Listed open dates in 2021 but check in advance: May-Sept Tues-Sat, 2pm-6pm.
Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child/ National Heritage Week €5
While we stayed in Annaghmore  during Heritage Week in August 2021 with Durcan O’Hara and his wife Nicola, we first visited Durcan’s cousin in nearby Newpark , then another cousin, Simon O’Hara, at Coopershill.
The O’Haras were a Gaelic family who managed to keep their position of importance through changes in sovereignty, from the invasion of the Normans through the Tudor and Stuart monarchy, the Cromwellian Parliament and the overthrow of King James II. The O’Haras of Coopershill and Annaghmore are of descendants of the “O’Hara Boy” family – the other O’Hara family of Sligo is the O’Hara Reogh family.
An ancestor, Tadgh O’Hara, encouraged his sons, Tadgh and Kean, to convert to Protestantism in order to be better able to hold on to their land. On Tadgh’s death in 1616 his sons, still minors, became Wards of Court. The eldest son, Tadgh, was raised by Sir Charles Coote (1581-1642), 1st Baronet Coote of Castle Cuffe, Queen’s County, who was Provost Marshal of Connaught and had much land in the area. Edward Cooper of Markree, another property which we visited, was a cornet in Sir Charles Coote’s dragoons. Tadgh died in 1634 and his property passed to his brother Kean. Some of the O’Hara relatives were implicated in the Rebellion of 1641 but Kean, as an Irish Protestant, was able to hold on to his property . Coopershill belonged to the Cooper family but passed by marriage to the O’Hara family, as we will see below.
According to the Historic Houses of Ireland website, Arthur Cooper (born around 1716) and his wife Sarah (born Carleton, from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh) lived in a sixteenth century fortified house on the River Unsin (or Unshin), near the village of Riverstown. This house still exists as a ruin on the property of Coopershill, and we passed it as we approached the main house.
The pre-1700s house is attached to a farm building which was built in about 1830, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. The ruin is evocative and may have been retained in order to embody the picturesque notion of nostalgic antiquity. The newer house was positioned to been seen from a bridge, in a deliberately created picturesque view. The grounds were landscaped with plantings of trees and a deerpark, which remains today.
Legend has it that in the early 1750s, Arthur and Sarah Cooper engaged an architect and placed two buckets of gold sovereigns on the ground, instructing him to build a suitable house on a hill in the middle of their County Sligo estate, Cooper’s Hill.  The architect’s plans overshot the budget and the sovereigns ran out even before the walls were built! Arthur Cooper was forced to sell some of his land to continue building, and the house was completed around twenty years after it was started, in 1774. The completion date is noted on the keystone over the front door.
Coopershill has two similar facades, at the front and back of the house.
The stone, a high quality local ashlar, took eight years to quarry.  One would assume that the Coopers of Markree Castle and the Coopers of Coopershill are related, but Durcan told us that he has not found the connection.
The house has been attributed by Desmond FitzGerald, the Knight of Glin, to Francis Bindon, who also designed Woodstock in County Kilkenny (1740), which we visited later in the week.  Bindon also painted portraits, including those of Jonathan Swift and Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin. FitzGerald writes:
“Perhaps Bindon’s very last mansion is Coopershill, County Sligo, although like most of these houses, no documentary evidence exists for it. Tower-like and stark, of similar proportions to Raford [County Galway], it is made up of two equivalent fronts composed with a central rusticated Venetian window and door, and a third floor three-light window. The fenestration is reminiscent of [Richard] Castle’s demolished Smyth mansion in Kildare Place, Dublin. Coopershill is sited particularly well and stands high above a river reminding one of the feudal strength of the 17th century towerhouse. As at Raford, the roof is overlapping and 19th century.” 
The front has two bays on either side of the Gibbsian doorcase (a Gibbsian doorcase usually has “blocking” where rectangular blocks stick out at intervals). A “Gibbsian surround” is an eighteenth century treatment of a door or window, seen particularly in the work of James Gibbs (1682-1754); it usually has columns or pilasters with an architrave, that is, a lintel resting on columns, and voussoirs (wedge shaped elements, usually stones, forming an arch), a keystone (wedge shaped stone at the top of an arch) and pediment (a formalized gable derived from that of a temple).  Above the doorcase of Coopershill is a rusticated Venetian window (which Bence-Jones describes as “a window with three openings, that in the centre being round-headed and wider than those on either side; a very familiar feature of Palladian architecture”), and a three-light window on the centre of the top storey. All of the other windows in the front have rusticated surrounds (that is, a particular treatment of joints or faces of masonry to give an effect of strength).
There is a hardwood door with fifteen raised-and-fielded panels, an interlaced fanlight, and sandstone steps with dressed limestone parapet walls bridging the basement area. 
To reach the house we drove across a lovely bridge, pictured above, which was built at the same time as the house, in 1771. The foundation stones kept sinking into the mud and eventually sheepskin was laid on the ground, which stopped the stones sinking. This same technique is being used nowadays in the bog to create paths for walking. One’s first view of the house is attained when crossing the bridge.
Simon welcomed us, the seventh generation of the family to live here. Arthur and Sarah Cooper’s son, Arthur Brooke Cooper (1775-1854) (“Brooke” was Sarah’s mother’s maiden name), inherited Coopershill and married Jane Frances O’Hara, the daughter of Charles Edward O’Hara (1746-1822) from nearby Annaghmore.
Their eldest son, also named Arthur Brooke Cooper, predeceased his father in 1845, so their second son, Charles William (1817-1898), inherited Coopershill on the death of his father in 1854. He also inherited Annaghmore on the death in 1860 of Jane Frances’s brother, Charles King O’Hara (1784-1860), on condition that Charles William take the name “O’Hara.”
Fortunately Charles William Cooper O’Hara married well by marrying Anne Charlotte Streatfeild, daughter of Richard Shuttleworth Streatfeild of the Rocks, Uckfield, Sussex. They moved to Annaghmore and Charles William’s sisters, Margaret Sarah and Mary Jane Caroline Cooper, remained living in Coopershill.
Stephen and I were excited to learn that an ancestor of Simon’s and Durcan’s who had lived at Annaghmore (albeit an earlier house), Charles O’Hara (c.1705-1776), was not only a friend of Edmund Burke, politician, writer and philosopher who wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France and A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, but also of Stephen’s ancestor George Macartney (1737-1806).
Charles William and Anne Charlotte’s eldest son, Charles Kean O’Hara (1860-1947) inherited Annaghmore, and the second son, Arthur Cooper O’Hara (1862-1934), inherited Coopershill.
Charles Kean O’Hara of Annaghmore also did not marry and had no children, so when he died in 1947, Annaghmore passed to his nephew, Donal, eldest son of his brother, Frederick William O’Hara (1875-1949).
Charles Kean O’Hara had many brothers and sisters. His sister Charlotte Jane O’Hara married Alexander Perceval of Temple House, County Sligo, another section 482 property which unfortunately we did not visit on this trip to Sligo. Charles Kean’s brother Richard Edward had meanwhile purchased Newpark, another section 482 property which we visited. Another brother, Alexander, moved to the United States. Although his brother Frederick was not the next eldest, his son inherited Annaghmore because his older brother, Richard Edward, only had a daughter. As we were told when we visited Newpark, if Richard Edward’s daughter had been a son instead, that child would have inherited Annaghmore!
Arthur Cooper O’Hara (1862-1934) also did not have any children, so Coopershill passed to his nephew, Francis Cooper O’Hara (1906-1982), second son of his brother Frederick. Francis had married an English woman, Joan Bridgeman, during his career of tea planting in India. After his father’s death in 1947, Frank and Joan moved to Coopershill to start a new life in agriculture.
The front hall has decorative plasterwork and carved door surrounds, with two doorcases on either side and one leading to the stair hall, with niches on either side. There is a nice contrast in the yellow of the walls, darker in the niches and plasterwork for emphasis. The hall features a large portrait of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641). From 1632 to 1640 he was Lord Deputy of Ireland. He was a loyal supporter of King Charles I and was condemned to death by the Parliament and like Charles I himself, executed. He is not to be confused with the later Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford of a later creation (1672-1739) whose daughter Anne married William James Conolly, father of Thomas Conolly of Castletown, County Kildare.
After Frank and Joan’s family of six children had grown up, they began to take paying guests into their home. The website tells us some families came year after year for the childrens’ riding as the stables had several ponies. Frank died in 1982, and Joan continued for another four years on her own, joining a growing group of owners of large manor houses from all over Ireland who could only keep their houses in shape with the aid of income generated by taking paying guests.
Frank and Joan’s son Brian Cooper O’Hara and his wife Lindy took over the Country House Hotel in early 1987, and continued until their retirement in 2007. They now live in a new stone house beside the stables and their son Simon lives in Coopershill continues the business.
The dining room contains portraits of the ancestors, and the house has the original fireplaces. The room has a simple decorative cornice.
We then entered the Drawing Room, painted a bold turquoise. It too has a decorative cornice, tall windows with shutters and a marble fireplace.
The Historic Houses of Ireland entry about Coopershill points out that the service staircase is of stone but the principal staircase is constructed from timber in a reversal of the usual fashion. There is good decorative plasterwork of the 1770s in the reception rooms and especially over the main staircase.
The staircase hall has another niche, and portraits of William and Mary hang either side of the door. It’s unusual to have the Royalist Wentworth as well as William and Mary – Stephen says the family are keeping in with both sides! (normally a monarchist supporter of Charles I would be a supporter of King James II, who was overthrown by William). In fact the O’Hara ancestor, Kean O’Hara, was careful to keep in with both the Jacobites and the Williamites.
There are not only pikes, but many other souvenirs from battles and travels.
Upstairs are the bedrooms, available for accommodation. All are en suite and several have canopied beds. You can see photographs of all of the bedrooms on the website.
We continued on up the stairs to the third storey.
After our tour upstairs, Simon took us down to the basement. Here he showed us some wonderful leather ammunition pouches that must be very old as they bear the initials of Arthur Brooke Cooper.
He also showed us the laundry, which still contains an beautiful old washing unit as well as the new ones. There is also a working, certified abbatoir, for processing the deer in the deer park for venison, which can be purchased (along with Coopershill honey, from their own bees).
We went outside after our tour to take a quick look around the stables and gardens.
 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.
 FitzGerald, Desmond, “Francis Bindon (c. 1690-1765) His Life and Works,” Quarterly Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society April-Sept 1967.
Listed Open Dates in 2021 but check in advance: March 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, May 10-16, 24-27, 31, June 1-17, Aug 14-22, Sept 7-8, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student/group €5
We visited Newpark House during Heritage Week, when we went on holidays to Sligo. We were delighted to discover that the owner, Christopher, is a cousin of Durcan O’Hara, with whom we were staying at Annaghmore in nearby Collooney.
Burke’s A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland tells us that Newpark was built for Robert King Duke (1770-1836), Justice of the Peace and Deputy Governor of Sligo, but the Historic Houses of Ireland website points out that he was only a boy of ten in 1780 when the house was built, so it was probably built for his father Robert (1732-1792). The Duke family descends from John Duke, who came to Sligo at the time of Oliver Cromwell and was granted land in Sligo in 1662. One can still see traces of their presence in the decorative plasterwork in the house. 
In 1910, the In 1910, the Duke family left Newpark, and it was purchased by Richard O’Hara, a younger son from nearby Annaghmore and Coopershill.
The house may have been designed by John Roberts of Waterford, who also may have designed Enniscoe in County Mayo, another house we visited during Heritage Week .
The house has a main rectangular block of three bays and two storeys, with a basement and dormer attic, built in 1780. The house was extended in the 1870s and lost some of its original features, but the original staircase remains.
A two-bay two-storey over basement wing was added around 1920.
The house is lime rendered with a tripartite entrance: a round-headed door-case flanked by narrow rectangular sidelights. There is another door in the front in the newer section of the house.
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that architect and writer Jeremy Williams observed of Newtown: “What strikes one is the harmony of the whole ensemble. Entrance gates and lodge, lime avenue, house, carriage-house, farm yard and partly walled demesne are all proportionate to each other and reveal the unpretentious lifestyle of a typical west of Ireland squireen, a rare survival today.”
The gate lodge is available for hired accommodation. 
Robert Duke (1732-1792) of Newtown married Lucinda Parke, daughter of William Parke of Dunally, County Sligo. The Parkes of Dunally were a branch of the Parkes who owned Parkes Castle in County Leitrim, which we also visited during Heritage Week.
Robert King Duke (1770-1836) also married a Parke from Dunally, Anne. Newpark passed down through the family and it must have been his great-grandson, Roger Philip Duke (1874-1944), who sold Newpark.
Richard Edward O’Hara (1863-1948) who purchased Newpark in 1913 was the son of Charles William Cooper (1817-1898) of Coopershill, who took the name O’Hara when he inherited Annaghmore from his uncle, Charles King O’Hara (1784-1860) (the “King” may have been from Charles King O’Hara’s mother’s mother, whose maiden name was King). Charles William Cooper O’Hara married Anne Charlotte Streatfield, a wealthy heiress, and they lived in Annaghmore. They had many children, one of whom, Richard Edward O’Hara (1863-1948), purchased Newpark. He moved to Queensland, Australia, where he farmed, and married Ethel Fisken in 1911. They returned to live in Ireland and he purchased Newpark.
They had a daughter, Sheela, who married Finlay Kitchin, grandfather of the current owner, Christopher. Christopher’s parents moved out of Newpark only a few years ago to a house built on the property, yielding the house to their son and his wife, Dorothy-Ellen. Our week took a serendipitous turn when we learned that Dorothy-Ellen is the daughter of Mary White of The Old Rectory, Killedmond in Carlow, where we were going to be staying later that week! 
Dorothy and Christopher had arranged for a special event for Heritage Week, so Stephen and I purchased tickets for this: a nature talk and walk by Michael Bell of Naturelearn . Christopher told us that the house would be open to visitors during the event.
Christopher greeted us and was kind enough to take time from his busy preparations for the Heritage Week event to give us a tour of the house. He pointed out that the geometrical plan is most unusual, and reminded the architectural historian Maurice Craig of a swastika, with four principal rooms of unequal size arranged around a small central hall. Another Section 482 property, Oakfield Park in County Donegal, also has this arrangement.
The drawing room also has fine stucco work, with garlands and flowers and urns.
Above the fireplace the frieze of plasterwork has a shield with the arms of the Duke family, a chevron between three terns. The frieze also features the crest of the Dukes, a sword plunged in a plume of nine ostrich feathers. Robert O’Byrne points out that there is a cornet with plumes rising from it, and that this may represent the coat of arms of Lucinda Parke, wife of Robert Duke. 
The other main reception room is the dining room.
Dorothy-Ellen took us downstairs to show us the basement, and the room in which she is creating a museum of the old things from the house.
Dorothy and Christopher have converted their barns into a beautiful event space which they call the Juniper Barn.  They run it according to eco-conscious principals very like those of Dorothy-Ellen’s mother, a former Green party TD. We headed over to the barns to attend the nature talk.
I was even impressed by the “decor” of the bathroom in the outbuildings, and especially like the stirrup incorporated into the chain of the cistern.
We then headed back to see the gardens around the house, including the herb garden and walled garden.
Listed open dates in 2022 but check in advance: April 1-Oct 31
Garden, April 1-Oct 31, weekdays 10am-5.30pm, weekends 1.30pm-5.30pm
Fee: garden & heritage centre adult €8, OAP €6, child/student €3, family 2 adults and 2 children €15
We visited Enniscoe House in August, during Heritage Week. I was delighted that the owner, Susan Kellett, had heard of and likes my website! She gave us a lovely tour of her home, which she also runs as an upmarket guest house. One can stay in the beautiful bedrooms in the house where breakfast is provided and dinner is also an option, or in self-catering accommodation in converted stables.
Enniscoe house is a two storey house with a five bay entrance front, with a central window in the upper storey above the pedimented tripartite doorway. The doorway has Doric columns and pilasters, and sidelights. The side elevation has five bays. 
Susan’s father inherited the property from his cousin, Mervyn Pratt (1873-1950). Mervyn’s grandfather, another Mervyn Pratt (1807-1890) married Madeline Eglantine Jackson, heiress, from Enniscoe. We came across Mervyn Pratt before, when we visited Cabra Castle. 
Mervyn and Madeline Eglantine’s daughter Louisa Catherine Hannah Pratt, the sister of Joseph, the second Mervyn’s father, married Thomas Rothwell from Rockfield, County Meath (which is currently for sale for €1.75 million ), and Susan’s father was their descendant. 
An informative booklet about Enniscoe which Susan gave me tells us that in ancient times, there was a castle at “Inniscoe,” one of the chief residences of the Kings of Hy-Fiachrach (who claimed descent from Fiachrae, brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages). The booklet tells us that traces of early earthworks can still be found. “Innis Cua” means the island of the hound. The O’Dowda, a Hy-Fiachrach family, ruled in the area and were famous for their greyhounds, which probably led to the Anglicised name Enniscoe. From the time of the Normans coming to Ireland, the land was fought over by the Bourkes, Barretts, Lynotts and Cusacks, and eventually owned by the Bourkes. At one stage Theobald Bourke, “Tibbot ne Long” (Theobald of the Ships), 1st Viscount of Mayo (1567-1629) owned the land around Enniscoe.
The information booklet tells us that the Patent Rolls of James I state that Enniscoe was possessed by the sons of John McOliverus Bourke in 1603 (this Patent Roll sounds like a great source of information! Copies are available in the National Library, and the information is gathered from 1603-1619). In the Strafford Inquisition of 1625, which gathered information about the landowners of County Mayo for Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford (who had plans for a Plantation), Richard Roe Bourke was recorded as having one third of the castle, town and lands of Enniscoe, and Thomas Roe Bourke had the other two thirds.
By 1641, the Bourkes no longer lived at Enniscoe. Susan’s booklet tells us that a Roger William Palmer owned the lands at one point – perhaps related to Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine (1634-1705), who was married to Barbara Villiers, who later became a favourite of King Charles II.
In the 1660s, a soldier in Cromwell’s army, Francis Jackson, was granted the lands at Enniscoe. This was confirmed by Charles II in 1669. He settled down to live in Ireland and to farm the land.
In the mid-eighteenth century George Jackson (1717-1789), great grandson of Francis, built a large farmhouse, using stones of the old castle of “Inniscoe” and oak trees recovered from nearby bogland. This house was a tall single gabled building of five bays, and it has been incorporated into the current house – Susan pointed out to us where the newer house joins to the old. George married Jane Cuffe, daughter of James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, County Mayo, and sister of James, the 1st and last Baron Tyrawley of County Mayo [of the second creation – the first creation of Baron Tyrawley was for Charles O’Hara in 1706].
George Jackson’s son, George “Two” (as he is called by the family) (1761-1805), became a Member of Parliament for County Mayo in the Irish House of Commons, with the aid of Baron Tyrawley.
George Two expanded the house into what it is today. The old house was three storey but the new front was two storey. He built on two large reception rooms and a grand staircase. The architect Jeremy Williams attributes the design of the enlargement of the house to John Roberts (1712-1796) of Waterford, who also designed Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford, and may have built Moore Hall in County Mayo.  The stucco work in the Stairway Hall is similar to some in Deel Castle done in the 1790s, which is situated across the lake from Enniscoe, for James Cuffe, Baron Tyrawley.
James Cuffe bought the life interest of Deel Castle, which had also originally been a Bourke castle, from his uncle (the brother of his mother, Elizabeth Gore) Arthur Gore, 1st Earl of Arran. James Cuffe built a new house a short distance from the castle. Deel Castle reverted to the Earls of Arran after James Cuffe’s death, but is now a ruin, and the house was burnt in 1921 and not rebuilt. David Hicks has written about Deel Castle and the neighbouring house, Castle Gore, on his website. 
The large entrance hall of Enniscoe has a frieze of foliage, and Adamesque decoration in the centre of the ceiling.
The portrait in the Front Hall of the man in wonderful frilled pantaloons is an ancestor, Sir Audley Mervyn (about 1603-1675), Speaker in the Irish House of Commons. His parents Henry Mervyn and Christian Touchet purchased lands in County County Tyrone from Mervyn Touchet, the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven, which Audley Mervyn (who was named after the Touchet estate in Staffordshire, Audley) inherited.  The heads of Indian deer were shot by the brothers Audley and Mervyn Pratt while fighting with the British army in the early 1900s. The carved hall chairs picture the Bourke family crest of a chained cat; Susan’s mother was a Bourke from Heathfield House, Ballycastle, County Mayo.  The pike was caught in Lough Conn in 1896 and weighs 37 lbs!
The front hall leads into the staircase hall, which is built on the exterior wall of the old house. The staircase hall has a frieze of urns and foliage and a glazed dome surrounded by foliage and oval medallions of classical figures.
One can see the division between older original house and the newer part clearly. Behind the staircase hall is a lobby with a delicate interior fanlight opening onto the staircase of the earlier house.
The Rising of 1798, which had been inspired by the French Revolution, came to Enniscoe, in the form of French soldiers under General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert, who landed at Killala in County Mayo on August 23, 1798. George Jackson was a Colonel in the North Mayo Militia and so would have opposed the 1798 Rebellion and the incoming French troops – although he was stationed further south as militia regiments were never stationed in their own county. The French soldiers stopped at the house at Enniscoe and Susan told us that the troops drank his wine, later declaring that it was “the only good wine in Ireland”! The scaffolding from the enlargement of the house was still lying in front of the house when the troops arrived and they used it for firewood for their campfire. George’s regiment were summoned back from the south, and Colonel Jackson was made Military Governor of the Crossmolina area. He was responsible for killing or imprisoning many of the defeated rebels in the surrounding countryside, and it is said that he lined the road from Crossmolina to Gortnor Abbey with severed heads on pikes. General Humbert and his troops were defeated by the British Army in the Battle of Ballinamuck. 
One result of the 1798 Rebellion was that the Irish Parliament was abolished by the Act of Union in 1800, which was supported by George Jackson. George was promoted to Colonel of the Carabineers, a dragoon in the British Army, and the position was inherited by his son, William.
William married Jane Louise Blair, daughter of Colonel William Blair of Scotland, and moved to England, and died young. He died in 1822 and his wife predeceased him in 1817 so their only daughter, Madeline Eglantine Jackson, was left an orphan at the age of six. She was raised by her aunt at Stephenstown in County Louth. Her mother’s sister was Catherine Eglantine Blair, who married Matthew Fortescue, whose father had built Stephenstown. They arranged a good marriage for Madeline when she turned 18, to a cousin of the family, Mervyn Pratt of Cabra Castle. They married in 1834.
Madeline and Mervyn settled in Enniscoe and Mervyn had the estate surveyed in order to set to work on an enormous scheme of draining land and building roads. The booklet Susan gave me tells us that during the famine, the Pratts did their best for those in the area and they gained a reputation for good management and fairness.
There are two large reception rooms on the ground floor, as well as the dining room.
Madeline and Mervyn had five children. Their only son Joseph joined the army and served in India, and when he came home, took over the running of Enniscoe. He married his cousin Ina Hamilton of Cornacassa, County Monaghan (this house has been partly demolished. It was built around 1800 for Dacre Hamilton). 
Joseph Pratt was one of the first landlords to start selling his land to his tenants under the Wyndham Land Acts of 1903. Joseph and Ina did much to improve their estate, farming and creating the garden within the old walled garden. The Heritage Centre gives us an idea of what life on the farm was like for both the home owners and the many people employed on the estate.
Joseph’s elder son Mervyn was injured in the wars and the younger Audley was killed in the First World War. The Heritage Centre located in the walled garden at Enniscoe displays a hippo skull which Audley brought home from Africa when he fought in the Boer War (1899-1902).
Major Mervyn lived all his life in Enniscoe, and was particularly interested in gardening and fishing. His rock garden and greenhouses were well-known. He never married, and left Enniscoe to his cousin Jack Nicholson, Susan’s father (Jack was a great-grandson of Madeline Jackson). Mervyn did not spend much time in Cabra Castle in County Cavan which he also inherited, and he left it to another cousin, Mervyn Sheppard.
Jack Nicholson married Patita Bourke, daughter of Captain Bertrim Bourke of Heathfield, County Mayo. In his blog, David Hicks tells us that Heathfield was purchased by the Land Commission and the family were allocated a farm at Beauparc, County Meath. He adds that former President of Ireland Mary Robinson was from the Bourke family of Heathfield.
Jack was a Professor of Veterinary Medicine, so I felt a bond with Susan, as my father, Desmond Baggot, was also a Professor of Veterinary Medicine! Jack was head of the Veterinary College of Ireland, so perhaps their paths crossed as my father was studying there at the time of my birth, before we moved to the United States where my father did his PhD in Ohio State University. Jack died in 1972 and Enniscoe house and lands passed to his children. In 1984 Susan Kellett took over the property from her brother.
The house is full of Patita’s creative and sometimes cheeky paintings.
The dining room was originally the library. The side nook was created by Susan’s parents. It has a simple early nineteenth century cornice of reeding and acanthus leaves.
Next we went up to the bedrooms. Susan’s son DJ and his wife Colette help to run the guest house. The main bedrooms open off the oval top-lit landing. They are classically proportioned large rooms with canopy or four poster beds, all with en suite bathrooms.
The bedrooms are on slightly different levels, since the newer part is of two storeys built on to the original three storey.
After our wonderful tour, we headed over to the walled garden and the North Mayo Heritage Centre, which also provides a genealogy service.  It is a member of the Irish Family History Foundation, which provides a country wide service through the website RootsIreland. North Mayo Heritage Centre covers the northern half of County Mayo, and the Centre in Ballinrobe covers the southern half.
There is mature woodland around Enniscoe that supports a diversity of plant, insect and animal species.
The walled garden was restored in 1996-9 under the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme. The head gardener at Enniscoe from 1872 to 1912 was William Gray, who moved to Enniscoe from St. Anne’s in Clontarf, where he had worked on Benjamin Lee Guinness’s estate. Much of the present ornamental garden is much as it was in William’s day.
 p. 151. Great Irish Houses. Forward by Desmond FitzGerald and Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008.
 Guy Beiner’s book entitled Remembering the Year of the French (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007) discusses folk history and how this French incursion and the 1798 Rebellion in Mayo is remembered.
During Heritage Week in 2021, Stephen and I went to County Sligo. We stayed in wonderful B&B accommodation in a historic house, Annaghmore, near Collooney, owned by the O’Haras, who have owned the estate in County Sligo for centuries.
We learned that the O’Haras and the Coopers, who own Coopershill, another section 482 property which we visited during Heritage Week, are related, and Coopers also owned Markree Castle until very recently. In 1989, Charles Cooper, having worked in the hotel business all his life, came back to Markree to renovate the castle and run it as a hotel. In 2015, the Corscadden family purchased the castle and undertook further renovations. This is the same Corscadden family who own Cabra Castle in County Cavan, who so generously upgraded Stephen and me to the honeymoon suite when we stayed! The Corscaddens also own Ballyseede Castle hotel in Tralee, County Kerry (also section 482) and Bellingham Castle in County Louth, which is available as a venue for weddings and events, with accommodation. Unfortunately Markree Castle is too expensive for us to stay in, except perhaps as a very luxurious treat, but I contacted the hotel and we made a date for my visit. When we arrived, however, we were told that they were in the middle of an event and we were asked to return in an hour or two. We took the time to explore the outside, although we were unable to access the gardens, which seem to be only accessible through the castle.
We wandered across the Unsin River to the stable complex, which has also been renovated for rental accommodation. We learned later that this accommodation is not part of Markree Castle hotel. In Mark Bence-Jones’s entry in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (published in 1988), he writes in the supplement that Edward Cooper and his wife moved into a new Georgian style house in the yard. The stables are now called Markree Homefarm Apartments and are available for rental accommodation. 
The castle replaced an earlier residence, which the Landed Estates website of National University of Ireland Galway tells us was called Mercury.  The first Cooper to own the property was Edward Cooper (died 1676), an officer in Lord Collooney Richard Coote’s regiment in Oliver Cromwell’s army. He was given the land at Markree, previously owned by the McDonaghs, as payment for his soldiering. He married the widow of an O’Brien killed by Cromwell’s army. She was called Mary “Rua” (Red Mary), and she probably married Cooper in order to protect her sons from the Cromwellians. According to the history board outside the castle, Red Mary and Edward Cooper lived first in Luimneach Castle (Luimneach is the Irish for Limerick), which one of her sons inherited, while the other inherited Markree. In his online blog, Patrick Comerford identifies Mary Rua’s husband as Conor O’Brien, and writes that it was Dromoland Castle that Mary Rua’s son inherited.  In the family tree on the information boards, Edward Cooper also married Margaret Mahon, from County Roscommon. This accords with The Peerage website, but according to that website, Arthur, Edward’s son who inherited Markree, was Margaret Mahon’s son and not the son of Red Mary. According to The Peerage, Edward’s son Richard lived in Knocklong, County Limerick. 
During the Williamite wars at the end of the 17th century, Markree Castle was occupied by the army of James II. The Coopers returned after William III’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
The Coopers intermarried with other prominent local families, including the Cootes, Wynnes and Synges, and by the 1720s, Joshua Cooper (1694-1757) was one of the largest landowners in Co Sligo, with over 40,000 acres.
Arthur Cooper, who inherited Markree from his father Edward who fought in Cromwell’s army, had a daughter named Anne who married John Perceval (1700-1743) of Temple House in County Sligo, another Section 482 property, which unfortunately we did not get to visit this year. I hope to be able to visit next year! In 1881 Alexander Perceval of Temple House married Charlotte Jane O’Hara of Annaghmore, so the owners of our accommodation are cousins of the owners of Temple House. Furthermore, we visited two other Section 482 properties in Sligo during Heritage Week: Coopershill and Newpark, both of which are also owned by cousins of the O’Haras of Annaghmore!
It was Arthur’s great-great-grandson Joshua Edward Cooper (about 1759-1837) who built the castle in 1802 around an earlier structure. Arthur’s son Joshua (1694-1757) married Mary Bingham from Newbrook, County Mayo. His son, another Joshua (1730-1800), was MP for County Sligo and opposed the Act of Union, which abolished the Irish Parliament, so that Ireland was run by the Parliament in London. He married Alicia Synge, daughter and heiress of Edward Synge, Bishop of Elphin, and she brought him a large fortune. 
His son Joshua Edward Cooper (about 1759-1837) was also MP for County Sligo in the Irish House of Commons, and after the Act of Union he sat in the House of Commons in London until 1806. According to the Dictionary of Irish Biography, he replaced Catholic leaseholders with Protestants to acquire more voting power, which caused considerable resentment and which may have been the reason that his house was sacked in 1798 during the Rebellion. This may be why he commissioned Francis Johnston to enlarge Markree in 1802, to make it into a castle – it may have needed repair. We came across the work of Francis Johnston (1760-1829) when we visited Rokeby in County Louth. Johnston had been a pupil of the architect Thomas Cooley. At the time when he was commissioned by Joshua Edward Cooper, Johnston had been working on Townley Hall in County Louth, which I was lucky enough to visit recently during the annual Adams auction viewing that is held in the house. It has an amazing staircase and domed rotunda.
Johnston also Gothicized Tullynally Castle in County Westmeath, 1801-1806, and enlarged Killeen Castle in County Meath 1802-1813. He also designed Ballynegall House (1808-1816) in County Westmeath, sadly now just a ruin, and Ballycurry House, County Wicklow (1807), along with many ecclesiastical and civic buildings, including the General Post Office on O’Connell Street in Dublin, in 1814.
The castle is a stone twelve-bay, three-storey over raised basement mansion which contains parts of earlier houses.  The bays are easier to count at the back (i.e. the garden front) of the castle. According to Mark Bence-Jones, the original seventeenth century house was rebuilt in the eighteenth century as a three storey block, with a five bay front and a three bay breakfront, and a garden front of one bay on either side of a curved bow. The castle was enlarged in 1802 to a design by Francis Johnston, and then in 1866 enlarged again, to a design by James Maitland Wardrop of Edinburgh. I found it impossible to work out what part of the castle was built when, so I defer to Mark Bence-Jones:
In 1802, Joshua Cooper commissioned Francis Johnston toenlarge this house and transform it into a castle of the early, symmetrical kind. Johnston extended the front of the house to more than twice its original length to form a new garden front with a central curved and Irish battlemented tower; the end bay of the original front and the corresponding bay at the end of Johnston’s addition being raised to give the impression of square corner-towers. The entrance was in the adjoining front, where Johnston added a porch; the garden front, with its bow, was not altered as far as its plan went; but an office wing was built at one side of it, joined to it by a canted link. In 1866, the castle was further enlarged and remodelled by Lt-Col. E.H. Cooper, MP, to the design of Wardrop, of Edinburgh. The garden front bow was replaced by a massive battlemented and machiocolated square tower, increasing the side of the dining room; a new entrance was made at this side of the castle, under a porte-cochere at the end of a 2 storey wing with Gothic windows which was built jutting out from this front. Johnston’s porch was replaced by a 2 storey battlemented oriel, and mullioned windows to match were put in on this and the new entrance front. A Gothic chapel was built where Johnston’s office wing had been. 
One enters through the arched doorway in the battlemented vaulted stone portico. The doorway leads to a straight flight of stone stairs leading up to the main floor, under an impressive vaulted ceiling.
Joshua Edward Cooper (1761-1837) became unwell and his brother Edward Synge Cooper (1762-1830) took over the running of the estate in Sligo and became MP for County Sligo in 1806. Joshua Edward Cooper and his wife Elizabeth Lindsay, daughter of Robert Lindsay, MP, from County Tyrone, had no children, so Edward Synge Cooper’s son, Edward Joshua Cooper (1798-1863), inherited Markree when Joshua Edward Cooper died in 1837. As well as serving in the House of Commons in the UK, Edward Joshua Cooper was an astronomer, who created Markree Observatory. He was influenced by childhood visits to the Armagh Observatory.
Edward Joshua Cooper (1798-1863) had no son, only daughters, so his nephew Edward Henry Cooper (1827-1902), son of his brother Richard Wordsworth Cooper (1801-1850), inherited Markree. When he inherited, he then put his stamp on the castle by having it further enlarged (the Wardrop enlargement).
Wardrop also added the Gothic chapel.
At the top of the vaulted entrance staircase one can go through to the main reception, or to the left, to the chapel.
Edward Henry Cooper (1827-1902) was an Irish officer in the British Army, and a Conservative politician in the House of Commons in the UK. He was defeated in the 1868 election by the Liberal candidate Denis Maurice O’Conor from Clonalis in County Roscommon (another section 482 property still owned by its original family). When he died, Markree was inherited by his grandson Bryan Ricco Cooper (1884-1930), who was born in Simla in India. He was an MP for South Country Dublin (1910) at Westminster, and was involved in the Gallipoli landings during World War I. During the Irish Civil War in the 1920s, Markree Castle was occupied briefly by the Irish Free State army. Bryan Ricco Cooper was elected to Dail Eireann after Independence. He sold much of the estate’s land but continued to live at Markree.
The Castle stood empty and derelict for several years after World War II, and featured on the front cover of The Vanishing Country Houses of Ireland in 1988, illustrating the decay of many great houses at the time. Charles Philip Cooper, a grandson of Bryan Ricco, who had worked in the hotel industry, converted Markree into a hotel in 1989.
The reception hall is surrounded by a carved wooden gallery and contains a Victorian double staircase of oak, lit by a heraldic stained glass window illustrating the family tree with portraits of ancestors and monarchs.
According to Mark Bence-Jones, the great top-lit galleried hall with a timbered roof is located where Johnston’s staircase used to be.
It was hard to capture it all in photographs, there were so many details!
A long library divided by pairs of grey marble Ionic columns has been formed out of Johnston’s entrance.
The large drawing room in Johnston’s round-faced tower in the middle of the garden front, and the ante-room adjoining it, which are now the dining room, were redecorated between 1837 and 1863 by Edward Joshua Cooper, MP, in an ornate Louis Quatorze style, with much gilding and “well-fed” putti in high relief supporting cartouches and trailing swags of flowers and fruits.
Unfortunately nobody could explain the fabric of the building and its stages of renovation and enlargement and the manager was unable to identify the portraits on the walls. However, we asked to see inside a bedroom, and were taken down to the basement to see the honeymoon suite. The basement is the oldest part of the castle.
 p. 201. 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.
The list of properties for 2021 has finally been published! Here it is – not too different from last year, though there are a few new places, and a few have been removed since last year.
List of approved buildings/gardens open to the public in 2021
Section 482 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997
Due to COVID restrictions properties may not be open as advertised, please check with the property owner before arranging a visit to any of the properties listed.
Borris, Co. Carlow Morgan Kavanagh Tel: 087-2454791 www.borrishouse.com Open: Feb 2-7, 9-14, 16-21, 27-28, June 1-3, 8-10, 15-16, 22-24, 29-30, July 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-21, 27-29, Aug 3-5, 10-12, 14-22, 24-26, 31, Sept 1-2, 12 noon -5pm Fee: adult €10, child €5, OAP/student €8,
Clonegal, Co. Carlow Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford Alexander Durdin Robertson Tel: 053-9377160 www.huntingtoncastle.com
Open: Feb 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Mar 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Apr 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16- 17, 23-24, Nov 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Dec 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 11am-5pm Fee: house/garden, adult/student €9, garden only €6, OAP house/garden €8, garden only €5, child house /garden €6, garden only €3, group and family discounts available
The Old Rectory
Killedmond, Borris, Co. Carlow. Mary White Tel: 087-2707189
Open: Jan 4-May 31, Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon-Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 17 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Fee: Free
Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork Gerald McGreal Tel: 087-2400831 Open: Mar 1-12, May 4-31, June 1-3, 14-25, July 17-18, 31, Aug 14-22, Wednesdays 2pm-6pm, Tues, weekends & National Heritage Week, 8am-12 noon
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3
Bantry House & Garden
Bantry, Co. Cork Julie Shelswell-White Tel: 027-50047 www.bantryhouse.com Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €11, OAP/student €8.50, child €6, groups over 8-20, €8 per person, groups 21+ €7 per person
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
Blarney House & Gardens
Blarney, Co. Cork C. Colthurst Tel 021- 4385252 www.blarneycastle.ie Open: June 1- Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 10am-3pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €7, concession joint with castle
Open: May 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, June 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, July 1-3, 5-9, 12-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-22, 26-28, 30-31, Sept 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-30, 2pm- 6pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 10 years €2, over 10 years €3
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, 11am-7pm 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, Wed-Fri 9.30am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm, Sat, Mon, Tue, 9.30-7pm
11 North Great George’s Street
Dublin 1 John Aboud Tel: 087-7983099 www.number11dublin.ie Open: March 8-13, May 10-15, June 7-12, July 5-10, Aug 2-7, 14-22, Sept 6-12, Oct 4-9, Nov 8-11,15-18, 1pm-5 pm Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free under 12years
81 North King Street
Smithfield, Dublin 7 James Kelly Tel: 086-8597275 Open: Apr 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-30, May 1, June 1-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26, 28- 30, July 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-28, 30-31, Mon-Fri, 9am- 4.30pm, Sat, 12.30pm-4.30pm
The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)
59 South William Street, Dublin 2 Mary Larkin Tel: 01-6717000 www.powerscourtcentre.ie 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
10 South Frederick Street
Dublin 2 Joe Hogan Tel: 087-2430334 Open: Jan 1-24, May 1, 3-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-27, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free
Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1 Ann French Tel: 087-2245726 www.thechurch.ie
Open: Feb 6-9, Mar 6-9, Apr 6-9, May 1-8, June 1-8, July 1-8, August 14-22, Sept 1- 8, Nov 6-9, Dec 6-9, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €6, child/OAP/student €3
Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin Lynne Savage Jones Tel: 087-2206222 Open: Apr 12-18, May 6-28, June 10-12, Aug 14-27, Nov 1-13, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free
2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 Philip Harvey Tel: Philip, 087-2463865, Paul, 086-3694379 www.fahanmura.ie Open: March 15-28, Apr 5-10, May 6-14, June 14-20, July 5-10, Aug 14-22, Sept 11- 19, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free
Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin David Doran Tel: 086-3821304 Open: Feb 13-22, March 20-29, May 1-3, 10-16, June 18-27, Aug 14-23, Sept 18-27, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5
Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin Gráinne Casey Tel: 01-2804884 Open: Jan 28-29, Feb 1-5, 8-12, 15-22, May 4-31, Aug 14-22, Sept 1-3, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free
Delvin Bridge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin Richard Berney Tel: 087-2847797 Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-29, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP/child/student €5
The Old Glebe
Upper Main Street, Newcastle, Co. Dublin Hugh F. Kerins, Martin Connelly Tel: Frank 087-2588356, Martin 087-6686996 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Mon- Sat, Aug 14-22, 10am-2pm, 4 tours daily during National Heritage Week, 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, tour approx. 45 minutes
Fee: Free, voluntary contributions only in 2021 due to Covid-19. Proceeds to charity
Portrane, Co. Dublin Terry Prone Tel: 01-6449700 Open: March 6-Sept 26, Sat & Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, student €4, OAP €1
Westminister Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18, Ruth O’Herlihy, Tel: 087-2163623 Open: Jan 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29, May 1, 4-8, 10-11, 17-22, June 8-12, 14-19, 21- 26, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student €2
Very Top of Primrose Lane, Lucan, Co. Dublin Robin Hall Tel: 01-6280373 Open: Feb 1-28, June 1-30, July 1-23, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP €6, child free
St. George’s Avenue, Killiney, Co. Dublin
Robert McQuillan Tel: 087-2567718 Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm
Open: Jan 14-17, 23-24, 28-29, Feb 4-7, 11-12, 19-21, 26-28, May 3-13,16, 18-20, 23-27, June 2-4, 8-10, 14-16, 19-20, Aug 14-22, weekdays 2.30pm-6.30pm, weekends 10.30am-2.30pm Fee: adult/OAP €8 student €5, child free, Members of An Taisce the The Irish Georgian Society (with membership card) €5
Open: Feb 1-5, 8-12, Mar 8-12, April 19-23, May 10-14, 17-21, Aug 4-10, 14-29, Sept 4-10, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free
Badgerhill, Kill, Co. Kildare Patricia Orr Tel: 086-2552661 Open: Jan 18-31, Feb 1-6, July 23-31, Aug 1-31, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, (Irish Georgian Society members free)
Ballitore Co Kildare Katharine Bulbulia Tel: 087-2414556 www.griesemounthouse.ie Open: April 19-23, 26-30, May 10-21, 17-21, 24-28, June 16-20, 23-30, July 5-9, 12- 16, 19-23, Aug 14-22, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3
Brannockstown, Co. Kildare Hubert Beaumont Tel: 087-2588775 www.harristownhouse.ie Open: Jan 11-15, 18-22, Feb 8-12, 15-19, May 4-28, June 7-11, Aug 14-22, Sept 6-10, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child €5
Celbridge Village, Co. Kildare June Stuart Tel: 01-6271206, 087-6168651 Open: Jan 1-20, May 18-26, Aug 11-31,10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3, child under 5 years free, school groups €2 per head
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) 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, free two days National Heritage Week
Garden: Mar 18-Sept 30 daily, 10am-5pm, Aug & Sept, 11am-4pm Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €5, child €3.50, group concessions
Moyglare, Co. Meath Postal address Maynooth Co. Kildare Angela Alexander Tel: 086-0537291 www.moyglaremanor.ie Open: Jan 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29, May 1-21, 24-28, 31, June 1-3, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child €5
Slane, Co. Meath Alex Conyngham Tel: 041-9884477 www.slanecastle.ie Open: April 19-29, May 2-20, 23-27, 31, June 1-3, 7-10, Aug 14-22, Sept 29-30, Oct 1-2, 4-7, Sundays 12 noon-5pm, Monday – Saturday 11am-3pm
Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €12.50, child €8.40
St. Mary’s Abbey
High Street, Trim, Co. Meath Peter Higgins Tel: 087-2057176 Open: Jan 25-29, Feb 22-26, Mar 8-12, Apr 12-16, May 24-30, June 21-27, July 19- 25, Aug 14-22, Sept 13-17, 20-24, 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 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3
Kilmessan, Co. Meath Caroline Preston Tel: 086-2577939 Open: Mar 1-2, 4-5, April 5-6, 8-9, May 3-9, June 7-13, July 5-11, Aug 14-22, Sept 13-17, 20-24, Oct 4-5, 7-8, Nov 1-2, 4-5, Dec 6-7, 9-10, 11am-3pm
Open: all year including National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm Fee: Free
Glaslough, Co. Monaghan Samantha Leslie Tel: 047-88091 www.castleleslie.com (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: all year, National Heritage Week, events August 14-22 Fee: Free
Hilton Park House
Clones, Co. Monaghan Fred Madden Tel 047-56007 www.hiltonpark.ie (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April- Sept
House and garden tours available for groups, May, July, Aug, Sept, Monday-Friday, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, June 1-4, 10-14, 17-21, 24-29, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €6, child free
Castlerea, Co. Roscommon Pyers O’Conor Nash Tel: 094-9620014, 087-3371667 (Tourist Accommodation Facility) April 1-October 1 www.clonalis.com Open: Jun 1-Aug 31, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 11am-5pm, last tour 3.45pm, tours by appointment Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €8, child €5, under 7 years free, group rates can be arranged
Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon Eimear Dowd Tel: 090-6637369
Open: June 8-23, 29-30, July 1-16, 19-29, Aug 1-27, 29-31, Sept 1-2, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5
Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary
Richard & Josephine Fahey
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: May 1-Oct 31
Clonmel, Co. Tipperary Jim Gilligan Tel: 086-2539187 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 14-22, 12 noon-4pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €3, child free
Co. Waterford Postal address: Glendine, Youghal, Co. Cork
Katherine Gordon Tel: 086-1701832 www.ballynatray.com Open: April 1-Sept 30, 12 noon- 4pm Fee: adult €6, child OAP/student €3
Cappagh House (Old and New)
Cappagh Dungarvan Co Waterford Charles and Claire Chavasse Tel: 087-8290860, 086-8387420 www.cappaghhouse.ie Open: April, June, & August, Wednesday & Thursday, May & September Wednesday Thursday & Saturday, National Heritage Week, August 14-22, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult/OAP/student/€5, child under 12 free
Cappoquin House & Gardens
Cappoquin, Co. Waterford Sir Charles Keane Tel: 058-54290, July 087-6704180 www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com Open: July 20-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-28, 30, Sept 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-30, 9am-1pm Gardens open all year, 9am-6pm, closed Sundays Fee: house/garden €15, garden only €6
Portlaw, Co. Waterford Vanessa Behal Tel: 051-387101 www.curraghmorehouse.ie Open: May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Thurs-Sun and Bank Holidays, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22,10am-4pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student, house/garden/shell house tour €20, house €15, garden & shell house €12, garden €7, child under12 years free
Cappoquin, Co. Waterford Barbara Grubb Tel: 086-8186305 www.dromanahouse.com Open: May 1-8, 22-31, June 1-30, July 1-10, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP/student, house €10, garden: adult/OAP/student €6, child under 12 free, groups of 10 or more house/garden €12, garden €5, house €9,
Salterbridge House & Garden
Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford Philip Wingfield Tel: 086-8223005 www.salterbridgehouseandgarden.com Open: Mar 22-26, Apr 6-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30, May 3-7, 10-31, Aug 14-22, 9am- 1pm
Fee: adult house/garden €10, house or garden only €5, child/student half price, OAP free
Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 9am-6pm, Fee: adult €8.50, garden and house tour €15.50, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, child €3 under 4 years free, garden and house tour €5.50
Newcastle, Co. Wicklow Michelle O’Connor Tel: 087-2505205 Open: May 1-31, Aug 14-22, Sept 1-20, 9am-1pm
Listed Open dates, but check due to Covid-19 restrictions : all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight
Stephen and I visited Cabra Castle in December 2020. I contacted the owner, Howard Corscadden, in advance, to request a tour of the castle. The Corscadden family own several beautiful Irish properties which provide unique castle accommodation. As well as Cabra Castle, they own Markree Castle in County Sligo and Ballyseede Castle in County Kerry, both of which are on the Section 482 list, as well as Bellingham Castle in County Louth. They are all hotels except the latter which is available as a four star venue for weddings and events, with accommodation. Howard’s parents and grandparents were also in the hotel business in Ireland, as are his siblings – Ballyseede is run by his sister Marnie, Castle Bellingham by his brother Patrick and Markree Castle by his sister Patricia. Howard worked in the Waldorf hotel in Switzerland and in Dromoland Castle in Ireland before purchasing Cabra Castle in 1991.  It had been converted to a hotel in 1964 by the local Brennan family. In 1986 it was sold to become a private house once more, but with a change in fortune the family sold to Howard Corscadden.
The early history of the castle is the history of two land-owning families, the Fosters and the Pratts. The building now known as Cabra Castle was originally known as Cormy Castle. At that time, an adjacent property was called “Cabra.” Cormy Castle was named after the townland of Cormy.
In 1795 the land, which contained an old round tower castle called Cormy Castle, belonged to John Thomas Foster (1747-1796), who had been MP for Dunleer, County Louth, and for Ennis, County Clare. The main building of Cormy Castle was in ruins, destroyed during the Cromwellian War, but its adjacent courtyard remained in good repair.
The Foster family owned large amounts of land in County Louth and their family seat was in Dunleer. The family produced many members of the Irish Parliament. John Thomas’s grandfather John Foster (1665-1747) had been MP for Dunleer. His father, Reverend Thomas Foster (1709-1784) was Rector at Dunleer. His uncle Anthony Foster (1705-1778) had also been MP for Dunleer and for County Louth, and was Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and lived at Collon, County Louth.  Anthony’s son John Foster (1740-1828) was Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, created 1st Baron Oriel of Ferrard, and also owned property which is now part of University College Dublin and the adjacent road Foster Avenue is named after him.
Turtle Bunbury tells us that John Thomas Foster’s father Reverend Thomas, the rector of Dunleer, acquired land in County Louth in the 1750s and 1760. He then acquired the 700 acre manor of Killany, County Louth, from 1763 on a series of long leases from the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College Dublin. He purchased Stonehouse, Dunleer, around 1787. 
In 1776 John Thomas Foster married Elizabeth Christina Hervey, daughter of the 4th Earl of Bristol. After the marriage they lived with her father in Suffolk. They had two sons: Frederick Thomas (1777-1853) and Augustus John (1780-1848). 
The marriage of John Thomas and Elizabeth Christina was not a success, and they separated after five years. Foster took the sons, and she did not see them for fourteen years. 
In 1783 John Thomas Foster inherited a property named Rosy Park in Louth from his uncle, John William Foster. In 1820 it was renamed Glyde Park by his son, Augustus.  It is unfortunately now a ruin.
John Thomas died in 1796, when his sons were still minors. They moved back to England to live with their mother, who by this time was living with William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, along with his wife, Georgiana, and had born him two children. A film starring Keira Knightly, “The Duchess,” is based on their story.  She married him in 1809 when his wife died.
Meanwhile, a cousin of John Thomas Foster, Henry Foster (c. 1747-1838), was appointed Trustee and Executor of the property of Cormy. He lived at Cormy Castle while acting as Trustee for his wards. According to Turtle Bunbury, he was a magistrate for Meath, Cavan and Louth. There is a record in the National Library of Ireland of a Grant of Arms to Henry Foster of Cormy Castle from March 13th 1806, when he was about to be created a baronet, but “the creation did not eventuate” (i.e. he was not made baronet). The National Library also has a map of the demesne of Cormy Castle from 1810, named as the seat of Henry Foster. In 1808 he began to rebuild and enlarge the castle. However, he exhausted the personal estate of his wards in doing so, and incurred debts, and the castle and land had to be sold. In about 1813 his wards sold the estate to Colonel Joseph Pratt, who lived on the adjacent property. 
John Thomas Foster’s son Frederick Thomas Foster may have remained in England, as he served as MP for Bury St. Edwards between 1812 and 1818. His brother Augustus John Foster became a politician and diplomat. Between roughly 1802 and 1804 he was Secretary to the British Legion in Naples. He held the office of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the U.S.A. in 1812. He wrote about his American experiences in Notes on the United States of America.
From 1814-1824 he held the office of Minister Plenipotentiary to Denmark. He was created 1st Baronet Foster of Glyde Court in 1831, and was appointed Privy Counsellor. His final posting was to Turin, in the Kingdom of Sardinia.
Colonel Joseph Pratt, who owned the adjacent Cabra estate, continued the enlargement of Cormy Castle, and the work was completed in 1837. In 1820 he renamed it Cabra Castle. 
Before we examine the development of Cabra Castle, let’s look at the history of the property of Cabra across the road from the current Cabra Castle.
According to the Cabra Castle website, this area belonged to the O’Reilly family. In 1607 Gerald Fleming, who had been granted territory by King James I, built a castle on the property. He lost his lands, however, when he supported James II against William III, and Colonel Thomas Cooch (1632-1699) acquired the property. 
Colonel Thomas Cooch married Elizabeth Mervyn, (sister of Audley Mervyn, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons), and they had an only daughter and heiress, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth’s first husband (Nathaniel Pole, who lived in County Meath) died in 1685, before they had any children, and Elizabeth then married Joseph Pratt, who lived not far off at Garadice, Co. Meath, a property which his father received for his support of Oliver Cromwell.  This marriage (which was also Joseph Pratt’s second) took place in 1686 and a son, Mervyn Pratt, was born in 1687. Joseph Pratt held the office of High Sheriff of County Meath in 1698. He and Elizabeth had several other children.
Colonel Thomas Cooch left his Cabra property to his grandson Mervyn.
Mervyn Pratt was only 12 years old when his grandfather died. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin and married Elizabeth Coote, daughter of Sir Thomas Coote, Judge, of Bellamont, Coote Hill, County Cavan. Mervyn and Elizabeth lived at Cabra near the Wishing Well. He followed in his father’s footsteps and held the office of High Sheriff, but of County Cavan rather than Meath. He was also an MP for County Cavan.
The Fleming castle was modernised by Mervyn Pratt. The new villa may have been designed by Edward Lovett Pearce, who was a cousin of Elizabeth Coote. The Irish Aesthete quotes a visitor to Mervyn Pratt in Cabra:
“On August 25th 1732, the future Mrs Delany (then the merrily widowed Mrs Pendarves) embarked on a journey from Navan, County Meath to Cootehill, County Cavan. She wrote in her journal, ‘travelled through bad roads and a dull, uninhabited country, till we came to Cabaragh, Mr Prat’s house, an old castle modernized, and made very pretty: the master of it is a virtuoso, and discovers whim in all his improvements. The house stands on the side of a high hill; has some tall old trees about it; the gardens are small but neat; there are two little terrace walks, and down in a hollow is a little commodious lodge where Mr Prat lived whilst his house was repairing. But the thing that most pleased me, was a rivulet that tumbles down from rocks in a little glen, full of shrub-wood and trees; here a fine spring joins the river, of the sweetest water in the world.’” 
Mervyn and Elizabeth Pratt had three daughters and one son. Their son Joseph joined the clergy. Reverend Joseph married Elizabeth Chetwood and had five children.
Of the five children of Reverend Joseph Pratt, a daughter Anne married her neighbour Henry Foster the trustee for Cormy Castle.  A son, James Butler Pratt, married a sibling of Henry Foster, Margaret. Another son entered the clergy, Reverend Joseph Pratt (1738-1831).
This second Reverend Joseph Pratt married Sarah Morres, daughter of the 1st Viscount Mountmorres, of Castle Morres, County Kilkenny (which has been demolished). Their son, Colonel Joseph Pratt (1775-1863), purchased Cormy Castle from Henry Foster. Their other son, Hervey Randall Saville Pratt inherited the property of Castle Morres through his mother.
The house at Cabra was destroyed by fire in the 1950s, and is now part of Dun na Ri Forest Park, a lovely place to explore, owned by Coillte. After Joseph Pratt moved to Cormy Castle and created a new seat for his family, his former property became known as Old Cabra. 
Now let us travel back across the road to the former Cormy Castle, now Cabra Castle. Cabra Castle is a mixture of Norman and Gothic styles.
The entrance is in a Norman-style “donjon” or square tower house, with corner turret. The door is in a deeply recessed pointed arch.
The building has two, three and four story sections over a basement. The building, including outbuildings, is castellated, and has several round and square towers.
The windows are of various shape, some with hood mouldings.
A recent creation to one side of the tower is “Mitzi’s garden,” a formal garden with fountain, tribute to the mother of the current generation of Corscaddens, who is nicknamed Mitzi. This area used to be used for parking.
There are statue-filled niches, and a side entrance, up a flight of steps, leads to the recently refurbished ballroom.
The other side of the building has a terrace which contains a seating area outside the bar, which also serves food.
This courtyard looks out to a lawn area that has a giant chess set and places to sit.
The oldest part of the castle can be pinpointed in the aerial view. According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage the “earlier house of c.1750 [is] embedded within northern section of south-east side concealed behind extension of c.1990, junction marked by square-plan rendered turret corresponding to north-west side in simplified form.” This square plan turret actually contains our bathroom!
Beyond Mitzi’s Garden a path leads to the car park and further self-catering accommodation, beyond the tennis court. A branch of this path and driveway curves around to the courtyard at the back of the castle. One can also enter this courtyard through the castle. The courtyard originally contained the stables, but these have been converted into more hotel accommodation. There are about sixty rooms in the courtyard.
Some of the buildings in the courtyard have been newly constructed. My amateur eye cannot distinguish the new from the old.
In the middle of the courtyard is Karl’s Garden, named after a former groundsman.
The Cabra Castle website tells us:
“Colonel Joseph Pratt had married Jamima, daughter of Sir James Tynte [of Tynte Park, County Wicklow – the beautiful house that stands there today wasn’t built until around 1820; Jamima married in 1806], and had ten children. The eldest – Mervyn, born in 1807 – married Madeline Jackson, only daughter and heiress of Colonel Jackson of Enniscoe, Co. Mayo. They inherited this property when Colonel Pratt died.
He succeeded his father, Col. Joseph Pratt, as owner of Cabra in 1863, but from this time onwards, the interests of the Pratt Family were divided between Cabra in Co. Cavan and Enniscoe in Co. Mayo. Mervyn Pratt died in 1890 and was succeeded on his death by his eldest son – Major Mervyn Pratt, in 1927.”
Enniscoe, by the way, is another Section 482 property which I look forward to visiting, which also provides accommodation. The house was completed in 1798. 
Mervyn Pratt (1807-1890) who married into Enniscoe had several brothers. Joseph Pratt took the name of Tynte in 1836 from his mother and lived in Tynte Park. Mervyn held the offices of High Sheriff of County Cavan in 1841 and High Sheriff of County Mayo in 1843. He was also Justice of the Peace for County Cavan and High Sheriff for County Meath in 1875. His son Joseph Pratt (1843-1929) inherited Enniscoe and Cabra Castle, and then Joseph’s son Mervyn (1873-1950) lived at Enniscoe and left Cabra Castle unoccupied. He served in the military, and was a Justice of the Peace, and never married. He bequeathed Cabra to his nearest male relative, Mervyn Sheppard (1905-1994), a Malayan Civil Servant.  According to the Cabra Castle website, death duties and taxes, rates, the cost of repairs, and farm losses, meant he could not afford to live there, and he had to sell it. It was sold in 1964 to the Brennans and turned into a 22 bedroom hotel.
The manager of the hotel, Johnny, took us on a tour. While we waited for him we sat by an open fire in a small sitting room off the reception hall.
Beyond the reception area is the staircase hall with a bifurcating staircase with metalwork balustrade ascending to the first floor. Two statues very similar to the ones that were recently removed from outside the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin while the owners determined whether they represented slave girls or not (they do not) adorn the staircase. 
On the second floor the staircase hall is surrounded by a gallery, and has ceiling work of thin fretting.
At the top of the stairs on the first floor is a Victorian drawing room with an original gilt wallpaper.
The ceiling has matching gilt decoration. Next to this room, facing the staircase, is the dining area – a suite of several rooms. The arches between the rooms reflect the entrance arch to the castle and the arched windows.
The historic elegance of the rooms is maintained with original fireplace, antique mirrors, portraits and chandeliers.
On the second floor is more cosy sitting room, decorated in dark green William Morris style wallpaper, making it more like a den or library.
This den overlooks an outdoor seating area. This is the seating area overlooking Mitzi’s Garden.
The manager then took us through to the most recent piece de resistance, the Ballroom. It has been sensitively built and decorated to reflect the style of the older parts of the castle, and I loved the ceiling, which is quite amazing and looks like heavy medieval carved wood but is actually manufactured using a modern technique. In the hallway leading to the ballroom, our guide pointed out that the original round stone tower of the castle has been incorporated.
The ballroom includes a large “minstrels’ gallery.”
Off the ballroom is a small kitchen, called Josephine’s Kitchen after one of the staff who worked here for thirty years.
In Josephine’s kitchen, guests can help themselves to tea and coffee. A painting of Cormy Bridge, near where Old Cabra was located, is by Josephine herself!
Our guide told us that Howard Corscadden likes to pick up antiques to add to the décor. I love these additions, making me feel like I was a visitor in the days of the Pratts when the castle must have boasted its full glory. After our tour, I explored the nooks and crannies, enjoying the irregularity of the stairways and corridors.
There was a great photograph of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan on the way up to our bedroom.
Even the back corridors have wonderful artworks. I love this series of portraits. I wonder who they are?
I also really like these Arabic scenes:
Our guide showed us to one of his favourite bedrooms, which has a ceiling recently adorned with plasterwork. He particularly loves the use of the round tower, renovated into a gorgeous bathroom.
He then took us outside to the courtyard, and showed us the Bridal Suite in the courtyard area.