it online: https://roscommonherald.ie/2014/09/23/memorial-stone-now-marks-cindy-elephants-final-resting-place/

Swainstown House, Kilmessan, County Meath

Open dates in 2020 (but check due to Covid-19):

Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Contact: Caroline Preston. Tel: 086-2577939

We visited Swainstown House on Monday 19th August 2019, during Heritage Week. Stephen took the entire week off work. It was an opportunity to visit the section 482 Houses, as all are open that week!

Swainstown is a house built in 1750 of two storeys with a seven bay centre block attached to two wings by curved sweeps with Ionic pilasters, in the Palladian style. It is not known who the architect was, but the Irish Aesthete suggests that Richard Castle may have had a hand in designing it. The wings originally housed the servants’ quarters and the stables. The centre block has a breakfront of three bays, and an arched pediment over the front door. The Irish Aesthete comments on the limestone window lintels, which he says show a “whimsical caprice,”along with the exaggeratedly tall and narrow doorcase [1]. I think the caprice of the lintels must be that the ones on the first storey resemble the ones on the lower storey upside-down. The front door is approached by a broad flight of stone steps.

I always like when the house is still owned by descendants, and Swainstown is one such property. It was built for Nathaniel Preston, an ancestor of the current owner, John “Punch” Preston. Caroline, the listed contact, is his wife. I contacted Caroline in advance, and she told me that Anne, who stood in as tour guide while Caroline was away, would meet us at the door at 2pm. Indeed she was there as promised, and gave us a tour of the house. “Punch” farms the land, and his son Arthur now also farms and has started a chemical-free produce business, Swainstown Farm. [2] We came across Punch in the yard in a tractor when we explored the grounds after the house tour. Caroline and her husband live in the main house and her son in what was formerly the servants’ area.

Nathaniel was given the lands of Swainstown by his father, John (1611 – 1686). According to a website about the history of Navan, John Preston was a grandson of Jenico Preston, 3rd Viscount Gormanston [3]. After much digging, I have found that he was in fact the great grandson. [4]

Stephen found this reference to John Preston in his ancestor Earl George Macartney’s papers! Stephen’s six-times great aunt, Elizabeth Winder, married George Macartney (1695-1779). Earl Macartney recorded genealogical data of some prominent families in Ireland. He writes that John Preston, Alderman of Dublin, was son of Hugh Preston of Bolton in Lancashire. The Prestons originally came from Lancashire.

John’s grandfather Martin, although being the son of Viscount Gormanston, was the youngest son so did not inherit a fortune. John Preston therefore had to build up his own fortune, and so he went into business as a merchant in Dublin. There are conflicting accounts of how John acquired land beyond Dublin. According to a website on Bellinter House, a house built on lands which John purchased, he bought up property after Oliver Cromwell confiscated lands of those who had fought against his Parliamentary armies. The land of Swainstown previously belonged to the Nangle family, an Anglo-Norman family who held the title Baron of Navan. They were Catholic and fought in the army against Cromwell, so were outlawed and their lands confiscated. Confiscated lands were parcelled out to Cromwell’s soldiers as a means of payment for their services. Many of these soldiers sold the land if they had no interest in farming or of living in Ireland. John Preston took advantage of this to establish his family country seats, acquiring 7,859 acres of land in County Meath and Queens County (now Laois) in 1666.

The website also tells us of a clever ploy utilised by Preston to protect his land from being returned to its original owners. He placed 1,737 acres in trust for the keeping of two schools, one in Navan and one in Ballyroan in Laois. The website for Bellinter House tells us that this placing of land in trust for schools was probably done in order to make it more difficult for the original owners to seek return of their property, since charitable institutions were now involved! [5]

There is a note, however, on the Navan History website, that “It is reputed that John Preston married a daughter of Baron Nangle of Navan and that this was how he came into the lands in Co. Meath. However, this cannot be confirmed.” I think instead that John Preston’s mother was a Nangle, Mary Margaret, grand-daughter of Thomas Nangle, the 17th Baron of Navan. He may therefore have come into some of his land through his mother. Using the website ancestry.co.uk, I believe Mary Margaret’s father was Jocelyn Nangle, and that he fought in the rebellion of 1641. He probably had land confiscated, but as his family supported Charles II, much of their land was restored to them. A study of the history of the Prestons and the families with which they intermarried would certainly give a fascinating picture of land ownership in the tumultuous and violent times of the Civil War between the armies of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell and struggles for land ownership and restoration under King Charles II.

As well as being a merchant, John Preston was also involved in government and administration. He was appointed as Clerk of the Tholsel (the seat of Dublin city council) in 1650. The Tholsel building stood on the site that is now Dublin’s City Hall. Two days after being appointed as Clerk he was elected as Alderman in the Corporation of Dublin. A few years later he was elected to be Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1653.

John was elected as a Member of Parliament for Navan in 1661. His land ownership was confirmed under the Act of Settlement after the restoration of the monarchy to Charles II. He also owned property in Dublin and he donated the site for the “Hospital and Free School of King Charles II” or more informally called Blue Coat School, a school which was founded in 1669, which is now the home of the Law Society of Ireland. The building of the school became quite controversial as it became a tool for showing off one’s wealth and generosity, and subsequently the building, built by Thomas Ivory, was far grander than that required for a school.

The “Blue Coat School” by Thomas Ivory, now known by its address as Blackhall Place, the home of the Law Society of Ireland.

John married, first, Mary Morris of Lancashire, and had three children with her: Mary, Phineas and Samuel. She died in 1654 and he married a second time, to Katherine Ashburnham, widow of a John Sherlock. He married a third time, to Anne Tighe, who was the daughter of Richard Tighe who had also served as an Alderman and then Mayor of Dublin, and had two more sons, John and Nathaniel [6]. He distributed the land he had acquired to his four sons: Phineas, Samuel, John and Nathaniel.

Ardsallagh, which had formerly been a property of the Nangles, went to his son Phineas, although Phineas died before his father so it went to Phineas’s son, John. By the way, it is exciting to note as a former philosophy student that Ardsallagh passed down to the English philosopher Bertrand Russell! According to the Bellinter website, Ardsallagh was passed down through the family and was left by the heirless George James Ludlow, Third Earl of Ludlow, to the Duke of Bedford, as they shared the same political views. This Duke willed the property to his brother Lord John Russell, who became Prime Minister of England. From him, the estate passed down to Bertrand Russell!

John’s second son Samuel inherited land in County Laois (around Ballyroan and Emo, although Emo Court was not built for another 100 years, by Joshua Dawson in 1790). He married Mary Sandford, daughter of Theophilus Sandford of Moyglare, County Meath.

The third son, John, inherited land in Balsoon, County Meath, and built Bellinter House, near to Swainstown, and Nathaniel, the fourth son, inherited Swainstown.

Nathaniel was born around 1678. In 1713 he followed in the footsteps of his father and was elected M.P. for Navan, and he held this position until 1760, the year he died. He married Anne Dawson in 1719, sister of Joshua Dawson (1660-1725) who developed Dawson Street, Dublin (as well as Anne Street – probably named for his wife Anne [nee Carr] and Grafton Street, and also organised construction of the Mansion House in Dublin in 1710 which was purchased in 1715 to be the official residence of the Mayor of Dublin). [The Navan history website says Nathaniel’s wife was a niece of Joshua Dawson but according to the Peerage website, she was a sister.] Nathaniel’s daughter Anne married Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown – another prominent Dublin street name! He had Russborough House in County Wicklow built, so Nathaniel’s daughter married very well!

The Navan history website quotes a lovely description of Nathaniel Preston, written by Mrs. Delaney:

“an old prim beau, as affected as a fine lady: but an honest man, obstinate in his opinions, but the pink of civility in his own house, which is as neat as a cabinet, and kept with an exactness which is really rather troublesome.‟ [7]

Nathaniel’s second son, also named Nathaniel, born in 1723, became a Protestant clergyman. His older brother died, and he inherited Swainstown. Reverend Nathaniel died in 1796 and left Swainstown in turn to his son, also named Nathaniel (the third, 1752-1812) – the name was passed on through the family and continues today. [8] The Preston ancestors are interred in a vault under Kilmessan Church, next to Swainstown.

Swainstown is built on land near an old abbey – Anne showed us the remains of the abbey on the property.

In the house we were shown one of the few still-in-use dumb waiters in Ireland, and I was allowed to take a photograph:

We were also shown Caroline Preston’s book, This Tumult, when we told Anne that we honed our interest in history first by researching our family genealogies. Caroline too researched her family history and what she found was so interesting that she wrote a book about what she found!

It was raining on and off, so we didn’t get to explore the grounds as much as we would have liked, but Anne did show us around close to the house and I took some photographs. I envied them the  pool they had installed a few years ago! Also the beautiful grounds.

I love the bridge which we could see from the back of the house! Arthur is developing a path through the woods, that will lead to the ice house, which is being restored. I look forward to returning for a walk in the woods!

[1] https://theirishaesthete.com/tag/swainstown/

[2] https://www.swainstownfarm.com/pages/about-us

[3] http://www.navanhistory.ie/index.php?page=preston

[4] I worked this out using family trees on www.ancestry.co.uk

John Preston’s father was Hugh Preston. Hugh Preston was the son of Martin Preston, who was a son of Jenico Preston, 3rd Viscount Gormanston.

[5] https://www.bellinterhouse.com/history.html

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Preston_(alderman)

Anne Tighe’s brother was an ancestor of the Tighes of Altidore, another section 482 property.

[7] http://www.navanhistory.ie/index.php?page=preston

[8] The genealogy is complicated, due to the repetition of names passed from father to son. Note that the Navan history website states that Reverend Nathaniel Preston married Alice Dillon, in 1751, as does http://www.bomford.net/IrishBomfords/Chapters/Chapter18/Preston%20in%20Burke%201912.htm

According to the peerage website http://www.thepeerage.com/p14786.htm#i147860, the Reverend Nathaniel Preston (second Nathaniel) married Mary Hamilton. However, as the third Nathaniel was born in 1752, Mary Hamilton must have been Reverend Nathaniel’s second wife, as he married Mary Hamilton in 1763.

The Navan history website also claims that this Reverend Nathaniel served on the Grand Jury of Meath in 1801 and 1811, and that his wife Alice’s father John Dillon, his son Charles, and Nathaniel Preston formed a company to exploit a vein of copper ore on the Walterstown lands of Nathaniel Preston. As the second Nathaniel died in 1796, I wonder if it was the third Nathaniel Preston who served on the Grand Jury and who formed the mining company i.e. not the Reverend but the Reverend’s son.

Nathaniel (the third, b. 1752 died 1812) also had a son named Nathaniel (the fourth, b. 1813), who inherited and lived in Swainstown. The fourth Nathaniel is said on the peerage website to have died in 1840, but elsewhere is said to have had his son Nathaniel (the fifth), ie. Nathaniel Francis Preston, in 1843, so the death in 1840 does not make sense. The Bomford website says he died in 1853, which makes more sense. The fourth Nathaniel (b. 1813) married Margaret Winter in 1839. When his father died he inherited Swainstown, which at the time consisted of about 320 acres.

Nathaniel Francis Preston married Augusta Florence Caulfield of Bloomfield, Mullingar, in 1865. According to the Navan history website, a cousin, Arthur John Preston, inherited Swainstown from this Nathaniel, in 1903. Arthur John Preston had a son, John Nathaniel (Nat) Preston. Arthur John was killed along with most of the Dublin Fusiliers in Gallipoli in August 1915. He had written letters to his wife and to his father at Swainstown the day he was killed. His son, Nat, born the same year his father died, inherited Swainstown. He let the lands while in agricultural college in England, then returned to farm the land. He also established a saw mill. He married Madeleine Emily Shirley in 1938, and they had five children. John Peter William Preston, “Punch,” was born in 1947 and inherited Swainstown, and married Caroline.

Borris House, County Carlow

contact: Morgan Kavanagh, 087 245 4791

www.borrishouse.com

Open dates in 2020 (but check first due to Covid 19): May 4, 10, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, June 3, 6-7, 10-11, 17-19, 28, July 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23, 26, 29-31, Aug 2, 5-7, 9, 12-23, 26-28, Sept 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 11.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €10, child €5, OAP/student €8, child free under 12 (accompanied)

I had been particularly looking forward to visiting Borris House. It feels like I have a personal link to it, because my great great grandmother’s name is Harriet Cavanagh, from Carlow, and Borris House is the home of the family of Kavanaghs of Carlow, and the most famous resident of the house, Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh, was the son of a Harriet Kavanagh! Unfortunately I don’t think there’s a connection.

We were able to park right outside on the main street of Borris, across from the entrance. My fond familial feelings immediately faded when faced with the grandeur of the entrance to Borris House. I shrank into a awestruck tourist and meekly followed instructions at the Gate Lodge to make my way across the sweep of grass to the front entrance of the huge castle of a house.

We brought our friend Damo along with us – here he is with Stephen at the entrance arch. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that this entrance was designed by Richard Morrison, in around 1813. It has an arch opening with crenellations, flanking turrets and buttressed walls. [1]
a view of the arched entrance from inside the demesne.

Unlike other section 482 houses – with the few exceptions such as Birr Castle and Tullynally – Borris House has a very professional set-up to welcome visitors as one goes through the gate lodge. The website does not convey this, as it emphasises the house’s potential as a wedding venue, but the property is in fact fully set up for daily guided tours, and has a small gift shop in the gate lodge, through which one enters to the demesne. Borris House is still a family home and is inhabited by descendants of the original owners.

approach to the front of the house from the gate lodge
standing at the front of the house looking to our left at the beautiful landscape

Originally a castle would have been built in the location on the River Barrow to guard the area. From the house one can see Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs Mountains. The current owner, Morgan Kavanagh, can trace his ancestry back to the rather notorious Dermot MacMurrough (Diarmait mac Murchadha in Irish), who “invited the British in to Ireland” or rather, asked for help in protecting his Kingship. The MacMurroughs, or Murchadhas, were Celtic kings of Leinster. “MacMurrough” was the title of an elected Lord. Dermot pledged an oath of allegiance to King Henry II of Britain and the Norman “Strongbow,” or Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, came to Ireland to fight alongside Dermot MacMurrough against Dermot’s enemies. As a reward, Dermot MacMurrough offered Strongbow the hand of his daughter Aoife. Succeeding generations of MacMurrough family controlled the area, maintaining their Gaelic traditions.

In the late 14th century, Art mac Murchadha was one of the Irish kings who was offered the a knighthood by King Richard II of England. Henry VIII, in the 1500s, sought to reduce the power of the Irish kings and to have them swear loyalty to him. In 1550 Charles MacMurrough Kavanagh (the Anglicised version of the name ‘Cahir MacArt’ MacMurrough Kavanagh) “submitted himself, and publicly renounced the title and dignity of MacMorrough, as borne by his ancestors.” [2] (note the various spellings of MacMorrough/MacMurrough).

We gathered with a few others to wait outside the front of the house for our tour guide on a gloriously sunny day in July 2019. Some of the others seemed to be staying at the house. For weddings there is accommodation in the house and also five Victorian cottages. We did not get to see these in the tour but you can see them on the website. Unfortunately our tour guide was not a member of the family but she was knowledgeable about the house and its history.

The current house was built originally as a three storey square house, in 1731, incorporating part of an old castle. We can gather that this was the date of completion of the house from a carved date stone. It was built for Morgan Kavanagh, according to the Borris House website, a descendent of Charles MacMurrough Kavanagh. [3] It was damaged in the 1798 Rebellion and rebuilt and altered by Richard and William Vitruvius Morrison into what one can see today. According to Edmund Joyce in his book Borris House, Co. Carlow, and elite regency patronage, it was Walter Kavanagh who commissioned the work, which was taken over by brother Thomas when Walter died in 1818. [4]. The Morrisons gave it a Tudor exterior although as Mark Bence-Jones points out in his Guide to Irish Country Houses, the interiors by the Morrisons are mostly Classical.

The Morrisons kept the original square three storey building symmetrical. Edmund Joyce references McCullough, Irish Building Traditions, writing that “The Anglo-Irish landlords at the beginning of the 19th century who wanted to establish a strong family history with positive Irish associations were beginning to use the castle form – which had long been a status of power both in Ireland and further afield – to embed the notion of a long and powerful lineage into the mindset of the audience.” In keeping with this castle ideal, the Morrisons added battlemented parapets with finials, and the crenellated arcaded porch on the entrance, with slightly pointed arches, as well as four square corner turrets to the house, topped with cupolas (which are no longer there). They also created rather fantastical Tudor Gothic curvilinear hood mouldings over the windows, some “ogee” shaped (convex and concave curves; found in Gothic and Gothic-Revival architecture) [5]. These mouldings drop down from the top of the windows to finish with sculptured of heads of kings and queens. These are not representations of anyone in particular, the guide told us, but are idealised sculptures representing royalty to remind one of the Celtic kingship of the Kavanaghs. As well as illustrating their heritage in architecture, Walter commissioned an illustrated book of the family pedigree, tracing the family tree back to 1670 BC! It highlights the marriages with prominent families, which are also illustrated in the stained glass window in the main stairwell at Borris.

an ogee shaped hood moulding

The guide pointed to the many configurations of windows on the front facade of the house. They were deliberately made different, she told us, to create the illusion that the different types of windows are from different periods, even though they are not! This was to reflect the fact that various parts of the building were built at different times.

The crest of the family on the front of the house on the portico features a crescent moon for peace, sheaf of wheat for plenty and a lion passant for royalty. The motto is written in Irish, to show the Celtic heredity of the Kavanaghs, and means “peace and plenty.”

The Morrisons also added a castellated office wing, joining the house to a chapel. This wing has been partially demolished.

view of the chapel from the front of the house, and beyond, the path leads to the gate lodge. In between the chapel and the house you can see the wall which once housed the kitchen, with the octagonal chimney stack built into the wall.
side of Borris House, with the later wing that was added, that stretches toward the chapel
the square tower contained the nursery, the guide told us.
side of Borris House with the chapel in the foreground.

Charles MacMurrough Kavanagh’s son Brian (c. 1526-1576) converted to Protestantism and sent his children to be educated in England. One of them, Sir Morgan Kavanagh, acquired the estate of Borris when he was granted the forfeited estates of the O’Ryans of Idrone in County Carlow. When Protestants were attacked in 1641 by a Catholic rebellion, the MacMurrough Kavanaghs were spared due to their ancient Irish lineage. Later, when Cromwell rampaged through Ireland, they were spared since they were Protestant, so they had the best of both worlds during those turbulent times.

The tour guide took us first towards the chapel. She explained the structure of the house as we trooped across the lawn. She pointed out the partially demolished stretch between the square part of the house and the chapel. All that remains of this demolished section is a wall. The octagonal towerlike structures built into the wall were chimneys and the demolished part was the kitchen. The square tower that joins the house to the demolished kitchen contained the nursery. The wing was demolished to reduce the amount of rates to be paid. The house was reoriented during rebuilding, the guide told us, and a walled garden was built with a gap between the walls which could be filled with coal and heated! I love learning of novel mechanisms in homes and gardens, techniques which are no longer used but which may be useful to resurrect as we try to develop more sustainable ways of living (not that we’d want to go back to using coal).

As I mentioned, the house was badly damaged in 1798, when the United Irishmen rose up in an attempt to create an independent Ireland. Although the Kavanaghs are of Irish descent and are not a Norman or English family, this did not save them from the 1798 raids. The house was not badly damaged in a siege but outbuildings were. The invaders were looking for weapons inside the house, the guide told us. The Irish Aesthete writes tells us: “Walter MacMurrough Kavanagh wrote to his brother-in-law that although a turf and coal house were set on fire and efforts made to bring ‘fire up to the front door under cover of a car on which were raised feather beds and mattresses’ [their efforts] were unsuccessful.” [6]

Edmund Joyce describes the raid in his book on Borris House (pg. 21-22):

“The rebels who had marched overnight from Vinegar Hill in Wexford…arrived at Borris House on the morning of 12 June. They were met by a strong opposing group of Donegal militia, who had taken up their quarters in the house. It seems that the MacMurrough Kavanaghs had expected such unrest and in anticipation had the lower windows…lately built up with strong masonry work. Despite the energetic battle, those defending the house appear to have been indefatigable, and the rebels, ‘whose cannons were too small to have any effect on the castle…’ the mob retreated back to their camps in Wexford.”

The estate was 30,000 acres at one point, but the Land Acts reduced it in the 1930s to 750 acres, which the present owner farms organically. The outbuildings which were built originally to house the workings of the house – abbatoir, blacksmith, dairy etc, were burnt in one of the sieges and so all the outbuildings now to be seen, the guide told us, were built in the nineteenth century.

It is worth outlining some of the genealogy of this ancient family, as they intermarried with many prominent families of their day. Morgan Kavanagh who probably commissioned the building of the 1730s house, married Frances Esmonde, daughter of Laurence Esmonde of Huntington Castle (another section 482 property I visited). His son Brian married Mary Butler, daughter of Thomas Butler of Kilcash. Their son Thomas (1727-1790) married another Butler, Susanna, daughter of the 16th Earl of Ormonde. It was the following generation, another Thomas (1767-1837), who is relevant to our visit to the chapel.

This Thomas was originally a Catholic. He married yet another Butler, Elizabeth Wandesford Butler, in 1825. At some time he converted to Protestantism. It must have been before 1798 because in that year he represented Kilkenny City in Parliament and at that time only members of the Established Church could serve in Parliament. His second wife, Harriet Le Poer Trench, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Clancarty, was of staunch Scottish Protestant persuasion [7]. When he converted, the chapel had to be reconsecrated as a Protestant chapel. According to legend, Lady Harriet had a statue of the Virgin Mary removed from the chapel and asked the workmen to get rid of it. The workmen, staunch Catholics, buried the statue in the garden. People believed that for this act, Lady Harriet was cursed, and it was said that one day her family would be “led by a cripple.”

The story probably came about because Harriet’s third son, Arthur, was born without arms or legs. As she had given birth to two older sons, and he had another half-brother, Walter, son of Thomas’s first wife, it seemed unlikely that Arthur would be the heir. However, the three older brothers all died before Arthur and Arthur did indeed become the heir to Borris House.

The plasterwork in the chapel, which is called the Chapel of St. Molin, is by Michael Stapleton.

While we sat in the chapel, our guide told us about the amazing Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh. When her husband Walter died, Harriet and her children went travelling. They travelled broadly, and she painted, and collected objects which she brought back to Ireland, including a collection of artefacts from Egypt now in the National Museum of Ireland. When Arthur was 17 years old his mother sent him travelling again, to get him away from his high jinks with the local girls. Arthur kept diaries, which are available for perusal in the National Library. I must have a look! I have a special interest in diaries, since I have been keeping my own since I was twelve years old. Some of Arthur’s adventures include being captured and being cruelly put on display by a tribe. He also fell ill and found himself being nursed back to health in a harem – little did the Sultan or head of the harem realise that Arthur was perfectly capable of impregnating the ladies!

Arthur’s brother and tutor died on their travels and Arthur found himself alone in India. He joined the East India Company as a dispatch rider – he was an excellent horseman, as he could be strapped in to a special saddle, which we saw inside the house, now mounted on a children’s riding horse! I was also thrilled to see his wheelchair, in the Dining Room, which is now converted into a dining chair.

When Arthur came home as heir, he found his mother had set up a school of lacemaking, now called Borris Lace, to help the local women to earn money during the difficult Famine years. The lace became famous and was sold to Russian and English royalty. The rest of the estate, however, was in poor shape. Arthur set about making it profitable, bringing the railway to Borris, building a nearby viaduct, which cost €20,000 to build. He also built cottages in the town, winning a design medal from the Royal Dublin Society, and he set up a sawmill, from which tenants were given free timber to roof their houses. He set up limekilns for building material, and also experimented (unsuccessfully) with “water gas” to power the crane used to built the viaduct. His mother built a fever house, dower house and a Protestant school, and Arthur’s sisters built a Catholic school. There is a little schoolhouse (with bell, in the picture below) behind the chapel.

Arthur seems to have had a great sense of humour. On one of his visits to Abbeyleix, he remarked to Lady De Vesci, “It’s an extraordinary thing – I haven’t been here for five years but the stationmaster recognised me.”

Arthur married Mary Frances Forde-Leathley and fathered six children. He became an MP for Carlow and Kilkenny, and sat in the House of Commons in England, which he reached by sailing as far as London, where he was then carried in to the houses of Parliament.

He lost when he ran again for Parliament in 1880, beaten by the Home Rule candidates. He returned from London after his defeat and saw bonfires, which were often lit by his tenants to celebrate his return. However, this time, horrifically, he saw his effigy being burned on the bonfires by tenants celebrating the triumph of the Home Rule candidates. He must have been devastated, as he had worked so hard for his tenants and treated them generously. For more about him, see the Irish Aesthete’s entry about him. [8]

Jimmy O’Toole’s book gives a detailed description of politics at the time of Arthur’s defeat and explains why the tenants behaved in such a brutal way. Elections grew heated and dangerous in the days of the Land League and of Charles Stewart Parnell, when tenants hoped to own their own land. In the 1841 election, tenants of the Kavanaghs were forced to vote for the Tory candidate against Daniel O’Connell Jr., despite a visit from Daniel O’Connell Sr, “The Liberator” who fought for Catholic emancipation. The land agent for the Kavanaghs, Charles Doyne, threatened the tenants with eviction if they did not vote for his favoured candidate. In response to threats of eviction, members of the Land League forced tenants to support their cause by publicly shaming anyone who dared to oppose them. People were locked into buildings to prevent them from voting, or on the other hand, were locked in to protect them from attacks which took place if they planned to support the Tory candidate. Not all Irish Catholics supported the Land League. Labourers realised that landlords provided employment which would be lost if the land was divided for small farmers.

It was Arthur’s grandfather, Thomas, who undertook much of the renovation work at Borris in the 1800s, with money brought into the family by his wife, Susanna Butler. [9] Under her influence, Italian workmen were employed and ceilings were decorated and Scagliola pillars installed. After hearing the stories about amazing Arthur, we returned across the lawn to enter the main house.

The front hall is square but is decorated with a circular ceiling of rich plasterwork, “treated as a rotunda with segmental pointed arches and scagliola columns; eagles in high relief in the spandrels of the arches and festoons above,” as Mark Bence-Jones describes in his inimitable style [see 5, p. 45]. We were not allowed to take photographs but the Irish Aesthete’s site has terrific photographs [see 3]. The eagles represent strength and power. There are also the sheafs of wheat, crescent moons and lion heads, symbols from the family crest. Another common motif in the house is a Grecian key pattern.

side of the house

The craftwork and furnishings of the house are all built by Irish craftsmen, including mahogany doors. There is a clever vent in the wall that brings hot air from the kitchens to heat the room.

We next went into the music room which has a beautiful domed oval ceiling with intricate plasterwork. It includes the oak leaf for strength and longevity.

The drawing room has another pretty Stapleton ceiling, more feminine, as this was a Ladies’ room. It has lovely pale blue walls, and was originally the front entrance to the house. When it was made into a circular room the leftover bits of the original rectangular room form small triangular spaces, which were used as a room for preparing the tea, a small library with a bookcase, and a bathroom. The curved mahogany doors were also made by Irish craftsmen in Dublin, Mack, Williams and Gibton.

The dining room has more scagliola columns at one end, framing the serving sideboard, commissioned specially by Morrison for Borris House. It was sold in the 1950s but bought back by later owners. [10]The room has more rich plasterwork by Michael Stapleton: a Celtic design on the ceiling, and ox skulls represent the feasting of Chieftains. With the aid of portraits in the dining room, the guide told us more stories about the family. It was sad to hear how Arthur had to put an end to the tradition of the locals standing outside the dining room windows, and gentry inside, to observe the diners. He did not like to be seen eating, as he had to be fed.

We saw the portrait of Lady Susanna’s husband, whom her sister Charlotte Eleanor dubbed “Fat Thomas.” Eleanor formed a relationship with Sarah Ponsonby, and they ran away from their families to be together. As a result, Eleanor was taken to stay with her sister’s family in Borris House, and she must have felt imprisoned by her sister’s husband, hence the insulting moniker. Eleanor managed to escape and to make her way to Woodstock, the house in County Kilkenny where Sarah was staying. Finally their families capitulated and accepted their plans to live together. They set up house in Wales, in Llangollen, and were known as The Ladies of Llangollen They were visited by many famous people, including Anna Seward, William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, Charles and Erasmus Darwin, Sir Arthur Wellesley and Josiah Wedgewood.

Mark Bence-Jones describes an upstairs library with ceiling of alternate barrel and rib vaults, above a frieze of wreaths that is a hallmark of the Morrisons, which unfortunately we did not get to see. We didn’t get to go upstairs but we saw the grand Bath stone cantilevered staircase. The room was originally an open courtyard.

We then went out to the Ballroom, which was originally built by Arthur as a billiard room, with a gun room at one end and a planned upper level of five bedrooms. The building was not finished as planned as Arthur died. It is now used for weddings and entertainment.

In 1958 the house faced ruin, when Joane Kavanagh’s husband, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Macalpine-Downie, died, and she decided to move to a smaller house. However,her son, Andrew Macalpine-Downie, born 1948, after a career as a jockey in England, returned to Borris, with his wife Tina Murray, he assumed the name Kavanagh, and set himself the task of preventing the house becoming a ruin. [11]

We were welcomed to wander the garden afterwards.

I was delighted with the sheep who must keep the grass down.

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/10400804/borris-house-borris-borris-co-carlow

[2] p. 33, MacDonnell, Randal. The Lost Houses of Ireland. A chronicle of great houses and the families who lived in them. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. London, 2002.

[3] https://theirishaesthete.com/2013/11/04/an-arthurian-legend/

The Borris website claims that the 1731 house was built for Morgan Kavanagh, but the Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne writes that the 1731 house was built by Brian Kavanagh, incorporating part of the fifteenth century castle. I have the date of 1720 as the death for Morgan Kavanagh and he has a son, Brian, so it could be the case that the house was commissioned by Morgan and completed by his son Brian.

[4] Joyce, Edmond. Borris House, Co. Carlow, and elite regency patronage. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2013.

[5] https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/18/architectural-definitions/

and Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses [originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978]; Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[6] https://theirishaesthete.com/2013/11/04/an-arthurian-legend/

This entry also has lovely pictures of the inside of Borris House and more details about the history of the house and family.

[7] p. 130. O’Toole, Jimmy. The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! Published by Jimmy O’Toole, Carlow, Ireland, 1993. Printed by Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, Kildare.

[8] https://theirishaesthete.com/2013/11/04/an-arthurian-legend/

[9] for more on the Butlers see John Kirwan’s book, The Chief Butlers of Ireland and the House of Ormond, An Illustrated Genealogical Guide, published by Irish Academic Press, Newbridge, County Kildare, 2018. Stephen and I went to see John Kirwan give a fascinating talk on his book at the Irish Georgian Society’s Assembly House in Dublin.

[10] p. 115. Fitzgerald, Desmond et al. Great Irish Houses. Published by IMAGE Publications Ltd, Dublin, 2008.

[11] p. 134. O’Toole, Jimmy. The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! Published by Jimmy O’Toole, Carlow, Ireland, 1993. Printed by Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, Kildare.

Harristown, Brannockstown, County Kildare

contact: Noella Beaumont. Tel: 087-7414971.

https://www.harristownhouse.ie

Listed Open Dates in 2020 (but check due to Covid restrictions): Jan 13-24, Feb 3-14, May 5-29, June 2-5, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: €10 

Last week I wrote about Charleville in County Wicklow, a house designed by Whitmore Davis. This week I am writing about another house by Davis, Harristown House. This house is magnificently situated at the top of a gently sloping hill, overlooking the River Liffey. I contacted the owner Hubert Beaumont, the husband of the listed contact, Noella, to arrange a visit on Thursday 22nd August 2019, during Heritage Week.

We drove up a very long avenue to the house, between fields, now farmed by the Beaumonts.

A British Parliamentary Paper, a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the municipal corporations in Ireland, in 1833, tells us that in the 33rd year of Charles II’s reign [he was restored to the British throne in 1660 but some would claim that his reign began with the death of his father, Charles I, in 1649], the Borough of Harristown was incorporated by a Charter which created the Manor of Harristown, which could hold a Court and make judgements, by “Seneschals” (a governor or other administrative or judicial officer) appointed by Sir Maurice Eustace and his heirs. He could also hold a market and fairs, on particular days, and have a prison. The borough could return two Members of Parliament. The Commission continues to describe the borough in the present day of 1833: the borough was the property of the LaTouche family, and at the Union [1801], John LaTouche obtained compensation for loss of the elective franchise. [1]

The Eustace family acquired the land of Harristown in the sixteenth century. The Harristown house website agrees with Mark Bence-Jones that the current house at Harristown was built by Whitmore Davis [2]. However, a website about the La Touche family claims that the present Harristown House was built in 1662, for Maurice Eustace (circa 1590-1665), but does not mention an architect [3]. Maurice Eustace became Lord Chancellor of Ireland after the Restoration of Charles II to the throne, because he was loyal to the monarchy. Wikipedia refers to Maurice Eustace’s beloved “Harristown Castle,” “which he was rebuilding after the damage it had suffered during the Civil War, and which by the time of his death was considered to be one of the finest houses in Ireland.” [4] This seems to refer to a house Eustace built near the original castle. After much soul-searching, Maurice left Harristown as well as a large fortune to a nephew, Maurice. He had an illegitimate son with a woman of, apparently, “some social standing,” also named Maurice and he promised his inheritance both to this son and to his nephews, sons of his brother William and William’s wife Anne Netterville. He consulted a preacher as to whether his promise to his lover was binding, and the preacher cruelly advised that it was not. Sadly, Maurice also had a daughter by this liaison, Mary. Maurice also had a wife, Cicely (or Charity) Dixon, daughter of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Robert Dixon, but with her had no children. He left not only his country estates but a townhouse, named “Damask,” on the street which is now named after him, Eustace Street. He eventually left his inheritance to his nephews, the eldest had died so it went to the younger, Maurice.

This nephew, Maurice, married Anne Colville, and then secondly, Clotilda Parsons. He had no male heirs and his fortune was divided on his death between his three daughters. The Harristown estate went to his daughter by his first wife, also named Anne. It’s sad to me that the house was inherited by a daughter, when the first Maurice Eustace’s illegitimate daughter, Mary, unlike her brother, was never even considered for inheritance. Anne married the Irish MP Benjamin Chetwood, and her son Eustace Chetwood inherited Harristown. He became MP for Harristown but mismanaged his estates [5] and it passed to James FitzGerald, the 1st Duke of Leinster. James FitzGerald’s son William, who had no need for Harristown since he had also inherited Castletown House in County Kildare, sold it to David La Touche (1703-1785) in 1768. [6]

view from what is now the back of the house, overlooking the Liffey

I cannot find the original date of construction of the house – Mark Bence-Jones in his Guide to Irish Country Houses identifies it as late Georgian, which generally means 1830-1837, but the Georgian period began in 1714 so “late” could mean as early as around 1800, which is more likely, as Charleville was built in 1797. I suspect that this house was built earlier, perhaps around the time when Whitmore Davis worked for the Bank of Ireland, because the Bank of Ireland was set up in 1783, and The La Touche family were major contributors to the bank.

The La Touche family was a Huguenot family. Huguenots, who were French Protestants, fled from France due to the punishment and killing of Protestants after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes – the Edict of Nantes had promoted religious toleration. Earlier in the week, Stephen and I had a tour of another La Touche house, Marlay House in Marlay Park in Rathfarnham. Marlay House is now owned by Dun Laoghaire and Rathdown County Council and it has been restored and furnished and holds tours by arrangement. [7]

Marlay House in Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin. Photo from National Inventory of Architectural History [8] When we mentioned to Mr. Beaumont that we had been to Marlay House earlier in the week, he commented on the incongruity between the two parts of that house – the 1690 part and the later part commissioned by David La Touche. It’s true that the two parts of the house are very different.

It was David Digues La Touche, born in the Loire Valley, who fled from France after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He fled to Holland, where his uncle obtained for him a commission in the army of William of Orange. He fought in the Battle of the Boyne in the regiment under General Caillemotte. [9] He left the army in Galway, where he was billeted on a weaver who sent him to Dublin to buy wool yarn (worsteds). He decided then to stay in Dublin, and with another Huguenot, he set up as a manufacturer of cambric and rich silk poplin. Where I live in Dublin is an area where many Huguenots lived and weaved – we are near “Weaver Square,” and our area is called “The Tenters” because cloth was hung out to dry and bleach in the sun and looked like tents, hung on “tenterhooks”!

The La Touches began banking when Huguenots left their money and valuables with David for safekeeping when they would travel out of the capital. He began to advance loans, and so the La Touche bank began. He had two sons, David La Touche (1703-1785) and James Digues (later corrupted to Digges) La Touche. This David La Touche purchased properties which passed to his sons: Marlay House to David (1729-1817), Harristown to John (1732-1805), and Bellevue, County Wicklow, to Peter (1733-1828). Bellevue has since been demolished, in the 1950s [10].

As I mentioned last week, the biography about Whitmore Davis in the Dictionary of Irish Architects is not flattering. Descriptions include: “By 1786 he had became architect to the Bank of Ireland at St Mary’s Abbey, where he was employed on minor works, but in 1788 he was reprimanded for lack of attention to his responsibilities ….Although he was employed as architect of the new Female Orphan House in 1792-93, his performance was not judged satisfactory; the Board’s minutes register ‘much disappointment’ at his not having completed the building within the time stipulated…. his architectural practice appears to have been going into decline and by February 1797 he had been declared bankrupt. [my italics]” However, things picked up for him eventually: “by 1803 he had succeeded Richard Harman  as Surveyor of the Revenue Buildings for the Port of Dublin, a post which he still held in 1811.” [11]

The La Touches purchased Harristown and its lands in 1768, and presumably the house that was built by Maurice Eustace still stood on the land. They were involved with the establishment of the Bank of Ireland at Mary’s Abbey in 1783 and David La Touche was a major investor. It could have been at this time, when Whitmore Davis was architect for the Bank of Ireland 1786-91, that the La Touches had him build the new house at Harristown. Peter La Touche hired Whitmore Davis in 1789 to build a church in Delgany, County Wicklow, and the Orphan House on North Circular Road, also by Whitmore Davis, was commissioned by John La Touche in 1792.

Like Charleville, Harristown is ashlar faced, and has nine bays with a central breakfront of three bays, but it was originally three storey over basement. After a fire in 1890 it was rebuilt to designs by James Franklin Fuller, and was reduced to the two storeys you can see in the photograph above. As it stands now, the windows in the breakfront are grouped together under a wide “relieving” arch, as Mark Bence-Jones describes (I’m not sure what this means – if you know, please enlighten me! – perhaps it means that it is “in relief” ie. raised from the background), with a coat of arms and swags. There is a single-storey portico of Ionic columns. (see [2])

crest with pomegranate on Harristown House.

The crest on the over the portico in Harristown features the same pomegranate symbol, for fertility, as features in the La Touche crest on Marlay House on an urn over the front door, as well as a star shaped symbol. The guide at Marlay House was unable to explain the star shaped symbol to us but thought it might be the shape of the pomegranate flower. This shape features on the front pillar gates of Harristown House also, as well as a Greek key pattern.

front of Marlay House, with crest of pomegranate on the urn on top of roof, and star symbol under urn. Photo from National Inventory of Architectural History [see 8].

The rear of Harristown has a pair of curved bows:

Just a little diversion to tell you about Marlay House: David La Touche purchased the land of Marlay Park in Rathfarnham in 1764. Before La Touche, the land in Rathfarnham had belonged to St. Mary’s Abbey, until King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. In 1690, Thomas Taylor, one time Mayor of Dublin, acquired the land and built a house, which he called “The Grange.” He farmed the land, and both his son and grandson held key political positions in Dublin in the 1740-60s. Part of this house still stands and is incorporated into the present Marlay House. David La Touche renamed the house “Marlay” in honour of his wife, Elizabeth Marlay, and her father, George Marlay, Bishop of Dromore. David La Touche enlarged the house. I don’t know what architect designed the enlargement of the original Taylor house for La Touche. If it was done in 1764 it can’t have been Whitmore Davis as he only joined the Dublin Society’s School of Drawing in Architecture in 1770. Marlay house does have bows, similar to Harristown. Turtle Bunbury claims that the enlargement was indeed by Whitmore Davis so perhaps it was done some years after purchase of the estate, which is perfectly possible as David and his wife and family would have spent much of their time in their townhouse closer to the city centre. His father had developed much of the area around St. Stephen’s Green, Aungier Street and the Liberties.

John La Touche enclosed the present Harristown desmesne and built a new road and bridge over the Liffey.

Bridge over the Liffey built by John La Touche in 1788.

He represented the Borough of Harristown in Parliament. He died in 1805. Two of his sons also sat in Parliament. His son John inherited the estate. He was artistic and travelled in Italy, enriching his home with paintings and marbles. He died in 1822 and the estate passed to his brother, Robert La Touche, who was also an MP for Harristown. Robert had married Lady Emily Le Poer Trench, daughter of the Earl of Clancarty of Garbally in Ballinasloe, and they had four children. They also owned a house on Merrion Square in Dublin. A son, another John, succeeded his father in 1844, the year after he had married Maria Price. John had a twin, William, but William died in the same year as his father. John was called “the Master” as he was a keen huntsman, and was Master of the Kildare Hounds 1841-45. He had a serious fall off a horse, however, and stopped hunting, and the same year, his brother Robert died tragically in a stand at the Curragh races – I think the stand collapsed.

Historic houses require constant maintenance. Mr. Beaumont told us that he had to have the entire front portico taken down to be repaired. He preferred the appearance of the house without the portico, but acknowledged that it is good for keeping off the rain!

John lived at Harristown for  sixty-two years. His wife, Maria was artistic, with a particular interest in botany, drawing, languages and poetry. She was an avid letter-writer and wrote a number of tracts on religious and social themes. She also wrote two novels, “The Clintons” (1853), and “Lady Willoughby” (1855). According to the La Touche legacy website, she had a horror of blood sports – and no wonder, with her husband’s nasty fall – and complained often about the enthusiastic hunting pursued by neighboring gentry.

During the John initiated drastic measures in his household: “allowing no white bread or pastry to be made, and only the simplest dishes to appear on his table. The deer-park at Harristown ceased at this time to have any deer in it; all were made into food for the starving people.” He busied himself with his farm tenants, and supported Land Reform under Gladstone.

In 1857 John La Touche heard the preaching of C.H. Spurgeon, which led him to become a Baptist. In 1882, he built a Baptist Chapel and a fine Manse (minister’s house) at Brannockstown, and was a regular benefactor of Baptist work throughout Ireland. John had an interest in education, as did all the La Touches, and he knocked down the remains of Portlester Castle to build a school at Brannockstown, which opened in 1885. This school prospered for twenty years, but under his son, Percy, the pupils moved to the Carnalway National School. It re-opened in 1928 under Catholic management and it is still in use. For more on the La Touches and education and banking, see Turtle Bunbury’s chapter on the La Touches in his book The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Kildare.

Maria La Touche’s friend, Louisa, Lady Waterford (whom we came across in Curraghmore, the wife of the 3rd Marquess), introduced her to the famous art critic John Ruskin, and she asked him to tutor her children, especially her daughter Rose, in art.

We loved the aesthetic touch of the pair of peacocks in the garden.

The relationship between Rose and Ruskin is fascinating and sad. They grew to be very fond of each other, and he fell in love with her when she was still a young girl. Ruskin proposed marriage but due to the fact that his first marriage, to Effie Gray (featured in the film “Effie Gray” written by Emma Thompson), was annulled due to his impotence, Rose’s parents would not allow the marriage. [12] [13] According to a wikipedia article, Rose’s parents feared that if Rose did become pregnant by Ruskin, the marriage would be invalidated since the reason for his annulment would be disproved! Ruskin proposed again, when Rose came of age. She must have had some sort of illness or unusual anatomy because doctors had told her that she was “unfit for marriage.” She said would only agree to the marriage if it could remain unconsummated. Ruskin, however, refused this, “for fear of his reputation” (again, according to wikipedia).

The La Touche legacy website is less sensationalistic about Rose – it claims that she had ill health and this was one reason that her parents were worried about a potential marriage to Ruskin, and they also didn’t like his professed atheism. Given their firm religious faith this seems a most probable reason for their disapproval. Rose went to London in January 1875 for medical care and Ruskin attended her, but she soon died.

According to wikipedia, Rose was placed by her parents in a Dublin nursing home in her mid-20s, and :

Various authors describe the death as arising from either madness, anorexia, a broken heart, religious mania or hysteria, or a combination of these. Whatever the cause, her death was tragic and it is generally credited with causing the onset of bouts of insanity in Ruskin from around 1877. He convinced himself that the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio had included portraits of Rose in his paintings of the life of Saint Ursula. He also took solace in Spiritualism, trying to contact Rose’s spirit.

In 1891 a fire gutted the three storey house. It was rebuilt to the designs of James Franklin Fuller. One storey was removed, which Mr. Beaumont pointed out to us when we were inside, makes the house brighter than it would have been with a further storey. The brightness is further aided with lantern skylights. Franklin Fuller also rebuilt the small Church of Ireland at the entrance to the estate, Carnalway church. It was done in a Hiberno Romanesque style similar to his masterpiece at Millicent. The church also has stained glass windows by Harry Clarke and Sir Ninian Comper.

When “The Master” died in 1904 in his 90th year, his son, Percy, succeeded to the estate. He moved in the highest levels of society and was a favourite of King Edward the Seventh. He married Lady Annette Scott, a sister of the Earl of Clonmel, but they had no children. After his death in 1921, his sister Emily’s son succeeded, but he sold it soon afterwards. [14] The estate passed through two other owners before being sold to Major Michael Whitley Beaumont, grandfather to the present owner, Hubert Beaumont, in 1964.

Hubert’s grandfather Michael set about renovating, and shipped furniture and interiors, even panelling and wallpaper, from the home he purchased from Lord Buckingham in England in 1929, Wootton (or Wotton) House. Wotton House was later to be owned by the actor John Guilgood, and Tony and Cherie Blaire, amongst others. Major Beaumont sold Wotton House in 1947.

Hubert Beaumont inherited the house from his grandfather Michael’s widow, Doreen (the Major’s second wife. It was his first wife, Faith Pease, daughter of the 1st Baron Gainford, who was Hubert’s grandmother). Hubert’s father, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, was a British politician in the Liberal Party, Liberal Democrats and Green Party, and also an Anglican clergyman. Major Michael’s father was also a politician in the Liberal Party, Hubert Beaumont (1864-1922). There’s a strong line of politicians in the family, and they go are related  to George Canning, who served as Prime Minister of the UK from April 1827 until he died in August later that year.

The house is spacious, bright, and beautifully decorated with the items that the Beaumonts brought from their former home in Buckinghamshire. Wootten’s interior was designed by Sir John Soane, and Doreen Beaumont brought some of the Soanian influence to her new home. [15] The colours she used are not traditionally associated with an Irish Georgian house. You can see pictures of the interior on the website.

The front hall is a large double room which opens into the three main reception rooms: the library, drawing room and dining room. The beautiful fireplaces were brought from Wootten. A sitting room leading from the drawing room features delicate sixteenth century Chinese wallpaper, depicting birds against a sky blue background. The mounted wallpaper was imported from England, so an artist was hired to continue the pattern (although it is not a “pattern” as such as the birds are all hand-painted and none are repeated) on the remaining wall. I was particularly delighted with the little mouse painted over the skirting board – the artist found the room so full of mice as the house was being renovated, he decided to commemorate one. The artist also commemorated Doreen’s beloved dogs, and painted a Chow Chow on the wall. A portrait in the room of Mr. Beaumont’s grandmother features her standing next to a chair occupied by her chow!

Upstairs the stairs lead on to a magnificent bright landing corridor lined with long wooden bookshelves, which were also brought from Wootton, along with much of the library from that house, which also feature in the library downstairs. One bedroom is paneled in Tudor oak, brought from a sixteenth century house in England and is older than the house! This interior could be from the Jacobean Dorton House in Buckinghamshire, another house which Major Michael Beaumont had owned. The room contains a four poster bed and heavy French Empire pelmets.

A feature normally lost in old houses which Harristown retains is the servants’ tunnel under the house that leads from the basement to the yard.

one end of the tunnel, the other end originating in the basement of the house.

In the basement we saw some of the vaulted storage rooms and what would have been the kitchen. The Beaumonts have opened their house to film crews and a recent film set in the house is one I’d love to see, “Vita and Virginia” about Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. The tunnel was also used in one of our favourite TV series, “Foyle’s War”!

After our tour, Mr. Beaumont invited us to explore outside. We wandered over to the farmyard first, which has marvellous old barns, and a beautiful weather vane.

There is extra accommodation in a converted stableyard where Noella teaches English and French to live-in students. Some teenagers emerged when we were passing and we asked where we could find the walled garden. Noella followed them out, welcomed us, and pointed us in the right direction. We walked along a grassy path past a delightful henhouse – the hens also have their own portico!

We passed the tennis court, and an odd random gate featuring two cherubs.

The walled garden was beyond the tennis court.

[1] http://www.dippam.ac.uk/eppi/documents/10925/page/244850

[2] Mark Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[3] http://latouchelegacy.com/page15.php

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Eustace_(Lord_Chancellor)

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Chetwood

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harristown,_Naas_South

[7] www.dlrevents.ie

[8] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/60220011/marlay-house-grange-road-co-dun-laoghaire-rathdown

[9] Young, M.F. “The La Touche Family of Harristown,” Journal of the Kildare Archaological Society, volume 7. 1891. https://archive.org/details/journalofcountyk07coun/page/36/mode/2up

[10] p. 129. Bunbury, Turtle and Art Kavanagh, The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Kildare. Published by Irish Family Names, 11 Emerald Cottages, Grand Canal St., Dublin 4 and Market Square, Bunclody, Co. Wexford, Ireland, 2004.

[11] https://www.dia.ie/architects/view/1412#tab_biography

[12] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_La_Touche

[13] a different view of the marriage and annulment between Ruskin and Effie Gray is discussed in the following article, a review of a book that claims that Ruskin did not consummate the marriage with Effie Gray because he learned that she married him for money and not love. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/mar/29/ruskin-effie-marriage-inconvenience-brownell

[14] p. 137, Bunbury, Turtle and Art Kavanagh, The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Kildare. Published by Irish Family Names, 11 Emerald Cottages, Grand Canal St., Dublin 4 and Market Square, Bunclody, Co. Wexford, Ireland, 2004.

[15] https://www.harristownhouse.ie/en/our-history

Charleville, County Wicklow

contact: Mark Sinnott

Tel: 087-2987601

Open dates in 2020 but check due to Covid-19 restrictions: Jan 13-15, Feb 3-7, Mar 2-4, 23-25, June 8-13, 20, 22-27, July 6-12, 20-23, Aug 14-23, Sept 7-12, 26, Oct 5-7, 12-14, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

This was the least personal of our tours to date, when we went on Saturday May 18th 2019, as there was no sign of the owners, the Rohan family, living in the grand reception rooms, although apparently it is their family home. Ken and Brenda Rohan purchased the house in 1981. A visit to a house that is no longer owned by descendents of the early occupiers resonates less history, although in this case one must admit the current owners are probably no less invested than if their ancestors had occupied it for centuries, as they have maintained it to a high standard, and have carried out sensitive restoration to both house and garden. Dublin architect John O’Connell oversaw work on the interiors.

We are told in Great Irish Houses that the demesne is intact, with the original estate walls and entrance gates surviving. [1]

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Charleville, made of Wicklow granite, faced in ashlar. According to wikipedia, ashlar is “finely dressed stone, either an individual stone that was worked until squared or the structure built from it. Ashlar is the finest stone masonry unit, generally rectangular cuboid, mentioned by Vitruvius as opus isodomum, or less frequently trapezoidal.” A stone string-course divides upper from lower windows.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage website tells us that Charleville is a detached nine bay two storey Palladian style mansion, built in 1797 to designs by Whitmore Davis, an architect originally from County Antrim, who was then based in Dublin [2]. He also built another Section 482 house, Harristown House in County Kildare [3]. The house has a three-storey pedimented breakfront, the pediment is carried on four Ionic columns at the second and third storey level of the house, the ground floor level of the breakfront being “rusticated” as if it were a basement. [4] The windows on the ground floor level in the breakfront are arched. The Buildings of Ireland website claims that the breakfront facade is inspired by Lucan House in County Dublin, which is indeed very similar. Lucan House was designed by its owner, Agmondisham Vesey, consulting with architect William Chambers, a British architect who also designed the wonderful Casino at Marino in Dublin, as well as Charlemont House in Dublin (now the Hugh Lane Municipal Art Gallery) and the Examination Hall and Chapel in Trinity College Dublin.

Casino at Marino in Dublin, designed by William Chambers who helped to design Lucan House, which has similar breakfront to that of Charleville.

It was hard to find, as we were directed to the back entrance, and the gps gave us directions to a different entrance. However the person to whom I’d spoken, from Rohan Holdings, specified where to go. We found someone waiting to let us in. He was very friendly and when I stated my name, for him to write down along with licence plate of car, for security, he asked was I related to the Baggots of Abbeyleix! Indeed, I am the daughter of a Baggot of Abbeyleix! And are they related to the Clara Baggots, he asked? Yes indeed, they are my cousins! So that was a great welcome! He opened the gates for us and said he would see us on the way out, and he directed us down the driveway, toward visitor parking.

the side with its Wyatt window in the Morning Room overlooking the stretch of lawn.

Our tour guide came outside to meet us and invited us into the house. We entered a large impressive entry room. The guide told us that George IV was due to visit the house, but never came, as he was “inebriated.” After visiting Slane Castle, we knew all about George IV’s visit, and why he did not get to Charleville – he was too busy with his mistress in Slane Castle! The marquentry wooden flooring (applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures) in the front hall was installed at great expense in preparation for his visit to the house. It’s still in excellent condition.

The well-informed guide told us about the previous owners and shared details about the furniture and paintings. The house is perfectly suitably decorated, sumptuous and beautiful. The main reception rooms lead off the entrance hall and run the length of the facade. The house was built for Charles Stanley Monck (1754-1802), after his former house on the property was destroyed by fire in 1792. He succeeded his Uncle Henry Monck to the estate when his uncle died in 1787. Henry Monck had inherited from his father, Charles Monck (1678-1752). Charles Monck, a barrister who lived on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, came into the property of Charleville through his marriage in 1705 to Agneta Hitchcock, the daughter and heiress of Major Walter Hitchcock. [5]

Although Henry Monck had no son to inherit his estate, he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married George le Poer Beresford, Marquess of Waterford, of Curraghmore. Charles Stanley Monck was the son of Henry’s brother Thomas Monck (1723-1772), and Judith Mason (1733-1814). He married Anne Quin in 1784, daughter of Dr. Henry Quin and Anne Monck (she was a daughter of Charles Monck and Agneta Hitchcock so was a first cousin). He rebuilt the house in the same year that he was raised to the peerage as Baron Monck of Ballytrammon, County Wexford. He was MP for Gorey, County Wexford, 1790-1798. In 1801, as a reward for voting for the Union of Britian and Ireland, he was awarded a Viscountcy.

As well as having Charleville rebuilt, he had a terrace of houses built in Upper Merrion Street in Dublin, according to wikipedia. Number 22 of this terrace was known as “Monck House,” and number 24 was Mornington House (where some say the Duke of Wellington was born) – the terrace is better known today for housing the Merrion Hotel.

side view of Charleville

The large entry hall has fluted Ionic columns, a ceiling with coving and central rosette plasterwork, an impressive fireplace and several doors. It is full of portraits, including, over the fireplace, a painting of the family of Lord Gort. The double-door leading to the staircase hall is topped with a decorative archway, and the passageway between the front hall and the staircase hall is vaulted.

Leading off the hallway were large double doors, “elevator style” (see Salterbridge), the guide pointed out that they are not hinged, and are held in place by the top and bottom instead, swinging on a small bolt from frame into door on top and bottom. They are extremely sturdy, smooth and effective.

The tour is limited to the outer and inner entrance halls, the morning, drawing and dining rooms.

Charles Stanley did not have long to enjoy his house as he died just a few years later in 1802. He was succeeded by his son Henry Stanley Monck (1785-1848), 2nd Viscount Monck, who was also given the title the Earl of Rathdowne. It was this Henry who made the alterations to the house in preparation for the visit of George IV in 1821.

Mark Bence Jones in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses tells us that the Grecian Revival plasterwork is probably designed by Richard Morrison. There are also floor length Wyatt windows to the side of the house, similar to ones added to Carton in Kildare in 1817 by Richard Morrison.

The staircase hall contains a cantilevered Portland stone staircase and a balustrade of brass banisters. Hanging prominently over the stairs is a huge portrait of George IV’s visit to Ireland, picturing the people saying goodbye to him at the quay of Dun Laoghaire. He stands tall and slim in the middle. The painter flatters the King who in reality was overweight. The other faces were all painted by the artist from life, as each went to pose for him in his studio. The scene never took place, our guide told us, as George IV was too drunk to stand on the quays as pictured!

The sitting room has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and the decorative plasterwork features musical instruments, gardening implements and sheaves of corn. Desmond Guinness pointed out that the plasterwork installed at Powerscourt for the royal visit is similar to decoration found at Charleville. [6] The dining room’s centrepiece of shamrock and foliage is probably earlier than 1820 but the acanthus frieze may have been added. The impressive gilt pelmets were purchased in the sale of the contents after fire destroyed the house at neighbouring Powerscourt. The drawing room also has impressive ceilings. It is furnished beautifully and has magnificent curtains framing views. The trellis-pattern rose-pink and red carpet was woven specially for the room, and the wallpaper replicates a found fragment. In their attention to detail, the Rohans had the wallpaper replicated by Cowtan of London.

The Library and Morning Room sit behind the front reception rooms. The regency plasterwork in Greek-Revival style contains laurel and vine leaves.

An Irish Times article sums up the continuation of the Monck family in Charleville:

“As Henry had no living sons (but 11 daughters), when he died in 1848, the Earldom went with him. His brother became 3rd Viscount for a year until his own death in 1849, and his son, Charles, became 4th Viscount for almost the remainder of the century, until 1894. Charles married his cousin—one of Henry’s 11 daughters who had lost out on their inheritance because of their gender. He was Governor General of Canada from 1861 – 1868. The last Monck to live at Charleville was Charles’ son, Henry, 5th Viscount who died in 1927. As he was pre-deceased by his two sons and his only brother, he was the last Viscount Monck. There are extensive files in the National Library for the Monck family.” [7]

Charles the 4th Viscount entertained Prime Minister Gladstone at some point in Charleville and Gladstone planted a tree near the house to mark the occasion. Later Charles fell out with Gladstone over Home Rule in 1886 as Charles maintained the strongly Unionist views of his family.

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I didn’t note which tree Gladstone planted – perhaps it is one of these near the ostrich!

Henry the 5th Viscount’s widow Edith continued to live in Charleville after his death. She died in 1929. The house was then purchased by Donald Davies. He established one of his “shirt dress” manufacturing bases in the stables.

Davies and his family lived in the house for forty years. His only daughter, Lucy, married the Earl of Snowdon, the photographer son of Anne, Countess of Rosse of Birr Castle.

According to the article in the Irish Times:

“before the Rohan family became owners, the place was popular for film settings. An American couple called Hawthorne were the previous owners, and filled it in summertime with orphaned children. Before the Hawthornes, it was owned by Donald Davies, famous for his handwoven, fine wool clothes, who had his workshops in the courtyard to the back of the house.”

The gardens are also beautiful. I believe they are open to the public at certain times of the year. [8]

The article goes on to mention the gardens:

“And then there are the gardens….It was wet and lovely, along the hedged walks and bowers, by the Latinate barbeque terrace where a lime tree was in fruit, in the rose garden, and orchard. Old flowers clustered in bursts of colour – lupins and peony roses, forget-me-not and hydrangea, wisteria covering a wall.

we were lucky to visit when the wisteria was in bloom.

One steps out of the house and goes around one side, by the courtyard and stables, through that courtyard to the tennis courts. One passes along the tennis court to reach the central part of the garden.

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the exit at the side of the house
we passed this beautiful house – I am not sure when it was built, maybe at the time of the conversion of the stables by Donald Davis – on the way to the courtyard.
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walking by the tennis courts, by the beautiful topiary
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the central lawn, with a pond that forms the centre of the Radial Garden

Many elements of the original garden have been conserved, including the fan-shaped walled garden and the walk of yews.

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heading in to the conservatory there are plaques commemorating previous gardeners
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The conservatory, which is in the form of a temple, looking out at the rows of milk-bottle shaped yews.

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Stephen ate a quick lunch in the central garden

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walking around the Radial Garden

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a fountain and pond hidden delightfully amongst the beech hedges in the Radial Garden

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in the radial garden

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the milk-bottle shaped Irish yews, in the Yew Walk

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nobody mentioned the ostrich! (statue)

Beyond the formal gardens is the aboretum with a comprehensive collection of trees.

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I like the way the vine trails along the chain

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We liked the sundial especially, which in itself as a pillar was the dial in a way, though there was a proper sundial on the top also, on the sides of the pillar, on two sides.

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is that the time?

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We also loved the beech walk, with its twisting intertwined branches, some held up by strings or rods to maintain a walkway below.

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[1] Great Irish Houses. Forwards by Desmond FitzGerald, Knight of Glin; The Hon Desmond Guinness; photography by Trevor Hart. Image Publications Ltd, Dublin, 2008.

[2] http://buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=WI&regno=16400713

[3] https://www.dia.ie/architects/view/1412#tab_biography

[4] see Achitectural definitions

[5] Charles Monck married and came into Charleville. Charles’s sister Rebecca married John Foster and had a daugther who married Bishop George Berkeley, the famous philosopher! My husband Stephen is also distantly related to the Monck family as his third great aunt, Jane Alicia Winder, married William Charles Monck Mason.

Jane Winder

Charles’s older brother, George (1675-1752) married Mary Molesworth and had a daughter, Sarah, who married Robert Mason, and they were parents of Henry Monck Mason who was the father of William Charles Monck Mason.

[6] p. 257. Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh and Christopher Simon Sykes. Great Houses of Ireland. Laurence King Publishing, London, 1999.

[7] https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/charleville-estate-is-a-place-apart-1.309616

[8] https://visitwicklow.ie/private-gardens/#

Section 482 properties still open after Heritage Week 2020

Many section 482 properties open for their last week during Heritage Week but do not despair, many others are open for dates after Heritage Week. Below, are the opening dates that were scheduled when the 482 List was published in February 2020. Note that due to Covid 19 restrictions and circumstances, many may no longer be open on the dates originally scheduled – I advise you ring or check websites, and I will update this list when I have time to check openings also.

The owners of Fahanmura in Dublin had kindly agreed to a visit I had scheduled for today, September 12th 2020, but I had to cancel my visit due to a tummy bug. In fact I went for a Covid test since gastrointestinal upset can be a symptom of Covid and my doctor arranged for a test, which I was impressed to have scheduled for me just 24 hours after my referral, and I obtained my result within a further 24 hours – I do not have Covid!

I am sorry not to post a house write-up this week, but you can expect one next week. I have plenty to write up, after visiting Dromana House in County Waterford for a second time, and its near-neighbour Cappoquin House, last month. I will also be telling you soon of my visits during my wonderful holiday in Cork last month to Kilshannig, Drishane House, and Baltimore Castle. We did not get inside Baltimore Castle but I will try to summarise what I can, and will make another visit hopefully next year. We also visited the wonderful Fota House and Doneraile Court, but they are not on Section 482 as they are no longer privately owned.

Now that I am back in fine fettle I look forward to scheduling some more visits. I have a night booked for myself and Stephen in Cabra Castle next month!

Note that places that are listed as tourist accommodation do not need to open to the public for tours, unfortunately. And some places are gardens only. I list them in green.

Places open after Heritage Week, 2020 ie. Sept onward.

Sept

Carlow

Borris House – website tells us house tours are finished for 2020 despite listed dates

Borris, Co. Carlow

Morgan Kavanagh

Tel: 087-2454791

www.borrishouse.com

Open: May 4, 10, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, June 3, 6-7, 10-11, 17-19, 28, July 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23, 26, 29-31, Aug 2, 5-7, 9, 12-23, 26-28, Sept 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 11.30am-3.30pm 

Fee: adult €10, child €5, OAP/student €8, child free under 12 (accompanied)

Huntington Castle – note no tours on Sat Sept 19th

Clonegal, Co. Carlow

Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Alexander Durdin Robertson

Tel: 053-9377160 

www.huntingtoncastle.com

Open: Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, Apr 11-13, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 11am-5pm 

Fee: house/garden, adult €10, OAP/student €9, child €5; garden, adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3, family and group discounts available

The Old Rectory Lorum (Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

Bobbie Smith

Tel: 059-9775282, 087-2735237 

www.lorum.com

Open: Feb 1-November 30

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Newtown Castle – closed due to Covid.

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

Ashton Grove

Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork

Gerald McGreal

Tel: 087-2400831

Open: Jan 28-29, Feb 4-5, 11-12, 25-26, Mar 3-4, 10-11, 24-25, 31, Apr 21-22, 28-29, May 12-13, 16-17, 19-20, 23-24, 26-27, June 16-17, 20-21, 23-24, 27-28, 30, July 1-2, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-2, 8-9, 12-13, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, Wednesdays 2pm-6pm, Tues, weekends & National Heritage Week 8am-12 noon

Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3

Bantry House & Garden – house not open to public I believe, due to Covid

Bantry, Co. Cork

Julie Shelswell-White

Tel: 027-50047

www.bantryhouse.com

Open: Apr 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €11, OAP/student €8.50, child €3 for house and garden (6-16years) under 6 free, groups over 8 – €8 per person, over 21- €7 per person, 

garden only €6, children under 12 free

Blarney Castle & Rock Close

Blarney, Co. Cork

C. Colthurst

Tel: 021-4385252

www.blarneycastle.ie

Open: All year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan- Mar, Mon-Sat, 9am-sundown, Sun, 9am- 6pm 

Apr-May, 9am-6pm, June-Aug, Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,

Sept, Mon-Sat, 9am-6.30pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,

Oct, Nov, Dec Daily 9am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Creagh House – (Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork

Michael O’Sullivan 

Tel: 022-24433

www.creaghhouse.com

Open: April-Sept

Public tours of house all year

Drishane Castle & Gardens

Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork

Thomas Duggan

Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008

Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult 

Drishane House

Castleownshend, Co. Cork

Thomas Somerville

Tel: 028-36126, 083-574589

www.drishane.com

Open: May 1-20, Aug 15-23, Sept 15-25, Oct 1-20, 11am -3pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP /student/child €6, children under €6 free

Dún Na Séad Castle – was not open when we were there though in August.

Baltimore, Co. Cork

Bernadette McCarthy

Tel: 028-20735

www.baltimorecastle.ie

Open: March 1-Oct 31, 11am -6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, children under 12 free 

Kilcascan Castle

Ballineen, Co. Cork

Alison Bailey

Tel: 023- 8847200, 087-3638623

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Free

Kilshannig House

Rathcormac, Co. Cork

Hugo Merry

Tel: 087-2513928 

Open: May 1-3, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30, May & Sept 8.30am-2.30pm, June-Aug 10am-4pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, child €7, student €8 

4 Mulgrave Place,

No 4, Mulgrave Road, Cork City

Trevor Leacy

Tel: 087-2808302

Open: May 1-Sept 30, closed Sundays except National Heritage Week August 15-23, weekdays 11am-4pm, Saturdays 11am-3pm 

Fee: adult €4, OAP/student/child €2, family €7 (2+2) 

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Oakfield Park 

Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, Co. Donegal

David Fisher

Tel: 074-9173068

www.oakfieldpark.com

Open: Mar 28-29, Apr 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, May 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, 12 noon-6pm, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 11am-6pm, Sept 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 12 noon-6pm, Dec 1-23, 4pm-10pm. Open all public holidays

Fee: adult €9, child €6, family and annual passes available 

Portnason House

Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Madge Sharkey

Tel: 086-3846843 

Open: Aug 15-31, Sept 1-23, Nov 16-20, 23-27, 30, Dec 1-4, 7-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student/child €6 

Salthill Garden

Salthill House, Mountcharles, Co. Donegal

Elizabeth Temple

Tel:  087-7988078, 074-9735014

www.donegalgardens.com

Open: May 1, 4-9, 11-16, 18-23, 25-29, June 1-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-27, 29-30, July 1-4, 6-11, 15-18, 20-25, 27-31, Aug 3-8, 10-15, 17-23, 24-29, Sept 1-4, 7-11, 21-25, 28-30, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child €3  

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2

Peter O’ Callaghan

Tel 087-7179367

www.bewleys.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Hibernian/National Irish Bank

23-27 College Green, Dublin 2

Dan O’Sullivan 

Tel: 01-6755100

www.clarendonproperties.ie

Open: all year, except Dec 25, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

11 North Great George’s Street

Dublin 1

John Aboud 

Tel: 087-7983099

www.number11dublin.ie

Open: March 9-14, May 11-16, June 8-13, July 6-11, Aug 3-8, 15-23, Sept 7-13, Oct 5-10, Nov 9-13, 16-20, 12 noon-4 pm, Mondays 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

Open: All year except New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day & Bank Holidays, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Thurs, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 12 noon-6pm

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

Colganstown House

Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

Lynne Savage Jones

Tel: 087-2206222

Open: May 5-27, June 3-5, 8-12, Aug 14-23, Oct 27-31, Nov 1-14, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free

Fahanmura

2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18

Philip Harvey

Tel: 086-3694379, 087-2463865

www.fahanmura.ie

Open: March 16-29, Apr 6-11, May 7-15, June 15-21, July 6-11, Aug 15-23, Sept 12-20, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free

Farm Complex 

Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin

David Doran, Tel: 086-3821304

Open: Jan 2-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2, 15-16, 21-23, March 6-8, May 1-4, 8-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29-31, June 1, 5-7, 12-14, Aug 15-23, Sept 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, Jan, Feb, Sept, 12 noon-4pm, Mar-Aug 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5

“Geragh” 

Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin

Gráinne Casey

Tel: 01-2804884

Open: Jan 14-17, 21-23, 28, Feb 18-20, 26-28, May 6-8, 11-24, 27-29, Aug 11-12, 15-23, 26-27, Sept 7-11, 15-16, Nov 3-6, Dec 3-4, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free 

Martello Tower

Portrane, Co. Dublin

Terry Prone

Tel: 01-6449700

Open: March 7-Sept 27, Sat & Sun and National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, student €4, OAP €1

 Galway

Claregalway Castle

Claregalway, Co. Galway 

Eamonn O’ Donoghue

Tel: 091-799666

www.claregalwaycastle.com

Open: June-Sept, Thursday-Sunday, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €4 

Lisdonagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Caherlistrane, Co. Galway

John & Finola Cooke

Tel: 093-31163

www.lisdonagh.com

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Fee: Free

Oranmore Castle – not opening due to Covid until 2021.

Oranmore, Co. Galway

Leonie Phinn

http://www.oranmorecastle.com/

Tel: 086-6003160

Open: April 1-20, May 13-22, June 8-18, Aug 15-23, Sept 8-17, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult /OAP €7, child €3

Signal Tower & Lighthouse

Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway

Michael Mullen

Tel: 087-2470900

www.aranislands.ie

Open: Mar 1-October 30, 9am-5pm.

Fee: adult €2.50, child €1.50, €5 per family, group rates depending on numbers

Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden – closed due to Covid

Craughwell, Co. Galway

Margarita Donoghue

Tel: 087-9069191 

www.woodvillewalledgarden.com

Open: Feb 1-29, Mar 17-31, Apr 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 11am-5.30pm, Oct 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31,11am-4pm  

Fee: adult/ OAP €6, child €3, student, €4, family €15 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

http://www.derreengarden.com/

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kildare

Blackhall Castle

Calverstown, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare

Jeffrey & Naomi White

Tel: 045-485244

Open: May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-15, Dec 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free

Coolcarrigan House & Gardens

Coolcarrigan, Coill Dubh, Naas, Co. Kildare

Robert Wilson-Wright

Tel: 086-2580439

www.coolcarrigan.ie

Open: Feb 17-22, April 20-21, May 11-15, 23-24, 25-29, Aug 4-7, 14-30, Sept 1-4, 7, 24-30, Oct 1-2, 5-9, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Moone Abbey House & Tower

Moone Abbey, Moone, Co. Kildare

Jennifer Matuschka

Tel: 087-6900138

Open: May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3

Kilkenny

Aylwardstown House

Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny

Nicholas & Mary Gough Kelly

Tel: 051-880464, 087-2567866

Open: Aug & Sept, 9am-5pm 

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €3, child free

Ballybur Castle

Ballybur Upper, Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny

Mhairi Gray

Tel: 086-1919099

www.ballyburcastle.com

Open: May 1-16, June 9-21, Aug 14-24, Sept 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free

Creamery House

Castlecomer Co. Kilkenny

John Comerford

Tel: 087-918444 

www.creameryhouse.com

Open: July 7- Sept 30, Tuesday- Sunday,12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €3, child free

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Shankill Castle

Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny

Geoffrey Cope,

Tel: 087-2437125

www.shankillcastle.com

Open: Apr 2- Nov 1, Thurs -Sunday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23

Fee: house & gardens, adult €10, OAP/student/child

gardens, adult €5 OAP/student /child €4

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

 Stradbally Hall

Stradbally, Co. Laois

Thomas Cosby

Tel: 086-8519272

www.stradballyhall.ie

Open: May 1-31, June 1-9, Aug 15-23, Oct 1-14, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student €5, child free

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

The Station House

Brocagh Lower, Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim

Ann White

Tel: 087-1016063

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Mon- Fri, 6pm-10pm, Sat & Sun and Bank Holidays 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Glebe House

Bruff, Co. Limerick

Colm McCarthy

Tel: 087-6487556

Open: Jan 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, May 5-13, Aug 10-23, Sept 14-30, Mon-Fri, 5.30pm-9.30pm, Sat-Sun, 9am-1pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Louth

Rokeby Hall – closed due to Covid

Grangebellew, Co. Louth

Jean & Jeff Young

Tel: 086-8644228

www.rokeby.ie

Open: May 1-31, Mon-Sat, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, Mon-Sat, 10am-2pm 

Fee: adult/OAP €7, child/student €5

Mayo

Enniscoe House & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castlehill, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Susan Kellett

Tel: 096-31112

www.enniscoe.com

Open: April 1-Oct 31, Open: garden, April 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm, 

Fee: garden & heritage centre adult €8, OAP €6, child/student €3, family 2 adults and 2 children €15, tour of house €5 per adult, tours free in National Heritage Week

Meath

Dardistown Castle

Dardistown, Julianstown, Co. Meath

Lizanne Allen

Tel: 086 -2774271

www.dardistowncastle.ie

Open: Jan 9-11, 13-18, 20-24, 27-31, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26, 10am-2pm 

Fee: adult €6, child €3, student/OAP free, all proceeds to Irish Cancer Society.

Hamwood House

Dunboyne, Co. Meath

Charles Hamilton

Tel: 086-3722701 

www.hamwood.ie

Open: Apr -Sept, Fri-Sun and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 10am-7pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 12 free

Killeen Mill

(Tourists Accommodation Facility)

Clavinstown, Drumree, Co. Meath

Dermot Kealy

Tel: 086-2619979

Open: April- Sept

Loughcrew House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Loughcrew, Old Castle, Co. Meath

Emily Naper

Tel: 049-8541356

Open: April- Sept

www.loughcrew.com

Garden:  Mar 18- Sept 30 daily, 10am-5pm, August & September 11am-4pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €5, child €3.50, group concessions 

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

St. Mary’s Abbey

High Street, Trim, Co. Meath

Peter Higgins 

Tel: 087-2057176

Open: Jan 20-24, Feb 24-28, May 11-15, June 29-30, July 1-3, 13-19, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-13, 21-27, Oct 19-23, Nov 2-6, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child €2

The Former Parochial House

Slane, Co. Meath

Alan Haugh

Tel: 087-2566998

Open: May 1-Dec 22, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Hilton Park House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Clones, Co. Monaghan

Fred Madden

Tel 047-56007

www.hiltonpark.ie

Open: April- Sept

House and garden tours available for groups May-Sept, Monday-Friday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €10, house & garden €8, OAP/student €6, child free

Mullan Village and Mill

Mullan, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan

Michael Treanor

Tel: 047-81135

www.mullanvillage.com

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6.30pm

Fee: €6

Offaly

Ballybrittan Castle

Ballybrittan, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

Rosemarie

Tel: 087-2469802 

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30-31, June 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 15-23, Sept 5-13, 2pm-6pm. 

Fee: free – except in case of large groups a fee of €6 p.p. 

Corolanty House

Shinrone, Birr, Co. Offaly

Siobhan Webb

Tel: 086-1209984

Open: Jan, Feb, July, Aug, Sept, daily 2pm-6pm 

Fee: Free

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

High Street House

High Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

George Ross

Tel: 086-3832992

www.no6highstreet.com

Open: Jan 3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-30, May 1-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-20, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult/student €5, OAP €4, child under 12 free

Springfield House

Mount Lucas, Daingean, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Muireann Noonan

Tel: 087-2204569

www.springfieldhouse.ie

Open: Feb 16-22, 1 pm-5 pm, Apr 13-19, May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30-31, June 1-7, July 25-26, Aug 1-2, 8-9, 14-30, 2pm-6pm, Dec 26-31, 1pm-5pm  

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Castlecoote House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility) 

Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon

Kevin Finnerty

Tel: 090-6663794

www.castlecootehouse.com

Open: May 1-Sept 30, 10am-5.30pm

Fee: adult €8, child €2, student €5 

King House

Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Majella Hunt

Tel: 090-6637153

 www.kinghouse.ie

Open: April-Sept, Tue-Sat, Aug 15-23 National Heritage Week, 11am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student /child €3, group discounts apply

Shannonbridge Fortifications

Shannonbridge, Athlone, Co. Roscommon

Fergal Moran

Tel: 090-9674973

www.theoldfortrestaurant.com

Open: May 1-Sept 30, 11am-5pm

Fee: Free

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

Fee: adult €14, €12.50, €9.25, OAP/student €12.50, child €6, group €11.50, family €29

Sligo

Coopershill House 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Riverstown, Co. Sligo

Simon O’Hara

Tel: 071-9165108

www.coopershill.com

Open: May-Sept, 

Tues-Sat, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child/ National Heritage Week €5

Lissadell House & Gardens

Lissadell, Ballinfull, Co. Sligo

Edward Walsh

Tel: 087-2550969 

www.lissadell.com

Open: May- Sept 10.30am-6pm 

Fee: adult €14, child €7, OAP €12, student €6, concessions family 

Temple House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Ballymote, Co. Sligo

Roderick Perceval

Tel: 087-9976045

www.templehouse.ie

Open: April-Oct

Tipperary

Beechwood House

Ballbrunoge, Cullen, Co. Tipperary

Maura & Patrick McCormack

Tel: 083-1486736

Open: Jan 3-6, 10-13, Feb 28-29, Mar 1-2, 6-9, Apr 24-27, May 8-11, 15-18, June 5-8, July 10-13, 24-27, Aug 15-23, Sept 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 10.15am-2.15pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €2, child free, fees donated to charity

Clashleigh House

Clogheen, Co. Tipperary

Elizabeth O’Callaghan

Tel: 086-8185334 

Open: April 2-May 30, Tues & Thurs, June 2-30, Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-Oct 27, Tues & Thurs, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4

Cloughjordan House

Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary

Sarah Baker

Tel:  085-2503344

www.cloughjordanhouse.com

Open: May 4-29, Sept 7-30, Oct 4-30 excluding Sundays, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Fancroft Mill 

Fancroft, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

Marcus & Irene Sweeney

Tel: 0505-31484, 087-9263300

www.fancroft.ie

Open: May 6-28, June 3-25, Aug 15-23, Sept 9-16, 10am-2pm 

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €6, child free under 5 years, adult supervision essential, group rates available 

Lismacue House 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bansha, Co. Tipperary

Katherine Nicholson

Tel: 062-54106

Open: Mar 17-Oct 31

The Rectory

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Josephine Fahey

Tel: 087-2601994, 052-7441406

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Waterford

Ballynatray Estate

Co. Waterford

Postal address: Glendine, Youghal, Co. Cork

Joe Hilton, Tel: 083-3458174 

www.ballynatray.com

Open: April 12-Oct 1, 9am- 4pm

Fee: Free

Cappagh House (Old and New)

Cappagh

Dungarvan

Co Waterford

Charles and Claire Chavasse

Tel: 087-8290860, 086-8387420

Open: April, June, & August, Wednesday & Thursday, May & September Wednesday Thursday & Saturday, National Heritage Week August 15-23, Oct 1, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student/€5, child free

Cappoquin House & Gardens

Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Sir Charles Keane

Tel: 087-6704180

www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com

Open: Apr 18-30, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm  

Gardens open all year closed Sundays 

Fee: house €10, garden €6, combined €15, child free 

Curraghmore House

Portlaw, Co. Waterford

Vanessa Behal

Tel: 051-387101

www.curraghmorehouse.ie

Open: May, June, July, Sept, Wed- Sun, Aug 1-31, 10.30am-4.30pm

Fee: full tour €18, house tour €12, garden & shell house €10, garden only €6 under12 years free

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Tourin House & Gardens

Tourin, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Kristin Jameson

Tel: 058-54405, 086-8113841

www.tourin-house.ie

Open: April 1-Sept 30, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 1pm-5pm

Fee: house/garden: adult €6, OAP/student €3.50, child free. 

Westmeath

St. John’s Church

Loughstown, Drumcree, Collinstown, Co. Westmeath

Billy Standish

Tel: 044-9666570

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €4, child/OAP/student €2

Rockfield Ecological Estate

Rathaspic, Rathowen, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

Sean Daly 

Tel: 086-2487447 

Open: June 1-15, July 1-20, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free 

Tullynally Castle & Gardens

Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

Valerie Packenham

Tel: 087-1301986

 www.tullynallycastle.com

Open: Apr 2-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-30, May 1-4, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-31, June 1, 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, July 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, Aug 1-3, 6-9, 13-23, 27-30, Sept 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, 11am-5pm 

Fee: adult/OAP/student €7.50, child €3.50 under 5 free, (family 2 adults + 2 children) €19, season ticket for 2 €50, season ticket for family €60

Turbotstown

Coole, Co. Westmeath

Peter Bland

Tel: 086-2475044

Open: July 22-30, Aug 1-31, Dec 1-20, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult/student €8, child/OAP €4 

Wexford

Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford

Mark & Emma Hewlett

Tel: 051-388109

www.kilmokea.com

Open: Apr- Oct 

Gardens:

Open Mar 17-Oct 31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family ticket €20/annual pass for a family of 4 to be agreed at €75

Wilton Castle

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Woodbrook House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Giles Fitzherbert

053-9255114, 087-6402182

www.woodbrookhouse.ie

Open April-October

Wicklow

Castle Howard

Avoca, Co. Wicklow

Mark Sinnott

Tel: 087-2987601

Open: Jan 13-15, Feb 3-7, Mar 2-4, 23-25, June 8-13, 20, 22-27, July 6-12, 20-23, Aug 14-23, Sept 7-12, 26, Oct 5-7, 12-14, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

Killruddery House & Gardens

Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Anthony Meath

Tel: 01-2863405

www.killruddery.com

Open: Apr 4-5, 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-23, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: house & garden adult €15.50, OAP/student €13, child €5.50, garden adult €8.50, OAP/student €7.50 child €3, concession children under  4 years free

Kiltimon House

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow

Michelle O’Connor

Tel: 087-2505205

Open: May 5-25, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5

Kingston House

Kingston, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

Liam Lynam

Tel: 087-2415795

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €3, OAP/student/child €2

Knockanree Garden

Avoca, Co Wicklow

Perter Campion & Valerie O’ Connor

Tel: 087-9024861

Open: May 20-July 3 Mon- Sat, August 15-23, Oct 1-14 Mon-Sat, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2

1 Martello Terrace

Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Liz McManus

Tel: 087-2357369

Open: May, June, July, Sept, Mon & Thurs, Aug, Mon, Thurs, & Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 1pm-5pm, Sat 9am-1pm, closed June 1, Aug 3 

Fee: free

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

October

Carlow

Huntington Castle

Clonegal, Co. Carlow

Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Alexander Durdin Robertson

Tel: 053-9377160 

www.huntingtoncastle.com

Open: Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, Apr 11-13, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 11am-5pm 

Fee: house/garden, adult €10, OAP/student €9, child €5 

garden, adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3, family and group discounts available

The Old Rectory Lorum

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

Bobbie Smith

Tel: 059-9775282, 087-2735237 

www.lorum.com

Open: Feb 1-November 30

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Newtown Castle

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

Bantry House & Garden

Bantry, Co. Cork

Julie Shelswell-White

Tel: 027-50047

www.bantryhouse.com

Open: Apr 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €11, OAP/student €8.50, child €3 for house and garden (6-16years) under 6 free, groups over 8 – €8 per person, over 21- €7 per person, 

garden only €6, children under 12 free

Blarney Castle & Rock Close

Blarney, Co. Cork

C. Colthurst

Tel: 021-4385252

www.blarneycastle.ie

Open: All year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan- Mar, Mon-Sat, 9am-sundown, Sun, 9am- 6pm Apr-May, 9am-6pm, June-Aug, Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,Sept, Mon-Sat, 9am-6.30pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,Oct, Nov, Dec Daily 9am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Drishane Castle & Gardens

Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork

Thomas Duggan

Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008

Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult 

Drishane House

Castleownshend, Co. Cork

Thomas Somerville

Tel: 028-36126, 083-574589

www.drishane.com

Open: May 1-20, Aug 15-23, Sept 15-25, Oct 1-20, 11am -3pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP /student/child €6, children under €6 free

Dún Na Séad Castle – was not open when we were there though in August.

Baltimore, Co. Cork

Bernadette McCarthy

Tel: 028-20735

www.baltimorecastle.ie

Open: March 1-Oct 31, 11am -6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, children under 12 free 

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Oakfield Park 

Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, Co. Donegal

David Fisher

Tel: 074-9173068

www.oakfieldpark.com

Open: Mar 28-29, Apr 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, May 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, 12 noon-6pm, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 11am-6pm, Sept 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 12 noon-6pm, Dec 1-23, 4pm-10pm. Open all public holidays

Fee: adult €9, child €6, family and annual passes available 

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2

Peter O’ Callaghan

Tel 087-7179367

www.bewleys.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Hibernian/National Irish Bank

23-27 College Green, Dublin 2

Dan O’Sullivan 

Tel: 01-6755100

www.clarendonproperties.ie

Open: all year, except Dec 25, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

11 North Great George’s Street

Dublin 1

John Aboud 

Tel: 087-7983099

www.number11dublin.ie

Open: March 9-14, May 11-16, June 8-13, July 6-11, Aug 3-8, 15-23, Sept 7-13, Oct 5-10, Nov 9-13, 16-20, 12 noon-4 pm, Mondays 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

Open: All year except New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day & Bank Holidays, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Thurs, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 12 noon-6pm

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

Colganstown House

Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

Lynne Savage Jones

Tel: 087-2206222

Open: May 5-27, June 3-5, 8-12, Aug 14-23, Oct 27-31, Nov 1-14, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free 

Galway

Lisdonagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Caherlistrane, Co. Galway

John & Finola Cooke

Tel: 093-31163

www.lisdonagh.com

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Fee: Free

Signal Tower & Lighthouse

Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway

Michael Mullen

Tel: 087-2470900

www.aranislands.ie

Open: Mar 1-October 30, 9am-5pm.

Fee: adult €2.50, child €1.50, €5 per family, group rates depending on numbers

Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden – closed due to Covid

Craughwell, Co. Galway

Margarita Donoghue

Tel: 087-9069191 

www.woodvillewalledgarden.com

Open: Feb 1-29, Mar 17-31, Apr 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 11am-5.30pm, Oct 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31,11am-4pm  

Fee: adult/ OAP €6, child €3, student, €4, family €15 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

www.derrengarden.com

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kildare

Coolcarrigan House & Gardens

Coolcarrigan, Coill Dubh, Naas, Co. Kildare

Robert Wilson-Wright

Tel: 086-2580439

www.coolcarrigan.ie

Open: Feb 17-22, April 20-21, May 11-15, 23-24, 25-29, Aug 4-7, 14-30, Sept 1-4, 7, 24-30, Oct 1-2, 5-9, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Shankill Castle

Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny

Geoffrey Cope,

Tel: 087-2437125

www.shankillcastle.com

Open: Apr 2- Nov 1, Thurs -Sunday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23

Fee: house & gardens, adult €10, OAP/student/child

gardens, adult €5 OAP/student /child €4

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

Stradbally Hall

Stradbally, Co. Laois

Thomas Cosby

Tel: 086-8519272

www.stradballyhall.ie

Open: May 1-31, June 1-9, Aug 15-23, Oct 1-14, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student €5, child free

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Mayo

Enniscoe House & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castlehill, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Susan Kellett

Tel: 096-31112

www.enniscoe.com

Open: April 1-Oct 31, Open: garden, April 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm, 

Fee: garden & heritage centre adult €8, OAP €6, child/student €3, family 2 adults and 2 children €15, tour of house €5 per adult, tours free in National Heritage Week

Meath

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

St. Mary’s Abbey

High Street, Trim, Co. Meath

Peter Higgins 

Tel: 087-2057176

Open: Jan 20-24, Feb 24-28, May 11-15, June 29-30, July 1-3, 13-19, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-13, 21-27, Oct 19-23, Nov 2-6, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child €2

The Former Parochial House

Slane, Co. Meath

Alan Haugh

Tel: 087-2566998

Open: May 1-Dec 22, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Offaly

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

Fee: adult €14, €12.50, €9.25, OAP/student €12.50, child €6, group €11.50, family €29

Sligo

Temple House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Ballymote, Co. Sligo

Roderick Perceval

Tel: 087-9976045

www.templehouse.ie

Open: April-Oct

Tipperary

Clashleigh House

Clogheen, Co. Tipperary

Elizabeth O’Callaghan

Tel: 086-8185334 

Open: April 2-May 30, Tues & Thurs, June 2-30, Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-Oct 27, Tues & Thurs, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4

Cloughjordan House

Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary

Sarah Baker

Tel:  085-2503344

www.cloughjordanhouse.com

Open: May 4-29, Sept 7-30, Oct 4-30 excluding Sundays, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Lismacue House 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bansha, Co. Tipperary

Katherine Nicholson

Tel: 062-54106

Open: Mar 17-Oct 31

The Rectory

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Josephine Fahey

Tel: 087-2601994, 052-7441406

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Waterford

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Wexford

Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford

Mark & Emma Hewlett

Tel: 051-388109

www.kilmokea.com

Open: Apr- Oct 

Gardens:

Open Mar 17-Oct 31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family ticket €20/annual pass for a family of 4 to be agreed at €75

Wilton Castle

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Woodbrook House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Giles Fitzherbert

053-9255114, 087-6402182

www.woodbrookhouse.ie

Open April-October

Wicklow

Castle Howard

Avoca, Co. Wicklow

Mark Sinnott

Tel: 087-2987601

Open: Jan 13-15, Feb 3-7, Mar 2-4, 23-25, June 8-13, 20, 22-27, July 6-12, 20-23, Aug 14-23, Sept 7-12, 26, Oct 5-7, 12-14, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

Killruddery House & Gardens

Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Anthony Meath

Tel: 01-2863405

www.killruddery.com

Open: Apr 4-5, 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-23, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: house & garden adult €15.50, OAP/student €13, child €5.50, garden adult €8.50, OAP/student €7.50 child €3, concession children under  4 years free

Knockanree Garden

Avoca, Co Wicklow

Perter Campion & Valerie O’ Connor

Tel: 087-9024861

Open: May 20-July 3 Mon- Sat, August 15-23, Oct 1-14 Mon-Sat, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

November

Carlow

The Old Rectory Lorum

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

Bobbie Smith

Tel: 059-9775282, 087-2735237 

www.lorum.com

Open: Feb 1-November 30

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Gregan Castle

Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Brian & Anna Hussey

Tel: 086-3291244

Open: March 1-31, April 1-30, May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Nov 1-30, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, child/OAP/student/free

Newtown Castle

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

Blarney Castle & Rock Close

Blarney, Co. Cork

C. Colthurst

Tel: 021-4385252

www.blarneycastle.ie

Open: All year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan- Mar, Mon-Sat, 9am-sundown, Sun, 9am- 6pm 

Apr-May, 9am-6pm, June-Aug, Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,Sept, Mon-Sat, 9am-6.30pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,Oct, Nov, Dec Daily 9am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Creagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork

Michael O’Sullivan 

Tel: 022-24433

www.creaghhouse.ie

Open: April-Sept

Public tours of house all year

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Portnason House

Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Madge Sharkey

Tel: 086-3846843 

Open: Aug 15-31, Sept 1-23, Nov 16-20, 23-27, 30, Dec 1-4, 7-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student/child €6 

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2

Peter O’ Callaghan

Tel 087-7179367

www.bewleys.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Hibernian/National Irish Bank

23-27 College Green, Dublin 2

Dan O’Sullivan 

Tel: 01-6755100

www.clarendonproperties.ie

Open: all year, except Dec 25, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

11 North Great George’s Street

Dublin 1

John Aboud 

Tel: 087-7983099

www.number11dublin.ie

Open: March 9-14, May 11-16, June 8-13, July 6-11, Aug 3-8, 15-23, Sept 7-13, Oct 5-10, Nov 9-13, 16-20, 12 noon-4 pm, Mondays 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

Open: All year except New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day & Bank Holidays, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Thurs, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 12 noon-6pm

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

Colganstown House

Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

Lynne Savage Jones

Tel: 087-2206222

Open: May 5-27, June 3-5, 8-12, Aug 14-23, Oct 27-31, Nov 1-14, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free 

“Geragh” 

Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin

Gráinne Casey

Tel: 01-2804884

Open: Jan 14-17, 21-23, 28, Feb 18-20, 26-28, May 6-8, 11-24, 27-29, Aug 11-12, 15-23, 26-27, Sept 7-11, 15-16, Nov 3-6, Dec 3-4, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

http://www.derreengarden.com/

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Shankill Castle

Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny

Geoffrey Cope,

Tel: 087-2437125

www.shankillcastle.com

Open: Apr 2- Nov 1, Thurs -Sunday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23

Fee: house & gardens, adult €10, OAP/student/child

gardens, adult €5 OAP/student /child €4

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Meath

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

St. Mary’s Abbey

High Street, Trim, Co. Meath

Peter Higgins 

Tel: 087-2057176

Open: Jan 20-24, Feb 24-28, May 11-15, June 29-30, July 1-3, 13-19, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-13, 21-27, Oct 19-23, Nov 2-6, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child €2

The Former Parochial House

Slane, Co. Meath

Alan Haugh

Tel: 087-2566998

Open: May 1-Dec 22, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Offaly

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

Fee: adult €14, €12.50, €9.25, OAP/student €12.50, child €6, group €11.50, family €29

Waterford

Cappoquin House & Gardens

Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Sir Charles Keane

Tel: 087-6704180

www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com

Open: Apr 18-30, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm  

Gardens open all year closed Sundays 

Fee: house €10, garden €6, combined €15, child free 

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Wexford

Wilton Castle

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Wicklow

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

Dec

Carlow

Huntington Castle

Clonegal, Co. Carlow

Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Alexander Durdin Robertson

Tel: 053-9377160 

www.huntingtoncastle.com

Open: Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, Apr 11-13, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 11am-5pm 

Fee: house/garden, adult €10, OAP/student €9, child €5 

garden, adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3, family and group discounts available

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Newtown Castle

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

Blarney Castle & Rock Close

Blarney, Co. Cork

C. Colthurst

Tel: 021-4385252

www.blarneycastle.ie

Open: All year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan- Mar, Mon-Sat, 9am-sundown, Sun, 9am- 6pm 

Apr-May, 9am-6pm, June-Aug, Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,

Sept, Mon-Sat, 9am-6.30pm, Sun, 9am-6pm,

Oct, Nov, Dec Daily 9am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Creagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork

Michael O’Sullivan 

Tel: 022-24433

www.creaghhouse.ie

Open: April-Sept

Public tours of house all year

Drishane Castle & Gardens

Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork

Thomas Duggan

Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008

Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult 

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Oakfield Park 

Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, Co. Donegal

David Fisher

Tel: 074-9173068

www.oakfieldpark.com

Open: Mar 28-29, Apr 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, May 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, 12 noon-6pm, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 11am-6pm, Sept 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 12 noon-6pm, Dec 1-23, 4pm-10pm. Open all public holidays

Fee: adult €9, child €6, family and annual passes available 

Portnason House

Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Madge Sharkey

Tel: 086-3846843 

Open: Aug 15-31, Sept 1-23, Nov 16-20, 23-27, 30, Dec 1-4, 7-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student/child €6 

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2

Peter O’ Callaghan

Tel 087-7179367

www.bewleys.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Hibernian/National Irish Bank

23-27 College Green, Dublin 2

Dan O’Sullivan 

Tel: 01-6755100

www.clarendonproperties.ie

Open: all year, except Dec 25, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

Open: All year except New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day & Bank Holidays, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Thurs, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 12 noon-6pm

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

“Geragh” 

Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin

Gráinne Casey

Tel: 01-2804884

Open: Jan 14-17, 21-23, 28, Feb 18-20, 26-28, May 6-8, 11-24, 27-29, Aug 11-12, 15-23, 26-27, Sept 7-11, 15-16, Nov 3-6, Dec 3-4, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

http://www.derreengarden.com/

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kildare

Blackhall Castle

Calverstown, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare

Jeffrey & Naomi White

Tel: 045-485244

Open: May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-15, Dec 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Meath

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

The Former Parochial House

Slane, Co. Meath

Alan Haugh

Tel: 087-2566998

Open: May 1-Dec 22, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Offaly

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

Springfield House

Mount Lucas, Daingean, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Muireann Noonan

Tel: 087-2204569

www.springfieldhouse.ie

Open: Feb 16-22, 1 pm-5 pm, Apr 13-19, May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30-31, June 1-7, July 25-26, Aug 1-2, 8-9, 14-30, 2pm-6pm, Dec 26-31, 1pm-5pm  

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

Fee: adult €14, €12.50, €9.25, OAP/student €12.50, child €6, group €11.50, family €29

Waterford

Cappoquin House & Gardens

Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Sir Charles Keane

Tel: 087-6704180

www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com

Open: Apr 18-30, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm  

Gardens open all year closed Sundays 

Fee: house €10, garden €6, combined €15, child free 

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Westmeath

Turbotstown

Coole, Co. Westmeath

Peter Bland

Tel: 086-2475044

Open: July 22-30, Aug 1-31, Dec 1-20, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult/student €8, child/OAP €4 

Wexford

Wilton Castle

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Wicklow

Killruddery House & Gardens

Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Anthony Meath

Tel: 01-2863405

www.killruddery.com

Open: Apr 4-5, 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-23, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: house & garden adult €15.50, OAP/student €13, child €5.50, garden adult €8.50, OAP/student €7.50 child €3, concession children under  4 years free

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare: Desmond Guinness’s jewelbox of treasures

contact: Mrs Desmond (Penny) Guinness

Open in 2020 (but check due to Covid-19 restrictions): Feb 10-14, 17-21, Mar 23-27, 30-31, Apr 1-3, May 18-29, June 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-18, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4, concessions no charge for school outings

I am publishing my Leixlip Castle blog this week to honour Desmond Guinness who died last month. The Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne published a thoughtful tribute on his website. [1]

It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday June 15th 2019 when we headed to Leixlip Castle. It is just outside of Leixlip, not far from Dublin on the N4, though confusing to find when one drives into Leixlip – don’t get it confused with the Manor! Keep going through the town and you’ll see it on your left as you are heading to veer right – so don’t veer right but turn left instead. You cannot see it in advance so I’m sure one could cause an accident if a car follows close behind!

A note on the gate listed tour times – I think they were every hour at quarter past the hour, on open days. We made it in time for the 11:15 tour. We were early, so had time to walk around the grounds. This is the place so far where I most want to live! It is so beautiful, especially the garden.

We passed a gate lodge on the way in – impressive itself!

the gate lodge
view of an interesting looking building toward the back of the gate lodge

Not sure where to park, I parked outside the gate lodge. We then walked up toward the house, along a cobbled driveway with wildflower meadow alongside and gorgeous sylvan landscape.

We approached the castle: impressive with a rounded tower immediately in view and castellated wall, with gothic mullioned windows, approached by a sweeping lawn:

The oldest part of the castle, the round tower, was built in 1172 – there is a stone noting that date [2] – by Adam de Hereford, an Anglo-Norman knight. A lovely coincidence is that when I looked up Adam de Hereford on Wikipedia, I have discovered that amongst the land bestowed by Strongbow on de Hereford, was “half the vill of Aghaboe.” My Grandfather purchased the house and farm at Aghaboe, which contains the Abbey of Aghaboe in County Laois! Unfortunately the Land Commission placed a compulLsory purchase order on the land when my Grandfather, John Baggot, died in 1977. Our family was left the house and about ten acres. The family sold the remaining land and house in 1985, much to my disappointment.

Aghaboe Abbey, County Laois, 2018, founded by St. Canice in the 6th century.
the house at Aghaboe, also from our 2018 trip. It has been restored by its current owner.
the house at Aghaboe, 1981.

John Colgan has complied a chronology of Leixlip, 1200-1499. [3] According to this, the grant from King John to Adam de Hereford is given in 1202. A website called “Curious Ireland” claims that soon after the castle was built, it was used as a hunting base by King John when he was Lord of Ireland in 1185. [4]

this is the side which Mark Bence-Jones refers to as facing the river, with pointed windows that have Gothic astragals (a term used loosely to denote the glazing bars in the window)

According to Mark Bence-Jones in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses, it later belonged to the Crown [more on this later], and was then granted in 1569 to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the Rolls [again, we shall learn more about these details later]. In 1731, it was sold by John Whyte to Rt Hon William Conolly, nephew and heir of Speaker Conolly, the builder of nearby Castletown. William Conolly left Leixlip for Castletown after his aunt’s death in 1752, but it remained in the Conolly family until 1914, being let to a succession of tenants. Bence-Jones writes that remodelling of the castle appears to date from when William Conolly lived in it, and also perhaps slightly later, during the tenancy of Primate Stone, which was from 1752 onwards. The wing which forms a projection on the entrance front, balancing the old round tower, was more or less rebuilt at this period, and has a regular three storey four bay front towards the river. The windows on this projection are pointed and have Gothic astragals (a term used loosely to denote the glazing bars in the window). Similar windows, Bence-Jones adds, “were pierced in the thick old wall of the entrance front, and were glazed with diamond panes, in a delightful Batty Langley manner.” [5]

Beyond the round tower in the other direction there are steps leading up to a small terrace:

Walking around a little further, we see more of the house, with multiple roof levels, and a squat round ivy-covered one storey crenellated wall:

We can see more little windows, set into the round tower, another gothic arched window, and a round window also.

Walking further around, the back part of the jumble of a building leads to an archway built into the building:

The other side of the cobbled driveway leads to outbuildings with a path down to farmbuildings. Ahead of us, was a doorway in the wall, leading to the gardens.

According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Buildings of Ireland website, the castle was completed in 1837. I find it hard to correlate the descriptions of the castle with the castle itself: the inventory describes:

Detached four-bay two-storey over part-raised basement rubble stone house, completed 1837, incorporating fabric of earlier castle, dated 1172, and subsequent reconstructions with two-bay two-storey advanced end bay to left (north-east), four-bay three-storey side elevation to north-east and single-bay three-storey corner tower to west on a circular plan having battlemented parapet.Set back from road in own extensive landscaped grounds. [6]

The Castle overlooks the River Liffey:

Leixlip Castle has been owned by Desmond Guinness, the founder of the Irish Georgian Society in 1958. The Georgian Society is dedicated to the conservation and research into eighteenth century Irish art and architecture. His wife Penny joined us in the front hall, before Jenny took us on a tour of the house. The tour guide, Jenny, a young Philipino woman who was hired to take care of Desmond’s parents, and has been with the family for seventeen years and at the time we visited, took care of Desmond. Before entering the house, however, we had to find where to enter!

There’s a front door to the front of the castle but moss growing on the steps indicated to me that that door is not used. We went around to the side, to the terrace. The door is small – the handle very low, so I imagined Sleepy, Doc or Grumpy opening the door! Jenny explained that the floor had to be raised and that they just cut the door to make it fit.

Jenny had us sign the book and started to tell us about the castle, when another couple arrived and joined us for the tour. There is an accompanying brochure written by Desmond Guinness about the house and its contents. Jenny told us we are allowed to take photos! I began eagerly to snap away, as well as to take notes.

History of Leixlip Castle

The pamphlet explains that the Irish name for Leixlip, Leim an Bhradain, means “leap of the salmon,” and that the name derives from the Danish Lax-Hlaup, as the village was first established by the Vikings.

The pamphlet says that the castle was built just after 1192, so this must be the part built on to the earlier 1172 tower. It was built where the Rye Water and the River Liffey meet.

From 1300, a family called Pypard lived in Leixlip. Sources online state that in 1302 Ralph Pypard “surrendered all his castles etc to the Crown, and in consequence Richard de Kakeputz, who was constable of Leixlip, was ordered to deliver it up to the king. [7] “Curious Ireland” adds that in 1316 the castle withstood a four day siege by Edward Bruce’s army. 

According to the leaflet written by Desmond Guinness, the Pypards occupied Leixlip until King Henry VII granted Leixlip to Gerald Fitzgerald 8th Earl of Kildare, upon his marriage to Dame Elizabeth Saint John, between 1485-1509. Known as “Garret the Great” (Gearóid Mór) or “The Great Earl”, he was Ireland’s premier peer. He served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1477 to 1494, and from 1496 onwards. His power was so great that he was called “the uncrowned King of Ireland”. A legend, retold by Nuala O’Faoláin, says that Fitzgerald was skilled in the black arts, and could shapeshift. However, he would never let his wife see him take on other forms, much to her chagrin. After much pleading, he yielded to her, and turned himself into a goldfinchbefore her very eyes. A sparrowhawk flew into the room, seized the “goldfinch”, and he was never seen again. [8]

Due to the rebellion of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald, 10th Earl of Kildare, in 1534, Leixlip Castle was taken back by the Crown. In 1569 the Manor and Castle were granted to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the Rolls, and the house remained in the family for nearly 200 years.

An article in The Journal of County Kildare, based on notes on Leixlip principally taken from a pamphlet called “Leixlip Castle,” written by the late Very Rev. James Canon O’Rourke, in 1885 (when Parish Priest of Maynooth), states: 

In 1538 the Manor and Castle of Leixlip were surrendered by Matthew King, of Dublin, on which John Alen, the Chancellor, obtained a lease of them for twenty-one years; in 1561 they passed to William Vernon, gent., for a like period; and in 1569 they were granted to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the  Rolls, in whose family they remained till about the beginning  of the eighteenth century.” [9]


Reverend O’Rourke continues: “Sir Nicholas Whyte’s successor at Leixlip was his fourth son, Charles, who had served in Spain, and in 1689 was Governor of the County Kildare; he died about the year 1697, was buried at Leixlip, and was succeeded by his son John, from whom, I believe, the Conollys of Castletown purchased Leixlip, which remains at present in the possession of that family.”

William James Conolly (died 1754), nephew, heir and namesake of Speaker (of the Irish House of Commons) William Conolly (1662-1729) of Castletown, County Kildare, purchased Leixlip Castle in 1731 and it remained the property of the family until 1914. It was frequently let during this period. Desmond Guinness purchased Castletown House in 1967 to preserve it from destruction, nearly ten years after purchasing Leixlip Castle!

The oval portrait is of Lady Anne Conolly (born Wentworth, daugher of Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford), who lived in Leixlip Castle until the death of her husband’s aunt, the widow (Katherine Conyngham, daughter of General Sir Albert Conyngham of Mountcharles, County Donegal – ancestors of the Conynghams of Slane Castle) of parliament speaker William Conolly of Castletown House. Lady Anne’s husband, another William Conolly, inherited Castletown in 1752.
Jenny told us that this portrait is of Thomas Conolly. He was the son and heir of William James Conolly (d.1754) of Castletown House, by his wife Lady Anne Wentworth.. Thomas Conolly married Lady Louisa Lennox, a daughter of Charles Lennox, the 2nd Duke of Richmond. Thomas Connolly was an member of Parliament of Ireland.

Mark Bence-Jones mentions two of the tenants of Leixlip Castle during this period: in the eighteenth century, Primate George Stone, Archbishop of Armagh, “the most powerful man in Ireland in his day,” and 4th Viscount (afterwards 1st Marquess) George Townshend (1724-1807), when he was Viceroy.

O’Rourke tells us:

“Lewis, in his “ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland,” speaking of Leixlip Castle, says: — “ This venerable mansion was the favourite retreat of several of the viceroys, of whom Lord Townsend usually spent the summer here; it is at present (1837) the residence of the Hon. George Cavendish, by whom it has been modernized and greatly improved.”… 

George Cavendish (1766-1849), of Waterpark, County Cork, added “unobtrusive” battlements, according to Mark Bence-Jones. O’Rourke continues:

“In the autumn of 1856, John Michael Henry, Baron de Robeck, then a tenant of the Castle, was drowned in the Liffey during a great flood. He was High Sheriff for the County Kildare in 1834, for the County Dublin in 1838, and for the County Wicklow in 1839. His remains were deposited in the vault in the Maynooth Church tower.”… “In 1878 Captain the Honourable Cornwallis Maude, son and heir to the Earl of Montalt, took up his residence in the Castle after his marriage in this year. When the Boer war broke out, he volunteered for service, and was numbered with the dead after the disastrous Majuba Hill affair on the 27th February, 1881. The present resident in the Castle is William Mooney, Esq., j.p., who so kindly admitted the members of the County Kildare Archaeological Society into his demesne to visit the Salmon Leap, and showed them over the old Castle in 1896.”

In 1914, John de La Poer Beresford, 5th Baron Decies, Chief Press Censor, purchased the property and added the kitchen wing. Bence-Jones tells us that he replaced some of the Georgian-Gothic windows with Tudor-style mullions, and panelled one or two rooms in oak. Unable to sell it in 1923, the castle was let to more tenants, and for a while served as residence for the French ambassador. In 1945 the castle was sold to William Kavanagh (see [4], and when I googled him, I found, interestingly, a painting for auction by Whytes in 2004 of the Salmon Weir, Leixlip, and it was owned by William Kavanagh, “Rathgar, a well known specialist in the work of O’Connor in the 1920s to 1940s” ). Finally, Desmond Guinness purchased the castle in 1958. His ancestor Richard Guinness had a brewery in Leixlip in the mid eighteenth century, before Richard’s son, Arthur, founded the Guinness brewery in Dublin!

The pamphlet we obtained in the hallway states that an electric dam was built in1947, completely submerging the salmon leap.

Jenny had us sign the Guest Book and then began to tell us of the contents of the grand hallway in which we stood.

The Castle Interior

Desmond Guinness’s pamphlet describes the contents also. The black Kilkenny marble mantel was originally made for Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, County Dublin, in 1744. The coat of arms featured over the fireplace belongs to the Gorges family of Ratoath, County Meath. The tapestry to the right of the fireplace was made in Florence in around 1730 and a manufactory by the name of Bennini, and it has the Medici arms, with the balls. When Stephen and I travelled to Florence for a holiday, we saw these balls on many buildings.

Medici coat of arms, from the Museo Bardini in Florence, my favourite, or second to the Victoria and Albert, museum in the world!

To the right of the side door hangs a mirror from Clonfert Palace, County Galway (palace of the Church of Ireland bishops of Clonfert, unfortunately a ruin since 1950).

The dolls house is believed to have originated in County Cork:

The wooden-headed antlers are probably of German origin and come from Powerscourt, County Wicklow. The tapestry is seventeenth century and depicts Theodotus offering the head of Pompey to Caesar. [10]

The dining room, with Bavarian tapestry.

Desmond Guinness states that the dining room chairs are eighteenth century “Irish Chippendale,” and were purchased at the Malahide Castle sale in 1976, as were the two black side tables.

The tapestries, in the “Chinese taste,” were woven in Bavaria in around 1750. The picture over the fireplace is an early view of Leixlip Castle of unknown origin. The ornate frame came originally from the eighteenth century house that was replaced by the present Dromoland Castle in County Clare. There is also a picture of the Holy Family by Cambiasi, the leaflet tells us.

The picture over the fireplace is an early view of Leixlip Castle of unknown origin. The ornate frame came originally from the eighteenth century house that was replaced by the present Dromoland Castle in County Clare.

As we read the pamphlet we can see Desmond Guinness’s love of antiques and history, which brought us the great treasure that is the Georgian Society. His generosity spills from the house, in the way he let us photograph, and he teaches us patiently through his leaflet.

Our tour guide, Jenny. She has been with the Guinness’s for 17 years. The cook has been with them for 30! They must be good employers. One can see the thickness of the walls by looking at the windows. The model of the obelisk at Stillorgan, County Dublin, on the table behind – a typically Irish hunt table, according to Desmond Guinness. The obelisk is a memorial designed in 1727 by Edward Lovett Pearce for his kinswoman Lady Allen, commissioned by Lord Joshua Allen, 2nd Viscount of Stillorgan (for more on Lovett Pearce, see my entry for Altidore Castle).

We next entered the Library.

The pamphlet states that the plasterwork in the Library dates from the mid 18th Century. An Irish library cabinet stands between the windows. These windows, and the bookcases, are modern and were installed by the present owner, who also devised the print room decoration on the walls. The prints are laid out in a way similar to those of the Print Room in Castletown House, which were done by the Lennox sisters.

Print Room in Castletown House County Kildare. Desmond and his first wife, Mariga, purchased Castletown House in 1967 to preserve it from destruction. On his website in his recent entry about Desmond Guinness, Robert O’Byrne the Irish Aesthete tells us: “Today Castletown is owned by the Irish State and is rightly lauded as a splendid example of Irish design and craftsmanship. But if it had not been for Desmond’s brave initiative, and then the restoration work that he and Mariga oversaw on the house – helped by the many volunteers they inspired – Castletown would now be nothing more than a handful of old black and white photographs.”

The prints in Leixlip Castle were put up by Nicola Windgate-Saul in 1976. The engravings, according to the pamphlet, relate to the decoration in the Galerie des Glaces in Versailles, executed in 1755 by Jean Baptiste Masse, based on the seventeeth century paintings of Charles le Brun (gardener to Louis XIV I believe – see my entry on Curraghmore).

The gilt mirror over the mantel was originally in a bedroom (Lady Kildare’s, Jenny told us) at Castletown, as well as the golden plasterwork, and was made in Dublin by the firm of Francis and John Booker in the mid-18th century.

We could not identify the origin of the death mask:

A card next to the death mask, however, identified the stuffed animal below the table, a mongoose:

There are a lot of mongooses (mongeese?) in Grenada in the West Indies, I remember. They supposedly harbour rabies. One rarely sees one, however. We did have an injured one come into our garden in Grenada, which we discovered due to our dog Minky barking madly from the safety of the patio. The poor mongoose, like the one above, died. Mongoose can kill snakes and snails. I need one for my allotment!

the chandelier is nineteenth century Venetian. It reminds me of the chandeliers in Castletown:

18th-century Murano Venetian coloured and plain glass 24-light chandeliers, decorated with flower heads and moulded finials, one of three in the Long Gallery of Castletown. It is believed that Lady Louisa ordered them from Venice between 1775 and 1778.

A delightful detail in the library are the model cast iron stoves:

model cast iron stoves.

We moved from the library into the Drawing Room.

The painting over the mantelpiece is Carton, County Kildare, by Thomas Roberts. Stephen liked the globes on the mantelpiece.
Carton, County Kildare by Thomas Roberts

The pamphlet tells of the treat in the Drawing Room: the large 18th century Dolls House that originally came from Newbridge House. It was given to Desmond’s daughter Marina when she was ten years old (his children’s mother is his first wife, Mariga).

a room inside the dolls house
another dolls house room
another room in the dolls’ house

The little plates in the dolls’ house are decorated with the initials “JG” for Desmond’s granddaughter Jasmine Guinness, now a model in London. The building blocks beside the dolls’ house were for the boys.

There are also drawings of the six Mitford sisters by William Acton. These sisters are the mother and aunts of Desmond Guinness.

The one on the top left is Nancy Mitford the writer. Diana Mitford, below her, is Desmond Guinness’s mother: she left his father, Bryan Walter Guinness, in order to be with Robert Mosley, the Nazi, and Hitler was the best man at their wedding, five years after she had married Bryan Guinness. Next to Nancy on top is Unity Mitford, a friend of Hitler, and below her, Deborah, who married Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire, who inherited Lismore Castle in Waterford, a real fairytale-looking castle with gardens which are open to the public.

Another picture by William Acton is of Desmond’s mother in law, Teresa Jungman, Penny’s mother – it seems an amazing coincidence that he drew both of their parents!. Desmond married Penny Cuthbertson in 1984 (thirty years after he had married his first wife, Princess Henriette Marie-Gabrielle von Urach – a member of the royal house of Wurtemburg, Germany – known as Mariga). When Jenny came to the house seventeen years ago, Teresa and her sister lived with the Guinness’s, and the sister was 99 years old!
Beneath the portrait above, under the cabinet with the deer, is a cabinet made in Killarney around 1880, which is inlaid with Irish views of ruined abbeys and round towers, and Irish wolfhounds, harps and shamrocks. Stephen gave me a box very similar for our “wooden” wedding anniversary! These Killarney items were popularised by Queen Victoria when she visited Killarney.

We were lucky to be shown the “secret door”:

Jenny opens the secret door

It led to a surprising outdoor area, which features mosaics on the walls!

and a blocked up arched doorway:

On the way to the grand staircase we passed another painting of Desmond’s mother – one she was not so fond of, as you can imagine, as it’s a bit risque. It highlights the blue of her eyes, however, which are inherited by her son.

a photograph of Desmond Guinness and his children Marina and Patrick

The woodwork of the staircase dates from the early 18th century or late 17th. The window is twentieth century and probably replaces a Venetian window, Guinness tells us in the pamphlet, in an attempt to make the interior look earlier than it is.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the staircase, of wood with pear-shaped balusters, appears to date from the early eighteenth century, and rises “impressively” in a separate hall behind the entrance hall.

This (below) is just something that Desmond saw at a party that tickled his fancy, I believe:

Under the turn of the stairs: the portrait is, I believe, of Desmond’s great great grandfather, the 12th Earl of Buchan, Henry David Erskine (1783-1857).

The carved wooden heads “supporting” the upstairs landing came from a shop front in Dawson Street, Dublin, where they were unrecognisable due to many layers of paint. They may be the work, Guinness tells us, of Edward Smyth who carved the Riverine heads on the facade of the Custom House in Dublin, besides much of the sculptural ornament on public buildings in Dublin.

The tapestry was woven in Brussels in the seventeenth century and depicts Caesar in a green toga, making the crossing to Brindisium, protected on the way by the goddess Fortuna, who hovers aloft. It was a present to Desmond from his mother, who brought it from France (somehow!).

a print of the 17th century tapestry
The painting is a portrait by William Hogarth of the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfield (1728-1799) aged 13, with his mother, Elizabeth Bernard (portrait painted in 1741).
This wonderful chair is not mentioned in Desmond’s notes but Jenny told us is a copy of a Venetian chair. It sits under a French tapestry representing Plenty, Autumnm, Earth or Harvest.

Next we went upstairs. There are 14 bedrooms, all still used when there are enough guests.

This was unusually situated at the top of the stairs. It had been stolen from the lower yard, then repurchased at an auction, and so was brought indoors!
The upstairs hallway.

The first room we entered is the “Yellow room” or the “plate room.” Notice that the plates are complemented with matching candles!

The next room, the Blue Room, is one of the largest:

some sort of odd communication device on the wall
An old picture, above, of Leixlip Castle with the boat house and church – with a bit of artistic license
Jenny’s reaction to this painting was priceless. I asked her if she knows who it is or who it is by (I was thinking of that film, “Big Eyes” about painter Margaret Keane). Jenny exclaimed “What’s that doing there! How did that get there! Someone must have moved it!” She explained that it is normally on the wall in the bed alcove. Stephen suggested that someone must have found it too creepy to sleep beside! Jenny tried to remember who had stayed in the room most recently!

The next room is NOT called the “pink room,” Jenny told us. I think it’s the Chinese or Oriental room.

I believe Marina cut and pasted the prints in this hallway:

The next room is called the Chapel, so named, I believe, for the IHS above the doorway.

Jenny points out a model of the Casino in Marino
I love these curtains

The next bedroom was the grandest, and is called King John’s bedroom as the story is that he slept there. There is a painted Venus on the ceiling.

I love the enormous wardrobe with funny leonine feet with too many toes, and the still used copper bath.

Jenny told us of the time Mick Jagger and his then-wife Jerry Hall stayed in this room, and she had her photograph taken in the bath. The picture somehow got out to magazines, and a copy of the picture was kept behind the shutters, but has disappeared!

Our last room, the Tower Room, is not usually one shown to guests, I think, because it’s not always kept tidy, but Jenny found us such enthusiastic guests, along with the other couple, that we were privileged with a view of the room and even the toilet off it.

I loved these pictures, in the hall on the way to the stairs up to the attic
a framed map on the wall, featuring some structures with which Desmond Guinness was associated, including the Obelisk, also called the Conolly Folly, one of the structures which the Irish Georgian Society campaigned to have protected and restored – as well as the Hindu-Gothic gate at Dromana (see my Dromana entry), and Carton House, which Desmond and his wife Mariga rented when they returned to live in Ireland in 1955.
the Tower Room. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the walls have been decorated with panels of an early nineteenth century paper by Dufour, Vues d’Italie.
an odd figure in the carpet
Stephen in the Tower Room, outside the bathroom, admiring the painting.
the bathroom off the Tower Room. The bath is even smaller than ours, I think!
I loved the decoration on the bathroom walls. I think it was done by Desmond Guinness’s father, if I heard correctly.
I love the way the pipe is incorporated to be a palm tree!
the stairs down from the tower room
This portrait looks familiar – can you identify the subject? Let me know if you can!

We explored outside before we had our indoor tour.

Across the cobbled driveway from the castle, outbuildings with a path down to farmbuildings. 
the gate to the garden. For more on this gate, see the Irish Aesthete’s blog [11]. He tells us that Desmond Guinness says these were originally part of the Dublin city reservoir or basin developed in 1721-22 adjacent to where his family later developed the well-known brewery. When the basin was filled in during the 1970s, Desmond acquired the gates.

This is the vision that met our eyes when we went through the gateway, a living arcadia:

the swimming pool is within the castellated walls in the garden
the swimming pool, covered
I asked Penny about this portico and statue. She said the portico stone was found, and they thought it looked like it came from a temple. I believe it was found in Summerhill, County Wicklow. The statue is a copy of a work by Canova. [12]

By the side of the conservatory, there is another gate, down to the farm buildings and stable, by a cottage, where Jenny and her family live.

According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, this is “rubble stone outbuilding with half-dormer attic, c.1830.” [13]
According to the National Inventory of Historic Architecture, this is: “Detached single-bay single-storey over raised base gable-fronted rubble stone dovecote, c.1780. [14]
The National Inventory tells us that this is: Attached eight-bay single-storey lean-to rubble stone outbuilding, c.1800, with four-bay single-storey lean-to lower advanced bay to right (south-west) and series of segmental-headed integral carriageways to left. Renovated, c.1950, with some integral carriageways remodelled. [15].
to the side of the castle, beyond the seat, you can see the archway, which we saw from the other side in a photograph in the beginning of this entry.

What an amazing home!

[1] https://theirishaesthete.com/2020/08/24/a-pioneer/

[2] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804045/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[3] http://www.kildare.ie/ehistory/index.php/leixlip-chronology-1200-1499-ad/

[4] http://curiousireland.ie/leixlip-castle-leixlip-co-kildare-1172/

[5] p. 183. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804045/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[7] A “Pipard” also built the castle near Aghaboe, according to Wickipedia, but that castle is now gone. I wonder is this the same family as “Pypard”?

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_FitzGerald,_8th_Earl_of_Kildare

[9] This source continues:

“Sir Nicholas Whyte, Knt., was the son of James Whyte, of King’s Meadows, in the County Waterford. He was in 1564 Recorder of Waterford; in 1569 he was appointed Seneschal of the County of Wexford and Constable of the Castle of Wexford; and in 1572 he was made Master of the Rolls — an office which he held till his death on the 20th March, 1593. In 1569 he was granted the lands of St. Catherine’s, on the opposite bank of the Liffey, in the County Dublin, and in the following year he obtained a grant of the Manor of Leixlip, two castles, a water-mill, a salmon-weir, two fishing-places, called the Salmon Leap, on the river Analiffey, Priortown Meade, and other demesne lands of the manor, 6d. rent for licence to have a right  of way from Confey to Leixlip, the right of pasture on the great  common of Moncronock, and rents out of several townlands, to hold for ever in capite by the service of a fortieth part of a  knight’s fee, at a rent of £36 13s. 4d.Irish (or 1227 10s.sterling)….”


[10] https://www.discoverireland.ie/kildare/leixlip-castle

[11] https://theirishaesthete.com/2012/10/24/heavens-gate/

[12] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804055/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[13] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804048/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[14] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804058/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[15] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804060/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[16] And to finish off, if you have had the mammoth attention-span to get through this all in one go (and even if you have not!), we’ll end with a Ghost Story by Charles Robert Maturin (a favourite writer of Oscar Wilde’s):

http://www.ricorso.net/rx/library/authors/classic/Maturin_CR/Leixlip.htm

Bibliographical note: First published in The Literary Souvenir; or, Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (London: Hurst & Robinson 1825); rep. in The Grimoire and Other Supernatural Stories, collected by Montague Summers (Fortune Press 1936), pp.23-27.
Source: The Literary Souvenir, or Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (1825), at “The Literary Gothic Website” [online] – supplied by Dr. Dick Collins (Inchigeela, Co. Cork, Ireland) [accessed 30.11.2007.]

THE INCIDENTS of the following tale are not merely founded on fact, they are facts themselves, which occurred at no very distant period in my own family. The marriage of the parties, their sudden and mysterious separation, and their total alienation from each other until the last period of their mortal existence, are all facts. I cannot vouch for the truth of the supernatural solution given to all these mysteries; but I must still consider the story as a fine specimen of Gothic horrors, and can never forget the impression it made on me when I heard it related for the first time among many other thrilling traditions of the same description.

C.R.M.

The tranquillity of the Catholics of Ireland during the disturbed periods of 1715 and 1745, was most commendable, and somewhat extraordinary; to enter into an analysis of their probable motives, is not at all the object of the writer of this tale, as it is pleasanter to state the fact of their honour, than at this distance of time to assign dubious and unsatisfactory reasons for it. Many of them, however, showed a kind of secret disgust at the existing state of affairs, by quitting their family residences and wandering about like persons who were uncertain of their homes, or possibly expecting better from some near and fortunate contingency.


Among the rest was a Jacobite Baronet, who, sick of his uncongenial situation in a Whig neighbourhood, in the north – where he heard of nothing but the heroic defence of Londonderry; the barbarities of the French generals; and the resistless exhortations of the godly Mr Walker, a Presbyterian clergyman, to whom the citizens gave the title of ‘Evangelist’; – quitted his paternal residence, and about the year 1720 hired the Castle of Leixlip for three years (it was then the property of the Connollys, who let it to triennial tenants); and removed thither with his family, which consisted of three daughters – their mother having long been dead.


The Castle of Leixlip, at that period, possessed a character of romantic beauty and feudal grandeur, such as few buildings in Ireland can claim, and which is now, alas, totally effaced by the destruction of its noble woods; on the destroyers of which the writer would wish ‘a minstrel’s malison were said’. – Leixlip, though about seven miles from Dublin, has all the sequestered and picturesque character that imagination could ascribe to a landscape a hundred miles from, not only the metropolis but an inhabited town. After driving a dull mile (an Irish mile) [1] in passing from Lucan to Leixlip, the road – hedged up on one side of the high wall that bounds the demesne of the Veseys, and on the other by low enclosures, over whose rugged tops you have no view at all – at once opens on Leixlip Bridge, at almost a right angle, and displays a luxury of landscape on which the eye that has seen it even in childhood dwells with delighted recollection. – Leixlip Bridge, a rude but solid structure, projects from a high bank of the Liffey, and slopes rapidly to the opposite side, which there lies remarkably low. To the right the plantations of the Vesey’s demesne – no longer obscured by walls – almost mingle their dark woods in its stream, with the opposite ones of Marshfield and St Catherine’s. The river is scarcely visible, overshadowed as it is by the deep, rich and bending foliage of the trees. To the left it bursts out in all the brilliancy of light, washes the garden steps of the houses of Leixlip, wanders round the low walls of its churchyard, plays, with the pleasure-boat moored under the arches on which the summer-house of the Castle is raised, and then loses itself among the rich woods that once skirted those grounds to its very brink. The contrast on the other side, with the luxuriant walks, scattered shrubberies, temples seated on pinnacles, and thickets that conceal from you the sight of the river until you are on its banks, that mark the character of the grounds which are now the property of Colonel Marly, is peculiarly striking.


Visible above the highest roofs of the town, though a quarter of a mile distant from them, are the ruins of Confy Castle, a right good old predatory tower of the stirring times when blood was shed like water; and as you pass the bridge you catch a glimpse of the waterfall (or salmon-leap, as it is called) on whose noon-day lustre, or moon-light beauty, probably the rough livers of that age when Confy Castle was ‘a tower of strength’, never glanced an eye or cast a thought, as they clattered in their harness over Leixlip Bridge, or waded through the stream before that convenience was in existence.


Whether the solitude in which he lived contributed to tranquillize Sir Redmond Blaney’s feelings, or whether they had begun to rust from want of collision with those of others, it is impossible to say, but certain it is, that the good Baronet began gradually to lose his tenacity in political matters; and except when a Jacobite friend came to dine with him, and drink with many a significant ‘nod and beck and smile’, the King over the water – or the parish-priest (good man) spoke of the hopes of better times, and the final success of the right cause, and the old religion – or a Jacobite servant was heard in the solitude of the large mansion whistling ‘Charlie is my darling’, to which Sir Redmond involuntarily responded in a deep bass voice, somewhat the worse for wear, and marked with more emphasis than good discretion – except, as I have said, on such occasions, the Baronet’s politics, like his life, seemed passing away without notice or effort. Domestic calamities, too, pressed sorely on the old gentleman: of his three daughters the youngest, Jane, had disappeared in so extraordinary a manner in her childhood, that though it is but a wild, remote family tradition, I cannot help relating it:-


The girl was of uncommon beauty and intelligence, and was suffered to wander about the neighbourhood of the castle with the daughter of a servant, who was also called Jane, as a nom de caresse. One evening Jane Blaney and her young companion went far and deep into the woods; their absence created no uneasiness at the time, as these excursions were by no means unusual, till her playfellow returned home alone and weeping, at a very late hour. Her account was, that, in passing through a lane at some distance from the castle, an old woman, in the Fingallian dress (a red petticoat and a long green jacket), suddenly started out of a thicket, and took Jane Blaney by the arm: she had in her hand two rushes, one of which she threw over her shoulder, and giving the other to the child, motioned to her to do the same. Her young companion, terrified at what she saw, was running away, when Jane Blaney called after her – ‘Good-bye, good-bye, it is a long time before you will see me again.’ The girl said they then disappeared, and she found her way home as she could. An indefatigable search was immediately commenced – woods were traversed, thickets were explored, ponds were drained – all in vain. The pursuit and the hope were at length given up. Ten years afterwards, the housekeeper of Sir Redmond, having remembered that she left the key of a closet where sweetmeats were kept, on the kitchen table, returned to fetch it. As she approached the door, she heard a childish voice murmuring – ‘Cold – cold – cold how long it is since I have felt a fire!’ – She advanced, and saw, to her amazement, Jane Blaney, shrunk to half her usual size, and covered with rags, crouching over the embers of the fire. The housekeeper flew in terror from the spot, and roused the servants, but the vision had fled. The child was reported to have been seen several times afterwards, as diminutive in form, as though she had not grown an inch since she was ten years of age, and always crouching over a fire, whether in the turret-room or kitchen, complaining of cold and hunger, and apparently covered with rags. Her existence is still said to be protracted under these dismal circumstances, so unlike those of Lucy Gray in Wordsworth’s beautiful ballad:

Yet some will say, that to this day
She is a living child –
That they have met sweet Lucy Gray
Upon the lonely wild;
O’er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind;
And hums a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.

The fate of the eldest daughter was more melancholy, though less extraordinary; she was addressed by a gentleman of competent fortune and unexceptionable character: he was a Catholic, moreover; and Sir Redmond Blaney signed the marriage articles, in full satisfaction of the security of his daughter’s soul, as well as of her jointure. The marriage was celebrated at the Castle of Leixlip; and, after the bride and bridegroom had retired, the guests still remained drinking to their future happiness, when suddenly, to the great alarm of Sir Redmond and his friends, loud and piercing cries were heard to issue from the part of the castle in which the bridal chamber was situated.


Some of the more courageous hurried up stairs; it was too late – the wretched bridegroom had burst, on that fatal night, into a sudden and most horrible paroxysm of insanity. The mangled form of the unfortunate and expiring lady bore attestation to the mortal virulence with which the disease had operated on the wretched husband, who died a victim to it himself after the involuntary murder of his bride. The bodies were interred, as soon as decency would permit, and the story hushed up.


Sir Redmond’s hopes of Jane’s recovery were diminishing every day, though he still continued to listen to every wild tale told by the domestics; and all his care was supposed to be now directed towards his only surviving daughter. Anne, living in solitude, and partaking only of the very limited education of Irish females of that period, was left very much to the servants, among whom she increased her taste for superstitious and supernatural horrors, to a degree that had a most disastrous effect on her future life.


Among the numerous menials of the Castle, there was one withered crone, who had been nurse to the late Lady Blaney’s mother, and whose memory was a complete Thesaurus terrorum. The mysterious fate of Jane first encouraged her sister to listen to the wild tales of this hag, who avouched, that at one time she saw the fugitive standing before the portrait of her late mother in one of the apartments of the Castle, and muttering to herself – ‘Woe’s me, woe’s me! how little my mother thought her wee Jane would ever come to be what she is!’ But as Anne grew older she began more ‘seriously to incline’ to the hag’s promises that she could show her her future bridegroom, on the performance of certain ceremonies, which she at first revolted from as horrible and impious; but, finally, at the repeated instigation of the old woman, consented to act a part in. The period fixed upon for the performance of these unhallowed rites, was now approaching – it was near the 31st of October – the eventful night, when such ceremonies were, and still are supposed, in the North of Ireland, to be most potent in their effects. All day long the Crone took care to lower the mind of the young lady to the proper key of submissive and trembling credulity, by every horrible story she could relate; and she told them with frightful and supernatural energy. This woman was called Collogue by the family, a name equivalent to Gossip in England, or Cummer in Scotland (though her real name was Bridget Dease); and she verified the name, by the exercise of an unwearied loquacity, an indefatigable memory, and a rage for communicating, and inflicting terror, that spared no victim in the household, from the groom, whom she sent shivering to his rug, [2] to the Lady of the Castle, over whom she felt she held unbounded sway.
The 31st of October arrived – the Castle was perfectly quiet before eleven o’clock; half an hour afterwards, the Collogue and Anne Blaney were seen gliding along a passage that led to what is called King John’s Tower, where it is said that monarch received the homage of the Irish princes as Lord of Ireland and which was, at all events, the most ancient part of the structure. [3]


The Collogue opened a small door with a key which she had secreted, about her, and urged the young lady to hurry on. Anne advanced to the postern, and stood there irresolute and trembling like a timid swimmer on the bank of an unknown stream. It was a dark autumnal evening; a heavy wind sighed among the woods of the Castle, and bowed the branches of the lower trees almost to the waves of the Liffey, which, swelled by recent rains, struggled and roared amid the stones that obstructed its channel. The steep descent from the Castle lay before her, with its dark avenue of elms; a few lights still burned in the little village of Leixlip – but from the lateness of the hour it was probable they would soon be extinguished.
The lady lingered – ‘And must I go alone?’ said she, foreseeing that the terrors of her fearful journey could be aggravated by her more fearful purpose.
‘Ye must, or al

l will be spoiled,’ said the hag, shading the miserable light, that did not extend its influence above six inches on the path of the victim. ‘Ye must go alone – and I will watch for you here, dear, till you come back, and then see what will come to you at twelve o’clock.
The unfortunate girl paused. ‘Oh! Collogue, Collogue, if you would but come with me. Oh! Collogue, come with me, if it be but to the bottom of the castlehill.’


‘If I went with you, dear, we should never reach the top of it alive again, for there are them near that would tear us both in pieces.’


‘Oh! Collogue, Collogue – let me turn back then, and go to my own room – I have advanced too far, and I have done too much.’


‘And that’s what you have, dear, and so you must go further, and do more still, unless, when you return to your own room, you would see the likeness of some one instead of a handsome young bridegroom.’


The young lady looked about her for a moment, terror and wild hope trembling at her heart – then, with a sudden impulse of supernatural courage, she darted like a bird from the terrace of the Castle, the fluttering of her white garments was seen for a few moments, and then the hag who had been shading the flickering light with her hand, bolted the postern, and, placing the candle before a glazed loophole, sat down on a stone seat in the recess of the tower, to watch the event of the spell. It was an hour before the young lady returned; when her face was as pale, and her eyes as fixed, as those of a dead body, but she held in her grasp a dripping garment, a proof that her errand had been performed. She flung it into her companion’s hands, and then stood, panting and gazing wildly about her as if she knew not where she was. The hag herself grew terrified at the insane and breathless state of her victim, and hurried her to her chamber; but here the preparations for the terrible ceremonies of the night were the first objects that struck her, and, shivering at the sight, she covered her eyes with her hands, and stood immovably fixed in the middle of the room.
It needed all the hag’s persuasions (aided even by mysterious menaces), combined with the returning faculties and reviving curiosity of the poor girl, to prevail on her to go through the remaining business of the night. At length she said, as if in desperation, ‘I will go through with it: but be in the next room; and if what I dread should happen, I will ring my father’s little silver bell which I have secured for the night – and as you have a soul to be saved, Collogue, come to me at its first sound.’


The hag promised, gave her last instructions with eager and jealous minuteness, and then retired to her own room, which was adjacent to that of the young lady. Her candle had burned out, but she stirred up the embers of her turf fire, and sat, nodding over them, and smoothing the pallet from time to time, but resolved not to lie down while there was a chance of a sound from the lady’s room, for which she herself, withered as her feelings were, waited with a mingled feeling of anxiety and terror.


It was now long past midnight, and all was silent as the grave throughout the Castle. The hag dozed over the embers till her head touched her knees, then started up as the sound of the bell seemed to tinkle in her ears, then dozed again, and again started as the bell appeared to tinkle more distinctly – suddenly she was roused, not by the bell, but by the most piercing and horrible cries from the neighbouring chamber. The Cologue, aghast for the first time, at the possible consequences of the mischief she might have occasioned, hastened to the room. Anne was in convulsions, and the hag was compelled reluctantly to call up the housekeeper (removing meanwhile the implements of the ceremony), and assist in applying all the specifics known at that day, burnt feathers, etc., to restore her. When they had at length succeeded, the housekeeper was dismissed, the door was bolted, and the Collogue was left alone with Anne; the subject of their conference might have been guessed at, but was not known until many years afterwards; but Anne that night held in her hand, in the shape of a weapon with the use of which neither of them was acquainted, an evidence that her chamber had been visited by a being of no earthly form.


This evidence the hag importuned her to destroy, or to remove: but she persisted with fatal tenacity in keeping it. She locked it up, however, immediately, and seemed to think she had acquired a right, since she had grappled so fearfully with the mysteries of futurity, to know all the secrets of which that weapon might yet lead to the disclosure. But from that night it was observed that her character, her manner, and even her countenance, became altered. She grew stern and solitary, shrunk at the sight of her former associates, and imperatively forbade the slightest allusion to the circumstances which had occasioned this mysterious change.


It was a few days subsequent to this event that Anne, who after dinner had left the Chaplain reading the life of St Francis Xavier to Sir Redmond, and retired to her own room to work, and, perhaps, to muse, was surprised to hear the bell at the outer gate ring loudy and repeatedly – a sound she had never heard since her first residence in the Castle; for the few guests who resorted there came, and departed as noiselessly as humble visitors at the house of a great man generally do. Straightway there rode up the avenue of elms, which we have already mentioned, a stately gentleman, followed by four servants, all mounted, the two former having pistols in their holsters, and the two latter carrying saddle-bags before them: though it was the first week in November, the dinner hour being one o’clock, Anne had light enough to notice all these circumstances. The arrival of the stranger seemed to cause much, though not unwelcome tumult in the Castle; orders were loudly and hastily given for the accommodation of the servants and horses – steps were heard traversing the numerous passages for a full hour – then all was still; and it was said that Sir Redmond had locked with his own hand the door of the room where he and the stranger sat, and desired that no one should dare to approach it. About two hours afterwards, a female servant came with orders from her master, to have a plentiful supper ready by eight o’clock, at which he desired the presence of his daughter. The family establishment was on a handsome scale for an Irish house, and Anne had only to descend to the kitchen to order the roasted chickens to be well strewed with brown sugar according to the unrefined fashion of the day, to inspect the mixing of the bowl of sago with its allowance of a bottle of port wine and a large handful of the richest spices, and to order particularly that the pease pudding should have a huge lump of cold salt butter stuck in its centre; and then, her household cares being over, to retire to her room and array herself in a robe of white damask for the occasion.


At eight o’clock she was summoned to the supper-room. She came in, according to the fashion of the times, with the first dish; but as she passed through the ante-room, where the servants were holding lights and bearing the dishes, her sleeve was twitched, and the ghastly face of the Collogue pushed close to hers; while she muttered ‘Did not I say he would come for you, dear?’ Anne’s blood ran cold, but she advanced, saluted her father and the stranger with two low and distinct reverences, and then took her place at the table. Her feelings of awe and perhaps terror at the whisper of her associate, were not diminished by the appearance of the stranger; there was a singular and mute solemnity in his manner during the meal. He ate nothing. Sir Redmond appeared constrained, gloomy and thoughtful. At length, starting, he said (without naming the stranger’s name), ‘You will drink my daughter’s health?’ The stranger intimated his willingness to have that honour, but absently filled his glass with water; Anne put a few drops of wine into hers, and bowed towards him. At that moment, for the first time since they had met, she beheld his face – it was pale as that of a corpse. The deadly whiteness of his cheeks and lips, the hollow and distant sound of his voice, and the strange lustre of his large dark moveless eyes, strongly fixed on her, made her pause and even tremble as she raised the glass to her lips; she set it down, and then with another silent reverence retired to her chamber.


There she found Bridget Dease, busy in collecting the turf that burned on the hearth, for there was no grate in the apartment. ‘Why are you here?’ she said, impatiently.


The hag turned on her, with a ghastly grin of congratulation, ‘Did not I tell you that he would come for you?’


‘I believe he has,’ said the unfortunate girl, sinking into the huge wicker chair by her bedside; ‘for never did I see mortal with such a look.’
‘But is not he a fine stately gentleman?’ pursued the hag.


‘He looks as if he were not of this world,’ said Anne.


‘Of this world, or of the next,’ said the hag, raising her bony fore-finger, ‘mark my words – so sure as the – (here she repeated some of the horrible formularies of the 31st of October) – so sure he will be your bridegroom.’
‘Then I shall be the bride of a corpse,’ said Anne; ‘for he I saw tonight is no living man.’


A fortnight elapsed, and whether Anne became reconciled to the features she had thought so ghastly, by the discovery that they were the handsomest she had ever beheld – and that the voice, whose sound at first was so strange and unearthly, was subdued into a tone of plaintive softness when addressing her or whether it is impossible for two young persons with unoccupied hearts to meet in the country, and meet often, to gaze silently on the same stream, wander under the same trees, and listen together to the wind that waves the branches, without experiencing an assimilation of feeling rapidly succeeding an assimilation of taste; – or whether it was from all these causes combined, but in less than a month Anne heard the declaration of the stranger’s passion with many a blush, though without a sigh. He now avowed his name and rank. He stated himself to be a Scottish Baronet, of the name of Sir Richard Maxwell; family misfortunes had driven him from his country, and forever precluded the possibility of his return: he had transferred his property to Ireland, and purposed to fix his residence there for life. Such was his statement. The courtship of those days was brief and simple. Anne became the wife of Sir Richard, and, I believe, they resided with her father till his death, when they removed to their estate in the North. There they remained for several years, in tranquility and happiness, and had a numerous family. Sir Richard’s conduct was marked by but two peculiarities: he not only shunned the intercourse, but the sight of any of his countrymen, and, if he happened to hear that a Scotsman had arrived in the neighbouring town, he shut himself up till assured of the stranger’s departure. The other was his custom of retiring to his own chamber, and remaining invisible to his family on the anniversary of the 31st of October. The lady, who had her own associations connected with that period, only questioned him once on the subject of this seclusion, and was then solemnly and even sternly enjoined never to repeat her inquiry. Matters stood thus, somewhat mysteriously, but not unhappily, when on a sudden, without any cause assigned or assignable, Sir Richard and Lady Maxwell parted, and never more met in this world, nor was she ever permitted to see one of her children to her dying hour. He continued to live at the family mansion and she fixed her residence with a distant relative in a remote part of the country. So total was the disunion, that the name of either was never heard to pass the other’s lips, from the moment of separation until that of dissolution.


Lady Maxwell survived Sir Richard forty years, living to the great age of ninety-six; and, according to a promise, previously given, disclosed to a descendent with whom she had lived, the following extraordinary circumstances.


She said that on the night of the 31st of October, about seventy-five years before, at the instigation of her ill-advising attendant, she had washed one of her garments in a place where four streams met, and peformed other unhallowed ceremonies under the direction of the Collogue, in the expectation that her future husband would appear to her in her chamber at twelve o’clock that night. The critical moment arrived, but with it no lover-like form. A vision of indescribable horror approached her bed, and flinging at her an iron weapon of a shape and construction unknown to her, bade her ‘recognize her future husband by that.’ The terrors of this visit soon deprived her of her senses; but on her recovery, she persisted, as has been said, in keeping the fearful pledge of the reality of the vision, which, on examination, appeared to be incrusted with blood. It remained concealed in the inmost drawer of her cabinet till the morning of the separation. On that morning, Sir Richard Maxwell rose before daylight to join a hunting party – he wanted a knife for some accidental purpose, and, missing his own, called to Lady Maxwell, who was still in bed, to lend him one. The lady, who was half asleep, answered, that in such a drawer of her cabinet he would find one. He went, however, to another, and the next moment she was fully awakened by seeing her husband present the terrible weapon to her throat, and threaten her with instant death unless she disclosed how she came by it. She supplicated for life, and then, in an agony of horror and contrition, told the tale of that eventful night. He gazed at her for a moment with a countenance which rage, hatred, and despair converted, as she avowed, into a living likeness of the demon-visage she had once beheld (so singularly was the fated resemblance fulfilled), and then exclaiming, ‘You won me by the devil’s aid, but you shall not keep me long,’ left her – to meet no more in this world. Her husband’s secret was not unknown to the lady, though the means by which she became possessed of it were wholly unwarrantable. Her curiosity had been strongly excited by her husband’s aversion to his countrymen, and it was so – stimulated by the arrival of a Scottish gentleman in the neighbourhood some time before, who professed himself formerly acquainted with Sir Richard, and spoke mysteriously of the causes that drove him from his country – that she contrived to procure an interview with him under a feigned name, and obtained from him the knowledge of circumstances which embittered her after-life to its latest hour. His story was this:


Sir Richard Maxwell was at deadly feud with a younger brother; a family feast was proposed to reconcile them, and as the use of knives and forks was then unknown in the Highlands, the company met armed with their dirks for the purpose of carving. They drank deeply; the feast, instead of harmonizing, began to inflame their spirits; the topics of old strife were renewed; hands, that at first touched their weapons in defiance, drew them at last in fury, and in the fray, Sir Richard mortally wounded his brother. His life was with difficulty saved from the vengeance of the clan, and he was hurried towards the seacoast, near which the house stood, and concealed there till a vessel could be procured to convey him to Ireland. He embarked on the night of the 31st of October, and while he was traversing the deck in unutterable agony of spirit, his hand accidentally touched the dirk which he had unconsciously worn ever since the fatal night. He drew it, and, praying ‘that the guilt of his brother’s blood might be as far from his soul, as he could fling that weapon from his body,’ sent it with all his strength into the air. This instrument he found secreted in the lady’s cabinet, and whether he really believed her to have become possessed of it by supernatural means, or whether he feared his wife was a secret witness of his crime, has not been ascertained, but the result was what I have stated.


The separation took place on the discovery: – for the rest,

I know not how the truth may be,
I tell the Tale as ’twas told to me.

1. An Irish mile – a distance of undetermined length. In the West of Ireland, any distance up to about sixty kilometres may be expressed as ‘about a mile or so.’
2. His rug – the horse-rug under which he sleeps.
3. King John – king of England 1199-1216. Was Lord of Ireland for a brief period; having mortally insulted the Irish chieftains, he was hastily withdrawn by his father, the great Henry II (1154-1189). This is why he was called ‘John Lackland.’

 

Corravahan House and Gardens, Drung, County Cavan

Contact: Ian Elliott
Tel: 087-9772224
www.corravahan.com
Listed Open dates in 2020 (but check due to Covid-19 restrictions): Jan 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Feb 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, Mar 2-3, 9-10, May 24-31, June 1-18, 2pm-6pm, Aug 15-28, 9am-1pm, Sunday 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student/child/concessions €5

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This house is a delight! The owners, the Elliotts, who purchased the house in 2003, appreciate the intricacies of the house and its history, and convey this with enthusiasm. Corravahan House has an excellent website which describes the history of the house and its occupants, along with photographs from former days.

Ian Elliott obliged us by opening on a day not normally scheduled. Visits are further curtailed by Covid-19 restrictions and distancing and safety requirements. I appreciate when anyone is willing to accommodate a visit this year.

We drove to the house on our way to Donegal to visit Stephen’s mother. We stopped a night in Monaghan, so had plenty of time for our visit. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t get to see the gardens – we will have to visit another time!

The National Inventory of Historic Architecture tells us that Corravahan House is an Italianate style three-bay three-storey over basement former rectory, built 1841. It has a one-storey projecting entrance porch to the front, containing a four-panelled timber door. The Inventory website also mentions “glazed tripartite loggia” and the bow on the rear elevation.

The bowed bay rises the full height, and the loggia has steps leading down to the garden. There is a stone “platband” separating the basement level. There is also a two storey over basement “return” and a “lean-to” on the north side. The return is the projecting wing extending from the north-west corner of the house, which served to accommodate many of the female servants, as well as housing the kitchen, scullery, laundry and other domestic offices; the lean-to is the shallow, sloped-roof projection extending from the rear wall, which accommodates the principal staircase, and also contains, which you cannot see here in the photograph, a beautiful arched window (“large Adam-style round-headed tripartite stair window to lean-to with small three-over-three Wyatt window above”); an additional timber lean-to structure was added to the rear wall, below the stair-window, in the 1930s, more about which later:

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The Inventory notes the slate roof “with oversailing eaves” and the cornice on the chimneystacks. The garden facing walls are of “random rubble” with large corner stones at the rear elevation, and other walls have been rendered.

On the garden elevation, there is a Wyatt window with plain stone mullions and projecting cornice under red-brick relieving arch, and brick dressings to window openings on upper floors, garden front.

The Inventory mentions the “ruled-and-lined rendered walls.” Ian pointed this out to us inside the timber lean-to. One can see the original wall, and the lines hand-drawn. The lines are to make the rendered wall appear to be made of stone blocks! We can see a clearer, more recent example of this on a new structure built in the yard, but again, more on this later.

The windows in the bow have curved sashes and timber, although the glass in the windows is flat. These windows would be particularly difficult to craft, to fit the curve of the bowed wall.

Ian greeted us, along with a friendly dog. We stepped into the porch, which has four-over-four timber sash windows to the sides. A further door leads into the entrance hall.

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The door facing out to the porch, from the vestibule.
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Again, the door facing out to the front porch. You can see the shutters of the deepset windows. A detail Ian pointed out to us is in the photograph above, behind the door is wooden panelling, and the opened door fits so neatly into a specially made recess. This highlights the amount of detail in this small vestibule.

The house was built for a clergyman, Marcus Gervais Beresford (1801-1885). Before he had this house built, he rented nearby as he was the Vicar for Drung, appointed by his father in 1828. The previous parsonage had been condemned as unfit for use. Reverend Marcus Beresford was the great-grandson of Marcus Beresford, the 1st Earl of Tyrone (1694-1763), whom we came across when we visited Curraghmore in County Waterford (the husband of Catherine, who built the Shell House). The 1st Earl’s son John, an MP for County Waterford, was Marcus Gervais’s grandfather, and John’s son, George (1765-1841), Marcus Gervais’s father, became Bishop for Kilmore, County Cavan. Bishop George Beresford married Frances, a daughter of Gervase Parker Bushe and Mary Grattan (a sister of Henry Grattan (1746-1820), the politician and lawyer who supported Catholic emancipation) [2]. Marcus Gervais followed in his father’s footsteps, and as the third son, joined the Church.

The website for Corravahan tells us that the Beresfords engaged the services of the architect William Farrell, who had recently completed the new See House at Kilmore for Bishop George, to construct Corravahan as the new rectory for the parish. According to Wikipedia, William Farrell was a Dublin-based Irish architect who was the “Board of First Fruits” architect for the Church of Ireland ecclesiastical province of Armagh from 1823-1843. In this time he designed several Church of Ireland churches, as well as houses for the clergy. He built several houses in County Cavan, including Rathkenny [ca. 1820] and Tullyvin [built ca 1812], Shaen House in Laois (now a hospital), Clonearl House in County Offaly, and Clogrennan House in County Carlow.

Due to the family’s connections and status, the house was designed to impress. It is the details that indicate its quality, and visitors who were meant to be impressed would have recognised the signs. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage lists some of the details – for example: “Entrance hall has decorative timber panelled walls set in round headed arch recesses with panelled pilasters having squared Doric entablature. Flooring of decorative black and white tiles mimicking Italian marble.”

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The vestibule is Grecian Classical in style. The arches are of plaster. Ian reckons the floor tiles are Portland stone – a stone of particularly good quality – and a darker limestone, perhaps Kilkenny marble. You can see in the photograph the quality craftsmanship of the wood panelling on the walls. And this is just the front hall! A door to the right leads into what would have been the Vicar’s office where he would meet his parishioners. Guests to be entertained would enter straight ahead into the main part of the house.

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We entered a room that is now the library. It is the second library of the house. The first room, the Bishop’s office, was the first library. A later resident of the house, Charles Robert Leslie, became wheelchair bound and an elevator was installed into the house where the first library had been, so a second room was converted into a library, which had previously been the morning room. A window was covered over with bookcases, which is still visible from the outside of the house.

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Marcus Beresford followed in his father’s footsteps and was appointed Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in 1854. He moved out of Corravahan, and the next Vicar of Drung moved in, the Reverend Charles Leslie.

This Charles Leslie’s father, John, was the son of Charles Powell Leslie I, whom we came across when we visited Castle Leslie in County Monaghan. John was Charles Powell Leslie’s second son, and since he was not to inherit Castle Leslie, he joined the Church. He rose quickly due to his connections, and became Bishop of Dromore in 1812 and Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in 1841. He married the daughter of the Bishop of Ross, Isabella St. Lawrence, from the Howth Castle family of St. Lawrences (her grandfather was the 1st Earl of Howth. The castle was still in private hands, until sold by the Gaisford-St. Lawrence family in 2019. I would love to see it!). He preceded Marcus Beresford as Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. His eldest son, Charles became vicar of Drung in 1855. He moved into Corravahan with his wife and children (or as they liked to call it, “Coravahn.” [3] Their only daughter, Mary, died shortly afterwards, aged just 15.

Charles Leslie married, first, Frances King, daughter of General Robert Edward King, 1st Viscount Lorton of Boyle, County Roscommon, and his wife Frances Parsons (daughter of the 1st Earl of Rosse, the family who own Birr Castle, County Offaly, another section 482 property), in 1834. After she died, childless, he married Louisa Mary King, daughter of Lt-Col Henry King, 1st cousin of his first wife. The Corravahan website tells us that in 1836, Charles went on a tour of Europe with the Viscount and some members of his family, including his late wife’s cousin, Louisa, who he would marry the following year.

Charles Leslie continued to serve as the Vicar of Drung until 1870. He was then appointed, following in the footsteps of his father and of the former resident of Corravahan Reverend Marcus Beresford, Bishop of Kilmore. He died, however, three months after his appointment and so never moved from Corravahan. Following his death, his widow and five sons retained the house as a private residence, while providing a new, more modest rectory for the parish on nearby land. This house is also listed in the National Inventory of Historic Architecture, as Drung Rectory. The entry incorrectly states that it no longer serves as a rectory. It does in fact still serve the parishes of the Drung Group. It was built around 1870, to the east of the walled garden of Corravahan.

Charles Leslie’s second son, Charles Robert Leslie (1841-1904), lived on the estate, running it for his father after retiring from the British army (the oldest son, John Henry Leslie, married and subsequently lived in England). It was he who became disabled and for whom the elevator was installed. Stephen and I were fascinated to learn that he kept diaries, and that the diaries are on the shelves in the library at Corravahan!

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The impressive gold leaf gilded pelmet is original to the house.

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They would be fascinating to read, as he was engaged in Canada as Captain of the 25th King’s Own Borderers, who repelled a Fenian invasion from New York state! The Fenians, an Irish Republican organisation based in the United States, conducted raids on British army forts, custom posts and other targets in Canada in an attempt to pressure the British to withdraw Ireland [4].

Charles never married and when he died, in September 1904, ownership of Corravahan passed to his younger brother, Cecil, third son of Reverend Charles Leslie and Louisa.

The Corravahan website tells us that Cecil Edward St. Lawrence Leslie (1843-1930) was educated at Oxford, returning to live permanently at Corravahan, and served periodically on the judiciary in Cavan, otherwise living off his investments and rental income on lands he owned. The website continues:

“In 1876, he married Emily Louisa Massy-Beresford (1854-1890), a first-cousin-twice-removed of Rt. Rev. Marcus Gervais Beresford, the builder of Corravahan. She was the daughter of Very Rev. John Maunsell Massy, Dean of Kilmore, who had wisely added the name Beresford (by royal licence) subsequent to his equally wise marriage to Emily Sarah Beresford, daughter of Rev. John Isaac Beresford of Macbie Hill, Peebles-shire, who was the grand-niece of George, Bishop of Kilmore and great-great-granddaughter of the Earl of Tyrone. Cecil and “Loo” had two sons, Charles and Cecil George, the last children raised at Corravahan before the present.”

The elder son, Charles, died at the age of 13. The younger, Cecil George, nicknamed “Choppy,” joined the military. He died of tuberculosis in 1919, predeceasing his father.

A fourth son of Reverend Charles and Louisa, Henry King Leslie (1844-1926) married Ruth Hungerford-Eagar. The website tells us that he served as a land agent to numerous estates, and it was while he was living at Kilnahard, Mountnugent, possibly working for the Nugent family of Bobsgrove, or Farren Connell, that Ruth gave birth to their son, Frank King Leslie, in 1885. He died in Gallipoli in 1915. Henry and Ruth also had two daughters, Madge and Joan, who we will return to presently.

The youngest of Reverend Charles’s five sons, Arthur Trevor Leslie (1847-1886), also joined the military, and died in 1886 at Corravahan, probably due to illness contracted in his service.

By 1930, then, all of Rev. Charles Leslie’s five sons had died, the only survivors of the subsequent generation were Henry’s daughters, Margaret Ruth Leslie (1886-1972) and Nancy Joan Leslie (1888-1972). Thus upon Cecil’s death in 1930 it was to his nieces that he left Corravahan, along with the accumulated wealth of the previous generations. The sisters remained unmarried.

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Italian marble fireplace. The sisters, Madge and Joan, had the fireplaces bricked in to make them more efficient for burning coal. Above the fireplace, Ian has framed the text of what was meant to be a memorial in Kilmore Cathedral erected for Bishop John Leslie and his sister Harriet, which never seems to have been built.
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Certificates presented for the deaths in Military service of Captain Frank King Leslie and Major Cecil George Leslie. Current owner of Corravahan, Ian Elliott, has managed to collect many items that once belonged to the house, to reinstate them in the home.

Frank King Leslie’s fiancee, May Haire-Forster, remained close to the family and joined Madge and Joan, to live in Corravahan after 1930. The three women lived together in the house for forty years. They modernised the house, having inherited quite a bit of money from their brothers, so they were able to install electricity and central heating. They were careful to preserve many elements of the house that they may have remembered fondly as children, however, in a way that someone who did not grow up in the house may not have retained. They were popular in the neighbourhood and continued to give employment to people of the area.

The sisters installed electric lights before rural electrification of Ireland, which occurred in 1957. The sisters innovatively used a wind turbine system to create their electricity.

The house passed in 1972 to Madge’s god-daughter, Elizabeth Lucas-Clements, daughter of the Lucas-Clements family of nearby Rathkenny House. Rathkenny, also designed by William Farrell, was built for Theophilus Lucas-Clements in the 1820s [5]. Having sold Corravahan and its contents in 1974, largely to meet various bills for death-duties, Elizabeth Lucas-Clements retained much material that was personal to the Leslie family, and, among other items, gave the diaries of Charles Robert Leslie to the current owner.

The house then stood empty for five years and was occupied only occasionally for a further twenty-five years, until it was purchased by its current owners, the Elliotts. The surrounding farmland and outbuildings, walled garden and orchard no longer belong to the house. The National Inventory tells us: “The walled garden is located to the south-east of the lawns, and once formed part of an extensive landscape of gardens, woods, paths, and ponds more in the style of a country house demesne reflecting the particularly wealthy status of the clergy incumbents of Beresford and following him Rev. Charles Leslie.” The Elliotts are restoring the eight acres they have remaining around the house.

We moved from the former morning room to the drawing room.

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The room has an egg and dart pattern ceiling cornice and a large bay window. This is the “glazed tripartite loggia having steps to the garden” mentioned in the National Inventory [see 1. And we saw a loggia before in the Old Rectory in Killedmond, County Carlow]. It does not look like a door, but the middle panel of the windows slides up into the frame in an ingenious manner to make a door. Ian is not sure if this bay window is original to the house. On the one hand, it is not well-constructed as it does not have a relieving arch over it, which would lend solidity, and as a result, the ceiling has cracked over time. This seems particularly odd as there is a relieving arch over another window. But William Farrell has built similar designs in other places. Ian has seem something similar to the door/window in Castle Ward, County Down, and apparently there is something like it in Abbeville in Dublin, another Beresford residence.

On a purely personal note, the ironwork on the windows reminded me of the protecting grille on our windows and doors in Grenada, though the Grenada one is simpler.

living room, Feb 08
our sitting room in Grenada, West Indies

I admired the built-in shelving unit in the drawing room and asked whether it was original to the house.

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It was not. There were doors here between the drawing room and the former morning room, closed up when the second library was created. You can see Stephen wearing his mask in the photograph, as we were all protecting ourselves from Covid-19!

We entered the dining room next. Ian pointed out that as we followed the typical daily progress of a house resident from room to room: morning room to drawing room to dining room, we followed the path of the sun shining in to the house! It was well designed!

The bow in the house contains the dining room.

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The bow makes the room look grander and larger than it would with straight walls. It necessitates having slightly curved wooden window frame joinery, however, requiring skill and extra expense. The glass in the windows, fortunately, is not curved, as that would be even more expensive and difficult. The room has more beautiful curtain pelmets and decorative plaster coving.

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It also has a decorative ceiling rose. The other architectural novelty in this room is an arched recess for a sideboard.

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Interestingly, it appears that the Beresfords had a smaller sideboard than the Leslies. The Leslies had to have the recess widened! They did not leave their sideboard but the Elliotts were lucky enough to find one that fit perfectly!

The room has the Classical feature of symmetrical details, which includes the doors. There are four doors in the room. Two of them, however, exist merely for balance. One leads to a drinks cabinet and the other appears to have been used as a cupboard for the silverware, as it has a strong lock. The other doors lead from the main house, and to the servants’ area, for serving the food.

I was also delighted to see the old fashioned railing around the top of the walls – a tapestry rail. It is perfect for hanging pictures. In the room there was a picture of Marcus Gervais Beresford, who later became the Archbishop of Armagh, and one of Bishop John Leslie, the father of Charles who moved into the house when Marcus Beresford left.

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The tapestry rail runs all around the room along the ceiling. On the right, above, is Marcus Gervais Beresford. Note that on the top of the portrait frame is the mitre of an Archbishop. The portrait of Bishop John Leslie is on the left hand side, and in the photograph below:

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Next, we went out to the servants’ hall. It has large built-in cupboard along the wall:

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This was specially built to hold extra leaves of the dining room table! I wondered what was the purpose of the little shelf under the cupboard. Ian explained – the board on the wall across from the ledge comes down to form a shelf, on which the dishes coming from the kitchen were placed. There is another shelf that can be lowered behind where I was standing to take the photograph, that is on the other side of the door coming from the dining room, which would have been for the dirty dishes!

Before the cupboard was built for the leaves of the table, the wall had what looked like wooden panelling. Guests would have seen this if they glimpsed out into the hall from the dining table, and they would have been impressed to see that even the serving hall was panelled.

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The inside of the wall cupboard that was to hold the leaves of the dining table.

What looks like carved wood panelling, is actually wallpaper! I couldn’t believe it – the wood looks so real! I had to run my finger over it, and still found it hard to believe! Unfortunately the rest of the wallpaper has been painted over, below the leaf cupboard. The wood appearance wallpaper would have come halfway up the wall to look like wood panelling.

From the hall we entered a kitchen which is inside the timber lean-to. This was added on since the original kitchen was in the basement. A dumbwaiter was built into this lean-to for the sisters Madge and Joan, for the ease of their housemaid.

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Inside the shaft where the dumb waiter goes up and down, Ian pointed out the original wall of the house. It was here that we could see the way the wall had been drawn on, “ruled and lined rendered walls,” to make it look like it was made of stone.

The servants would have lived in the basement and in the outbuildings to the side of the house in the coachyard and stable block. The top of the house was the nursery. I took a photo of the outbuildings from the top floor of the house, the attic storey. In this photograph you can see the arches of the coach house. Servants would have lived above.

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You can just about see the solar panels which have been carefully installed, in such a way as not to damage the roof slates, which have been repaired and replaced by the current owners. The building on the left is new, but has been so well-made that it looks like the older buildings! Here again Ian pointed out how the render has been decorated so that around the new arches, it looks like stonework but is really cement plaster, carefully etched to mimic the original cut stone of the adjacent coach-house doorways.

There are two staircases in the house – the back stairs for the servants, and the main staircase.

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The back stairs lead up to the nursery attic storey.

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The rooms upstairs are airy and bright and surprisingly large. Looking out a window, we had a bird’s eye view of the giant old Lebanon Cedar tree, which must be about 300 years old.

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My family had a Lebanese cedar also nearly as old, at our house in Puckane, County Tipperary:

Ballycraggan, 1998, with 300 year cedar tree

We then used the main staircase to return downstairs. It has a mahogany handrail and carved timber balusters, and is overlooked by a grand arched window.

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This Wyatt window topped with arches is a style favoured by the architect William Farrell. There are similar windows in other houses he built, Rathkenny House and the See House in Kilmore. There is also a window like this in the courthouse in Virginia, County Cavan, but this is not an original – the window was originally an arch and was copied from Farrell’s windows.

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A rather vertiginous view of the stairs, looking down.

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The stairs are ornamented with Vitruvian scrolls, which is a motif from Greek temples. The fact that these were carved in stone in temples lends to the idea that the stairs are made of stone, although they are of wood. The banisters are painted black and can be mistaken at a glance for wrought iron.

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We ended our tour at the bottom of the stairs in another lovely hall space complete with fireplace. We signed the guest book, and look forward to returning to see the garden and to explore more outside!

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[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/40402103/corravahan-house-corravahan-drung-co-cavan

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Beresford_(bishop)

And

http://www.thepeerage.com/p2601.htm#i26005

[3] http://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Corravahan

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenian_raids

[5] https://www.facebook.com/stephenstown66/posts/2211132052539058?tn=K-R

“At this stage the house passed to Elizabeth Lucas-Clements ( Margaret’s god daughter) of the aforementioned neighbouring Rathkenny. Catherine Beresford, daughter of the Rt. Hon John de la Poer Beresford had, years before, married Henry Theophilus Clements of also nearby Ashfield Lodge, a cousin of the Rathkenny Lucas-Clements.”

The blog gives a great image of the way the gentry families intermarried and connected:

“These houses and families can often be like circles looping into each other, not unlike Olympic rings, connecting at a point, distant again perhaps for a period, but uniting again before this “pattern “ frequently continues unabated.”

Rokeby Hall, Grangebellew, County Louth

Rokeby Hall, Grangebellew, Co Louth

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contact: Jean & Jeff Young

Tel: 086-8644228

www.rokeby.ie

Opening dates in 2020 but check due to Covid-19 restrictions: May 1-31, Mon-Sat, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, Mon-Sat, 10am-2pm

Fee: adult/OAP €7, child/student €5

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Stephen and I visited Rokeby Hall in County Louth on Saturday September 7th, 2019. I texted ahead to alert Jean to our visit. We were lucky to have another beautifully sunny day!

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We entered the gates and drove up the impressive drive, through lovely fields.

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I paused as we approached the house to take a photograph of the observatory, and of the field near the house with the grazing cattle.

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There is an excellent website for Rokeby Hall which I read in advance so knew a little bit of information. [1]

“Rokeby Hall is a country house in the Neoclassical style built for Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh.

Initially designed by Thomas Cooley and built c. 1785 by renowned Irish architect Francis Johnston, Rokeby is an elegant building with beautiful exterior and interior detailing which remains largely unchanged to this day.

The house is a testament to the architects and the skilled craftsmen of the Georgian era and is today considered to be one of the most significant historic country houses remaining in Co. Louth.”

Francis Johnston (1760-1829) is best known for building the General Post Office in Dublin, and is the son of another architect, William Johnston. Francis is from Armagh and first practised his architecture there, and then lived in Drogheda from 1786 before moving to Dublin about 1793. It was the archbishop of Armagh, Richard Robinson, who sent Johnston to Dublin to train under Thomas Cooley, having already worked with Cooley to design buildings.

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Thomas Cooley, who worked first as a carpenter then draughtsman in an architectural office, came from England to Ireland in 1768 when he won a competition to design a new Royal Exchange in Dublin, which is now the City Hall on Dame Street. He built several public buildings in Dublin in the neoclassical style. Together with James Gandon (1743–1823), Cooley was part of a small school of architects influenced by Sir William Chambers (1723–1796). Cooley died in 1784. He worked closely with the Archbishop Richard Robinson and designed many buildings in Armagh, including the Archbishop’s Palace (now the Town Hall) and the library. He also designed the Four Courts in Dublin.

Cooley designed Rokeby Hall, and it fell to Francis Johnston to finish the project after Cooley’s death. Johnston continued to work with Archbishop Robinson, for whom he went on to build the Armagh Observatory and Armagh Courthouse, and other buildings in Armagh (I think that the observatory in Rokeby was built for the current owner, but I’m sure the Archbishop would have been delighted had he known, since he had the one in Armagh built in 1790 [2]!). Jean Young, the owner of Rokeby, recommended that we also visit another house in Louth designed and built by Francis Johnston, Townley Hall.

He designed more buildings, including the beautiful Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle, and he converted Parliament House in College Green in Dublin into the Bank of Ireland. He also designed Charleville Forest Castle in Tullamore, County Offaly, and probably designed a house I hope to visit when I get the chance, that is on Section 482, Turbotstown in County Westmeath. He also helped in the 2nd Earl of Longford to convert Tullynally House into Tullynally Castle [see my blog entry], completing that work in 1803.

Jean greeted us and invited us inside. We paused in the capacious front hall to look at a portrait while she told us about the man responsible for having the house built, Archbishop Richard Robinson. Robinson named the building after his family home in Yorkshire, England, Rokeby Park.

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The columns reminded me of “scagliola” [3] but are actually painted.
The website tells us about Richard Robinson:

After coming to Ireland as chaplain to the Duke of Dorset in 1751, he eventually rose through the ranks of the church before becoming Archbishop of Armagh in 1765. Prior to Robinson’s appointment, most Archbishops had spent little time in Armagh which in 1759 had been described as ‘an ugly, scattered town’. Primate Robinson is credited with much of Armagh’s transformation to the beautiful Georgian city it is today. His many contributions to the city include the Armagh Robinson Library, the Armagh Observatory, the Gaol, the Armagh Infirmary and the Archbishop’s Palace, Chapel and Palace Stables.

He was created the 1st Baron Rokeby in 1777, choosing the title “Rokeby” as his elder brother Sir Thomas Robinson had by then sold the family estate of Rokeby Park. He purchased land at Marlay in Co. Louth from the Earl of Darby to create a new “Rokeby” estate. On his death, his titles passed to a cousin but he left the Rokeby estate in Louth to the son of his sister Grace. The Reverend John Freind changed his name to his maternal surname “Robinson” and moved from England to Rokeby Hall in 1794.”

Lord Rokeby’s coat of arms on the decorative Neoclassical pediment, which stands on Ionic pilasters.

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I was surprised to hear that an archbishop was made a Baron, but Jean assured me that this was quite common.

Jean has studied the history of her home, completing a Masters degree in Maynooth, so we thoroughly enjoyed our discussion and she was able to explain the history of ownership of the house as well as architectural details. It is the details of the house which are special.

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I also asked why Robinson lived here in Rokeby rather than in Armagh, since he was archbishop of Armagh. Jean explained that archbishops had much work to do in Dublin, including taking their place in Parliament, so it was suitable to live in a premises between Dublin and Armagh. The Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne has a delightful entry that tells us more about this Archbishop of Armagh, who, according to O’Byrne, “behaved more like a continental prince-bishop.” He extravagantly travelled in a carriage with six horses, attended by three footmen behind. [4]

In Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size, Maurice Craig writes (p. 152):

The north (entrance) front of the house built for Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh, in the years following 1785, probably by Thomas Cooley (1740-84) and certainly with the participation of Francis Johnston (1760-1829). Both in elevation and in plan it is related to Lucan House, and in plan also to Mount Kennedy. James Wyatt, Michael Stapleton, Richard Johnston and even Sir William Chambers are involved in a complex tale which may never be fully unravelled. Rokeby is more remarkable for the beauty of its detail than for its overall impression…”

The most noteable feature of the house, for me, is the round hallway upstairs, and the second one above that in what seems to be the nursery and children’s area – which we saw after a tour of the first floor rooms.

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This is the landing at the top of the staircase. It opens into many bedrooms, a bathroom, another small landing, and one door is purely decorative, to keep symmetry. Note the detailing of the windows, over every second door, which let in light to the hall – all original.

Jean and Jeff had to furnish the house entirely, as unfortunately it was empty when they purchased it and needed repairs. They have done so beautifully.

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These bedrooms contain their original chimneypieces. The Irish Aesthete writes that the upstairs chimneypieces are original to the house but that the downstairs ones are not and were installed later, along with some downstairs doors.

The Youngs have also restored the garden to its former splendour:

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they have done much work, such as planting this formal garden.

Above the round hall at the top of the stairs, is another round hallway, you can see why I found it so surprising and delightful.

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One doesn’t expect such detail in an upper level. The rooms leading off on this level were of various sizes, some quite large.

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The room, although in the attic, contains as much attention to detail as the reception rooms, with curving door and window frames. Outside is the parapet of the house, so the windows have to be set back to allow in maximum light. The Youngs still have work to do to restore the cupola roof. You can see the wear and tear of use on the original stone stairs:

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The Irish Aesthete discusses Rokeby in his blog:

 “The house’s severe limestone façade hides a more inviting interior, of three storeys over basement, since Rokeby contains a particularly generous attic concealed behind the parapet, centred on a circular room lit by glazed dome. A similar circular landing on the first floor provides access to the main bedrooms.

“Descendants of the Robinson family remained in possession, although not necessarily in occupation, of Rokeby until the middle of the last century. Thereafter the property passed through a variety of hands often with unfortunate consequences. When the present owners bought the place in 1995, for example, the library had been stripped of its bookcases and divided in two with one half used as a kitchen. Over the past twenty years, a process of reclamation has taken place, driven by the correct balance of enthusiasm, commitment and ongoing research into the house’s history. Most recently the present owners have impeccably restored Rokeby’s mid-19th century conservatory.” [5]

In the article from the Irish Times which originally inspired me to start visiting houses and to write this blog, “Open season: Grand Irish homes that welcome visitors – and get a tax break,” published Sat, Apr 13, 2019, Mary Leland writes that Jean and Jeff worked on the house for ten years, commuting back and forth to California to working in the software industry, before finally moving over in 2006. The tax break enabled them to restore the Richard Turner conservatory. [6]

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The complete restoration of this structure took about two years, 2012-2014. The restored conservatory received 1st prize of the Ellison Award for Meath An Taisce in 2014.  A fascinating full description of the restoration is on the Rokeby Hall website. There’s also discussion of the restoration of the Armorial window and the attics.

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Jean noticed my puzzlement at the crescent dips in the glass at the top of the window, as you can see in the picture above. Her explanation shows just how authentic the restoration work was: in the 1850s, the size of panes of glass was  limited. Therefore glass was laid out in layers. The curved edge ensured that rainwater would move to the middle of the glass before dripping down, thus protecting the window frames.

The archbishop left the house upon his death in 1794 to his sister Grace’s son. Grace Robinson had married the Dean of Canterbury, William Freind. Her son, the Reverend Archdeacon John Friend subsequently changed his surname to Robinson. Reverend John did not stay long in Ireland, however. When his father-in-law, Captain James Spencer of Rathangan House, County Kildare, was killed by rebels during the 1798 rebellion, he fled. Despite no longer living there, Reverend John Robinson was created 1st Baronet of Rokeby Hall in 1819.

The house was subsequently let to tenants, including Viscount Thomas Southwell; Count Jerome de Salis (leased from 29 April 1822 – he had been appointed High Sheriff of Armagh in 1810 – see [7]); and Henry Coddington, Esq (1734-1816). This is the same Henry Coddington whose daughter Elizabeth married Edward Winder (1775-1829), one of my husband Stephen’s ancestors! Henry himself probably did not live in Rokeby, but probably leased the land to farm, as he lived in Oldbridge nearby. The house was left to deteriorate. Robert O’Byrne quotes James Brewer’s The Beauties of Ireland published in 1826, who wrote that the house “is now, we believe, in the hands of a farmer, and the chief apartments are let furnished to casual inmates.”

It was only after the death of John Robinson in 1832 that his son, Richard, returned to Rokeby in 1840. Richard, 2nd Baronet (1787-1847) had married, in 1813, the Lady Eleanor Helena Moore, daughter of Stephen, 2nd Earl Mount Cashell. He died in 1847 and was succeeded by his eldest son Sir John Stephen Robinson. Sir John and his wife were responsible for two significant additions to Rokeby Hall – the Turner conservatory, added in the 1850s, and the armorial window in the main stair hall showing the Robinson family history.

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Sir John, 3rd Baronet (1816-95), JP DL, High Sheriff of County Louth, 1849, married, in 1841, Sarah, only daughter of Anthony Denny, of Barham Wood, Hertfordshire, and granddaughter of Lord Collingwood, Admiral in the Royal Navy who served alongside Lord Nelson in the Napoleonic Wars. Due to his fame, Sarah’s eldest sons took the name Collingwood. [8]

The Rokeby Hall website continues the history of the Rokeby inhabitants:

Sir John died in 1895 and the estate passed to his son Sir Gerald [William Collingwood] Robinson (4th bart.) who died in 1903. The 5th baronet was Sir John’s younger brother Richard Harcourt Robinson. After his death in 1910 the estate eventually passed to Sir Gerald’s sister Maud who had earlier married Richard Montgomery, the owner of Beaulieu House in Co. Louth. 

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With the Robinsons no longer in residence, the estate was gradually broken up. The house and demesne lands were sold to the Clinton family in 1912. The remaining estate lands were also broken up and sold and the Robinson collection of furniture, art and books were eventually auctioned in 1943. The Clinton family remained at Rokeby until about 1950. Since then the ownership of the house has changed a number of times. The current owners purchased the house in 1995.”

After the tour of the house, Stephen and I went out to explore the gardens.

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[1] www.rokeby.ie

[2] https://armagh.space/heritage/

[3] Wikipedia defines scagliola: Scagliola (from the Italian scaglia, meaning “chips”) is a technique for producing stucco columns, sculptures and other architectural elements that resemble inlays in marble and semi-precious stones. The Scagliola technique came into fashion in 17th-century Tuscany as an effective substitute for costly marble inlays, the pietra dura works created for the Medici family in Florence.

Scagliola is a composite substance made from selenite, glue and natural pigments, imitating marble and other hard stones. The material may be veined with colours and applied to a core, or desired pattern may be carved into a previously prepared scagliola matrix. The pattern’s indentations are then filled with the coloured, plaster-like scagliola composite, and then polished with flax oil for brightness, and wax for protection. The combination of materials and technique provides a complex texture, and richness of colour not available in natural veined marbles.

architectural definitions

[4] https://theirishaesthete.com/2013/02/04/building-on-a-prelates-ambition/

[5] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/09/21/take-three/

[6] https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/open-season-grand-irish-homes-that-welcome-visitors-and-get-a-tax-break-1.3855641

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome,_4th_Count_de_Salis-Soglio

Jerome de Salis was born in Italy and inherited the title, Count de Salis, a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. He lived in England from the 1790s. He married three times – had one child by each of his first two wives, then after the first two wives’ deaths, married in 1810, Henrietta (or Harriet) Foster, daughter of Right Reverend William Foster, who was chaplain to the Irish House of Commons (1780–89), and then at different times, Bishop of Cork and Ross; Kilmore; and of Clogher. They had a further nine children.

[8] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Louth%20Landowners

Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan

Contact: Samantha Leslie Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Open in 2020 (but check due to Covid-19 restrictions): all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

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“A brooding pile of rock faced limestone and russet sandstone, the exterior blends the irregular massing and elongated proportions typical of the High Victorian era with details inspired by the Renaissance and Tudor periods.” [1]

As a treat for Stephen’s birthday we booked ourselves in to Castle Leslie for two nights at the end of November. What luxury! I assumed we could not afford it as I only heard of it when Paul McCartney married there in 2002. But it is amazingly reasonable! In Christmas regalia, its beauty and opulence took my breath away, as did the generosity of the owners, allowing us to wander every nook and cranny and to sleep in a bed that was made in the year 1617!

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The Drawing Room: “Among the suite of lavish reception rooms, each one a showcase for the skill of the carpenter and stuccadore, is the Italian Renaissance-style drawing room where polygonal bay windows give unsurpassed views overlooking manicured terraces and the wooded Glaslough Lake.” (see [1])

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Above, our bed from 1617.

DAY 1: Our Castle Tour and the history of the Leslies

We had to make sure we left Dublin in time for the tour at 1pm, which does not run every day but several days a week. Our tour guide, Enda, shared only the tip of the iceberg of his knowledge of the castle and family in a tour that lasted an hour. We were able to mine him for even more tidbits later and still I felt we only scratched the surface!

The castle is a relative youngster at just 130 years old, a “grey stone Victorian pile” as Mark Bence-Jones calls it [2], or in Scottish Baronial style, according to Maurice Curtis and Desmond Fitzgerald [3]. It was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn, built ca. 1870 for John Leslie, MP, incorporating part of an earlier house. William Henry Lynn (1821-71) was a Belfast based architect and the Castle is considered to be his masterpiece. It is set in a 1000 acre estate (much reduced from its original size) overlooking a lake, and the castle is near another residence, the Lodge (formerly the Hunting Lodge), which houses the bar and restaurant. The Lodge was designed by one of the Leslies, Charles Powell Leslie II and was built before the present castle. The hotel includes an excellent Equestrian centre on its grounds – a perfect way to explore the huge estate of lakes, forest, parkland and streams. The Estate has three lakes, Glaslough (Green Lake), Kilvey Lake and Dream Lake. [4] There is more accommodation in the restored Old Stable Mews, or in holiday cottages in the village.

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the Lodge

We drove through the picturesque village of Glaslough to reach the “crow stepped gabled gate lodges” marking the entrance to the Castle Leslie estate. (see [1])

Our tour began in the front hall of the Castle, soon after we arrived, so we left our suitcases at the front desk, to check into our room afterwards. The front hall contained arms from the Leslie family.

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The bust is of Charles Powell Leslie III. The animal heads, which you can barely see at the top of the photograph, were shot by Norman Leslie, whose bedroom we slept in!

Originally Hungarian, the first of the family moved to Ireland in 1633. They have lived at Castle Leslie since 1665. Our guide traced the family back to 1040. Their genealogy reaches even further back to Attila the Hun (he died in the year 453).

According to the Castle Leslie website, Bartholomew Leslie, a Hungarian nobleman, was the chamberlain and protector of Margaret Queen of Scotland, who was wife of King Malcolm III (he lived 1031-1093). One day, fleeing from enemies, Queen Margaret rode behind Bartholomew on his horse. When fording a river, the queen fell off and Bartholomew threw her the end of his belt and told her to “grip fast” the buckle. He saved the Queen’s life and from that day onwards she bestowed the motto “Grip Fast” on the Leslies. [5]

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Our guide told us that King Malcolm’s sister Beatrice married Bartholomew Leslie. They moved to Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

Five hundred or so years later a descendent John Leslie was born in 1571 in Aberdeenshire. He received his Doctorate of Divinity from Cambridge and was Privy Councillor to Kings James I and Charles I. He was promoted to become Bishop of the Scottish Isles, and in 1633 transferred to Donegal to the Bishopric of Raphoe.

When Oliver Cromwell came to Ireland, John Leslie, friend of the monarchy, raised a private army to battle against Cromwell, as so he earned the moniker “The Fighting Bishop.” His troops beat Cromwell in the Battle of Raphoe. When King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, he rewarded the Bishop with £2000 – note that the Bishop was ninety years old by this time! Despite his age, he became Bishop of the Diocese of Clogher in 1661.

With the £2000, in 1665 Bishop Leslie bought the estate at Glaslough with an existing castle which had been built in 1608 by Sir Thomas Ridgeway. Bishop Leslie died at the age of one hundred, and left the estate to his wife, Catherine Cunningham (or Conyngham) of Mount Charles in Donegal (an ancestor of the present Lord Henry Mount Charles of Slane Castle), and children. He had married at the age of 67 the 18 year old Catherine and sired five (according to our guide) or 10 (according to Wikipedia, [6]) children! Only two of his children survived to adulthood and only one has descendants.

Due to the limitation of the tour’s length our guide jumped forward to the 1880s. I am guessing that it was he who wrote the history of the Leslies on the Castle’s website, so I will defer to that to fill in the gaps. We moved from the front hall into the hallway of the grand staircase, where our guide told us about the people in the various portraits. We then moved through a room with a large table, to the drawing room and the dining room, where the guide spoke about more of the family and their portraits.

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the Drawing Room

Below is the throne of Bishop John Leslie, the “fighting Bishop.” He also built the church on the estate, in 1670.

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the Drawing Room, with the throne of Bishop John Leslie, the “fighting Bishop.”

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the Dining Room

The Bishop’s son John, another cleric, the Dean of Dromore, inherited the estate. He never married so when he died, the estate passed to his brother, Charles, at 71 years of age. Charles was a theologian and defended the Catholics, opposing the penal laws which prevented Catholics from participating in political life. King William III had him arrested for high treason, but he escaped to France. The next king, George I, pardoned him, saying “Let the old man go home to Glaslough to die.” (see [5], which provides most of my narrative)

Charles married Jane Griffith, daughter of the Very Reverend Richard Griffith, Dean of Ross [7] had three children: Robert, Henry, and the unusually named “Vinegar” Jane. Robert and Henry were friends with Jonathan Swift, who wrote the following about the family:

“Here I am in Castle Leslie

With rows and rows of books upon the shelves

Written by The Leslies

All about themselves.”

I’m not sure what was written at that stage, but certainly when we stayed, there were plenty of books by the Leslies! I had a good browse through them – more on them later.

Robert wedded, in 1730, Frances, daughter of Stephen Ludlow. Their son Charles Powell Leslie (c. 1738-1800), took over the Estate in 1743. He devoted himself to the improvement of farming methods in the district. He was elected MP for Hillsborough in 1771 and MP for Monaghan in 1776. Like his grandfather, he supported the Catholics. At the time, due to Poynings Law, all Irish legislation had to be approved by the British Privy Council. Henry Grattan and others, including Charles Powell Leslie, sought legislative independence. Once this was achieved, Grattan fought in parliament for Catholic Emancipation from the Penal Laws, so that Catholics could be treated as equal citizens of Ireland. In his election speech of 1783, Charles Powell Leslie stated ”I desire a more equal representation of the people and a tax upon our Absentee Landlords”.

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portrait of Charles Powell Leslie I

In 1765 Charles Powell married Prudence Penelope Hill-Trevor, daughter of Arthur Hill-Trevor, 1st Viscount Dungannon. They had two sons, Charles Powell II and John. After his first wife died, Charles Powell Leslie I married, in 1785, Mary Anne Tench, and had a third son. The heir, Charles Powell II, also represented Monaghan in parliament.

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Charles Powell Leslie II

Arthur Hill-Trevor’s elder daughter, Anne, married Garret Wesley, the 1st Earl of Mornington, of Dangan Castle County Meath, and their son grew up to be the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napolean at Waterloo. According to the website, Charles Powell Leslie gave his impoverished brother-in-law, Lord Mornington, the money to educate his son Arthur, in Eton and then military school in France (Stephen and I found it ironic that the Duke of Wellington, who beat Napoleon, hence France, received his military training in France!). Arthur, the Duke of Wellington, married Kitty Pakenham of Tullynally, County Westmeath.

Charles Powell Leslie II, an amateur architect, designed the present farm buildings and the gate lodge. (see [8] for more about Charles Powell Leslie II). He died in 1831 and his wife Christiana took over the running of the estate. She managed to feed the needy during the great famine of 1845, setting up soup kitchens, and gave employment by having a wall built around the estate. The population of County Monaghan was 208,000 before the Famine. It went down to 51,000 during and after the Famine and is now only 61,000 – still far less than its pre-Famine population. It is said that nobody perished on the Leslie estate. As well as the soup kitchen, Christiana suspended rents.

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Farm buildings: perhaps these are ones designed by Charles Powell Leslie II.

Her son Charles Powell III (1821-71) also enjoyed architecture, and had flamboyant taste. He designed the entrance lodges at the main gates of the estate. He had many other grand building plans but died, choking on a fishbone, and it was his brother John (1822-1916) who built the new castle – to a much more modest design than Charles’s. Charles never married so John succeeded to the estate, in 1871.

John Leslie married Constance Dawson Damer, the daughter of Mary Seymour who was allegedly George IV’s daughter by Mrs. Fitzherbert.

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a portrait of Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert, which Stephen and I discovered upstairs on our way to the cinema room in the castle!

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Maria, born Smythe, was a Catholic. She married a wealthy Catholic landowner when she was just 18 years old. He died tragically, and she married a second time, but her second husband died when she was just 24! Her uncle decided to bring her out into society, and brought her to the opera. There, she met King George IV. He pursued her, and a marriage between them is recognised by the Catholic church, but not by the Monarchy. He moved her to Brighton and the Royal family took care of her, although George was married off to European Royalty, Princess Caroline.

Maria had two children, reputedly, with George IV. The daughter was adopted by a friend of George IV, Hugh Seymour. It was this Mary Seymour who married George Dawson Damer, and her daughter Constance married John Leslie. Constance burned all the evidence of her background, as it was not approved by the Royal Family. It is therefore not a definitive history, just, shall we say, rumour. Her descendant Shane Leslie wrote a biography of Mrs. Fitzherbert.

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a portrait of Lady Constance in later life.

It was the portrait above, of Lady Constance, which a nurse, who had been attending the dying Leonie (wife of Constance and John’s heir, John), recognised as the lady who had visited Leonie’s deathbed – despite Constance having been dead for nearly twenty years!

Before his brother died, John brought Constance to live in the old castle. Constance must have wanted a place of her own so in 1860, they moved into the Hunting Lodge in order to live separately from Charles Powell III and his mother.

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a room inside the Lodge

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front hall and welcoming room of the Lodge

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a small private dining room in the Lodge

However, once they inherited the old castle, not content with her Lodge or the old castle, it was Constance who insisted that John build the new castle. While it was being built she and her husband went on a Grand Tour and collected much of the present furniture in the house including the blue and white Della Robbia chimneypiece in the drawing room, and a mosaic floor in the hall which is a replica of a two thousand year old Roman villa floor. Constance was a connoisseur of fine art and antiques.

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Della Robbia chimneypiece in Drawing Room, purchased by Constance and John Leslie

Their travels influenced the style of the Castle, built by Sir Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn. An Italian Renaissance cloister (said to have been copied from Michaelangelo’s cloister at Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome, according to Mark Bence Jones (see [2]) joins the main block of the castle to a single-storey wing containing the library and former billiard-room.

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The Italian Renaissance style Cloister

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Behind the cloister runs a long top-lit gallery divided by many arches, with pre-Raphaelite style frescoes of angels and other figures, including portraits of members of the family, painted by John Leslie, a talented artist. One of his paintings was hung in the Royal Academy in the same year. He later become 1st Baronet of Glaslough.

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Frescoes painted by Sir John Leslie.

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I think it was this painting that hung in the Royal Academy

The next to inherit the estate was the 2nd Baronet, Sir John Leslie (1857–1944). He married Leonie Jerome, one of the three beautiful daughters of Leonard Jerome of New York. Her sister Jenny married Lord Randolph Churchill and was the mother of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Winston did not get on well with his mother but was very close to his aunt Leonie. The young Winston Churchill paid visits here to his uncle and aunt, except when he was temporarily banished by his uncle on account of his espousal of Home Rule! Leonie’s correspondence with Winston is in Blenheim Castle in England, the estate of the Churchills. When his beloved aunt died in August 1943, Winston couldn’t attend the funeral due to the war, but he telephoned Eamon de Valera to request permission for the flyover of an Royal Air Force Spitfire plane. It was her son, Desmond Leslie, who was in the RAF, who flew the Spitfire and dropped a huge wreath from Winston Churchill to the funeral.

I was touched by the presence of Winston Churchill’s christening robe in the drawing room:

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Sir John Leslie died in 1944 and was succeeded by his son Sir Shane Leslie (1885–1971). Shane was one of four brothers: he was christened John, and changed his name to Shane in 1921 when he embraced Irish nationalism; the other brothers were Lionel, Norman and Seymour. Shane grew up to be an ardent nationalist (he joined the Irish Volunteers, a group founded in response to the Ulster Volunteers in Northern Ireland who opposed Home Rule – he thus rejected the support his father gave to the Ulster Volunteers!) and Irish speaker, and converted to Catholicism, under the influence of Cardinal Henry Newman, when he was in Cambridge. He hoped to retreat to a Monastery but instead married another American beauty, Majorie Ide of Vermont. According to the history of the Leslie family recounted on the website, Majorie’s father, Henry Clay Ide, was Chief Justice of Samoa, a tropical paradise where he and his daughters became great friends of fellow islander Robert Louis Stevenson. He was also Governor General of the Philippines. Later in our stay, our guide told us that before she married, Majorie and her sister accompanied U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter on a trade mission to China. The President considered the women to be suitable ambassadors because the current monarch of China was an Empress (the last Empress of China). There are many Chinese objects in Castle Leslie which Majorie brought with her.

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Sir Shane, as a poet and Nationalist, was not fond of running the estate so transferred it to his son John Norman Leslie (1916-2016), who became 4th Baronet. Shane Leslie travelled to London when Michael Collins was negotiating the Treaty granting Ireland its independence from the United Kingdom. Shane’s brother Norman on the other hand fought in the British army, and was killed by a sniper. The bedrooms in the Castle are now named after the family, and Stephen and I stayed in “Norman’s Room”!

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Shane had three children: Anita, John (Jack) and Desmond. Jack transferred the estate over to his sister Anita, owing to ill health after five years in a prisoner of war camp. He had been Captain in the Irish Life Guards in WWII. He moved to Rome where he lived for forty years, finally returning to Castle Leslie in 1994. He died only a few years ago, at 99 years old, inheriting the hardy genes of the Fighting Bishop, and is obviously much missed in the castle which houses many of his mementos and memorabilia.

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“Jack’s bed,” in which he used to sleep, now in pride of place on the upper landing, although the bed would have been a squeeze for his over six foot frame!

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portraits of the family including several of Jack. Jack wrote of his life in Never a Dull Moment.

Later in our stay, Enda the guide told us more about Anita, as we were admiring the paintings of Anita, Jack and Desmond at the bottom of the grand staircase (see the staircase in the photograph below).

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Anita married Pavel Rodzianko, a dashing soldier from Russia, Equerry to Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra. Anita was just 23 years old but bowled over by the 47 year old Pavel. The marriage lasted only three years. This marriage explains the presence of the paintings of Nicholas and Alexandra which Stephen and I had noticed in the bar area.

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Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra

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a poignant picture of Alexandra and her children, all of whom were assassinated only two days before Pavel Rodzianko was able to rescue them.

Pavel tried to rescue the Tsar and his family. He followed with other soldiers loyal to the Tsar, as the Royal family was moved from place to place by those who had overthrown the Tsar. When they caught up with the family Pavel and his companions were too late: the family had been shot in the basement and their bodies burned. Pavel found little Alexi’s dog Joy still alive. Pavel saved the dog and brought her to his home next to Windsor Castle in England, where Pavel lived after leaving Castle Leslie, where Joy lived the rest of her life. Pavel went on to train the Irish show-jumping team, who won the Agha Khan trophy in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Horse Show.

During World War II Anita joined the French army as an ambulance driver and married Bill King, a submarine commander. In the 1960s she moved to Oranmore in Galway (Oranmore Castle is a Section 482 property so I hope to visit it!) and transferred Glaslough to her younger brother Desmond (the Spitfire pilot). In 1991 he handed the Estate over to his five children and Castle Leslie Estate is now run by his daughter Samantha Leslie.

I mentioned earlier that many Leslies have written books. I browsed through books by Shane Leslie and Jack. Anita Leslie wrote about her time in the army in The Train to Nowhere. Desmond’s wife Agnes Bernaur is also a published writer. I copied the family tree from Shane Leslie’s book, and notice that the sister of John Leslie 2nd Baronet, Theodisia, married a Bagot! She married Josceline Fitzroy Bagot, of Levens Hall. I may be distantly related to this Bagot, as we are rumoured to be descended from the Bagots of Staffordshire! I confess I have not found the link.

After our tour, we were shown to our room. We were thrilled with it, and especially with our 1617 four poster oak bed. The bed was so high that it required steps to get up to it:

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We had a table and chair, and a lovely wardrobe and chaise longue! I started writing this entry on the chaise longue.

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According to the website, Sammy started her ambition of bringing the Estate back to life by establishing tea rooms in the old conservatory. This had been a painting studio for John Leslie, as it was created to have lots of light.

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The website continues:

Between 1995 and 1997, Sammy refurbished fourteen of the Castle bedrooms and bathrooms, each in its own unique style, in an effort to maintain the individuality and uniqueness of the property. Dinners were served by candlelight in the original dining room, just as it had been in the old days, with pre-dinner drinks served in the Drawing Room or Fountain Garden. The Castle at Castle Leslie Estate was soon rewarded with The Good Hotel Guide Caesar Award for being ‘utterly enjoyable and mildly eccentric’.” [9]

Perhaps one of the mildly eccentric details referred to are the beautiful old fashioned porcelain toilets such as the one in our en suite:

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After the tour, we still had so much of the castle to explore! The tour had only taken in a few of the rooms! We were tired after the tour and lay on our wonderful bed for a nap before dinner. While we were reading, we heard a knock on our door. The staff had brought us a much appreciated, delicious strong cup of coffee! Perfect!

We emerged for dinner. We chose to eat in the bistro rather than the fancier restaurant. The reception staff offered us a lift over to the Lodge, but we chose to walk the short distance up the drive, as it was a beautiful crisp night.

We did a little exploring back at the castle after dinner. We discovered more beautiful rooms to sit in, and a lovely library, and it was only now that we found the bar and the long painted gallery!

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Many new features have been added to the estate, including a spa, a bar and restaurant, and a cookery school.

A new pavilion, adjacent to the long gallery of the main house, facilitates conferences, weddings and other large events – see the pathway leading to the pavilion in the photograph below.

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The website tells us that five new sub-ground floor bedrooms were added to the castle in 2005: the Desmond Leslie room, the Agnes Bernelle Room, the Helen Strong Room, Sir Jack’s Room and the only room in the castle not named after a family member, The Calm Room.

DAY 2: Horse riding! And exploring the Lodge

Stephen and I only saw the castle in daylight the next day, as we had been too tired to explore outside after the tour. It was only then that we saw the cloisters, and the lake! We wandered outside in the evening. Earlier in the day, we decided to avail of the Equestrian Centre, since Stephen confided that he had never sat on a horse!

We booked a one hour walking session, a gentle wander through woods on the estate, hand-led by a guide. I felt safe enough walking without a guide at the reins, as I endured two years of weekly riding lessons when I was young! I say “endured” as I was scared of the horses and fell often! The horses we rode during my lessons in Australia were a more cantankerous brood than those that bless Castle Leslie!

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Below shows me in Australia at my horse riding lessons with my sister when I was young!

Caballo Stables, Jen and Siobhan riding

Jen and Siobhan ready for riding lesson
me and my sister Siobhan in Perth, Western Australia, ready for our riding lesson

And now:

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Our guide, Chris, told us a bit more about the estate as we relaxed onto the hip swinging gait of our horses, and we passed one of the lodges. I knew Stephen would be imagining himself back in the 1700s, familiarising himself with the atmosphere of the former mode of transportation. We both lost our balance as we slid off our horses, Stephen doing the full topple onto the sand, but we were elated! You can see a map of the estate on the castle website. [10]

After lunch in the Lodge, we explored. I took some photographs inside the lodge.

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Dusk fell by the time I took photographs outside behind the castle.

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Sammy’s most recent project (begun in 2015) is renovating the walled garden. I’m sorry I reached it so late in the day, compromising my photographs. These were built in 1860 by Charles Powell Leslie III.

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According to information posted in the walled garden, they cover about four acres, and contain two forty metre greenhouses heated by individual underground boilers fed by rainwater collected from the glass roofs. The flues were built originally under the paths to chimneys hidden in the surrounding garden wall! Ingenious ancestors! Charles Leslie consulted with Joseph Paxton, the Duke of Devonshire’s head gardener, who created the “Crystal Palace” of the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London for Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Alfred.

Outside the Walled Garden was a third large greenhouse, a Tropical House. Charles Powell Leslie III, according to the information boards in the garden, wooed an opera singer with weekly hampers of bananas, melons and mangoes sent from Castle Leslie to her dressing room in Covent Gardens in London!

The Pump House, built from approximately 1848, was one of the first water systems to be constructed for a village and estate. One can still see the ornate cast iron fountains in the village, along with the statue of Charles Powell Leslie III.

Day Three: A walk to the stables and goodbye to Castle Leslie!

The next day dawned bright, a crisp November day. We followed our map of the estate to see the Stable Mews, for a bit of exercise before we had to depart.

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[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/places-to-visit/monaghan/glaslough-castle-leslie/

[2] Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses.[originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978; Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.]

[3] Curtis, Maurice and Knight of Glin, Ireland Observed. Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork 1970.

[4] http://www.britainirelandcastles.com/Ireland/County-Monaghan/Castle-Leslie.html

[5] https://www.castleleslie.com/life-the-way-its-supposed-to-be-2/historical-castle-ireland/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Leslie_(bishop_of_Clogher)

[7] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Monaghan%20Landowners

Note that this website states that Charles and his wife had only one child whereas the Castle Leslie website claims that they had three children.

[8] see [7]. CHARLES POWELL LESLIE II, JP (c1767-1831), Colonel, County Monaghan Militia, High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1788, MP for County Monaghan, 1801-26, New Ross, 1830-1, who espoused firstly, Anne, daughter of the Rev Dudley Charles Ryder, and had issue, three daughters.

He married secondly, in 1819, Christiana, daughter of George Fosbery, and had further issue,

Charles Powell (1821-71);
 JOHN, his heir;
 Thomas Slingsby;
 Prudentia Penelope; Christiana; Julia; Emily.

[9] https://zs35w2fzekug05wf2mckg53k-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Regeneration-History.pdf

[10] https://zs35w2fzekug05wf2mckg53k-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/E-Map-Only-2017.pdf