Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988) of Ballynatray:
“[Holroyd-Smyth; Ponsonby and sub Bessborough] A house of 2 storeys over a basement and 11 bays, built 1795-97 by Grice Smyth [1762-1816], incorporating some of the walls of a much earlier house which itself was built on the foundations of an old castle; refaced in stucco and its principal rooms re-decorated early in the C19 by Grice Smyth; some work having been done ca 1806 by Alexander Deane. Entrance front with 3 bay recessed centre between 4 bay projections joined by single-storey Ionic colonnade with a statue in a niche at either end. Balustraded roof parapet with urns. Garden front, facing down the Blackwater estuary, with 3 bay pedimented breakfront and 4 bays on either side. 5 bay side elevations. Early C19 interior plasterwork. Frieze of bulls’ heads – as distinct from the neo-Classical ox-skulls or bucrania, a demi-bull being the Smyth crest – in hall. Unusual frieze of cues and billiard balls in billiard room. Wide arched doorways between most of the principal rooms. By means of these arches, the library runs right through the house, with windows facing both the river and the park. The house is gloriously situated at a point where the river does a loop. Woods sweep outwards and round on either side and continue up and downstream for as far as the eye can see. On the landward side of the house is a hill, with a deer park full of bracken. There is an extraordinary sense of peace, of remoteness from the world. A short distance from the house is a ruined medieval abbey on an an island which was joined to the mainland by a causeway built 1806 by Grice Smyth, who put up a Classical urn within the abbey walls in honour of Raymond-le-Gros, Strongbow’s companion, who is said to be buried here. Also within the abbey walls is a statue of its founder, St. Molanfide, which Grice Smyth’s widow erected in 1820. The second daughter of Grice Smyth was the beautiful Penelope Smyth, whose runaway marriage with the Prince of Capua, brother of King Ferdinand II of Two Sicilies, caused an international furore in 1836. On the death of Mr Horace Holroyd-Smyth 1969, Ballynatray passed to his cousins, the Ponsonby family, of Kilcooley Abbey, Co. Tipperary.” 
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us Ballynatray is:
“A very fine, substantial late eighteenth-century Classical-style house, built by Grice Smyth (n. d.), composed on a symmetrical plan, which has been very well restored in the late twentieth century to present an early aspect, with important salient features and materials intact, both to the exterior and to the interior. Fine reserved detailing applied shortly after completion of construction to designs prepared by Alexander Deane (c.1760 – 1806) enhances the architectural and design qualities of the composition, and is indicative of high quality craftsmanship. Incorporating the fabric of an earlier house, and reputed to incorporate the foundations of a medieval castle, the house continues a long-standing presence on site, and is of additional importance in the locality for its historic associations with the Smyth (Holroyd-Smyth) family. The house forms the centrepiece of an extensive planned estate that contributes significantly to the visual appeal of the locality, while the gardens overlooking the River Blackwater are of some landscape design interest.” (see )
2. Ballysaggartmore Towers, County Waterford
Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 27. “(Keily, sub Ussher/IFR, Anson, sub Lichfield, E/PB) A late-Georgian house built round a courtyard, on the side of a steep hill overlooking the River Blackwater, to which a new front was subsequently added… A seat of the Keily family. Arthur Keily [1777-1862], who assumed the name of Ussher 1843, built two remarkable Gothic follies in the demesne, to the design of his gardener, J. Smith; one of them a turreted gateway, the other a castellated bridge over a stream. The house was bought at the beginning of the present century by Hon Claud Anson, who sold it 1930s. It was subsequently demolished. The follies remain, one of them being now occupied as a house.”
The National Inventory describes this bridge and its towers:
“Three-arch rock-faced sandstone ashlar Gothic-style road bridge over ravine, c.1845, on a curved plan. Rock-faced sandstone ashlar walls with buttresses to piers, trefoil-headed recessed niches to flanking abutments, cut-stone stringcourse on corbels, and battlemented parapets having cut-stone coping. Three pointed arches with rock-faced sandstone ashlar voussoirs, and squared sandstone soffits. Sited in grounds shared with Ballysaggartmore House spanning ravine with grass banks to ravine…Detached five-bay single- and two-storey lodge, c.1845, to south-west comprising single-bay single-storey central block with pointed segmental-headed carriageway, single-bay single-stage turret over on a circular plan, single-bay single-storey recessed lower flanking bays, single-bay single-storey advanced end bay to right, single-bay single-storey advanced higher end bay to left, and pair of single-bay two-storey engaged towers to rear (north-east) on square plans….Rock-faced sandstone ashlar walls with cut-sandstone dressings including stepped buttresses, battlemented parapets on corbelled stringcourses having cut-stone coping, and corner pinnacles to central block on circular plans having battlemented coping. Pointed-arch window openings with paired pointed-arch lights over, no sills, and chamfered reveals. Some square-headed window openings with no sills, chamfered reveals, and hood mouldings over. Square-headed door openings with hood mouldings over….Detached five-bay single- and two-storey lodge, c.1845, to north-east comprising single-bay two-storey central block with pointed segmental-headed carriageway, single-bay single-storey flanking recessed bays, single-bay two-storey advanced end bay tower to right on a square plan, single-bay two-stage advanced higher end tower to left on a circular plan, and pair of single-bay two-stage engaged towers to rear (south-west) elevation on circular plans…Although initial indications suggest that the lodges are identical, individualistic features distinguish each piece, and contribute significantly to the architectural design quality of the composition. Well maintained, the composition retains its original form and massing, although many of the fittings have been lost as a result of dismantling works in the mid twentieth century. The construction in rock-faced sandstone produces an attractive textured visual effect, and attests to high quality stone masonry.”
The National Inventory describes the gateway: “Gateway, c.1845, comprising ogee-headed opening, limestone ashlar polygonal flanking piers, and pair of attached two-bay single- and two-storey flanking gate lodges diagonally-disposed to east and to west comprising single-bay single-storey linking bays with single-bay two-storey outer bays having single-bay three-stage engaged corner turrets on circular plans…Limestone ashlar polygonal piers to gateway with moulded stringcourses having battlemented coping over, and sproketed finial to apex to opening with finial. Sandstone ashlar walls to gate lodges with cut-limestone dressings including stepped buttresses, stringcourses to first floor, moulded course to first stage to turrets, and battlemented parapets on consoled stringcourses (on profiled tables to turrets) having cut-limestone coping. Ogee-headed opening to gateway with decorative cast-iron double gates. Paired square-headed window openings to gate lodges with no sills, chamfered reveals, and hood mouldings over. Square-headed door openings with chamfered reveals, and hood mouldings over. Pointed-arch door openings to turrets with inscribed surrounds. Trefoil-headed flanking window openings with raised surrounds, and quatrefoil openings over. Cross apertures to top stages to turrets with raised surrounds. All fittings now gone. Interiors now dismantled with internal walls and floors removed.
An impressive structure in a fantastical Gothic style, successfully combining a gateway and flanking gate lodges in a wholly-integrated composition. Now disused, with most of the external and internal fittings removed, the gateway nevertheless retains most of its original form and massing. The construction of the gateway attests to high quality stone masonry and craftsmanship, particularly to the fine detailing, which enhances the architectural and design quality of the site. The gateway forms an integral component of the Ballysaggartmore House estate and, set in slightly overgrown grounds, forms an appealing feature of Romantic quality in the landscape.“
3. Bishop’s Palace Museum, Waterford
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 282. “The Palace of the (C of I) Bishops of Waterford; one of the largest and – externally – finest episcopal residences in Ireland. Begun 1741 by Bishop Charles Este to the design of Richard Castle. The garden front, which faces over the mall and new forms a magnificent architectural group with the tower and spire of later C18 Cathedral, by John Roberts, is of three storeys; the ground floor being treated as a basement and rusticated. The centre of the ground floor breaks forward with three arches, forming the base of the pedimented Doric centrepiece of the storey above, which incorporates three windows. In the centre of the top storey is a circular niche, flanked by two windows. On either side of the centre are three bays. Bishop Este died 1745 before the Palace was finished, which probably explains why the interior is rather disappointing. The Palace ceased to be the episcopal residence early in the present century, and from then until ca 1965 it was occupied by Bishop Foy school. It has since been sold.”
Archiseek adds: “It has now been extensively restored to showcase artefacts and art from Waterford’s Georgian and Victorian past. The two main facades are quite different: one having seven bays – the central bay having an more elaborate window treatment and a Gibbsian doorway; the other facade has eight bay with a more elaborate entrance and shallow pediment with blank niches.” 
The National Inventory explains about the designs of Richard Castle and John Roberts:
“An imposing Classical-style building commissioned by Bishop Miles (d. 1740) and subsequently by Bishop Charles Este (n. d.), and believed to have been initiated to plans prepared by Richard Castle (c.1690 – 1751), and completed to the designs prepared by John Roberts (1712 – 1796). The building is of great importance for its original intended use as a bishop’s palace, and for its subsequent use as a school. The construction of the building in limestone ashlar reveals high quality stone masonry, and this is particularly evident in the carved detailing, which has retained its intricacy. Well-maintained, the building presents an early aspect while replacement fittings have been installed in keeping with the original integrity of the design. The interior also incorporates important early or original schemes, including decorative plasterwork of artistic merit. Set on an elevated site, the building forms an attractive and commanding feature fronting on to The Mall (to south-east) and on to Cathedral Square (to north-west).”
4. Cappagh House (Old and New), Cappagh, Dungarvan, Co Waterford – section 482
contact: Charles and Claire Chavasse Tel: 087-8290860, 086-8387420 http://www.cappaghhouse.ie Open: April, June, & August, Wednesday & Thursday, May & September Wednesday Thursday & Saturday, National Heritage Week, August 13-21, Oct 1, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult/OAP/student/€5, child under 12 free
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 56. [Ussher; Chavasse] “A 2 storey Victorian house built 1875 by R.J. Ussher [Richard John Ussher (1841-1913)] to the design of the engineer who constructed the railway from Cork to Rosslare [ the National Inventory tells us the designs were by James Otway (1843-1906) and Robert Graeme Watt]; replacing an earlier house, which was subsequently used as outbuildings. Camber-headed widows cutting through string-courses; 3 sided bow on principal front; roundheaded staricase window with Romanesque tracery; highish roof. Sold 1944 by Mr Arland Ussher, the writer, to Col Kendal Chavasse.”
The National Inventory tells us it has historical connections with historic connections with the Ussher family including Beverley Grant Ussher (1867-1956) and Percival Arnold “Arland” Ussher (1899-1980); and Colonel Kendal George Fleming Chavasse DSO (1904-2001). 
The National Inventory tells us of Old Cappagh: “Detached seven-bay single-storey split-level country house, extant 1768, on a quadrangular plan with single-bay (two-bay deep) two-storey flush end bays; five-bay two-storey rear (north) elevation centred on single-bay two-storey breakfront on a bowed plan…A country house erected by Arthur Ussher (1683-1768) of Camphire House (Dean 2018, 229) representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of County Waterford with the architectural value of the composition confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking “The American Ground” and a wooded lake with a hilly backdrop in the distance; the quadrangular plan form centred on a Classically-detailed doorcase showing a pretty fanlight; the somewhat disproportionate bias of solid to void in the massing; the definition of the principal “apartments” by Wyatt-style tripartite glazing patterns; and the “book end” crow stepped gables embellishing the roofline. A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; an elegant staircase; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition.” 
The website tells us: “Fairbrook House garden and museum, Kilmeaden, Co.Waterford, Ireland X91FN83 A romantic walled garden at the river Dawn laid out between ruins of the former Fairbrook Mill (since 1700). OPEN MAY – SEPTEMBER”
p. 186. “(Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E.PB; Cavendish, Devonshire, D/PB)…Now predominantly of early C17 and C19; but incorporating some of the towers of the medieval castle of the Bishops of Lismore which itself took the place of a castle built by King John [around 1185] where there had formerly been a famous monastery founded by St. Carthagh and a university which was a great centre of civilisation and learning in the Dark Ages. The first Protestant Bishop, the notorious Myler McGrath, granted the castle and its lands to Sir Walter Raleigh; who, however, seldom lived here, preferring his house in Youghal, now known as Myrtle Grove.”
Mark Bence-Jones continues the history of the castle: “In 1602, Raleigh sold Lismore and all his Irish estates to Richard Boyle, afterwards 1st Earl of Cork, one of the most remarkable of Elizabethan adventurers; who, having come to Ireland as a penniless young man, ended as one of the richest and most powerful nobles in the kingdom. From ca 1610 onwards, he rebuilt Lismore Castle as his home, surrounding the castle courtyard with three storey gabled ranges joining the old corner-towers, which were given Jacobean ogival roofs; the principal living rooms being on the side above the Blackwater, the parlour and dining-chamber in a wing projecting outwards to the very edge of the precipice, with an oriel window from which there is a sheer drop to the river far below. On the furthest side from the river Lord Cork built a gatehouse tower, incorporating an old Celtic-Romanesque arch which must have survived from Lismore’s monastic days. He also built a fortified wall – so thick that there is a walk along the top of it – enclosing a garden on this side of the castle; and an outer gatehouse with gabled towers known as the Riding House because it originally sheltered a mounted guard. The garden walls served an important defensive purpose when the castle was besieged by the Confederates 1642, the year before the “Great Earl’s” death. On this occasion the besiegers were repulsed; but in 1645 it fell to another Confederate Army and was sacked.”
Mark Bence-Jones continues the fascinating history: “It was made habitable again by the 2nd Earl of Cork – James II stayed a night here in 1689 and almost fainted when he looked out of the dining room window and saw the great drop – but it was neglected in C18 and became largely ruinous; the subsequent Earls of Cork, who were also Earls of Burlington, preferring to live on their estates in England. Through the marriage of the daughter and heiress of the architect Earl of Burlington [Charlotte Elizabeth Boyle (1731-1754), daughter of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, 4th Earl of Cork] and Cork to the 4th Duke of Devonshire [William Cavendish (1720-1764], Lismore passed to the Cavendishes. The 4th and 5th Dukes took no more interest in the castle than the Earls of Burlington had done; but the 6th Duke [William George Spenser Cavendish (1790-1858)] – remembered as the “Bachelor Duke” – began work at Lismore as soon as he succeeded his father 1811.”
I love the story of the Bachelor Duke: “By 1812 the castle was habitable enough for him to entertain his cousin, Lady Caroline Lamb [nee Ponsonby], her husband William, and her mother, Lady Bessborough, here. Caroline, who had been brought to Ireland in the hope that it would make her forget Byron, was bitterly disappointed by the castle; she had expected “vast apartments full of tattered furniture and gloom”; instead, as Lady Bessborough reported, “Hart handed her into, not a Gothic hall, but two small dapper parlours neatly furnished, in the newest Inn fashion, much like a Cit’s villa at Highgate.” Hart – the Bachelor Duke [He succeeded as the 6th Marquess of Hartington, co. Derby [E., 1694] on 29 July 1811] – had in fact already commissioned the architect William Atkinson to restore the range above the river in a suitably medieval style, and the work actually began in that same year. Battlements replaced the Great Earl of Cork’s gables and the principal rooms – including the dining room with the famous window, which became the drawing room – where given ceilings of simple plaster vaulting.“
“The Bachelor Duke, who became increasingly attached to Lismore, began a second and more ambitious phase of rebuilding 1850, towards the end of his life. This time his architect was Sir Joseph Paxton, that versatile genius who designed the Crystal Palace and who, having started as the Bachelor Duke’s gardener, became his close friend and right hand man. During the next few years, the three remaining sides of the courtyard were rebuilt in an impressive C19 castle style, with battlemented towers and turrets; all faced in cut-stone shipped over from Derbyshire. The Great Earl’s gatehouse tower, with its pyramidal roof, was however, left as it was, and also the Riding House. The ruined chapel of the Bishops, adjoining the range containing the Great Earl’s living rooms, was restored as a banqueting hall or ballroom of ecclesiastical character; with choirstalls, a vast Perpendicular stained glass window at either end, and richly coloured Gothic stencilling on the walls and the timbers of the open roof. The decoration of the room was carried out by John Gregory Crace, some of it being designed by Pugin, including the chimneypiece, which was exhibited in the Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition. The banqueting hall is the only really large room in the castle, the interior of which is on a much more modest and homely scale than might be expected from the great extent of the building; but in fact one side of the courtyard was designed to be a separate house for the agent, and another side to be the estate office. Subsequent Dukes of Devonshire have loved Lismore as much as the Bachelor Duke did, though their English commitments have naturally prevented them from coming here for more than occasional visits. From 1932 until his death 1944, the castle was continuously occupied by Lord Charles Cavendish, younger son of the 9th Duke, and his wife, the former Miss Adele Astaire, the dancer and actress, who still comes here every year. The present Duke and Duchess have carried out many improvements to the garden, which consist of the original upper garden, surrounded by the Great Earl’s fortified walls, and a more naturalistic garden below the approach to the castle; the two being linked in a charming and unexpected way by a staircase in the Riding House.”
11. Mount Congreve Gardens, County Waterford – currently closed for renovations
The website tells us: “Mount Congreve House and Gardens situated in Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford, in Ireland’s Ancient East is home to one of “the great gardens of the World”. Mount Congreve House, home to six generations of Congreves, was built in 1760 by the celebrated local architect John Roberts.
The Gardens comprise around seventy acres of intensively planted woodland, a four acre walled garden and 16 kilometres of walkways. Planted on a slight incline overlooking the River Suir, Mount Congreve’s entire collection consists of over three thousand different trees and shrubs, more than two thousand Rhododendrons, six hundred Camellias, three hundred Acer cultivars, six hundred conifers, two hundred and fifty climbers and fifteen hundred herbaceous plants plus many more tender species contained in the Georgian glasshouse.“
The house was built for John Congreve (1730-1801), who held the office of High Sheriff of County Waterford in 1755. He married Mary Ussher, daughter of Beverly Ussher, MP, who lived at Kilmeadon, County Waterford.
Mark Bence-Jones tells us of Mount Congreve (1988):
p. 213. “(Congreve/IFR) An C18 house [the National Inventory says c. 1750] consisting of three storey seven bay centre block with two storey three bay overlapping wings; joined to pavilions by screen walls with arches on the entrance front and low ranges on the garden front, where the centre block has a three bay breakfront and an ionic doorcase. The house was remodelled and embellished ca 1965-69, when a deep bow was added in the centre of the entrance front, incorporating a rather Baroque Ionic doorcase, nd the pavilions were adorned with cupolas and doorcases with broken pediments. Other new features include handsome gateways flaking the garden front at either end a fountain with a statue in one of the courtyards between the house and pavilions. The present owner has also laid out magnificent gardens along the bank of the River Suir which now extends to upwards of 100 acres; with large scale plantings of rare trees and shrubs, notably rhododendrons and magnolias. The original walled gardens contains an C18 greenhouse.”
“The Woodland gardens at Mount Congreve were founded on the inspiration, generosity and encouragement of Mr. Lionel N. de Rothschild. He became arguably, the greatest landscaper of the 20th Century and one of the cleverest hybridists. He died in 1942. The original gardens at Mount Congreve had comprised of a simple terraced garden with woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts on the slopes falling down to the river. The Gardens are held in Trust for the State.
The original gardens at Mount Congreve had comprised of a simple terraced garden with woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts on the slopes falling down to the river. Ambrose Congreve began planting parts of these in his late teens but it was not until 1955 that he began to make large clearings in the woodlands to create the necessary conditions where his new plants would thrive. With the arrival of Mr. Herman Dool in the early sixties, the two men began the process that would lead to Mount Congreve’s recognition as one of the ‘Great Gardens of the World’. Up to the very last years of his life, Mr Congreve could be found in the gardens dispensing orders and advice relating to his beloved plants.
Mount Congreve Gardens is closed at the moment for new development works. An article by Ann Power in the Mount Congreve blog, 22nd Sept 2021, tells us
“Grand opening of the House & Gardens set for 2022.
The 70-acre Mount Congreve Gardens overlooking the River Suir and located around 7km from the centre of Waterford City will close on October 10th 2021. The closure is to facilitate the upcoming works on Mount Congreve House and Gardens as it will be redeveloped into a world-class tourism destination with an enhanced visitor experience which is set to open for summer 2022.
Funding of €3,726,000 has been approved under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund with additional funding from Failte Ireland and Waterford City & County Council for the visitor attraction, which is home to one of the largest private collections of plants in the world. The redevelopment and restoration of the Estate is set to provide enhanced visitor amenities including the repair of the historic greenhouse, improved access to grounds and pathways, and provision of family-friendly facilities. Car parking & visitor centre with cafe & retail.
The project is planned for completion in 2022 and will create a new visitor centre featuring retail, food and beverage facilities, kitchens, toilets, and a ticket desk while also opening up new areas of the estate to the public including parts of the main house which has never been accessible to the public before.
Estate Manager Ray Sinnott says, “There are exciting times ahead for the historic Mount Congreve House and Gardens and we are very much looking forward to working on and unveiling the new visitor experience in 2022.
Unfortunately for now, in order to facilitate the redevelopment of Mount Congreve House and Gardens, we will be closed for a number of months. This is to facilitate a number of restorative and construction works in the different areas of the gardens and at the main house.
We apologise for any inconvenience and look forward to welcoming all of our visitors old and new when we reopen next year.”
www.rowecreavin.ie Open: Jan 1-Dec 31, excluding Bank Holidays, 8.30am-5.30pm, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21 Fee: Free
The National Inventory tells us it is a:
“Detached ten-bay two-storey over basement Gothic Revival convent, built 1848 – 1856, on a quadrangular plan about a courtyard comprising eight-bay two-storey central block with two-bay two-storey gabled advanced end bays to north and to south, ten-bay two-storey over part-raised basement wing to south having single-bay four-stage tower on a circular plan, eight-bay two-storey recessed wing to east with single-bay two-storey gabled advanced engaged flanking bays, six-bay double-height wing to north incorporating chapel with two-bay single-storey sacristy to north-east having single-bay single-storey gabled projecting porch, and three-bay single-storey wing with dormer attic to north…
An attractive, substantial convent built on a complex plan arranged about a courtyard. Designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) in the Gothic Revival style, the convent has been well maintained, retaining its original form and character, together with many important salient features and materials. However, the gradual replacement of the original fittings to the openings with inappropriate modern articles threatens the historic character of the composition. The construction of the building reveals high quality local stone masonry, particularly to the cut-stone detailing, which has retained its original form. A fine chapel interior has been well maintained, and includes features of artistic design distinction, including delicate stained glass panels, profiled timber joinery, including an increasingly-rare rood screen indicative of high quality craftsmanship, and an open timber roof construction of some technical interest. The convent remains an important anchor site in the suburbs of Waterford City and contributes to the historic character of an area that has been substantially developed in the late twentieth century.” 
p. 5. “(Palliser, sub Galloway/IFR) Rambling three storey house at right angles to the village street of Annestown, which is in fact two houses joined together. The main front of the house faces the sea; but it has a gable end actually on the street. Low-ceilinged but spacious rooms; long drawing room divided by an arch with simple Victorian plasterwork; large library approached by a passage. Owned at beginning of 19C by Henry St. George Cole, bought ca. 1830 by the Palliser family, from whom it was inherited by the Galloways.”
The National Inventory gives us more detail on its construction: “Detached six-bay two-storey house with dormer attic, c.1820, retaining early fenestration with single-bay two-storey gabled entrance bay, single-bay two-storey gabled end bay having single-bay two-storey canted bay window, three-bay two-storey wing to north originally separate house, c.1770, and three-bay two-storey return to west. Extended, c.1920, comprising single-bay single-storey lean-to recessed end bay to south.“
I’m not sure if this is still a hotel as it was advertised for sale in 2020. The Myhome website tells us: “Ballyrafter House was built circa 1830, on the commission of the Duke of Devonshire, one of the wealthiest men in England, whose Irish Seat is the nearby Lismore Castle. Initially intended for the Duke’s Steward, it soon became a hunting and fishing lodge for his guests.“
Mark Bence-Jones describes Faithlegg House (1988):
p. 123. (Power/IFR; Gallwey/IFR) A three storey seven bay block with a three bay pedimented breakfront, built 1783 by Cornelius Bolton, MP, whose arms, elaborately displayed, appear in the pediment. Bought 1819 by the Powers who ca 1870 added two storey two bay wings with a single-storey bow-fronted wings beyond them. At the same time the house was entirely refaced, with segmental hoods over the ground floor windows; a portico or porch with slightly rusticated square piers was added, as well as an orangery prolonging one of the single-storey wings. Good C19 neo-Classical ceilings in the principal rooms of the main block, and some C18 friezes upstairs. Sold 1936 by Mrs H.W.D. Gallwey (nee Power); now a college for boys run by the De La Salle Brothers.”
The Faithlegg website tells us that the house was probably built by John Roberts (1714-1796): “a gifted Waterford architect who designed the Waterford’s two Cathedrals, City Hall, Chamber of Commerce and Infirmary. He leased land from Cornelius Bolton at Faithlegg here he built his own house which he called Roberts Mount. He built mansions for local gentry and was probably the builder of Faithlegg House in 1783.”
The website tells us of more about the history of the house:
“Faithlegg stands at the head of Waterford Harbour, where the three sister rivers of the Barrow, Nore and Suir meet. As a consequence, it has been to the fore in the history of not just Waterford but also Ireland. For it was via the harbour and these rivers that the early settlers entered and from the hill that we stand under, the Minaun, that the harbour was monitored. Here legend tells us sleeps the giant Cainche Corcardhearg son of Fionn of the Fianna who was stationed here to keep a watch over Leinster.
A Norman named Strongbow landed in the harbour in 1170 and this was followed by the arrival of Henry II in October 1171. Legend has it that Henry’s fleet numbered 600 ships and one of the merchants who donated to the flotilla was a Bristol merchant named Aylward. He was handsomely rewarded with the granting of 7000 acres of land centred in Faithlegg. The family lived originally in a Motte and Baily enclosure the remains of which is still to be seen. This was followed by Faithlegg Castle and the 13th century church in the grounds of the present Faithlegg church dates from their era too. The family ruled the area for 500 years until they were dispossessed in 1649 by the armies of Oliver Cromwell. The property was subsequently granted to a Cromwellian solider, Captain William Bolton.
Over a century later in 1783 the present house was commenced by Cornelius Bolton who had inherited the Faithlegg Estate from his father in 1779. Cornelius was an MP, a progressive landlord and businessman. Luck was not on his side however and financial difficulties followed. In 1819 the Bolton family sold the house and lands to Nicholas and Margaret Mahon Power, who had married the year before. It was said that Margaret’s dowry enabled the purchase. The Powers adorned the estate with the stag’s head and cross, which was the Power family crest. It remains the emblem of Faithlegg to this day.”
Margaret, the website tells us, was the only daughter and heiress of Nicholas Mahon of Dublin. She married Nicholas Power in 1818 and the couple came to live in Faithlegg. It was not a happy marriage and, following a legal separation in 1860, she returned to live in Dublin where she died in 1866.
The House passed to Hubert Power, the only son of Pat & Lady Olivia Power, and in 1920 upon Hubert’s death, it passed to his daughter Eily Power, in 1935 Eily and her husband sold the House to the De la Salle order of teaching brothers after which it acted as a junior novitiate until 1986.
The last remaining gap in history is from 1980’s until 1998 when it was taken over by FBD Property and Leisure Group.“
6. Fort William, County Waterford, holiday cottages
p. 126. “Gumbleton, sub Maxwell-Gumbleton/LG1952; Grosvenor, Westminster, B/PB) A two storey house of sandstone ashlar with a few slight Tudor-Revival touches, built 1836 for J. B. [John Bowen] Gumbleton to the design of James & George Richard Pain. Three bay front with three small gables and a slender turret-pinnacle at either side; doorway recessed in segmental-pointed arch Georgian glazed rectangular sash windows with hood mouldings. Tudor chimneys. Other front of seven bays; plain three bay side elevation. Large hall, drawing room with very fine Louis XI boiseries, introduced by 2nd Duke of Westminster, Fort William was his Irish home from ca 1946 to his death in 1953. Afterwards the house of Mr and Mrs Henry Drummond-Wolff, then Mr and Mrs Murray Mitchell.”
The Historic Houses of Ireland gives us more detail about the house, including explaining its name:
“In the early eighteenth century the Gumbleton family, originally from Kent, purchased an estate beside the River Blackwater in County Waterford, a few miles upstream from Lismore. The younger son, William Conner Gumbleton, inherited a portion of the estate and built a house named Fort William, following the example of his cousin, Robert Conner, who had called his house in West Cork Fort Robert. The estate passed to his nephew, John Bowen Gumbleton, who commissioned a new house by James and George Richard Pain, former apprentices of John Nash with a thriving architectural practice in Cork.
Built in 1836, in a restrained Tudor Revival style, the new house is a regular building of two stories in local sandstone with an abundance of gables, pinnacles and tall Elizabethan chimneys. The interior is largely late-Georgian and Fortwilliam is essentially a classical Georgian house with a profusion of mildly Gothic details.
Gumbleton’s son died at sea and his daughter Frances eventually leased the house to Colonel Richard Keane, brother of Sir John from nearby Cappoquin House. The Colonel was much annoyed when his car, reputedly fitted with a well-stocked cocktail cabinet, was commandeered by the IRA so he permitted Free State troops to occupy the servants’ wing at Fortwilliam during the Civil War, which may have influenced the Republican’s decision to burn his brother’s house in 1923.
When Colonel Keane died in a shooting accident, the estate reverted to Frances Gumbleton’s nephew, John Currey, and was sold to a Mr Dunne, who continued the tradition of letting the house. His most notable tenant was Adele Astaire, sister of the famous dancer and film star Fred Astaire, who became the wife of Lord Charles Cavendish from nearby Lismore Castle.
In 1944 the Gumbleton family repurchased Fortwilliam but resold for £10,000 after just two years. The new owner was Hugh Grosvenor, second Duke of Westminster and one of the world’s wealthiest men. His nickname ‘Bend or’ was a corruption of the heraldic term Azure, a bend or, arms the Court of Chivalry had forced his ancestor to surrender to Lord Scroope in 1389 and still a source of irritation after six hundred years. Already thrice divorced, the duke’s name had been linked to a number of fashionable ladies, including the celebrated Parisian couturier Coco Chanel.
Fortwilliam is in good hunting country with some fine beats on a major salmon river, which allowed the elderly duke to claim he had purchased an Irish sporting base. Its real purpose, however, was to facilitate his pursuit of Miss Nancy Sullivan, daughter of a retired general from Glanmire, near Cork, who soon became his fourth duchess.
They made extensive alterations at Fortwilliam, installing the fine gilded Louis XV boiseries in the drawing room, removed from the ducal seat at Eaton Hall, in Cheshire, and fitting out the dining room with panelling from one of his sumptuous yachts. He died in 1953 but his widow survived for a further fifty years, outliving three of her husband’s successors at Eaton Lodge in Cheshire. Anne, Duchess of Westminster was renowned as one of the foremost National Hunt owners of the day. Her bay gelding, Arkle, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on three successive occasions and is among the most famous steeplechasers of all time.
Fortwilliam was briefly owned by the Drummond-Wolfe family before passing to an American, Mr. Murray Mitchell. On his widow’s death it was purchased by Ian Agnew and his wife Sara, who undertook a sensitive restoration before he too died in 2009. In 2013 the estate was purchased by David Evans-Bevan who lives at Fortwilliam today with his family, farming and running the salmon fishery.“
“Gaultier Lodge is an 18th Century Georgian Country House designed by John Roberts, which overlooks the beach at Woodstown on the south east coast of Co. Waterford in Ireland. Enjoy high quality bed and breakfast guest accommodation next to the beach and Waterford Bay. Relax and unwind in the tastefully decorated rooms and warm inviting bedrooms. Enjoy an Irish breakfast each morning.”
8. Richmond House, Cappoquin, Co Waterford – guest house
“The Earl of Cork built Richmond House in 1704. Refurbished and restored each of the 9 bedrooms feature period furniture and warm, spacious comfort. All rooms are ensuite and feature views of the extensive grounds and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access is available throughout the house. An award winning 18th century Georgian country house, Richmond House is situated in stunning mature parkland surrounded by magnificent mountains and rivers.
Richmond House facilities include a fully licensed restaurant with local and French cuisine. French is also spoken at Richmond House. Each bedroom offers central heating, direct dial telephone, television, trouser press, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, tea-and coffee-making facilities and a Richmond House breakfast.”
The Archiseek website tells us that Waterford Castle is: “A small Norman keep that was extended and “restored” in the late 19th century. An initial restoration took place in 1849, but it was English architect W.H. Romaine-Walker who extended it and was responsible for its current appearance today. The original keep is central to the composition with two wings added, and the keep redesigned to complete the composition.“
The National Inventory adds: “Detached nine-bay two- and three-storey over basement Gothic-style house, built 1895, on a quasi H-shaped plan incorporating fabric of earlier house, pre-1845, comprising three-bay two-storey entrance tower incorporating fabric of medieval castle, pre-1645…A substantial house of solid, muscular massing, built for Gerald Purcell-Fitzgerald (n. d.) to designs prepared by Romayne Walker (n. d.) (supervised by Albert Murrary (1849 – 1924)), incorporating at least two earlier phases of building, including a medieval castle. The construction in unrefined rubble stone produces an attractive, textured visual effect, which is mirrored in the skyline by the Irish battlements to the roof. Fine cut-stone quoins and window frames are indicative of high quality stone masonry. Successfully converted to an alternative use without adversely affecting the original character of the composition, the house retains its original form and massing together with important salient features and materials, both to the exterior and to the interior, including fine timber joinery and plasterwork to the primary reception rooms.”
Whole House Rental County Waterford
1. Glenbeg House, Jacobean manor home, Glencairn, County Waterford P51 H5W0 €€€ for two, € for 7-16 – whole house rental http://www.glenbeghouse.com
The website tells us: “Tranquil historic estate accommodating guests in luxury. Glenbeg, a historic castle which has been sensitively restored, preserving its historic past, whilst catering to the needs and comforts of modern living.
Glenbeg Estate is the maternal home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who visited during his life time and wrote some of his early work while visiting with his family here. You and your party will have exclusive use of the property during your stay.“
 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.
1. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick – section 482 €
contact: Simon and Nicole Johnson Tel: 063-98035 www.ashhill.com (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: Apr 1-Sept 30, 9.30am-4.30pm Fee: adult €5, child/OAP/student €3
The website tells us: “Ash Hill is a large, comfortable Georgian estate, boasting many fine stucco ceilings and cornices throughout the house. For guests wishing to stay at Ash Hill, we have three beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms, all of which can accommodate one or more cots…Open to the public from January 15th through December 15th. Historical tours with afternoon tea are easily arranged and make for an enjoyable afternoon. We also host small workshops of all kinds, upon request…For discerning guests, Ash Hill can be rented, fully staffed, in its entirety [comfortably sleeps 10 people]. Minimum rental 7 days.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“(Evans/Carbery/ Johnson/ Harrington) A C18 pedimented house [the National Inventory tells us it was built in 1781], the back of which was rebuilt in Gothic 1833, probably to the design of James and George Richard Pain [the National Inventory corrects this – it was designs by Charles Frederick Anderson], with two slender round battlemented and machiolated towers. Rectangular windows with wooden tracery. Good plasterwork in upstairs drawing room in the manner of Wyatt and by the same hand as the hall at Glin Castle; saloon with domed ceiling. The towers have, in recent years, been removed. Originally a seat of the Evans family; passed in the later C19 to John Henry Weldon. Now the home of Major Stephen Johnson.” 
The website also tells us about its history:
“The oldest evidence of habitation at Ash Hill is what is believed to be a long barrow grave dating somewhere between 4000 and 2000 B.C. This was described in letters written by Eileen Foster, an American visiting her ancestral home, Ash Hill, in 1908. Miss Foster wrote “close to the avenue, as they call it, although there are trees on only one side of the road, is a large green mound which is supposed to mark the burial place of one of the Irish chieftains and a number of his followers. It was the custom in those days to bury a dozen or so of his slaves with every chieftain. Father says he would like to explore the spot, but not a man could be found who would put a spade into the sacred earth”.
Also on the estate, beside the site of an old lake, there are the remains of a crannog (an Irish house built on a small island) usually dating prior to 1000 A.D. The lake was drained in the 1915 and during this process, the remains of numerous Irish Elk (deer from the interglacial period) were discovered.
Close to the lake, overlooking the town, is the site of Castle Coote, birthplace of Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Coote, conqueror of India. This castle was demolished in the later half of the eighteenth century.
The courtyard to the main house was built sometime between 1720 and 1740 and it was sympathetically restored in the 1950’s by the late Mrs. Denny Johnson. The present house, which overlooks this courtyard, was built by Chidley Coote [1735-1799] in 1781.
This part of the house has numerous ceilings of historical and architectural importance displaying dancers from Herculaneum which are similar to the stucco medallions found in the saloon at Castletown, County Kildare. Numerous windows, looking out onto the courtyard, date from this period and have the original glass.
In the 1830’s, Eyre Evans [1773-1856] employed Charles Anderson, an architect, to build the front of the house in a Gothic style with two large towers on it. There are various Gothic features in this part of the house. Unfortunately, due to excessive rates (a valuation based property tax), some parts of the house, including the towers, were removed in the early 1960’s.
During the “troubled times”, the house was occupied by three sets of troops who looted and vandalized the property, using ancient family portraits for target practice. As these “troubled times” were ending, Michael Collins, the Irish leader at the time, visited the house on his way south to what would be his violent and untimely demise at the hands of his enemies. There is a considerable amount of graffiti left on the walls of the top floor rooms which were occupied by both troops and prisoners.
The first recorded ownership of Ash Hill was in 1667 when Chidley Coote [d. 1702, grandson of Charles Coote, 1st Baronet Coote, of Castle Cuffe, Queen’s Co., or perhaps his father Chidley Coote (d. 1668)] acquired the property from Catherine Bligh. It is probable that he had a son who was also Chidley Coote [(1678-1730). He married Jane Evans of Bulgaden Hall, Limerick.]. In 1726, Lieutenant General Eyre Coote [1726-1783] (son of Chidley Coote–a clergyman and owner of Castle Coote) was born at Ash Hill which was known as Castle Coote at that time [There were three other brothers: Robert Coote who married Anne Purdon of Ballyclough, County Cork (now partly demolished); Reverend Charles Coote who married Grace Tilson; Thomas Coote who married Eleanor White of Charleville, County Cork]. General Coote went on to become one of the greatest military tacticians of the eighteenth century with numerous victories to his credit, including winning India from the French in the Seven Years’ War and defeating Hyder Ali despite being outnumbered by almost twenty to one. This same victorious pattern was to be repeated in battles throughout the war.
Coote’s nephew, Sir Eyre Coote [(1762-1823), son of Eyre Coote’s brother Reverend Charles Evans Coote (1713-1796)], who was born at Ash Hill in the late eighteenth century, became the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica between 1806 and 1808. It has been said that Coote, while living in Jamaica, had a relationship with a slave girl. Although unconfirmed, it is thought that Colin Powell, hero of the Gulf War, may be a descendent of this relationship.
Sometime prior to 1799, Ash Hill passed on to Eyre Evans. We are still attempting to ascertain if Eyre Evans was a descendent of Eyre Coote [I believe he is related: Jane Evans who married Reverend Chidley Coote had a brother named Thomas Evans (d. 1753). He had a son, Eyre Evans (1723-1773). This Eyre had a son also named Eyre Evans (1773-1856). It was he who inherited Ash Hill Towers. He married Anna Maunsell of Limerick]. We believe this could well be the case in light of both parties sharing the same first name as well as ownership of Ash Hill. At about the time of the Famine, ownership of the estate passed out of the Evans family and, in 1858, part of the estate was acquired by Thomas Weldon. In 1860, another part of the estate was acquired by Captain Henry Frederick Evans. In 1880, Evans’ widow sold her interest in the estate to John Henry Weldon, a son of Thomas Weldon.
The Evans family was a large family with many branches that emigrated to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, Canada and U.S.A. One of the branch that emigrated to New Zealand was a prolific writer and much or possibly all of his writings were donated to the Alexander Turnbull library in Wellington, New Zealand.
The estate passed out of the Weldon family to P.M. Lindsay in 1911. Captain Lindsay sold Ash Hill to Mrs. Denny Johnson in 1946.
After Denise Johnson bought the property in 1946 she ran it as a successful stud, and she was a successful point-to-point rider with over 50 wins to her name. In 1956 she married Stado Johnson. After many falls she was told to “take up a safer sport then point-to point riding” by her doctor, she took up 3-day eventing and represented Ireland at an international level.
Today, Ash Hill has been opened to the public and sees a great many people of vaired interests. From architects to historians interested in taking a peek at Ireland’s unique past, all are welcome. Ash Hill is still owned by the Johnson family who enjoy sharing their love of history and the outdoors with the public. Most days, Simon and Nikki Johnson can be found wandering around the estate tending to the garden and pastures. For those interested, Simon can be happily talked into a full tour.“
The National Inventory tells us it is a :”Detached three-bay two-storey country house, dated 1803, having six-bay block to north (rear) elevation, extending to east of main block and adjoining L-plan multiple-bay two-storey outbuilding. Central full-height breakfront to south (front) elevation. …Flat arched opening to east elevation with cut limestone surround, voussoirs and keystone, and double-leaf timber battened door… Lunette openings to first floor, east and west elevations, having tooled limestone sills, red brick surrounds and timber framed windows…
Once the home of William Massey, this building is currently undergoing restoration. Its size and massing make it a very notable feature on the landscape and the regular façade and restrain in ornamentation adds to the imposing appearance. The retention of timber sliding sash windows and limestone sills is significant, and adds to the architectural significance of the site. Symmetry is evident in the design and is enhanced by the hipped roof, central chimneystacks and breakfront. The outbuildings, walled garden to the rear, and gate lodge all serve to add context to the site. Keystone reads: ‘WM/AD/1803’.” 
7. Glenquin Castle, Newcastle West, Co Limerick – open to visitors
One of the finest tower houses to survive from the 16th century, Gleann an Choim (Glen of the Shelter) is situated a few miles from Ashford at the edge of the road (open to the public during summer).
This castle was a fortified dwelling, for the protection against raids and invaders, more correctly described as a Tower House. 
Robert O’Byrne tells us: “Thought to stand on the site of an older building dating from the 10th century, Glenquin Castle in Killeedy was built by the O’Hallinan family (their name deriving from the Irish Ó hAilgheanáin, meaning mild or noble). When the castle was built seems unclear; both the mid-15th and mid-16th centuries are proposed. Regardless, it is typical of tower houses being constructed at the time right around the country.” 
The website tells us: “Glenstal Abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks in County Limerick, Ireland, and is a place of prayer, work, education and hospitality. The monastery sits alongside a popular guesthouse and a boarding school for boys, housed within a 19th century Normanesque castle amidst five hundred magnificent acres of farmland, forest, lakes and streams.
We are happy to welcome groups who wish to visit the monastery and spend some time getting to know our place, our tradition and our life.”
The castle was built as a home for Joseph Barrington (1764-1846), 1st Baronet of Limerick. Joseph married Mary Baggott – I wonder are we distantly related? She was the daughter of Daniel Baggot (the landed families website tells us that he was a bootseller in Limerick!). Joseph’s son Matthew, 2nd Baronet was also involved with having the home built.
The front door is flanked by figures of Henry II and Queen Eleanor, who were such a warring couple that one wonders if they were chosen in ignorance: the Queen holds a scroll on which is inscribed the Irish welcome, Cead mile failte. 
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 139. “(Barrington, BT/Pb) A massive Norman-Revival castle by William Bardwell, of London, begun in 1837, though not finished till about 1880.
The main building comprises a square, three-storey keep joined to a broad round tower by a lower range.
The entrance front is approached through a gatehouse copied from that of Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire. The stonework is of excellent quality and there is wealth of carving; the entrance door is flanked by the figures of Edward I and Eleanor of Castille; while the look-out tower is manned by a stone soldier. Groined entrance hall; staircase of dark oak carved with animals, foliage and Celtic motifs, hemmed in by Romanesque columns; drawing room with mirror in Norman frame. Octagonal library at the base of the round tower, lit by small windows in very deep recesses; the vaulted ceiling painted with blue and gold stars; central pier panelled in looking-glass with fireplace. Elaborately carved stone Celtic-Romanesque doorway copied from Killaloe Cathedral between two of the reception rooms. Glen with fine trees and shrubs; river and lake, many-arched bridge. Now a Benedictine Abbey and a well-known boys’ public school.”
Sean O’Reilly writes: “the castle remains one of the most magnificent attempts at creating an Irish version of the medieval Anglo-Norman castle. Yet Glenstal’s castle-like form is not due to the need for defence. In a tradition going back to Georgian castles such as Glin, Co Limerick and Charleville forest, Co Offaly, the intention is to evoke some ancient time, but conbined with the needs of a modern country house.” 
“(p. 172)The appearance of antiquity might also give to its patron at least the suggestion of an ancient lineage, and that in itself, in an increasingly disjointed Irish society, was not without significance. The Barringtons settled in Limerick relatively late, at the end of the seventeenth century, and furthered their fame less though marriage than through hard work, innovative industry and successful trading. Pofessional advancement was not accompanied by significant social advance, and though Joseph Barrington was a baronet, the family were in essence business people rather than aristocracy. Although there was no speedier way of securing the impression of title and history than by having one’s own castle, his son Matthew, Crown solicitor for Munster, must have recognized the discomfort of real castles, and so decided to build a more comfortable, modern version.
“The design passed through numerous phases even before building began. Even after construction commenced in 1838, from designs provided by the successful English architect William Bardwell, changes, indecision and economic variables all added further complications. Initially, before the selection of the design, the problem was the choice of site. Not having inherited lands on which to build, Barrington might use any site, and he decided first on property he had leased in 1818 from the increasingly encumbered Limerick estates of the Lord Carberry. Part of these included the district of Glenstal, at one time intended as a site for the house, and although Barrington later turned to various other sites, he took with him the name. Consequently, in a very characteristic Georgian incongruity, the title of this apparently ancient castle bears no relation to the land on which it sits.“
O’Reilly tells us “[William] Bardwell [1795-1890], little known today despite his long life – he died in 1890 aged 95 – was still less familiar when first employed by Barrington, and Glenstal remains his most important work. After training in England he advanced his studies, rather unusually for the date, in France. He gained some celebrity through competing both for the London Houses of Parliament, and for the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. It may well have been the Norman tower proposed by Bardwell as his entrance to Parliament that suggested him to his Limerick patron, though as all periods of architecture were intended to be represented in that building, any prospective client may have found something of interest.
The ultimate inspiration for Bardwell’s Glenstal lay less with the designs of the Paines or O’Hara than with the work of Thomas Hopper, notably his Gosford Castle in Armagh, of 1819. This was the first Normal revival castle in these islands, and the first in a style that Hopper would make his own. Neither Barrington nor Bardwell need have been with Gosford itself, for by the late 1830s the type was not uncommon.
…Bardwell was in Ireland in 1840, reviewing the completed work. It then extended from the largest, southern, tower to the gatehouse in the south-east wall. However, work stopped in the following year, and began again only in 1846 or 1847. Construction paused again in 1849, to recommence in about 1853, with Bardwell finally paid off, and a Cork architect, Joshua Hargrave, appointed to complete the work with restricted funds, and to create something approaching a functioning building…
Most carving was executed by an English firm, W.T. Kelsey of Brompton, which provided fifteen cases of columns, capitals and corbels in 1844. However, the detailing of much of the carved work suggests some familiarity with Irish early Christian sources, and echoes abound of recent work at Adare Manor, itself being slowly built over many years, although using native craftsmen.
If much of the carved detail is evocative rather than accurate, there are also striking and significant copies of Irish early Christian design. The style was then only beginning to receive proper attention as part of Ireland’s heritage. The idea may have been inspired again by Dunraven’s Adare – Barrington is known to have had business dealings with the family – for they used such Hiberno-Romanesque designs in the doorcase of their entrance hall. At Glenstal we find superb copies, notably the doorcase connecting the dining room and drawing room. This is a magnificently carved and surprisingly accurate reconstruction of the doorway in Killaloe Cathedral, Co Clare, today recognized as one of the masterpieces of the Irish Romanesque. A lack of understanding of the importance of such work was prevalent in mid-nineteenth-century Ireland – it might be compared to the recent lack of interest in the heritage of the country house – and its introduction here was an important moment in the history of the revival of interest in Ireland’s Christian and Celtic legacy.“
“…It was part of a wider interest in Ireland’s national character that the future of this important house was put in jeopardy. The tragic accidental shooting of the daughter of the 5th Baronet, Charles Barrington, by the IRA in an ambush on the Black and Tans in May 1921, led to the family’s departure and, eventually, the sale of the estate in 1925.“
Timothy William Ferres quotes “The Origins and Early Days of Glenstal” by Mark Tierney OSB, in Martin Browne OSB and Colmán O Clabaigh (eds), The Irish Benedictines: a history (Dublin, 2005):
“When eventually, in 1925, the time came to leave, Sir Charles made a magnificent gesture. He wrote to the Irish Free State government, offering Glenstal as a gift to the Irish nation, specifically suggesting that it might be a suitable residence for the Governor-General.
Mr W T. Cosgrave, the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, and Mr Tim Healy, the Governor-General, visited Glenstal in July 1925, and ‘were astonished at its magnificence, which far exceeded our expectations’. However, financial restraints forced them to turn down the offer. Mr Cosgrave wrote to Sir Charles, stating that ‘our present economic position would not warrant the Ministry in applying to the Dail to vote the necessary funds for the upkeep of Glenstal’. “
contact: Donie and Mary Costello Tel: 087-9852462 Open: May 3-June 30, Mon- Sat, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €4
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“[Gavin, sub Westropp/IFR] An early C19 villa undoubtedly by Sir Richard Morrison, though it is undocumented; having a strong likeness to Morrison’s “show” villa, Bearforest, Co Cork; while its plan is, in Mr. McPartland’s words, “an ingenious contraction of that of Castlegar,” one of his larger houses in the villa manner, 2 storey; 3 bay front; central breakfront; curved balustraded porch with Ionic columns; Wyatt windows under semi-circular relieving arches on either side in lower storey. Eaved roof. 5 bay side elevation. Oval entrance hall. Small but impressively high central staircase hall lit by lantern and surrounded by arches lighting a barrel-vaulted bedroom corridor. The seat of the Gavin family.“
The landed estates database tells us:
“Lewis writes that the manor was granted to William King in the reign of James I and that “the late proprietor” had erected a handsome mansion which was now the “property and residence of Cripps Villiers”. In his will dated 1704 William King refers to his niece Mary Villiers. The Ordnance Survey Field Name Book states that Kilpeacon House was the property of Edward Villiers, Dublin, and was occupied by Miss Deborah Cripps. Built in 1820 it was a large, commodious building of 2 stories. It was the residence of Edward C. Villiers at the time of Griffith’s Valuation, held in fee and valued at £60. Bought by Major George Gavin in the early 1850s from the Villiers and the residence of his son Montiford W. Gavin in the early 20th century. The Irish Tourist Association surveyor writes in 1942 that this house was completed in 1799. The owner was Mrs O’Kelly, her husband having purchased the house in 1927 from the Gavins. This house is still extant and occupied.” 
10. King John’s Castle, Limerick
Maintained by Shannon Heritage. Archiseek tells us: “King John’s Castle, on the south side of Thomond Bridge head, built in 1210 “to dominate the bridge and watch towards Thomond”, is one of the finest specimens of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland.
The castle is roughly square on plan and its 60 meter frontage along the river is flanked by two massive round towers, each over 15m. in diameter with walls 3 metres thick. The castle gate entrance – a tall, narrow gateway between two tall, round towers is quite imposing. There is another massive round tower at the north east corner of the fortification, but the east wall and the square tower defending the south-east corner of the castle, and on which cannons were mounted, is long demolished.
There was a military barracks erected within the walls in 1751, some of which still remains. Houses were also erected in the castle yard at a very much later date. These have now been removed and a modern visitor centre built on the walls.
The walls and towers still remaining of the castle are in reasonably good state of preservation. The domestic buildings of the courtyard do not survive, except for remnants of a 13th century hall and the site of what could be the castle chapel.” 
“The castle was built around 1197 under the orders of King John following the invasion of the Anglo-Normans. It was built on the site of an original Viking settlement believed to date back to 922 AD.” 
The information board tells us that built between 1210-1212 along part of the line of the 12th century ringwork, the gatehouse was the first of its kind to be constructed in Ireland, with boldly projecting towers placed on either side of the gate. It followed the latest trend in European castle building, moving from rectangular to round towers, as curved walls offered better protection from attack, particularly from mining. Mining is when one digs a series of holes or “mines” under the walls in order to weaken the walls – hence comes our term “to undermine.” The two towers of the gatehouse are “D” shaped in plan, with three floors of circular chambers within and a parapet on top.
By flanking the gate, the two towers allowed the castle’s entrance to be defended in depth, from a number of well-positioned arrow loops in the chambers. The defences also included a portcullis and a murder hole. The castle was also supplied via the river, where there is a more modest watergate in the west curtain wall.
“In 1642 the castle was occupied by people escaping the confederate wars and was badly damaged in the Siege of Limerick. The confederate leader Garret Barry had no artillery so dug under the foundations of the castle’s walls, causing them to collapse. There was also considerable damage caused during the Williamite sieges in the 1690s and so the castle has been repaired and restored on a number of occasions.” 
It is a good place here to review the Siege of Limerick. Near the castle is the Treaty Stone: apparently the Treaty of Limerick, which was signed by, amongst others, John Baggot, was signed on this stone, which was later memorialised on a plinth. A series of plaques on the ground around the stone tells us the story of the Siege of Limerick:
“The War of Two Kings. James II, a Catholic, was king of England. Parliament, unhappy with the power that James II had given to the Catholics, invite William and Mary to take over the throne. William of Orange was married to Mary the Protestant daughter of James. William arrives in England. James, fearing for his life, flees to France and gets support from his cousin Louis XIV, William’s enemy. James lands at Kinsale.
William and Mary are crowned King and Queen of England. A French army of 7000 men arrive in Ireland to help James regain his crown.
King William arrives in Carrickfergus with a large army, aiming to take Dublin. Battle of the Boyne. James’ army had 25,000 poorly equipped Irish and French soldiers. William had 36,000 experienced soldiers from all over Europe. King William is victorious.”
King William sent General Schomberg first, who landed in Carrickfergus on 14th June 1690 with 300 troops.
The plaques continue the story: “July 2nd 1690 James flees to France. By the 2nd July, most of the army had gathered in Limerick with Tyrconnell [Richard Talbot (1630-1691), 1st Duke of Tyrconnell] in charge.Limerick, an important port, was the second largest city in the country, with 1000 inhabitants. The Irish military in Limerick had few weapons. A small force of French cavalry were with the Irish cavalry on the Clare side of the Shannon. Their leader was Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan [1620-1693].
First Siege of Limerick. King William’s army began to set up camp while they waited for their heavy guns and ammunition to arrive from Dublin. Aug 10th 1690, In a daring overnight raid Sarsfield attacked the siege train at Ballyneely.King William continued his siege but massive resistance from the Jacobite army and the people of Limerick, plus bad weather, forced him to call off the siege.“
King William returned to England leaving Baron de Ginkel in charge. Cork and Kinsale surrendered to William’s army. Sarsfield rejects Ginkel’s offer of peace. More French help arrives in Limerick as well as a new French leader, the Marquis St. Ruth. Avoiding Limerick, Ginkel attacked Athlone, which guarded the main route into Connaght. 30th June 1691, Athlone surrendered. St. Ruth withdrew to Aughrim. 12th July 1691 The Battle of Aughrim. The bloodiest battle ever fought on Irish soil. The Jacobites were heading for victory when St. Ruth was killed by a cannonball. Without leadership the resistance collapsed and by nightfall, the Williamites had won, with heavy losses on both sides. Most of the Jacobites withdrew to Limerick.“
There is a John Baggot who fought in the Battle of Aughrim, and lost an eye. He later went to France with the Wild Geese, and served in the court of James II and “James III” (his followers called him James III although he was not the recognised king).
“The city walls had been strengthened since the previous year. Tyrconnell died in mid-August and the promised help from Louis XIV had not yet arrived. The Second Siege of Limerick. Ginkel and the Williamites reached Limerick and took up positions on the Irishtown side. They bombarded the city daily with cannon. They managed to break down a large section of the walls at English town, but could not get into the city. With a large English fleet on the Shannon, the city was cut off and almost completely surrounded. Sept 22nd 1691 Ginkel’s army attacked the Jacobites who were defending Thomond Bridge. The drawbridge was ordered to be raised too soon and about 600 Irish were killed or drowned. This had a profound effect on the morale of the garrison. A council of war was held and the Jacobites decided to call a truce. Leaders from both sides saw that they could gain more by ending the fighting and the discussions were conducted with great courtesy. The Treaty was finally signed on October 3rd 1691, reputedly on the Treaty Stone.
Article Civil and Military, agreed on the 3rd day of October 1691, between the Right Honourable Sir Charles Porter, Knight, and Thomas Coningsby, Esq, Lords Justices of Ireland, and his Excellency the Baron de Ginkel, Lieutenant General, and the Commander in Chief of the English army, of the one part and Sarsfield and his followers on the other.The treaty had civil and military sections. The Civil articles promised freedom to practice their religion to Catholics, but in the years after 1691, harsh laws were passed against Catholics known as the Penal Laws.
The broken treaty embittered relations between the English and Irish for two centuries.
The military parts of the Treaty allowed the Irish Jacobites to join the French army. Most of the Irish (about 14,000 approx.) went to France with Sarsfield. Some of their wives and children also travelled to France. These exiles were known as the Wild Geese. The Wild Geese became part of the French army, which included Irish regimens until the French Revolution. Wine Geese: some of the Wild Geese got into the wine trade, where their names live on today, names such as Michael Lynch, who fought in the battle of the Boyne, Phelan, Barton, and Richard Hennessy of Hennessy cognac.“
John Baggot’s sons (sons of Eleanor Gould), John and Ignatius, became soldiers and one fought for France and one fought for Spain.
“In 1791 the British Army built military barracks suitable for up to 400 soldiers at the castle and remained there until 1922. In 1935 the Limerick Corporation removed some of the castle walls in order to erect 22 houses in the courtyard. These houses were subsequently demolished in 1989 when the castle was restored and opened to the public.” 
contact: Aisling Frawley Tel: 085-8895125 www.odellville.simplesite.com Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, student/OAP/child €4
The National Inventory tells us it is a detached five-bay two-storey over basement house, built c. 1780, with later two-storey extension to rear (south). It continues: “Odell Ville is typical of the small country houses of rural Ireland, often associated with the gentleman farmers of the eighteenth century. The retention of historic fabric such as sliding sash windows, fine tooled limestone details and modest door with its stepped approach all contribute positively to the building’s character. It was once the house of T. A. O’Dell, Esq. Athough of a modest design, the overall massing of the house makes a strong and positive impact on the surrounding countryside. The associated gate lodge adds further context and character to the site.” 
12. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limerick – section 482
contact: Frieda Keane Carmody Tel: 087-2220692 Open: June 1-31, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 10am-4pm Fee: adult €10, child/OAP/student €5
The Landed estates database tells us:
“Lewis described this mansion formerly called Cappa as “beautifully situated on the banks of the Shannon”. Marked as “Cappo” on the Taylor and Skinner map of the 1770s. Home of the Rice/Spring Rice family in the 19th century, valued at £40 in the 1850s and at £54 in 1906. Occupied by the Military in 1944, sold to Lady Holland in 1947 and to the Sisters of Mercy in 1953 who opened a school.” 
Mark Bence-Jones tells us in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“[Spring-Rice, Monteagle of Bandon, B/PB] A late-Georgian house of three storeys over basement, with 2 curved bows on its entrance front, which overlooks the estuary of the Shannon, and a wide curved bow in the centre of its garden front. At one side is a 2 storey Victorian wing almost as high as the main block; at the other side is 1 bay three storey addition and a lower 2 storey wing. Also in the Victorian period, a rather unusal porch was added, in the form of a short length of curving corridor, with an open arched end; it was placed not in the centre of the front, but to the left of the left-hand bow, growing out of the high two storey addition. This was subsequently removed and a more conventional entrace doorway made between the two bows with a pillared and pedimented doorcase. From the garden front, a straight walk between trees ascends the hillside. In recent years the home of Lt-Cmdr C.E. Hall; now owned by an order of teaching nuns.“
Timothy William Ferres tells us in his blog:
“Thomas Rice, of Mount Trenchard, wedded Mary, daughter of Maurice FitzGerald, 14th Knight of Kerry, and had issue, a son, Stephen Edward Rice, of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1785, Catherine, only child and heir of Thomas Spring, of Castlemaine, County Kerry.” 
Their son was Thomas Spring-Rice (1790-1866), of Brandon, County Kerry, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1835-39. He married in 1811 the Lady Theodosia Pery, second daughter of Edmund, 1st Earl of Limerick. Thomas was elevated to the peerage in 1839 to become 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, County Kerry.
When the 5th Baron Monteagle of Brandon died in 1946, the estate was sold.
Recently the house was used as a Direct Provision Centre.
13. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482
contact: Donal Mc Goey Tel: 086-2432174 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31,12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student/ free
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“(Odell/LGI1958) A three storey house, 1 room deep, with a curvilinear gable at one end of its front; built 1683 by Major John Odell; said to have incorporated a turret surviving from an old house of the Knights Hospitallers, hence its name. Became a presbytery at the end of C19, when an enclosed porch was added on the front and a wing at the back.”
14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick – section 482
contact: John Roche Tel: 087-8269123 Open: May 1-Nov 27, Saturday and Sundays, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €3
Places to stay, County Limerick:
1. Adare Manor, Limerick – hotel €€€
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
“Originally a two storey 7 bay early C18 house with a 3 bay pedimented breakfront and a high-pitched roof on a bracket cornice; probably built ca 1720-1730 by Valentine Quin [1691-1744], grandfather of the first Earl of Dunraven [Valentine Richard Quin (1752-1824)]. From 1832 onwards the 2nd Earl [Wyndham Henry Wyndham Quin (1782-1850)], whose wife [Lady Caroline Wyndham]was the wealthy heiress of the Wyndhams of Dunraven, Glamorganshire, and who was prevented by gout from shooting and fishing, began rebuilding the house in the Tudor Revival style as a way of occupying himself; continued to live in the old house while the new buildings went up gradually behind it only moving out of it about ten years later when it was engulfed by the new work and demolished.
To a certain extent Lord and Lady Dunraven acted as their own architects, helped by a master mason named James Conolly; and making as much use as they could of local craftsmen, notably a talented carver. At the same time, however, they employed a professional architect, James Pain; and in 1846, when the house was 3/4 built, they commissioned A.W. Pugin to design some of the interior features of the great hall. Finally, between 1850 and 1862, after the death of the second Earl, his son, the 3rd Earl [Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871)], a distinguished Irish archaeologist, completed the house by building the principal garden front, to the design of P.C. [Philip Charles] Hardwick. The house, as completed, is a picturesque and impressive grey stone pile, composed of various elements that are rather loosely tied together; some of them close copies of Tudor originals in England, thus the turreted entrance tower, which stands rather incongruously at one corner of the front instead of in the middle, is a copy of the entrance to the Cloister Court at Eton.
The detail, however, is of excellent quality; and the whole great building is full of interest, and abounds in those historical allusions which so appealed to early-Victorians of the stamp of the second Earl, his wife and son. As might be expected, Hardwick’s front is more architecturally correct than the earlier parts of the house, but less inspired; a rather heavy 3 storey asymmetrical composition of oriels and mullioned windows, relieved by a Gothic cloister at one end and dominated by an Irish-battlemented tower with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted by High-Victorian decorative iron cresting.
The Archiseek website tells us:
The structure is a series of visual allusions to famous Irish and English homes that the Dunravens admired. It is replete with curious eccentricities such as the turreted entrance tower at one corner rather than in the centre, 52 chimneys to commemorate each week of the year, 75 fireplaces and 365 leaded glass windows. The lettered text carved into the front of the south parapet reads: “Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but lost that built it.” The elaborate decoration is a miracle of stonework – arches, gargoyles, chimneys and bay windows. The interior spaces are designed on a grand scale. One of the most renowned interior spaces is the Minstrel’s Gallery: 132 foot long, 26-1/2 foot high expanse inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined on either side with 17th Century Flemish Choir Stalls.
Other architects to have collaborated with the Earl include Lewis [Nockalls] Cottingham, Philip Charles Hardwick, and possibly A.W.N Pugin who designed a staircase and ceiling.” 
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The entrance hall has doorways of grey marble carved in the Irish Romanesque style; the ceiling is timbered, the doors are covered in golden Spanish leather. The great hall beyond, for which Pugin provided designs, is a room of vast size and height, divided down the middle by a screen of giant Gothic arches of stone, and with similar arches in front of the staircase, so that there are Gothic vistas in all directions. A carved oak minstrels’ gallery runs along one side; originally there was also an organ-loft. From the landing of the stairs, a vaulted passage constitutes the next stage in the romantic and devious approach to the grandest room in the house, the long gallery, which was built before the great hall, in 1830s; it is 132 feet long and 26 feet high with a timbered roof; along the walls are carved C17 Flemish choir stalls and there is a great deal of other woodcarving, including C15 carved panelling in the door.
The other principal reception rooms are in Hardwick’s garden front; they have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces; that in the drawingroom having been designed by Pugin.“
Sean O’Reilly writes in his book Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of Country Life.
“Nowhere is the creativity of Adare more apparent than in the Great Hall and its associated spaces. Enclosed by screens of giant and more modest arches, round and pointed, surrounded by corridors, staircases and steps flying in an apparently conflicting succession of directions, and with galleries breaking through walls, not to mention the ubiquitous antlers of the Irish elk, the great hall was one of the most picturesque interiors of its day. Lady Dunraven described the room as being ‘peculiarly adapted to every purpose for which it may be required,’ observing that ‘it has been frequently used with equal appropriateness as a dining room, concert-room, ballroom, for private theatricals, tableaux vivants and other amusements.’ ” 
O’Reilly writes: “If the hall is the most complex space, the most dramatic is the gallery, a huge timber-roofed space rising through two storeys and stretching nearly forty-five metres. With its architectural details, pictures and furnishings, the idea, as Cornforth so well expressed it, was to ‘create 250 years of history overnight.’ The family history from the twelfth century is traced in Willement’s stained glass and portraits – both family heirlooms and acquisitions – which carry the story through in more intimate, if also more vague terms. Seventeenth century Flemish stalls, purchased by the Dunravens during their Continental tour of 1834-36, add to the ambiguous combination of old and new.” 
O’Reilly adds: “It was Pugin’s successor, the English architect P.C. Hardwick, who developed the next and final major phase of work at Adare. This involved the laying out of the surrounding terraces, and the completion of the southern range, that which looks across to the river and occupies the site of the original classical house. Although Hardwick’s work embodies the professional finish of the later nineteenth century, it possesses none of the amateur exuberance of the earlier work. Yet his patron, the 3rd Earl, was to establish himself as one of the foremost authorities of Irish antiquities. He was a friend of the celebrated Irish antiquary George Petrie, and collated the material for the posthumously published Notes on Irish Antiquities, one of the most significant antiquarian publications of the century.” 
Mark Bence-Jones adds: “The house stands close to the River Maigue surrounded by a splendid desmesne in which there is a Desmond castle, and a ruined medieval Franciscan friary; one of 3 monastic buildings at Adare, the other 2 having been restored as the Catholic and Protestant churches.”
Unable to bear the expense of maintaining Adare Manor, the 7th Earl sold it and its contents in 1984.
Among the trees southwest of the Manor House are Ogham Stones, which were brought to Adare Manor from Kerry by Edwin, the 3rd Earl of Dunraven. Ogham Stones date from the early 5th Century to the middle of the 7th Century. They are mainly Christian in context and are usually associated with old churches or early Christian burial sites. Ogham inscriptions are in an early form of Irish, frequently followed by Latin inscriptions and often read from the bottom upwards.
2. Ash Hill Towers, Kilmallock, Co Limerick – section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €
“It is a vibrant property and the teams behind it are equally passionate and dedicated to the hotel and guests who frequent it. Jim & Mary Long are the proprietors, who purchased the property in 2014 and lovingly restored it and redeveloped it for its opening in December 2017. They are both from West Limerick but reside in London and have always maintained their strong connections to the area and frequent visitors to the hotel and their extended family and friends.”
6. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick € or €€
“Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa, which is a founding member of Original Irish Hotels, began life more than 40 years ago as a four-bedroomed bed and breakfast (B&B) run by Mary and Dick (RIP) Fitzgerald as a way to supplement their farming income. Today, it is an 89-room award-winning four-star hotel employing more than 200 people.”
Whole house rental County Limerick
1. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick – self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10
You can see lovely photographs of the castle, inside and out, on the website.
The website tells us: “The castle comprises 5 exquisite reception rooms filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century furniture. The entrance hall with a screen of Corinthian pillars has a superb Neo-classical plaster ceiling and the enfilade of reception rooms are filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century mahogany furniture. Family portraits and Irish pictures line the walls, and the library bookcase has a secret door leading to the hall and the very rare flying staircase.
Upstairs there are 15+ individually decorated bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom. Colourful rugs and chaise longues stand at the end of comforting plump beds. Pictures and blue and white porcelain adorn the walls. The bedrooms at the back of the castle overlook the garden, while those at the front have a view of the river.“
The website tells us of the history:
“The FitzGeralds first settled here in the 1200’s at nearby Shanid Castle following the Norman invasion of Ireland. Their war cry was Shanid Abu! (Shanid forever in Gaelic). In the early 14th century the Earl of Desmond, head of the Geraldines, made hereditary Knights of 3 illegitimate sons he had sired with the wives of various Irish chieftains, creating them the White Knight, the Green Knight of Kerry and the Black Knight of Glin. For seven centuries they defended their lands against the troops of Elizabeth I, and during the Cromwellian plantation and Penal laws.
Coming into the hall with its Corinthian columns and elaborate plaster ceiling in the neo classical style, one can see straight ahead among a series of family portraits, some already mentioned, the picture of Colonel John FitzGerald [(1765-1803)the 23rd Knight of Glin], the builder of the house, wearing the uniform of his volunteer regiment the Royal Glin Artillery. In his portrait, which hangs over the Portland stone chimneypiece, he is proudly pointing at his cannon. In May 1779 Colonel John’s father, Thomas FitzGerald, whose portrait in a blue coat is on the left of the dining room door, wrote to Edmund Sexton Pery the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons to warn him that a French naval invasion was expected off the coast. There were rumours that the American privateer Paul Jones had sailed up the Shannon to Tarbert after he had defeated an English ship in Belfast Lough in the summer of 1779. France and Spain had declared war on England and were supporting the American colonists in the War of Independence. Panic spread among the gentry and nobility of Ireland in case the country should be left unprotected in the face of an invasion, and the Irish Volunteer Regiments were raised between 1778 and 1783-40,000 men having been enrolled by 1779 and 100,000 by 1782. Inspired by the success of the Americans and with the strength of the Volunteers behind them, Henry Grattan and his Patriot Party demanded legislative independence for Ireland from Britain following their achievement of the abolition of trade restrictions in 1778. These stirring optimistic times were the background to the building of Glin.”
The website continues: “The new prosperity of the country was reflected in a great deal of public and private building and the accompanying extensive landscaping and tree planting showed the pride of Ireland’s ruling classes in their newly won but brief national independence-an independence which was shaken by the French Revolution and finally shattered by the Rebellion of 1798 and the ensuing Union with England in 1800. Colonel John supported this Union, though his faith in King and Country had faltered under the influence of his United Irishman brother, Gerald during the 1798 Rebellion, when his kinsman Lord Edward FitzGerald is said to have stayed at Glin. Colonel John had no political influence as all the local boroughs were in the hands of the new English settler families. This meant that unlike so many of them he did not spend money on a large Dublin house and thereby concentrated on cutting a greater dash at home.
Unfortunately, we have no direct information about who designed the house or the identity of the craftsmen who styled the superb woodwork such as the mahogany library bookcase with its concealed secret door, the inlaid stair-rail, the flying staircase, or the intricate plaster ceilings. This is because many of the family papers were burned by the so-called ‘Cracked Knight’ in the 1860s. Tradition tells us that the stone for the house was brought across the hills from a quarry in nearby Athea on horse-drawn sleds by a ‘strongman’ contractor called Sheehy. This is the only name connected with the building of the house that has come down to us.
It seems likely that Colonel John started his house sometime in the 1780s as he obviously used the same masons and carpenters as were used for two houses adjoining each other in Henry Street, Limerick, one built for the Bishop of Limerick, later Lord Glentworth, and the other for his elder brother the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Viscount Pery. These Limerick houses were finished by 1784 and it would seem not unlikely that they are the work of a good local carpenter /builder. Colonel John may well have been his own architect working with the excellent craftsmen that Limerick could obviously produce. The neo-classical plasterwork of the hall is possibly an exception as it is close to the work of two Dublin stuccadores, Charles Thorpe or Michael Stapleton. The motifs on the frieze reminds us of the Volunteer enthusiasm of the house for the military trophies, shields sprouting shamrocks and the full bosomed Irish harp which are to be seen on the hall ceiling all underline Colonel John’s patriotism. The French horn and the music book also reminds us that this hall doubled up as a ballroom; the music undoubtedly being played by the musicians from the artillery band. Colonel John loved music and had been taught the flute by a Gaelic music and dancing master, Seań Bán Aerach Ó Flanagán. The house stands on the banks of the widest part of the river Shannon and the snub nosed dolphins and tridents in· the corners of the main hall ceiling symbolise water, while flower-laden cornucopiae and ears of wheat represent the fruitful grasslands that surround the newly built mansion. Oval plaques with their Pompeian red background portray Roman soldiers depicting war and other figures characterise peace and justice. All this symbolism reminds us of contemporary events in the sea girt island of Ireland. This magnificent ceiling retains much of its original 18th century colouring.
In 1789 Colonel John married his beautiful English wife, the daughter of a rich west country squire, and her coat-of-arms are impaled with his on the hall ceiling. Her portrait hangs above her husbands to the right of the drawing room door in the hall. Her coat-of-arms on the ceiling suggests that the house was still being decorated in 1789 although the money must have been beginning to run out, because work was stopped short on the third floor, and walls remained scored for plaster and pine doors are unpainted to this day. Financial problems must have marred their brief decade together at Glin as in 1791 the Dublin La Touche Bank called in their debts going back as far as 1736 and took a case to Parliament. In June 1801 a private Act of Parliament in Westminster was passed to force part of the Glin estate to be sold in order to pay off the many ‘incumbrances’ which had accrued through the 18th century. This document mentions that Colonel John had expended ‘Six thousand pounds and upward in building a mansion house and offices and making plantations and other valuable and lasting improvements…’. Comparing costs with other roughly contemporary buildings shows us that the cut stone Custom House in Limerick cost £8,000 in 1779 and Mornington House, one of Dublin’s largest houses, was sold for the same sum in 1791, so £6,000 ‘and upwards’ was a substantial sum in those days. Colonel John’s wife Margaretta Maria Fraunceis died at one of her father’s properties, Combe Florey in Somerset a few months after the Act was passed. In 1802, 5,000 acres of Glin were sold, and Colonel John himself died in 1803 leaving an only son, and heir aged 12. In June 1803 the local newspaper the Limerick Chronicle advertised sales of the household furniture, the library, , ‘a superb service of India china’, but no pictures or silver. The hall chairs and amorial sideboard in the hall survived because of their family associations but carriages, farm stock, and ‘the fast-sailing sloop The Farmer, her cabin neatly fitted up’ followed. The FitzGeralds of Glin were almost bankrupt.
It was only because of the long minority of John Fraunceis FitzGerald, the son and heir, and the fact that there were no younger children to provide for, which saw the estate on to 1812 when he attained his majority. Educated at Winchester and Cambridge he regained the family fortunes by successful gambling and though he married an English clergyman’s daughter with no great dower, he built the various Gothic lodges and added the battlements and sugar icing detail to the old Glin House making it into the ‘cardboard castle’ that it is today. This would have been typical of the romantic notions of the 1820s and he obviously thought that the holder of such an ancient title should be living in a castle like his medieval ancestors.
The top floor was never completed and other than further planting, little else was done to Glin for over a hundred years as money was scarce during the Victorian period. Over 5,000 acres were sold by 1837 and for the rest of the century the estate consisted of 5,836 acres and the town of Glin. The rent roll came to between £3,000 and £3,800 a year but with mortgages, windows jointures, and other family charges there was in 1858 a surplus of only £777 16s. 5d. brought in from the estate. Not included in this would have been the income from the salmon weirs on the Shannon. Lack of money may have been a blessing in disguise for there were few Victorian improvements at Glin though the Dublin firm of Sibthorpe redecorated the staircase ceiling and added Celtic revival monograms in two roundels and carried out some stencil work in the library and smoking room. This work would have been done in the 1860s probably at the same time that the Protestant church at the gate was being rebuilt.“
4. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.
The website tells us: “Springfield Castle is situated in the heart of County Limerick on a magical 200 acre wooded estate and is approached along a magnificent three quarter mile long avenue, lined with ancient lime trees. Enjoy an exclusive relaxing stay in a one of a kind castle.
Accommodation for up to 25 people in a unique Irish castle we are the perfect place for your vacation, family gathering or boutique wedding in Ireland. It is the ideal place to stay in an Irish castle, Springfield is centrally located allowing you to explore many of Ireland’s fantastic gems including the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a one of a kind place where you can unwind and relax.
Springfield castle is owned By Robert Fitzmaurice Deane the 9th Baron of Muskerry. Robert and his wife Rita are regular visitors. Robert has funded the ongoing restoration in Springfield since 2006, most recently of the garden cottage where he and Rita stay when visiting Ireland.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 263. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, sub Lansdowne, M/PB; Deane, Muskerry, B/PB) A three storey C18 house adjoining a large C16 tower house of the FitzGeralds, later bought by the Fitzmaurices, whose heiress married Sir Robert Deane, 6th Bt, afterwards 1st Lord Muskerry, 1775. …A two storey C19 Gothic wing with pinnacle buttresses was added at one end of C18 block, extending along one side of the old castle bawn, a smaller tower at another and outbuildings along two of the remaining sides to form a courtyard. 20C entrance gates and lodge in the New Zealand Maori style. C18 house was burnt 1923 and new house was afterwards made out of C19 Gothic wing, which was extended in the same style.”
The National Inventory tells us it is a “Gothic Revival style country house with courtyard complex, commenced c. 1740, comprising attached eight-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt c. 1925, having single-bay three-stage entrance tower. Earlier two-bay three-storey wing to side (east) having single-bay three-stage gate tower with integral camber-headed carriage arch. Tooled limestone octagonal corner turrets with pinnacles to front (south) elevation of wing gate tower, rendered octagonal turrets and pinnacles to side (west) elevation of main block. Two-bay two-storey double-pile over basement block to rear (north) incorporating possibly earlier three-stage tower to north-west. Additional lean-to stairwell block to side (west) elevation of extension block.
This impressive country house is situated in a picturesque location with extensive panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The house and courtyard complex are the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry and occupies the site of an old bawn associated with the sixteenth-century tower house. The first record of a castle at Springfield is dated to 1280, when the Norman Fitzgeralds arrived. A visible mark to the tower house represents part of the roof line of an earlier eighteenth-century mansion that was built by John Fitzmaurice, a grandson of the 20th Lord of Kerry. Sir Robert Deane [1745-1818] married Ann Fitzmaurice in 1780, the sole heiress of Springfield and was a year later awarded the title Baron Muskerry. This mansion was burnt in 1921 by the IRA who were afraid that the occupying Black and Tans were going to convert the buildings into a garrison. The current house was rebuilt by ‘Bob’ Muskerry, the 5th Baron and follows the Gothic Revival style of the nineteenth century, with characteristic pinnacled turrets to the house and main entrance. The castellated entrance towers with tooled stone forming the main fabric of the turrets and a grand entrance door greatly enliven the façade of the building. The fine Gothic Revival style gate tower provides a glorious entrance to the substantial courtyard. A large variety of outbuildings display great skill and craftsmanship with well executed rubble stone walls and numerous carriage arches helping to maintain the historic character of the site. A curious mechanised clock controlling a mechanical calendar, lunar calendar and a bell constructed by the current owner’s great grand uncle is a mechanical masterpiece of great technical interest. Coupled with the archaeological monuments, this complex has a significant architectural value at a national level.“
The website tells us about the history:
“Steeped in history, it is the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry, whose motto Forti et fideli nihil dificile which means “nothing is difficult to the strong and faithful” underlies over 700 years of family history.
The earliest castle at Gort na Tiobrad, the Irish name for Springfield Castle, is reputed to date from 1280 when one of the Fitzgeralds, a junior member of the Earl of Desmond’s family, married a lady of the O Coilleains, who were the Gaelic Lords of Claonghlais. He took the title Lord of Claonghlais and subsequently built a castle at Springfield. The Tower house and build circa 1480. This was the beginning of a long association of the Fitzgeralds with the area. They were patrons to Irish poets and musicians.As you enter the impressive gateway to Springfield Castle a plaque on the wall commemorates Daithi O’Bruadair, a classical Irish poet of the seventeenth century who lived at the castle with his patrons, the Fitzgerald family, recording their lives (and general events). He described Springfield Castle as “a mansion abounding in poetry, prizes and people”
The Fitzgeralds soon became, as the saying goes “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and had an oft-times difficult relationship with the British monarchy. In 1691 they had their lands confiscated for the third and last time and Sir John Fitzgerald went to France with Sir Patrick Sarsfield to continue fighting the English there, never to return to Ireland. A younger son of the 20th Lord of Kerry, William Fitzmaurice [1670-1710], (cousins to the Fitzgeralds) then bought Springfield castle. His son, John, built a very large 3 story early Georgian mansion attached to the existing buildings. The Fitzmaurices occupied Springfield Castle until Sir Robert Deane married Ann Fitzmaurice, the sole heiress, in 1780. He was awarded the title Baron Muskerry in 1781 and the title Lord Muskerry has stayed at Springfield Castle to this day. The castle was burnt in 1921 during the war of Independence and rebuilt by “Bob” Muskerry the 5th Baron in 1929. The 9th Baron, Robert Fitzmaurice Deane, lives and works in South Africa at present, and started restoring the castle in 2006. Robert’s sister Betty, her husband Jonathan and their children Karen and Daniel run Springfield Castle and look forward to meeting you.“
The National Inventory tells us Beechwood House is a:
“Detached seven-bay three-storey country house, built 1741, with three-bay pedimented breakfront. Two-bay single-storey over basement flanking wings, added 1853. Tower house to rear, built 1594, giving overall T-plan and is multiple-bay three-storey block. Later greenhouse added to north…Timber panelled door set in square-headed opening with pedimented carved limestone surround having pulvinated frieze...
The form of this imposing country house, set in a mature landscape retains many notable features and materials, such as the slate roof, ashlar limestone quoins and interior features. Architectural features, such as the pedimented breakfront and flanking wings, enliven the regular façade. The doorway is notable for its design and execution. The remodelled tower house attached to the rear adds archaeological interest and indicates a long tradition of high status settlement at this site. The outbuildings survive in their original form and together with the country house and tower house combine to create an interesting and notable group of structures.” 
“This is a beautiful mixed woodland that lies close to the Glenary River, a tributary of the Suir. The main feature of this site is the ruins of the castle that gives the forest its name. It is just 500m from the car park down a mixed woodland trail that leads to the river. It is believed to have been built at some stage during the 1800’s by the Carey family, who were local schoolmasters in the Clonmel area. A number of architectural styles are still evident in the ruined remains, including; Gothic windows, a Celtic round tower, a Norman Keep, and both Romanesque and Gothic arches. The remnants of a walled garden can be found to the southern side of the castle. An ice-house is located just off the trail beyond the castle. This is a stone-lined pit which used to serve as a ‘fridge’ when the castle was inhabited. Carey’s Castle was occupied by monks and up to recent years the ruins of the alms house was still in evidence. A real gem of a site for local historians.”
contact: Elizabeth O’Callaghan Tel: 086-8185334 Open: April 5-28, May 3-31, Tues & Thurs, June 2-30, Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-29, Oct 4-27, Tues & Thurs, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4
The National Inventory tells us it is a “detached three-bay two-storey over basement country house, built c. 1810, with recessed lower irregular-plan four-bay two-storey 1930s extension to south, full-height bowed bay to rear and flat-roofed porch to front. Used as rectory 1920-1976. ..Rendered and timber porch with Doric-style portico and fixed windows with decorative consoles. Timber panelled double-doors having limestone steps and cast-iron bootscrape. Segmental-arched doorway with spoked fanlight and panelled shutters to interior. Folly and remains of walled garden to site. ..
This house is carefully-proportioned with widely-spaced diminishing windows and centrally-placed chimneystacks. The bow provides a sense of grandeur to the rear elevation, enhanced by the finely-crafted sash windows. One of several projects in the area commissioned by the Grubb family, it retains much of its demesne architecture, enhanced by mature grounds and planting, including the remains of a walled garden, finely-made entrance piers, and an interesting folly.“
contact: Sarah Baker Tel: 085-2503344 www.cloughjordanhouse.com Open: May 2-31, June 1-30, Sept 5-30 Mon- Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP €4
The website tells us: “An 800 year old French style manor house set in the lush countryside of North Tipperary. Cloughjordan House is at heart a place of wholesome home-grown food, warm, welcoming rooms, gardens to explore and wide lawns to play on.“
The website tells us a little about the history of the house: “You can’t walk around the grounds of Cloughjordan House without feeling steeped in Irish history. The house itself has been there for over 800 years, dating back to as early as 1214. It’s covered in a colourful Virginia creeper residual from the historic Hodgins’ Arboretum and nursery gardens that the grounds were once famous for. The property has been in the hands of The Baker family since 1914 when they purchased it from the Hodgins family. In 1922, free state soldiers occupied the house and evidence of their target practise can see be seen on an ancient tree outside.
Peter Baker, his wife Sarah and their children; Julie, Holly and Sam are the proud residents of Cloughjordan House today. Over the past decade or more, they have transformed Cloughjordan House from a dairy farm into a magical destination with the best in food, atmosphere and accommodation. The family live in their own wing of the main house and welcome guests as though they are friends and family, even the family dogs Louis and Monty are available for a belly rub during your stay.”
The National Inventory tells us it is a “Detached multi-period country house, comprising five-bay two-storey central block, built c.1675, having rear stairs return, flanked by two blocks that advance forwards, eastern being medieval tower house and western being ballroom block built c.1850. Flanking blocks are gable-fronted and two-storey with attic, and middle block has pitched slate roofs with massive rendered chimneystacks. Rendered walls, with battered base and dressed quoins to tower house...Round-headed doorway with petal fanlight and replacement timber and glazed door to ballroom block. Part of original staircase with barley-twist balusters survives. Various gabled and lean-to additions to rear. Detached L-plan stable block, built c.1860. Wrought-iron gates set on limestone plinth to entrance. Remains of moat to north and east.
Cloughjordan House is a substantial farmhouse that contains significant fabric from the medieval period to the nineteenth century. Its form, detailing and original fabric provide important information about rural architectural development in Ireland. The house also contains fine joinery and plaster work and the barley-twist staircase is a rare survival. It has one of the few surviving nursery gardens for which there is substantial documentation that is now preserved in the National Botanic Gardens.“
Open: May 11-31, June 1-2, 9-30, Aug 13-22, Oct 3-7, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €6, child free under 5 years, adult supervision essential, group rates available
Fancroft Fancroft Gardens are not open to visitors for the seasons 2021/22.
The website tells us:
“An extensive conservation project, commenced in 2006 by Marcus & Irene Sweeney, has resulted in the rescue from dereliction of this mill complex which is of noted industrial heritage importance. A set of new mill stones were installed in 2010. Milling capability is now restored for domestic purposes. A recently installed generator contributes to the household heating system. All of the buildings at Fancroft are included on the Offaly County Council list of Protected Structures.
The rescue from dereliction of the mill complex at Fancroft received public recognition in 2017 when the Irish Georgian Society awarded the owners one of their Conservation Awards. The inaugural Norman Campion award for Best Restored Industrial Site or Museum was conferred on Fancroft Mill & Gardens by the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland in 2019.
Approached by the winding road one has no idea of what lies behind the hedge and across the stream which drives the water wheel in the corn mill. Consequently the extensive gardens, created mostly in the 1990’s by previous owner Angela Jupe, unfold as a series of delightful surprises as one proceeds beyond the pebbled courtyard leaving the busy world behind.
In recent years Fancroft Mill & Gardens has proven to be a wonderful venue for successful heritage seminars, classical and traditional music events, sponsored walks and visits by interested individuals and groups from Ireland and overseas.“
“As well as being the Cullen family home, Cyril Cullen Knitwear and porcelain is designed and produced in the converted ‘old stables’ in the castle courtyard. The unique parian/porcelain designs are sold in what was the old dairy at Farney castle, the knitwear boutique is situated in the original kitchen of the castle and a coffee shop is situated in the 15th century round tower.It is the only Round Tower in Ireland occupied as a family home. Tours of the castle are available daily and harp recitals take place in the drawing room by arrangement.
The History of Farney Castle
The first castle was built at Farney in 1185 and this would have been a timbered structure. The present round tower was built in 1495 by Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, and it was part of a defensive system created by the Butlers to protect their land in Tipperary. The Butlers were in Farney Castle for 500 years but in 1536 the castle was confiscated by King Henry VIII of England. He returned the lands again to the Butlers in 1538 when he married Anne Boleyn who was the daughter of James, 3rd Earl of Ormond. Subsequently the castle was occupied for short periods by two other English monarchs namely King James 1st from 1617 – 1625, and King George 1st from 1716 -1721.
In 1649 Cromwell landed in Ireland and shortly after 1650 a Cromwellian soldier named Hulett took over the castle. Then in 1660 Capt. William Armstrong, a Cavalier who supported the Stuarts and who fought against Cromwell, acquired the castle and lands, and there were Armstrongs in the castle for the next 200 years. William Armstrong came from a Scottish Border country family which was famed in the sixteenth century for its ferocity, and in 1677 he purchased large estates in the area including Holy Cross Abbey and Holy Cross lands.
The round tower is 58 ft. high and has five stories. It is unusual in being circular whereas the majority of this sort of tower were square or oblong. It possesses a mural staircase (built within the thickness of the walls) off which it appears that secret rooms still exist undiscovered. The main door was opened up by Cyril Cullen having been closed for 200 years. There is a “murdering hole” over the main door and this enabled the castle defenders to shoot from above at any intruders. The tower castles were built to safeguard the Butler lands during the long periods when the family was away in England.”
Open: May & Sept, Mon-Sat, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm, closed Sundays Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €6, group rates available
Mark Bence-Jones tells us it is: “[Mansergh] A 2 storey 3 bay late-Georgian house with a long 2 storey service wing. Enclosed porch with roundheaded windows; a Wyatt window on either side of it.“
The National Inventory adds: “three-bay two-storey country house, of at least two phases, front elevation rebuilt c. 1820, with entrance porch. Rear part of east elevation of main block, together with lower two-storey wings, five-bay to north-west and two-bay to north-east, may be early eighteenth century. Additional double-pile three-bay two-storey block having pitched slate roof to north-east…A pleasing middle-sized house of balanced Georgian proportions, existing largely in its early form and retaining much of its original fabric. This house is elevated above other typical early nineteenth century middle-sized country houses by the inclusion of ornate features including the elaborate entrance porch with round-headed openings and the tripartite windows with delicately proportioned engaged clustered timber columns. The house, its yards, walled and terraced gardens, together with its monumental entrance piers, form an attractive and interesting group on a slightly elevated site in the landscape. “
9. Killenure Castle, Dundrum, Co Tipperary – section 482
contact: Eavaun Carmody Tel: 087-6402664 www.killenure.com Open: Feb 1-20, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 10.30am-2.30pm Fee: adult €10, child /OAP/student €5
Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 170. “(Cooper/IFR) A large tower-house of the O’Dwyer family, burnt by the Cromwellians but still very well preserved, with a plain and unassuming C18 house of two storeys over basement alongside it. Sold in recent years, now a private school.”
The National Inventory adds: “Detached two-storey country house, comprising T-plan five-bay block, c. 1770, with central pedimented breakfront and rear return, with four-bay block built to south-west, c. 1800, to give overall L-plan. Two-storey pitched addition to north gable, with single-storey lean-to extension to rear and having catslide addition to rear of later block. Early seventeenth-century fortified house located to west….Fortified house has round-plan corner towers and three-bay four-storey gable-fronted façade, triple-gabled rear elevation, rubble limestone walls, dressed limestone string courses, loops to towers and ground floor of main facades, upper floors of latter having square-headed one-and mullioned two-light and three-light windows, some blocked, to main facades with chamfered limestone surrounds and label-mouldings. Pointed-arch doorways to front and rear walls, and flight of external steps up to north-west tower. Conical slate roof to north-eastern tower, rubble limestone chimneystacks and dripstones. Some later square-headed window openings to south-east tower, with red brick surrounds, one having carved timber traceried casement windows. Lofted stable and coach house to rear of house with half-hipped slate roofs and rendered rubble limestone walls and having square- and segmental-headed openings. Three-bay single-storey gate-lodge with hipped slate roof and rendered walls and entrance gates with dressed limestone piers to vehicluar and pedestrian entrances with wrought-iron gates and flanking rubble limestone walls.
This multi-period country house was formerly the home of the antiquary Austin Cooper. Its setting, next to a substantial fortified house, indicates considerable continuity of living at this location, and reflects the transition in attitudes to living patterns with a concentration on defence shifting to one of comfortable living. The later wing is typical of an early nineteenth-century country house with centrally-placed chimneystacks and tall sash windows. The fortified house retains mainly notable feature features including defensive elements such as the gun loops. The fortified house, country house and associated outbuildings make an impressive complex in the landscape.”
The Killenure website tells us:
“Nestled in the spectacular scenery of South Tipperary, Killenure Castle the home of Killenure Dexter beef is a truly stunning gift from times gone by. It has held a central place in the local community for over five centuries, as a stronghold; a school; an artistic retreat; a visitor attraction; and vitally, a family home.
Since its purchase in 2007, the house has been lovingly restored and updated. The renovations reflect the family’s role as both inhabitants and custodians of the castle, and have successfully balanced the needs – and responsibilities – that come with both. This continues the organic pattern of development that Killenure Castle has enjoyed for the over 450 years. From the original castle whose ruinous remains now dominates the space, to a charming ‘Hansel and Gretel’ style tree-house that is built around a 300-year-old living Irish Beech tree, the eclectic range of buildings reflects the fascinating range of almost five centuries of lucky inhabitants.
As well as providing shelter for generations of owners and their families, Killenure Castle represents the centre of a community. Its survival through 500 years is testament to the strength of the community it represents, and Eavaun and her family are delighted to share the castle with visitors. As custodians of Killenure Castle, we have built a sustainable, community-orientated business, ensuring the survival of the castle and Killenure Dexter beef for future generations.
Whilst the spectacular medieval castle and grounds have previously been open to visitors during the summer, they will remain closed in 2017 due to ongoing restoration works. If you would like to learn more, a guidebook is available for those wishing to learn more about this extra-ordinary castle, and the community that surrounds it.
You can purchase a short history of Killenure which documents the history of Killenure from the O’Dwyer Clan up to the contemporary Killenure of today. The cost of the book is €5.00 plus postage. To order a copy please contact firstname.lastname@example.org “
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 185. “[Baker/IFR] A late-Georgian house with battlements and other mild Gothic touches. 2 storeys; entrance front of three bays with Gothic porch, prolonged by lower wing ending in a gable with tracery window. Side of five bays has a battlemented pediment with pinnacles. Another pediment on the rear facade.”
The National Inventory adds: “This is an imposing and diverse country house, which has been enlivened through the addition of many Gothic-style elements. The early nineteenth-century middle wing provides a foil for the classically-designed original block, in its use of unrendered stone walls. The extensive and well-designed courtyard reflects the grandeur of this dwelling, which is set in landscaped grounds. The retention of early wallpaper to two ground floor reception rooms is an indication of the sympathetic maintenance this house receives.“
The website tells us: “Lismacue House is a Luxury Georgian Country House set in the heart of Ireland.
This is the ideal property for anyone wanting to rent a luxury home for a quiet country break.
Approached by the gracious lime tree avenue, Lismacue House looks out on the splendour of the Galtee mountains.
Standing in 200 acres of parkland with the excellent ‘Ara’ trout fishing, this is the ideal location to relax and explore the wonders of Ireland.“
The website tells us more about the history:
“The original dwelling, situated in the “Oak Paddock” had five chimneys and therefore incurred a hearth tax of 10/- according to the records of 1665.
On the 15th October, 1704 Lismacue was purchased by William Baker, ancestor of Kate Nicholson, for the sum of £923. Since then the house has been continually occupied by the family. Sir Augustine Baker, a solicitor, was President of the Incorporated Law Society in 1903. He compiled the family history in 1922, just before the Public Record Office was burned down.
The present house was completed in 1813 to the design of architect William Robertson.It is a classically proportioned Irish country house set in 200 acres and approached by one of the most impressive lime tree avenues in Ireland, planted c.1760 by Hugh Baker.
Lismacue is a beautifully maintained model of country house splendour with high ceilings and intricate plasterwork, broad staircases and gloriously stained pine floors. Differing architectural styles can be discerned between the main building, the wing and Coach House.
At the turn of the century guests were collected at Bansha railway station by trap.
The accommodation consists of a classically proportioned drawing room, dining room, breakfast room and library. The house is centrally heated throughout, with traditional warm and welcoming log fires in the reception rooms. All windows have the original pine shutters that are closed each evening.
The plasterwork in the Drawing Room is of unusual pendulous Gothic design and coupled with the gilt pelmets, mahogany doors and original wallpaper give it an air of timelessness and tranquillity.In the Dining room the elegant dining room table surrounded by the original Hicks chairs, which can seat a party of 12, is West facing thereby getting the benefit of the evening sun.
The library, overlooking the croquet lawn, contains original wallpaper, which is French in design, and is now almost two hundred years old. The architects preparatory sketches hang above the bookcase.
All bedrooms contain a King or Queen size bed and are especially designed for perfect rest. Each spacious room features antique furniture, direct dial telephones, fresh cut flowers all year round. There’s a sumptuous deep soaking bath and shower in all bathrooms. Each room enjoys panoramic views over the surrounding landscaped gardens and estate.“
Open: June 15-30, July 1-17, Aug 9-31, Sept 1-7, 2.30pm-6.30pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5
The website tells us:
“Welcome to Redwood Castle in Co. Tipperary, ancient home of the MacEgan’s and O’Kennedy’s.
Today the Castle is one of the main historical attractions in the midlands of Ireland. Come and take a guided tour around Redwood Castle and learn about the history of the Castle and surrounding area.“
The website tells us more about the castle:
“Redwood is a complex structure made up of two main sections. Firstly, there are a series of main chambers stacked one above the other that form the core of the tower house. These are accompanied by a series of smaller ancillary rooms at the front of the building, which were used as bed chambers.
This layout may seem fairly straightforward but it is complicated by each room being on different levels. While we normally think of castle walls as thick and strong for defensive purposes, they were in reality riddled with passageways and staircases that served the larger rooms inside. Irish castle builders generally made very economical use of walls for domestic purposes rather than military strength, meaning that castles were far less impenetrable than they appeared.
A series of defensive features on the exterior such as battlements and machicolation were instead used to convey a certain military bravado to those who approached the castle. The occupants of these castles were aristocratic warriors who participated in an ancient martial culture, and castles played an important part in dramatising and expressing their identity.
The earliest recorded occupants of Redwood are the O’Kennedy sept who are referred to in possession of the castle in the 1540s. However, it was likely to have previously been in possession of the O’Maddens whose east Galway lordship once extended into the north of Ormond and the parish of Lusmagh beyond. They seem to have lost this territory in the 1440s and it would appear that the sept of O’Kennedy Roe came into possession of the castle around that time.
The Mac Egans were a prominent bardic family in their day, and they were one of only seven Irish families to practice the ancient Brehon Law. Of these seven, five served just one ruling family, one served five senior lords, and members of the Mac Egan clan served as the chief advisors to all of the remaining thirteen lords and chieftains. The position of the “Brehon” was one of great importance. They served as a kind of first minister for their master, functioning as his chief advisors on legal matters as well as those of a more general nature. In addition, they served as ambassadors and negotiators, brokering deals and treaties between the feudal lords of medieval Ireland. As such, they were widely respected and were treated as neutrals in any conflicts. There is only one medieval record of a Brehon being killed by an Irish chief, and even that was a case of mistaken identity. Finally, the Brehons sat in judgement on the Brehon courts, which ran in conflict with the English Common Law system which was theoretically the one and only legal system.“
The website gives us more information about Brehon Law.
“Redwood Castle was originally constructed around 1210 by an Anglo-Norman family by the name of De Cougan. Redwood’s strategic position was of the utmost importance owing to its close proximity to the River Shannon. The Anglo-Normans made several attempts to cross the Shannon and administer the west of Ireland, but none were successful enough to allow the invaders to settle on a permanent basis. As a result, the Anglo-Normans faced the constant danger of being attacked themselves from across the Shannon, leading to a long line of castles and towerhouses being constructed along its eastern bank. The original structure here at Redwood was only two storeys tall, and there were no entrances or exits here on the ground floor for security reasons. The original doorway would have been on the second floor, accessible by a retractable ladder. The main entrance you see today dates from the mid-1300s. For many years ivy covered all of the castle except this doorway, and so a lot of tourist material still mistakenly dates the entire castle from this period.
The De Cougans eventually vacated Redwood, and the castle was granted to the O’Kennedy family in 1350. It was then that the other floors were added to the castle. The local branch of the O’Kennedy family were based in Lackeen Castle, approximately 3 miles south of here, and so they turned this castle over to their chief bardic family, the Mac Egans. The bardic families played a crucial role in medieval Ireland, serving Gaelic chieftains and English lords alike. They fulfilled many functions, including those of advisors, administrators, lawyers, musicians, poets, physicians and ambassadors. However, each individual family tended to specialise in just one or two specific areas of study. The Mac Egans of Redwood were experts in historical study and the practice of the ancient Irish Brehon law. Only seven families in medieval Ireland practised and studied this ancient legal system. Most of these served only one master, whilst the Mac Egans served at least thirteen lords and chieftains, giving them a virtual monopoly over medieval Irish law. They founded a school of history and law here at Redwood, and some of Ireland’s foremost medieval thinkers had close links to this centre. Michael O’Cleary led a team of historians which compiled the famous Annals of the Four Masters, an enormous and comprehensive text which gave an account of all recorded Irish history up until the early seventeenth century. Upon its completion, Michael O’Cleary brought the text to some of the most influential men in the country, including the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Tuam. However, the first approval he sought was from a Flann Mac Aoghain, one of his former teachers and the lord of Redwood Castle.
However, by this time, Redwood Castle had reached its apex, and its decline began with a tide of political and religious unrest which culminated with Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in 1649. The development of artillery effectively ended the reign of castles and towerhouses in Ireland, which had previously only had to deal with the occasional uprising by poorly armed peasants. Nearby Lackeen Castle was forfeited to Cromwell’s troops in 1653, whilst records of 1654 state that by that date, the castle at Redwood was nothing more than a ruin. It therefore seems likely that Redwood was besieged sometime in 1653. There are no obvious signs of damage from heavy artillery on the outside of the castle, and therefore it seems likely that the castle was forfeited without a fight once the Mac Egans saw what they were facing. Whatever the circumstances of the castle’s seizure, we do know that once it was in the possession of Cromwell’s troops, it was fired and practically burnt to the ground. The roof and most of the floors were wooden, and so only the walls and the spiral stone stairway were left standing.
The castle remained in ruins for over 300 years. At the turn of the twentieth century, a local farmer cut a second opening into the ground floor, just wide enough to let through a horse and cart which could be sheltered from the elements under the stone-barred vaulted arch. It is believed that it took three men a fortnight to cut through the 11 foot thick western wall. In 1972, a lawyer from Castlebar, County Mayo by the name of Michael Egan bought Redwood Castle and undertook its restoration. He was a descendant of the Mac Egans of Redwood, and so was determined to restore his family seat to its former glory. The government refused to support the project with any grants, believing the ruins to be beyond redemption. Michael Egan therefore funded the entire restoration project out of his own pocket. His ultimate goal was to have the castle as a second family home, which could also be used for important family occasions. To avoid tax burdens, the castle was opened to the public for sixty days a year as a site of historical interest, beginning in the early 1980s.
To this day, Redwood Castle continues to host the Clan Egan Rallies, and to educate the public.“
contact: Richard Fahey Tel: 087-2601994 (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: May 1-Oct 31
The National Inventory describes the house: “A substantial former rectory with an attractive bowed bay which dominates the principal elevation and creates interest in an otherwise austere design. The placement of the entrance doorway in an end elevation is unusual. Of significance also is the range of outbuildings to the north, with an attractive arched entrance and retaining much interesting fabric.” 
15. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary
contact: Jim Gilligan Tel: 086-2539187 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 13-21, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student€3, child €2
The National Inventory tells us: “Detached nine-bay two-storey former charter school with projecting pairs of end bays, built 1747, with projecting barrel-roofed porch addition…Patronised by Sir Charles Moore and John Dawson, this former charter school retains much of its original form and is a notable feature in the urban landscape. In the nineteenth century it was occupied by Charles Bianconi, who ran a coach transport enterprise throughout Ireand from his headquarters in Clonmel. It displays evidence of fine stonework in the window surrounds and eaves course which contrast with the limestone of the walls to enliven and offer textural variety to the façade.“
“Ashley Park House has a magical quality that is particularly appealing. The avenue winds along the shore, through deep woods of oak and beech, until–suddenly–you reach the Georgian house, surrounded by tall trees, with beautiful views over a private lake. Inside, the rooms are large, comfortable and well equipped so offering a truly relaxing break away from the busyness of modern life.
The owners, Margaret & David McKenzie run their home in a relaxed and informal way in the style of the traditional Irish country house, ideal for family and friends taking a break to celebrate a special occasion. Guests like nothing more than losing themselves in the woods and gardens, or rowing around the lake and exploring the ruins of the ancient fort on the island.
Ashley Park House sits peacefully in the middle of 76 acres of beech woodland and formal gardens in the heart of County Tipperary, in the centre of Ireland six miles north of the busy market town of Nenagh with its famous circular keep, on the road to Borrisokane and Birr. This beautiful 18th century country house, with its sweeping Edwardian verandas overlooking the lake, is approached through a rusticated stone arch, down a long tree-lined avenue with lovely views across Lough Ourna (‘the lake of the barley’), framed by ancient ring-forts on the shore, towards Keeper Hill in the distance
Ashley Park House retains many of its original Georgian fittings and has been faithfully restored to its original appearance, with fine period furniture and all modern comforts, giving visitors the opportunity to appreciate truly authentic Irish country house accommodation. The main rooms are spacious and relaxing, while the large bedrooms either overlook the lake in front, or have views over a series of walled courtyards at the rear where there are hens, ducks and peafowl. Recent renovations have created stylish new rooms in the Coach Houses next to the main house where modern comforts link with traditional styling.
Ashley Park House has a fantastic in house culinary team who prepare delicious suppers using fresh local ingredients to the highest standard. Enjoy a romantic break away with four course dinner in the Main House dining room overlooking the lake and then move into the luxurious drawing room to enjoy a digestif from the residents bar. Wake up refreshed to enjoy a delicious breakfast, which is Highly Recommended by the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards.“
2. Ballinacourty House, Co Tipperary – guest house and restaurant €
“Mary and family look forward to welcoming you to Ballinacourty House. Whether you are coming to explore the local walking or hiking that Aherlow has to offer, visiting the ancient historical sites of Tipperary, or perhaps just passing through on a flying visit- you will be most welcome in our home.
We strive to ensure that your stay in the Glen of Aherlow is a memorable one. We offer our Guests comfortable overnight accommodation, hearty home-cooked breakfasts and personal attention, offering local expertise if required, all part of the unique Irish Home B&B experience you will receive at Ballinacourty House.“
“Birdhill House & Gardens offers the ultimate mix of homeliness and grandeur. The perfect place to reflect and re-energize. Enjoy the welcoming warmth of this mid 1700’s Georgian country house. Nestled in the Suir valley with panoramic views of Knockmealdown and Comeragh mountains.
Explore the tranquil and breathtaking beauty of the gardens. Take the time to relax on one of the many terraces. Sip a glass of wine or dine al fresco around the fire pit. If you feel like a little exercise you might stroll along the river bank, be tempted to take out the rowing boat/kayak. Or maybe enjoy an energetic game of tennis. On a chilly day sit by a roaring fire in the drawing room or gather friends and family around the kitchen table to play games. Hide away in the library for a quiet read surrounded by relaxed elegance. Retire to the delightfully decorated bedrooms and snuggle down for sweet dreams, but be warned: the morning chorus here at Birdhill House & Gardens is quite spectacular. Oh! And watch out for Millie and her daughter Hettie, the sweetest of dogs.
Birdhill House and Gardens offers guests luxury accommodation with the option to add breakfast and dinner if you wish.
The west wing of the house also can be exclusively rented where guests can enjoy the freedom of self-catering and is an ideal house for family breaks. Contact the house directly to check availability for the exclusive rental of Birdhill House & Gardens.”
“Cahir House Hotel is a Historical Town House and the leading hotel in Cahir, County Tipperary. This former manor house offers luxury hotel accommodation in Cahir and is the ideal base for your hotel break in the South East of Ireland.
Situated centrally in Cahir, Co. Tipperary, with views of Cahir Castle, Cahir Main Square. Cork, Waterford & Shannon Airport and Cities such as Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, a mere 1 hour drive away.
Cahir House Hotel is the perfect location at the crossroads to the south.“
The National Inventory tells us that it was built c. 1770: “This impressive townhouse, designed by William Tinsley on a prominent corner site, which became the residence of the Earls of Glengall when the family ceased to live in Cahir Castle [The first Earl of Glengall was the 10th Baron Cahir, Richard Butler (1775-1819). He married Emilia Jefferyes, daughter of James St. John Jefferyes of Blarney Castle]. Although it has undergone many alterations and a change of use, it retains much character and interesting fabric, such as the stone to the window and door dressings.“
5. Cashel Palace Hotel, Cashel, County Tipperary – €€€
The website tells us it is: “A Palladian manor, in the heart of Ireland, Cashel Palace is a luxury hideaway, meticulously restored and exquisitely reimagined. Spectacularly located by the Rock of Cashel in picturesque Co. Tipperary, the hotel is enveloped in nature and overlooked by ancient history.“
The website tells us of the history:
“Built in 1732, as the home of Church of Ireland Archbishop Theophilus Bolton, Cashel Palace was designed by the eminent architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. Lovett Pearce was one of the most celebrated architects of the time, and would go on to design Dublin’s impressive Parliament House – now the Bank of Ireland in College Green.
Palladian in style, Cashel Palace’s handsome red brick facade contrasts with its limestone rear. While the rear façade mirrors the front, the use of different materials makes it exceptionally rare for this period. Carved limestone dressings enhance the house’s symmetry, with the triple-opening Venetian – or Serlian – windows a typical feature of the Palladian style.
If you look closely at the front elevation, you will spot a crowned harp over the entrance. A fire mark issued by the Hibernian Insurance Company of Dublin, they were in business from 1771 to 1839 and were the first company in Ireland to offer fire insurance.
No expense was spared in the Palace’s construction, with dozens of skilled craftsmen hired to complete the ornate and capacious interiors. Thanks to generations of mindful custodians, many of the house’s original features were well preserved. Described as ‘a place of notable hospitality’ in Loveday’s Tour of 1732, it is clear the residents enjoyed the finest comforts of the day.
The large entrance hall retains its original wood panelling, and two imposing fluted Corinthian columns. Off the hall, stands the remarkable staircase, an early Georgian style carved from red pine and featuring hundreds of intricately hand-turned ‘barley sugar’ banisters.
Occupying 25 acres, with an impressive driveway and gardens, a private walkway, ‘The Bishops Walk’ was constructed, to give residents private access to the Rock of Cashel, ancient seat of the Kings of Munster and home to a 13th century Cathedral. Cashel Palace was not impervious to political upheaval, and suffered damage during the turbulent Wolfe Tone Rebellion of 1798. The 1st Earl of Normanton, then Archbishop of Cashel, oversaw the room repairs, with the modifications reflecting the fashionable Regency style of the time.
To the rear of the Palace beautiful gardens were planted, including two ancient mulberry trees. Predating the house, these striking trees stand tall today, planted in 1702 to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Anne.
During the construction and excavation the builders stumbled upon the opening of an ancient well. Perfectly formed and completely intact, the 15-foot well was historically used to provide water to the Main House of the Cashel Palace during the period when the Archbishops occupied the house from the 1730’s to the 1900’s.
Every period house in this time had a land agent who would brew beer for the owners, and it was Richard Guinness, who was the land agent for Archbishop Arthur Price, who used hops from the Palace Garden and water from this well to brew ale for Cashel Palace. His son Arthur Guinness, who was the Archbishop’s godson, was left £100 in his godfather’s will – the same £100 he used to secure the lease on the site of St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. This same well can be seen in The Glass Well at our sister property, Mikey Ryan’s Bar & Kitchen adjacent to the hotel.
101 years after it was built, the last Archbishop left Cashel Palace. In 1833, under the Church Temporalities Act, the dioceses of Cashel and Emly were merged with Waterford and Lismore. This act saw the then present resident, Archbishop Richard Lawrence, relocate to Waterford, where he and future successors would make their home. Without an Archbishop in residence, Cashel Palace was divided for use by the Dean of Cashel and a Canon of the Church of Ireland.
For more than 200 years, the Palace had found itself at the heart of religious life, hosting many powerful families and their guests. That all changed in 1959, when the Church of Ireland sold Cashel Palace to Lord Brockett, a man of some means. Opened as a luxury hotel in May 1962, Lord Brockett also owned the Wicklow Hotel in Dublin and Benner’s Hotel in Tralee at the time.
Over the years, Cashel Palace hosted many glamorous guests, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Diana Spencer and Prince Joachim of Denmark.
The hotel has enjoyed a long association with the horse-racing community and was once owned by the legendary horse trainer Vincent O’Brien before being sold to local entrepreneurs Pat and Susan Murphy who took stewardship and operated the hotel until its closure in 2014.
Then, in 2016, the iconic house was purchased by the Magnier Family, also owners of Coolmore, the world’s largest and most successful thoroughbred breeding operation. Since then, the house as undergone an incredible transformation which will see it transformed a magnificent five-star Relais & Châteaux property.
The doors of Cashel Palace opened more on 1st March 2022 after a long slumber, ready to welcome guests from across the globe, thus ushering in a new era in the legacy of a building already steeped in such incredible history.“
6. Croc an Oir, Mullinahone, County Tipperary € for 4-15
“Crocanoir is a home away from home tucked away down a leafy boreen. This beautifully restored house offers a truly relaxing holiday where hospitality and a traditional Irish experience is offered in abundance. It enjoys stunning views of Slievenamon mountain and there are lovely countryside walks only a stroll from the doorstep. Guests are welcome to wander the woodland paths and leave the world behind. The Old House has oodles of character and is ideal for large families or groups of friends.“
7. Dundrum House, County Tipperary – hotel is temporarily closed but there are self-catering cottages. €€
p. 30. “(Butler/IFR) A two storey Victorian house with a round tower at one end, a square tower at the other and a gabled porch. Odd-shaped windows and a few blind loops; but no castellations or other pseudo-medieval features.”
The website tells us: “If you’ve ever dreamed of staying in an Irish castle, then 300-year old Bansha Castle is exactly what you’ve been looking for. This gracious castle with elegant period features is beautifully positioned amid mature private parkland by the Glen of Aherlow, framed by the famous Galtee mountains. Built in 1760 and recently lovingly restored to full former glory, Bansha Castle is the perfect location for a private family gathering, birthday celebration or friendly get-together.“
It tells us of the history also:
“Bansha Castle was built circa 1760 on the site of the original 11th century castle. Extensively remodelled around 1830 and also in the early 1900s, it originally consisted of a late Georgian wing attached to a medieval tower house. The castle was the home of the O’Ryan family until late 1800s, when it was acquired by the British Government as a grace and favour house for General Sir William Butler on his retirement following the Boer war.
General Butler was born in Ballycarron, about three miles from Bansha village. After joining the British Army he saw service initially in Burma and India and was subsequently posted to Canada where he was responsible for submitting the report which led to the setting up of the North Western Police- the Mounties. Although a brilliant soldier, Butler hated war. As Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in South Africa in the 1890s, he tried to dissuade the British Government from taking on the Boers, knowing it would be a long and costly war, whereas the Government thought they were only up against inexperienced farmers. In 1899 he was forced to resign having been accused of having pro-Boer sympathies. He was made the scapegoat for the bloody war which followed and suffered intense humiliation.
Butler retired to Bansha Castle and happily was able to clear his name before he died in 1910. He carried out a number of alterations to the house – removing the castellations around the roof, demolishing the early tower, and replacing it and re-roofing the house. He was buried in Kilaldriff cemetery, not far from Bansha.
If General Sir William Butler was famous then his wife, Elizabeth Thompson was equally distinguished. She became Lady Butler, The Battle Artist. Never having witnessed war at first hand, her battle scenes won her the popularity and critical success that no other female British painter has ever approached. Among her most famous paintings are The Roll Call, Scotland Forever, and The Charge. Many of her paintings were completed in Bansha Castle. She used the top room of the North tower as her studio.
She continued to live on in Bansha Castle after her husband’s death. During the troubles in 1922, the house was occupied by the IRA. In great indignation Lady Butler walked out of the house, leaving everything behind. She was never to return. It was left to her son, a colonel in the British Army, to retrieve her paintings. One of her paintings, The Camel Corp, is rumoured to have a bullet hole in it, received in Bansha Castle. She went to live with her daughter, Lady Gormanstown, at Gormanstown Castle where she died in 1932. An account of this episode can be read in her book A Little Kept.
Bansha Castle then became the property of Mr.Tom Givens, retired Chief of Police in Shanghai, before it was acquired in the early fifties by Dr.James Russell He ran it as a stud farm and bred the famous 1970s racehorse Rheingold on the lands. In 1975 there was a major fire and the house was closed for a number of years.
In 1982 John and Teresa Russell decided to renovate the house to provide luxury accommodation in Ireland. As can be observed, this renovation has become an ongoing labour of love.“
The website tells us: “Cloughjordan House has a variety of colourful accommodation options for guests. There is on-site accommodation for up to 86 guests. The attention to detail leaves each finished room with a sense of its own personality and flair, meaning every lodger has a unique experience of the venue. The bathrooms are stocked with The Handmade Soap Company toiletries and the property is littered with Nespresso machines so that guests can take a break during their stay to sit back and smell the coffee.“
“There are four double bedrooms with ensuites in the beautifully elegant main house. The bedrooms have all the glamour of period features but with modern adjustments for a more comfortable stay. Guests staying here are steeped in luxury with; super king sized beds, crisp Egyptian Cotton sheets, soft cashmere blankets from Hanly Woollen Mills and under floor heating in the bathrooms. They also have use of the sitting room in the main house for relaxing and tea/coffee facilities with homemade cookies. Sleeps 8.“
“There are two double bedrooms with ensuites above the cookery school in the Coach House. These rooms are an extension of the accommodation available in the main house. Guests have access to the living rooms there for relaxation. This building was originally a store for horse-drawn carriages, hence its name The Coach House. Sleeps 4.
There are four double bedrooms with ensuites located in the Dairy. The structure was the original milking parlour for 150 dairy cows which is why each room; Daisy, Bluebell, Buttercup and Primrose are named after the animals. The décor here is rustic with unique features making use of Cloughjordan farm wood and other farmyard materials like galvanised sheeting. The beds are traditional farm structures with super comfortable mattresses. The handcrafted nature of these rooms means you are guaranteed to have never stayed anywhere like this. Sleeps 8.
There are 18 bedrooms with ensuites located in the Cowshed. The bedrooms are farmyard inspired with wood used from the Cloughjordan House forest and wooden sinks and rugs from South Africa, where both Sarah and Peter love spending time. The beds are large and luxurious and the showers are powerful. The common room is like something out of a novel, spacious and bright with an Argentinian feel. The veranda opens out onto the property with big, comfortable couches complete with blankets for the ultimate in chilling-out and when the sun is shining this is the best spot in the house (or shed)! Sleeps 45.
The glamping area in the walled garden has 11 newly arrived wooden “pod” cabins offering Scandinavian comfort and style. Mattresses and bedding are the same as any of the other rooms in the house. In order to keep our guest’s stay as premium as possible, we have built a Pamper Room so that ladies can get ready in comfort for the day ahead. This Girlie Room is bright and spacious and comes complete with mirrors and plugs for appliances. Glamping guests have access to The Cowshed lounge for relaxing and chilling-out. Sleeps 22.
3. Inch House, Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland – whole house rental €€€ for 2; €€ for 7-10
“The Egan Family are proud owners of Inch House since 1985. The family bought the house & farm that surrounds it with no idea as to the real treasure that lay inside this Georgian mansion. John, a farmer, and Nora, a nurse, along with their eight children have worked tirelessly to bring their dreams for Inch House to fruition and opened their home to guests in 1989 following a major restoration project.
Having run an award winningrestaurant for some 25 years since then, John and Nora now embark on a new journey and for the first time this year are offering their magnificent house to holiday makers for their exclusive hire. this is an exciting new venture for the Egans’ and given their extensive experience in the hospitality and food sector they aim to bring their experience into this new venture and bring their plans to fruition.
Inch House was built in 1720 by John Ryan on the site of a previous structure. John, who had inherited extensive lands from his father, Daniel, married Frances Mary Mathew of Thurles in 1723. Frances was daughter of George Mathew, and granddaughter of Lady Thurles (1587-1673), formerly Elizabeth Poyntz.
Lady Thurles was married twice, firstly to Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles (who, had he lived would have succeeded to the Earldom of Ormonde), and secondly to George Mathew. Her eldest son by the Butler marriage was the remarkable James, 1st Duke of Ormonde and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Her daughter was an ancestor of the late Princess of Wales. The descendants of her Mathew alliance were equally notable for they included the saintly Nano Nagle, Foundress of the Presentation Sisters in the 18th Century.
Nano Nagle was a daughter of Garnet Nagle and Anne Mathew granddaughter of Thomas Mathew of Anfield, a mere stone’s throw from the Ryan seat at Inch. The Capuchin priest, Rev. Theobald Mathew, the renowned “Apostle of Temperance” also descended from this Stock.
Ryans of Inch were one of the few landed Catholic families in Tipperary and in the late 18th Century and owned up to 5,000 acres of land. Inch remained the property of the Ryan family until 1985 when it was sold to the present owners, John and Nora Egan.“
4. Killaghy Castle, Mullinahone, Tipperary – whole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 11-14
p. 169. “An old tower-house of the Tobin family, with a two storey five bay C19 castellated wing attached. Doorway with segmental pointed arch, mullioned windows with hood mouldings, bartizan. Forfeited by the Tobins 1653, passed to the Greene family, from whom it passed through marriage to the Despards; it was garrisoned by Lieut Despard 1798. It then passed by inheritance to the Wright family, by whom it was sold. Since then, it has been owned successively by the families of Watson, Fox, Naughton and Bradshaw.”
The National Inventory describes it: “Detached T-plan five-bay two-storey country house, built c.1760, façade remodelled and octagonal turret added to southwest corner c.1825, and having four-storey tower house, built c.1550, adjoining to east. Lower two-storey extension to north gable of return. Adjoining outbuildings to rear….The turret, crenellations and label-mouldings applied to this building are a witty reference to the original defensive nature of the tower house to which it has been added. This combination of structures of various eras is familiar in large rural houses in Ireland. The later parts form an interesting horizontal counterpoint to the very tall tower house. The house forms an interesting group with the outbuildings and walled garden. “
5.Kilshane, Tipperary, Co Tipperary – whole house rental:
p. 299. “(Low/LGI1912) A Classical house of ca 1830; two storey, 6 bay front with single storey Ionic portico; solid roof parapet with central die. A very large and handsome conservatory with curvilinear roofs, in the style of th Dublin ironmasters Richard and William Turner, was added to one end of the house ca 1880; it has an interior of cast-iron columns supporting delicate fan-like arches with. Central fountain. The seat of the Low family; afterwards owned by a religious order, which made some institutional additions to the house. Now owned by Mr and Mrs Ian Horst.“
The National Inventory tells us this impressive country house was built by the architect C.F. Anderson for John Lowe.
6. Kilteelagh House, Dromineer, Lough Derg, County Tipperary – whole house €€€ for 2; €€ for 10-12
p. 176. “(Gason/IFR) A house rebuilt in High Victorian style 1863 by Lt-Col W.C. Gason. Two storey; steep gables with bargeboards; rectangular plate glass windows and large two storey Perpendicular window in centre. High-pitched polychrome roof. Fine demesne along the shore of Lough Derg. Sold 1962 by Col A.W. Gason to Lt-Col J.A. Dene.”
7. Lisheen Castle, Thurles, County Tipperary €€€ for two, € for 11-14
The entry tells us: “In 1996, Michael and Joan undertook the complete restoration and renovation of the Castle, their son Zane now runs and manages the castle since 2009. This has been a real labour of love for them, as they have a wonderful appreciation of history and things beautiful. It was specially pleasing to Michael and Joan that all the craftsmen needed to carry our this momentous task were available locally. They have left no stone unturned to ensure that Lisheen Castle would be restored to its former glory, a residence fit for a Lord.
During your Irish castle vacation you will enter the beautiful hallway, through the Great Oak Door,you will be immediately impressed by the opulance of the diningroom, reception rooms and library. At the end of the long corridor visitors will see a beautiful Ash Carved Stairs. Upstairs, there are currently 9 luxury bedrooms, 8 of which are en-suite. While the emphasis in Lisheen Castle is historical, the facilities are up to today’s standard with wi-fi and pc/printer available for use by the guests.
One of the two kitchens is fully fitted to the highest catering standard. Of interest to the guests will be the “old-style kitchen”, which is furnished with pine furniture and terracotta floor.
Even though the Castle is centrally heated throughout, you can still experience the special ambience of the “open turf fires” which are in all the reception rooms.
Lisheen Castle is available for your Irish castle vacation on a weekly or monthly basis. So, go on, if you would like to experience the wonderful opulance of past times, while still having all the modern conveniences.“
 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.
2. Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork – section 482
contact: Gerald McGreal Tel: 087-2400831 Open: Feb 10-13, 19-27, Mar 10- 13, May 5-8, 19-22, 26-29, June 9-12, 23-26, July 21-24, Aug 13-21, 25-28, Sept 1-4, 22-25, 8am-12 noon
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3
An article published on June 2nd 2013 in the Irish Examiner by Peter Dowdall gives a wonderful description of the garden. He writes:
“From tiny little details, such as a glimpse of a marble seat in the distance through an accidental gap in a hedge, to a perfectly-positioned specimen tree, this garden needs senses on high alert.
If I am to be honest, I was expecting a garden recreated by the book and with a certain degree of interest from the owner. What I discovered was a garden being recreated by a man who is now thinking of the future generations and recreating this garden with a passionate attention to detail. Every plant that goes in is carefully considered; every stone and brick that went into creating an orangery from a derelict pig shed and a belfry from a cowshed were reused from the estate. Fallen slates, which weren’t good enough to use on buildings, create an edge around the rose beds.
What I love about the place is that the rule book is not evident, trial and error is the order of the day, which to me is real gardening. Except when it comes to the meticulous planning of the box hedges in the potager and the Horological Maze, which at this stage is on its third planting because the original Taxus (yew) failed due to a blight which struck again a few years later. The maze was replanted using Lonicera and is thriving, though it will be a few years before it is truly at its best…I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Sunday than roaming through the ‘garden rooms’ here.
Looking down on this garden, which is next to the maze, from an elevated platform you could imagine yourself in the south of France, except for the single-figure temperatures. Other features to admire include the fantastic Anglo-Chinese Regency-style bridge, constructed by the owner’s brother, and the pergola, which has been planted with several climbers including Jasminum, Laburnum, David Austin roses, Wisteria and Passiflora.
However, no account of a visit to this garden is complete without mentioning the Horological Maze.
What, I hear you ask is a Horological Maze? Well it’s a design centred on a French mantle clock, which is surrounded by interlocking cog-wheels, pinions and coil springs, all inspired by the workings of a typical mechanism. It also reflects the owner’s interest in horology and provides a balance in its garden sculpture to the turret clock presiding over the courtyard.
The owner took his inspiration for this creation from visits to Blenheim Palace and Weston Park in England, Shanagarry and Faithlegg in Ireland, and the Summer Palace in Vienna.“
“Ballymaloe House is a family run Country House Hotel and restaurant on 300 acres of farmland located in beautiful East Cork countryside. Internationally recognised as the birthplace of Modern Irish Cuisine, Ballymaloe House offers you the very best of Irish hospitality and seasonal locally sourced or homegrown food. A unique Irish Country House experience.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 24. “[Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E/PB; Corker sub. Corcor/LGI1912] A castle built towards the end of C16 by the FitzGeralds of Imokilly, enlarged 1602 by Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald [b. 1555]; confiscated by Cromwell; occupied for a period after the Restoration by William Penn [1644-1718], of Pennsylvania, when he was managing his father’s estate at Shanagarry, nearby; subsequently occupied by 1st Earl of Orrery [Roger Boyle (1621-1679)], presumably while he was repairing and improving his nearby seat of Castle Martyr; acquired towards end of C17 by Lt-Col Edward Corker; sold by him ante his death 1734 to Hugh Lumley, who added some new buildings to the castle some time ante 1750. As a result of Lumley’s additions, Ballymaloe is now predominantly early C18 in character; consisting of a plain two storey six bay range with an old tower built into one end of it, and a three storey gable-ended range at right angles to the two storey range, and joined to it by a return; forming a house on a “L”- plan. Some of the windows have thick early C18 glazing-bars. A staircase with thin turned balusters rises from the inner end of the hall, which has a ceiling with simple Adamesque decoration. The large room to the right of the hall has simple Adamesque frieze. Ca 1800, Ballymaloe was the residence of the Penn Gaskell family, who were descended from William Penn. In 1814, it was the residence of William Abbott. In 1837, it was owned by a Mr Forster; in 1908, it was occupied by William Litchfield. Until ca 1947, it was the home of Mr and Mrs J.M. Simpson; since then, it has been the home of Mr and Mrs Ivan Allen.” 
The Ballymaloe website elaborates the history:
“Ballymaloe was a castle of the Imokilly Geraldines. Richard FitzMaurice FitzGerald was a son of the Knight of Kerry, who was appointed as Seneschal, or governor, of the area by the Earl of Desmond in 1440. The original castle was probably built by him shortly after that time. By the time of the Desmond rebellion, the occupant was John FitzEdmund FitzGerald who was known as ‘the Queen’s John FitzEdmond’ to distinguish him from the Seneschal of the same name who was a leader of the Insurrection and owned nearby Castlemartyr.“
“John FitzEdmund of Ballymaloe castle was an illegitimate son of Edmund by Honor Ni Donagh, ‘a woman of Muskerry’ and was well up in the list of efficient contrivers and gatherers of land of his time. John FitzEdmund appointed himself Sheriff of Cork in 1570 and during the Desmond rising he ‘dyd hang his (legitimate) brother James FitzEdmund’ in 1582. John refused to join O’Neill in 1599 and his lands were devastated, but he survived to be knighted by Mountjoy at Cloyne for his faithfulness in 1602.“
“Despite their differences, the close ties to the Geraldines were apparent when John FitzEdmund’s son, Edmund, was married to Honora, widow of his namesake, the late Seneschal. In 1611 this Edmund died and she was a widow again so old Sir John leased her the lands at a nominal rent before he died the following year aged 85.
A daughter of her rebellious father, she housed the homeless friars at Ballymaloe. Her son John moved to Ballymaloe where he died in 1640.
By the time of the Confederate War in 1641, the owner was her grandson, another Edmund and he lost the lands for taking the ‘rebel’ side. They passed to Broghill, (Roger Boyle, son of the Earl of Cork; newly-created Earl of Orrery, but living on a narrow edge of survival since he had escaped a charge of treason in London. Broghill lived at Ballymaloe after his enforced retirement as President of the court of Munster in 1672 before making his last home at Castlemartyr.“
“By the middle of the 18th Century, the occupier was Abraham Forster, and early in the 19th century, his grandson demolished parts of the old castle. It was he who largely build the house into its present form. Sometime later it passed to the Litchfield’s, and in 1924 Simpson, a nephew of the latter family came into possession. Mr. Simpson sold the house and farm to Myrtle and Ivan Allen in 1948 and it remains owned by the Allen family to this day.“
“Myrtle and Ivan Allen bought Ballymaloe in 1948 from the Simpson family. The Simpsons were known in the area for their parties and Myrtle and Ivan had, in fact, met at Ballycotton Lifeboat fundraising dinner at Ballymaloe a few years previously. Ivan had wide farming interests, growing tomatoes and cucumbers in glasshouses and mushrooms in dark wooden sheds at nearby Kinoith as well as managing the orchards there.
However, Ivan longed for a mixed farm and when Ballymaloe came up for sale he decided to buy it. Myrtle and Ivan spent the next sixteen years farming and bringing up their children. The farm was a success producing milk, butter, cream, eggs, home raised pork and veal as well as fruit and vegetables. Myrtle became highly knowledgeable about cooking their produce and began writing a cookery column in the Irish Farmers Journal.“
“In 1964, Myrtle, encouraged by Ivan, decided to open Ballymaloe as a restaurant. The children were growing up and she could see a different future ahead of her:
“On a winter’s day I sat by the fire alone and wondered what I would do in this big house when they were all grown up – Then I thought about a restaurant.”
Her aim was to emulate the best Irish Country House cookery. Myrtle and Ivan then placed an advert in the Cork Examiner: Dine in a Historic Country House. Open Tuesday to Saturday. Booking essential. Phone Cloyne 16.
So Myrtle scrubbed down the kitchen table, and with the help of two local women she began. They cooked on an Aga at first and she was helped front of house by Ivan and their daughter Wendy. Their shepherd Joe Cronin ran the bar.
The food was good and the restaurant flourished. They cooked using their own produce- unpasteurised milk and cream, veal, pork, homemade sausages and black puddings, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Ivan went to Ballycotton every day for the fresh catch. Local beef and lamb came from Mr.Cuddigan, the butcher in Cloyne. Myrtle also encouraged local farmers’ wives to bring in their surplus produce and blackberries, elderflowers and watercress were brought in by children for pocket money.
Although times have changed at Ballymaloe, the essential spirit of the place is rooted in these improvised beginnings and in the relationship of the farm to the table which underlies the elegance of Irish Country House cooking.“
The National Inventory describes it: “Detached six-bay two-storey country house, built c. 1780, with four stories to rear (north) elevation, three bays to rear forming central projection and having single-storey additions to rear. Tower house, c.1450, incorporated into west elevation and taller L-plan three-storey house c. 1730 to east, five-bay two-storey hipped-roofed block with slightly projecting east bay to north-east corner…The fascinating multiphase construction is evident in the variety of styles and blocks which form the house. Formerly the seat of the FitzGeralds of Imokilly, it was enlarged by Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald. It was occupied at one time by William Penn of Pennsylvania and by First Earl of Ornery. Its impressive size is enhanced by fine proportions and by the retention of various timber sliding sash windows. The central doorcase and large petal fanlight form the main artistic focus and enhance the impressive and symmetrical façade. The other blocks add tremendous context. The tower house incorporated into the main house is a very notable archaeological feature. The house retains much early fabric and forms a group with related outbuildings and gate lodge.” (see )
4. Ballynatray, Youghal, County Cork (also Waterford)
The website tells us: “Welcome to Ballyvolane House, a historic Irish country house of extraordinary warmth, style and comfort that provides luxury manor house accommodation, bespoke intimate weddings, glamping and private house parties/exclusive house rentals, located in the beautiful North Cork countryside of southern Ireland. Ballyvolane House is also home to Bertha’s Revenge Gin.“
The National Inventory describes the house: “Ballyvolane House is a fine example of the Victorian Italianate domestic architecture, in this case being applied to a house which was originally a three-storey early eighteenth-century structure. The top storey was removed when the house was remodelled in 1847. The classically proportioned façade is enlivened by the decorative render dressings including oak-leaf brackets to the eaves, window surrounds and heavy continuous sill course. The porch constitutes the decorative focus of the house and is articulated by pilasters. The doorway is flanked by skillfully carved marble engaged columns with ornate foliate capitals which add further artistic interest to the façade. The block to the west was built to house the servants and is of a simpler design and treatment. This building, together with extensive outbuildings and walled gardens, adds valuable context to the site.“
The website tells us about the history:
“There is an inescapable air of frivolity at Ballyvolane – the name itself means ‘the place of springing heifers’ and is testament to the fertility, richness and natural diversity of the land on which the estate lies.
Originally built in 1728 by Sir Richard Pyne, a retired Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Ballyvolane was designed in the classic Georgian country house style with three storeys… An amorous descendent, Arthur Pyne, acquired sufficient capital from his marriage to three wealthy women to have the house considerably enlarged in the early 19th century.
The three-storey house was again modified in 1872 by George Pyne. He had the building pulled apart and then, by removing the top storey, recreated a two-storey house rendered in Italianate style, with an extensive west end wing.“
The website continues: “Recent research carried out Terence Reeves-Smyth unearthed tender documents for the remodelling of Ballyvolane from this time – the architect was Richard Rolt Brash (1817-1876), a Cork architect, whose father and brother were well known builders in the city. RB Brash is better known as a very active antiquarian and friend of John Windele – he was especially interested in round towers.
The rebuilding/remodelling in the early 1870s followed the re-acquisition of the house and demesne by the Pyne family in 1869. Arthur Pyne (1747-1839) who probably built the present house around c1800 and laid out the present parkland (which looks Regency in date), was succeeded by his eldest son Jasper Pyne. Unfortunately, when Jasper died in 1860-1 he left no male heirs and as a result his wife and daughters did not inherit the property (the estate had been left by his father Arthur entailed for a life and could only be inherited by male issue). Consequently, following a big court case in May 1861 the property passed to Jasper’s younger brother, the Rev. William Masters Pyne, Rector of Oxted in Surrey. In March 1864 the Rev Pyne put the place on the market through the Encumbered Estates Courts. It remained on the market until bought by another member of the Pyne family in January 1869.
It appears that Ballyvolane was originally purchased by Sir Richard Pyne in 1702-3 for £696; prior to this it had been the property of Sir Richard Nagle and Edmond Barry, but had been granted (forfeited lands) to Viscount Sidney. At the same time Sir Richard Pyne also purchased three other Co Cork properties from the Commissioners for Sale of Forfeited Estates; one was Blarney, the others were the estates of Ballinaneala and Ardra. He also in England bought Great Codham Hall in Essex, where the family continued to live well into the 19th century.“
“The Pynes built the present house and lived here until 1953, when it was bought by the late Cyril Hall Green (known as Squirrel Green) and his wife Joyce (née Blake), on their return from Malaya, where Squirrel had managed rubber plantations since the 1920’s. Ballyvolane was passed on to Squirrel’s son, Jeremy, who ran it as a mixed tillage and dairy farm until the mid 1980’s when it became one the founding members of the Hidden Ireland group, an association of town and country houses offering a unique and exclusive style of accommodation and chosen for their architectural merit and interesting characteristics.
Ballyvolane was managed as a successful country house bed and breakfast by Jeremy and his wife, Merrie until January 2004, when the reins were handed to his son Justin and his wife, Jenny. Justin and Jenny are experienced hoteliers having gained international management experience in some of the best hotels in the world namely Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, The Legian in Bali, Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai and prior to moving home, Justin was GM of Babington House (part of Soho House) in Somerset. Three generations of the Green Family now live at Ballyvolane.“
contact: Julie Shelswell-White Tel: 087- 9811149 www.bantryhouse.com Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €11.50, child €5, groups over 8-20, €8 and groups of 21 or more €9
The website tells us:
“The original house was built in around 1690, a three storey five bay building, by Samuel Hutchinson. Called Blackrock, [and before that, Seafield – Mark Bence-Jones in his A guide to Irish Country Houses dates this nucleus of the house of three storeys five bays as being built by the Hutchinson family in around 1740] it forms the nucleus of the present Bantry House. Today the house has many treasures: exquisite French furniture, tapestries and objets d’art, which give it the air of a baroque palace. According to Reeves-Smyth, it was acquired by Richard White [1700-1776], a farmer from Whiddy Island, in the 1760’s, and he had amassed a fortune from pilchard-fishing, iron-smelting and probably from smuggling. Through a series of purchases, he acquired most of the land around Bantry including large parts of the Beare Peninsula, and these estates were enlarged by his grandson Richard White (1767-1851.)
This grandson, Richard White, raised defenses in 1796 against the French invasion. The weather, however, scuttled the invasion. Richard White was created Baron Bantry in 1797 in recognition of his “spirited conduct and important service.” In 1801 he was made a viscount, and in 1815 he became the Earl of Bantry.
.”..A two-storey addition with bowed ends and a six-bay front facing onto Bantry Bay were added in 1820, providing space for two large drawing rooms and several bedrooms above. Many more substantial changes were made in 1845 by Richard, Viscount Berehaven (1800-67), the son of the first Earl of Bantry, a passionate art collector who travelled regularly across Europe, visiting Russia, Poland, France and Italy and bringing back shiploads of exotic goods between 1820 and 1840. To accommodate his new furnishings, the Viscount built a fourteen bay block to the rear of the old house consisting of a six-bay centre of two storeys over a basement flanked by four-storey bow end wings. No doubt inspired by the grand baroque palaces of Germany, he gave the house a sense of architectural unity by lining the walls with giant red brick pilasters with Coade-stone Corinthian capitals, the intervening spaces consisting of grey stucco and the parapet adorned with an attractive stone balustrade. He also lay out the Italianate gardens, including the magnificent terraces on the hillside behind the house, most of which was undertaken after he had succeeded his father as the second Earl of Bantry in 1851. After his death in 1867 the property was inherited by his brother William, the third Earl (1801-1884), his grandson William the fourth and last Earl (1854-91), and then passed through the female line to the present owner, Mr. Shelswell-White.“
Today the house remains much as the second earl left it, with an important part of his great collection still intact. Nowhere is this more son than the hall where visitors will find an eclectic collection garnered from a grand tour, which includes an Arab chest, a Japanese inlaid chest, a Russian travelling shrine with fifteenth and sixteenth century icons and a Fresian clock. There is also a fine wooden seventeenth century Flemish overmantel and rows of family portraits on the walls. The hall was created by combining two rooms with the staircase hall of the original house and consequently has a rather muddled shape, though crisp black and white Dutch floor tiles lend the room a sense of unity.. Incorporated into this floor are four mosaic panels collected by Viscount Berehaven from Pompeii in 1828 and bearing the inscriptions “Cave Canem” and “Salve.” Other unusual items on show include a mosque lamp from Damascus in the porch and a sixteenth century Spanish marriage chest which can be seen in the lobby.
The most spectacular room is the dining-room, dominated by copies of Allan Ramsay’s full-length portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, whose elaborate gilt frames are set off by royal blue walls. The ceiling was once decorated with Guardi panels, but these have long since been removed and sold to passing dealers at a fraction of their worth. The differing heights of the room are due to the fact that they are partly incorporated in the original house and in the 1845 extension, their incongruity disguised by a screen of marble columns with guilded Corinthian capitals. Much of hte furniture has been here since the second Earl, including the George III dining table, Chippendale chairs, mahogany teapoy, sideboards made for the room, and the enormous painting The Fruit Market by Snyders revealing figures reputedly drawn by Rubens – a wedding present to the first Countess.“
The description on the website continues: “The first flight of the staircase from the hall belongs to the original early eighteenth century house, as does the half-landing with its lugged architraves. This leads into the great library, built around 1845 and the last major addition to the house. The library is over sixty feet long, has screens of marble Corinthian columns, a comparmented ceiling and Dublin-made mantelpieces at each end with overhanging mirrors. The furnishing retains a fine rosewood grand piano by Bluthner of Leipzig, still occasionally used for concerts. The windows of this room once looked into an immense glass conservatory, but this has now been removed and visitors can look out upon restored gardens and the steep sloping terraces behind. Visitors can stay overnight on a B&B basis. It is located on the outskirts of Bantry on the N71. “
“Blackrock Castle lies on the shore of the river Lee, in the city of Cork, in County Cork in Ireland.
The circular watchtower of Blackrock Castle was built in 1604, on the site of an earlier fort. With its 2.2 meter thick walls, it was designed to withstand cannon fire. It was built to defend the city against attacks from pirates and the Spanish, who had landed at Kinsale 3 years earlier. But it also served to protect the English Lord Deputy Mountjoy against the citizens of Cork, who had been slow to acknowledge King James I.
Later Blackrock Castle was used by the Mayors of Cork for the Admiralty Court. Also known as the Maritime Court, it exercised jurisdiction over all maritime caes and offences.
In 1827 the castle was gutted by fire following the annual Corporation banquet. Two years later, in 1829, it was rebuilt and enlarged in Gothic Revival style.
Later it was used as a meeting place, a private residence, a restaurant and commercial offices before it was acquired by the Cork City Council in 2001. At present the castle houses an astronomy center/museum especially aimed at children.” 
contact: Charles Colthurst Tel: 021-4385252 www.blarneycastle.ie Open: all year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec, 9am-4pm, Mar-Oct, 9am-5pm
Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 43. “An exceptionally large keep with an angle-tower, built 1446 by the McCarthys of Muskerry, and world-famous for having the Blarney Stone built into its battlements. Having been fortified by Donogh MacCarthy, 4th Earl of Clancarty [d. 1734], who fought for James II in the Williamite War, it was acquired by the St. John Jefferyes family. In the mid to late C18, James St. John Jefferyes built a four storey Georgian-Gothic house onto the old keep; with a central bow and a turret and cupola; pointed windows and curvilinear pinnacled battlements. The Jefferyes family also laid out a landscape garden known as Rock Close, with great stones arranged to look as though they had been put there in prehistoric times. The C18 house was burnt early in C19 and not rebuilt; its ruin now forms a picturesque adjunct to the keep. In 1874 a new house was built, on a different site further into the demesne and overlooking the lake.”
Blarney Castle and the nearby Scotch Baronial house are owned by Charles Colthurst. His ancestors came to the property by marriage.
Craig, Maurice and Knight of Glin, Ireland Observed, A Handbook to the Buildings and Antiquities. Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork, 1970:
“Easily the most famous of Irish castles for adventitious reasons, the castle is, nevertheless, remarkable in its own right. Built in 1446 by the McCarthys of Muskerry, it consists of an enormous machicolated keep with an angle-tower containing a staircase [ machicolation is a series of openinings in the floor of projecting parapets in castles and tower-houses through which offensive substances can be dropped on the enemy below]. On one side are the remains of a considerable eighteenth century Gothick extension, built by the Jefferyes family, who also laid out the eleborate landscape garden, with the picturesque peudo-megalith, known as the Rock Close [Gothic is the pointed style which followed the Romanesque. “Gothick” is used to mean the half-serious use of pointed forms in the early romantic period, as opposed to their serious use in the Gothich revival after about 1830].”
entry in MacDonnell, Randal. The Lost Houses of Ireland. A chronicle of great houses and the families who lived in them. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. London, 2002
“The old Blarney Castle was built at Blarney in 1446 by Cormac Laidir (‘the strong’) MacCarthy, an ancestor of Cormac mac Diarmada. The family, as Barons of Blarney, Viscounts of Muskerry and Mountcashel and Earls of Clancarty, dominated the area until they left Ireland in the aftermath of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690….”
“Charles I created Cormac (Charles) MacCarthy (the son of Cormac mac Diarmada) Baron of Blarney and Viscount Muskerry in 1628 and the 2nd Viscount, Donnchadh (or Donough), became the 1st Earl of Clancarty in 1658. The Honourable Justin MacCarthy, brother of the 4th Earl of Clancarty, was created Viscount Mountcashel; both brothers were supporters of James II. As a result of the Williamite victory at the Boyne, the family’s titles and estates were declared forfeit in 1691.”
“In 1692 the forfeited lands were sold to The Hollow Sword Blades Company from London. Richard Davies, the Dean of Cork, took a lease on the castle, which, together with its demesne of 3000 acres, was sold in 1701 to Sir Richard Pyne, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. It is said that when Davies left Blarney he took enough materials with him to build himself a new house. Whether or not this is the reason, Pyne sold on the estate, pretty well immediately, to Sir James Jefferyes, who had been the Governor of Cork since 1698.”
…p. 28 “Sir James Jefferyes was the Governor of Cork and married the sister of John Fitzgibbon, 1st Earl of Cork (the Lord Chancellor of Ireland who forced the Act of Union through parliament). George Jefferyes [1768-1841] married Anne, daughter of the Right Hon. David la Touche [1729-1817 – we came across the La Touche family when we went to Harristown in County Kildare] of Marlay, the richest man in Ireland and head of the banking dynasty. The next generation was represented in the person of St. John Jefferyes who left a son, also St. John, who lived in Paris and died in 1898. He never inherited the estate, which passed to his sister Louisa [1820-1915], who married George Colthurst.” George Colthurst was 5th Baronet.
Randall MacDonnell continues, telling us about the Colthurst family: p. 29 “The Colthursts had arrived in Ireland from Yorkshire towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign and settled in Cork. Christopher Colthurst was murdered by the rebels in 1641 near Macroom in County Cork. By the 1730s, they were High Sheriffs of County Cork, and in 1744 John Colthurst [c. 1722-1775], who had married the daughter of the 1st Earl of Kerry [Thomas Fitzmaurice (1668-1741)], Lady Charlotte Fitzmaurice, was created a baronet. It would be uncharitable to suggest that it was his father-in-law’s influence that procured him this advancement. He was Member of Parliament for Doneraile from 1751 (and afterwards for Youghal and Castle Martyr). His son Sir John Colthurst, the 2nd Baronet, was killed in a duel with Dominick Trant in 1787 and the title passed to his brother (MP for Johnstown, Co Longford and then for Castle Martyr until 1795), who married Harriet, daughter of the Right Hon. David la Touche ([1729-1817] – Harriet was a sister of Anne who married George Jefferyes [1768-1841]). Sir Nicholas Colthurst, the 4th Baronet, was the MP for the city of Cork from 1812-1829.
“It was his son, Sir George Colthurst, the 5th Baronet, who married Louisa Jefferyes of Blarney Castle in 1846. Louisa inherited the Blarney estate in 1862, and they started to build a new house in 1872. This new building is in the Scots-Baronial style of architect John Lanyon, eldest son of Sir Charles Lanyon.“
p. 30 “The mirrors and fireplaces, as well as the neoclassical porch, came from Ardrum House, the Colthurst’s ruined house at Inniscara in Co Cork…
Sir George and Louisa’s son and two grandsons (the 6th, 7th and 8th Baronets) did nothing of any consequence, save that Richard Colthurst, the 8th Baronet, was High Sheriff of Co Dublin between 1920-1921. …
The 9th Baronet, Sir Richard Colthurst, is the present head of the family, and he and his wife have restored the new castle, which was in danger of going the way of the old one. His son Charles, a member of the Irish Timber Growers Association, is a solicitor in Cork. He has three daughters and a son, John, born in 1988.
The family motto Justem ac Tenacem (Just and Persevering) and the quartered Colthurst and Jefferyes Arms are set in the entrance façade of a house that had laid empty and left to rot for three generations, until Sir Richard Colthurst and his wife moved in, replumbed, rewired and redecorated it, and, in the process, saved the building – for once a statement that does not contain a word of Blarney.”
“Blarney Castle is a large rectangular keep with a bartizan on three sides and a corner-tower, also with a bartizan. It sits on a rock and has substantial remains of a bawn with three turrets (one separate). At the base of the rock is a larger turret, known as the Dungeon. It has a rock-cut passage. Just inside the entrance to the castle is a murder-hole. The ceiling of the first-floor room is vaulted and there is an early 18th century fireplace.
The vaulting supports a large room with three mullioned windows and a fireplace. Above this is the banqueting hall and above that is the Chapel.
There are two spiral stairways from which may be entered a number of small rooms. These include a garderobe, the Earl’s room (with oriel window) and the kitchen (with two large fireplaces). There is a good uninterrupted roof-walk.“
contact: Charles Colthurst Tel 021-4385252 www.blarneycastle.ie Open: June 1-Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €7, concession joint with castle
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 43. “It is in the Scottish Baronial style, of rough-hewn ashlar; of two storeys over a high basement with a gabled attic. Round corner turret and bartizans with conical roos; stepped gables and dormer gables; rectangular plate-glass windows. Porch with two Ionic columns on entrance front, the window above being framed by Corinthian pilasters, an entablature and strapwork cresting on garden front. Entrance hall with timbered ceiling and flight of stone steps leading up to the level of the principal rooms. Top-lit inner hall with Jacobean style oak staircase; first floor landing with arches and Corinthian pilasters. Large and small drawing rooms en suite, with friezes of Adam-Revival plasterwork. Adam-Revival frieze also in dining room. Passed through marriage to the Colthurst family.“
The National Inventory tells us it dates from 1874. It was built for the St. John Jefferyes family. James St. John Jefferyes (1734-1780) married Elizabeth Cosby, daughter of William Cosby Governor of New York, whom we came across when we visited Stradbally Hall in Laois. Her first husband was Augustus FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton. Before St. John Jefferyes married Elizabeth Cosby, however, he was married to Arabella Fitzgibbon, and they had a son, George Charles Jefferyes (1768-1841). He had a son, St. John George Jefferyes (1798-1862) whose daughter Louisa married George Colthurst 5th Baronet, and it was they who had the house built. The house is by John Lanyon (1839-1900), son of Charles Lanyon, and he joined Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon architectural firm (Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn built Castle Leslie in County Monaghan). John Lanyon built Belfast Castle also (1868-70).
The website tells us: “Every house has its tales to tell and Brideweir House in Conna, Co Cork is no exception. In the year 1822 famine had hit Ireland. In Conna the local Reverend Ludlow Tonson chaired a meeting of the parish on 29th July in favour of constructing a bridge over the River Bride.
Its purpose was “to facilitate communications in the area, and to offer employment”. A petition was sent to Dublin Castle and the rest, as they say, is history. The bridge still has pride of place today over the River Bride.
But it’s safe to say that the reverend Tonson must have had a vested interest in seeing the bridge built. It was to be just a stone’s throw from the location of his two storey over basement rectory, Brideweir House, built in 1822, the same year he helped raise the petition.
The Reverend’s house, completed for the princely sum of £923 (thanks to a gift and a grant, both of £300 from the Board of First Fruits), was situated on a glebe of seven acres and boasted a fine coach house and stables, all still in existence today.“
12. Burton Park, Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork – section 482
Open: May 8-July 7, Mon-Sat, closed Bank Holidays, Aug 13-21, 11am-3pm Fee: adult/child/OAP/student €9
The website tells us:
“Slí Eile exists to promote mental health recovery and to support people to achieve lives that are enjoyable, satisfying and authentic.
In the Irish language, slí eile means ‘another way’ and Slí Eile was set up to provide an alternative recovery option for those who might otherwise have to spend time in psychiatric hospital.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 50. “(Perceval, Egmont, E/PB; Ryan-Purcell/IFR) Originally a fine cut-stone house built in several stages between ca 1665 and 1686 for Sir John Perceval, 1st Bt, and his two sons, Sir Philip, 2nd Bt and Sir John, 3rd Bt; designed by Captain William Kenn, his son Benjamin, and Thomas Smith. Of two storeys over a basement, with a dormered attic; 7 bay front, with unusually tall windows. The roof was surmounted by a row of tall chimneys and a lantern with a copper ball on top of it. The house stood within a series of walled enclosures, with turrets at the outer corners. Like his brother, the 3rd Bt died young, 1686, leaving several infant sons, one of whom eventually became 1st Earl of Egmont [John Perceval (1683-1748)]. In 1690 the house was burnt by James II’s troops as they retreated south after the Battle of the Boyne. A new two storey house was built by the Earl of Egmont in the late-Georgian period; it was subsequently acquired by the Purcell family, who refaced it in Victorian cement and gave it a high roof with curvilinear dormer-gables. Hall with staircase rising round it; stairs of wood, with thin balusters. Pedimented Georgian doorcases put in later. Large drawing room with ceiling of delicate late-Georgian plasterwork; walls decorated in the Louis Seize style. Victorian dining room. Castellated entrance gateway, from which a straight avenue of trees leads up to the house.”
contact: Michael O’Sullivan Tel: 022-24433 (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April-Sept Public tours of house all year
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 94. “(Becher/IFR; Wrixon -Becher, Bt/PB; Harold-Barry/IFR) A pleasant Regency house of two storeys over a basement, built ca 1820. Entrance front with a single deep semicircular bow and one bay; fanlighted doorway beneath trellised porch; a second bow is said to have been intended, but never built. Side elevation fo three bays and a three sided bow. Eaved roof.
Curving staircase, with slender wooden balusters; drawing room extending into the semi-circular bow, dining room in the three-sided bow. Delightful gardens laid out by the present owner, Mr. P.J. Harold-Barry, extending to the shore of the estuary and along the banks of a mill-race and millpoint, with the ruined mill providing a folly-like “object.” “
contact: Thomas Duggan Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008 www.millstreet.ie Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 9am-5pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 108. “(Wallis/IFR) A three storey C18 house built alongside the keep of a C15 castle of the MacCarthys by the Wallises, castellated and extended between 1845 and 1860. Battlemented parapet; entrance front with square corner-towers and central porch tower – with presumably later battlemented porte-cochere built onto its front – prolonged by a single-storey range joining it to a two storey wing or pavilion with Irish battlemented corner towers. Adjoining front with three sided bow and mullioned windows, prolonged by a slightly lower wing ending in a square tower, joined by high battlemented walls to the old keep, which stands on a mound at this corner of the house. Two storey hall with gallery; Goergian doorcases with entablatures. Two drawing rooms opening into each other with an arch. The old keep was completely restored some time post 1879 by Lady Beaumont, mother of Major H.A.B. Wallis, the last member of the family to live at Drishane, which was sold 1908 by order of the court of Chancery. It was re-sold a year later to the Sisters of the Infant Jesus, who opened a boarding school and domestic economy school here.”
18. Dunkathel House [or Dunkettle], Glanmire, Cork
– open to public May-Oct
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 115. “(Tonson, sub Tonson-Rye/IFR and Riversdale, BDEP; Trant/LGI1958; Morris/LG1879; Gubbins/LG1937-Supp; Russell/IFR) A house in the Palladian manner, consisting of a two storey nine bay centre block joined by screen walls with rusticated niches to office wings extending back; the front ends of the wings being treated as two storey two bay pavilions with oculi in their upper storey. The front of the centre block has quoins at its sides and framing a three bay breakfront; a solid roof parapet and fanlighted doorcase with an entablature and engaged Tuscan columns. Built post 1780 by Abraham Morris, a wealthy Cork merchant who became an MP after a celebrated electoral case which ended in the unseating of his successful opponent, Lord Kingsborough; the architect of the house is not known, but the Knight of Glin has suggested that it might be by an associate of Davis Duckart, who designed the nearby Lota; since the design clearly owes much to Duckart’s influence. The wings from two sides of a courtyard at the back of the house, being joined by a range containing a room with a frieze of C18 plasterwork, which is possibly a remnant of the previous house, built by Dominick Trant, MP – who had a fine collection of pictures here – itself the successor to an earlier house on a different site built by Richard Tonson, MP. The present house has an impressive bifurcating staircase of stone with graceful iron balusters behind a wide arch at the back of the hall, which is adorned by fluted Corinthian pilasters of wood. The hall keeps its early C19 decorations, the walls marbled to represent Siena, the ceiling painted as a blue sky with clouds. The other main rooms have simple friezes. The house stands in a fine situation overlooking the Lee estuary just below the mouth of the Glanmire River. Sold ca 1870 by Jonas Morris to the Wise Gubbins family, from whom it was inherited by the Russell family.”
contact: Donna O’Driscoll Tel: 087-7374592 www.baltimorecastle.ie Open: March 1-Oct 31, 11am -6pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, children under 12 free
The website tells us:”Dunasead Castle, also known as Dún a Séad, Dunashad or Baltimore Castle, lies in the town of Baltimore in Cork, in County Cork in Ireland.
The site of Dunasead Castle, a rocky cliff above Baltimore Harbour, has been fortified since a very long time. The first fortification was maybe a ringfort. After that an Anglo-Norman castle was built here in 1215. In 1305 that castle was taken and destroyed by the MacCarthys. Subsequently the O’Driscolls took possession of the site and built a castle.
The O’Driscolls were constantly under pressure from encroachments by Anglo-Norman settlers and rival Gaelic clans on their territory and trade interests, which resulted in the castle being attacked and destroyed numerous times in the following centuries.
The present Dunasead Castle was built in the 1620’s by the O’Driscolls. In 1631 the castle narrowly escaped an attack by a band of pirates from Algiers, who landed in Baltimore and took 107 captives to a life of slavery in North Africa.
In the 1640’s it was surrendered to Oliver Cromwell’s forces and passed to the Coppingers. In 1642 the O’Driscolls fruitlessly attempted to recover the castle by force. In the 1690’s the Coppingers were forfeited. After the 17th century the castle fell to ruin.
Between 1997 and 2005 the ruined castle was rebuilt, at first as a private residence. At present it is a small museum.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his 1988 A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 132. “(Cuthbert-Kearney/LG1863; Franks/IFR) Some time ante mid-C18, the Kearney family – who, like other families along the south-west coast of Ireland, are reputed to have become rich through smuggling – began building themselves a grand house with two wings facing each other across a forecourt in the Palladian manner; levelling a site for it out of the solid rock above the sea at great expense. The two wings, of an attractive golden stone, their handsome pedimented facades, each with a rusticated doorway, facing each other across the forecourt, fwere completed. But whether the house itself was actually built is uncertain; though Charles Smith (writing 1750) implies that it was. If it existed, it cannot have survived very long; for one of the wings subsequently became the house, being enlarge dfor this purpose…Towards the end of C19, Garrettstown was inherited by the Franks family, who sold it ca 1950. It is now ruinous.” It is no longer ruinous and has undergone major renovation.
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage gives the following appraisal:
“Built by the Kearney family between the years 1702 and 1720, with changes and additions being made until 1740, this building was originally a wing of a substantial country house. The main house was never started due to financial reasons and this, one of the flanking buildings, was subsequently turned into a stable block. The money saved by not building the main house was spent on improving the gardens and grounds. The house was passed down through the female line, staying within that lineage until 1950 when it was sold to the Land Commission. Although now in use as offices, the building retains much of its original form and character seen in the tooled limestone detailing and its grand scale. The retention of many of the original outbuildings and the extensive gardens on the site give further evidence to the wealth and status of this former country house.”
contact: Clare Supple Tel: 089-4646208 www.encorestaging.org Open: May 1-Nov 30, Sat-Sun, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: Adult €3, OAP €2, student €1
The website tells us:
“Fenns Quay Sheares Street is a listed building in Cork. It is one of the oldest terraced buildings in Cork. It is a three-bay three-storey former house, built c.1740, as a group of four with the adjoining three buildings to the east. Now in use as restaurant and accomadation.
Pitched slate roof with red brick corner chimneystacks and cast-iron rooflights.
Red brick walls to upper floors having ashlar limestone keystones over first floor windows.
Timber sliding sash windows.
Projecting timber shopfront. Retaining interior features.” You can have a virtual tour on their website.
23. Ilnacullin, Garanish Island, County Cork – OPW
“Inish Beg, Irish for “small island”, is the most northerly of the Carbery Hundred Islands of County Cork Ireland and lies in the unspoilt tidal estuary of the Ilen River. There is a bronze age Cromlech (boulder burial) within the grounds, as well as a tree covered Lissaghaun (little fort or fairy mound) in front of the main house.The local saint, St. Fachtna is recorded as having been given the “Book of Dues” on the island in the 6th century.The island belonged to a Richard White in the 17th Century and was acquired by the MacCarthy Morrough family in 1830. Initially used as a sporting estate, the main house was finally finished in 1899.The population of the island followed a familiar pattern to that of much of the rural west of Ireland. Lewis quotes 109 inhabitants in 1837, but the numbers then declined to 11 by 1901 following the famine years of the mid nineteenth century and the agricultural depression of the 1880’s.
In 1908 Kay Summersby was born at Inish Beg House. She came to notoriety as a close companion of Dwight D. Eisenhower.“
Inish Beg Estate comprises 97 acres;
42 of these are birdsong-filled woodlands which are sympathetically managed and include exceptional tree ferns, bamboo, several ponds, bird hides and carriage drives,
42 acres are green fields sweeping down to the Ilen Estuary where sheep and ponies graze, for this is a working farm run on organic principles.
the remaining 13 acres is taken up with buildings, a walled garden with glass house and fruit cages, a sunken garden with fountain, a cherry drive, an orchard, a daffodil lined avenue and two woodland gardens.
Mark Bence-Jones describes Kilcascan in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 165. “Daunt/IFR) A two storey early C19 castellated house. Symmetrical entrance front with projecting bays joined by battlemented cloister; rectangular tracery windows. Battlemented bow and square turret.”
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:
“The seat of the Daunt family between 1712 and 1987, this picturesque country house is thought to have been built in the early decades of the nineteenth century around the time of the second wedding of Joseph Daunt, to replace an earlier house. Though the architect is unknown, it has been suggested that it is the work of the Pain brothers. According to James N. Healy’s The Castles of Co.Cork the contractors were a local family named Hickie. It is a fine addition to the county’s architectural heritage, and retains much of its excellently executed historic fabric. It was apparently the site of the last death by duelling in 1826, at which time Joseph Daunt was shot and killed by his cousin from Manch House. It has more illustrious associations with the following generation, William O’Neill Daunt (1807-94) was a leading Nationalist politician and one time secretary to Daniel O’Connell.“
contact: Denis/Rita Dooley Tel: 021-4821205 Open: May 5-Sept 10, Thurs, Fri, Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €7, student €5
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Riverstown in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 242. “An early C18 house, enlarged and remodelled 1730s by Dr Jemmett Browne, Dean of Ross and afterwards Bishop of Cork. The house consists of a double gable-ended block of 2 storeys over a basement which is concealed on the entrance front, but which forms an extra storey on the garden front, where the ground falls away steeply; and a 3 storey 1 bay tower-like addition at one end, which has 2 bows on its side elevation. The main block has a 4 bay entrance front, with a doorway flanked by narrow windows not centrally placed. The hall, though of modest proportions, is made elegant and interesting by columns, a plasterwork frieze and a curved inner wall, in which there is a doorcase giving directly onto an enclosed staircase of good joinery. To the left of the hall, in the 3 storey addition, are 2 bow-ended drawing rooms back to back. Straight ahead, in the middle of the garden front, is the dining room, the chief glory of Riverstown, the walls and ceiling fo which are decorated with plasterwork by the Francini brothers, probably their earliest work in Ireland and dating from ca. 1734. The decoration of the ceiling incorporates an oval of allegorical figures representing Time rescuing Truth from the assaults of Discord and Envy, based on a painting by Poussin now at the Louvre. The walls are surrounded by panels with large Classical figures in high relief. The spaces between the windows are covered with exuberantly rococo decoration of flowers and foliage incorporating mirrors, which still have their original glass. The house was owned by Bishop Browne’s descendents until the present century. In 1950s it was empty and deteriorating; so that at one stage there was a plan to remove the dining room plaster-work, for fear that it would otherwise perish. It could not, however, be removed from the walls, so moulds were taken from it, from which were made copies now at Aran an Uachtarain. It was indeed fortunate that the Riverstown dining room was left intact; since, from 1965 onwards, the house was sympathetically restored by its present owner, Mr. John Dooley, with the help of the Irish Georgian Society. The rooms have been suitably and most attractively furnished, and the house is now open to the public.”
The website tells us: “Ballinacurra House is an elegant Georgian Mansion built c.1770 which has been fully renovated and upgraded over the past 20 years. The Estate consists of the main Manor House, Stone Cottage and Coach House – set behind 10 foot high stone walls with lawns, fields, river jetty and forest – and only 5 minutes’ drive from Ireland’s premier tourist town of Kinsale. Whether it’s for a holiday or some type of event … we’ve got you covered. The Owners’ 30 years of experience in event management is one of the reasons that Ballinacurra House is known as Ireland’s Premier Events House with a guarantee of privacy, discretion and style. And is the ideal venue for corporate retreats, client hosting, birthday parties, team-building events, golf groups, family reunions, private parties, friend gatherings and … weddings with a difference.
For the first time we are now opening up the property to give groups of various sizes the opportunity to enjoy the uniqueness of the property! So depending on the size of your family or group, we have developed a range of options for self-catering (minimum 3 days) and our fully staffed and catered premium product for Private Groups (price on request). So now you can choose from:
Estate Cottage 1 – The Coach House – up to 7 people – Self Catering – from €1,200 A 3 bedroom/4 bathroom separate 1,200 square foot home with a private outdoor dining terrace. This building has been renovated from the original coach house for the main manor house – and perfect for up to 7 people.
Estate Cottage 2 – The Stone Cottage – up to 10 people – Self Catering – from €2,200 A stand-alone 1,800 square foot home with 4 bedrooms/4.5 bathrooms with its own private garden. This building was the original gardener’s cottage for the main manor house – now fully renovated that will sleep up to 10 people comfortably.
Manor House (Partial) – up to 20 people – Self Catering – from €8,800 You will enjoy private use of Two Wings of the Manor House including 8 ensuite bedrooms and a range of living rooms, dining rooms, country style kitchen and outdoor dining options (can be catered or staffed by request).
Manor House (Whole) – from 28 to 36 people – Full Catered & Staffed Only – on request There are 14 Bedrooms in the Manor House that can accommodate up to 36 adults + 3 children sharing and a whole range of living and entertainment spaces. Due to the numbers, this is only available on a fully catered and staffed basis.
Whole Estate – from 44 to 54 people – Fully Catered & Staffed Only – on request The entire Estate consisting of the Manor House, Stone Cottage and Coach House for your private and exclusive use. A total of 22 ensuite bedrooms which is fully staffed and catered. This can cater for up to 54 adults + 4 children sharing.”
3. Ballinterry House, Rathcormac, Co Cork – accommodation
Frank Keohane writes in his Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County that:
p. 21. “After the Williamite wars, landowners had the confidence to invest in their property and improve their estates, building new houses and offices, and creating enclosed landscaped demesnes. Of the minor gentry, most aspired to nothing more than a house that was solidly built, symmetrical and convenient. At first, middling houses were unsophisticated in their form and planning, often only one room deep but sometimes having a return containing a staircase or service rooms, thus forming an L-plan or T-plan. Steep gable-ended roofs were almost universal, hipped roofs and the use of parapets the exception. This arrangement continued throughout the 18th century for gentry houses, and well into the C19 for larger farmhouses. Early examples include Ballinterry (Rathcormac), Velvetstown (Buttevant), Rosehill at Ballynacorra (Midleton) and Aghadoe at Killeagh.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Ballinterry House in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 290. “(Barry/IFR) An early C18 house built on the site of a castle which in 1699 belonged to Andrew Morrough or Murragh, an attainted Jacobite; the house was until comparatively recently surrounded by old fortifications including four round towers, of which one and the fragments of another survive. Gable ended main block of two storeys with attic lit by windows in gable-ends; five bay front, originally seven bay, the windows on either side of the centre having been blocked up; presumably in the late Georgian period, when the other windows of the front appear to have been reduced in size and the interior walls rearranged. Simple fanlighted doorway. Original grass terrace with flagged pavement along front. Two storey return wing; central projection at rear of main block containing late-Georgian stairs with balustrade of plain sturdy wooden uprights. Stairs now open to hall; formerly separated from it by screen of C18 panelling with Gothic fanlight, now removed to first floor lobby of wing. Bought 1703 by the 4th Earl of Barrymore [James Barry (1667-1747)]; afterwards passed to the Ross family and then by marriage and descent to the Ryders and Henleys successively. From 1821 to 1862 the home of Archdeacon (“Black Billy”) Ryder, remembered for his part in the “Gortroe Massacre” in 1834, a tragic episode of the Tithe War. Ballinterry is now the home of Mr Hurd Maguire Hatfield, the stage and screen actor, who has carried out a sympathetic restoration of the house [who sold it to the current owners, Michael and Anne in 2007].”
The interior extensively damaged by a fire in 1991. Michael and Anne bought the period propety as a restoration project and realised it would be suitable for taking guests. An article in the Irish Times on Oct 3 2013 by Ellen Lynch tells us about the renovation:
“Michael and Ann spent three years taking up rotting floors, dismantling partitions, uncovering windows and other original features, and taking the house “back to the future” by renovating and modernising it in a way which was wholly sympathetic to its origins.
In December 2007, without power and with no floorboards, the couple had no choice but to decamp with their young children to a cottage in outbuildings on the property. They moved back in during the spring of 2009.
They managed to complete the work with the help of a conservation architect and the encouragement and blessing of Cork County Council’s conservation officer, Mona Hallinan. The Georgian Society declared it one of the most sympathetic restorations they’ve seen.
Ann credits Michael’s unerring eye for detail and his capacity for hard work in bringing everything together to make Ballinterry House what it is today – a splendid country house with a truly authentic feel. “
4. Ballylickey House, Bantry, Co Cork – hotel, Seaview House Hotel €€
“Welcome to Seaview House Hotel, a delightful 4 star country house hotel full of character, set in private and well tended grounds in the quiet village of Ballylickey beside Bantry in the heart of West Cork.
Offering award-winning cuisine, luxurious B&B and a modern Spa & Bath House.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Ballylickey House in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 290. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, Lansdowne, M/PB) A two storey house of mid C19 appearance; pillared porch between two three sided bows, the front being prolonged on one side by a similar bow, and on the other by a lower service wing ending in a gable. Orignally a shooting box of the Marquesses of Lansdowne (see Derreen); acquired by the Graves family who made a noteable garden here and added an extra storey to the house ca 1950 when they turned it into a hotel. After a serious fire 1984, the house was rebuilt without the additional storey, regaining its original C19 character.”
5. Ballymacmoy, Killavullen, Co Cork – coach house airbnb €
The website tells us: “Ballymacmoy is the estate of origin of the wild geese family, the Hennessy’s of Cognac and is still owned and inhabited by their descendants. 40 kilometres from Cork International Airport, Ballymacmoy is a 23 acre estate located at the edge of the little village of Killavullen (200 inhabitants). It is made up of grasslands and wooded areas with 3.5 miles of exclusive fishing rights along the Blackwater river, it includes a 1 acre walled garden and a unique prehistoric private cave reserved for guests.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Ballymacmoy in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 24. “[Hennessy/IFR] A two storey late-Georgian house on a rock overhanging the River Blackwater. Entrance front of three bays and curved bow; Wyatt windows, subsequently reglazed with central mullions; fanlighted doorway now obscured by plain porch. Simple battlemented arch at opposite end of house. Hall with elaborate early to mid-C19 plasterwork; reeded cornice with rosettes, central oval of acanthus. Partly curving stair with slender wooden balusters at inner end of hall beyond arch with rope ornament. Fine doorcases with Doric entablatures and rope ornament on architraves. Cornices of oakleaves in drawing room and ante room. Bow-ended ballroom with higher ceiling than the other principal rooms and simpler and presumably earlier C19 plasterwork; oval moulding in centre of ceiling, with flat pan pendentives at corners. Fluted pilasters on walls. Oak chimneypiece in the “Arts and Crafts” style, with overmantel incorporating needlework panel, carved in 1905 by Harriette, widow of J.W. Hennessy. There is a similar oak fireplace in the dining-room, which has been entirely done over in Edwardian Tudor; with a beamed ceiling, timber-studded walls and painted coat-of-arms. Sold 1932 by Mr. C.J. Hennessy to his kinsman, the late Monsieur J.R. Hennessy, of La Billarderie, Cognac. Recently tenanted by Mr. Ian Sherriff, who ran it as a guest house.”
6. Ballymaloe, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation – see above
7. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental – see my entry under County Waterford – the gardens are on the 2022 Section 482 list.
The website tells us of the accommodation: “a. As the name suggests, it was originally the Coach House where the owner of the Estate would have kept the horse drawn carriages along with all the necessary tack for the horses. Sometimes these buildings housed some very ornate and fascinating carriages. The two storey Coach House takes centre stage in the stable yard and has been transformed into a beautiful, luxurious 4 bedroom self catering property. Downstairs there is a very relaxing style open plan kitchen & dining area with comfortable couches which allow for great conversations even while you prepare a bite of lunch or dinner.
Within the quaint stable yard and in view of Ballynatray House itself, the Coach House really is a home from home with beautifully maintained gardens & parklands. The Coach House offers self-catering accommodation most suited to families as there is plenty of space both inside and in the stable yard which has beautifully maintained gardens. Guests can also view the walled kitchen garden which can be accessed from the stable yard. This is the perfect retreat for any family who wishes to step back from the hustle & bustle of modern life and just relax and soak up the atmosphere only a private estate can offer.
b. Set in the grounds of Ballynatray Estate, the Garden Flat is located in the stable yard and is suitable for those looking for a self-catering holiday. There are two double bedrooms on the ground floor which would ideally suit two couples or if the need arises one of the bedrooms can be changed to be a twin room. There is a large bathroom and the kitchen is well equipped, decorated in the style of a country kitchen with painted units, stone floor and large kitchen table to seat ten. The Garden Flat can be used for a luxury self catering week in the beautiful Irish countryside.
c. The Garden House is a quaint little cottage that sits at the bottom of the walled garden next to the beautiful Ballynatray House. Set across two floors the Garden House boasts a beautiful double room complete with comfortable armchairs either side of the open fire that fills the complete upstairs area. This is an ideal adult only location where romantic notions are never very far away.
The wonderful location allows those who book the Garden House to wander through the estate which is one of the finest estates you will find in the Irish countryside. Taking long walks along the Blackwater or taking a picnic while you go exploring you could easily get lost in the beautiful countryside that is the Ballynatray Estate.
d. From history we know that on an estate like Ballynatray the owners would employ a groom to keep their horses fed, watered and groomed. As on many estates the job came with accommodation next to the stable as the groom was expected to be on hand if any of the family wished to go horse-riding or if one of the horses fell ill. This is the case on the Ballynatray Estate.
Renovated & situated in the stable yard the Groom’s Flat is an ideal self catering option for two people. The Groom’s Flat now boasts a beautiful open plan structure which allows guests the feel of an authentic cottage complete with the original stone floor in the kitchen and a small wood burner. The double bedroom benefits from French doors, whilst the heritage bathroom includes a shower and is decorated with small hand painted tiles. It is extremely comfortable and would be ideal for anyone looking to escape from the frenetic buzz of city life to somewhere beautiful and rural where every need is catered for in this self-contained Estate.“
8. Ballyvolane, Castlelyons, Co Cork – Hidden Ireland accommodation, see above €€€
Mark Bence-Jones writes in 1988 of Castle Martyr in A Guide to Irish Country Houses:
p. 72. “(Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E/PB; Boyle, Shannon, E/PB; Arnott, Bt/PB) Originally an old castle of the FitzGeralds, Seneschals of Imokilly, to which an early C17 domestic range was added by richard Boyle, the “Great” Earl of Cork, who bought it from Sir Walter Raleigh, to whom it had been granted, along with other confiscated Geraldine estates. Having been damaged during the Civil Wards, it was repaired and made “English like” by Lord Cork’s third son, 1st Earl of Orrery, to whom it had passed; only to suffer worse damage in the Williamiate War, after which it was left a ruin, and a new house built alongside it early in C18 by Henry Boyle, who became Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and eventually 1st Earl of Shannon. The house was greatly enlarged by 2nd Earl between 1764/71, and further remodelled in late-Georgian period. While giving it an abnormally long facade, the subsequent additions did not take away from the house’s early C18 character, beign on the same scale and in the same style as the original building. Entrance front of two storeys and 17 bays, consisting of a five bay recessed centre with a giant pedimented portico between projecint wings, the forward-facing one bay ends of which are prolonged by a further five bays on either side. The ends of the projecting wings on either side of the centre are framed by rusticated pilasters, and formerly had Venetian windows in their lower storey, which have now been made into ordinary triple windows; there is also a rusticated pilaster at either end of the facade. The front is unusual in having three entrance doorways, of similar size, one under the portico and one in the centre of the five outer bays on either side; originally these doorways had plain architraves, but they were replaced by rusticated doorcases early this century. High-pitched, slightly sprocketed roofs. Irregular garden front; range of three bays on either side of a curved central bow, then a four bay range set slightly back with a balustraded colonnade of coupled Doric columns along its lower storey, then a range set further back again, of the same height as the rest of the facade but of one storey only, with three tall windows. Long, narrow and low-ceilinged hall with bifurcating wooden staircase at one end; late-Georgian frieze. A wide pilastered corridor runs from the staircase end of the hall, opening into a series of reception rooms along the garden front’ they are of modest size, low-ceilinged and simply decorated. In contrast to them is the magnificent double cube saloon or ballroom at the opposite end of the hall., which rises the full height of the house and is lit by the three tall windows in the single-storey part of the garden front. It has a coved ceiling with splendid rococo plasterwork in the manner of Robert West – birds, swags, flowers, foliage and cornucopiae in high relief – and a doorcase with fluted Ionic columns and a broken pediment. This room was one of 2nd Earl’s additions; it was finished by 1771, when it was seen by Arthur Young, who considered it to be the best room he had seen in Ireland. It certainly rates among the dozen or so finest Irish country house interiors; or anyhow whould have done when it had its chimneypiece and its original pictures and furnishings. The entrance front of the house overlooks a sheet of water which is part of the remarkable artificial river made ante 1750 by 1st Earl; it winds its way between wooded banks through the demesne and round the neighbouring town of Castlemartry; broad and deep enough to be navigable by what was described in C18 as “an handsome boat.” The entrance gates from teh town are flanked by tall battlemented walls shaped to look like Gothic towers; from the side they reveal themselves to be no more than stage scenery. Castle Martyr was sold early in the present century to the Arnott family; it was subsequently re-sold and is now a Carmelite College.”
“In the picturesque village of Castletownshend, past ‘The Two Trees’ at the bottom of the hill, you’ll find our family-run boutique B&B. Nestled at the edge of a scenic harbour and natural woodlands for you to explore, The Castle is a truly unique place to stay. It has the warm, homely feel of a traditional Irish B&B, but with a few extra special touches.
Steeped in history, The Castle has been home to the Townshend family since the 1650s and has been receiving guests for over 60 years. Inside the old stone walls, you’ll find welcoming faces to greet you, roaring fires to warm you, and comfy beds to sink into. Each room has its own story to tell, with the oak-panelled hall and spacious dining room retaining most of their original features, furniture, and family portraits.
Full of character and old-world charm, The Castle offers a welcoming retreat from everyday life. There are lots of things to do in the local area, like whale-watching and kayaking. Or, you can simply rest and recharge your batteries in the unique surroundings. After enjoying a complimentary breakfast, stroll through the winding pathways of our historic grounds, discovering ivy-covered ruins and their stories along the way. Then, as the sun sets, sit out the front with a drink in your hand, watching the boats in the harbour sway gently back and forth.
While you are a guest in our family’s home, the only thing on your To Do list is to relax. We will look after the rest.
The building is in fact a 17th century castellated house, not a defensive castle from earlier times. It was built by Colonel Richard Townesend towards the end of the 17th century, starting off as a much smaller dwelling. The first castle, known as ‘Bryan’s Fort’, was attacked and destroyed by the O’Driscolls in 1690, and its ruins remain in The Castle grounds to this day. Richard then built a second castle, which is thought to be where Swift’s Tower still stands.
In 1805 the floors were lowered to make the ceilings higher, a decision that left The Castle in ruins. However, instead of rebuilding it, the stone was used to add castellated wings to the dwelling on the waterfront. This became The Castle as you see it today.
Disaster struck again in 1852 when the newly built East Wing went up in flames. The blaze was so fierce that the large quantity of silver stored at the top of the wing ran down in molten streams. The family sent a Bristol silversmith to search the ruins and value the silver by the pound, which he did and promptly disappeared to America with a large part of it! The family still have some of that silver, all misshapen from the fire. The East Wing was rebuilt soon after the fire and The Castle has remained unchanged in appearance ever since.
The family name, however, has undergone several changes over the years. The original spelling was Townesend, which later became Townsend. In 1870, the head of the family, Reverend Maurice Fitzgerald Townshend, consulted with the Townshends of Raynham, Norfolk. Following this, it was requested that the whole family add the ‘h’ into the name. However, some families were quite content with the current spelling and refused to adopt the new one. This resulted in various different spellings spread across the branches throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada.
Much has been written about the Townshend family and The Castle over the years, and this rich history is documented in great detail here. You can also read the book‘An Officer of the Long Parliament’, which is an account of the life and times of Colonel Richard Townesend and a chronicle of his descendants.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 78. “[Townshend/IFR) A castellated house, consisting of two battlemented towers joined by a range with dormer gables. Panelled hall. The tower of the parish church rises picturesquely from among the trees immediately above the house, which stands on the shore of Castle Haven.”
Jane O’Hea O’Keeffe tells us of the Castle’s builder, in her Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry (Mercier Press, Cork, 2013): p. 83. “In the late 1600s Richard Townsend, an officer in the Cromwellian army, acquired lands at Castlehaven in west Cork originally owned by the O’Driscoll clan. Richard Townsend also owned other lands in County Cork totalling over 6,540 acres. It was he who built the castle at Castletownshend, the centre portion of which still remains. The two towers at each corner of the castle today were added in the eighteenth century.”
She continues: “Over the following centuries, members of the Townsend family served as high sheriffs of County Cork. In 1753 Richard Townsend was the office-holder and in 1785 Richard Boyle Townsend was appointed to the position. In the 1870s Richard M.F. Townsend owned over 7,000 acres near Dingle in County Kerry, inherited from the FitzGerald family, Knights of Kerry. At that time, the estate of the late Rev. Maurice Townshend extended to over 8,000 acres in County Cork...”
Frank Keohane describes Castle Townshend in his Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County:
p. 314. “The Castle. A house of several parts, the seat of the Townshends. The earliest, described as ‘newly built’ in 1780 by the Complete Irish Traveller, is presumably the two-storey, five-bay rubble-stone centre block, with dormers over the upper windows and a two-storey rectilinear porch. Taller three-storey wings with battlements carried on corbelled cornices and twin- and triple-light timber-mullioned windows. The E. wing was perhaps built in the late 1820s; the W wing was added after a fire in 1852. Modest interior. Large low central hall with a beamed ceiling and walls lined with oak panelling and gilded embossed wallpaper. Taller dining room to the r., with a compartmented ceiling; a Neoclassical inlaid fireplace in the manner of Bossi, and a large Jacobean sideboard. C19 staircase with barley-twist type balusters.
Octagonal three-stage battlemented tower, 60 m west of the castle.”
The airbnb posting tells us you can rent a room in the house:
“A beautiful Georgian house set in wonderful countryside, amongst old and established trees with lawns and a walled vegetable garden with exceptional views overlooking the Nagle Mountains and the Blackwater River running below.
Situated between Mallow and Fermoy approx 12 miles from either with three local villages Killavullen, Castletownroche and Ballyhooly each a 2.5 miles away. Cork city is 45 minutes drive.
This is the perfect place to relax, unwind or position yourselves for a weekend of fishing and relaxation. You are welcome to walk around the grounds, relax in the sitting room in front of the fire read or watch TV.
The double bedroom is comfortable and spacious with a king size bed with en suite bathroom which has been recently upgraded.“
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us: “This solid and handsome country house was built by Richard Martin on a prominent position overlooking the River Blackwater. It developed over the centuries, as evidenced by the various additions. The house is notable for the quantity and quality of historic fabric retained such as the varied small-paned sash windows and slate roof, helping to maintain the integrity of the composition. The cut limestone piers with pineapple caps are a most decorative feature.”
13. Creagh (former Glebe House), Skibbereen, Co Cork – B&B
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us Creagh House in Skibbereen is a: “Detached four-bay two-storey former glebe house, built c.1820, now in use as private house…Set overlooking an inlet, this house occupies an attractive site which is enhanced by its well maintained grounds. Built as the glebe house for the Church of Ireland church to the west, it forms an interesting group with the church and graveyard. It is a reminder of the influence and prosperity of the Church of Ireland in the early nineteenth century, when many churches and clergy residences were built throughout the country. It retains much of its original character and charm.”
14. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482 – see above
15. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above
“A fantastic option for travellers looking for a quiet stay, in a strategic location, to explore Kinsale, West Cork and beyond. We offer Warm hospitality with a romantic and relaxed atmosphere.
Our facilities are fully equipped with all the comforts you need, as well as beautiful formal gardens with a Lavender walk, Partier and Rose Garden. We have areas for walks, an enclosed garden for our dog guests, and easy access to the main tourist attractions of Blarney, Kinsale and West Cork.
Under the hospitable ownership of Gill and Caroline, this classically proportioned Georgian Rectory has been providing a restful retreat for guests since 1989, and everybody loves it for its genuine country house feeling and friendliness.
Spacious reception rooms have the feeling of a large family home, and generous, stylishly decorated bedrooms have good bathrooms, fast Internet connection, and tea/coffee making facilities. The Rose Room, on the ground floor, has French doors to the garden.
Set in two acres of beautiful, well-tended gardens (including a productive kitchen garden), this charming old rectory near Kinsale has a lovely wisteria over the front door and it is a place full of interest.
Check in is between 4.00pm and 6.00pm when Complimentary Afternoon Tea is served. Please let us know if you require check in at a different time and we can arrange it.”
20. Glenlohane, Kanturk, Cork – B&B accommodationand self-catering cottage €€ in house; Pink Cottage € for 3-5 for one week
The website tells us: “Desmond, Melanie and their son, Gordon, run Glenlohane as an extremely private house with an air of friendly informality so unique to Irish Country House Bed and Breakfasts. Certainly not considered a ‘room for the night’ type of B&B, there are no public signs at the roadside to draw the attention of casual visitors. Guests are welcomed on a pre-arranged basis and know where they are going by the detailed directions in this web site. There are no public and private quarters as in a professional place and guests may use facilities of the entire house as if staying with friends.
There are family dogs and a cat in the background and animals play a large part of life at Glenlohane. Less than a quarter of a mile away, and still on the farm, is a Self Catering Cottage that can be rented on a weekly basis. Apart from farm animals, there are also horses, ponies, fantail pigeons and bantam hens in the traditional stable yard.
Whether it be at Glenlohane for B&B or Glenlohane Cottage for self catering, staying is for the discerning visitor who wishes to learn more about Ireland’s history and culture through personal contact with the owners. One is also well positioned for sightseeing throughout the Scenic Southwest of the country.“
“Glenlohane Cottage has been part of the Sharp Bolster family who are celebrating 275 years in Glenlohane House in 2016. It is an exceptional period cottage built in the 1600’s and added onto over the centuries. Centered in the Glenlohane farm estate, this geographic location is one of the very best locations for touring the Scenic Southwest of Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle, Rock of Cashel, Cork City, Blarney, Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Kinsale, Bantry & the Beara, and even Schull are all easy day trips.“
The Glenlohane website gives us a history of the house:
“Glenlohane Country House was built by Desmond’s antecedents in 1741. Your hosts, Desmond, Melanie and their son Gordon represent the 9th and 10th generations of the same family living at Glenlohane since its inception. Surrounded by terraced lawns overlooking a park like setting, the house was built by John Sharp, of Mount Conway, near Cork City in 1741. Mount Conway still stands.
Early records show the Sharp family in the parish of St. Katherine, Dublin in 1535. As a prominent Quaker family that became eminently successful in the woolen industry in the mid 1600’s, they also built Roundwood House in Co Laois at the same time that Glenlohane was being built in Co Cork. Anthony Sharp was reputed to employ 500 people at the time, which would have made him one of Ireland’s largest employers. For Dublin, that is a sizeable concern even by today’s standards! As sizeable land owners, the Bolsters have been within 5-6 miles of Glenlohane since Elizabethan times and John Hawkes Bolster of Egmont House, Churchtown, Co Cork married Sarah Sharp of Glenlohane in the early 1800’s. The house was extended to its present size shortly thereafter. We now have the opportunity to share our family’s heritage by offering guests Irish Country House Accommodation in the heart of the Co Cork countryside.“
21. Glenville Park, Glenville, County Cork (previously known as The Manor and as Mount Pleasant) – accommodation €
This is the home of the late Mark Bence-Jones, whom I refer to so much on this website! Stephen and I were very excited to discover that his daughter rents rooms in the house for visitor accommodation.
Mark Bence-Jones tells us:
p. 139. (Hudson-Kinahan, sub Kinahan/IFR; Bence-Jones/IFR) Originally a two storey five bay C18 house, of rendered rubble with block window surrounds of cut stone; it was fronted by a semi-circular forecourt or enclosure, with a gate at either end. The seat of a branch of the Coppinger or Copinger family, the estate having originally belonged to the O’Keefes. Bought between 1776-1788 by Dr Edward Hudson, who built a new house a short distance from the old one, and at right angles to it; consisting of three storey three bay gable-ended centre, with a fanlighted doorway, and two storey one bay gable-ended wings. This house was the home of Dr Edward Hudson’s son, William Elliot Hudson [1796-1853], composer, collector of ancient Irish music and Irish patriot [his Dublin home was St. Enda’s in Rathfarnham, previously called The Hermitage and Fields of Odin]. The estate eventually passed to Wm Elliot Hudson’s nephew, Sir Edward Hudson-Kinahan, 1st Bt [the son of William Elliot’s sister Charlotte, who married Robert Henry Kinahan], who enlarged and remodelled the house to the design of Sandham Symes 1887. A new two storey front was built onto the house, making it twice as deep, other additions were built at the back, and the original part of the house was reconstructed with two storeys instead of the original three, so as to make the rooms as high as those in the new additions. The new front is in the Victorian-Georgian style, faced in grey cement and of considerable length; it has a small pedimented breakfront with a pair of round-headed windows above a balustraded and fanlighted porch. On either side of the centre is a three sided bow between two bays; the façade being prolonged at one end by an additional bay, beyond which is a three storey one bay wing set back.“
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “Entablatures on console brackets above ground floor windows, shouldered window surrounds in upper storey, parapeted roof. At the back of the house is a bow fronted pavilion like wing, containing a single large room, joined to the main building by a corridor. Long hall running the full depth of the house, with staircase at its inner end, behind an arch with plasterwork mouldings; modillion cornice. Doorcases with segmental pediments in the hall and principal receptions rooms, which have Victorian plasterwork cornices of flowers and foliage; the drawing room has an original C19 wallpaper in faded lemon and grey. Spacious landing or upper hall at head of stairs.”
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us: “The Hudson-Kinahan family died out with the third baronet, Sir Robert, and the house became the home of Colonel Philip Bence-Jones and his wife, who purchased Glenville from the trustees in 1949. The Bence-Jones family, who originally came from Lisselane, near Clonakilty in West Cork, were looking for a new home after their house, Annemount on Cork Harbour, had been destroyed by fire.” 
Mark Bence-Jones continues his description: “Walled garden with old beech hedges and walls of faded pink brick; the back of the Coppinger house being at one side of it. Glen garden containing a noteable collection of rhododendrons and other shrubs and trees; long flight of steps down hillside to formal pool. Bought 1949 from the trustees of Sir Robert Hudson-Kinahan, 3rd Bt, by Col Philip Bence-Jones, who carried out various alterations to the house and threw three small rooms together to make a chapel, which has stained glass windows by Mr Stanley Tomlin and Mr Patckick Pollen, and a stone altar by the late Seamus Murphy, above which is a statue of the Madonna which survived the fire at Annemount.”
We spent a heavenly week at Glenville Park during Heritage Week of 2020, when we used it as a base to visit several Section 482 and OPW properties.
22. Inis Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork – see above €
“The beautiful Kilmahon House, built in 1780, is a fully restored Georgian Country House offering elegant Bed & Breakfast accommodation. The house is also available for smaller events on special request. Just 30 minutes from Cork airport and the Historic city of Cork, Kilmahon is situated in the East Cork Village of Shanagarry. It is only a short walk to Ballymaloe Cookery School and the blueflag beaches along Ballycotton Bay.
Kilmahon is an impressive listed Glebe Heritage House of Ireland and has been lovingly restored over a number of years. The result is a seamless blend of original period features and modern facilities, set within the idyllic coastal surroundings of County Cork’s nature.
Spending a few days in this secluded ancient environment offers a chance to rejuvenate in comfort and peace. Weather with a good book in front of a warm fire or a stroll through the old gardens, you will find yourself uplifted and reset from the stresses of everyday life.
While the house was restored so too were the gardens surrounding it. The walled rose garden has been brought back to life and is a feast of colour through the summer months; a perfect and private space for guests to relax in. An expansive lawn to the front provides a large open space and stunning views over fields toward the ocean, while old stone walls and mature trees in abundance maintain the sense of privacy at Kilmahon.
THE RECEPTION ROOMS Period fireplaces with log fires set a welcoming tone in each of the elegant reception rooms in Kilmahon House. Rooms are tastefully furnished with antiques and original art work effortlessly combining style and comfort. Large Georgian windows provide idyllic views onto the formal gardens below and Ballycotton Bay beyond.
A wonderful nights rest in one of the six individually designed en-suite bedrooms awaits guests at Kilmahon House. Recent restorations allow for the inclusion of modern power showers and super-king beds whilst still enjoying the ambience of antique furniture, sumptuous furnishings and spectacular scenic views.
BOOKING YOUR STAY
Kilmahon offers guests luxury Bed & Breakfast accommodation or the house also can be taken for exclusive rental where guests can enjoy staying in this outstanding Georgian house and its beautiful surroundings. Julia will be happy to organise with you any catering requirements you have. Kilmahon House is an ideal setting for family breaks. Contact the house directly to check availability.“
25. Kilshannig, County Cork holiday accommodation – see above
The website invites us to “Escape to 163 acres of pristine nature with manicured gardens, a 40 acre private lake and James Turrell’s renowned Irish Sky Garden. The Estate features 26 unique guest rooms in the heart of West Cork, the culinary capital of Ireland.“
The Manor was built in 1853, a fine early Victorian country house built by H.W. O’Donovan, who succeeded his brother as The O’Donovan in 1870. The Victorian Lake House was built in 1870.
The James Turrell Sky Garden:
James Turrell’s The Irish Sky Garden
“For over half a century, the internationally renowned landscape artist James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception. New Yorker critic Calvin Tompkins writes, “His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form.” ” It was built in 1992.
Mark Bence-Jones tell us about Liss Ard (1988):
P. 188. “[O’Donovan/IFR] A long two storey early Victorian house, built ca. 1840 by H.W. O’Donovan, who succeeded his brother as The O’Donovan 1870. Entrance at end; fine rooms. Sold ca 1924 by Col. M.W. O’Donovan, The O’Donovan. In recent years the home of the late Captn and Mrs Richard Ansdell.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Lota Lodge (1988): p. 191. “(Sharman-Crawford/LGI1912) A two storey Regency house with circular projections and iron veranda. Eaved roof. Partly destroyed by fire 1902, rebuilt 1903.”
The website tells us:
“Cork’s Vienna Woods Country House Hotel has a history as dramatic as the rich mustard tone that sets the building apart from the surrounding woodlands on the peaks of Glanmire, Co. Cork.
The building, perched on a height overlooking the Glashaboy River, has stood proudly since 1756. Built by Davis Ducart as a summer leisure lodge for Lord Barrymore, the building was designed in the Regency Style, a style that was very popular in the latter part of the 18th century.
Characteristic traits of the Regency Style include an emphasis on the classical form, and the forging of a close relationship between structure and the landscape, evident in The Vienna Woods Country House Hotel, which nestles in to the surrounding mountainous woodlands.
Vienna Woods, or Lota Lodge as it was originally titled, forms part of a collection of grand country houses in the Glanmire area of Cork, like; Dunkathel House, Glenkeen, Glyntown House, Lauriston House and Brooklodge House.
The house was home to AF Sharman Crawford and his family from 1875-1946, who was thankfully here to restore the house to its original glory after a fire in the early 1900s destroyed some of the original building. Crawford was a managing director of the Beamish and Crawford Brewery, (which was founded by his uncle, William Crawford II), and the city of Cork benefited from his philanthropic disposition, particularly in the arts; in fact the Crawford family funded the establishment of the Crawford Art Gallery and the Crawford School of Art.
As with so many other grand houses in 20th century Ireland, the building was purchased by a religious order in 1951, and was used as a seminary for 13 years, until it was converted into a hotel in 1964 by Joan Shubuek renamed the building ‘Vienna Woods’, because of the parallels she drew between the area, and the Austrian capital city where she had lived for a number of years.
The Fitzgerald family along with Michael Magner, bought the hotel in 2006 and renamed it ‘The Vienna Woods Country House Hotel’. Michael Magner, one of the co-owners, is also the General Manager of the hotel, and this close level of personal care and involvement is most evident in the building’s most dramatic makeover to date, which has taken almost fifteen years to complete. The Fitzgeralds/Magners have lovingly and painstakingly restored much of the original protected features of the building.“
28. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house or gate lodge –
“The Courtyard, Mallow has been lovingly renovated and is at the rear of the main Georgian house which was built in 1780 and was the original home of the Carpenter family. The Courtyard, Mallow is situated on a working farm and equestrian centre.
Comprising of two 2-bedroomed self-catering apartments, and one 1-bedroomed self-catering apartment we can provide for couples and friend/family groups alike. Your home-from-home, each apartment at The Courtyard is equipped with all cooking facilities that you need, WiFi, and television sets with endless channels and movies to choose from. Catering and shopping is available upon prior request and subject to availability.“
All three apartments have been recently refurbished and each apartment is elegantly decorated with its own unique style and story. We have scoured vintage and antique shops around the country to add that extra flare and individuality to the living spaces of The Courtyard apartments. We use White & Green luxury organic cotton bed linen on all beds and Dalkey liquid handmade soap to ensure our guests can fully unwind during their stay. All bedrooms are ensuite for your comfort and privacy.
30. Maryborough, Douglas, Co Cork – Maryborough Hotel €€
“Located in the leafy suburbs of Douglas, yet minutes from Cork City Centre, The Maryborough has a character and style all of its own. Set in 18 acres of 300-year-old listed gardens and woodland, our family-owned boutique hotel affords guests an experience in luxury itself and is among the top hotels in Cork. The Maryborough Hotel is unique with its charming 18th Century Mansion accompanied by the creatively designed contemporary extension. All of this combined makes The Maryborough the perfect destination.
The hotel delivers a unique experience in an exceptional atmosphere. From the moment you enter, we will guarantee you a level of personal service and care designed to match the exquisite surroundings of our 300-year-old listed gardens. Guests can enjoy an award-winning restaurant in Cork, state of the art Leisure Club and luxurious ESPA spa.
The Maryborough Hotel & Spa is one of the most renowned 4 star hotels in Cork today. The Maryborough’s Georgian Manor House was built in 1710 by Mr Richard Newenham [note that a Richard Newenham of Maryborough married Sarah Devonsher, niece of Abraham Devonsher of Kilshannig]. Descendants of the Newenhams as well as other families lived there up until the 1990s when it was purchased by the O’Sullivan family. In 1997 the family opened what is now The Maryborough Hotel, a 4 star luxury hotel in Cork with 93 bedrooms.
Since becoming a hotel, the Mansion House has fortunately retained its striking original architectural features. Some of the rooms at The Maryborough still showcase Adam style decoration – notably the entrance hall and some mantelpieces. This adds to the historical relevance of the manor house and contributes to the decadence and luxury of this boutique hotel in Cork.
The former eighteenth-century stately home is set amid acres of woods and beautiful gardens, just south of Cork’s historical city centre in Douglas. John Newenham, a younger brother of the last Newenham owner of The Maryborough was a great gardener and collector of trees. Thanks to his inspired work the gardens at The Maryborough still host quite a collection, in particular of rhododendrons, making it one of the reasons for The Maryborough being one of the best hotels in Cork.
The Maryborough works to continually develop a deluxe guest experience merging the hotels history with beautifully appointed accommodations. In order to incorporate the elegant grandeur of the old house into the hotel, several splendid suites were built on the upper floors of the Mansion House. Read more about our luxury suites in Cork.
To compliment the opulent charm of the old house, the hotel’s contemporary extension was built. It is here you will find our Deluxe, Executive and Family Rooms. Spectacular architecture blended with effortless service and genuine hospitality makes the Maryborough one of the top hotels in Cork.“
“Take an elegant townhouse in a spectacular location, add a gourmet cafe with a mouth watering array of local produce, mix well with the locals who love the atmosphere here, bring it all together with a very warm welcome and a pinch of kinsale humour… and you’ll have the Old Bank Townhouse.
Set in the heart of Kinsale, this beautifully renovated Bank House is both elegant and welcoming. Just a short walk from the of world renowned restaurants, inviting bars and interesting boutiques of Kinsale… yet only 25 minutes from cork city, the Old Bank Townhouse is popular with golfers and those with a passion for food.
Steeped in history, this Kinsale accommodation was originally the Munster & Leinster Bank.The beautiful Georgian facade with impressive sash windows used to front a waterway for passing ships that berthed in the quays running from the site of on old mill.“
“Perryville House is an elegant and distinctive period townhouse overlooking Kinsale Harbour, County Cork in the south of Ireland. Originally built in 1820 and lovingly restored by us, Perryville House is now a warm, gracious and light-filled boutique guesthouse.
True to its original role as a private residence, Perryville House welcomes guests from all over the world to share and enjoy the finest Irish hospitality and luxury accommodation in Kinsale — your first stop on the Wild Atlantic Way. We invite you to savour a one-of-a-kind, historic hotel experience.
A masterpiece of Georgian architecture with later Victorian embellishment, Perryville House was built in 1820 by Captain Adam Warren Perry for his family whose ancestors continued to reside here until the late 1950s. It had various owners from then until 1997 when fired by the beauty, character and history of this lovely house, Andrew & Laura Corcoran undertook the mammoth task of refurbishing and bringing it back to its former glory. Situated in the heart of Kinsale, overlooking the harbour, Perryville House welcomes guests from April to October each year.“
[see 5]. Seaview House Hotel, Ballylicky, County Cork
“Tucked away amid tranquil woodlands , Springfort Hall Country House Hotel is a hotel for all seasons . The gardens and lawns at this 4 Star Hotel are a delight during the Summer , while in the Winter months, there’s no better place to relax with a glass of red wine than in The Baltydaniel Bar. Add to this , impeccably maintained 4 Star Accommodation and Sumptuous dining in The Limetree Restaurant and you will discover a wonderful 18th Century Country House Hotel Countryside. Explore one of the finest 4 Star Springfort Hall Country House Hotel.“
Mark Bence-Jones tells us Springfort is (1988):
“(Foott/LGI1912; Grove-White/IFR; Clarke/IFR) A two storey early C19 house with two deep curved bows on each side of its two principal fronts. Open porch with square piers on entrance front, between the two bows and below a central Wyatt window; large triple windows in lower storey of bows. Service wing at side. Spacious bow-eded reception rooms; ceilings and surrounds of early C19 plasterwork. Plaster Gothic vaulting in staircase hall.”
The website tells us: “Barnabrow Country House: in idyllic East Cork is discreet – it is like a secret garden that beckons. Visitors may happen upon it nestled in the rolling hills of East Cork with distant but tantalising glimpses of Ballycotton Bay. At first glance it appears contained – its banqueting hall, high on the hill, is not obvious, the twenty-two bedrooms are tucked away in various courtyards and the cottages are not apparent.
The meandering passages entice the curious to explore, its various decks with their pleasing views invite others to relax while the menagerie of animals offers solace. Combined, these elements make Barnbrow Country House an atmospheric, intimate setting where memories, that last a lifetime, are created.
Barnabrow Country House in East Cork is one of the most idyllic locations for romantic weddings, corporate events, special celebrations and group gatherings.
The family and staff at Barnabrow are proud to act as caretaker of this lovingly-restored manor house and 30-acre estate which dates back to the 17th century. A recurrent comment of our guests is an appreciation of the relaxed and warm atmosphere here. Primarily we wish to share this great house with you.
For the past four years, Head Chef, Stuart Bowes, who is Michelin Star-trained, has ensured a new level of excellence in our food: jus is prepared over three days, handmade sweets are on the pillows, herbal aromas pervade the air.
Mary Russell’s discerning eye adds an artistic dab here and there to enhance the visual feast that Barnabrow has gradually become. Liam Irwan, our steadfast gardener, preserves its organic nature and tends to the donkeys, goats and fowl that so add to its ambiance.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 32. “A three storey 3 bay double gable-ended C18 house with single-storey 2 bay C19 wings. Wyatt windows in 2 lower storeys of C18 block. In 1814 the residence of Timothy Lane; in 1837, of J.R. Wilkinson; in recent years, of Lt-Cmdr and Mrs Whitehouse.”
5. Blackwater Castle (Castle Widenham, or Blackwater Valley Castle) Castletownroache, Co Cork
“A medieval Castle for rent in Ireland, the spectacular home of the former Viscount of Fermoy and Lords of the Barony of Fermoy, is a truly unique heritage site of international significance. Blackwater Castle, with a history extending back some 10,000 years to the Mesolithic period, is available to hire as a private Castle experience for exclusive Castle weddings, private parties, and family gatherings.
The Castle was first erected in the twelfth century on the site of the Bronze Age fortress of Dún Cruadha, an inland promontory fort which was established some 2,500 years ago or more on a rocky outcrop on the banks of the River Awbeg. Beautifully appointed suites, welcoming reception rooms, historical tours, and extensive activities from zip-lining to fly fishing are all on offer at one of Ireland’s more interesting and best preserved castles set on a 50 acre estate of mature native Irish trees with a private stretch of the River Awbeg.
Visitors gracing the Castle down through the centuries include Early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, Druids and Chieftains, Strongbow’s Men at Arms, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Michael Jackson while Oliver Cromwell and his army also laid siege to the Castle. More recently we have received the President of Ireland Uachtarán Michael D. Higgins who described the Castle as a “beautiful place” and set in “a majestic and pastoral environment”. This exquisite Castle is available for private exclusive hire as the perfect venue for castle weddings, private parties and self catering holiday vacation rentals. Guesthouse options are also available for group bookings.
The Castle is a highly recommended venue with a coveted 5 star rating on Tripadvisor where we rank as the Best Speciality Accommodation in Cork. We were winners of the Best Hospitality, Tourism and Food Venue in the North Cork Business Awards 2017 while we have been selected for five consecutive years by One Fab Day as one of the best wedding venues in Ireland. in October 2015 The Irish Times listed us among the top ten Castles in Ireland while The Irish Examiner declared on 6 May 2015 that Blackwater Castle was one of only six Irish wedding venues you ever need in your “wedding venue little black book”.
Blackwater Castle is the original seat of the FitzHugh/Roche Family who travelled to Ireland with Strongbow in the late twelfth century. The Castle is located on an elevated site (and former inland promontory fort) above the River Awbeg with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside from the Norman Tower which is reputed to be one of the best preserved medieval keeps in Ireland. Blackwater Castle is blessed with a rich historical legacy the traces of which, dating from the early Mesolithic period or some 10,000 years ago, are visible today and are entertainingly and enthusiastically revealed and interpreted via guided tour with the owner Patrick Nordstrom.“
Mark Bence-Jones also tells us of the castle (1988):
p. 79. Castle Widenham: “(Roche of Fermoy, V/DEP; Brasier-Creagh/IFR; Smyth/IFR; Cotter, Bt/PB)
The old castle of the Viscounts Roche of Fermoy, on a rock high above the Awbeg River; consisting of a tall keep and a baily enclosed by a curtain wall with bastions and other fortifications. During the Civil War the castle was heroically defended against the Cromwellian forces by the Lady Roche of the time but she was eventually obliged to surrender. The estate was confiscated and granted to the Widenham family [to Colonel John Widenham in 1666, when it became known as Castle Widenham]; Lord Roche failed to recover it after the Restoration and was reduced to dire poverty. Later, in C17 or early C18 a house of two storeys and an attic was built onto the keep, incorporating some of the walls of the old castle; it stood within the bailey, the wall of which was still intact 1790s. Ca 1820s, Henry Mitchell Smyth [1795-1870, from Ballynatray, the gardens of which are on the Section 482 listing], whose wife Patricia (nee Brasier-Creagh) [1802-1837]was the eventual heiress of the Widenhams [via her mother, Elizabeth Widenham], castellated the house and extended it at the opposite end to the old keep; giving it a skyline of battlements and machiolations and a turreted porch on its entrance front. Probably at the same time, the bailey wall was largely demolished; though parts of it still survive, together with some of the outworks and a detached building which is thought to have been a chapel. A terrace ws built along the garden front later in C19 by H.J. Smyth. The rooms of the house have plain cornices and charming Georgian-Gothic shutters in the deep window recesses; the drawing room has segmental pointed doorways with rope ornament. The principal staircase has slender turned balusters, there is also a delightful little spiral staircase of wood, rather similar to that at Dunsany Castle, which goes up to the attic storey, whence a door leads into an upper room of the keep. From ca 1963-76, Castle Widenham was the home of Sir Delaval Cotter, 6th and present Bt [6th Baronet Cotter, of Rockforest, co. Cork] – whose old family seat, Rockforest, was nearby. Sir Deleval and Lady Cotter carried out an admirable restoration of the castle, which was in poor condition when they bought it; the rooms, as redecorated by them, were greatly improved and gained much from their fine furniture and the Cotter family portraits. They also made a garden in the outworks of the castle and opened up the views down to the river, which had become completely overgrown. Unfortunately, in 1976, circumstances oblighed them to sell it and move to England.”
6. Blairscove House, County Cork: accommodation in the Piggery, Smoke House and Loft.
“Blairscove House is situated on the picturesque inlet of Dunmanus Bay in West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way. Not touched by mass tourism, it appeals to visitors who want to get away ‘far from the madding crowd,’ yet desire premium facilities in terms of service and food, with home from home comforts in terms of welcome and accommodation.
Around the courtyard of a Georgian House, beautifully restored with cobbled paths, shrubs and flowers, are the restaurant and four stylish suites or small apartments which can be rented on a bed and breakfast or self-catering basis. Formerly a piggery, coach house and servants’ quarters, each suite is individually and very lovingly decorated with a quirky mix of contemporary and antique furnishings.
We also have another holiday cottage on Dunmanus Pier in West Cork, just 12km from Blairscove, in the direction of Mizen Head, again on the Wild Atlantic Way driving route.“
“Careysville House sits on an escarpment overlooking the fishery, with stunning views of the Blackwater valley. Guests can look out of their bedroom window and see one of the most stunning stretches of salmon fishing in Ireland, not to mention watch the salmon jumping in the pools below. It was built in 1812 in the Georgian style, on the site of the old ruined Ballymacpatrick Castle.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 56. “[Montgomery of Killee; Cavendish, Devonshire] “A C18 house of 2 storeys over a high basement and 5 bays, above the River Blackwater. Subtly spaced windows. The seat of the Carey family; passed by inheritance to the Montgomery family, from whom it was bought by the Duke of Devonshire, whose Irish seat, Lismore Castle, is a few miles further down the river.”
The National Inventory tells us: “Built on the site of Ballypatrick Castle, this house has been used as a fishing lodge by the Duke of Devonshire for many years. It is a substantial house with elegant proportions and articulated by its cut limestone plinth course. The building retains many notable features and materials such as the varied timber sash windows and slate roof. The classically inspired porch retains its timber panelled doors and flanking pilasters. The different window treatments to the side and rear provide further interest to the house. The site retains associated structures such as the solidly constructed outbuildings, which provide valuable context to the side. The piers are finely crafted and indicative of the quality of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century craftsmanship.”
8. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above
9. Dunowen House, Co Cork, and Orchard Cottage – Blue Book Accommodation
“Dunowen House is a luxury 18th Century Private Rental Property, situated in a stunning coastal location ten minutes from vibrant Clonakilty town. Surrounded by private coves and sandy beaches, it offers guests the chance to totally escape and experience West Cork life.
When you book Dunowen House it is yours exclusively making it perfect for extended families, groups of friends, bespoke celebrations and intimate weddings.
It offers the comforts of a luxury small hotel with the privacy of an historic country estate – all to yourself.”
“Orchard Cottage is a beautifully refurbished three bedroom house nestled within the peaceful one acre walled garden of Dunowen House.
This characterful old building, dating back to the 1800’s, has been sympathetically restored to a very high standard. It has three cosy bedrooms, two bathrooms, a wood burning stove and an open plan kitchen living area, offering accommodation for up to five guests. The cottage is suitable for up to three children within that number.
Orchard Cottage is available to rent with Dunowen House or on its own as a cute tranquil hideaway for short-breaks or longer holidays.“
The Hidden Ireland website tells us: “An elegant Italiante style Manor house in mature beech woodland and gardens close to Cork City (15km).
The house is spacious and bright and beautifully decorated and it is set in 12 acres of mature beech woodland and landscaped gardens. Accommodation is exceptionally generous and gracious with antique furnishings, a grand piano and full-sized billiard table.
Situated 9 miles from Blarney, 38 miles from Killarney and 10 miles from Cork city and airpor, this is an ideal location for touring both Cork and Kerry and perfect for family reunions / anniversaries. It is available for self catering and catered rental, with accommodation for up to 16 people. Perfect for vacation rentals.
Ten 18-hole golf courses are within 25km. Children welcome.“
11. Longueville, Mallow, Co Cork – Blue Book accommodation
p. 191. “(Longfield/IFR) A three storey five bay C18 block, enlarged by the addition of two storey three bay wings in the late Georgian period, probably between 1800-5 by John Longfield, MP; the centre being refaced and some of its windows altered at the same time so as to make the front uniform. One bay central breakfront, Wyatt windows in two upper storeys above a fanlighted doorway beneath a single-storey portico. One of the wings was extended at right angles to the front ca 1866, and a charming Victorian conservatory of curved ironwork was added, probably at the same time. The principal reception rooms, which have simple early C19 plasterwork and doors of inlaid mahogany, extend on either side of the entrance hall, which has a floor of Portland stone. Behind is the staircase hall, with bifurcating staircase which is most unusual in rising to the top of the house; the central ramp and two returns being repeated in the storey above. Longueville was sold by the Longfields to the late Senator William O’Callaghan, whose son and daughter-in-law have opened it as an hotel.”
The National Inventory tells us of the Turner conservatory:
“Constructed in 1862, this glasshouse was the last designed by Richard Turner, whose portfolio includes the conservatory at the famous Kew Gardens in London. The cast-iron framework and attractively flawed glass are of considerable technical interest and create a focal point for Longueville House, to which it is attached.“
12. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house €€€ for two, € for 5-8; or gate lodge €
“This beautiful holiday house and cottage are set on stunning Lough Ine sometimes spelt Lough Hyne – which is well known as one of the most romantic spots in West Cork.
Just 85km from Cork airport, Lough Ine is easily accessible but also far enough off the beaten track to be the perfect place to get away for either a romantic break or a fabulous family holiday.“
The House: “This elegant Regency house was built in 1830 as a hunting lodge for Lord Carbery and maintains several original features to this day. It is surrounded by its own 15 acre estate on the edge of Lough Ine and includes a patio garden, beautiful walkways through the woods and gardens and a private shingle beach. The Lough is a famous beauty spot 5km from Skibbereen and 4km from Baltimore in West Cork, Ireland. The estate is located in a conservation area of outstanding natural beauty.
Elegantly furnished for comfortable country life, polished oak floors and period furniture add to the unique charm of this house. The unique vine-filled conservatory has a large breakfast area and elegant seating area with rattan furniture. Sun pours through the French windows in the interconnecting reception rooms, offering spectacular views of the garden, lough and surrounding hills.
From the elegant panelled hall, a striking curved staircase leads you to the first floor where you will find 3 double bedrooms and a large bathroom. The two front bedrooms overlook the sea and are elegantly decorated with material on the walls and fine furniture. One has an eighteenth century four-poster bed, the others have twin beds. The charming third room overlooks the gardens. The bathroom is worth noting for its historic bathtub, which used to belong to Winston Churchill!
On the ground floor there are two further wood panelled twin bedrooms each with their own bathroom containing bathtub and shower. The rowing boat is at your disposal to explore the island where you can see the remains of an O’Driscoll castle and picnic on the beach, or visit the shoreline and rapids that lead out to the sea.“
The Gate Lodge: “The gate lodge is an 18th Century, small cosy house at the entrance of the property on the edge of the lough, with wonderful view of the sea, the island and the fields.
The ground floor is an open plan living room with a large fireplace, a dining area, a kitchenette and a spiral staircase leading to a twin bedroom overlooking the lough, a single bedroom and a bathroom with basin, W.C, bath and shower.
13. Rincolisky Castle, Whitehall, co Cork – renovated, whole house. €€€ for 2, € for 5.
“Rincolisky Castle, sometimes also called Whitehall Castle, lies on a hill on the southern shore or Roaringwater Bay, in County Cork in Ireland.
Rincolisky Castle, originally a 5 storey high, square tower house was built in 1495 by the powerful local O’Driscoll clan.
In 1602, after the Battle of Kinsale, the castle was easily taken by English forces. It was then given to Sir Walter Coppinger. He changed the name of the castle into Whitehall, after the townland in which it is situated. The Coppingers lost their possessions in 1690 for supporting James II.
It was then given to Samuel Townsend. The Townsends built a new mansion nearby; Whitehall House. They removed the 3 upper floors of Rincolisky Castle to provide building material for their new mansion. From then on the truncated 2 storeys high remnant of Rincolisky Castle fell to ruin. It is said that there is a tunnel leading from the castle to the mansion. One of the Townsends sent his little page boy down the passage to see if it was clear. The boy was never seen again.
In 2000, the ivy covered ruin of Rincolisky Castle was restored and made habitable again.” 
14. Southernmost House, Cape Clear Island, County Cork €
“A unique Irish cottage for two overlooking the beautiful seascapes and landscape of Cape Clear Island. Cape Clear Island is located off the coast of West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way. The Island could be considered as part of the Hidden Ireland that is rarely encountered by visitors to the West of Ireland. The house is situated in a secluded location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Mizen Head, Roaring Water Bay and the South Harbour of Cape Clear.
Built pre-famine in approximately 1830 and occupied until 1890-1894. It was subsequently used as a cow house for many years before being restored in the mid 1990’s. There are no other houses between Southernmost House and the Atlantic Ocean, which suggests that the house is the most Southerly house in Ireland.
Beautiful sunrises to the East and unsurpassed sunsets to the West are daily occurrences at Southernmost House. The natural night time light and early morning light give another dimension to the magnificent views from each window. The landscape and seascapes never fail to captivate during all seasons of the year. There is always a magical aura to the regular cloudless starry nights. Southernmost House is a unique haven, offering guests among other things an opportunity to regain and engage in the quiet and simple enrichment of body and soul.
Southernmost House has been prepared specifically for the enjoyment and pleasure of one or two people. The house comprises a large sitting area with an open turf fire and large sun receiving windows. A dining area with panoramic views and a loft over in the traditional Irish style. A study for scripting reflective thoughts. A meditation room, to embrace calmness and serenity. Kitchen with all necessary cooking and storage facilities. Bathroom with bath and power shower. One double bedroom with traditional style super king bed and high quality bed linen. The house is presented and furnished in an authentic manner to reflect the resources available locally and with an aesthetic sympathic to the simple origins of the house.
There is no television in Southernmost House. There is a mobile internet ‘dongle’ available if required and a music unit with radio and c d player. A cross section of c d’s are on hand as well as selection of board and card games. Also a selection of Irish and classic books. There are two restaurants and two pubs on the Island. Costs include linen, heating, gas, turf and kindling etc for the open fire. We will be on hand to render assistance at any stage. A few non perishable cupboard basics are provided. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate children or pets. The house is strictly ‘no smoking’. A full list of terms and conditions will be available before confirmation of booking.“
 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.
contact: Ciaran Murphy Tel: 086-1701060 Open: May 1-31, Aug 1-31, 5pm-9pm Fee: adult/student €5, child/OAP free, group discount available.
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:
“Detached three-bay two-storey house, dated 1665, and renovated c. 1740. Hipped slate roof with red brick chimneystacks. Roughcast rendered walls with string course between ground and first floors and moulded eaves course. Timber sliding sash windows. Carved limestone door surround comprising shouldered surround with entablature above, approached by flight of limestone steps. Timber panelled double leaf doors. Retaining interior features. Attached single-bay single-storey outbuilding to right. Date plaque from house moved to outbuilding. Rendered gate piers to site with wrought-iron railings.“
It was a barracks and one point, and is now a farm. An article in the Irish Times tells us that it was owned by the families of Hickman, Peacocke, Lyons and Murphy. 
2. Bunratty Castle, County Clare
maintained by Shannon Heritage
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses:
p. 49. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB; and Thomond, E/DEP; Studdert/IFR; Russell/IFR; Vereker, Gort, VPB) One of the finest 15C castles in Ireland, standing by the side of a small tidal creek of the Shanon estuary; built ca 1425, perhaps by one of the McNamaras; then held by the O’Briens, who became Earls of Thomond, until 6th Earl [Barnabas O’Brien (d. 1657)] surrendered it to the Cromwellian forces during the Civil War. A tall, oblong building, it has a square tower at each corner; these are linked, on the north and south sides, by a broad arch just below the topmost storey. The entrance door leads into a large vaulted hall, or guard chamber, above which is the Great Hall, the banqueting hall and audience chamber of the Earls of Thomond, with its lofty timber roof. Whereas the body of the castle is only three storeys – there being another vaulted chamber below the guard chamber – the towers contain many storeys of small rooms, reached up newel stairs and by passages in the thickness of the walls. One of these rooms, opening off the Great Hall, is the chapel, which still has its original plasterwork ceiling of ca 1619, richly adorned with a pattern of vines and grapes. There are also fragment of early C17 plasterwork in some of the window recesses. After the departure of the O’Briens, a C17 brick house was built between the two north towers; Thomas Studdert [1696-1786], who bought Bunratty early in C18, took up residence here in 1720. Later, the Studderts built themselves “a spacious and handsome modern residence in the demesne: and the castle became a constabulary barracks, falling into disrepair so that, towards the end of C19, the ceiling of the Great Hall collapsed. Bunratty was eventually inherited by Lt-Com R.H. Russell, whose mother was a Studdert, and sold by him to 7th Viscount Gort [Standish Robert Gage Prendergast Vereker (1888-1975)] 1956. With the help of Mr Percy Le Clerc and Mr John Hunt, Lord Gort carried out a most sympathetic restoration of the castle, which included removing C17 house, re-roofing the Great Hall in oak and adding battlements to the towers. The restored castle contains Lord Gort’s splendid collection of medieval and C16 furniture, tapestries and works of art, and is open to the public; “medieval banquets” being held here as a tourist attraction. Since the death of Lord Gort, Bunratty and its contents have been held in trust for the Nation.” 
“Craggaunowen Castle - built by John MacSioda MacNamara in 1550 a descendant of Sioda MacNamara who built Knappogue Castle in 1467. After the collapse of the Gaelic Order, in the 17th century, the castle was left roofless and uninhabitable. The Tower House remained a ruin until it and the estate of Cullane House across the road, were inherited in 1821 by ”Honest” Tom Steele, a confederate of Daniel O’Connell, Steele had the castle rebuilt as a summer house in the 1820s. He used it and the turret on the hill opposite for recreation. His initials can be seen on one of the quoin-stones to the right outside. “The Liberator”. By the time of the First Ordnance Survey, in the 1840s, the castle was “in ruins”. After he Steele in 1848 the lands were divided, Cullane going to one branch of his family, Craggaunowen to another, his niece Maria Studdert. Eventually the castle and grounds were acquired by the “Irish Land Commission”. Much of the land was given over to forestry and the castle itself was allowed to fall into disrepair. In the mid-19th century, the castle, herd’s house and 96 acres were reported in the possession of a Reverend William Ashworth, who held them from a Caswell (a family from County Clare just north of Limerick). In 1906, a mansion house here was owned by Count James Considine (from a family based at Derk, County Limerick). Craggaunowen Castle was restored by John Hunt in the 1960s – he added an extension to the ground floor, which for a while housed part of his collection of antiquities. The collection now resides in the Hunt Museum in the city of Limerick.” 
4. Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, County Clare
Maintained by Shannon Heritage.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 115. “(Martyn/LGI1912; Gogarty/IFR; Russell, Ampthill, B/PB) An old tower-house with a bawn and a smaller tower, on a creek of Galway Bay; which was for long roofless, though in other respects well maintained by the Martyn family, of Tulira, who owned it C18 and C19, and which was bought in the present century by Oliver St John Gogarty, the surgeon, writer and wit, to save it from threat of demolition. More recently, it was bought by the late Christabel, Lady Ampthill, and restored by her as her home; her architect, being Donal O’Neill Flanagan, who carried out a most successful and sympathetic restoration. The only addition to the castle was an unobtrusive two storey wing joining the main tower to the smaller one. The main tower has two large vaulted rooms, one above the other, in its two lower storeys, which keep their original fireplaces; these were made into the dining room and drawing room. “Medieval” banquets and entertainments are now held here.”
Timothy William Ferrers writes about it on his website:
“KILRUSH HOUSE, County Clare, was an early Georgian house of 1808.
From 1881 until Kilrush House was burnt in 1897, Hector Stewart Vandeleur lived mainly in London and only spent short periods each year in Kilrush.Indeed during the years 1886-90, which coincided with the period of the greatest number of evictions from the Vandeleur estate, he does not appear to have visited Kilrush.
In 1889, Hector bought Cahircon House and then it was only a matter of time before the Vandeleurs moved to Cahircon as, in 1896, they were organising shooting parties at Kilrush House and also at the Cahircon demesne.
Hector Stewart Vandeleur was the last of the Vandeleurs to be buried at Kilrush in the family mausoleum. Cahircon House was sold in 1920, ending the Kilrush Vandeleurs’ direct association with County Clare. Hector Vandeleur had, by 1908, agreed to sell the Vandeleur estate to the tenants for approximately twenty years’ rent, and the majority of the estate was purchased by these tenants.
THE VANDELEURS, as landlords, lost lands during the Land Acts and the family moved to Cahircon, near Kildysart.
In 1897, Kilrush House was badly damaged by fire.
During the Irish Land Commission of the 1920s, the Department of Forestry took over the estate, planted trees in the demesne and under their direction the remains of the house were removed in 1973, following an accident in the ruins.Today the top car park is laid over the site of the house.
Vandeleur Walled Garden now forms a small part of the former Kilrush demesne. The Kilrush demesne was purchased by the Irish Department of Agriculture as trustee under the Irish Land Acts solely for the purpose of forestry. The Kilrush Committee for Urban Affairs purchased the Fair Green and Market House.” 
6. Knappogue or Knoppogue Castle, County Clare
Knappogue is maintained by Shannon Heritage.
Mark Bence-Jones writes about Knoppogue, or Knappogue, Castle in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 180. “(Butler, Dunboyne, B/PB) A large tower-house with a low C19 castellated range, possibly by James Pain, built onto it. Recently restored and now used for “medieval banquets” similar to those at Bunratty Castle, Co Clare.”
7. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co. Clare – section 482
contact: Billy Loughnane Tel: 086-2565012 www.clareecolodge.ie Open: June 1-August 31, Wed-Sun, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free
The website tells us: “Clare Ecolodge at Loughnane’s, Feakle, in the heart of East Clare, is a unique family-run guest accommodation experience. We also offer group and self-catering accommodation as well as residential courses. The buildings, which have been in the family for over 100 years, were renovated 10 years ago. Since then we have been welcoming guests from all over the world.“
The website has a terrific history of the house. First, it tells us:
“Mount Ievers Court is an 18th c. Irish Georgian country house nestled in the Co. Clare countryside just outside the town of Sixmilebridge. The house was originally the site of a 16th c. tower house called Ballyarilla Castle built by Lochlann McNamara. The tower house was demolished in the early 18th c. to construct the present house, built between 1733-1737 by John & Isaac Rothery, for Col. Henry Ievers.
Mount Ievers Court has been home to the Ievers family for 281 years and since then generations of Ievers and their families have worked hard to maintain the house in order to ensure that the estate retains a viable place in the local community and Ireland’s heritage long into the future. Mount Ievers is currently owned by Breda Ievers née O’Halloran, a native of Sixmilebridge, and her son Norman. Norman is married to Karen, an American by birth, who has a keen interest in Irish history & the family archives.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 214. “(Ievers/IFR) The most perfect and also probably the earliest of the tall Irish houses; built ca. 1730-37 by Colonel Henry Ievers to the design of John Rothery, whose son, Isaac, completed the work after his death and who appears to have also been assisted by another member of the Rothery family, Jemmy. The house, which replaced an old castle, is thought to have been inspired by Chevening, in Kent – now the country house of the Prince of Wales – with which Ievers could have been familiar not only through the illustration in Vitruvius Britannicus, but also because he may have been connected with the family which owned Chevening in C17. Mount Ievers, however, differs from Chevening both in detail and proportions; and it is as Irish as Chevening is English. Its two three storey seven bay fronts – which are almost identical except that one is of faded pink brick with a high basement whereas the other is of silvery limestone ashlar with the basement hidden by a grass bank – have that dreamlike, melancholy air which all the best tall C18 Irish houses have. There is a nice balance between window and wall, and a subtle effect is produced by making each storey a few inches narrower than that below it. The high-pitched roof is on a bold cornice; there are quoins, string-courses and shouldered window surrounds; the doorcase on each front has an entablature on console brackets. The interior of the house is fairly simple. Some of the rooms have contemporary panelling; one of them has a delightful primitive overmantel painting showing the house as it was originally, with an elaborate formal layout which has largely disappeared. A staircase of fine joinery with alternate barley-sugar and fluted balusters leads up to a large bedroom landing, with a modillion cornice and a ceiling of geometrical panels. On the top foor is a long gallery, a feature which seems to hark back to the C17 or C16, for it is found in hardly any other C18 Irish country houses; the closest counterpart was the Long Room in Bowen’s Court, County Cork. The present owners, S.Ldr N.L. Ievers, has carried out much restoration work and various improvements, including the placement of original thick glazing bars in some of the windows which had been given thin late-Georgain astragals ca. 1850; and the making of two ponds on the site of those in C18 layout. He and Mrs Ievers have recently opened the home to paying guests in order to meet the cost of upkeep.”
The website tells of the ancient origins of the family, and goes on to explain:
“A parchment found in the sideboard at Mount Ievers in July 2012 maintains that Henry Ivers arrived in Ireland in 1640 from Yorkshire, where the family had been settled since arriving with William the Conqueror nearly six hundred years earlier. It also records that Henry settled in County Clare in 1643 when he was appointed Collector of Revenue for Clare and Galway.“
contact: Mary Hawkes- Greene Tel: 065-7077200 www.newtowncastle.com , Open: Jan 10-May 31, Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon-Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 16 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Fee: Free.
The website tells us: “The historic Newtown Castle has occupied a prominent position in Ballyvaughan since the 16th century. Having lain derelict for many years, the castle’s restoration began in 1994, completed in time for the opening of the Burren College of Art in August of that year.
Newtown Castle is once again a vibrant building in daily use, central to the artistic, cultural and educational life of the Burren. It is open free of charge to the public on week days. Newtown Castle is also available to hire for: wedding ceremonies, small private functions or company events.”
The Castle was built in 1480 by Diarmuid O’Dea, Lord of Cineal Fearmaic. The uppermost floors and staircase were badly damaged by the Cromwellians in 1651. Repaired and opened in 1986, the castle houses an extensive museum, an audio visual presentation and various exhibitions.
Free car/coach parking and toilets Tea rooms and bookshop Chapel Modern History Room 1700AD – 2000AD Museum – Local artefacts 1000BC – 1700AD Audio – visual presentation – local archaeology Medieval masons and carpenters workshop Roof wall – walk to view surrounding monuments
Places to Stay, County Clare
1. Ballynalacken Castle, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare – hotel €€
The website tells us that the property has been in the O’Callaghan family for three generations, and is now run by Declan and Cecilia O’Callaghan. The rooms look luxurious, some with four poster beds, and the hotel has a full restaurant.
The website tells us: “The original house was owned by the famous O’Brien clan – a royal and noble dynasty who were descendants of the High King of Ireland, Brian Ború. The house , castle and 100 acres of land was bought by Declan’s grandfather Daniel O’Callaghan, in 1938 and he and his wife Maisie opened it as a fine hotel. It was later passed to Daniel’s son Dennis and his wife Mary and then to his son, Declan. Declan and Cecilia have three children who also assist in the family business.“
“Standing tall on a limestone outcrop, our very own Castle, Ballinalacken Castle, is a two-stage tower house which was built in the 15th or early 16th century. It is thought the name comes from the Irish Baile na leachan (which means “town of the flagstones/tombstones/stones”).
10th Century: The original fortress is built by famous Irish clan, the O’Connors – rulers of West Corcomroe.
14th Century: The fortress itself is found and Lochlan MacCon O’Connor is in charge of its rebuilding.
1564: Control of West Corcomroe passes to Donal O’Brien of the O’Brien family.
1582: The lands are formally granted by deed to Turlough O’Brien of Ennistymon. After the Cromwellians triumphed in the area, five of Turlough’s castles are razed to the ground – but Ballinalacken is saved as it was not on the list of “overthrowing and demolishing castles in Connaught and Clare.”
1662: Daniel dies and grandson Donough is listed as rightful holder of the Castle.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 26. “(O’Brien/LGI1912) A single-storey house with a curved bow, close to an old keep on a rock. The seat of the O’Brien family, of which Lord Chief Justice Peter O’Brien, Lord O’Brien of Kilfenora (known irreverently as “Pether the Packer”) was a younger son.”
2. Ballyportry Castle, Corofin, County Clare – a tower house, € for 4-8 for one week
“Rising bluntly out of the craggy landscape, Ballyportry is the finest example in Ireland of a complete medieval Gaelic Tower House. Built in the 15th century it has been beautifully restored with careful attention being paid to retaining all its original features and style, yet with the comforts of the 21st century.”
3. Castle Fergus House, or Ballyhannon, County Clare – coach house accommodation €€€ or € for 15 or castle €€ for 10
There is a private house, a tower house castle and coach house.
“Castlefergus House, also known as Ballyhannon Castle: A Blood Smyth property from the late 18th century, sold by the Blood Smyth to the Bloods of Ballykilty in the early 20th century. This house was occupied by Daniel Powell in 1814 but the Blood Smyths were in residence in the 1830s and 1850s. They appear to have held the property from Ralph Westropp. The mansion house of Castlefergus was in the possession of Rev William Blood Smith in 1906.” 
“A 19th century coach house adjacent to Ballyhannon Fortress Castle. Take a step back in time, and enjoy the unique experience of this historic landmark, at our bed and breakfast. We are at the end of a private drive, so no one will be “passing by” to interfere with your peace and tranquility.”
“The castle of Ballyhannon, also known in later times as Castlefergus, most likely from its proximity to the River Fergus, is a late fifteenth century towerhouse of untypical internal design within the context of the Co. Clare group of towerhouses. The castle stands in the townland of Castlefergus close to Latoon Creek, which itself feeds into the River Fergus. Ballyhannon townlands (both north and south) lie to the north east of the castle. The older spelling, Ballyhannan, is retained in these townland names. The townland name can be translated as O’Hannan’s or O’Hannon’s home. Although there are many substantial families of Hannon in Munster and Connaught, the name seldom appears in the annals of medieval Ireland.
The death in 1266 of Maelisa O’Hannen, prior of Roscommon, is one of the few such entries.In the census of 1659 the name was found in considerable numbers in the Barony of Bunratty. The prefix O, was dropped in the submergence of Gaelic Ireland and has not been resumed. Strictly speaking Hannon is the anglicised form of the Gaelic O’ hAnnáin, a name chiefly associated with Co. Limerick. It was common at the end of the sixteenth century in many parts of Connaught and Munster. The Hannons or Ó hAnnáin are a Dalcassian sept of noble Milesian ancestry whose members attained the status of knighthood, and whose patrimonial lands were in this area, south of Quin. Their name is still retained in the townlands of Ballyhannan north and Ballyhannan south. Although the Hannon name is remembered in the name of Ballyhannon Castle, their history is of an earlier period and no references to the family can be found in connection with the history of the castle itself.
The castle was built about 1490 by Hugh, and possibly Síoda, sons of Donnchadh MacNamara. This period was described by the noted antiquarian, T.J.Westropp, as the “Golden Age of castle-building in Thomond”, because of the high standard of construction which had been achieved by the masons at this period. Although Ballyhannon Castle was the home of the MacNamaras for many centuries, there are some references to the O’Briens, on whose lands it stood, in relation to its history. For example in the year 1560, a grant was made by Queen Elizabeth I to Conor O’Brien, Earl of Thomond, of Ballyhannon Castle, and several other castles, previously held by Donnell O’Brien; “To hold in tail male, by service of one knight’s fee”, meaning that the property would pass onto his male heirs, subject to military service to the Queen. In the lists of the castles of the county for the years 1570 and 1574 Ballyhannon Castle was owned by Covea Riogh MacNamara, son of Mahon. Some transcriptions of these lists record the castle as being owned by William Neylon. This was due to an error in aligning the columns during the transcription of the original manuscript lists.
A fireplace with the inscription “H.T.E. 1576” was recorded by Westropp & Twigge in the 1890’s, as being in the castle. This was one of the earliest dated fireplaces in the county, though it cannot now be located within the castle. In 1586 Queen Elizabeth I issued a pardon to Hugh, son of Covea MacNamara, of Ballyhannon Castle for being in rebellion. He had to provide sureties for his future good behaviour and answer at the local courts as requested. In the 1626 rental of the 5th Earl of Thomond, Henry O’Brien, Ballyhannon Castle was listed as being rented to one Robert Hawksworth, with one quarter of land for the sum of £4.00. It is likely that Hawksworth was one of the many English Protestant settlers brought into the county by the O’Briens and settled on the O’Brien properties in Thomond during this period. The settling of English Protestants on lands of the native Irish Catholics precipitated the 1641 rebellion and many records exist of the Irish despoiling the settlers and turning them out of their newly acquired lands and properties. The MacNamaras of Ballyhannon acted no differently than the other displaced Irish. John Smith of Latoon complained of his losses which, “amounted to £1,354, including his lease for life of Lattoon, and his outlay upon buildings and sea embankments.” He complained that Oliver Delahoyde of Fomerla Castle in Tulla, “with fifty men came, on the night of 15th January 1642, and stripped him of part of his goods. The work of spoilation was subsequently completed by the MacNamaras of Ballyhannon” among others. Most of the Irish landowners who took part in this rebellion were later stripped of their possessions. Among those noted as having forfeited their property after the rebellion was Mahone MacNamara of Ballyhannon. His property was disposed of to Pierce Creagh (a Protestant settler) and to the Earl of Thomond, Barnabas O’Brien, 6th Earl. After the rebellion, the Cromwellian campaign attempted to complete the subjugation of the native Irish, and many of their castles were dismantled by the Commonwealth forces to render them defenceless. Ballyhannon appears to have escaped this destruction and a sketch of the castle in 1675, which survives in the “Edenvale Survey”, shows it to have been roofed and in good condition. The castle appears to be surrounded by a bawn wall with a gate and loophole windows at this time. With the assention to the English throne of the Catholic King James II in 1685, the fate of the native Irish improved somewhat for a time. Ballyhannon Castle was one of the castles noted by Sir Daniel O’Brien, Viscount Clare, as being suitable for the imprisonment of Protestant settlers who were now being dispossessed. A letter written in 1689 describing the events of the time is worth recording. “Take every one of them that are young (Seir or Mr.), and let the common sort lie in the prison, and the rest strictly guarded, or rather put into some strong castle that has a geate to be locked on the outside like Ballyhannon”. Pierce Creagh who had received part of the MacNamara property at Ballyhannon after the rebellion was named as one of those to be imprisoned in the above letter from Sir Daniel O’Brien. The castle is also mentioned in 1690 when Thomas Hickman, who seemed to be living in fear during another upsurge in the conflict, asked Sir Donough O’Brien to collect some of his belongings from Ballyhannon Castle and to keep other possessions of his in a safe place, as he expected the castle was soon to be garrisoned. The castle appears on Henry Pelham’s “Grand Jury” map of 1787 under the names Ballyhannon and Castlefergus, which is the first time Castlefergus appears as the name of the castle. Hely Dutton, writing in 1808, records the castle as: “Fergus – inhabited and lately white-washed! ”. There are also some references to the Blood family of Castlefergus, though these relate most likely to Castlefergus House which stood south west of the castle and is now demolished. Charlotte Blood, daughter of William Blood, who was murdered at his house at Applevale near Corofin, married her cousin Matthew Henry Blood, M.D. of Castlefergus in 1831. Westropp, writing in 1917 notes some curious traces of settlement in the fields at Castlefergus, most likely the remains of ringforts and other early Bronze Age habitation sites. Samuel Lewis, writing, in 1837, notes Castlefergus as: “The fine modern residence” of William Smith Blood Esq. He adds: “adjoining which are the remains of the ancient edifice”, telling us that by this date the castle was uninhabited, probably for the first time in 350 years. By 1858 the castle was ivy-covered and described as: “a fine old green-mantled tower” on the grounds of Castlefergus House.
The American millionaire and oil heiress Elizabeth Phillips (of Phillips Petroleum) and her husband Henry D. Irwin, who chose to call it “Ballyhannan Castle”, (using the older townland spelling), restored the building to its former glory in 1970. It is currently rented out to top-of-the-market tourists as a unique ‘out-of-the-way’ destination. It was also home to rock stars, as well as several American and British film stars during film making in the region.
Robert Twigge’s description of the castle in the early 1900’s is of interest and is appended here. “The castle stands on a low rock, scarped to the west and had no outworks, (the bawn noted in 1675 having been removed by this time). The very perfect tower, measuring 33’6” x 24’, is in excellent preservation, having been inhabited in the last century. The pointed south door is defended by a shot-hole on the left and a murder hole above. The stair mounts round the s.w. angle, and at the 14th step a long corridor with 2 lights in the w. wall is reached. At the n. end a spiral staircase of 72 steps leads to the top. At the 12th step from the corridor another passage through the n. wall is reached. 5 curved steps at the s. end of the w. corridor lead to a similar passage along the s. wall over the porch and lodge. There is a handsome trefoil headed window of 2 lights in the s.w. angle and a garderobe to the s.e. angle. Mounting the spiral stair still higher other corridors, over the lower ones, in the w. and s. sides, are reached. There are 4 main stories under the stone vault forming the roof. The basement story has very deep recesses under the corridor and the 2 on the n. side have a narrow chamfered screen between them. A fireplace bears the date 1576, but this was of course a later addition to the building”.
In Quin, County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland is one of the most renowned authentic medieval castles in Ireland to rent, whether as a self catering vacation rental, or in which to have your castle wedding or to mark one of life’s special occasions.
Dating back to the late 15th century, in recent years it has proven to be the most popular choice of foreign and Irish tourists alike, for both catered events and self catering accommodation.
Known locally as Castlefergus, in the Irish Governmental records it is registered as a National Monument and “Listed/Protected” structure, intended to protect its historic, architectural and aesthetic significance. It is indeed fortunate that we, the current owners, take great care of it and are in a position to allow it to continue to be among the few castles in Ireland to rent on an exclusive basis for the likes of weddings, honeymooners, family reunions or other milestone events, or just for those who wish to have the unique experience of having an entire real medieval Irish castle privately to themselves.”
4. Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare – hotel €€€
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 109. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB) Originally a large early C18 house with a pediment and a high pitched roof; built for Sir Edward O’Brien, 2nd Bt; possibly inspired by Thomas Burgh, MP, Engineer and Surveyor-General for Ireland. Elaborate formal garden. This house was demolished ca 1826 by Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Bt (whose son succeeded his kinsman as 13th Lord Inchiquin and senior descendant of the O’Brien High Kings) and a wide-spreading and dramatic castle by James and George Richard Pain was built in its place. The castle is dominated by a tall round corner tower and a square tower, both of then heavily battlemented and machicolated; there are lesser towers and a turreted porch. The windows in the principal fronts are rectangular, with Gothic tracery. The interior plan is rather similar to that of Mitchelstown Castle, Co Cork, also by the Pains; a square entrance hall opens into a long single-storey inner hall like a gallery, with the staircase at its far end and the principal reception rooms on one side of it. But whereas Mitchelstown rooms had elaborate plaster Gothic vaulting, those at Dromoland had plain flat ceilings with simple Gothic or Tudor-Revival cornices. The dining room has a dado of Gothic panelling. The drawing room was formerly known as the Keightley Room, since it contained many of the magnificent C17 portraits which came to the O’Brien family through the marriage of Lucius O’Brien, MP, to Catherine Keightley, whose maternal grandfather was Edward Hyde, the great Earl of Clarendon. The other Keightley portraits hung in the long gallery, which runs from the head of the staircase, above the inner hall. Part of the C18 garden layout survives, including a gazebo and a Doric rotunda. In the walled garden in a C17 gateway brought from Lemeneagh Castle, which was the principal seat of this branch of the O’Briens until they abandoned it in favour of Dromoland. The Young Irelander leader, William Smith O’Brien, a brother of the 13th Lord Inchiquin, was born in Dromoland in C18 house. Dromolond castle is now a hotel, having been sold 1962 by 16yh Lord Inchiquin, who built himself a modern house in the grounds to the design of Mr Donal O’Neill Flanagan; it is in a pleasantly simple Georgian style.”
5. Ennistymon House, Ennistymon, Co. Clare, now Falls Hotel €€
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 121. “(Macnamara/IFR) :A two storey seven bay gable-ended C18 house with a two bay return prolonged by a single-storey C19 wing ending in a gable. One bay pedimented breakfront with fanlighted tripartite doorway; lunette window in pediment. Some interior plasterwork, including a frieze incorporating an arm embowed brandishing a sword – the O’Brien crest – in the hall. Conservatory with art-nouveau metalwork; garden with flights of steps going down to the river. The home of Francis MacNamara, a well-known bohemian character who was the father-in-law of Dylan Thomas and who married, as his second wife, the sister of Augustus John’s Dorelia; he and John are the Two Flamboyant Fathers in the book of that name by his daughter, Nicolette Shephard.”
The National Inventory tells us Gregan’s Castle was built in 1750. It tells us Gregan’s Castle is a: “six-bay two-storey house, built c. 1750, with half-octagonal lower projection. Extended c. 1840, with single-bay two-storey gabled projecting bay and single-storey flat-roofed projecting bay to front. Seven-bay two-storey wing with single-storey canted bay windows to ground floor, added c. 1990, to accommodate use as hotel.”
The website tells us:
“Welcome to Gregans Castle Hotel. Please take a look around our luxury, eco and gourmet retreat, nestled in the heart of the beautiful Burren on Ireland’s west coast. The house has been welcoming guests since the 1940s and our family have been running it since 1976. Our stunning 18th century manor house is set in its own established and lovingly-attended gardens on the Wild Atlantic Way, and has spectacular views that stretch across the Burren hills to Galway Bay.
Inside, you’ll find welcoming open fires, candlelight and striking decoration ranging from modern art, to antique furniture, to pretty garden flowers adorning the rooms. Gregans Castle has long been a source of inspiration for its visitors.
Guests have included J.R.R Tolkien, who’s said to have been influenced by the Burren when writing The Lord of the Rings, as well as other revered artists and writers such as Seamus Heaney and Sean Scully.
And for the guests of today: with warm Irish hospitality, stylish accommodation, outstanding service and exceptional fine dining in our award-winning restaurant, we truly are a country house of the 21st century. You can do nothing or everything here. And whatever you choose, we’d like you to join us in celebrating all that is wondrous and beautiful in this truly exceptional place.“
Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray
7. Loop Head Lightkeeper’s Cottage, County Clare €€ for 2; € for 4-6
“Perched proudly on an enclosure at the tip of Loop Head stands the lighthouse station. Surrounded by birds and wild flowers, cliffs and Atlantic surf, Loop Head offers holiday accommodation with all of the spectacular appeal of the rugged west coast.“
8. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co Clare – see above
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 212. (Synge/IFR; Tottenham/IFR) A Victorian house of two storys over basement built 1873 by Lt Col G.C. Synge and his wife, Georgiana, who was also his first cousin, being the daughter of Lt-Col Charles Synge, the previous owner of the estate. The estate was afterwards inherited by Georgiana Synge’s nephew, Lt-Col F. St. L. Tottenham, who made a garden in which rhododendrons run riot and many rare and tender species flourish.”
The website tells us:
“Mount Callan House & Restaurant is situated in the beautiful surroundings of West Clare in the heart of Kilmaley village. We are a small, family-run restaurant, led by Chef Daniel Lynch, and guest house with a deep connection to our rural community.
The local landscape is our inspiration and our food is created using the very best seasonal ingredients from award-winning, local suppliers.
We encourage creativity, a good working environment and a community approach for the benefit of all.“
10. Mount Cashel Lodge, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare – period self-catering accommodation €
The website describes it: “Enjoy luxury self-catering accommodation in these beautifully restored 18th Century lakeside lodges. Set in a 38 acre private landscaped estate with private Lake, riverside walk and Victorian cottage garden to explore. Lake boating, kayaking and fishing are available on site to complete this idyllic retreat.“
11. Newpark House, Ennis, County Clare – accommodation €
The website tells us: “Newpark House was built around 1750, and since then it has been the property of three families: the Hickmans, the Mahons and the Barrons.
The Hickmans came into the possession of Cappahard Estate in 1733. On part of this estate, Gortlevane townland, Richard Hickman built a house and landscaped around it. Around this time he re-named the townland Newpark. Several of those trees from the planting of the new park still survive. On his marriage in 1768 his father transferred the property to Richard. He died in 1810 and this property transferred to his son Edward Shadwell Hickman. Edward was a Crown Solicitor in Dublin and put the property up for rent.
The Mahons: Patrick Mahon, a member of the new up and coming Catholic gentry, took up this offer and moved his family into Newpark. The Mahon family were very involved in the campaign for equal rights for Catholics in Ireland. Patrick’s son, James Patrick commonly known as The O’Gorman Mahon, nominated Daniel O’Connell to contest the famous Clare Election of 1828. O’Connell’s victory in this election resulted in the granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829. It is highly likely that Daniel O’Connell stayed at Newpark during his visits to Ennis at this time. O’Gorman Mahon (1802-1891) had a very colourful life which ranged from hunting bears in Finland with a Russian Tzar to becoming a Colonel and Aide-de-Camp to the President of Costa Rica. Back in Ireland he is said to have introduced Parnell to Kitty O’Shea.
While the Mahon family were living here they totally remodled the house. They added on wings and castlated the house in the Gothic revival style which was fashionable in Ireland at that time. The architect responsible would seem to be either John Nash or one of his former apprentices, the Pain brothers, all three were working in the area at this time.
Of special historical significance is a pair of crosses on the turrets of the house. These crosses have shamrocks on the ends and were put there to commerate Catholic Emancipation. The Mahon family purchased the estate outright in 1853 and held it until 1904.
At times when Newpark was owned by the Hickmans and Mahons several other families and individuals lived there. The Ennis poet Thomas Dermody spent time here with his father before he set off from Newpark, in 1785, for Dublin, in search of fame and fortune. Thomas remarked on the comfort he felt at Newpark during his time there. Also to have lived at Newpark were Captain William Cole Hamilton, a Magistrate (1870-1876), William Robert Prickett (1883-1886) and Philip Anthony Dwyer (1888-1904), Captains in the local Clare Division of the British Army.
The Barrons: In 1904 the property came into ownership of the present family, the Barrons. Timothy ‘Thady’ Barron was born on the side of the road, in 1847, during the famine. His father had lost his herdsman job, along with the herdsman’s cottage, due to a change of landlord. After a few tough years his father got another herdsmans job and Thady followed in his fathers footsteps. Thady moved in to Newpark in 1904 with his family and he lived he until his death in 1945. In the 1950s Thady’s son James ‘Amy’ bought the property from his sister Nance. In 1960 Amy’s son Earnan and his new wife Bernie moved into a barely habitable Newpark House. They set about slowly but surely bringing the house back to live. Luckily for them they got an opportunity to furnish the house with antiques, which were at that time considered second-hand furniture. Bernie opened up Newpark House as a B&B in 1966. Her son, Declan, is the present owner and we are looking forward to 50 years in business in 2016.”
12. Sheedy’s Hotel and Restaurant, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare €€
“Only few castles in the West of Ireland have survived into our times. Ballynagowan (Smithstown) Castle has played an exciting role in the history of North Clare, taking its name from ‘beal-atha-an-ghobhan’, meaning the ‘mouth of the smith’s ford’.
It was first mentioned in 1551 when the last King of Munster, Murrough O’Brien, (also known as the Tanist, was created 1st Earl of Thomond and 1st Baron of Inchiquin in 1543), willed the Castle of Ballynagowan to his son Teige before his death.
Over the years it accommodated many famous characters of Irish history. Records show that in 1600 the legendary Irish rebel “Red” Hugh O’Donnell rested there with his men during his attack on North Clare, spreading ruin everywhere and seeking revenge on the Earl of Thomond for his being in alliance with the English.
In 1649 Oliver Cromwell’s army came from England with death and destruction. The Castle was attacked with cannons when Cromwell’s General, Ludlow, swept into North Clare striking terror everywhere he went.
In 1650 Conor O’Brien of Lemeneagh became heir of the castle. His death, however, came shortly afterwards in 1551, as he was fatally wounded in a skirmish with Cromwellian troops commanded by General Ludlow at Inchicronan. With him had fought his wife Maire Rua O’Brien (“The Red Mary”, named after her long red hair), one of the best known characters in Irish tradition. She had lived in the castle as a young woman and it is the ferocity and cruelty attributed to her, which has kept her name alive. Legends tell that to save her children’s heritage after Conor’s death she married several English generals, who were killed in mysterious ways one after the other- she supposedly ended her bloody carrier entombed in a hollow tree.
During 1652 almost all inhabitable castles in Clare including Smithstown were occupied by Cromwellian garrisons, a time of terrible uncertainty as Clare was under military rule.
Over the next decades Ballynagowan Castle was the seat of army generals, the High Sheriff of County Clare and Viscount Powerscourt, one of the most powerful aristocrats who had their main residence – a monumental neogothic palace – in Dublin.
The castle was last inhabited mid 19th century and until its recent restauration served as beloved meeting point for couples -, songs and poems about it finding their way into the local pubs.“
14. Spanish Point House, Spanish Point, County Clare €
The is a Victorian house, originally called Sea View House.
The website tells us:
“In 1884 the local Roman Catholic Bishop, James Ryan, expressed a wish to start a primary and secondary school in Miltown Malbay, a short distance from Spanish Point House, but his vision was unrealised for many years to come.
In 1903 the bishop’s estate donated £900 to the Mercy Sisters to establish a school, but things did not happen until 1928, when three houses owned by the Morony estate were offered for sale to the Mercy Sisters with the intention of establishing a school at Spanish Point. The Moronys were a family of local landlords who had owned a significant number of properties in the Spanish Point and Miltown Malbay area between 1750 and 1929, including Sea View House, Miltown House, and The Atlantic Hotel.
The Moronys were responsible for much of the development of the locality of Spanish Point, which began in 1712 when Thomas Morony took a lease of land, later purchased by his eldest son, Edmund, divided it into two farms and leased it to two local landlords for thirty-one years. Francis Gould Morony willed Sea View House, which he built in 1830, to his wife’s niece, Marianne Harriet Stoney, who married Captain Robert Ellis. The house was inherited by the Ellis family and one of their sons – Thomas Gould Ellis – became the son and heir.”
15. Strasburgh Manor coach houses, Inch, Ennis, County Clare €
“The buildings that comprise the holiday homes were the coach houses attached to the House.
Once occupied by James Burke, who was killed in the French Revolution in 1790, the House was named after the French town of Strasbourg.
It figured prominently in Irish history up to its demise in 1921, when it was burned down during the Irish War of Independence.
Families associated with it included: Burke, Daxon, Stacpoole, Huxley, Mahon, Talbot, Taylor, Scott & McGann (ref: ‘Houses of Clare’ by Hugh Weir, published by Ballinakella Press, Whitegate, Co. Clare).“
Whole House Rental, County Clare
1. Inchiquin House, Corofin, County Clare – whole house rental, €€€ for 2, € for 6-10
The website tells us “Inchiquin House is an elegant period home in County Clare, romantically tucked away in the west of Ireland not far from the Wild Atlantic Way. It is the perfect base from which to explore the unique Burren landscape, historic sites, and the region’s many leisure activities.“
2. Mount Vernon lodge, Co Clare – whole house accommodation € for 7-11 people
“Mount Vernon is a lovely Georgian Villa built in 1788 on the Burren coastline of County Clare with fine views over Galway Bay and the surrounding area.
Built in 1788 for Colonel William Persse on his return from the American War of Independence, Mount Vernon was named to celebrate his friendship with George Washington. The three remaining cypress trees in the walled garden are thought to have been a gift from the President.
During the nineteenth century Mount Vernon was the summer home of Lady Augusta Gregory of Coole, an accomplished playwright and folklorist and a pivotal figure in the Irish Cultural Renaissance. It was her collaboration with W.B.Yeats and Edward Martyn that created the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1904. Lady Gregory entertained many of the luminaries of the Irish Literary Revival at Mount Vernon including W.B.Yeats, AE (George Russell), O’Casey, Synge and George Bernard Shaw.
In 1907 Lady Gregory gave the house to her son Robert Gregory as a wedding present and it was from here that he produced many of his fine paintings of the Burren landscape. He later joined the Royal Flying Corps and was shot down by ‘friendly fire’ in 1918, an event commemorated by W.B.Yeats in his famous poem, An Irish Airman Foresees his Death.
A feature from this period are the unusual fireplaces designed and built by his close friend the pre-Raphaelite painter Augustus John.“
“Take a step back in time with a hotel steeped in history that offers luxurious surroundings within 30 acres of private gardens and woodland.
The Doric columns that lead to an elegant oak staircase in the lobby are indicative of the grand decoration throughout the hotel. Impressive drawing rooms with ornate cornices, adorned with marble fireplaces provide an ideal setting for afternoon tea or morning coffee.
Elegant accommodation, fine dining with traditional Irish cuisine, rooms that tell a story and the picturesque natural setting, will all comprise to make your stay at Ballyseede Castle an unforgettable one.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 28. “(Blennerhassett/IFR; Blennerhassett, Bt/PB) A large three storey block of ca 1760 with two curved bows on the entrance front and another bow on the side, given a battlemented parapet, hood mouldings and other mildly baronial touches late C19 by James Franklin Fuller. At one side of the front is a long and low castellated service wing, with round and square turrets, the other side of which has a sham wall, consisting of a long range of false windows. This Gothic work dates from 1816 and may well be by Sir Richard Morrison. Rather narrow bifurcating staircase rising behind a screen of Doric columns at one end of the hall. Bequeathed 1965 by Miss Hilda Blennerhassett to her kinsman Sir Adrian Blennerhassett, 7th Bt, who sold it 1867. Now an hotel.”
“Dhu Varren Garden, owned by Mark and Laura Collins, began its development in 2001. Since then it has grown to contain one ofthe largest and most diverse plant collections of any private garden in Ireland. This continues to grow as new and exciting plantsare sourced from around the world. It has been described by visitors as ‘Kerry’s Botanical Garden’.“
5. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry
Open: Feb-Dec 9.30am-dusk Fee: adult €8.50, child €6, family €26 (2 adults + 3 children under 17 years)
The website tells us: “Kells Bay Gardens is one of Europe’s premier horticultural experiences, containing a renowned collection of Tree-ferns and other exotic plants growing in its unique microclimate created by the Gulf Stream. It is the home of ‘The SkyWalk’ Ireland’s longest rope-bridge.“
“Found in County Kerry’s Killarney National Park, Knockreer House and Gardens are within walking distance of Killarney Town. The area includes a circular walk with excellent views of the Lower Lake.
The Knockreer section of Killarney National Park is within walking distance of Killarney Town, County Kerry. This area was formerly part of the Kenmare Estate, which was laid out by Valentine Brown, the third Viscount of Kenmare. Deenagh Lodge Tearoom dates back to 1834 and was the gate lodge of the Kenmare Estate. The tearoom is a popular haunt with locals and visitors after a stroll in the park. It is located just inside Kings Bridge across from St Mary’s Cathedral.
Knockreer House, a short walk up the hill, is the Killarney National Park Education Centre and is built on the site of the original Killarney House, which was destroyed by fire in 1913. The circular walk is signposted and offers excellent views of the Lower Lake. On the circular walk there is a pathway off to the right that leads up to the viewing point on top of the hill, which provides a wonderful panorama of the surrounding countryside.“
“This nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, famed world wide for their splendour and beauty. As a focal point within Killarney National Park, Muckross House is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape.
Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colourist Mary Balfour Herbert. This was actually the fourth house that successive generations of the Herbert family had occupied at Muckross over a period of almost two hundred years. William Burn, the well-known Scottish architect, was responsible for its design. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843.
Originally it was intended that Muckross House should be a larger, more ornate, structure. The plans for a bigger servants’ wing, stable block, orangery and summer-house, are believed to have been altered at Mary’s request. Today the principal rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the nineteenth century landowning class. In the basement, one can imagine the busy bustle of the servants as they went about their daily chores.
During the 1850s, the Herberts undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition. They purchased the estate from Lord and Lady Ardilaun early in the twentieth century. It was at this time that the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were developed.“
“Constructed entirely without mortar, Staigue cashel encloses an area of 27.4 m (90 ft) in diameter, with walls as tall as 5.5 m (18 ft) and a sturdy 4 m (13 ft) in thickness. It has one double-linteled entrance, a passageway 1.8 m (6 ft) long. In the virtual-reality environment (above) click the hotspots to proceed to the fort’s interior. It is similar in construction to the Grianan of Aileach in Co. Donegal, and was possibly constructed in the same period of the Early Medieval period (approximately fifth to eleventh century CE). The fort is surrounded by a large bank and ditch, most evident on its northern side. This may have been a part of Staigue’s defenses, or it may be a prehistoric feature that pre-dates the construction of the stone fort.“
The website continues: “In 1897 T.J. Westropp reported that the local peasantry called the building Staig an air, which he translated as “Windy House, or “Temple of the Father,” or “The Staired Place of Slaughter.” These different translations may inspire distinctly different conjectures about the builders of Staigue. It has been described as both a temple or an observatory, and has been attributed to many different cultures in the past, such as Druids, Phoenicians, Cyclopeans, and Danes. But it was, of course, built by the “Kerrymen of old.”
The sign at the site explains that Staigue “was the home of the chieftain’s family, guards and servants, and would have been full of houses, out-buildings, and possibly tents or other temporary structures.” The illustration from this sign is in the gallery below. Cashels, of which Staigue is an impressive and probably high-status example, were enclosed and defendable farmsteads of the Irish Early Medieval period. They housed an extended family and, in high-status examples, their retinue. However archaeologist Peter Harbison was unable to explain why the ancient architects would have created so many (10) sets of X-shaped stairs climbing up the inner face of the wall to its ramparts.“
contact: Ursula Leslie Tel: 068-36198, 087-2917301 Open: May, June July, Aug, 2pm-4pm Fee: adult/OAP €5, student €2, child free
“Tarbert House, near the town of that name in County Kerry, stands in wooded parkland beside the River Shannon, a few miles downstream from Glin and just across the county bounds. The plain, square, seven-bay seat of James Leslie, erstwhile Bishop of Limerick, was built precisely in the middle of his diocese for convenience, and dates from the 1750s. The house, which is still owned by the bishop’s descendants, was given an additional storey in the mid-19th century but retains its mid-Georgian character and plan, with robust joinery and chimneypieces, and a fine collection of family portraits, furniture, papers and objects.” 
The website tells us: “If you are seeking an utterly unique experience, genuine Irish hospitality and a hotel with character, the Arbutus Hotel is for you. Established in 1926 by our grandparents, we continue our proud family tradition of extending the warmest of welcomes to the Arbutus Hotel and Killarney. We are perfectly situated amongst the shops, pubs and restaurants of Killarney town centre, minutes’ walk from the train station. Parking is available in the adjacent carpark.
Every landscape produces and inspires characters whose stature seems to mirror the landscape itself. Tim Buckley was such a character, raised on the borders County Cork and the ‘Kingdom’ of Kerry. Today, Tim is remembered as the founder of the Arbutus, the unique and historic Killarney hotel. Even a glimpse of the path he travelled before establishing the Arbutus will help to explain why it remains a distinct and remarkable place.
Tim’s parents both survived the horrors of the potato famine to raise a family of two girls and five boys, including Tim who was born in 1885, at Toorbona in County Cork, close to the Kerry border. As a child he was bright, observant and active. Attending the local fairs with his father, he saw the wealthy farmers and the poorer farmers, he noticed the business people with their property, confidence and social standing. This made a formidable impression on him and it was from the fairfield in Killarney that he first noticed what was then Russell’s Hotel. He vowed that one day it would be his, hankering for it from the fair or eyeing it across the road from Casey’s Corner. The hotel became his mission and his vision. At the age of 24, with little hope of raising the necessary money at home, he set off for New York where many had gone before him. What made him different was he didn’t bring dreams with him, he brought a vision. He remained in New York for more than fifteen years. Like many Irish people, he had relatives who had gone before him. In New York, he went to stay with his aunt, who consoled his mother by writing: “he is going to a foreign country but going to his own family, always remember that.” Driven by his vision, Tim worked hard at a number of jobs including on the railways, in a bakery, as a hackney driver and in a hotel. America could be a lonely place for homesick immigrants and Tim was no exception. He never forgot the feeling of being away from home, a feeling he found perfectly expressed in the poem “The Dawn on the Hills of Ireland”, which became his party piece:
“For thirty years ‘asthore macree’, Those hills I now feast my eyes on Ne’er met my vision, save at night, In memory’s dim horizon,
Even so, ’twas grand and fair they seemed In the landscape spread before me, But dreams are dreams, and I would awake To find American skies still o’er me.”
He knew all eight verses off by heart and would recite them at gatherings for the rest of his life. As well as building up capital, he spent those years developing his vision of what he would do when he bought the Russell Hotel. The time came in 1924 when, unlike today, very few Irish emigrants returned and many never saw their families again. True to his rare strength of character, Tim did return to Kerry. Not only that, but he had arranged a match for himself, corresponding with a Kerry matchmaker from New York. Julia Daly was born on April 10th 1898, the second of two daughters. Her older sister was to inherit the farm, leaving a good marriage her best option for a secure future. Julia was made of strong stuff and was ready for the challenge of marrying the aspiring hotelier. In the year before his return, she had attended Ramsgrange Cookery School in Wexford, getting the necessary skills for hotel catering.
Tim and Julia were married on the 31st of January 1925, in her home townland of Ballydaly, Co. Cork. His savings, combined with her dowry, enabled them to buy Russell’s Hotel, which had been running since 1880. Their new endeavor would utilise their combined wealth of talents to realise his vision for a new generation of hotel. A new vision required a new name. Tim and Julia settled on the name Arbutus, after the tree. The Arbutus, or Strawberry Tree, is the only tree native to Ireland but not to Britain, and grows only in Cork, Sligo and, most famously, Kerry. ‘Arbutus’, therefore, represents what is special and unique about the region. But Tim was as pragmatic as he was romantic. He also settled on the name ‘Arbutus’ because, beginning with ‘A’, it would appear earlier in tourist brochures and pamphlets, not to mention listings for the telephone, which was just making its presence felt. Though Kerry had been an important tourist destination for wealthy travelers since the 1750s, Tim created the Arbutus as a destination in itself, a place of distinction to which travelers would return and recommend to others. In a practice that would later become a norm among quality hotels around the world, he arranged for guests to be picked up at Cobh. Two uniformed Arbutus drivers drove guests back in Tim’s pristine Buick and Dodge limousines imported specially form the USA. On their arrival at the Arbutus guests would be met by a welcome which combined local charm and international standards of hospitality. Tim Buckley saw the Arbutus as much more than a building, he saw the hotel holistically, as a place where the hospitality experience merged seamlessly with location, structure and detail. He commissioned the interior design himself, overseeing everything down to the smallest detail. Much of the work was undertaken by Dan Connor, trained by a master carpenter from the famous German village of Oberammergau, who had been brought back to Ireland by Lord Kenmare. To this day, Tim’s collection of specially commissioned ‘Celtic Deco’ furniture, fittings and tableware can be seen throughout the Arbutus – probably the only collection of its kind. Known affectionately as ‘The Boss’, Tim Buckley was admired and respected in Killarney, both as a businessman and a family man.
Tim Buckley and Julia Daly established the Arbutus Hotel Killarney in 1926. Their style of hospitality merged seamlessly with location, structure and detail to create something special for their guests.
Their son Pat and his wife Norrie Comer, took over in 1960, modernising the hotel whilst maintaining the spirit created by his parents.
Grandson Seán, his wife Carol Dempsey and their 3 children, Emer, Roisin and Ronan continue the promise made over 85 years ago and have maintained the warmth and friendliness that sets the Arbutus apart.
The Arbutus Killarney, there ever…“
2. Ballyseede Castle/ Ballyseedy (Tralee Castle), Tralee, county Kerry – hotel, see above €€
3. Cahernane (or Cahirnane) House, Killarney, Co Kerry – hotel
“Beautifully situated on a private estate on the edge of Killarney National Park, our luxury four-star hotel is located just twenty minutes’ walk from Killarney town centre. The entrance to the hotel is framed by a tunnel of greenery which unfurls to reveal the beauty of this imposing manor house, constructed in 1877 and formerly home to the Herbert Family.
Cahernane House Hotel exudes a sense of relaxation and peacefulness where you can retreat from the hectic pace of life into a cocoon of calmness and serenity. The only sounds you may hear are the lambs bleating or the birds singing.
Cahernane House was built as the family residence of Henry Herbert in 1877 at a cost of £5,992. The work was carried out by Collen Brothers Contractors. The original plans by architect James Franklin Fuller, whose portfolio included Ballyseedy Castle, Dromquinna Manor and the Parknasilla Hotel, was for a mansion three times the present size.“
The website tells us: “If you are looking for the perfect hideaway which offers peace, tranquility, plus a wonderful restaurant on the lake, Carrig House on the Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way is the place for you. The beautifully appointed bedrooms, drawing rooms and The Lakeside Restaurant, overlooking Caragh Lake and surrounded by Kerry’s Reeks District mountains, rivers and lakes create the perfect getaway.
Carrig House was built originally circa 1850 as a hunting lodge, it was part of the Blennerhassett Estate. It has been mainly owned and used by British Aristocracy who came here to hunt and fish during the different seasons.
The house was purchased by Senator Arthur Rose Vincentin the early 20th. Century. Vincent moved here after he and his wealthy Californian father in law Mr. Bowers Bourne gave Muckross House & Estate in Killarney to the Irish Government for a wonderful National Park.
Bourne had originally purchased Muckross House from the Guinness family and gave it to his daughter Maud as a present on her marriage to Arthur Rose Vincent. However, Maud died at a young age prompting Bourne and Vincent to donate the estate to the Irish State.
Vincent remarried a French lady and lived at Carrig for about 6 years, they then moved to the France. The country house history doesn’t end there, Carrig has had many other illustrious owners, such as Lady Cuffe , Sir Aubrey Metcalfe, who retired as the British Viceroy in India and Lord Brocket Snr, whose main residence was Brocket Hall in England.
Frank & Mary Slattery, the current owners purchased the house in 1996. They are the first Irish owners of Carrig since it was originally built and have renovated and meticulously restored the Victorian residence to its former glory.
For over two decades Frank & Mary have operated a very successful Country House & Restaurant and have won many rewards for their hospitality and their Lakeside Restaurant. They are members of Ireland’s prestigious Blue Book.
Carrig House has 17 bedrooms, each individually decorated in period style with antique furniture. Each room enjoys spectacular views of Caragh Lake and the surrounding mountains. All rooms are en suite with bath and shower. Those who like to indulge can enjoy the sumptuous comfort of the Presidential Suite with its own separate panoramic sitting room, male and female dressing rooms and bathroom with Jacuzzi bath.
The restaurant is wonderfully situated overlooking the lake. The atmosphere is friendly, warm and one of total relaxation. The menu covers a wide range of the freshest Irish cuisine.
Irish trout and salmon from the lake and succulent Kerry lamb feature alongside organic vegetables. Interesting selections of old and new world wines are offered to compliment dinner whilst aperitifs and after-dinner drinks are served in the airy drawing room beside open peat fires.
Within the house, chess, cards and board games are available in the games room.“
“Since Brian and Helen opened their Boutique style property in 2005, the name of Castlewood House has become synonomous with style and sophistication.
We have created an oasis of calm within a few minute’s walk to the Marina area of Dingle town. Every effort has been made to ensure that our guests get the very best Dingle has to offer and the house is designed to make utmost advantage of the fabulous views of Dingle Bay. All areas of the house are elegant and sophisticated with an eclectic mix of old and new. Timeless antique pieces and a stunning art collection make Castlewood House a feast for the senses.
Our elegant drawing room overlooks Dingle Bay where you can sit and relax and just watch the world go by. The room has an elegant marble fireplace and comfy sofa’s that are just waiting for you to sink into! Enjoy a glass of wine or Afternoon Tea by the fire. Your every need is anticipated and you can enjoy complimentary tea/coffee along with our homemade cakes and biscuits which are available throughout the day for you to enjoy. The room has a library of books, travel guides, style magazines, board games and jigsaws for your enjoyment. Our honesty bar is also stocked and you can settle up for your drinks on your departure.“
“Dingle Benners Hotel is an intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Dingle town. With a long standing history of warm welcomes and award winning food, while staying with us you can explore the town at your own pace.
Centered around 52 guest rooms, including Classic, Superior and our Four Poster Guest Rooms we offer you a calming haven to celebrate that special occasion, or simply to get away from it all.
Food is at the heart of what we offer here at Dingle Benners Hotel and past awards include the Gorgina Campbell award for Irish Breakfast of the year.
If you are seeking the very best of location to experience all the magic that Dingle has to offer, Dingle Benners Hotel is the perfect choice.“