St. George’s is a wonderful Arts and Crafts/Gothic Revival house in the beautiful suburbs of Killiney. It was built in the 1870s by George Coppinger Ashlin, a former pupil and later partner of Edward Welby Pugin, son of Augustus Pugin who played a primary role in initiating the Gothic revival style of architecture. Augustus Pugin designed the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. He also designed the hall ceiling, staircase and gallery in Adare Manor, County Limerick.
Augustus Pugin converted to Catholicism. In 1836, Pugin published Contrasts, and in it he argued for “a return to the faith and the social structures of the Middle Ages,” and this was reflected in his Gothic taste in architecture and design. In 1841 he published his illustrated The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture in which he advocated medieval, “Gothic”, or “pointed”, architecture. In the work, he wrote that contemporary craftsmen seeking to emulate the style of medieval workmanship should reproduce its methods. Pugin also designed stained glass.
Edward Welby Pugin joined his father’s firm. Pugin & Pugin were mainly church architects. Pugin was invited first to work in Ireland by the Redmond family of Wexford (I think they lived in Ballytrent).
Edward Welby Pugin’s works in Ireland include a beautiful chapel at Edermine, County Wexford, which I’d love to see, as well as Cobh and Killarney cathedrals.
Edermine was built for the Power family of the firm of John Power & Son, Distillers, of Dublin. It was through John Power’s influence that Pugin was commissioned to built many churches in Ireland. Power was awarded a Baronetcy in 1841and became Sir John Power 1st Baronet of Roe Buck House, Dublin and Edermine and Sampton, Co Wexford. He was a friend and confidant of Daniel O’Connell, “the Liberator.” 
The Powers distillery was located at that time near Thomas Street in Dublin, and it must have been John Power’s influence that led to the commission in 1860 for the design of the Church of St. Augustine and St. John, often referred to as John’s Lane church, on Thomas Street.
St. George’s architect, George Coppinger Ashlin (1837-1921), became a pupil of Edward Welby Pugin in 1856, and was then taken into partnership by Pugin, who gave him the responsibility of establishing a Dublin branch, taking charge of Irish commissions. 
Pugin & Ashlin designed approximately eight Catholic cathedrals and fifty Catholic churches as well as schools and convents. Ashlin did not design many private homes, but his work includes Tullira Castle in County Galway, and designs for Ashford Castle and St. Anne’s Park for the Guinness family. 
George Coppinger Ashlin (1837-1921) was from Carrigrenane House in County Cork, third and youngest son of four children of John Musson Ashlin, a Corkman established as a corn merchant in London, and Dorinda Maria Ashlin (née Coppinger), from an old County Cork family. 
The partnership of Pugin & Ashlin was dissolved in the latter months of 1868, but Ashlin married Edward Pugin’s younger sister Mary Pugin (1844-1933) in 1867. Ashlin built St. George’s in the late 1870s after his marriage, as a home for his family.
An information leaflet which owner Robert McQuillan gave us tells us that Mary Ashlin née Pugin grew up in The Grange at Ramsgate in Kent, which was situated on a cliff-top, and that the situation of St. George’s on the hill of Killiney would have reminded her of her childhood home. Shortly after the Ashlins moved to Killiney, the local railway station opened, and in 1887 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert opened Killiney Hill as a public park.
The Dictionary of Irish Architects gives an amusing word portrait of Ashlin:
“Alfred Edwin Jones, who became a pupil in Ashlin & Coleman’s office in about 1911, remembered Ashlin as a tall, commanding figure with ‘an appearance of distinction’ and described his morning routine. Each day he would catch a fast train from Killiney to Westland Row and walk from the station to his office at 7 Dawson Street. On reaching the office door he would hand his umbrella and attaché case to an awaiting junior member of staff and mount the horse which a man held ready at the kerb. He would then canter up Dawson Street to to Stephen’s Green and ride several times round the park on the track which ran just inside the railings before returning to the office to start his day’s work. According to his obituarist in the RIAI Journal, Ashlin ‘continued in active energy until a short while before his death’ and ‘preserved his comparatively youthful bearing almost to the end of his active career’. He died, aged eighty-four, on 10 December 1921, at St George’s, Killiney, the house which he had designed for himself, and was buried in the family plot in Glasnevin Cemetery.“
Ashlin wrote an article which was published in Royal Institute of British Architects Journal 9 (1902), 117-119, called ‘The Possibility of the revival of the ancient arts of Ireland and their adaptation to our modern circumstances.’ He presented this in his Presidential Address to the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland.
The Dictionary of Irish Biography tells us that under the influence of the Celtic revival, Ashlin turned to ancient Irish architecture for inspiration. In 1877 he designed a domestic chapel for A. J. Moore of Mooresfort, Co. Tipperary, which was modelled on Cormac’s Chapel, Cashel, Co. Tipperary. This was an early example of Hiberno-Romanesque, which was to become the dominant style in Irish catholic church design.
Other work listed for Ashlin in the Dictionary of Irish Architects is Enniscorthy Castle, updating it in 1869 for habitation of Isaac Newton Wallop, the 5th Earl of Portsmouth (born as Isaac Newton Fellowes, but later resumed the family surname and arms of Wallop).
Another private residence designed by Ashlin is Clonmeen House in County Cork.
Robert McQuillan, the current owner of St. George’s, very generously allowed me to take photographs inside. He and his wife are the fourth owners of St. George’s and have lived there for over thirty years. They have carefully restored and maintained the house.
Curtains hang on the back of the front door. The use of portiére rods with drapes were extensively used in Victorian homes to keep out draughts. The wallpaper is modern, supplied by Watts of London, and it copies an original Pugin design. All of the woodwork in the house is the original pitch pine, and has many Gothic details. The ceiling beams in the main hall have moulded ribs. The door to the right before the Tudor arch leads to the dining room, and to the left, the front drawing room.
The dining room has a pine ceiling similar to that in the hall. In the bow window on the left is the Ashlin crest and on the right, the Pugin crest. The Gothic designed sandstone fireplace has the Ashlin motto, “Labore et Honore.” The wallpaper design, and that of the drapes, is an original Pugin design.
The Front Drawing Room and back study, the leaflet from St. George’s tells us, are interconnecting spaces in the manner of Pugin’s design for The Grange where Ashlin’s wife grew up. Again, the wallpaper and drapes are of Pugin’s design. The fireplace has the inscribed initials of G.A. for George Ashlin. The ceiling is stencilled, which is a feature of Pugin’s domestic designs. The area beyond the arch was initially a Gothic conservatory. There are two canted bays, one with French doors out to the lawn. The stained glass panels in one depict the four seasons and in the other, figures of music, painting, poetry and architecture.
The front drawing room leads into the back study. The arch can be closed with a sliding intramural mirrored door.
The Back Hall is double height, with a pitch pine staircase winding around the sides. The staircase is similar to that in Mary Pugin’s childhood home, The Grange. The stairs feature St. Brigid cross shapes and on the newels, more initials carved for George and Mary.
The window which lights the stairs is a three light window in heavy timbered frame with vertical glazed panels. The stained glass depicts St. George, and on one side is the Ashlin crest and the other, the Pugin crest, with G. (George) and M. (Mary) initials.
The chapel was built following the birth of George and Mary’s only child, their daughter Miriam. It is panelled with a timber “wagon vault.” The stained glass was designed by Mary Pugin.
Pictures of many saints are featured in stained glass in the chapel, including St. Dorothea, St. Francis Xavier, St. Joseph and St. George, and there is a beautifully carved altar. George’s mother was named Dorothea (née Coppinger).
The bedrooms are placed facing the sea and to the south, with bathrooms at the back of the house. The bedroom in front was probably Mary’s, as it has the initials “M.A.” in the fireplace. The stained glass in that room contains symbols of the Ashlin-Pugin marriage.
The bathrooms are modern but of a suitable Victorian style.
The bedroom next to this has “D.A.” in the fireplace, which is probably for George’s mother Dorothea.
The library is located at the top of an “elbow stairs.” It is completely covered in pitch pine and has a magnificent view of the coast. The stained glass is signed “Frampton” and dated to 1880.
There is a door in the corner which leads to a spiral granite staircase up on to the turret.
A single bedroom, the staff bedroom, is above the back stairs and would have originally housed three staff bedrooms. Today it is beautifully decorated with an intricately carved wooden sleigh bed, and drapes hanging from a coronet.
Ashlin died in 1921. His daughter Miriam married her cousin Stephen Martin Ashlin, who continued the firm of Ashlin & Coleman after Ashlin’s death.
After our tour of the house we wandered through the beautifully maintained terraced garden. The gardens cover approximately an acre. 
 The Wexford Gentry by Art Kavanagh and Rory Murphy. Published by Irish Family Names, Bunclody, Co Wexford, Ireland, 1994. p. 168. Power of Edermine.
“Welcome to your authentic Castle Experience in the beautiful West of Ireland in Ballina, County Mayo. An award winning hotel & wedding venue with a gourmet restaurant, cafe and museum on site!
Explore Belleek Castle, an iconic Irish Country Home a restaurant, wedding venue, boutique hotel and spectacular exhibition of the eclectic Marshall Doran Collection of which one of our academically trained guides will be delighted to take you on a tour.
Belleek Castle has been a member of the prestigious Ireland’s Blue Book since 2016. Ireland’s Blue Book is a romantic collection of Irish Country House Hotels, Manor Houses, Castles and Restaurants. Located throughout the island of Ireland these charming and stylish hideaways are the perfect choice for your holiday vacation in Ireland. They are also ideal for a midweek or weekend break and those seeking a romantic getaway.
The neo-gothic Country House, dating from 1831, has not lost its flavour by over modernisation…This historic Belleek Castle is informal, hassle-free and friendly, rich in decor and antiquities, with many open log fires to warm your steps back through half a millennium.”
It continues in the history section:
“Belleek Castle was built between 1825 and finished in 1831 for the cost of £10,000. The building was commissioned by Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore for the cost of £10,000 and . The manor house was designed by the prolific architect John Benjamin Keane, and the Neo-Gothic architecture met the taste of the time, when Medieval styles became fashionable again.”
John B. Keane began his career as assistant to Richard Morrison in the early 1820s and set up his own practice by 1823, David Hicks tells us in his Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change. The stone for the house was quarried from nearby quarry in Moyne. Francis Arthur Francis Knox-Gore had inherited the estate in 1818 when he was 15, and the manor was built after his marriage to Sarah Nesbit Knox from Castle Lacken, County Mayo. It is thought to have replaced an earlier structure, as the basement area of the castle today appears to be older than the floors above.
The website continues: “The house is thought to have replaced an earlier structure & is named after the original Belleek Castle, a 13th Tower House Castle situated on the banks of the River Moy. Francis lived at Belleek Castle with his wife Sarah and his 9 children until his death in 1873. According to his wishes he was buried in Belleek Demense. A striking Neo-Gothic Monument, designed by James Franklin Fuller, now marks his grave and is situated in the middle of Belleek Woods. It is said that his wife & favourite horse are both buried beside him. His eldest son Charles Knox-Gore inherited & became the 2nd Baronet. Charles died without issue in 1890 & was also buried in Belleek Demense beside the River Moy, and his dog Phizzie was buried beside him. The house was inherited by his sister Matilda who married Major General William Boyd Saunders of Torquay. Their grandson William Arthur Cecil Saunders-Knox-Gore sold the house in 1942.
The house was later purchased by the Beckett family who intended on converting the Manor House into a stud farm but later sold the house. Mayo County Council purchased the house in the 1950s and used the Manor House as a hospital & military barracks and was later abandoned it. It was at this time that Mayo County Council considered taking the roof of the building to avoid paying rates. Fortunately Marshall Doran, a merchant navy officer and an avid collector of fossils and medieval armour, acquired the run down property in 1961, restored it and opened it as a hotel in 1970. Some of the rooms are in 19th style, whilst most of the interior design has a medieval and nautical touch. Marshall, being quite a craftsman, did a lot of the work himself, assisted by John Mullen, and supervised the restoration expertly. Today, the Castle is managed by Marshall’s son Paul Doran and Ms. Maya Nikolaeva.“
And about the tour of the castle:
“The Belleek Castle Tour includes an explanation of the origins of the Castle and the history of its former owners, the Knox-Gore family, the Earls of Arran. Learn about the life of Marshall Doran an adventurer, sailor & smuggler who restored Belleek Castle in the 1960’s. Visitors will see private dining rooms, decorated in opulent romantic style, as well as rooms designed by Marshal such as the Medieval Banquet Hall, the Spanish Armada Bar and the Tween Deck. The highlight of the tour is The Marshall Doran Collection, which is one of the finest collections of Jurassic fossils, Medieval Weapons and Medieval armour in Ireland. Visitors will also see the Grace O’Malley “The Pirate Queen’s” bed, the last wolf shot in Connaught and other curiosities.”
contact: Patricia and John Noone Tel: 094-9371348, 087-3690499, 086-2459832 Open: Jan 13-20, Apr 13-20, May 18-24, June 8-14, July 13-19, Aug 1-25, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/child/student €3, National Heritage Week free.
The National Inventory tells us it is a:
“Detached three-bay two-storey double-pile over part raised basement country house with attic, built 1845, on a T-shaped plan centred on single-bay full-height gabled frontispiece; three- or five-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation centred on single-bay full-height gabled “bas-relief” breakfront… “Restored”, 1990-1…Tudor-headed central door opening approached by flight of thirteen drag edged tooled cut-limestone steps between wrought iron railings, trefoil leaf-embossed timber doorcase having engaged colonette-detailed moulded rebated reveals with hood moulding on polygonal label stops framing timber panelled door. Pointed-arch flanking window openings with creeper- or ivy-covered sills, timber Y-mullions, and carved timber surrounds framing timber casement windows. Square-headed window openings in tripartite arrangement with drag edged dragged cut-limestone sills, timber cruciform mullions, and rendered flush surrounds having chamfered reveals with hood mouldings framing two-over-two timber sash windows without horns. Hipped square-headed central door opening to rear (south) elevation approached by flight of nine drag edged tooled cut-limestone steps between replacement mild steel railings, tooled cut-limestone surround having chamfered reveals with hood moulding framing glazed timber panelled double doors having sidelights below overlight. Square-headed window openings with rendered flush surrounds having chamfered reveals framing timber casement windows. Interior including (ground floor): central hall on a square plan retaining carved timber lugged surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors, and moulded plasterwork cornice to ceiling; and carved timber surrounds to door openings to remainder framing timber panelled doors with carved timber surrounds to window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers. Set in landscaped grounds.
A country house erected to a design attributed to Frederick Darley Junior (1798-1872) of Dublin representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of the rural environs of Claremorris with the architectural value of the composition, one enveloping a “four square” house annotated as “Brook hill [of] Kirwan Esquire” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 214), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking landscaped grounds; the symmetrical frontage centred on a “medieval” doorcase demonstrating good quality workmanship with the corresponding Garden Front centred on a streamlined doorcase; the diminishing in scale of the multipartite openings on each floor producing a graduated tiered visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by polygonal bay windows; and the robust timber work embellishing the roofline. Having been well maintained, 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; Classical-style chimneypieces; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1893); a lengthy walled garden (extant 1893); and an abbreviated “Triumphal Column” erected over the burial place of Joseph Lambert JP (1793-1855), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Lambert family including Joseph Lambert (1760-1813), one-time High Sheriff of County Mayo (fl. 1796); Alexander Clendenning Lambert JP DL (1803-92), ‘County Treasurer late of Brookhill County Mayo’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1893, 432); Colonel Joseph Alexander Lambert JP DL (1855-1907), ‘late of Brookhill Claremorris County Mayo and of Bouverie Road West Folkestone Kent’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1908, 297); and Brigadier Alexander Fane Lambert DL (1887-1974), later of Auld Licht Manse, Angus, Scotland; and a succession of tenants including Valentine Joseph Blake JP (1842-1912), ‘Land Agent’ (NA 1901); Major General Reginald Henry Mahon (1859-1929; NA 1911); and Katharine Tynan Hinkson (1859-1931; occupant 1916-21), poet and author of the autobiographical “The Years of the Shadow” (1919) and “The Wandering Years” (1922).“
The Landed Estates database tells us:
“Brookhill was situated on church land held by the Gonnes, who leased the house to the Kirwans in the late 1770s. Occupied by the Lambert family from the 1790s to the 1940s when it was sold to Gerald Maguire, a solicitor in Claremorris. Now the home of the Noone family.” 
The National Inventory tells us it is “A coastguard station erected to a design examined (1876) by Enoch Trevor Owen (c.1833-81), Assistant Architect to the Board of Public Works (appointed 1863), representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century maritime architectural heritage of County Mayo. Having been reasonably well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior: the introduction of replacement fittings to the openings, however, has not had a beneficial impact on the character or integrity of the composition. Nevertheless, an adjacent boathouse (extant 1897) continues to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a neat self-contained ensemble making a pleasing visual statement in a low hillside overlooking the islet-studded Westport Bay.“
“Partry House is a charming historic house in a unique and secluded old estate by the shores of Lough Carra.
Built in 1667 on the site of an old Castle, it is set in just 250 acres of unspoilt woodland, bog, pasture and parkland.
The farm and gardens are run on ecologically friendly and organic principles. Wildlife abounds on this peaceful sanctuary in scenic South County Mayo.
Now restored in keeping with its age and character, Partry House is open in part to the public during July and August.
Partry House dates from 1667 when it was built on the remains of Cloonlagheen Castle by Arthur Lynch as a dowager house for his mother Lady Ellis, widow of Sir Roebuck Lynch [2nd Baronet, 1621-1667] of Castle Carra.
Sir Roebuck’s lands were seized by the Cromwellians and he was compensated by lands at Castle Carra during the first half of the seventeenth century. The Castle was named after Cloonlagheen (‘the meadow of the little lake’) townland on which it stands.
Evidence of the original castle was discovered during restoration work in 1995 when slit windows opening inwards were found at knee level on the first floor. Old castle walls can be seen incorporated into stable walls.
Knox’s ‘History of Mayo‘ (1910) clearly states that Cloonlagheen castle was owned in 1574 by Abbé MacEnvile who was over Ballintubber Abbey. This was part of the Elizabethan survey called the ‘Divisons of Connaught’.
The Lynchs, of the noted Galway family, occupied Partry House from 1667 until 1991; over 330 years in residence. Many of the ancestors of the present Lynch family are buried in a ring-fort graveyard on the estate, where their achievemements are noted on a large stone obelisk. Military, Exploratory and Humanitarian, their dates and names are written in stone.
The one-time islands Moynish, Creggaun and Leamnahaye are linked to the shore by means of the Famine Walk built between the lake and a bog area. This and the fine limestone shore edging date from famine times when the Lynchs looked after their tenants providing food and work for them. Two old cast iron pots used to cook cornmeal stand in the garden.
The obelisk commemorates George Quested Lynch MD who returned at once to Partry from Euphrates on hearing of the famine and died here of Typhus in 1848, aged only 34. The Lynchs, along with Browns of Westport House and the Moores of Moore Hall chartered the ship the ‘Martha Washington’ to bring corn meal from America for their tenants.”
The website gives a wonderfully detailed study of the townland and the house, which is a terrific summary of some important historical figures of the area. The website tells us:
“Prison House is situated in the townland of Prison North in the parish of Manulla and barony of Carra, Co. Mayo. The townland of Prison North comprises 340 acres 3 roods and 26 perches. Originally Prison North, West and East were not subdivided but went collectively under the name of Prison townland. One of the earliest references to Prison townland dates from 1586. Prison also appears variously as ‘Prizon’, ‘Prisone’ and ‘Preeson’. The origin of the townland’s name is unknown. The Ordnance Survey books of 1837 notes the name but does not provide a suggestion for its origin, although the books record two forts and a cave in the townland. [1*]
The 1654 Down Survey and the Browne Rentals indicate that Prison was previously also known as Trineloghan/Trineleghane, and Triskine/Trilkine, names that appear to have no connection to its other alias.
The lands of Prison were successively in the possession of the Bourke family, later Viscounts of Mayo; the Browne family later Viscounts of Sligo; the Nolan family; and the Trench and Domville families. Prison remained in the hands of the Domville’s until the 20th century.
Prison House is a simple three bay house, two stories high. To put any definitive date on Prison House has proved to be impossible, but the research to date has been able to prove that a building has stood on the site for over 200 years. As early as 1814, Prison house was already referred to as the ‘old house’ by the surveyor John Longfield, employed by the local landlord, Frederick Trench.
We have concluded that Prison House probably stands on the site of an older house, parts of which were incorporated into the structure of the house now standing. Although the external features of the house indicate that the house was built in the early 19th Century, the unusual chimney-stacks suggest that this part of the house at least was probably built in the late 18th Century. This opinion was confirmed by David Griffin, the director of the Irish Architectural Archives, on viewing the survey photographs of Prison House.
The Irish Architectural Archive (IAA) does not hold any photographic records of Prizon House. David Griffin, the director of the IAA was shown photographs of the building but was unable to put a date other than possibly early 19th century on the house. He did however comment on the unusual chimney-stacks, saying that they had only ever seen two other examples of this, one on an unspecified house in County Wexford, the other Luggala House in County Wicklow. Luggala House was built by the La Touche family of banking fame, in the 1790s. A late Victorian photograph does show the same type of chimney-stack but at some date these were replaced and no longer exist in Luggala House. This is helpful to the extent that it dates at least part of the house to the late 18th century.
It is almost certain that Prison House was built in the second half of the 18th Century. In 1764 the landlord Reverend Trench concluded a lease with the Ormsby family for three lives. The lease makes no specific mention of an existing house, and does not require the Trench’s to provide stone or bricks as building materials, or the Ormsbys to build a house as a condition of lease. The size of Prison House, and the apple orchard and many other trees planted around it, indicates that a great deal of initial work was carried out when the house was first built.
Given the circumstantial evidence it is probable that Prison House was laid out by the Ormsby family, although there is a remote chance that the landlord Frederick Trench, a well known amateur architect, may have designed and built the original house. [2*] …
The Bourke Family:
An early reference to Prison townland appears in an Elizabethan fiant of 1586. This fiant records the pardon of ‘Walter Boorke m’Richard en yeren, of Prisone’ [3*]. [Wikipedia tells us that a “fiant” is a writ issued to the Irish Chancery mandating the issue of letters patent under the Great Seal of Ireland. The name fiant comes from the opening words of the document, Fiant litterae patentes, Latin for “Let letters patent be made”.]
Walter Bourke was the son of Richard Bourke [1532-1583] or as he was more commonly known, ‘Richard-an-Iarainn’ (literally Richard of Iron) the second husband of the infamous Grace O’Malley, ‘Granuaile’ described in 1576 by the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Henry Sidney, as ‘a most famous feminine sea captain. . .a notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’[4*]. Richard Bourke was descended from the sept of the Bourkes of Umhall and Carra, one of the senior Bourke branches. The fact that Walter was recorded as ‘of Prisone’ would suggest that at this date he was the occupier of the townland, and that his residence was there. However in two subsequent fiants of 1592 and 1598 he was described as‘of Togher’and‘of Mohine’respectively, so his stay in Prison may well have been brief.
In 1641 the proprietor of Trynylonghan comprising 171 acres, and Treelkin comprising 14 acres, was one David Bourke [b. 1576]. This David may have been the grandson of Richard-an Iarainn and son of the 1st Viscount Mayo, Tibbott-ne-Long [5*], the only child born to Granuaile and her second husband Richard. [6*] David Bourke inherited the castle and lands of Manulla and acquired further lands in Carra barony. He married first Mary O’Donnell the sister of Red Hugh O’Donnell, and secondly a daughter of Richard Heword of Dublin. David Bourke’s date of death is unknown and as he died without legitimate issue the lands reverted to Viscount Mayo.
While David Bourke was the owner of Prison townland in 1641, part of these lands recorded as ‘arable and pasture’ were subsequently confiscated and granted to a Patrick ‘Nowlan’. On the 16th of September 1685 Trinelogan and Triskeen and various other townlands were sold by Patrick Nolan of ‘Balenderry’ County Galway to [Colnel] John Browne of Kinturk, County Mayo for £694 [7*].
Colonel John Browne:
This John Browne of Kinturk was more commonly known as Colonel John Browne. A barrister by profession and a colonel in the army of King James II, John Browne had married Maud Bourke in 1669. Maud was the daughter of the third Viscount Mayo, Theobald Bourke. Following James II’s defeat Browne was heavily in debt. He owed money to his wife’s family for lands purchased from the Estate of Viscount Mayo in the baronies of Carra, Murrisk and Burrishole. He was eventually imprisoned for his debt and the lands sold. Family fortunes improved in 1702 when John Browne’s daughter Mary married her cousin Theobald Bourke [(1681-1731) 6th Viscount Mayo]. The Browne family were later made Viscounts Sligo, with a family seat at Westport House.
Rentals of Colonel Browne’s estate dating 1696 record that Randle McDonnell held a three year lease of the lands of ‘Preeson’ at a year’s rent of £35 for the first two years and £40 for the third year.
In 1704 when the estate was sold ‘Presson & Gallon farme’ was leased by Colonel Manus O’Donnell, although a note states that there was ‘no tenant at present’. It is not clear from this why a farm at Prison should be called Prison and Gallen or if it is in fact referring to two separate farms. It would appear to be the latter as a further note stated that ‘Coll Manus O’Donnell is to pay out of Gallen farme for one year ending’. [8*]
The Trench Family:
Prison townland and the neighbouring lands were bought by William Trench [1683-1729] of County Laois in the first decade of the 18th Century. William’s grandfather, Frederick Trench, came to Ireland from England in 1631 and settled in Galway. William Trench and his wife, Susanna Segar, heiress of Redcastle, Co. Laois, had nine children and the family established themselves at Ballinakill, Co.Laois. Their second son, Frederick Trench born 21st September 1715, inherited Prison townland and lands in Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Laois on the death of his elder brother.Frederick Trench received a BA degree from Trinity College in 1737 and was ordained in 1740. He married Mary Moore of Crymorgan, Co. Laois in 1745. Their only child was Michael Frederick Trench, known as Frederick, a renowned amateur architect. Michael Frederick married Anna Helena Stewart in 1775. They had six surviving children including; Frederick William (1775-1859) MP and aide-de-camp to George IV; Stewart-Segar, Chancellor of Christ Church Cathedral and Sarah Helena.
In 1708 in order to preserve official copies (memorials) of land and commercial transactions the Registry of Deeds was established by Act of the Irish Parliament. Registration of deeds was voluntary, so the majority of early records relate mainly to those properties that were likely to face a legal challenge. A search of the early indexes for the townland of Prison and the other aliases (Trineloghan and Triskine/Trilkine) was unsuccessful. The first reference relating to Prison townland in the Registry of Deeds was in the 1739-1810 townland index. A memorial of a deed of lease dated 6th October 1764 [9*] records that part of Prison townland was held by the Reverend Frederick Trench of Ballynakill, Co. Laois. The deed stated that part of the lands of Prizon and Drimloughra ‘lately held by Mr Garret Coghlan’ were to be let to Anthony Ormsby of Ballynamore, Co. Mayo, for the lives of Thomas his eldest son, Adam his second son and his third son, Christopher, for the sum of £164 sterling. There was a clause of surrender at the end of every three years and ‘liberty to carry off sixteen acres of Corn Potatoes or Flax’. There was no reference to any specific building in the lease, so that we know that Prison House was not yet built at this time.
The Ormsby family seat was at Ballinamore co. Mayo, and it is not known whether any of the family ever lived in Prison townland. The Ormsby family had settled in Ireland in the late 16th century. According to Burke’s Irish Family Records Anthony Ormsby was a High Sheriff and a Captain in Hingham Regiment of Horse. [10*] He married Sarah, the daughter of Thomas Lindsay of Co. Mayo and the couple had four children, one daughter Anne, and three sons, mentioned in the deed of 1764.…
The deeds ledger of the Trench estates, and the Longfield Maps – 1814:
The first definitive reference to a building occupying the site where Prison House now stands is in maps of Prison surveyed by John Longfield in 1814. This was not the first time that the lands had been mapped, the 1814 deeds ledger of the Trench estate refers to maps of Prison townland surveyed in 1719, 1756 and 1785. Unfortunately none of these maps appear to have survived. One of the maps of 1814 however shows a building termed the ‘Old House’ which is clearly situated on the site where Prison House now stands. Longfield drew a rectangular structure with an adjoining rear, an L-shaped structure. Two buildings stood to the front left and right of the house. A long avenue ran up to the house and this can be traced in the map accompanying the Land Registry documents seen clearly as a thin strip of land. A garden stood to the left of the house and Longfield also marked a Haggard (an enclosed space near the farm-house), denoted by the words ‘Hgd’.
At the same time as the map was being surveyed a member of the Trench family, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick William Trench visited Prison and its neighbouring townlands. In a bound volume he not only recorded his Grand Tour of Europe but also chronicled his tour of his father’s estate which fortunately concentrates on lands in the barony of Carra. His visit may have been designed to coincide with Longfield’s survey. In a letter surviving from this time William’s father wrote to his son:‘I consider it as an Event truly fortunate that you became acquainted with Mr Longfield, a person of so much real knowledge and Exertion, and on whom you seem so justly to have placed so much reliance…’.[14*] F.W. Trench appears to have been keen to note improvements that could be made to the lands and frequently noted the rentals...
The next substantial information on Prison dates from the mid 1820s. On Monday the 14th November 1825 the Trench estate ‘upwards of 5000 English acres’, the property of Colonel Sir Frederick William Trench including Prison townland was to be auctioned in lots at the Commercial Buildings in Dame Street, Dublin at 12 noon by the vendor’s solicitors Messrs. Robert Hamilton & Co. Lot No. 3 consisted of Prison townland and the following description was detailed in the auction prospectus:
‘. . .containing 453 acres 2 roods 23 perches situate in the Barony of CARRA, and County of Mayo, let to Thomas[sic] Ormsby, Esq. By Lease, dated in 1764, for 3 Lives, (only one of whom, viz. Christopher Ormsby , Esq. supposed to be now aged about 75 years, is in being), at £164 per Annum, and consists of Arable, Pasture, Meadow, and Bog is most commodiously circumstanced, having a south aspect, and being well sheltered. The Meadow is of superior quality and the Feeding Land is supposed to be as good as any in the County of Mayo – There are on this Lot 12 good Houses, and the Farm is ornamented with Hedge-rows – The Turbary is both plenty and convenient – These Lands if now to be Let would produce a very large Annual Sum, the excellent quality of the ground being well known, and highly esteemed.’
Improvements must have been made to the townland, the sale notice writes of twelve good houses. It does not however refer to any new buildings having been built or to any modernisation of Prison House. The sale notice remarks solely on the Hedge-rows of the Farm and Trench was himself impressed by the hedging and planting of trees. He made a small pencil sketch of a rectangular building and the various trees planted around, this presumably did not refer to Prison House, as the map outlines a rectangular structure without an adjoining rear and this could refer to the Herd’s house and his own tree planting.
The estate failed to find a buyer in 1825, and in 1833 Sir Frederick William Trench of Moyvannon Castle, Co. Roscommon, sold the estate to Sir Compton Domville of Santry House, Co. Dublin, his brother-in-law, for £60,000 less £18,000 that was loaned from Domville to Sir Frederick [16*]. Frederick William’s sister Sarah Helena had married Sir Compton Pocklington Domville of Templeogue and Santry House, County Dublin in 1815.
With the sale of the lands at Prison the Ormsby’s lease came to an end. An advertisement was placed in the local newspaper, the Mayo Constitution, published in Castlebar…
Once again there is no reference to Prison House itself, suggesting that it was neither new nor modernised. Presumably J. E. Strickland was the agent acting for the Trench family. Prison townland was at this time leased by a Michael Barrett recorded in the Tithe Applotment Books, taken for the parish of Manulla in 1837. [18*] Barrett held the lands in Prison North of Sir Compton Domville, and the only additional observation recorded was that Barrett ‘has no lease’, i.e. he held the lands at the landlord’s will. (A copy of the TAB for Prison North is enclosed with this report).
It was in this same year (1837) that the Ordnance Survey maps of Ireland were first published. The map of Prison townland shows the farm, an L-plan structure with two outbuildings. A large grove of trees to the rear right of the building is shown and the long avenue of trees still stands as do the outbuildings (a copy of the 1837 map is enclosed with this report) [19*].
Prison Farm continued to be occupied by the Barrett family into the 1840s. The 1842 Tenement Act provided for a uniform valuation of all property in Ireland based on the productive capacity of land and the potential rent of buildings, for taxation purpose. The Commissioner of Valuation, Richard Griffith, produced and published a nationwide survey between 1847 and 1864. However prior to Griffith’s Valuation, the original valuation surveyors took two nationwide surveys in the 1840s which are recorded in a set of books known variously as the ‘field’, ‘house’, ‘mill’ and ‘tenure books’.…
…In 1893 the Ordnance Survey published new maps for County Mayo. At some date between the surveying of the townland in 1837 and the publication of new maps in 1893, Prison House was altered. By 1893 the adjoining rear now stood to the centre of the main building and the large outhouses parallel and to the rear of the house were constructed. It is probable that the alterations to the house were made prior to 1858. The Cancelled Books do not indicate any alternations to the house or outhouses after 1858. Although amendments and alterations sometimes went unnoticed, it is highly unlikely that the type of large-scale improvements indicated in the 1893 Ordnance Survey map, would not have resulted in a revision of the rates on Prison House.
The changes to Prison House most likely occurred between 1841, the time of the first survey recorded in the House-books, and 1858, the start of the first Cancelled Books for the townland of Prison North. In the course of research we found a later (1901) lease for the house and lands at Prison North, which cited an earlier, 1853 lease between Sir Compton Domville and Martin Barrett. The Tithe Applotment Books had indicated that as late as 1837 Martin Barrett had no lease, and would have rented the house and lands from year to year. It seems very probable that the alterations to Prison House were made sometime after the lease was agreed in 1853, and November 1857 when Martin Barrett died.
On 13th September 1901 a lease was recorded between the Very Reverend John Canon Barret of St Mary’s, Headford, Tuam, Co. Galway; John McEllen of Balla, Co. Mayo, Merchant; and Sir Compton Meade Domville of Santry ‘ a person of unsound mind’. [23*] The Reverend Barrett appears to have sold the time that remained on the 1853 lease, to John McEllen, with the agreement of the trustees of Sir Compton Meade Domville.
In March 1901 the Census recorded that Thomas Connolly, married with four infant children occupied Prison House.
The Connolly family appear to have remained resident in Prison House even after John McEllin bought out the lease to Prison townland. In 1920, the Congested Districts Board took over the House, offices and lands (19 acres 1 rood 12 perches). Between 1920 and 1931 possession of Prison North passed to the Irish Land Commission. The Connolly family remained resident in Prison House despite the change in land title.
In 1931 the house and lands were sold to Ellen Connolly, widow of Thomas Connolly. The house remained in the Connolly family’s possession until 1999 when it was sold to the current owners.“
[1*] NLI Pos 4123 Ordnance Survey Office John O’Donovan name books for Co. Mayo, Killala to Turlough. Unfortunately there is not at present an archaeological inventory for Mayo County.
[2*] See also, Patricia Friel, Frederick Trench 1746-1836, Maynooth Studies in Irish Local History, 2000.
[3*] The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns Vol 2 (Dublin,1994)
[4*] Cited in Granuaile: The Life and Times of Grace O’Malley by Anne Chambers, (Dublin, 1998) p3
[5*] Books of Survey and Distribution Co. Mayo
[7*] National Archives of Ireland D. 12,111 Memorial of deed
[8*] National Library of Ireland. Pos. 940
[9*]Registry of Deeds. Book 238 page 239 No. 154263
[10*] A copy of the Ormsby pedigree is enclosed with this report.
[11*] National Library of Ireland, Ms. 9393
[12*] They are not mentioned as among the Trench papers in the Hayes Guide, nor are they listed in the Historical Manuscripts Commission, National Register of Archives which provides coverage of the U.K. and Scotland. However, after the report was completed the researcher noted that the British Records Association has recently deposited schedules relating to Trench family deeds and lands, including at least one document relating to co. Mayo.
[13*] NLI Ms. 9393
[14*] National Library of Ireland. Ms. 11,348 – Michael Frederick Trench to William Frederick Trench, Heywood, December 27th 1814
[15*] ‘John Mucalini’ is almost certainly a pun based on “mucal”, the Irish word for swine. The pun was possibly coined as a local nick-name for the herder James Monyahan.
[16*] See Patricia Friel’s Frederick Trench and Heywood, Queen’s County (Dublin, 2000)
[17*] The Mayo Constitution, Thursday May 2nd 1833 page 3 column e
[18*] The Composition Act of 1823 specified that tithes due to the Established Church, the Protestant Church of Ireland, which had hitherto been payable in kind, should now be paid in money. As a result it was necessary to carry out a valuation of the entire country, civil parish by civil parish, to determine how much would be payable by each landholder. This was done between 1823 and 1838, at which latter date the tithe system was abolished. The tithe applotment books for the parish of Manulla were assessed in 1837
[21*] Martin Barrett was granted a lease by Compton Domville dated 19th November 1853. Reference was made to this lease in a later lease of 1901. A search was made for the 1853 lease in the Registry of Deeds but no record was found.
[22*] Full government censuses were taken of the entire island of Ireland after 1821. The census returns recorded between 1821 and 1851 were almost entirely destroyed in the fire in the Public Records Office in 1922, while the census returns between 1861 and 1891 were pulped during WWI by order of the government. However, the government extracted and published statistical information in the aftermath of each census.
[23*] Book 1901-86-32
[24*] Ellen Connolly, aged 4 years at the time of the 1901 Census appears to have died as a young child.
[25*] National Archives 1901 & 1911 Census 56/D.E.D ‘7’
“Turlough Park was built in 1865, to replace a much older building near the entrance to the park. The name of the village and estate derives from the Irish turlach, signifying a lake that dries up in the summer period.
Turlough Park was the home of the Fitzgerald family, to whom the estate was granted under the Cromwellian land settlements of the mid-seventeenth century.
At its largest, the Turlough estate consisted of almost 8,500 acres requiring many indoor servants and outdoor estate workers to maintain the house and lands. In 1915, the Congested Districts Board – established to initiate economic improvements along the western seaboard – purchased and re-distributed the Fitzgerald estate.
A notable family member was George Robert [c. 1712-1782], son of George and later known as the ‘Fighting Fitzgerald’. Famous for his brave and reckless horsemanship, and a renowned duellist, George Robert was involved in a number of disputes and family quarrels. He was found guilty of murder and hanged in Castlebar, Co. Mayo in 1786.
His younger brother Charles Lionel would inherit the Turlough Park estate.
The architect Thomas Newenham Deane designed Turlough Park House. Deane was also the designer of the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology in Dublin.
The architectural style of the house has been referred to as ‘Victorian Gothic’. The two-storey house built of limestone rises to a high-pitched roof with dormer windows. It incorporates an open central Gothic porch bearing the house’s 1865 date stone.
A service area adjoining the house, which once accommodated the kitchen and stable block, now incorporates visitor facilities such as the gift shop and café. In such houses, the kitchen was detached from the main house to avoid cooking smells disturbing the family and their guests and to minimise the risk of fire.
An imposing stained glass window above the porch incorporates the Fitzgerald family crest and bears the motto Honor Probataque Virtus (Honour, Probity & Virtue).
While the library was used mostly for recreation and study, the room was also where tenant farmers paid their quarterly rents to their landlord, the Fitzgerald family. The agent, seated facing the glass doors where the tenants entered, would note the payment in his rent book and issue the tenant with a receipt. It is said that the landlord sometimes sat behind the concealed door to hear what the tenants had to say without being observed.
The Drawing Room of the Big House
This room is furnished and decorated the way it may have looked around 1900. Most families occupying a house for a long time accumulate a variety of furniture from different eras and in different styles. The furniture here is from the Decorative Arts & History collections of the Museum.
Among the items is a Lyrachord Piano, which is the only one of its kind in the world. The left side operates like a piano and the right like a harpsichord.
There is also a nest of tables with harp and shamrock inlay typical of the Killarney school of furniture, as well as an embroidered armchair from Adare Manor, Co. Limerick dating from 1850.
Becoming part of the National Museum of Ireland
Turlough Park House remained in the same family until 1991 when it was purchased by Mayo County Council. The proposal to open the house as a museum was a local initiative which led eventually to a decision made in 1995 to locate part of the National Museum of Ireland here. The Museum’s Folklife collections had been stored for a long time in Daingean, Co. Offaly, awaiting a suitable venue.
As the house was not suitable as a major exhibition space, a new building was purpose-built alongside it. Housing the Museum galleries, this award winning design was created by the architectural branch of the Office of Public Works. As part of the project, the Office of Public Works also restored the original ‘Big House’. The grounds and gardens were restored by Mayo County Council.“
The website tells us: “One of the few privately-owned historic houses left in Ireland, Westport House was built by the Browne family whose connections to Mayo date back to the 1500s. Their lineage relates them and the house to the trail-blazing pirate queen and chieftain, Grace O’Malley.
“In 2017, Westport House was bought by another local and historic family, the Hughes family, who hope to ensure its survival into the future.
Built in the 18th century, Westport House was designed by the famous architects, Richard Cassels, James Wyatt and Thomas Ivory. Westport House is located west of the Shannon and is considered to be one of Ireland’s most beautiful historic homes open to visitors – and is today often described as being one of Ireland’s National Treasures. It is situated in a superb parkland setting with lake, terraces, gardens and magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Clare Island and Ireland’s Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick right in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way. It was built … by the Browne family, who are direct descendants of the famous 16th century Pirate Queen – Grace O’Malley.
After Grace O’Malley’s death, a report stated that for forty years she was the stay of all rebellions in the West. She was chief of the O’Malley Clan and ruled the seas around Mayo. Grace O’Malley had several castles in the West of Ireland and it was on the foundations of one of these that Westport House was actually built. There is still an area of her original castle in the basement of the House (now known as The Dungeons), which is on view to visitors.
The original house which would have been smaller, was built by Colonel John Browne [1631-1712], a Jacobite, who was at the Siege of Limerick and his wife, Maude Burke [or Bourke, (1640-1690)] in 1679-83. Maude Burke was Grace O’Malley’s great-great granddaughter. The house did not have the lake or a dam and the tide rose and fell against the walls.
The east front of the House, as it is today, was built in 1730 by Colonel John Browne’s grandson, also John- 1st Earl of Altamont [1709-1776]. He hired the famous German architect, Richard Cassels. It is built with the finest limestone taken from the quarry south of the estate farmyard and was executed by local craftsmen. Richard Cassels also designed Carton, Haselwood, Russborough and Leinster Houses.
From the plans made in 1773, the ground floor contained:
The Waiting Room – now The Library
Front Staircase – now the Ante- library
Living Room – now The Front Hall
Back staircase – now part of the present Drawing Room
Dressing Room – now the East end of The Long Gallery.
It was only one room deep, built round an open courtyard.
In 1778, Peter, the 2nd Earl Of Altamont built the south wing to the Thomas Ivory plans his father had commissioned but had not carried out. Ivory’s south façade has a delicacy quite unlike Cassel’s bolder work on the East. In the 1780’s Peter’s son John Denis, 3rd Earl of Altamont (who later became the 1st Marquess of Sligo), completed the square of the House. He engaged James Wyatt to decorate his new Long Gallery and Large Dining Room (one of the great English architects who is responsible for other significant buildings in the town of Westport and further afield).
John Denis Browne, 1st Marquess of Sligo Date 1806 Engraver William Whiston Barney, British, fl. c. 1805 After John Opie, English, 1761-1807, courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.
In 1816, Howe Peter (2nd Marquess of Sligo) began his alterations to the House. He built on the north wing for men servants and between 1819-1825, he built on the south wing. The south wing was built as a two-tiered library designed by Benjamin Wyatt. This was warmed by hot air and due to defects in the system, it was destroyed by fire almost immediately in 1826.
In the 1830s, the central open courtyard where the Marble Staircase now sits, was covered in and Howe Peter made a new library by running a gallery round the now enclosed wall. In 1858 his son George abolished his father’s Library, moving it to where it is today and replaced it with the Marble Staircase.
On the west side of the house, the highly effective balustraded terraces’above the lake and the landing places were put in by George Ulick (6th Marquess of Sligo). These were designed by the English architect, Romaine Walker, whose main Irish work was the remodelling of Waterford Castle.“
The website continues, telling us about the Browne Family:
The story of the Browne Family is a microcosm for the wider and, at times, turbulent history of Ireland. Each generation has had to contend with and adapt to the prevailing social, political and religious changes encountered along the way. Despite revolution, invasion, plantation, famine and confiscation, the bond uniting Westport House and its family remained right up until 2017.
The Browne Family originally arrived into Mayo from Sussex in the 16th century. Through marriage with daughters of native Irish landowners and by purchase, they built up a small estate near The Neale. As a Catholic family, they were fortunate that their lands were situated in Connaught thereby escaping the notorious confiscations of Cromwell. It was with John Browne III (1638-1711) with whom the connection with Westport House commenced. A successful lawyer, he married Maud Burke, daughter of Viscount Mayo and great-great granddaughter of the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley (Granuaile 1530-1603).
John Browne greatly increased his estate in Mayo and Galway including Cathair-na-mart (Stone-fort of the Beeves), a ruinous O’Malley fortress on the shores of Clew Bay. John’s good fortune was swept away as Ireland was plunged into chaos in the Williamite Wars. A Catholic, John supported the Jacobite cause and was appointed a Colonel in the Jacobite army. From the iron mines on his lands near Westport, he supplied the army with cannon balls and weapons. The defeat of the Jacobite army at Aughrim and Limerick in 1691 brought financial ruin in the confiscations that followed. At his death in 1711, his estate was reduced to Cathair-na-Mart and a few hundred acres.
The Penal Laws which followed left his grandson, John IV, with little option but to conform to the prevailing religion in hope of surviving the confiscations and political upheaval. John IV gradually revived the family fortune. Young and ambitious he set about extending his estate and transforming the old O’Malley castle into modern day Westport House. In 1767, he – along with architect, William Leeson – replaced the old village of Cathair-na-Mart with a new town of Westport where he established a thriving linen industry. An excellent farmer he set about improving the fertility of his lands, which for the most part were of poor quality. He became the 1st Earl of Altamont. In 1752, his son and heir, Peter, 2nd Earl Of Altamont, married the heiress Elizabeth Kelly from Co. Galway whose estates in Jamaica further enhanced the family fortune. It is said that – as part of the dowry – her father insisted that he take the Kelly name and he became known as Peter Browne Kelly.
John, 3rd Earl of Altamont, continued the innovative farming tradition of his grandfather. He created the lake to the West of Westport House and planted trees. He laid out the principal streets of the present town of Westport and many of the streets in Westport today are named after Browne Family members such as Peter Street, James Street, Altamont Street and John’s Row. He also established a theatre at the Octagon and built the town of Louisburgh. In 1787, he married Louisa Catherine, daughter and heiress of the famous English Admiral Earl Howe. During his lifetime, the French inspired 1798 Rebellion occurred. Aided by the arbitrary actions of Denis Browne, his younger brother, against the Irish insurgents (which earned him the reputation of “ black sheep” of the family), the Rebellion was crushed.
In 1800, there was an Act of Union with England. The 3rd Earl voted for it and became the 1st Marquess of Sligo and an Irish representative peer. The reason the title is Sligo when the family home is in Mayo, is that in 1800 there was already an Earl of Mayo, a Viscount Galway to the south and a Lord Roscommon to the East. West was the Atlantic Ocean, so it had to be North – the land of Yeats and black cattle – Sligo.
His only son Howe Peter, 2nd Marquess of Sligo, inherited in 1809 at the age of twenty-one. Extravagant and generous, his early life subscribed to the popular image of a “regency buck”. Friend of Byron, de Quincy and the Prince Regent, he traveled extensively throughout Europe on the “grand tour”. He excavated at Mycenae and discovered the 3,000 year old columns of the Treasury of Atreus. To bring them back to Westport, he took some seamen from a British warship and was subsequently sentenced to 4 months in Newgate prison. He married Hester, the Earl of Conricard’s daughter, with whom he had 14 children and settled down to life in Westport. He bred many famous race horses both at Westport and the Curragh. One of his horses, Waxy, won the Derby. He owned the last two of the original breed of Irish Wolfhound. In 1834, he was appointed Governor of Jamaica with the difficult task of overseeing the “apprenticeship system” a period prior to the full emancipation of the slaves. He met with great opposition from plantation owners and other vested interests. He was first to emancipate the slaves on the family’s Jamaican plantations. The first “free village” in the world, Sligoville, was subsequently named in his honour. A liberal, he was one of the few Irish Peers to vote for Catholic Emancipation. He died in 1845 as the clouds of the Great Famine descended over Mayo.
His son, George, the 3rd Marquess, inherited a terrible legacy. The West of Ireland was worst affected by the famine. Westport House was closed and with no rents forthcoming, George borrowed where he could, spending £50,000 of his own money to alleviate the suffering of the tenants. With the guidance of his mother, Hesther Catherine, he imported cargoes of meal to Westport Quay and sub-vented the local workhouse, then the only shelter available to the destitute. He wrote tirelessly to the British Government demanding that they do more to help the famine victims. He wrote and had published a pamphlet outlining many pioneering reforms of the economic and social conditions that had led to the famine. In 1854, on being offered the Order of St. Patrick, an honour once held by his father and grandfather, disillusioned by England’s Irish policy (a reoccurring sentiment at Westport House!), the 3rd Marquess wrote “ I have no desire for the honour.” An exhibition about the Great Famine is on display in Westport House as told through Hesther Catherine’s letters to the estate’s agent in Westport, Hildebrand.
John succeeded his brother as 4th Marquess. He had to contend with the huge changes that occurred in the ownership of land in Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Above all he was a “professional” farmer whose main contribution was to transform a reduced and almost bankrupt estate into a profitable one solely from agriculture. This work was continued by the 6th Marquess who added a sawmill, a salmon hatchery and planted extensively. The compulsory acquisition of the main entrance to the House for local public housing occurred in the ownership of the 8th Marquess which altered the historic relationship that had existed between the House and the town of Westport.
In 1960, in the midst of a great depression and facing rising death duties, the 10th Marquess, Denis Edward, his wife Jose and son Jeremy (11th Marquess) decided to open Westport House and the grounds to the visiting public. It was a pioneering venture in a place and at a time that was remote and depressed. Over the succeeding decades, the 11th Marquess and his family developed the Estate into a Tourist Attraction.
The Grounds & Gardens
The Brownes of Westport House knew the value of trees in a landscape too, as the stunning woodland in the estate’s grounds attest. Westport Demesne retains 100 acres of historic woods dating back to the 1700s.
Back in the day, these trees provided a number of resources for the Westport House Estate. They created a shelter belt from the harsh Atlantic weather systems, they provided a fuel and timber source for heating and building materials, and they created a lush green back drop for the ‘naturalised parkland’ design landscape.
The lords and ladies loved to interact with the landscape by promenading along a deep networks of track and trails. They would bring their visitors along these paths too, impressing them with the grandeur and beauty of the estate’s stately woodlands. Aptly enough, these design pathways and the areas of woodlands they ventured through were known as ‘the pleasure grounds’.
An elaborate network of serpentine pathways meandered along, softly curving – following the style of landscape design that was popular during the 1800s and remains timeless to this day. The trails led the walker deep into the woodlands and surrounding landscape, where they could discover hidden design elements, such as sculptural pieces of architecture, exotic plant and tree species and new views.
The pyramidal cone of Croagh Patrick was one of the most emphasised views in the Westport House Demesne, and a number of the historic pathways were specifically designed to yield the most captivating vistas. The woodlands even had purposely made gaps to seduce the stroller with sudden framed glimpses of the famous Reek.
Opened to the Public in 1960
By the early 1960s, most historic homes of its nature were either burnt, knocked down or abandoned. Not so for Westport House. Jeremy – 11th Marquess of Sligo (1939 – 2014), took the estate in a whole new direction with inspiration from the “Big Houses” in the UK who had opened their doors to the interested public who were keen to see how the “other half” lived. In 1960, when Jeremy and Jennifer opened the attraction, the admission price was 2/6 for adults and 1/- for children. Admission to the grounds was 6d for both adults and children. In 1960, 2,400 visitors visited Westport House.
Jeremy had a remarkable passion for product development and marketing. He was inspired by other houses that were becoming sustainable and viable by diversifying their offering from not only heritage but including other leisure attractions. He felt strongly that Westport House needed to appeal to a wider audience than those solely interested in antiques and architecture. Over time, he introduced a number of fun attractions. In the 1970s, the Slippery Dip (Cannon Ball run) and the Miniature Railway (Westport House Express) were added discretely on the grounds. A Camping and Caravan Park was developed – as well as Horse Drawn Caravan tours of Connemara – and Gracy’s Restaurant (situated at the Farmyard was created from what was originally a cowshed) and a shop evolved from a similar situation. There were even one armed bandits in the basement at one point in time and the giant pink rabbit called Pinkie was introduced as the estate’s mascot. The Tennis Courts, Pitch and Putt, a Flume Ride (The Pirates Plunge), Jungle World (The Pirates Den), and of course The Giant Swans on the lake were also phased in. In 2008, the Ships Galleon (The Pirate Queen) was introduced.
It was during this time that Jeremy and Jennifer realised that in order to be able to leave the estate to their daughters, drastic action would need to be taken. Jeremy had signed a family trust aged 21 to leave the estate and title to his son. They went on to have five wonderful daughters (with no sign of a male heir). With the help of Mary Robinson QC (and later, first female president of Ireland) and Michael Egan, solicitor from Castlebar, Jeremy succeeded in bringing the Altamont Act through the senate in 1992 allowing him to leave the estate to his daughters and break the trust. He did not enact the same for the title of Marquess of Sligo and today, the 12th Marquess of Sligo, Sebastian Browne, resides in Sydney, Australia.
In 2003, Jeremy commissioned Michael Cooper, his brother-in-law, to create a sculpture of Grace O’Malley – the original of alabaster stone is situated in the House and a bronze casting is in the garden. This was the beginning of reinstating her back where she belongs – in her home, with her family, and where the re-branding of the estate in 2009 as Westport House and Pirates Adventure Park emanated from.
It was around this time that Sheelyn and Karen Browne – the two eldest of Jeremy’s five daughters – took the reins and added an Adventure Activity Centre, a seasonal Events Programme as well as holding the first large music festivals on the estate while Clare and Alannah ran Gracy’s Bar. Fifth sister, Lucinda, was always happy to lend a hand when home from the U.K. In 2017, the Browne family sold the house and estate to the local Hughes family who own neighbouring Hotel Westport and workwear provider, Portwest. A new chapter in the history of Westport House & Estate has begun. The Hughes family immediately started working on the grounds and gardens of the estate. The adventure park has been upgraded with a variety of new attractions and rides and there are plans to further invest in adventure. In 2021, urgent and necessary restorative works to Westport House will begin. And our new CEO’s main focus – along with the Hughes family – has been to produce a master plan for the entire estate that will ensure the sustainability and viability of the house and estate into the future.“
The website tells us: “Unrivalled service, warm Irish hospitality and five-star luxury await at Ashford Castle, part of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. Situated in a spectacular 350-acre estate, discover sumptuous rooms and suites, splendid interiors brimming with antique furniture, fine fabrics and unique features at every turn.“
It was built originally by the Norman De Burgo family around 1228.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 12. “(Browne, Oranmore and Browne, B/PB; Guinness, Bt/PB) A vast and imposing Victorian-Baronial castle of rather harsh rough-hewn grey stone in a superb postion and the head of Lough Corrib…built onto an earlier house consisting of a 2 storey 5 bay Georgian shooting-box enlarged and remodelled in French chateau style. The shooting-box and estate originally belonged to the Oranmore and Browne family; they were sold by the Encumbered Estates Court in 1855 and bought by Benjamin Lee Guinness, afterwards 1st Bt., head of Guinness’s brewery, who transformed the shooting-box into the French chateau. From the 1870s onwards, his son, Arthur, 1st and Last Lord Ardilaun, added the castle, which was designed by James Franklin Fuller and George Ashlin. He also built the tremendous castellated 6 arch bridge across the river, with outworks and an embattled gateway surmounted by a gigantic A and a Baron’s coronet, which is the main approach; from the far side of this bridge the castle looks most impressive. Its interior, however, is a disappointment, like the interiors of so many late-Victorian houses. The rooms are not particularly large, and some of them are rather low; everything is light oak, with timbered ceilings and panelling. The main hall was formed out of 2 or more rooms in the earlier house, and has a somewhat makeshift air; it is surrounded by an oak gallery with thin uprights and a staircase rises straight from one side of it. Another room has an immense carved oak mantel with caryatids and the Guinness motto. Magnificent gardens and grounds; large fountain, vista up the hillside with steps; castellated terrace by the lake. Sold ca 1930, now a hotel.” (see )
2. Belleek Castle and Ballina House, originally Belleek Castle, Ballina, Mayo – €€ and see above
3. Breaffy House Resort, Castlebar, Co Mayo (formerly Breaghwy)
The website tells us: “Breaffy House Resort is located in the heart of County Mayo and is the perfect destination if you are looking for a well-deserved and relaxing break! Set on 101 acres, the resort consists of 4* Breaffy House Hotel and Self-Catering Apartments, only a 2 minute stroll between House Hotel & Apartments.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 47. “(Browne/IFR) A large Victorian Baronial mansion of rough-hewn grey stone with red sandstone around the windows; unusually long for its height. Entrance front with single-storey battlemented porch. Garden front with stepped gables, polygonal corner turret with battlements and pointed roof, and another battlemented turret set at an obtuse angle to the façade. Sold ca 1960. Now an hotel.” (see )
Archiseek describes it: “Dominick Andrew Browne built the present Breaffy House in 1890. The house is a Scottish baronial mansion and is victorian in style and was designed by English architect William M. Fawcett from Cambridge. The house has boldly recessed facades, a polygonal corner turret with battlements and pointed roof, a second turret set at an obtuse angle to the facade and stepped gables. The entrance front has a single story battlement porch. The building has tall slender chimneys and there are dormer windows on the roof.” (see )
4. Enniscoe House, Castlehill, Ballina, Co Mayo – section 482
The website tells us: “Owned and run by Adrian & Geraldine Noonan, Knockranny House Hotel & Spa is one of Ireland’s finest 4 star hotels in Westport.
Set in secluded grounds on a hillside, this luxury hotel stands proudly overlooking the picturesque town of Westport and enjoys breathtaking views of Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay’s islands to the west and the Nephin Mountains to the north, one of the best Westport hotels locations.
The welcoming atmosphere at Knockranny House Hotel Westport begins with the open log fires in the reception hall, and is carried throughout the property with its antique furniture, excellent spa facilities, superb cuisine and friendly service, creating a genuine sense of relaxed warmth and hospitality. Previously voted as AA Irish hotel of the year. “
“Mount Falcon Estate is a luxury 32 bedroom 4-star deluxe hotel with 45 luxury lodges located on the west bank of the River Moy and is situated perfectly for exploring the 2500km of rugged Irish coastline called The Wild Atlantic Way. Mount Falcon hotel offers 100 acres of magical woodlands, between Foxford and Ballina, in North County Mayo, the most beautiful part of the West of Ireland. Situated in the heart of the Moy Valley (which encompasses Mayo North and Co. Sligo) this Victorian Gothic manor house (est. 1876) exudes understated elegance from a bygone era. Originally constructed as a wedding gift, Mount Falcon Estate has subsequently become known as the most romantic house in Ireland.
Mount Falcon’s owners, the Maloney Family fell in love with the Estate and transformed it into one of the top Hotels in Ballina and Mayo. The owners have invested heavily in an ongoing restoration programme, and have ensured that the integrity and charm of the Estate have been completely retained. AA Hotel of the Year 2009/2010 & IGTOA Boutique Hotel of the Year 2011. Best Manor House Hotel in Ireland 2015, Hotel of the year 2017 Manor House Hotel, Traditional Luxury Hotel 2018 Luxury Travel Diary, Irelands Favourite Place to Stay Connaught 2018 Gold Medal Awards People Choice Winner, Top 100 Best Wedding Venues 2018 One Fab Day.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 213. “(Knox/IFR) A Victorian Gothic house of rough-hewn stone, built 1876 for U.A. Knox [Utred Augustus Knox JP DL (1825-1913)], probably to the design of James Franklin Fuller. Of two storeys with a three storey bock to which a tower was added. Plate glass windows. There is a similarity between Mount Falcon and Errew Grange. Mount Falcon is now a hotel.“
The National Inventory adds:
“A country house erected for Utred Augustus Knox JP DL (1825-1913) to a design signed by James Franklin Fuller (1835-1924) of Great Brunswick Street [Pearse Street], Dublin, representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Mayo with the architectural value of the composition, one evoking strong comparisons with the Fuller-designed Errew House (1872-7), Errew, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds; the compact, albeit multi-faceted plan form; the robust rock faced surface finish offset by sheer limestone dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also compounding a ponderous two-tone palette; the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a feint graduated visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by polygonal bay windows; and the spire-topped tower embellishing a multi-gabled roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; contemporary joinery; restrained chimneypieces carrying the monogram of the proprietor (“UAK”); and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the considerable artistic potential of a country house having subsequent connections with the Aldridge family including Major John Beauclerk Aldridge RA (1900-76), previously of Glenmore: meanwhile, a discreet benchmark remains of additional interest for the connections with cartography and the preparation of maps by the Ordnance Survey (established 1824).” 
“Newport provides guests with a unique opportunity to experience the elegance and hospitality of an historic Irish Country House Hotel, with luxury guest accommodation ideal for an overnight stay or longer sejourn.
Newport overlooks the tidal river and quay, it rests between Achill Island and the mountains of Mayo close to the wild and unspoilt splendours of Erris and Connemara.
The superb menu offered at Newport House reflects the hospitable character of the house, using fresh produce from the fishery, garden and farm, including home-smoked salmon. The cellar, with wines of character and value, is internationally renowned and compliments the cuisine.
All the reception rooms are spacious and appropriately furnished. The bedrooms have individuality as well as comfort. Twelve are in the main house. The others are in two smaller houses near the courtyard, one of which was previously the holiday residence of the late Sean Lemass, Prime Minister of Ireland. Some bedrooms are well suited for families, as they are in self-contained sections.”
The National Inventory tells us it is : “A country house erected by Hugh O’Donel (d. 1762) representing an important component of the mid eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of Newport with the architectural value of the composition, one subsequently annotated as “Seamount [of the] Honourable J. Browne” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 79), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking an inlet of Newport Bay; the neo-Palladian-esque plan form centred on a polygonal breakfront showing a provincial Gibbsian doorcase ‘omitting architrave [sic] and frieze’ (Craig 1976, 40); the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the high pitched roofline. Having been reasonably well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition: however, the introduction of replacement fittings to most of the openings has not had a beneficial impact on the character or integrity of the country house. Furthermore, a lengthy outbuilding (extant 1838); a walled garden (extant 1838); and a nearby gate lodge (extant 1897), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a self-contained estate having historic connections with the O’Donel family including Sir Neal O’Donel (d. 1811); Lieutenant Connell O’Donel (1775-1840; Lewis 1837 I, 233); Sir George Clendenning O’Donel (1832-89), fifth Baronet (Bence-Jones 1978, 204); and Edwin Thomas O’Donel JP DL (né Thomas) (1853-1932; NA 1911); and Sir Anthony Beaver KCVO CBE (1895-1977), one-time Private Secretary to Prime Minister Clement Attlee (1883-1967). “
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: March-Oct and Dec
Originally called Millbrook, Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):
p. 229. “(Orme/LGI1912; McCausland/IFR) An early C19 house of two storeys over high basement. Entrance front of 5 bays; single-storey Doric portico with a die up broad flight of steps. Entablatures on console brackets over windows of lower storey. Side elevation of one bay with a curved bow; at the other side is a two storey bowed wing of the same height and style as the main block, set back from it and joined to it by a canted bay. Eaved roof on cornice. Two drawing rooms en suite with decoration of ca 1830; ceilings with plasterwork in compartments; pediment over double-doors. Dining room ceiling with delicate plasterwork in centre surrounded by rectangular frame with similar decoration.” 
Timothy William Ferres tells us it was built ca 1847, and when the estate was decimated by the Land Acts, about 1926, it was sold to the Knox family. It was sold again in 1950 to Major Marcus McCausland.” 
It seems to have been built for William Orme (1810-76), JP. The National Inventory adds:
“the compact plan form centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a blue-grey limestone; and the very slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with those openings showing sleek “stucco” dressings. Having been well maintained, the form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; and ‘splendid ceilings [revealing] the superb skill of the Italian masters introduced for this work’ (Irish Tourist Association Report 1942), all highlight the artistic potential of the composition.”
9. Turin Castle, Turin, Kilmaine, Co. Mayo, Ireland – whole castle rental, €€ for two, € for 10-12
“Turin Castle in County Mayo is a luxury self catering venue near Ballinrobe in County Mayo Ireland. It is a unique medieval castle set against the backdrop of picturesque countryside. This exclusive and intimate venue is the perfect location for a romantic, castle wedding or family gathering. Unfortuntately It is not suitable for stag or hen parties. It is the only privately owned castle in Ireland with en-suite facilities. The castle sleeps a maximum of 12 people and is hired on a self catering basis but catering can be arranged if required. Please ask for details.
If you are looking for a truly exceptional medieval experience, Turin Castle in County Mayo will not disappoint. The castle is ideal for a family holiday with a difference or a special intimate wedding affording total privacy.
Turin Castle is situated in the ancient barony of Kilmaine, the castle is surrounded by 16 acres of rich walled pasture land and is an ideal choice for couples searching for an idyllic but small wedding venue. The nearest town is Ballinrobe which is 8 km away offering a good selection of pubs and eateries. The picturesque village of Cong famous for the John Ford film ” The Quiet Man” and Ashford castle are also close by. The castle is conveniently located close to excellent golf courses.“
The website includes a good description of its history:
“1238 was a most auspicious year in the long and turbulent history of County Mayo. For we are told in the annals of the four Masters that the foreigners erected Castles In Conmacnaine Cuile(Kilmaine) and Muinter Murchadha.(Robeen).
The Foreigners were Anglo-Normans led by Richard de Burgo, son of William de Burgo. One of the most powerful Lords in England. In 1228 Richard had received the Overlordship of the whole of Connacht from the English King, Henry II, making him the “ red Earl “ the most powerful man in Ireland.
The de Burgo dynasty survived and flourished up until Elizabethan times when the two hereditary titles of upper and lower Mac William (From William de Burgo, known as the conqueror) were finally abolished. During this time the de Burgos had become completely integrated into Gaelic society adopting Gaelic customs, laws and language becoming “ Hiberniores Hibernis ipis”. More Irish than the Irish themselves .However this was the beginning of the end of the old Gaelic order in Ireland and opened the way for the final conquest and plantation of Ireland.
The origins and history of Turin Castle Ireland and neighbouring castles are sadly mostly lost in the mists of time. According to the chronicler O’Donovan “ In the parish of Kilmaine there are several square Castles said to have been built by the Burkes ( de Burgos) There is one in Kilmaine, one in Cregduff, one in Elistron and one in Killernan”. Turin would appear to derive from the old Irish meaning ‘small bleaching field’. Which may suggest that Turin Castle Ireland was involved in the very lucrative trade of sheep farming. There was a growing market for hides, meat and wool in continental Europe and by the mid 16th Century Kilmaine, politically and economically was the most important barony in the county. In 1574 there were 41 castles in an area of just 10 miles long by eight broad, by far the highest concentration of castles in Connacht, an indication that agriculture was on an industrial scale. The producers were the owners or tenants of the estates who would have enjoyed the protection of the upper and lower Mac William and in turn the Mac Williams would profit from the duty imposed which would probably directly affect the commodity market price in Galway. Keeping the lines of communication open was essential hence the need for a line of Castles protecting the trade route from Lough Corrib to Galway. Apart from this liberal studding of castles in Kilmaine another possible indication of the profitability and importance of this trade was the presence of a large mercenary army loyal to the Mac Williams.
In the division of Connacht 1570-1574 one Walter Mac Remon is listed as being resident of Turin Castle Ireland.The Mac Remons was a cadet branch of the clann Seonin who were one of the chief de Burgo clans of Ireland.
Following the death of the Mac William Sir Richard Bourke, in September of 1586. The de Burgo clans and the Mac Donnells along with the O’Malleys and the Joys(Joyces) rose up against the English oppressors in an attempt to reinstate the Mac Williamship and other lordships which the English had abolished. One of the signatories to a document presented to the council of Connaught was Walter Mac Jonyn ( Seonin) of Towrin (Turin). This document attested that the principle reason for the rebellion was the abolition of the Mac Williamship and other titles.
In 1589 the de Burgo clans along with the O’ Flaherties,Joys and Clandonnel rose up against the English forces and plundered the baronies of Clare,Kilmaine and Clanmorris.
Sir Murrough O’Flaherty [(1540-1626)I believe he was a son of Grace O’Malley and Donal O’Flaherty] stayed with a few men at Keltyprichnane in Kilmaine and sent the rest under his son Teige to plunder the baronies of Clare and Dunmore where they burned 16 towns and gathered 3000 head of cattle and horses. The” rebel forces” gathered at the Carre in Kilmainham and engaged the English. Edward Bermingham of MilltownCastle and former Sherrif of Mayo joined the battle after being attacked by Teig O’ Flaherty. He described the battle in a letter written from Athlone on the 31st March:-
“The soldiers not neglecting their time went against them; there was a volley of shot on both sides.They came to the push of the pike with great courage, when the said Teig O’ Flaherty was slain with eight of his company. They were then disordered and I with six horsemen of mine and eight footmen, being beside our battle as a wing ready to charge upon the breach, did charge,
When I struck their Guidion (standard bearer) under his morion (helmet) with my staff and ran him through in the face of battle. I followed another and had him down, and so did my horseman Kill 5 more at that charge. We had not six score of ground to deal with them when they recovered a main bog. Three of my horsemen and eight footmen did kill of them in the bog 16.
Her majesties attorney in that province (Mr Comerford)understanding of their disordering, issued forth when he met of them and did slay 16.Divers others in the fight did kill of them, so that I account there is slain of them 80 and upwards. The attorney and I brought the head of Teige O’Flaherty to Sir Richard yester night that was wonderful glad, for this Teige was the stoutest man in the province and could do most.”
According to a letter written by Comerford at Turin Castle Ireland dated 29th March Comerford rode two miles to the battle field and sallied forth on the fugitives with six shot, seven footmen and four horsemen killing 24.
Following the subjugation and pacification of the Gaelic lords and subsequent plantation of Mayo. Many of the Castles were abandoned by their new English owners preferring the comfort of Manor houses. In some cases, incorporating the existing building or cannibalising materials from it. From records we know that Turin Castle Ireland had been abandoned for at least two hundred and fifty years up until its restoration in 1997.“
10. Westbrook Country House, Castlebar, County Mayo
“A New Boutique Georgian Country House, Westbrook epitomises elegance & splendour. Located between the tourist meccas’ Westport & Castlebar, Westbrook Country House is the ideal base from which to explore the stunning West of Ireland Wild Atlantic Way, cycle the Greenway, sail on Clew Bay, climb Croagh Patrick, visit Knock Shrine or the National Museum of Country Life, or catch a show in the Castlebar Theatre Royal.
As restful or as adventurous as you prefer your break to be, Westbrook Country House is the perfect place to base yourself; with world-class home cooked breakfasts, and stylish, spacious, immaculate five star hotel-grade guest rooms & suites complimented by a relaxed, friendly family atmosphere.
Curl up on a leather armchair in front of a roaring fire with a first edition or your favourite novel in our library, climb in under crisp white linen sheets on one of our sumptuous beds or sink into a bubbling Jacuzzi bath with your favourite music & a lovely glass of Sauvingon Blanc, our vibe is opulent and fabulous but down to earth, and homely. We pride ourselves on guest consideration that is second to none.
Arrive as a Guest, leave as a friend. We look forward to welcoming you to Westbrook.”
 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.
I have a bigger project than this section 482 houses blog. It helps, when writing about big houses, to know what is out there. So I have studied Mark Bence-Jones’s 1988 publication in great detail,A Guide to Irish Country Houses, and have conducted research with the help of the internet.
For my own interest, and I am sure many of my readers will appreciate, I am compiling a list of all of the “big house” accommodation across Ireland – finding out places to stay for when Stephen and I go on holidays, especially when we go to see the section 482 houses!
I am also discovering what other houses are open to the public. There are plenty to see which are not privately owned or part of the section 482 scheme. In fact many of the larger houses are either owned by the state, or have been converted into hotels.
This Monday, 8th June 2020, Ireland moves to the next phase of the government’s Covid-19 prevention plan, and we are allowed to travel 20km from our home, or to places within our county. Big houses won’t be open for visits, but some will be opening their gardens – already my friend Gary has been to the gardens of Ardgillan Castle for a walk. Stephen and I went there before lockdown, meeting Stephen’s cousin Nessa for a walk. The castle was closed, but we were blown away by the amazing view from the garden, and walked down to the sea.
Here is my list of houses/castles to visit in Dublin. Some are on section 482 so are private houses with very limited visting times; others are state-owned and are open most days – though not during Covid-19 restriction lockdown – they might be open from June 29th but check websites. Some have gardens which are open to the public now for a wander.
“Original home to the Overend family, today Airfield House is an interactive tour and exhibition which brings visitors closer to this admired Dublin family. Here you’ll view family photographs, letters, original clothing and display cases with information on their prize-winning Jersey herd, vintage cars and their much loved Victorian toys and books.
We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few.
Every Wednesday through to Sunday at 11.30am and then again at 2.30pm we offer visitors guided house tours.“
The name was changed from Bess Mount to Airfield circa 1836. It is a working farm, in the middle of suburban Dundrum! The house was built around 1830.  It was built for Thomas Mackey Scully, eldest son of James Scully of Maudlins, Co Kildare. Thomas Mackey Scully was a barrister at Law Grays Inn 1833 and called to the bar in 1847. He was a supporter of O’Connell and a member of the Loyal National Repeal Association. In 1852 the house went into the Encumbered Estates, and was purchased by Thomas Cranfield.
The Stillorgan History and Genealogy website tells us that Thomas Cranfield married Anne Keys in 1839. Thomas was a stationer and printer of 23 Westmorland Street. In 1847 he became the first mezzotint printer in Ireland producing copies of a works by Irish artists such as William Brocas. He received an award from the RDS for his print from a portrait of the Earl of Clarendon. He moved to 115 Grafton Street and received a Royal Warrant in 1850. The family moved to Airfield in 1854. Thomas was also an agent for the London Stereoscopic company and moved into photography. He disposed of his business in 1878 to his son and his assistant George Nutter. I recently heard Brian May member of the former rock band Queen discussing his interest in stereoscopic photography, which was fascinating. I wonder has he been to Airfield? It’s a pity there is nothing about it in the house. Thomas moved to England in 1882 after the death of his son Charles.
“Thomas’s father was interesting also: the website tells us: In 1753, Dr Richard Russell published The Use of Sea Water which recommended the use of seawater for healing various diseases. Circa 1790 Richard Cranfield opened sea baths between Sandymount and Irishtown and by 1806 was also offering tepid baths. Originally called the Cranfield baths it was trading as the Tritonville baths by 1806. Richard Cranfield born circa 1731 died in 1809 at Tritonville Lodge outliving his wife by four years to whom he had been married for over 60 years. He was a sculptor and a carver of wood and had a share in the exhibition Hall in William Street which was put up for sale after his death. He was also the treasurer for the Society of Artists in Ireland. He worked at Carton House and Trinity College. His son Richard took over the baths.“
The Stillorgan History and Genealogy website continues. When the Cranfields left Airfield, it was taken over by the Jury family of the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin. William Jury born circa 1805 was a hotel proprietor. He and his second wife went to live at Tolka Park, Cabra and William became proprietor of the Imperial Hotel in Cork and in Belfast and also had an interest ‘Jurys’ in Derry. In 1865 William, together with Charles Cotton, (brother of his wife Margaret) and Christian Goodman, (manager of the Railway Hotel in Killarney) purchased The Shelbourne from the estate of Martin Burke. They closed The Shelbourne in February 1866, purchased additional ground from the Kildare Society, and proceeded with a rebuild and reopened on 21.02.1867. John McCurdy was the architect and Samuel Henry Bolton the builder. The four bronze figures of Assyrian muses/mutes installed at the entrance of the Shelbourne Hotel were designed by the Bronze-founders of Gustave Barbezat & CIE of France.
William’s wife Margaret took over the running of the hotel after the death of her husband. She travelled from Airfield each morning bringing fresh vegetables for use in the hotel. She left Airfield circa 1891.
Four of their sons followed into the hotel business. Their fourth son, Charles, took over the running of The Shelbourne and died on 08.08.1946 in Cheshire aged 91 years.
The Overends seem to have taken over Airfield from 1884. Trevor Thomas Letham Overend born 01.01.1847 in Portadown 3rd son of John Overend of 57 Rutland Square married Elizabeth Anne (Lily) Butler 2nd daughter of William Paul Butler and Letitia Gray of Broomville, Co Carlow. Trevor died on 08.04.1919 and Lily died on 21.01.1945, both are buried at Deansgrange. Their daughters were left well provided for with no necessity to work and instead devoted themselves to volunteer work.
The website continues: “We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few.“
“Airfield Ornamental Gardens Airfield gardens came to prominence under the leadership of Jimi Blake in the early 2000’s. Like all progressive gardens the garden in Airfield is an ever-evolving landscape. The gardens were redesigned in 2014 by internationally renowned garden designer Lady Arabella Lenox Boyd and landscape architect Dermot Foley. The colour and life you see in our gardens today are the result of the hard work and imagination of our Head Gardener Colm O’Driscoll and his team who have since put their stamp on the gardens as they continue to evolve. The gardens are managed organically and regeneratively with a focus on arts and craft style of gardening.
Airfield Food Gardens Certified organic by the Irish Organic Association this productive 2-acre garden supplies the onsite café and farmers market with fresh seasonal produce. Food production is only one element of this dynamic food garden. Education is at the core of this space. Annual crop trails, experimental crops and forward-thinking growing methods are implemented throughout the garden. Soil is at the heart of the approach to growing and and on top of being certified organic the garden is managed under “no dig” principals. These regenerative approaches result in a thriving food garden that is a hive of activity throughout the growing season.”
“The Walled Garden was originally a Victorian-styled kitchen garden that used to supply the fruit, vegetables and cut ower requirements to the house. It is 1 hectare (2.27 acres) in size, and is subdivided by free standing walls into five separate compartments. The walled garden was replanted in 1992 and through the 1990’s, with each section given a different theme.“
“The Victorian Conservatory was originally built in 1880 at Seamount, Malahide, the home of the Jameson family, who became famous for their whiskey all over the world. It was built by a Scottish glasshouse builder McKenzie & Moncur Engineering, and is reputed to be a replica of a glasshouse built at Balmoral in Scotland, the Scottish home of the British Royal Family. The conservatory was donated to Fingal County Council by the present owner of Seamount, the Treacy family and was re-located to the Ardgillan Rose Garden in the mid-1990s by park staff.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG) approached Fingal County Council in early 2014 to participate in a pilot project to develop and enhance skill sets in built heritage conservation, under the Traditional Building Skills Training Scheme 2014. The glass house/ conservatory at Ardgillan was selected as part of this project. The glass house has been completely dismantled because it had decayed to such an extent that it was structurally unstable. All parts removed as part of this process are in safe storage. This work is the first stage of a major restoration project being undertaken by the Councils own Direct Labour Crew in the Operations Department supervised by David Curley along with Fingal County Council Architects so that the glasshouse can be re-erected in the garden and can again act as a wonderful backdrop to the rose garden. This is a complex and difficult piece of work which is currently on going and we are hopeful to have the glasshouse back to its former glory as a centrepiece of the visitor offering in Ardgillan Demesne in the near future.“
Contact: Peter O’ Callaghan Tel 087-7179367 www.bewleys.com Open: all year except Christmas Day, 9am-5pm Fee: Free
The Bewleys business began in 1840 as a leading tea and coffee company, started by Samuel Bewley and his son Charles, when they imported tea directly from China. Charles’s brother Joshua established the China Tea Company, the precursor to Bewleys.
The Buildings of Ireland publication on Dublin South City tells us: “Rebuilt in 1926 to designs by Miller and Symes, the playful mosaics framing the ground and mezzanine floors are indebted to the Egyptian style then in vogue following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The interior, originally modelled on the grand cafés of Europe and Oriental tearooms, was restructured in 1995 but retains a suite of six stained glass windows designed (1927) by the celebrated Harry Clarke (1889-1931). Four windows lighting the back wall of the tearoom are particularly fine and represent the four orders of architecture.“
Recently Paddy Bewley died, the last of the family directly involved with the running of the cafe and coffee business of Bewleys. Paddy was responsible for starting the coffee supplying end of the Bewley business.
Paddy, like those in his family before him, was a Quaker, and he lived by their ethos. The Bewley family migrated from Cumberland in England to County Offaly in 1700. Their association with coffee and tea dates back to the mid nineteenth centry, when they began to import tea from China.
The Georges Street cafe opened in 1894. The business of the cafes was created largely by Joshua Bewley’s son Ernest, with the Grafton Street branch opening in 1927, complete with the Harry Clarke stained glass windows. His three sons Victor, Alfred and Joe took over: Victor ran the business, Alfred backed the bakes and Joe ran Knocksedan farm with its prize-winning Jersey cows. It wase Ernest who imported the first Jersey cows to Ireland. I remember looking forward to the jersey cow milk when we’d visit when I was young.
In 1986 Patrick Campbell acquired the company of Bewleys, forming the Campbell Bewley Group, and Paddy Bewley continued to work for the company.
In 1996, Paddy Bewley signed up the company to purchase Fair Trade coffee only, guaranteeing that producers of coffee and their communities would be paid a good price for their beans, irrespective of market fluctuations. In 2008 the company’s roasteries and headquarters in Dublin became 100% carbon neutral. (notes from Paddy Bewley’s obituary in the Irish Times, Saturday January 8th 2022).
There has been much discussion lately about the beautiful Harry Clarke windows in the Grafton Street Bewleys – are they part of the building, or removeable art? I believe they are not actually the windows but can be removed. It is being discussed because it’s not clear who owns them. Bewleys has changed ownership and the building is not owned by the business now.
6. Cabinteely House [formerly Clare Hill, or Marlfield], Cabinteely, Dublin
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 52. [Nugent, Byrne 1863, Ormsby-Hamilton sub Ormsby] A C18 house built round 3 sides of a square; with well-proportioned rooms and good decoration. Built by what genial Irishman on the C18 English political scene, Robert, 1st and last Earl Nugent, on an estate which belonged to his brother-in-law, George Byrne, and afterwards to his nephew and political protege, Michael Byrne MP. The house was originally known as Clare Hill, Lord Nugent’s 2nd title being Viscount Clare; but it became known as Cabinteely House after being bequeathed by Lord Nugent to the Byrnes, who made it their seat in preference to the original Cabinteely House; which, having been let for a period to John Dwyer – who, confusingly, was secretary to Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon, 1st Earl of Clare – was demolished at end of C18 and a new house, known as Marlfield and afterwards a seat of the Jessop family (1912), built on the site. The new Cabinteely House (formerly Clare Hill), afterwards passed to the Ormsby-Hamilton family. In recent years, it was the home of Mr. Joseph McGrath, founder of the Irish Sweep and a well-known figure on the Turf.”
The National Inventory attributes it to architect Thomas Cooley. It is described as: Detached nine-bay (three-bay deep) two-storey country house, built 1769, on a quadrangular plan originally nine-bay two-storey on a U-shaped plan; six-bay two-storey parallel block (west). Sold, 1883. “Improved” producing present composition” when sold to George Pim (1801-87) of neighbouring Brenanstown House. The Inventory also lists other owners: estate having historic connections with Robert Byrne (d. 1798, a brother to above-mentioned Michael Byrne MP) and his spinster daughters Mary Clare (d. 1810), Clarinda Mary (d. 1850) and Georgina Mary (d. 1864); William Richard O’Byrne (1823-96), one-time High Sheriff of County Wicklow (fl. 1872) [he inherited the house after his cousin Georgiana Mary died]; a succession of tenants of the Pims including Alfred Hamilton Ormsby Hamilton (1852-1935), ‘Barrister – Not Practicing’ (NA 1901); John Hollowey (1858-1928); and Joseph McGrath (1887-1966), one-time Deputy Minister for Labour (fl. 1919-2) and co-founder of the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake (1930). 
The architect of Charlemount House was William Chambers, and it was built in 1763. The Archiseek website tells us:
“Lord Charlemont [James Caulfeild, 1st Earl, 4th Viscount of Charlemont] had met and befriended Sir William Chambers in Italy while Chambers was studying roman antiquities and Charlemont was on a collecting trip. Years later Charlemont had hired Chambers to design his Casino on his family estate at Marino outside Dublin. When the need arose for a residence in the city Charlemont turned again to Chambers who produced the designs for Charlemont House finished in 1763. The house now the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art consists of a single block of five bays with curved screen walls to either side. The house breaks up the regularity of this side of Parnell Square as it is set back from the other houses…Charlemont house was sold to the government in 1870 becoming the General Register and Census Offices for Ireland and later the Municipal Gallery for Modern Art – a development that Charlemont would undoubtedly would have approved.” 
Robert O’Byrne tells us that inside is work by Simon Vierpyl also.
Open: Jan 6-9, Feb 6-9, Mar 6-9, Apr 6-9, May 1-8, June 1-8, July 1-8, August 13-22, Sept 1-8, Nov 6-9, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP €5, child/student €2.50
The website tells us it is a castellated dwelling built c. 1789 as a suburban retreat for Henry Jackson, ironfounder, a prominent member of the United Irishmen. It has been granted a determination by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that the house and its attendant grounds are intrinsically of significant architectural and historical interest. The house was converted into flats in the 20C and has been the subject of an ongoing programme of restoration by the present owners, to its original use as a family home.
“A wealthy individual of liberal politics, Jackson became a prominent member of the United Irishmen, a movement animated by the French Revolution. Drawn to the writings of Thomas Paine, the author of The Rights of Man, he named the building Fort Paine.
Jackson was involved in preparations for the 1798 Rebellion, and his foundries were engaged to manufacture pikes for combat, and also iron balls of the correct bore to fit French cannons, in anticipation of an expected invasion. His son-in-law Oliver Bond was also heavily implicated in these plans.
In the event, Jackson was arrested before the ill-fated Rebellion, and imprisoned in England. After some time he was released on condition that he went into exile in America. He died in the city of Baltimore, Maryland in 1817.“
The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us:
“The name Clonskeagh comes from the Irish Cluain Sceach – the meadow of the white thorns. The house is a detached three storey with ‘a tower’ at each corner of the front and a set back Victorian style porch with limestone columns approached by a flight of six steps. Three bay between towers above the Doric porch. It originally had three gatelodges (main gate, west gate and inner gate) and was approached via a long carriage drive from the Clonskeagh Road by way of twin gatelodges and a castellated archway.” [https://www.youwho.ie ]
The Clonskeagh Castle website continues: “In 1811 the Castle was purchased by George Thompson, a landed proprietor, who had a post in the Irish Treasury, and it remained in the ownership of that family until the early twentieth century. It is interesting to note that whereas Henry Jackson was fired by the objective of Irish independence, the last Thompson family member to occupy the house was vehemently insistent on the preservation of the Union.
During the War of Independence (1919-1921) the Castle was occupied by the British military, and was used for some time to incarcerate Irish Republicans.
The original Jackson residence was built on an elevated site, following a fashion for mock castles in the Georgian period. It was initially approached by an avenue that is now Whitethorn Road, with elegant gardens surrounding it (the land for which is now occupied by apartments). This was a more compact construction than now greets the visitor and did not include the two towers at what is now the front of the building. In fact, the Thomson alterations turned the house back to front, as the original entrance had been on the southern side. One result was to render the fine hallway rather dark, and work is now nearing completion to allow light to penetrate from the south.
The recent works have also included restoration of the major portions of the parapet roof in accordance with best conservation practice; withdrawal of earth from the curtilage of the building, which had been piled up over at least a century giving rise to dampness in the walls; and restoration of rooms in what had been the servants’ quarters to create a small apartment.
These works have been executed by Rory McArdle, heritage contractor, under the supervision of award-winning architect Marc Kilkenny, with frequent reference to the conservation experts at Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Fionan de Barra, architect, also provided valuable consultation at the early stages of the project.
The owners have been particularly privileged to have had the benefit of research and guidance of the distinguished architectural historian, Professor Alistair Rowan.”
Postal address Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow contact: Alfred Cochrane Tel: 087-2447006 www.corkelodge.com Open: June 21-Sept 8, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €8
“The house was built in the 1820’s to designs by William Farrell as an Italianate seaside villa. A Mediterranean grove was planted with a Cork tree as its centrepiece. In the remains of this romantic wilderness, the present owner, architect Alfred Cochrane, designed a garden punctuated by a collection of architectural follies salvaged from the demolition of Glendalough House, an 1830’s Tudor revival mansion, built for the Barton family by Daniel Robertson who designed Powerscourt Gardens.”
“There is more fun at Corke Lodge” writes Jane Powers, The Irish Times, where ” the ‘ancient garden’ of box parterres is punctuated by melancholy gothic follies, and emerges eerily from the dense boskage of evergreen oaks, myrtles, and a writhing cork oak tree with deeply corrugated bark. Avenues of cordyline palms and tree ferns, dense planting of sword-leaved New Zealand flax, and clumps of whispering bamboos lend a magical atmosphere to this rampantly imaginative creation.”
Believe it or not, I did my Leaving Certificate examinations in this building! I was extremely lucky and I loved it and the great atmosphere helped me to get the points/grades I wanted!
The website tells us: “Dalkey Castle is one of the seven fortified town houses/castles of Dalkey. The castles were built to store the goods which were off-loaded in Dalkey during the Middle Ages, when Dalkey acted as the port for Dublin. The castles all had defensive features to protect the goods from being plundered. These are all still visible on the site: Machicolation, Murder Hole, Battlements and arrow-loop windows. In Dalkey Castle, you will see a fine example of barrel-vaulted ceiling and traces of the wicker work that supported it. Niches have been exposed on the walls where precious goods may have been stored. The Castle is an integral entrance to both the Heritage Centre and Dalkey Town Hall.
Dalkey Castle was called the Castle of Dalkey in the Middle Ages. Later, in the mid to late 1600s it was called Goat Castle when the Cheevers family of Monkstown Castle were the owners.
In 1860s the former living quarters, upstairs, became a meeting room for the Dalkey Town Commissioners. It continued as a meeting room until 1998 when it was incorporated into Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre. Today, part of the Living History tour takes place there. There is a re-creation of the stocks that were across the street where the entrance to the church is today.“
This is a popular pub, and one of the oldest family owned pubs in Dublin.
“Located on one of Dublin’s most famous streets – Baggot Street, Doheny and Nesbitt public house is surrounded by renowned landmarks – The Dail (House of Parliament), Grafton Street, Trinity College, Stephen’s Green and Lansdowne Road.
Otherwise known in literary and debating circles as the ‘The Doheny & Nesbitt School of Economics’ is situated a few hundred meters from the old Huguenot cemetery on Merion Row (1693). Probably the most photographed pub in Dublin, Doheny & Nesbitt is considered an institution for convivial gatherings a sanctuary in which to escape the ravages of modern life, and a shrine to everything that is admirable in a public house.
As a Protected Structure and unique example of Victorian pub architecture, the Doheny & Nesbitt public house demonstrates that skilful conversation can rest easily alongside modern commercial demands.
Most of the pub’s original features, both inside and outside remain intact. Its distinct Brass sign ‘Tea and Wine Merchant’, as well as the frieze boasting ‘Doheny & Nesbitt’ have spawned countless posters, postcards and guide books paying homage to this asset of Ireland’s capital city
If Ireland invented the pub, then Dublin’s finest showpiece is that of Doheny & Nesbitt. The main bar retains the original counter, and almost all of the original fittings date from the 19th century.
The pub’s carved timber, aged wooden floors and ornate papier-mâché ceiling, recently restored, are universally admired.
Its snugs and mirrored partitions are perfect for scheduled conversation, and one can easily muse on Ireland’s past Writers (Yeats, Behan, and Shaw) and Politicians debating and plotting in these hallowed surroundings.
Writers and Politicians from the nearby Dail or House of Parliament still frequent this pub, as do journalists, lawyers, architects and actors, along with a myriad of visitors from around the globe.
What attractions contribute to this pub’s character are debated by many; its perfect pint of stout, its array of Irish whiskeys, it’s comforting dark mahogany and glass furnishings, its reverence for the barman – customer relationship. What is in no doubt is that it is hot on the hit – list of tourists’ and locals’ itineraries – a ‘must-visit’ whilst in Dublin.
The building itself dates back hundreds of years, but was born as a public house in the 1840’s under the lease of a William Burke, who ran it as ‘Delahuntys’ for almost 50 years. In 1924, Messrs Philip Lynch and James O’Connor took it over for around 30 years, before passing it onto a Mr Felix Connolly. Ned Doheny & Tom Nesbitt, two Co. Tipperary men took over the reins of the public house at a later date up until its present owners, brothers Tom and Paul Mangan.
Interestingly the embossed lettering on the mirror to the rear of the main bar, originally bore the name O’Connor, but was later altered to Connolly and remains so to this day. Although the owners of this public house have come and gone, good sense has always prevailed that the landmark of Doheny & Nesbitt should remain just so.
Doheny & Nesbitts public house may reflect the characteristics of a bygone age, but this is no museum piece. An increased patronage has secured a Victorian replica bar to the rear, which is complemented by modern conveniences such as large plasma screen TV’s to cater for the pub’s many sports enthusiasts, and lunches to refresh tourists, workers and shoppers alike.”
See the website for opening times. It is also available for hire, and we attended a party there!
The website describes the Castle: “Drimnagh Castle is the only castle in Ireland to retain a fully flooded moat. Its rectangular shape enclosing the castle, its gardens and courtyard, created a safe haven for people and animals in times of war and disturbance. The moat is fed by a small stream, called the Bluebell. The present bridge, by which you enter the castle, was erected in 1780 and replaced a drawbridge structure.
Above the entrance of the tower, as the visitor comes through the large gateway is a ‘murder hole’. Rocks, stones, boiling water or limestone were poured down upon the head of any enemy attempting to break in. The main castle to the right of the tower was built in the 15th century, and the tower was built in the late 16th. The porch and stairways were built in the 19th century and the other buildings are 20th century.
The undercroft was built as a storage room for food; it also doubled up as a refuge if the castle was attacked. The fireplace and bread and smoking oven are recreations of the kitchen that was here in the 19th century. The narrow stairs leading up to the next floor are unique in that they turn to the left, unlike most Norman castles which turn to the right.“
“The great hall was originally an all-purpose living room/sleeping quarters in the 13th century. During the day tables and benches were placed in the centre of the floor for dining. At night straw or reed matting was laid on the floor and the occupants of the castle slept on this covering.“
“The tower was built in the late 16th or early 17th century. The tower is approximately 57 feet high and commands a great view of the surrounding countryside. Most of the castles at Ballymount, Terenure and Rathfarnham could have been seen from the top of the battlements.“
The website tells us: “In 1215 the lands of Drymenagh and Tyrenure were granted to a Norman knight, Hugo de Bernivale, who arrived with Strongbow. These lands were given to him in return for his family’s help in the Crusades and the invasion of Ireland. De Bernivale selected a site beside the “Crooked Glen” , the original Cruimghlinn, that gives its name to the townland of Crumlin, and there he built his castle. This “Crooked Glen” is better known today as Landsdowne Valley, through which the river Camac makes its way to the sea. The lands around Drimnagh at this time were rising and falling hills and vast forests stretching to the Dublin mountains. All through the 13th, 14th and 15th century the area around the castle was sparsely populated and a document shows that only around 11 people lived in the area during the 18th century.“
In The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy Meath, volume 1, by Art Kavanagh, published in 2005 by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, he tells us that as a result of the foray into Ireland by the Bernevals in 1215 with Prince John, they were granted lands in Dublin in the Drimnagh, Kimmage, Ballyfermot and Terenure areas, where they settled until Cromwellian times. In Cromwell’s time Drimnagh and its lands were granted to Colonel Philip Ferneley, while Drimagh Castle itself was granted to a Major Elliot.
“Drimnagh has seen its fair share of raids and attacks by the O’Toole Clans through the years and there is record of two of the Barnewall’s of Drimnagh being killed in a skirmish near Crumlin. There are many undocumented raids and battles. In the 19th century, after these tumultuous times Drimnagh saw the arrival of industries like the paper mill at Landsdowne valley and other enterprises. Small Inns and lodges were built to house travellers on there way to Tallaght or further afield. Some of these are still in business today, such as the Red Cow and The Halfway House. Buildings of note in the area around the early 19th century were the Drimnagh Lodge, The Halfway House, Drimnagh Castle.
After the 19th century we see more and more expansion out towards the Drimnagh area, but it was in the 20th century were we see housing estates and industrial estates springing up around Drimnagh. For more modern historical info please visit the Drimnagh Residents Associations excellent page on its history.
After many years of activity, history and folklore the castle became uninhabited in the 1960’s, and fell into disuse and only housed countless pigeons, and other fowl. Over the next thirty years or so the Irish weather took its toll on the once great structure and caused untold damage. One day in 1985, a man named Peter Pearson, swung by a rope over the moat into the castle grounds. Having an interest in restoring old buildings, he set about trying to get the castle repaired to its former glory. He also discovered that the castle was potentially destined for destruction, which thankfully was prevented from happening. Many individuals and organisations were involved in the early stages including An Taisce, FAS, CYTP, and the Drimnagh and Crumlin community.“
The restoration work started in June 1986 and over 200 workers were involved in the repair work, including stonemasons, woodcarvers, metal workers, plasterers, tilers and artists. The restoration of the the roof was inspired by Dunshoughly Castle in Fingal, and was built using Roscommon Oak which is renowned for its great durability and strength. The roof was constructed in the courtyard and was then raised onto the castle at a cost of 50,000 Punts. The floor of the great hall was re-tiled with tiles taken from St Andrews Church, Suffolk Street.
The restoration work was completed in 1991 and was opened to the public by the then President of Ireland Mary Robinson. Since then the castle has hosted banquets, weddings, book launches and many more events. The castle is now maintained by a small group of dedicated FAS workers who keep the castle looking great for future generations to come.“
The early years of the Barnewalls at Drimnagh Castle
“The Barnewalls were an Anglo-Norman family who had great links with royalty of England, one being Alanus de Berneval who fought alongside William the Conquerer at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Another Alanus de Berneval sailed with Richard de Clare (Strongbow) in the conquest of Ireland in 1172, landing at Bannow Bay in Wexford. Alanus and his relations were slaughtered in Bearhaven, bar one Hugh de Berneval who was studying law in London at the time. In 1215 Hugh de Berneval was granted lands in Terenure and Drimnagh and also a sizeable dowry by King John. Hugh de Berneval established a castle in Drimnagh and this is where the Berneval family were in residence for more then 400 years.
The Barnewall’s (anglicised from De Berneval) were not just owners of land in Drimnagh, but owned land and fortified castles all over Ireland, such as Crickstown and Trimblestown. They were involved in many events in Irish history and held positions in Irish Parliament and in military campaigns against the Irish. Above right, you will see the Barnewall family crest, with its powerful warrior symbols, and its Latin inscription, “I would rather die than dishonour my name”. You can see a reproduction of this crest over the fireplace in the Great Hall in the now restored castle
In 1078 William the Conqueror, having pursued the insurgent Saxons to the Roman wall, returned to York in triumph, and there bestowed upon Roger de Barneville the manor of Newton in Cleveland, and various other lands which his descendants possessed until the 14th century. Roger, together with his brother Hugh, on the declaration of the Holy War at the Council of Clermont in 1095, hastened to receive upon their habits the consecrated cross. In the following year they joined the banner of Duke Robert, wintered in Apulia, and early in 1097 sojourned for some days at Constantinople, where in the Blanchernal palace, De Barneville and the rest of the Duke of Normandy’s retainers did homage to the Emperor Alexius, and received for this acknowledgement the most expensive presents. The subsequent achievements of De Barneville against the Sultan Kilidge Anslan, the Solyman of Tasso, appear in glowing eulogies from Latin historians. Roger ultimately fell before the walls of Antioch. His third son Roger was one of the military retainers of Robert de Bruce, and finally became a monk in the abbey of St. Sauveur le Vicomte.
In 1170 Jordan de Barneville was one of the knights bound to render military service for his possessions in the Duchy of Normandy, which he lived to see subdued by Philip Augustus, to whom, in 1204, he vowed allegiance. At the close of the 12th century, the family is traced in the records of Essex, Suffolk, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Middlesex, and a highly respectable branch at Hockworthy in Devonshire.
About the same time some of their members came to Ireland, where they won great possessions at Beerhaven, but by conspiracy of the Irish, headed by the O’Sullivans, were all slain, except one young man, who then studied the common laws in England; Hugh alias Ulfran de Barneville. On his return, King John, in 1215, granted the lands of Drymnagh and Tyrenure in the Vale of Dublin to Hugh.
Alanus de Berneval, who left two sons, Hugo and Regenald, was succeeded by the eldest, Hugo, who received two marks as the King’s gift for his expenses on going to Ireland, on 23rd August 1212. The King’s mandate, sent to Geoffry de Marisco, directed that Hugh de Berneval should have seisin of his land at Drumenagh and Terenure in the vale of Dublin, 12 December 1216. He d.s.p. before 24th January 1220 – 1221, when a mandate for seisin of his lands was granted to his brother and heir, Reginald.
Reginald de Berneval, was restored to the lands in Drimnagh and Terenure on January 24th 1228. and had a grant of £20 per year for his maintenance on the King’s service (mandate dated 28th September 1234). He was succeeded by his son, Ulphram. Ulphram (or Wolfram), was constable of Dublin Castle, 12 December 1279 – 1281, sheriff of Dublin 1284 – 1289. He was a witness, in 1289, to a deed between Hugh Tyrell and the Prior and Convent of the All Saints, near Dublin. He married Mary, only daughter and heiress of Sir William Molyneux, Kt of Molagh, co. Meath, and was succeeded by his son, Reginald. Reginald paid five shillings for Drumenagh, as subsidy to the King for the war against the Scots in 1299. He married a daughter of Sir Conway Clifford, Kt. and was succeeded by his son, Reginald.
Reginald de Berneval, of Drumenagh. In 1309 he gave thirty shillings for the army of Loxenedy, and in 1313 he paid his service for the expedition to the Castle Keyvening, under Piers Gaveston. He died in 1331, seised of a water mill, dovecote, and profits of the courts of Drumenagh and Terenure, co. Dublin, when he was succeeded by his son, Ulphram.
Ulphram de Berneval, of Drumenagh, had livery of his estates, 2nd September 1331, (16) Edward III. He married Sarah daughter of Berford of Moynet, and was succeeded by his son, Reginald.
Reginald de Berneval, of Drumenagh, contributed towards the expedition to Mallow, under Walter de Bermingham in 1372, and in 1374 paid royal service to the expedition to Kilkenny under William of Windsor. He married Jannetta, daughter of Cusac of Killeen, and left two sons.
Ulphram (or Wolfram), succeeded to Drumenagh. He was living seised of the Manor of Ballythermot, in 1400. His descendants continued to reside at Drumenagh until the reign of James 1, when his line terminated in an heiress, Elizabeth, daughter of Marcus Barneval of Drumenagh, who married James Barnewall of Bremore, and sold the property, 1st February 1607, to Sir Adam Loftus, Kt. of Rathfarnham.“
The castle’s gardens have been developed, with a Parterre:
“A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. It is not necessary for a parterre to have any flowers at all. French parterres originated in 15th-century Gardens of the French Renaissance. The castle parterre is a simple symmetrical design of four squares, divided into four triangular herb beds. The centre point of the squares feature a clipped yew tree while the centre point of each herb bed features a shaped laurel bay tree.
One of the most important household duties of a medieval lady was the provisioning and harvesting of herbs and medicinal plants and roots. Plants cultivated in the summer months had to be harvested and stored for the winter. Although grain and vegetables were grown in the castle or village fields, the lady of the house had a direct role in the growth and harvest of household herbs.
Herbs and plants grown in manor and castle gardens basically fell into one of three categories: culinary, medicinal, or household use. Some herbs fell into multiple categories and some were grown for ornamental use.” The website tells of some of these plants.
The gardens also have an alley of hornbeams:
“The common English “hornbeam tree” derives its name from the hardness of the wood, and was often used for carving boards, tool handles, shoe lasts, coach wheels, and for other uses where a very tough, hard wood is required. The plant beds either side of the trees, feature snowdrops, bluebells, tulips, daffodils, some ferns and hellebores.
Hornbeam leaves are popular for their use in external compresses to stop bleeding. Their haemostatic properties also help in the quick healing of wounds, cuts, bruises, burns and other minor injuries. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark.“
contact: Paul Harvey Tel: Paul 086-3694379 www.fahanmura.ie Open: May 5-15, June 13-19, July 4-12, Aug 13-25, Sept 10-24, Oct 10-14, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free
Fahanmura is a Modern Movement House from the 1940 period. The website tells us:
“It’s easy to confuse Art Moderne with Art Deco, but they are two distinctly different styles. While both have stripped-down forms and geometric designs, the Art Moderne style will appear sleek and plain, while the slightly earlier Art Deco style can be quite showy. Art Moderne buildings are usually white, while Art Deco buildings may be brightly colored. The Art Deco style is most often used for public buildings like theaters, while the Art Moderne style is most often found in private homes.
The sleek, rounded Art Moderne style originated in the Bauhaus movement, which began in Germany. Bauhaus architects wanted to use the principles of classical architecture in their purest form, designing simple, useful structures without ornamentation or excess. Building shapes were based on curves, triangles, and cones. Bauhaus ideas spread worldwide and led to the Moderne or International Style in the United States. Art Moderne art, architecture, and fashion became popular just as Art Deco was losing appeal.”
The website tells us: “Fernhill is a former substantial family residence on 34 hectares of land at Stepaside. Fernhill Park and Gardens is Dublin’s newest Public Park, and forms an important component of the historic landscape on the fringe of Dublin City and an impressive example of a small estate dating back to around 1823. The former estate is a unique collection of heritage buildings, gardens, parkland, woodland and agricultural land. The elevated nature of the site, overlooking Dublin Bay on the threshold between the city and the Dublin mountains, lends a particular magic to the place. Fernhill is also home to a unique plant collection, made up of acid-loving plants such as Rhododendrons, Camelias and Magnolias, among others.“
The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us:
“The original house was a single-storey (possibly a hunting lodge) built circa 1723. By 1812 it was substantial family residence with additional out buildings surrounded by gardens, woodlands, parkland and farming land on an elevated location overlooking Dublin Bay. The house itself is a series of rambling interconnecting blocks of one and two stories transcended by a three storey tower which has developed and evolved over the years.
The gardens were planted with exotics such as magnolia and Chilean firetrees but it is also home to an extensive daffodil collection. Originally on 110 acres it now now on about 82 acres. The land was owned by Sir William Verner and part was leased to Joseph Stock. Alderman Frederick Darley purchased the lease from Verner in 1812 and his son William purchased the property outright in 1841.” Another son was the architect Frederick Darley (1798-1872).
20. Georgian House Museum, 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 – virtual visit only
21.“Geragh”, Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin – section 482
contact: Gráinne Casey Tel: 01-2804884 Open: Jan 4-23, May 3-29, Aug 13-21, Sept 1, 12-14, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €4, child free
Archiseek website tells us:
“Designed by Michael Scott as a home for himself, he had bought the site by the martello tower at Sandycove some years before, and originally intended it as a site to build a home for his father who was a keen fisherman. He refused it so Scott built a house for himself. The house was named after the valley in County Kerry where his father was born. Scott never had much money, but he had, in the parlance of the day “married well” in 1933 and his wife Patricia had inherited a small amount of money. This was around £5-6000 and was used to buy the site and build the house. He became so enthusiastic about the site that he claimed to have designed the house in one day:
“I started one morning at eight o’clock and by 4 o’clock the following morning had finished the initial sketch plans. I was a quick boy in my day.
This was because the eccentric old lady, Mrs Chisholm Cameron from whom he bought the site had sold it on the condition that construction should start within three years. Due to other commitments Scott forgot about this, but then received a letter in the post reminding him of this clause, and so a design had to be rushed out, hence the claim above. The house is sited in an old quarry next to the Forty Foot bathing place and martello tower and seems to rise out of the rock. A public pathway winds its way around the seaward side of the site and so for privacy and protection from the prevailing wind, the building faces towards Dun Laoghaire rather than out to sea. It was one of the first houses built in this country using mass concrete throughout. The concrete is rendered externally and painted white. Using the maritime imagery of the International style, the house is made up of a series of decks, railings and portholes – indeed one end resembles the stern of an ocean liner with a descending series of circular bays and crescent balconies – a motif which also reflects the nearby martello tower and naval defences at the Forty Foot.
I thought of the house as a series of descending circles. each one wider than the other. It’s my tribute to the tower and to James Joyce.”
The tower is associated with James Joyce (1882-1941) through the opening passage of Ulysses and now contains the Joyce Museum. This curved bay feature was much used by Scott in this period – being used in his house for Arthur Shields (1934) where the living room is projected out with a curved bay and also at the hospital at Tullamore where a series of curved bays are placed above one another. The flat roof and balconies all command great views over Dublin bay. Original to the aesthetic of its day, it was originally sited on stilts, but over the years the spaces underneath were filled as the family’s needs expanded, but apart from that it remains intact. The house is basically a shallow v-plan embracing the garden with one end rectangular and the other round nosed.“
14 Henrietta Street is a social history museum of Dublin life, from one building’s Georgian beginnings to its tenement times. We connect the history of urban life over 300 years to the stories of the people who called this place home. The website tells us:
“Henrietta Street is the most intact collection of early to mid-18th century houses in Ireland. Work began on the street in the 1720s when houses were built as homes for Dublin’s most wealthy families. By 1911 over 850 people lived on the street, over 100 of those in one house, here at 14 Henrietta Street.
Numbers 13-15 Henrietta Street were built in the late 1740s by Luke Gardiner. Number 14’s first occupant was The Right Honorable Richard, Lord Viscount Molesworth [1670-1758, 3rd Viscount Molesworth of Swords] and his second wife Mary Jenney Usher, who gave birth to their two daughters in the house. Subsequent residents over the late 18th century include The Right Honorable John Bowes, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Sir Lucius O’Brien, John Hotham Bishop of Clogher, and Charles 12th Viscount Dillon [1745-1814].
Number 14, like many of the houses on Henrietta Street, follows a room layout that separated its public, private and domestic functions. The house is built over five floors, with a railed-in basement, brick-vaulted cellars under the street to the front, a garden and mews to the rear, and there was originally a coach house and stable yard beyond.
In the main house, the principal rooms in use were located on the ground and first floors. On these floors, a sequence of three interconnecting rooms are arranged around the grand two-storey entrance hall with its cascading staircase. On the ground floor were the family rooms which consisted of a street parlour to the front, a back eating parlour, a dressing room or bed chamber for the Lord of the house, and a closet.
On the first floor level, the piano nobile (or noble floor), were the formal public reception rooms. A drawing room to the front is where the Lord or Lady would host visitors, along with the dining room to the back. The dressing room or bed chamber for the lady of the house, and a closet were also on this floor. Family bedrooms were located on the floor above the piano nobile, and the servants quarters were located in the attic. A second back stairs would have provided access to all floor levels for family and servants alike.
These grand rooms began as social spaces to display the material wealth, status and taste of its inhabitants. Dublin’s Georgian elites developed a taste for expensive decoration, fine fabrics, and furniture made from exotic materials, such as ‘walnuttree’ and mahogany.
After the Acts of Union were passed in Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, all power shifted to London and most politically and socially significant residents were drawn from Georgian Dublin to Regency London. Dublin and Ireland entered a period of economic decline, exacerbated by the return of soldiers and sailors at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
This marked a turning point for the street – professionals moved in, and Henrietta Street was occupied by lawyers. Between 1800 and 1850 14 Henrietta Street was occupied by Peter Warren, solicitor, and John Moore, Proctor of the Prerogative Court.
From 1850-1860 the house was the headquarters of the newly established Encumbered Estates’ Court which allowed the State to acquire and sell on insolvent estates after the Great Famine.
In the 19th century the rooms of the house took on a different more utilitarian tone. Fine decoration and furniture gave way to desks, quills and paperwork with the activities of commissioners, barristers, lawyers, and clerks who moved into the house.
Family life returned to the street in the early 1860s when the Dublin Militia occupied the house until 1876, when Dublin became a Garrison town, with their barracks at Linenhall.
Dublin’s population swelled by about 36,000 in the years after the Great Famine, and taking advantage of the rising demand for cheap housing for the poor, landlords and their agents began to carve their Georgian townhouses into multiple dwellings for the city’s new residents.
In 1876 Thomas Vance purchased Number 14 and installed 19 tenement flats of one, three and four rooms. Described in an Irish Times advert from 1877:
‘To be let to respectable families in a large house, Northside, recently papered, painted and filled up with every modern sanitary improvement, gas and wc on landings, Vartry Water, drying yard and a range with oven for each tenant; a large coachhouse, or workshop with apartments, to be let at the rere. Apply to the caretaker, 14 Henrietta St.’
In Dublin, a tenement is typically an 18th or 19th century townhouse adapted, often crudely, to house multiple families. Tenement houses existed throughout the north inner city of Dublin; on the southside around the Liberties, and near the south docklands.
Houses such as 14 Henrietta Street underwent significant change in use – from having been a single-family house with specific areas for masters, mistresses, servants, and children, they were now filled with families – often one family to a room – the room itself divided up into two or three smaller rooms – a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom. Entire families crammed into small living spaces and shared an outside tap and lavatory with dozens of others in the same building.
By 1911 number 14 was filled with 100 people while over 850 lived on the street. The census showed that it was a hive of industry – there were milliners, a dressmaker (tailoress!), French polishers, and bookbinders living and possibly working in the house.
With the establishment of the new state, improvements to housing conditions in Dublin became a priority. In 1931 Dublin Corporation appointed its first city architect Herbert Simms to improve the standard of housing in the city. Simms and his team created new communities outside the city centre, amidst greenery and fresh air, this was the dawn of the suburbs. The development of these new communities signalled the end of tenement life in Dublin.
The last tenement residents of number 14 left in the late 1970s by which time the building was virtually abandoned by its owners after the basement and third floor (attic) had already become uninhabitable. During this period of neglect the processes of decay accelerated, leading to the rotting of structural timbers, loss of decorative plasterwork, and vandalism, leaving the house close to imminent collapse.
Dublin City Council began a process to acquire the house in 2000, and as a result of the Henrietta Street Conservation Plan and embarked on a 10-year long journey to purchase, rescue, stabilise and conserve the house, preserving it for generations to come.
In September 2018 14 Henrietta Street opened to the public.“
I am a fan of Mary Wollestonecraft, and am delighted with the connection to the house next to this address, 15 Henrietta Street:
“In 1786, on the far side of the wall in number 15, Mary Wollstonecraft was governess to Lord and Lady Kingsborough’s children. As tutor to Margaret King she instilled a wish for equal rights and republican ideals in her charge. She had an aspiration to be treated equally in a society where she was expected to fend for herself as most ladies of the ascendancy had to when suitors were not to be had or dowries were scarce. Governesses to wealthy families held a precarious middle ground between servant and family friend. In 1792 she would publish an important feminist treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Women.
Wollstonecraft gives us a look at a Dublin where women were expected to abide by what she regarded as oppressive social rules: “Dublin has not the advantages which result from residing in London; everyone’s conduct is canvassed, and the least deviation from a ridiculous rule of propriety… would endanger their precarious existence”.”
See also the wonderfully informative book, The Best Address in Town: Henrietta Street, Dublin and its First Residents 1720-80 by Melanie Hayes, published by Four Courts Press, Dublin 8, 2020.
23. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, 23-27 College Green, Dublin 2– section 482
contact: Dan O’Sullivan Tel: 01-6755100 www.clarendonproperties.ie Open: all year, except Dec 25, Wed-Fri, 9.30am-8pm, Sun, 11am-7pm, Sat, Mon, Tue, 9.30-7pm
The Dublin South City Buildings of Ireland booklet tells us:
“HIBERNIAN BANK (1864-71; 1873-6) 22-27 College Green An idiosyncratic bank designed by William George Murray (1822- 71) with Gothic and Italianate arcades converging on a Châteauesque tower. The original occupants, the short-lived Union Bank, are remembered by the intertwined “UBI” monogram over the first floor windows.”
24. Howth Castle gardens, and Transport Museum Dublin
Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses.[originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978; Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.]
p. 155. “Gaisford-St. Lawrence/IF) A rambling and romantic castle on the Hill of Howth, which forms the northern side of Dublin bay; the home of the St. Lawrences for 800 years. Basically a massive medieval keep, with corner towers crenellated in the Irish crow-step fashion, to which additions have been made through the centuries. The keep is joined by a hall range to a tower with similar turrets which probably dates from early C16; in front of this tower stands a C15 gatehouse tower, joined to it by a battlemented wall which forms one side of the entrance court, the other side being an early C19 castellated range added by 3rd Earl of Howth. The hall range, in the centre, now has Georgian sash windows and in front of it runs a handsome balustraded terrace with a broad flight of steps leading up to the entrance door, which has a pedimented and rusticated Doric doorcase. These Classical features date from 1738, when the castle was enlarged and modernized by William St. Lawrence, 14th Lord Howth, who frequently entertained his friend Dean Swift here; the Dean described Lady Howth as a “blue eyed nymph.” On the other side of the hall range, a long two storey wing containing the drawing room extends at right angles to it, ending in another tower similar to the keep, with Irish battlemented corner turrets. This last tower was added 1910 for Cmdr Julian Gaisford-St. Lawrence, who inherited Howth from his maternal uncle, 4th and last Earl of Howth, and assumed the additional surname of St Lawrence; it was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, who also added a corridor with corbelled oriels at the back of the drawing room wing and a loggia at the junction of the wing with the hall range; as well as carrying out some alterations to the interior. The hall has C18 doorcases with shouldered architraves, an early C19 Gothic frieze and a medieval stone fireplace with a surround by Lutyens. The dining room, which Lutyens restored to its original size after it had been partitioned off into several smaller rooms, has a modillion cornice and panelling of C18 style with fluted Corinthian pilasters. The drawing room has a heavily moulded mid-C18 ceiling, probably copied from William Kent’s Works of Inigo Jones; the walls are divided into panels with arched mouldings, a treatment which is repeated in one of the bedrooms. The library, by Lutyens, in his tower, has bookcases and panelling of oak and a ceiling of elm boarding. Lutyens also made a simple and dignified Catholic chapel in early C19 range on one side of the entrance court; it has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and an apse behind the altar. Howth Castle is celebrated for the custom, continuing down to the present day, of laying an extra place at meals for the descendent of the chieftan who, several centuries ago, kidnapped the infant heir of the Lord Howth at the time in retaliation for being refused admittance to the castle because the family was at dinner, only returning him after the family had promised that the gates of the castle should always be kept open at mealtimes and an extra place always set at the table in case the kidnapper’s descendants should wish to avail themselves of it. Famous gardens; formal garden laid out ca 1720, with gigantic beech hedges; early C18 canal; magnificent plantings of rhododendrons.”
“It is with great sadness that we report the death of Pat Herbert, the founder and curator of The Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, sadly he passed away on the 18th of June, 2020.
The museum has been a very special place since it first opened its doors in 2003. Pat had begun collecting radios and all things connected with communications, when he was working in the construction industry in London in the 1950’s. His collection grew over the years and found its rightful home in the Martello Tower which has a long history with the story of radio in Ireland. Pat had an encyclopedic knowledge on the history of radio and was also a great storyteller. He generously allowed the setting up of the amateur station EI0MAR in the Martello Tower and was always fascinated with the contacts made throughout the world over the airwaves.”
contact: Richard Berney Tel: 087-2847797 Open: June 23-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/OAP/child/student €5
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes Knocknagin House: “Detached three-bay two-storey house with attic storey, built c.1680, flanked by two and three-bay single-storey wings. Advanced gable-fronted central entrance bay to entrance façade. Single-bay three-storey return with adjoining single-bay two-storey lean-to to rear.” Knocknagin House has a drawing room of impressive length, height, light and elegance, and a couple of orangeries.
The outbuildings form a central square, a courtyard garden where there are roses and climbing plants, wisteria, rosemary and box hedging. Beyond lies a walled garden.
It was for sale in May 2020 for €1.5 million. French doors from all ground floor reception rooms lead out to the gardens.
Since 1680, owners of Knocknagin have included Robert Echlin of Rush, an agent of the Duke of York; the family of Henry Martin (1721-1799), the King family and, from 1827, the family of William O’Reilly, responsible for adding French windows, a ballroom and more. O’Reillys were a prosperous Catholic family of north County Dublin who owned the house for six decades until 1891. The Wade family bought in 1891 and the 2020 vendors bought it from the Wade family in 1994, when it was quite derelict. They brought it up to scratch with care and attention to detail. 
27. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Co. Dublin– section 482
“The isle of Lambay is the family seat of the Revelstoke branch of the Baring family and home to Lambay Irish Whiskey. It is owned and protected today by the Revelstoke Trust and daily management lies in the hands of Alex Baring (7th Baron Revelstoke), with support from the wider family.
Nestled in the Irish Sea just four miles off the coast of County Dublin, the island is a square mile in extent (630 acres), making it the largest island off the east coast of Ireland and the largest privately owned island in North-West Europe.
It is a paradise of fine architecture, birds, flowers, cattle, seals, fallow deer and even a mob of wallabies! The island is internationally important as a Natura 2000 site designated for its breeding seabirds and as home to the largest breeding colony of North Atlantic Grey Seals on the east coast of Ireland. It holds a remarkable place in European natural history as the site of a pioneering biological investigation undertaken by the naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger in 1906, as a mutual project with Cecil Baring, during which they found several new species including three earthworms, a bristletail and a mite.
Entirely off-grid and unattached to the mainland by so much as a cable or pipe, the island is partially run on green energy generated by solar panels and a wind turbine that are rigged up to a complex battery system that baffles us at the best of times, but does the job! The natural spring gives us fresh drinking water year round, which is also used in our very own island whiskey, aged in old cognac casks where they can breathe in the salty sea air.”
“In 1181 the island was granted to the Archbishops of Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral. By 1467 it was described as “a receptacle for the King’s enemies, to the annoyance of the mainland,” and a licence was granted to build a fort to protect against invasions by the Spanish, French and Scots. Sir John Challoner is thought to have actioned the licence in the early 1500s. The conditions were that Challoner would within six years build a village, castle and harbour for the benefit of fishermen and as a protection against smugglers. He was to inhabit Lambay “with a colony of honest men”. He was a very active man who worked four mines for silver and copper and bred falcons on the island’s many cliffs.
In 1611 the island moved from the Church into the private hands of the Ussher family for 200 years, during which time it was used as a Prisoner of War camp for over 1,000 Irish soldiers during the Williamite war after the Battle of Aughrim. From 1805 the leasehold passed through several hands, including those of Sir William Wolseley and the Talbot family of Malahide.
In 1903 Cecil Baring (later the 3rd Baron Revelstoke) and his beautiful wife Maude Lorillard saw an advert in The Field for an “island for sale” in the Irish sea. It caught their eye for several reasons (which you will read about below) and within the year, on the 1st April 1904, Lambay was theirs for the princely sum of £5,250.
“Lambay’s history under the Baring family took a turn for the deeply romantic and, with the arrival of Cecil (Baron Revelstoke III) and his wife Maude in 1904, the island fell under an enchantment that still mesmerises visitors to this day.
Maude was the younger daughter of the American millionaire tobacco manufacturer, Pierre Lorillard, who owned Tuxedo Park in New York. A lively and active woman, she escaped the constraints of home before her 18th birthday by marrying Tommy Tailer, a wealthy New York socialite, in 1893. Tommy was a partner in the New York branch of Baring Brothers and, through this connection, met one of the family members of the bank – this was Cecil...
By the end of the 1890s, Maude’s marriage to Tommy Tailer fell apart after he was unfaithful to her. Cecil left New York in 1901 and it was then that Maude realised she had loved him all along. A maverick for her time, she secured a divorce from Tailer and in November 1902, was remarried in London to Cecil.
Such was the scandal of Cecil marrying a divorcee (and an American one, at that!), that he was encouraged to step down from his responsibilities at the bank. It was this yearning to escape from the critical public eye, mixed with Cecil’s passion for island ecologies, that led the betrothed couple to seek the peace and solitude of Lambay.
In early 1904, with Maude heavily pregnant, Cecil went to investigate Lambay; he found a small line of cottages occupied by coastguards, a chapel, a walled garden, a dilapidated old fort and a magnificent wealth of wildlife. It was an intoxicating mixture.
The first task facing the Barings was the repair of the castle and they refitted a heavy lugger, the Shamrock, to carry the necessary materials to the island. The Shamrock (version 3.0) is still in use today as Lambay’s main cargo boat and is used to transport the sheep and cattle as well as bulkier materials and equipment for the off-grid energy system.
A full year elapsed before the castle was habitable and it was not until June 1905 that it was furnished. Immediately thereafter, Cecil convened a congress to examine the flora and fauna of the island, the findings of which were published in The Irish Naturalist (1907).
He also tried to introduce new species, including mouflon sheep, chamois goats, kinkajous and rheas. Today, there is a large population of wallabies on Lambay, but these were brought here in the 1980s by Cecil’s son Rupert Revelstoke, who had enjoyed having two pet wallabies in the 1950s.
Now captivated by the island, the Barings determined to undertake more ambitious changes to the castle. They invited Sir Edwin Lutyens, renowned architect of the Arts & Crafts movement, to visit in August 1905.
Lutyens was utterly delighted by Lambay and the couple, and the visit sparked a warm friendship between the three of them that would last throughout their lives. Lutyens extended the Castle masterfully and by 1910 it was a beautiful refuge for Cecil and Maude, surrounded by an impressive circular wall, which Lutyens nicknamed “The Ramparts Against Uncharity“.
Cecil and Maude had 12 blissful years together with their little family on Lambay but alas, in 1922, a still young Maude died of cancer, leaving Cecil with two daughters, Daphne and Calypso, and their little son Rupert. Her body was brought back from London to the island for burial. Lutyens, who was then busy with war memorials and the government buildings of New Delhi, designed a large monument for her grave, set in against the rampart walls and facing towards the Castle. The mausoleum is today one of the most pleasant and peaceful spots on the island. Prefacing Cecil’s epitaph, a beautiful poem about his wife, is the word ‘Quiet’, both an imperative to the reader and a description of the monument’s setting.“
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that the castle is “constructed with small doors and small casements so that the inhabitants seem, on rough days, to be sheltering like monks.” The interior has vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces and a curved stone staircase, while much of the furniture chosen by Lutyens is still arranged just as he intended.
He also adapted and enlarged a number of other early structures and integrated them into an ingenious coordinated layout for the whole island, combining the farm, gardens and plantations as a single composition, in collaboration with the horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.
The walled kitchen garden pierces the Rampart Wall to the South and there is the mausoleum of the Revelstokes, designed by Lutyens in 1930, on the opposite side of the enclosure. He also designed the White House overlooking the harbour on the western shores of the island, as a holiday home for the couple’s two daughters and their families.
28. Lissen Hall, Lissenhall Demesne, Swords, Dublin – open by appointment
The Historic Houses of Ireland tells us about Lissen Hall:
“Looking over the Meadow Water near the expanding village of Swords, Lissen Hall presents a tranquil mid-Georgian façade that is typical of rural Leinster. In fact country houses have become a rarity in the suburb of Fingal, formerly North County Dublin, which reuses an ancient place name for one of Ireland’s newest administrative regions. A pair of end bows disguise the fact that Lissen Hall is part of a far earlier building, possibly dating from the very end of the 17th century. The newer five-bay front is a typical mid-Georgian concept, with a tripartite door-case surmounted by a Serlian window.
The arrangement is repeated on the upper storey, where the central window is flanked by a pair of blind sidelights, and the façade continues upwards to form a high parapet, now adorned with a pair of stone eagles. The building’s other main decorative features, a pair of attached two-storey bows with half conical roofs, have many similarities with Mantua, a now-demolished house that faced Lissen Hall across the Meadow Water in former times. At Mantua, which was probably slightly earlier, the silhouettes of the bow roofs prolonged the hip of the main roof in an uninterrupted upward line. It is difficult to imagine how this arrangement could have been achieved at Lissen Hall without compromising the outer windows on the top floor.
The principal rooms are not over large but the interior of the mid-Georgian range is largely intact and original, with good joinery and chimneypieces. Architectural drawings from 1765 can be seen in the house, which at that time was owned by John Hatch, MP for Swords in the Irish Parliament in Dublin.
Lissen Hall has only been sold once in 250 years. It passed from John Hatch to the politically influential Hely-Hutchinson family, one of whose seats was Seafield House in nearby Donabate. In 1950 Terence Chadwick purchased the house and park from the Hely-Hutchinsons and the house was subsequently inherited by his daughter Sheelagh, the wife of Sir Robert Goff.”
“The estate began in 1185, when Richard Talbot, a knight who accompanied Henry II to Ireland in 1174, was granted the “lands and harbour of Malahide”. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century and it was home to the Talbot family for 791 years, from 1185 until 1976, the only exception being the period from 1649-1660, when Oliver Cromwell granted it to Miles Corbet [Lord Chief Baron of Ireland] after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland; Corbet was hanged following the demise of Cromwell, and the castle was restored to the Talbots. The building was notably enlarged in the reign of Edward IV [28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483], and the towers added in 1765.
The estate survived such losses as the Battle of the Boyne, when fourteen members of the owner’s family sat down to breakfast in the Great Hall, and all were dead by evening, and the Penal Laws, even though the family remained Roman Catholic until 1774.
Malahide Castle and Demesne was eventually inherited by the seventh Baron Talbot and on his death in 1973, passed to his sister, Rose. In 1975, Rose sold the castle to the Irish State, partly to fund inheritance taxes. Many of the contents, notably furnishings, of the castle, had been sold in advance, leading to considerable public controversy, but private and governmental parties were able to retrieve some. Rose Talbot, the last surviving member of the Talbot family died at Malahide House, Tasmania in 2009.“
“The original stronghold built on the lands was a wooden fortress but this was eventually superseded by a stone structure on the site of the current Malahide Castle. Over the centuries, rooms and fortifications were added, modified and strengthened until the castle took on its current form.
The Talbots are reputed to have been a diplomatic family and during the eight centuries between 1185 and the 1970s, their tenure at Malahide Castle was broken for only a brief interlude between 1649 and 1660 when their lands were seized by Cromwellian soldiers and the castle was occupied by Myles Corbet, Lord Chief Baron of Ireland.
The final [seventh] Baron de Malahide, Lord Milo Talbot, lived in the castle until his death in 1973. His sister Rose inherited the estate and subsequently sold it to the Irish State in 1975. Since then, Malahide Castle has continued to play an important part in Ireland’s political and social landscape, hosting international leaders and summits, and welcoming thousands of local and international visitors each year.”
It is described in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as a five bay three storey over basement medieval mansion from 1450, renovated and extended around 1650, and again partly rebuilt and extended in 1770 with single-bay three-storey Georgian Gothic style circular towers added at each end of the front elevation. It was further extensively renovated in 1990.
Mark Bence-Jones describes it in his Guide to Irish Country Houses:
p. 198. “(Talbot de Malahide, b/PB) The most distinguished of all Irish castles, probably in continuous occupation by the same family for longer than any other house in Ireland. It also contains the only surviving medieval great hall in Ireland to keep its original form and remain in domestic use – at any case, until recently.“
The Oak Room is the oldest room in the castle, and has carved timber panelled walls of different periods and nationalities. According to tradition, Mark Bence-Jones tells us, the carving of the Coronation of the Virgin above the fireplace of this room miraculously disappeared when the castle was occupied by the regicide, Myles Corbet, during the Cromwellian period, and reappeared when the Talbots returned after the Restoration.
It was John Talbot (d. 1671) who lost Malahide Castle to Miles (or Myles) Corbet. John was married to Catherine Plunkett, daughter of Lucas 1st Earl of Fingall and Susannah Brabazon daughter of Edward Brabazon, 1st Lord Brabazon and Baron of Ardee. Their son Richard (1638-1703) regained ownership of the castle.
Richard married Frances Talbot (d. 1718) daugher of Robert Talbot 2nd Baronet Talbot, of Carton, Co. Kildare.
Mark Bence-Jones continues:
“The opposite side of the castle to the great hall, dating from C16 or early C17, originally contained four tapestry-hung rooms; but this range was gutted by fire 1760. It was rebuilt ca 1770, probably by the same architect or builder who designed C18 wing at Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath [or Meath]; the then owner, Richard Talbot [1736-1788], being married to Margaret, daughter of James O’Reilly of Ballinlough, who, after her husband’s death, was created Baroness Talbot of Malahide. Externally, the rebuilt range was given a Georgian Gothic character, a slender round corner tower being added at each end of it. Inside, two magnificent drawing rooms were formed out of the space which had been previously occupied by the four smaller rooms; with ceilings of splendid rococo plasterwork which can be attributed stylistically to Robert West.“
The Ballinlough website tells us that the work was probably carried out by amateur architect Thomas Wogan Browne, who lived at Castle Brown, which is now the home of Clongowes Woods College, where my husband went to school. Thomas Wogan Browne (d. 1812) was a cousin, as Richard Talbot’s mother was Frances Wogan, daughter of Nicholas Wogan of Castle Browne and his wife Rose O’Neill, and her sister Catherine married Michael Browne, and was the mother of Thomas Wogan Browne. 
The Great Hall has an important collection of Jacobite portraits, on loan from the National Gallery of Ireland. It has corbel heads of King Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483), which are original.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The doorway between the two rooms has on one side a doorcase with a broken pediment on Ionic columns. The walls of the two drawing rooms are painted a subtle shade of orange, which makes a perfect background to the pictures in their gilt frames.
Opening off each of the two drawing rooms is a charming little turret room. A third round tower was subsequently added at the corner of the hall range, balancing one of C18 towers at the opposite side of the entrance front; and in early C19, an addition was built in the centre of this front, with two wide mullioned windows windows above an entrance door; forming an extension to the Oak Room and providing an entrance hall below it.”
The library wing dates to the seventeenth century and is hung with eighteenth century leather wall hangings.
The pair of drawing rooms were rebuilt c.1770 after a fire in 1760. They contain rococo plasterwork and decorative doorcases. The castle also has turret rooms.
contact: Ruth O’Herlihy, Tel: 087-2163623 Open: Jan 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, May 3-7, 12-14, 16-21, June 7-11, 13-18, 20-25, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student €2
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes it:
“Detached four-bay two-storey mono-pitched house, built 1939, on an asymmetrical plan with single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor abutting single-bay two-storey mono-pitched higher projection; five-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation with single-bay two-storey projection on a shallow segmental bowed plan….A house erected to a design by Alan Hodgson Hope (1909-65) representing an important component of the twentieth-century domestic built heritage of south County Dublin with the architectural value of the composition, one ‘exploring Scandinavian modernism rather than Mediterranean modernism‘ (Becker 1997, 117), confirmed by such attributes as the asymmetrical plan form; the cedar boarded surface finish; the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with some of those openings showing horizontal glazing bars; and the oversailing roofline: meanwhile, a cantilevered projection illustrates the later “improvement” of the house expressly to give the architect’s children a room to wallpaper (pers. comm. 12th April 2016). Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the plywood-sheeted interior, thus upholding the character or integrity of a house ‘which has grown and matured together with its garden to make an ensemble appealing more to the senses than to the mind’.”
“No. 45 Merrion Square, the home of the Irish Architectural Archive, is one of the great Georgian houses of Dublin. Built for the speculative developer Gustavus Hume in the mid-1790s and situated directly across Merrion Square from Leinster House, this is the largest terraced house on the Square and is the centrepiece of its East Side.
Light-filled, spectacularly-proportioned, interconnected rooms on the piano nobile of this Georgian palazzo offer a range of venues and facilities: meeting rooms for up to 20 people; multimedia lecture facilities for up to 55, dining space for up to 80, and receptions for up to 250. Whether the event is a meeting, a conference with breakout sessions, or a private or corporate reception, the Irish Architectural Archive’s beautifully graceful spaces provide Georgian elegance in the heart of Dublin.”
“Standing four stories over basement, and five bays wide, No. 45 is the largest of the terraced houses on Merrion Square. The house was built circa 1794 for the property developer Gustavus Hume. The architect may have been Samuel Sproule who, in the early 1780s, was responsible for the laying out of much of Holles Street, of both Mount Streets and of the east side of Merrion Square. The first person to live in the house seems to have been Robert la Touche who leased the building in 1795. In 1829 the house was sold to Sir Thomas Staples. It had been built in an ambitious and optimistic age, but in the Dublin of the late 1820s its huge size was somewhat anachronistic and certainly uneconomical, so Sir Thomas had the building carefully divided into two separate houses. Sir Thomas died aged 90 in 1865, the last survivor of the Irish House of Commons.
On his death, both parts of the house passed to Sir John Banks, Regius Professor of Medicine in Trinity College, who, like his predecessor, leased the smaller portion of the divided building, by now numbered Nos. 10 and 11 Merrion Square East. Banks himself lived in No. 11, the larger part, which he maintained in high decorative order. Banks died in 1910, and both parts of the building fell vacant and remained so until 1915 when the whole property was used to accommodate the clerical offices of the National Health Insurance Company. With single occupancy restored, the division of the building, renumbered 44 – 45 Merrion Square, began to be reversed, a process carried on in fits and starts as successive Government departments and agencies moved in and out over the decades. The last to go was the Irish Patents Office, relocated to Kilkenny in 1996.
The house was assigned to Irish Architectural Archive by Ruairí Quinn TD, Minister for Finance, in his budget of 1996. The Office of Public Works carried out an extensive programme of works to the house from 2002 to 2004, including the refurbishment of the historic fabric and the construction of new state-of-the-art archival stores to the rear.“
34. MOLI, Museum of Literature Ireland, Newman House, 85-86 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
“No. 85 St. Stephen’s Green was built in 1738 by Richard Cassels, architect of Powerscourt House and Russborough House, and is notable for its exquisite baroque plasterwork by the Lafranchini brothers. The adjoining townhouse at No. 86 was constructed in 1765 and features superb examples of rococo stuccowork by the distinguished Dublin School of Plaster Workers.
The building takes its name from the theologian and educationalist Dr. John Henry Newman, who was rector when the Catholic University was founded in 1854. UCD Newman House also boasts many literary and cultural associations. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins lived here during his time as Professor of Classics at the university, and James Joyce was a student here before graduating with a BA in 1902. Other famous Irish writers to have studied at UCD Newman House include Flann O’Brien, Kate O’Brien and Maeve Binchy.
Explore the stunning surroundings and turbulent history of Numbers 85 and 86 St Stephen’s Green on MoLI’s Historic House Tour.
These beautiful examples of Georgian opulence – with lavish stuccowork by the famous Lafranchini brothers – have served not only as a university and a museum, but also as the townhouse of Buck Whaley, one of Ireland’s most infamous playboys and adventurers.
Join your guide as they bring you on a journey through these hidden historic rooms, witness these architectural treasures up close, and learn about the many fascinating characters that have passed through over the centuries.“
86 St Stephen’s Green is a granite-faced townhouse built for Richard Chapel Whaley (d. 1796) who was called “Burn Chapel” Whaley due to his anti-Catholic sentiment. It is a kind of rough justice that his house is now owned by the Catholic university of Ireland, University College Dublin, and named for Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) who famously converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, and by his example, encouraged many others to convert to Catholicism!
We then went outside to enter 85 St Stephen’s Green, next door. This is a smaller building, a Neo-Palladian urban palazzo designed by Richard Castle for Captain Hugh Montgomerie (d. 1741) purely for entertaining! It has a rusticated granite street front, a Venetian window overhead fromed by pedimented openings, and a balustraded parapet. The strict symmetry of the front belies an asymmetrical interior.
From this room we went through a narrow door cut in the wall and up a flight of stairs to the Bishop’s Room, which is back in 86 St Stephen’s Green.
The music room, part of 86, has more fine stucco work on the ceiling.
Below are three photographs from Newman House from the Digital Library and Archives, of a room or rooms which we did not see:
After our house tour we browsed the Museum, then went for a delicious sandwich in the cafe and sat in the gardens.
Newbridge House is a Georgian Villa built to the design of James Gibbs in 1737 for Charles Cobbe (1686-1765), Archbishop of Dublin. For many years, it was attributed to Richard Castle, but in 2000 a plan for Newbridge was discovered which suggests it was the work of James Gibbs, an English architect.  Charles Cobbe married Dorothea, daughter of the Rt Hon Sir Richard Levinge Bt, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Chief Justice of Common Pleas in Ireland, widow of Sir John Rawdon Bt, of Moira.
Mark Bence-Jones describes Newbridge House in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“Of two storeys over high basement, ashlar faced entrance of six bays, with a pedimented tripartite doorcase. Broad flight of stairs with ironwork railings up to hall door; shouldered window architraves; solid roof parapet with urns and eagles at corners. Hall with modillion cornice and large pedimented chimneypiece. Soon after the Archbishop’s death, 1765, his son, Col Thomas Cobbe, MP, who had a fashionable wife, a sister of 1st Marquess of Waterford, added a wing at the back of the house containing a very large drawing room, with a ceiling of rococo plasterwork by Robert West [we now know it is actually by a pupil of Robert West, Richard Williams], who also decorated the family pew in the Protestant church at Donabate. This great room, which is now hung with a scarlet wallpaper, is entered by way of a corridor and though a monumental doorway with a pediment and fluted engaged Corinthian column.”
The website for Newbridge House tells us: “In 1985 the family gave the house and sold the demesne to Dublin County Council (now Fingal County Council) entering into an agreement under which the historic family-owned pictures, furniture and documents, are kept in situ while the Cobbe family remains in residence. As a result of this agreement, the interiors of Newbridge House are remarkably complete and amongst the best preserved in Ireland.“
Dublin county Council began an extensive programme of restoration, renovation and reconstruction. The house was opened to the public in 1986 along with 360 acres of landscape which had been developed in the style of the English landscape movement, probably to the designs of Charles Frizell from Wexford . Additions include the cobbled courtyard designed by Robert Mack and built about 1790. This too has been extensively restored and now houses a museum on late 18th century rural life.
Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd and Christopher Simon Sykes describe the acquisition of Newbridge House in their Great Houses of Ireland: “the enterprising pair of Michael Lynch, of Dublin County Council’s Parks Dept, and Matt McNulty, of Bord Failte (the Irish Tourist Board), who had already rescued the historic Malahide Castle nearby to be a tourist attraction, stepped in with an ingenious solution [in 1985]. The Cobbes could continue to reside in the house in return for leaving most of the contents – the original Irish furniture, pictures and works of art on display – in situ on loan.” [11, p. 123]
Montgomery-Massingberd and Sykes tells us that in 1749 three years after Charles Cobbe was made Archbishop of Dublin, he hired his friend, architect George Semple, to add the 100 foot spire to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Before this, Jonathan Swift, a former Dean of St. Patrick’s had objected to a steeple.
The website tells us about the history of the Cobbe family:
“In 1717, Charles Cobbe (1686-1765) came to Ireland as private secretary and chaplain to his kinsman Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He was appointed Bishop of Killala in 1720 and his career progressed with successive bishoprics until he was enthroned as Archbishop of Dublin in 1743.
Cobbe began purchasing lands on the Donabate peninsula in 1736, and commissioned the celebrated architect James Gibbs in 1744 to design a plan for the rebuilding of Newbridge House, where a house had stood previously. Work began in 1747 and Newbridge is Gibbs’s only executed work in Ireland.
The Archbishop gave the near-finished building to his only surviving son, Thomas (1733-1814) in 1755, on the latter’s marriage to Lady Elizabeth (Betty) Beresford, youngest daughter of the 1st Earl of Tyrone. By extending the house, decorating it with ornamental stucco, collecting pictures, porcelain and commissioning furniture from Irish cabinetmakers, Thomas and Lady Betty left a significant mark on Newbridge which is still evident today.
The entrance hall, which is one of the three halls, has a grand a pedimented chimneypiece flanked by doors that have shouldered architraves. The coat of arms of the Cobbe family features two swans with the legend Moriens Cano (dying I sing), along with the Archbishop’s coat of arms built into the Portland stone. The plaster cornice features oak leaf and ribbon frieze, and the chair rails and skirting all have the mark of Gibbs as seen in other houses of the period. The flooring is of Portland stone and Welsh slate. Throughout the house, the plasterwork is attributed to the Dublin stuccodore Richard Williams, who is documented as receiving payments at Newbridge during the early 1760s. 
Off the entrance hall, the study is faithful to the manner in which it was left when Tommy Cobbe had the run of the house up until 1984. Locals remember doing business here, be it selling hay or buying cattle, across the large desk in the centre of the room. Family portraits hang on the walls while a writing desk used by Frances Power Cobbe, the great social campaigner, still exists. Her two autobiographies provide a telling insight into the 19th century operation of the house. [see 12]
To the right, facing south, is the dining room, which features a black Kilkenny marble broken-pedimented chimneypiece. It is likely that this followed a Gibbs design, as drawings for similar pieces exist for the drawing room, library and saloon at Kelmarsh Hall, Gibbs’ Palladian-style mansion in Northampton [see 9]. Both the walls and ceiling are decorated with ornate stuccowork, with the Greek key motif of the panel frets replicated in the side tables made for the room. A hand-operated dumb-waiter sits discretely in one corner. A portrait of the Duke of Bolton as Knight of the Garter and a portrait of the Archbishop adorn the walls. [see 12, p. 243]
The library has a bow window and nicely fanned floorboards that were added in 1870.
The baroque original plasterwork ceiling depicts the four seasons in the corners, with Greek and Roman gods.
This room was last decorated several years ago when Alec Cobbe had curtains and wallpaper made. In one corner stands an unusual piece of furniture that may have been an oyster table. The estuary at Malahide was well known for oysters up until the mid 19th century and this table allows diners to deposit shells through a narrow channel. Two interesting portraits hang here. Charles Cobbe, great grandson of the Archbishop, went to India with his brother to join the Duke of Wellington’s forces. When he moved back, his grandparents Tommy and Lady Betty Cobbe had gone to live in Bath and the house had been closed up. [see 12]
Following his marriage to Frances Conway, Charles Cobbe (1781-1857) began restoring Newbridge to its former glory from 1810 onwards. Much of the furnishings date from this period. [see 12, p. 245]
One entire room is dedicated as a “cabinet of curiosities.” Desmond Guinness and Desmond FitzGerald tells us in their entry about Newbridge House in Great Irish Houses that the collection may have started life as a shell collection in the 1790s by Elizabeth Beresford (1736-1860), who married the archbishop’s son Colonel Thomas Cobbe (1733-1814). She came from Curraghmore in County Waterford (see my entry on Curraghmore) and would have been familiar with her mother’s Shell Cottage. Much of what we see in the collection today comes from the Indian subcontinent, including a Taj Mahal in alabaster, ostrich eggs, corals, statues of house gods, snake charmer’s box and tusks with carving noting the abolition of slavery [see 12]. The oriental theme is even carried through to the elephant design curtains. The panels on the wall are reproduction of the originals.
The Drawing Room added by Thomas Cobbe and his wife Elizabeth Beresford is entered via a sculpture gallery.
The Corinthian door in to the Drawing Room was executed in 1763-64. Montgomery-Massingberd and Sykes tell us it was George Semple who oversaw the new building work. [see 11]
The ornate ceiling in the Drawing Room is by Richard Williams. It has baskets of flowers and exotic bird dragons. The room was last redecorated in 1828, when the wallpaper, curtains and the unusual curtain rails were commissioned [see 12].
The room has an Italian fireplace. A set of 12 chairs was commissioned for the room, but they have been lost. Recently though, one chair turned up in the attic and copies were made. Much of the other furniture was recently recovered in an appropriate shade of crimson.
Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd and Christopher Simon Sykes tell us:
“Besides serving as Thomas and Lady Betty’s salon, the Red Drawing Room was also in effect a picture gallery to show off the magnificent collection of Old Master paintings which they formed with the expert advice of the local clergyman the Reverend Matthew Pilkington. For as well as being Vicar of Donabate (where the Cobbe family piew was also decorated by ‘Williams the Stoccoer,’ as he is described in the Newbridge accounts), Pilkington was, by a happy chance, the author of The Gentleman’s and Connoisseur’s Dictionary of Painters (1770), the first such work of reference to be published in English.” [see 10, p. 130]
Robert O’Byrne tells us more about the Reverend Matthew Pilkington:
“In 1725 he married the well-connected Laetitia van Lewen, as diminutive – but also as witty – as her husband, and the couple became friends with the likes of Jonathan Swift and Patrick Delany. Through the former Pilkington secured the position of Chaplain to the London Mayor of London and so moved to the other side of the Irish Sea. However in London he antagonized potential supporters and was imprisoned two years later. On returning to Dublin, he then became estranged from his wife and the couple was eventually and scandalously divorced in 1737: just over a decade later Laetitia Pilkington published her entertaining memoirs, from which her former husband emerges in a poor light. Ultimately he recovered his social position thanks to the patronage of Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin who offered Pilkington the living of Donabate and Portraine next to Cobbe’s newly completed seat at Newbridge.” 
The website continues with the history of the Cobbes, about the son of Thomas and Betty:
“Their son, Charles Cobbe (1756-1798), married Anne Power Trench of Garbally, Co. Galway in 1778 but also ran up considerable debts. These eventually resulted in Thomas selling some estates in Louth and their large townhouse in Palace Row. Charles predeceased his father.
In 1810, Thomas gifted Newbridge to his eldest grandson, Charles Cobbe (1781-1857), who, as well as raising his own five children in Newbridge House, provided a centre of home life for the numerous children of his brothers. The family injected new vigour into life at Newbridge, and was concerned with the welfare and the living conditions of their tenants.”
Charles and his heiress wife Frances Conway, from Morden Park in Surrey, were responsible for adding the Regency furniture to the Newbridge collections. Much of this was supplied by the Dublin firm of Mack, Williams & Gibton, who also made the curtains for the Red Drawing Room in 1828. A few years later two of the best pictures of this room were sold by Charles Cobbe, to raze the ‘wretched mud cabins’ of his tenants and replace them with proper cottages.
The website continues: “Charles’s daughter, Frances Power Cobbe [1822-1904], would become a noted philanthropist, feminist and writer, and would be the first publicly to advocate university education for women. [She was the author of a number of books and essays, including The Intuitive Theory of Morals (1855), On the Pursuits of Women (1863), Cities of the Past (1864), Criminals, Idiots, Women and Minors (1869), Darwinism in Morals (1871) and Scientific Spirit of the Age (1888). She was the partner of Mary Lloyd, the sculptor, whom she met in Rome. In letters and published writing, Cobbe referred to Lloyd alternately as “husband,” “wife,” and “dear friend.”] Charles occupied Newbridge for 47 years and on his death, it passed to his son, also named Charles (1811-1886).”
The house passed from Charles (1811-1886) to his brother Thomas’s son, Leuric Charles Cobbe (1859-97), of Newbridge, who espoused, in 1881, Edith Corrine Brown, and then to their son, Thomas Maberley Cobbe (1884-1914). The website continues:
“Thomas Maberley Cobbe (1884-1914) married Eleanor Colville Frankland, the daughter of an Anglo-American heiress and descendant of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, John Jay. The couple, setting up at Newbridge at the beginning of the 20th century, entertained guests, raised their family and managed the estate for the trustees. In 1933, Newbridge was inherited by their son Tommy [Thomas Leuric Cobbe(1912-84)], who was born and lived there his whole life. When he died in 1984 it passed to his two nephews and his niece who had grown up in the house.”[children of his brother Francis (1913-1949), Hugh, Alec and Mary – their mother was also a Cobbe (descended from the fourth son of Charles Cobbe and Anne Power Trench)].
The house tour includes the basement and servants’ quarters.
We then went outside to see the farmyard and animals.
36. 11 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1– section 482
37. 81 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7– section 482
contact: James Kelly Tel: 086-8597275 Open: Apr 1-30, June 1-30, July 1-30, National Heritage Week 13-21 Aug, closed Sundays except Aug 14 & 21, Mon-Fri, 9am-4.30, Sat, 12.30pm-4.30pm
The National Inventory tells us it is a: “Terraced two-bay four-storey over basement house with adjoining carriage arch to east, built c.1750, rebuilt c.1800. Now in use as offices… has recently undergone conservation. Due to appropriate materials such as timber sash windows with narrow glazing bars and careful repointing with lime mortar, it retains its Georgian aspect. The diminishing windows and regular fenestration create a well-proportioned façade, which is enhanced by an Ionic doorcase and spoked fanlight. The presence of an adjoining carriage arch adds interest to the building and to the streetscape. Its stone surround is well-executed and attests to the skill and craftsmanship of stonemasons and builders in the early nineteenth century. Thom’s directory of 1850 lists this house as being the residence of Richard Spring, pawnbroker.”
38. The Odeon(formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station), 57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2 – section 482
contact: Mary Lacey Tel: 01-6727690 www.odeon.ie Open: March-December, 12 noon to midnight Fee: Free
The archiseek website tells us that the building that now houses the Odeon bar was built in 1859 and the architect was George Wilkinson:
“Built in 1859 as a railway terminus, Harcourt Street Station was in use for almost exactly 100 years closing in 1959. A monumental design on a plinth of steps, with a central monumental arched flanked by two colonnades of columns – the original platforms were at first floor level as the railway line was built on an embankment. On one occasion the train from Bray failed to stop and the locomotive plunged out through the end wall of the station into the street below providing one of the most enduring images of the station. The station design is characterised by large simple details such as the cobells ‘supporting’ the central portico above the paired columns.
Beneath the station shed are excellent arched vaults originally designed as a bonded spirit store and now housing a wine merchants and one of Dublin’s trendiest nightspots. The main front part of the building has recently been renovated and cleaned and is now an enormous bar which looks and feels bigger that the external dimensions of the station would suggest. The bar design manages to be sympathetic to the original design suggesting a large ‘Gentleman’s Club’ of the Victorian era without descending to pastiche.
The rear of the station has various store buildings which were accessible from a raised ramp off Harcourt Road. Due for redevelopment, these stores are quite large containing many brick archways from area to area and were used by Dunlop for many years.” 
39. The Old Glebe, Upper Main Street, Newcastle, Co. Dublin– section 482
“Primrose Hill House is a regency villa attributed to the architect James Gandon.
Its political history is connected with Dr. Irwin and Eamon de Valera who was a frequent visitor to the house. The house and grounds were part of the Lucan House Demesne.
The 2.5 ha garden has been created by Robin Hall and the late Cicely Hall, and is more of a botanical garden with a strong sense of design and subtle colour schemes. The plant collection has been created from gardens past and present with an eye to growing plants with a challenge. There is also a spring garden with one of the finest collections of plants in Ireland, excluding trees and shrubs and is particularly recommended to see in the three months we are open which are February, June and July.
The gardens are flanked with fields with a developing arboretum and there is a very pretty driveway with mature trees leading to the house.
There have been four generations of keen gardeners in the family and some of the plants at Primrose Hill have been in the family for over 100 years.“
An Arts and Crafts Gothic Revival mansion built in the late 1870s by its architect owner George Coppinger Ashlin for himself and his wife, Mary in tribute to her father, the hugely influential Gothic Revival architect, Augustus Pugin, who most famously designed the British Houses of Parliament and a number of Irish churches and Cathedrals. 
The website tells us: “Located in the centre of the ancient town Swords Castle contains over 800 years of history and, as a recent surprising discovery of burials beneath the gatehouse shows, it has yet to give up all of its secrets. The castle was built by the Archbishop of Dublin, John Comyn, around 1200, as a residence and administrative centre. The extensive complex of buildings is in the form of a rough pentagon of 0.5 hectares and is enclosed by a perimeter wall of 260 meters. It is a National Monument, and it is the best surviving example of an Archbishop’s Palace in Ireland. The curtain walls enclose over an acre of land that slopes down to the Ward River. This complex of buildings is made up of many phases of reuse and redesign reflecting its long history and changing fortunes.”
48. The Church, Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1– section 482
contact: Ann French Tel: 087-2245726 www.thechurch.ie Open: Jan 1-Dec 23, 27-31, 12 noon-11pm Fee: Free
The National Inventory tells us it is: “Freestanding former Church of Ireland church, built 1700-4… Now in use as bar and restaurant, with recent glazed stair tower built to northeast, linked with recent elevated glazed walkway to restaurant at upper level within church… Saint Mary’s (former) Church of Ireland was begun c.1700 to the design of Sir William Robinson and was completed by his successor, Thomas Burgh.” 
contact: Selina Guinness Tel: 01-4957483 www.selinaguinness.com Open: Jan 6-10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, Feb 4, 7, 11, 14, 28, Mar 7, 11, 14, 25, 28, May 3-6, 10-13, 17-22, 24-29, June 8-11, 13, 17-19, 21-23, Aug 13-21, Jan, May, June, 10am-2pm, Feb, Mar, 2.30pm-6.30pm, National Heritage Week, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP €8 student/child free, Members of An Taisce and The Irish Georgian Society €6
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“[Guinness/IFR] A Victorian house of two storeys over a basement with plate glass windows, built ca 1860 for Thomas Hosea Guinness and his wife Mary, nee Davis, who was heiress of the estate. Rich plasterwork and Corinthian columns with scagliola shafts in hall.”
The National Inventory adds the following assessment:
“A country house erected for Thomas Hosea Guinness JP (1831-88) to a design by Joseph Maguire (1820-1904) of Great Brunswick Street [Pearse Street], Dublin (Dublin Builder 1st December 1861, 692), representing an integral component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Dublin with the architectural value of the composition, one superseding an adjacent farmhouse annotated as “Tibradden House” on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1837; published 1843), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking rolling grounds and the minor Glin River; the compact near-square plan form centred on a Classically-detailed doorcase demonstrating good quality workmanship; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the open bed pediment embellishing a slightly oversailing roofline. Having been well maintained, 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; Classical-style chimneypieces; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1909); a walled garden (extant 1837); and a nearby gate lodge (see 60250002), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a self-contained ensemble having historic connections with the Guinness family including Colonel Charles Davis Guinness (1860-1939), one-time High Sheriff of County Louth (fl. 1918); Major Owen Charles Guinness OBE (1894-1970); and Second Lieutenant Charles Spencer Guinness (1932-2004).“
Current owner Selina Guinness’s memoir The Crocodile by the Door tells us about the house and how she acquired it from her uncle, and the work she has undertaken to run it as a family home, with her adventure of taking up sheep farming to maintain the property and its land.
Open days 3rd Friday & Sat of months Feb – October
“Tyrrelstown House & Garden is set in 10 hectare of parkland in Fingal, North County Dublin, just minutes from the M50, off the N3 (Navan Road). There are 2 walled gardens, and an arboretum with woodland walks including 2 hectares of wild flower & pictorial meadows. Lots of spring bulbs and cyclamen adorn this lovely sylvan setting.
The walled gardens are over 600 years old and include a wide range of alkaline and acid loving plants and shrubs and include an organic vegetable garden.
The Wilkinson family arrived here in 1895 & have been farming the land ever since.“
 Mark Bence-Jones A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.