contact: Ann French Tel: 087-2245726 www.thechurch.ie Open: Jan 1-Dec 23, 27-31, 12 noon-11pm Fee: Free
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The former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland was built from 1700-1704. It is now in use as bar and restaurant, with modern glazed stair tower built to northeast, linked with an elevated glazed walkway to the restaurant at the upper level within the church. The National Inventory tells us that it was designed by William Robinson and completed by his successor, Thomas Burgh.
The church has a special place in my husband’s heart because his ancestor John Winder visited Dublin to preach a sermon here in around 1720, when he was rector at Kilroot in County Antrim, a position he obtained after Jonathan Swift. St. Mary’s parish was founded in 1697, the second parish on the north side of the River Liffey (the first must have been St. Michans). It took its name from the medieval monastery of St. Mary’s Abbey that had occupied most of the north side of the river from 1139 until its dissolution in 1539.
It was closed as a church in 1986 due to the fall of parishioners, as residents moved from the city centre. The building was used for various purposes until purchased by publican John Keating in 1997. Until it was changed for use as a bar it contained the oldest unaltered church interior in Dublin, and much of this has been preserved.
William Robinson was made surveyor general of buildings in Ireland in 1671. He was also engineer general and master of ordinance, so was responsible for fortifications. He built Charles Fort in Kinsale, and in 1677–8 he was adviser and contractor on the construction of Essex Bridge in Dublin. In 1679 was involved in the rebuilding of Lismore cathedral, Co. Waterford, and designed the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham (1680–84).  In 1682 he oversaw the construction of Ormond Bridge in Dublin.
The Dictionary of Irish Biography tells us that William Robinson’s patent as surveyor general was renewed in 1684, though he now shared the post with William Molyneux (1656–98), who later oversaw the partial construction of Robinson’s design for the courtyard of Dublin castle when he and Robinson were deprived of the surveryorship by the lord deputy, the earl of Tyrconnell. Robinson went to England during Tyrconnell’s deputyship and Molyneux remained in Ireland and carried out extensive building work at Dublin castle, presumably to Robinson’s designs.
In 1689 Robin was appointed comptroller general of provisions and commissary general of pay and provisions in the Williamite army, the latter position being shared with Bartholomew van Homrigh (the father of Jonathan Swift’s friend, whom he called “Vanessa”).
Robinson returned to Ireland, and was Elected MP for Knocktopher, Co. Kilkenny (1692–3) and Wicklow town (1695–9) and in 1702 was appointed to the Privy Council in Ireland. In 1695 he rebuilt Dublin’s Four Courts, and in 1703–4 he designed Marsh’s Library in Dublin, his last major work.
Robinson served as MP for Dublin University 1703–12, and he purchased forfeited lands in Carlow and Louth in April and June 1703. His career ended in disgrace however as he was accused of shady financial dealings and misrepresenting public accounts for which he was responsible. (see )
Thomas Burgh (1670–1730) succeeded Molyneux and Robinson in 1700 as surveyor-general, and was also made lieutenant of the ordnance in Ireland. The rebuilding of Dublin castle, started by Robinson, advanced considerably under Burgh, but his undisputed masterpiece was to be TCD library. His work designing and building the lower part of the library began in 1712 and continued into the next decade. It was finally opened in 1732. He may have been responsible for designing Kildrought house in Celbridge, Kildare (see my entry). He too had engineering interests including navigation and coalmining. He lived in Oldtown, County Kildare, and became high sheriff of the county in 1712 and was MP for Naas 1713–30. 
It is difficult to photograph the church, as it is in the middle of city streets, and Christine Casey writes in her The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005) that it exhibits “a curious amalgam of awkwardness and aplomb”! 
St. Mary’s church has four-bay double-height side elevations, with convex quadrant single-bay links to a shallow chancel which contains a lovely chancel window. It has a three-stage tower at the opposite end flanked by lower two-storey vestibules. It does not have a spire.
The west front has the main entrance door (no longer in use as the main door, which is on the north facade). Unfortunately I was unable to take a good photograph due to the position of outdoor tables and sheltering umbrellas. The doorcase is of Portland stone with Ionic columns and an entablature. Casey tells us that the lugged surrounds of the outer vestibule door are of brown sandstone.
The window frame on the east end chancel is of Portland stone, which Casey tells us “has a vigour and plasticity rare in a city by-passed by the Baroque.” She describes the window:
“Above a raised granite plinth, two broad panelled pilasters support an emphatic curved scroll-topped hood-moulding with urns to centre and ends, while successive inner lugged framed have scrolled base terminals.”
Casey suggests that the gable on this end may be a later addition.
William Robinson prepared a model for this window, and may have designed the unusual plan for the church. It was completed by Thomas Burgh in 1704 and in 1863, S. Symes may have inserted new windows as well as replacing the perimeter wall with railings. The original chancel window of St. Mary’s was smashed by vandals on the result of polling at the election in 1852. The current window was set in 1910, commissioned in 1909 by John North, the proprietor of the “Hammam,” a Turkish Bath on O’Connell (then called Sackville) Street. The new window reads: “To the glory of God and in affectionate memory of his daughters Maria North (Molly) and Rosanna (Rose) wife of Joseph Armstrong also his grandchild John Hubert Armstrong (Jack) erected by John North 1909.”
Inside, it is of double height with a gallery surrounding three sides. On the fourth side is the east window. The west end has a large organ on the upper floor. The centre of the floor is taken up with an oval shaped bar which is made attractive by its arrangement of bottles and glasses. The gallery is carried on octagonal timber-clad limestone shafts. Above, the gallery reaches up to the ceiling with fluted square Ionic columns. The ceiling is barrel-vaulted. Memorial monuments still line the walls. Outside, the gravestones have been moved to one end of the public square.
The east Chancel window has a lugged and scrolled surround.
Casey tells us that the building was remodelled in 2002-5 as a bar and restaurant by Duffy Mitchell Donoghue, who filled in the crypt and altered the floor level of the nave. The glazed tower holds a cylindrical elevator.
In 1761 Arthur Guinness (1725-1803), founder of the Brewery, married Olivia Whitmore in the church. His son, also named Arthur, married here also.
The National Inventory tells us: “It was the first classical parish church in the city and was the site of Arthur Guinness’s marriage in 1761. Wolfe Tone was baptized here and the church also witnessed John Wesley’s first Irish sermon... The galleried interior is one of the earliest in Dublin, and is a triumph of Classical timber design. Grand proportions combine with the set-pieces of the original organ case, east window and surviving Corinthian reredos, connected by an ornate mix of joinery and innovative modern alterations, to create a sumptuous and exuberant space. Mary Street was laid out by Humphrey Jervis from the mid-1690s and in 1697 the parish of Saint Michan’s was divided into three which precipitated the construction of Saint Mary’s. Jervis Street was named for the developer himself and was once home to seventeenth and eighteenth-century buildings. The streets are much altered now and consist largely of Victorian buildings, leaving Saint Mary’s to ground the district in its earlier historic milieu. As such, it makes a highly significant contribution to the streetscape and to Dublin’s overall architectural fabric.”
A rather simple baptismal font in the church is the font in which Theobald Wolfe Tone was baptised, and also Sean O’Casey the playwright.
The organ was designed by Renatus Harris. George Frederick Handel, who wrote the famous “Messiah,” lived nearby on Abbey Street and was a regular visitor to Mary’s to play on this organ.
The organ case, Casey tells us, includes the bases of three pipe-clusters with cherubim and scrolls.
The vestibules have early eighteenth century staircases.
Below ground, is the Cellar Bar. These function rooms are located in an area that was excavated out from underneath the church, and are not part of the original building. There are six crypts in the basement of the church, and 32 skeletons were removed and reinterred elsewhere when the church was converted to its current use. Access to the crypt was by an external stairwell in the church.
Outside there is a public square, Wolfe Tone Park, and grave slabs are stacked up at one end of this park.
Open dates in 2023: May 1-31, Aug 12-20, Sept 1-15, Dec 1-20, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free
2. Burtown House and Garden, Athy, Co. Kildare R14 AE67– section 482
www.burtownhouse.ie Open dates in 2023: May 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, August 9-20, Sept 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-30, Oct 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €15, OAP/student/child €8
Burtown House and Gardens, Athy, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2022, Courtesy Failte Ireland
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:
“Ballytore, in County Kildare, was a stronghold of the Irish Quakers and the centre of a sizeable Quaker community. One of their members, Robert Power, built Burtown House as the hub of a two thousand acre farming enterprise in the 1720s. His Georgian villa, shown on early maps as “Power’s Grove,” was only one room deep so wings were added later in the century. These were subsequently removed, though their faint outlines can still be identified and Burtown was further extended in the early nineteenth century when a full height bow was added on the garden front.
The new extension provided a bow ended room on the garden front, a large bedroom above and a grand staircase, lit by a tall round-headed window. Pretty plasterwork in the manner of James Wyatt was also introduced at the time, most notably in an arched alcove in the bow-ended room, which is likely to have been the original dining room. The alcove is filled with a shallow fan, and delightfully cursive sprays of vine leaves, and is flanked by a pair of classical vases on pilasters of foliage with naive Corinthian capitals.
Burtown has never been sold in all its three hundred years. The house passed from the Power family to the Houghtons and thence to the Wakefields, who gave it a new roof with widely projecting eaves in the early nineteenth century. They also lengthened the sash windows, installed a new front door with a fanlight in a deep recess, and carried out a number of other alterations.
When Mr. Wakefield was killed playing cricket Burtown passed to his sister, who had married a fellow Quaker from County Tipperary, William Fennell. Their son, William James was a keen horseman but “was asked to leave the Quaker congregation because of his fondness for driving a carriage with two uniformed flunkeys on the back”.
Today Burtown is in the midst of two hundred acres of parkland, including ten acres of lush flower, vegetable and woodland gardens with many fine walks. The house has now been home to five generations of the Fennell family, and to the acclaimed botanical artist and illustrator, Wendy Walsh. Coincidentally, the leading Irish botanical artist of the early twentieth century, Lydia Shackleton, also came from the same small Quaker community.” 
“Donadea Forest Park includes Donadea Castle and estate, the former home of the Aylmer family up until 1935. There are many historical features including the remains of the castle and walled gardens, St. Peter’s church, an ice house and boat house. The Lime tree avenue planted in the 19th century formed the original entrance to the estate. Another feature of the park is the 9/11 Memorial, a scaled replica of the twin towers carved in limestone. The small lake is brimming with ducks, waterhens and has a beautiful display of water lilies in the summer. There is a café open throughout the year.“
In 1581 Gerald Aylmer, (1548-1634), Knight, of Donadea, son of George Aylmer, of Cloncurry, and grandson of Richard Aylmer, of Lyons, built a new tower in Donadea, not fully completed until 1624 and it is now the oldest part of the Castle. 
In 1626, he repaired the medieval Church in Donadea and built a new extension in which he established his family burial plot. In the extension he also constructed an Altar Tomb monument as a burial memorial for his family. Gerald was titled by the Crown and became the first Baronet of Donadea.
The Aylmers were connected with the various conflicts and rebellions over the next two centuries. During the wars of the 1640s, Sir Andrew, 2nd Baronet (c. 1610-c. 1671), supported the rebels and was imprisoned at the beginning of the war.
Although he was a brother-in-law of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, there were no favours granted to him. The Aylmers rebuilt the castle after it was burned by James Butler’s troops.
In 1689, after the battle of the Boyne, Lady Helen Aylmer, widow of the 3rd Baronet, (born Plunkett, daughter of Luke Plunkett 3rd Earl of Fingall) was in charge of the Castle. She was outlawed due to her support for James II, but she managed to hold on to the Castle and lands under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick.
In 1736, Sir Gerald, 5th Baronet, died leaving an only son FitzGerald who became the 6th Baronet.
He was only one year old when his father died and was subsequently raised by his mother (Ellice or Ellen, daughter of Gerald Aylmer, 2nd Baronet of Balrath, County Meath) and her relatives who were members of the established church. FitzGerald subsequently conformed to the established religion. In 1773, he built a new house in front of the Castle and incorporated the Tower in his new residence.
Gerald, 8th Baronet, held the lands of Donadea between 1816 and 1878 and he is accredited with most of the construction work that is visible in Donadea demesne today. He began his building program in the 1820s by re-routing the roads away from the Castle and the construction of a high wall enclosing the demesne. Gate lodges were then built at all the entrances.
He also built a new grand entrance known as the Lime Avenue.
In 1827 he completely remodelled the front of the Castle which gave it an attractive bow shaped appearance. It has been suggested that he employed the renowned architect Richard Morrison to design this new structure.
The older cabin-type dwellings close to the castle were demolished and new estate houses built at the Range. To the west of the Castle he built an eight acre area of gardens and paddocks, surrounded and sub-divided by walls. In the Castle yard he built dwellings for staff and elaborative farm buildings. He also constructed the artificial lake and the Ice House. Large areas of the demesne were planted and, by the time of his death, Donadea demesne was listed as one of the finest parkland settings in the county.
Outside the demesne he was involved in numerous construction projects including the famous ‘Aylmer Folly’, viz. the Tower on the summit of the hill of Allen. (see ) Sir Gerald’s grandson Justin, 10th Baronet, died unmarried in 1885. His sister Caroline inherited the castle and much of the demesne, while the baronetcy passed to a cousin. Caroline Maria Aylmer, who was the daughter of Sir Gerald George Aylmer, 9th Baronet, was the last Aylmer to live at Donadea. She died in 1935, leaving the estate to the Church of Ireland who, in turn, passed it bequeathed to the Irish state.
The castle remained unoccupied and its roof was removed in the late 1950s.
For more on the Aylmer family, see The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Kildare by Turtle Bunbury & Art Kavanagh (published by Irish Family Names, 2004).
Open dates in 2023: Jan 3-16, July 29-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 4-9, Dec 4-9, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, (Irish Georgian Society members free)
7. Griesemount House, Ballitore, Co KildareR14 WF64– section 482
www.griesemounthouse.ie Open dates in 2023: Feb 27-28, Mar 1-3, 6-10, April 17-21, 24-28, May 2-12, June 12-23, July 10- 21, Aug 12-20, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:
“In 1685, the village of Ballitore on the river Griese in the southern corner of County Kildare became the first planned Quaker village in England and Ireland. The Shackleton family from Yorkshire settled here some decades later and besides establishing wool and corn mills, founded the famous village school in 1726. Thanks to an entry by Mary (née Shackleton) Leadbetter in her ‘Annals of Ballitore’, we know that the first stone of Griesemount House (also known as Ballitore Hill House) was laid on Midsummer Day in 1817. While the three-bay side elevation is symmetrical, the two-bay front façade with the front door under the left window is quite modest, as was often the case with Quaker houses. It was built by George Shackleton, who had grown up in Griesebank House beside the now-ruinous Ballitore Mills on the river just below. He married Hannah Fisher and they raised 13 children in the new house, including the noted botanical artist Lydia Shackleton, the first artist-in-residence at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. One of her first recorded sketches is of the house. The family lived here until the early 20th century; the house then changed hands several times. It was briefly owned and restored by the mother of mezzosoprano Frederica von Stade, and has recently come into new ownership.” 
Open during Heritage Week. The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:
“The forebears of the Greenes of Millbrook House in the far south of County Kildare lived at Kilmanaghan Castle and Moorestown Castle [now a ruin] in County Tipperary. A great grandson of the family patriarch Captain Godfrey Greene moved up to settle near Carlow. William Nassau Greene (1714-1781) was a businessman and magistrate, and built a residence known as Kilkea Lodge (c. 1740) adjacent to the ancient Fitzgerald seat at Kilkea Castle, where his descendants are still resident. A younger son, John (1751-1819), who became High Sheriff of Kildare and Captain of the Castledermot Yeomanry, built a neighbouring house at Millbrook with the help of his father. It was completed in 1776 with its attendant mill and millrace off the River Griese, which had replaced an earlier mill in the nearby Kilkea Castle demesne. The house passed through generations of the family until finally the mill ceased operating under Thomas Greene (1843-1900), a poet and author who was made High Sheriff of Kildare in 1895. The house was left by inheritance to one of the cousins from Kilkea Lodge, father of the present owner. Throughout WWII, he had served as a frontline doctor in the 4th Indian Division in North Africa, Italy and Greece, and returned with his wife in 1950 to an utterly neglected house. Millbrook is still in the process of being restored to its former state.” 
Open dates in 2023: Jan 2-6, 9-13.16-20, 23-27, May 1-31, Aug 12-20, 8.30am-12.30pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3
16. Steam Museum Lodge Park Heritage Centre, Lodge Park, Straffan, Co. Kildare– section 482
www.steam-museum.com Open dates in 2023: Apr 2, 9-10, 16, 23, 30, 12 noon-4pm, May 1, 6-7, 14, 20-21, 27-28, June 2-5, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30, July 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30, Aug 4-7, 11-20, 25-27, Sept 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30, 2pm-6pm, Oct 1, 8, 15, 22, 29-30, 12 noon- 4pm Fee: adult €7.50, steam up €10, OAP/child €5, engineering students free, concession garden only €5, family €20, 2 adults and 2 children
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us about Lodge Park:
“Lodge Park, overlooking a fine stretch of the River Liffey, was built by Hugh Henry who had married his cousin, Lady Anne Leeson from Russborough [daughter of Joseph Leeson 1st Earl of Milltown]. Completed in about 1776, the centre block forms the core of an unusual composition with curved quadrants leading to a pair of two-storey wings, both attached to two further pavilions by curtain walls to form a unique elongated ensemble of five interconnected buildings, “perhaps the most extreme example of the Irish Palladian style.”
Henry’s father was the merchant banker Hugh Henry, who had purchased the entire Straffan estate with 7,000 acres. Lodge Park was long thought to be the last building by Nathaniel Clements, who died in 1777, but has now been attributed to John Ensor. The hipped roof is surrounded by a granite-topped parapet, and the walls are finished in rough cast, with ashlar block quoins and granite window surrounds with detailing. It is Ireland’s best exampe of concatenation, having curtain walls attached to the main house, leading to two pavilions, attached by two gateways to two further buildings. Hugh’s son Arthur built the Victorian walled garden, now beautifully restored and open to the public, as well as the fine gate lodge. The house was bought by the Guinness family in 1948.
The walled garden has been beautifully restored while a disused Victorian church has been re-erected in the grounds to house a magnificent Steam Museum with early inventor’s models, scientific engineering models and historic works of mechanical art. The Power Hall displays six huge stationary steam engines, which are run on special occasions.” https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Lodge%20Park
“Balyna House lies to the south of Moyvalley Bridge over the Grand Canal, about half way between Enfield and Kinnegad on the old Dublin — Galway road. The house lies in the centre of the estates 500 acres. Balyna Estate was granted in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I to the O’Moore family because they had lost their land in Laois and were reinstated in Balyna.
Major Ambrose O’Ferrall married Letitia More in 1796. Their eldest son Richard More O’Ferrall was born in 1797. [ I don’t think this is correct. I believe that Letitia More married Richard O’Ferrall (1729-1790) and that their son was Ambrose More O’Ferrall who married Ann Baggot daughter of John Baggot of Castle Baggot, Rathcoole. Richard More O’Ferrall (1797-1880) was their son]. He is reputed for having been responsible for the erection of the Celtic cross which now stands to the rear of the house. It is said that this Cross, along with another was transported from Europe, the two being encased in wooden crates and towed behind the ship on a barge. Legend has it that one was lost at sea, but its twin survives to this day.
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 30. [More O’Ferrall] “The ancestral home of the O’More family, the land having been granted to them by Eliz I as a small compensation for their forfeited territories in Laois… A new house was built 1815, which was burnt 1878; this was replaced by the present house, built 1880s. It is slightly Italianate, with a Mansard roof carried on a bracket cornice; of 2 storeys with a dormered attic. Entrance front with two 3 sided bows and a single-storey Ionic portico, 5 by garden front with pediment, the windows on either side being larger than those in the centre. Imposing staircase with handrail of decorative ironwork; ceiling of staircase hall has modillion cornice. Chapel in garden. Sold 1960s, subsequently owned by Bewleys Oriental Cafe Ltd” 
The website continues: “The first real record of any house dates from 1815 when Ambrose built a large mansion. That Georgian house was burned down and replaced in the 1880’s by the present Italianate mansion.
The estate was a refuge for bishops and priests for centuries and Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests here in the year 1678 — 1680. For this loyalty, the family was granted Papal permission to build a private Chapel on the estate (located to the rear of the house) and up to approximately 1914 Sunday Mass was offered. It was only used intermittently after that, with the last occasion being in the summer of 1959.
The estate remained in the More O’Ferrall family until May 1960 when it was sold to the Bewley family (of Café fame). The wonderful milk and cream in the Cafes came from the pedigree Jersey herd at Balyna. In 1984 the estate was sold to Justin Keating; it was sold again in 1990-1991 to George Grant. Moyvalley was developed into a Hotel & Golf Resort in 2007.
Balyna House consists of 10 luxurious ensuite bedrooms, 3 reception rooms to cater for up to 100 guests, Balyna Bar and Cellar Bar. The house is available exclusively for private events and weddings.
In 2014 the resort was purchased by the late Oliver Brady (well-known horse trainer from Co. Monaghan) with his business partner a well know entrepreneur Rita Shah owner of Shabra Recycling Plastic’s Group, Thai business woman Jane Tripipatkul and her son Mark McCarthy who are based in London.
It is likely that several Irish and European military campaigns were discussed and argued over at Balyna, as apart from the fierce-some O’More’s and the well documented Irish battles in which they took part, several later generations saw service in European armies. All three sons of Richard and Letitia O’Ferrall saw service abroad. The eldest, Ambrose, and his youngest brother, Charles, rose to the rank of Major in the Royal Sardinian Army, while the middle brother, James attained the rank of Major General in the Austrian Hohenzollern Army.“
Incidentally, there was a Bagot family of “Castle Baggot” in Rathcoole, and neither son had children so all the Bagot property, which included land around Smithfield in Dublin and extensive property in County Carlow, passed to the daughter, Ann, who married the above-mentioned Ambrose More O’Ferrall.
“As a digression, it is worth noting that Rory O’ More’s eldest daughter, Anne, married Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan and famous military leader. His father in law was the man behind the Irish Rebellion of 1641.
King James had adopted the policy of remodelling the Irish army so as to turn it from a Protestant-led force to a Roman Catholic led one, and Sarsfield, whose family were Roman Catholics, was selected to assist in this reorganisation. Colonel Sarsfield went to Ireland with Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell , who was appointed commander-in-chief by the king.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 31. “A tower-house with a long plain 2 storey wing attached. In 1814, the residence of Jos Atkinson, in 1837, of Capt Robinson.”
The website gives a timeline:
“1288: Nicholas Barby built the original Castle towards the end of the 13th Century on the land which was originally owned by the Great Norman family the Fitzgerald’s.
1310: The Castle was built as a fortress to protect the village and people of Barberstown from the attack of the rebellious Ui Faolain tribesmen who tried to burn the town (among others) in 1310. It has traditionally found itself in the middle of political struggle and local wars which generally resulted in change of ownership.
Retaining Ownership: Some of its previous owners have gone to extreme lengths to retain ownership. Just how far some went is illustrated by the story of the body that is said to be interred in the tower of the Castle Keep (the original part of the Castle). His fate can be explained by reading the lease on the Castle at the time in which was written that the lease would expire when he was buried underground (ie. his death). The ending of a lease normally resulted in an increase in rent so after the man’s death he was buried in the tower above the earth which ensured the family continued to hold the lease to the Castle!
The walls of the Castle Keep walls slope inwards so as to prevent an enemy getting out of range by closing up to the building. Ironically however the rooms on the upper floors of the Castle are larger than those on the ground level as their walls are somewhat thinner.
Penal Times: The neighbouring village of Straffan is named after St. Straffan, one of the early sixth century missionaries. Its close linkages with the local town and people were proven when an underground tunnel from the Church in Straffan to the Castle was found in 1996 during renovations. A ‘Priest’s Hole’ can be also found in the Castle which was originally made to protect the priests of the town during Penal Times.
1630: William Sutton of one of the most important families in the area owned the property. The population of Barberstown at the time was 36!
1689: Lord Kingston [I’m not sure who they mean here – Robert King (d. 1693) was the 2nd Baron of Kingston at the time] had his ownership confiscated by Earl of Tyrconnell after the accession to power of James 11 of England. It was around this time that it fell into the less glamorous hands of the Commissioners of the Revenue who let it out to a Roger Kelly for £102 annual rent in the late 1600s.
1703: It was purchased by Bartholomew Van Homreigh in 1703 for £1,033 the sixth owner in six years. At the time the property was 335 acres. Van Homreigh had been mayor of Dublin in 1697 and his greatest ‘claim to fame’ lies in the fact that he was the father of Vanessa of whom Swift wrote so passionately about. He sold it to the Henrys who were prone to excessive spending at the time….
1830: The Henry’s had no option but to sell it to Mr. Hugh Barton [1766-1854] who completed the last wing of the house in the 1830s which added to the present day unique architectural status of Barberstown. He is also famed for constructing Straffan House known today at the K-Club.
1900: As the property became too expensive to retain as a residence, the Huddlestons who owned Barberstown Castle in the 1900s sold it to Mrs. Norah Devlin who converted it into a hotel in 1971. Barberstown was one of the first great Irish country houses to display its splendour to the outside world when it opened as a hotel in 1971. It has maintained the elegance of design over the centuries by sympathetically blending its Victorian and Elizabethan extensions with the original Castle Keep.
1979: The acclaimed Musician, Singer, Songwriter & Record Producer Mr. Eric Clapton CBE purchased the property in 1979 and lived in the property until 1987. Music sessions took place in the Green Room and original Castle Keep during the time Eric lived here with many famous Rockstars from all over the world coming here to stay.
1987 to Present Day: Upon purchasing Barberstown Castle from Eric Clapton in 1987, this beautiful historic house has since been transformed from a 10-bedroom property with three bathrooms to a 55-bedroom Failte Ireland approved 4 Star Hotel. They are a proud member of Ireland’s Blue Book of properties and Historic Hotels of Europe.
Since 1288 Barberstown has had 37 owners all of whom had the foresight to protect its heritage and character. Look out for the names of all the owners of Barberstown Castle painted on the bedroom doors of the hotel!”
3. Batty Langley Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare€€
One of the entrances to the Castletown demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley (1696-1751) 1741. Batty Langley was an English garden designer who produced a number of engraved “Gothick” designs for garden buildings and seats. He was named “Batty” after his father’s patron, David Batty. He also published a wide range of architectural books.
The website tells us that the name ‘Carton’ comes from the old Irish name ‘Baile an Cairthe’ or Land of the Pillar Stone.
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Carton (1988):
p. 60. “(Talbot de Malahide, B/PB; Fitzgerald, Leinster, D/PB; Nall-Cain, sub Brocket, P/BP) The lands of Carton always belonged to the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare, whose chief castle was nearby, at Maynooth; in C17, however, they were leased to a junior branch of the Talbots of Malahide, who built the original house there.”
The Carton website tells us that the lands of Carton first came into the ownership of the FitzGerald family shortly after Maurice FitzGerald (d. 1176) played an active role in the capture of Dublin by the Normans in 1170 and was rewarded by being appointed Lord of Maynooth, an area covering townlands which include what is now Carton. The website goes on to tell us:
“His son became Baron Offaly in 1205 [Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, d. 1203] and his descendant John FitzGerald [5th Baron Offaly, d. 1316], became Earl of Kildare in 1315. Under the eighth earl, [Gerald FitzGerald (1455-1513)] the FitzGerald family reached pre-eminence as the virtual rulers of Ireland between 1477 and 1513.
However, the eighth earl’s grandson, the eloquently titled Silken Thomas [the 10th Earl of Kildare] was executed in 1537, with his five uncles, for leading an uprising against the English. Although the FitzGeralds subsequently regained their land and titles, they did not regain their position at the English Court until the 18th century when Robert, the 19th Earl of Kildare, became a noted statesman.“
It surprises me that after Silken Thomas’s rebellion that his brother was restored to the title and became the 11th Earl on 23 February 1568/69, restored by Act of Parliament, about thirty years after his brother was executed.
It was William Talbot, Recorder of the city of Dublin, who leased the lands from Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Kildare (1547-1612). William Talbot was created 1st Baronet Talbot, of Carton, Co. Kildare on 4 February 1622/23. He was MP for Kildare in 1613-1615. He built a house at Carton. His son Richard was created 1st Duke of Tyrconnell in 1689 by King James II, after he had been James’s Groom of the Bedchamber. He fought in the Battle of the Boyne and was loyal to the Stuarts, so was stripped of his honours when William of Orange (William III) came to power.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “After the attainder of Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, James II’s Lord Deputy of Ireland, Carton was forfeited to the crown and sold 1703 to Major-Gen Richard Ingoldsby, Master-General of the Ordnance and a Lord Justice of Ireland; who added a two storey nine bay pedimented front to the old house, with wings joined to the main block by curved sweeps, in the Palladian manner. In 1739 Thomas Ingoldsby sold the reversion of the lease back to 19th Earl of Kildare [Robert FitzGerald (1675-1744)], who decided to make Carton his principal seat and employed Richard Castle to enlarge and improve the house.“
Richard Ingoldsby (c.1664/5–1712) was the son of George, who came to Ireland with the Cromwellian army in 1651 and became a prominent landowner in Limerick. Richard fought in the Williamite army. The Dictionary of Irish Biography tells us that Richard Ingoldsby purchased Carton House and demesne in Co. Kildare for £1,800 in 1703 from the Talbot family. He also owned a town house in Mary St., Dublin. He married Frances, daughter of Col. James Naper of Co. Meath; they had at least one son, Henry Ingoldsby (d. 1731). Henry lived the high life in London and Carton had to be sold to pay his debts in 1738, and he sold it back to Robert Fitzgerald the 19th Earl of Kildare.
Robert FitzGerald the 19th Earl of Kildare married Mary O’Brien, daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin.
Bence-Jones continues: “Castle’s rebuilding obliterated all traces of the earlier house, except for a cornice on what is now the entrance front and the unusually thick interior walls. He added a storey, and lengthened the house by adding a projecting bay at either end; he also refaced it. He gave the entrance front a pediment, like its predecessor; but the general effect of the three storey 11 bay front, which has a Venetian window in the middle storey of each of its end bays, is one of massive plainness. As before, the house was joined to flanking office wings; but instead of simple curved sweeps, there were now curved colonnades.”
The Archiseek website tells us:
“In 1739, the 19th Earl of Kildare employed Richard Castle to build the existing house replacing an earlier building. Castle (originally Cassels) was responsible for many of the great Irish houses, including Summerhill, Westport, Powerscourt House and in 1745, Leinster House, which he also built for the FitzGeralds.“
There is a projecting bay on either side of the garden front facade with a Venetian window in the middle storey of either projecting bay. According to Mark Bence-Jones, these were designed by Richard Castle. The flanking wings were joined initially by curved colonnades, later replaced by straight connecting links.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The work was completed after the death of 19th Earl for his son [James (1722-1773)], 20th Earl, who later became 1st Duke of Leinster and was the husband of the beautiful Emily, Duchess of Leinster [Emily Lennox, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond] and the father of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the United Irish Leader.”
They certainly were a rebellious family! It is said that this saved the house from being burnt by Irish rebels in 1920s, as a portrait of Edward Fitzgerald the United Irishman was shown to the would-be arsonists. Emily Lennox’s sister, Louisa, married Thomas Conolly and lived across the parkland in Castletown House. Stella Tillyard writes of the life and times of the sisters, Emily and Louisa and it was made into a mini series for the BBC, entitled “The Aristocrats” which was filmed on site at Carton House. I’d love to read the book and see the movie! She also wrote about Edward FitzGerald.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “3rd Duke, Lord Edward’s nephew, [Augustus Frederick Fitzgerald (1791-1874)] employed Sir Richard Morrison to enlarge and remodel the house ca 1815, having sold Leinster House in Dublin. Morrison replaced the curved colonnades with straight connecting links containing additional rooms behind colonnades of coupled Doric columns, so as to form a longer enfilade along what was now the garden front; for he moved the entrance to the other front [the north side], which is also of 11 bays with projecting end bays, but has no pediment. The former music room on this side of the house became the hall; it is unassuming for the hall of so important a house, with plain Doric columns at each end. On one side is a staircase hall by Morrison, again very unassuming; indeed, with the exception of the great dining room, Morrison’s interiors at Carton lack his customary neo-Classical opulence.”
Archiseek continues: “Carton remained in the control of the FitzGeralds until the early 1920s when the 7th Duke sold the estate and house to pay off gambling debts of £67,500. In 2000, Carton was redeveloped as a “premier golf resort and hotel”. A hotel was added to the main house, and the estate’s eighteenth-century grounds and landscaping were converted into two golf courses.” 
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “Beyond the staircase, on the ground floor, is the Chinese bedroom, where Queen Victoria slept when she stayed here; it remains as it was when decorated 1759, with Chinese paper and a Chinese Chippendale giltwood overmantel. The other surviving mid-C18 interior is the saloon, originally the dining room, in the garden front, dating from 1739 and one of the most beautiful rooms in Ireland. It rises through two storeys and has a deeply coved ceiling of Baroque plasterwork by the Francini brothers representing “the Courtship of the Gods”; the plasterwork, like the decoration on the walls, being picked out in gilt. At one end of the room is an organ installed 1857, its elaborate Baroque case designed by Lord Gerald Fitzgerald [1821-1886], a son of the 3rd Duke.“
“The door at this end of the saloon leads, by way of an anteroom, to Morrison’s great dining room, which has a screen of Corinthian columns at each end and a barrel-vaulted ceiling covered in interlocking circles of oak leaves and vine leaves.
“The demesne of Carton is a great C18 landscape park, largely created by 1st Duke and Emily Duchess; “Capability” Brown was consulted, but professed himself too busy to come to Ireland. By means of a series of dams, a stream has been widened into a lake and a broad serpentine river; there is a bridge by Thomas Ivory, built 1763, an ornamental dairy of ca 1770 and a shell house. Various improvements were carried out to the gardens toward the end of C19 by Hermione, wife of 5th Duke, who was as famous a beauty in her day as Emily Duchess was in hers; she was also the last Duchess of Leinster to reign at Carton, for her eldest son, 6th Duke, died young and unmarried, and her youngest son, 7th Duke, was unable to live here having, as a young man, signed away his expectations to the “50 Shilling Tailor” Sir Henry Mallaby-Deeley, in return for ready money and an annuity. As a result of this unhappy transaction, Carton had eventually to be sold. It was bought 1949 by 2nd Lord Brocket, and afterwards became the home of his younger son, Hon David Nall-Cain, who opened it to the public. It was sold once again in 1977.”
6. Castletown Gate Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare€ for 3
“The Village at Lyons, County Kildare is often described as a restoration but to be frank it is more a recreation. By the time the late Tony Ryan bought the estate in 1996, the buildings beside the Grand Canal, which had once included a forge, mill and dwelling houses, were in a state of almost total ruin. Therefore the work undertaken here in the years prior to his death in 2007 involved a great deal of architectural salvage, much of it brought from France, although some Irish elements were incorporated such as a mid-19th century conservatory designed by Richard Turner, originally constructed for Ballynegall, County Westmeath. Today the place primarily operates as a wedding venue, providing an alluring stage set for photographs but bearing little resemblance to what originally stood here.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Lyons:
p. 196. “(Alymer/IFR; Lawless, Cloncurry, B/PB1929; Winn, sub St. Oswalds, B/PB) Originally the seat of the Aylmer family. Sold 1796 by Michael Aylmer to Nicholas Lawless,the 1st Lord Cloncurry, son of a wealthy blanket manufacturer, who had a new house built in 1797, to the design of an architect named Grace.
Three storey block with a curved bow on either side of its entrance front, joined to two-storey wings by curved sweeps. About 1801, shortly after his release from the Tower of London, where he had been imprisoned for two years on account of his advanced political views and friendship wiht some of the United Irishmen, the 2nd Lord Cloncurry hired Richard Morrison to undertake improvements and alterations to his father’s house, work continuing till 1805.
During this period, Lord Cloncurry was in Italy, collecting antiques and modern sculpture for the house; he also acquired three antique columns of red Egyptian granite from the Golden House of Nero, afterwards at the Palazzo Farnese, which were used as three of the four columns in a single-storey portico at Lyons, with a triangular pediment surmounted by a free-standing coat-of-arms.The other notable alteration made to the exterior of the house at this time was the substitution of straight colonnades for the curved sweeps linking the main block to the winds, a change similar to that which Morrison made a few years later at Carton. Also the main block and wings were faced with rusticated ashlar up to the height of one storey on the entrnace front. The hall was given a frieze of ox-skulls and tripods based on the Temple of Fortuna Virilis in Rome, doorcases with fluted entablatures and overdoor panels with classical reliefs; a pair of free-standing antique marble Corinthian columns were set against one wall, and vaarous items from Lord Cloncurry’s collection fo sculpture disposed around the other walls. The walls of the dining room and music rom were painted with Irish waterfalls – and other enchanting decoration by Gaspare Gabrielli, an artist brought by Lord Cloncurry from Rome. The bow-ended dining room was also decorated with a wall painting, of Dublin Bay; and was adorned with reliefs of the story of Daedalus.”
Bence-Jones continues: “The seven-bay garden front was left fairly plain, but before it a vast formal garden was laid out, with abundant statuary and urns and an antique column supporting a statue of Venus half way along the broad central walk leading from the house to what is the largest artificial lake in Ireland. Beyond the lake rises the wooded Hill of Lyons.
The Grand Canal passes along one side of the demesne, and there is a handsome Georgian range of buildings beside it which would have been Lord Cloncurry’s private canal station. A daughter of 3rd Lord Cloncurry was Emily Lawless, the poet, a prominent figure in the Irish Revival of the early yars of the present century. Her niece, Hon Kathleen Lawless, bequeathed the Lyons estate to a cousin, Mr G M V Winn, who sold it about 1962 to University College, Dublin, which has erected a handsome pedimented arch from Browne’s Hill, Co Carlow at one of the entrances to the demesne.”
Art Kavanagh’s book on the Landed Gentry and Aristocracy: Meath, volume 1, tells us more about the Aylmers of Balrath. During the reign of Henry VI, Richard Aylmer of Lyons was a Keeper of the Peace for both Dublin and Kildare. He was in charge of protecting the settler community from attack by the neighbouring O’Toole and O’Byrne septs. The family rose to become one of the most prominent families in Meath and Kildare and key figures in the Dublin administration. Before the end of the 16th century they had established two independent branches at Donadea in Kildare and Dollardstown in County Meath.
The first Aylmer of real significance, Art Kavanagh tells us, was John Aylmer (c. 1359 – c. 1415) who married Helen Tyrell of Lyons, an heiress, at the end of the 14th century, and so the family acquired Lyons. [p. 1, Kavanagh, published by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, 2005]
9. The K Club, Straffan House, County Kildare
The Straffan estate formed part of the original land grant bestowed upon Maurice Fitzgerald by Strongbow for his role in the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169. In 1679, the property was purchased by Richard Talbot, the Duke of Tyrconnell who commanded the Jacobite army in Ireland during the war between James II and William of Orange. Tyrconnell’s estates were forfeited to the crown in the wake of the Williamite victory. In about 1710, the property was purchased by Hugh Henry, a prosperous merchant banker, who also owned Lodge Park. He married Anne Leeson, a sister of Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown. Straffan passed to their son, Joseph, who travelled in Europe and collected art. In April 1764 he married Lady Catherine Rawdon, eldest daughter of the 1st Earl of Moira.
Their son John Joseph (1777-1846) married Lady Emily Fitzgerald, the 23-year-old daughter of the 2nd Duke of Leinster. He was an extravagant spender and had to sell Straffan in 1831.
Hugh Barton (1766-1854) acquired Straffan House from the Henry family in 1831 and his descendents remained there until the 1960s. The Barton family were part of the Barton & Guestier winemakers. Hugh soon commissioned Dublin architect, Frederick Darley, to build a new house, based on Madame Dubarry’s great Château at Louveciennes to the west of Paris.  The house passed through many hands subsequently.
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Straffan House (1988):
p. 266. “(Barton/IFR) An imposing C19 house in a style combining Italianate and French chateau. Main block of two storeys with an attic of pedimented dormers in a mansard roof; seven bay entrance front, the centre bay breking forward and having a tripartite window above a single-storey balustraded Corinthian portico. Entablatures on console brackets over ground-floor windows; triangular pediments over windows above and segmental pediment of central window. Decorated band between storeys; balustraded roof parapet; chimneystacks with recessed panels and tooth decoration. The main block prolonged at one side by a lower two storey wing, from which rises a tall and slender campanile tower, with two tiers of open belvederes. Formal garden with elaborate Victorian fountain. Capt F.B. Barton sold Straffan ca 1949 to John Ellis. It was subsequently the home of Kevin McClory, the film producer, and later owned by Mr Patrick Gallagher, who restored the main block to its original size.”
p. 167. “(Fitzgerald, Leinster, D/PB) A medieval castle of the FitzGeralds, Earls of Kildare, especially associated with C16 11th Earl of Kildare, the most famous “wizard Earl.” [Gerald (1525-1585)] After Carton became the family seat in C18, it was leased to a succession of tenants; one of them being the Dublin silk merchant, Thomas Reynolds, friend of Lord Edward Fitzgerald through whom he became a United Irishman, only to turn informer when he realised the full aims of the movement. His role as informer did not prevent the unhappy Reynolds from having the castle, which he had only recently done up in fine style, sacked by the military; who tored up the floorboards and tore down the panelling on the pretext of searching for arms. Subsequent tenants caused yet more damage and there was a serious fire 1849; after which the third Duke of Leinster resumed possession of the castle and restored and enlarged it as a dower-house for his family. The work was sympathetically done, so that the tall grey castle keeps its air of medieval strength with its bartizans and its massively battered stone walls; though its battlements and its rather too regularly placed trefoil headed windows are obviously C19. AT one side of the caslte a long, low, gabled office range was added, in a restrained Tudor Revival style. The interior is entirely of 1849, for the lofty top storey, where the principal rooms were originally situated, was divided to provide a storey extra. The ceilings are mostly beamed, with corbels bearing the Leinster saltire. In 1880s the beautiful Hermione, Duchess of Leinster (then Marchioness of Kildare) lived here with her amiable but not very inspiring husband [Gerald the 5th Duke of Leinster]; finding the life not much to her taste, she composed the couplet “Kilkea Castle and Lord Kildare/are more than any woman can bear.” After the sale of Carton 1949, Kilkea became the seat of the 8th and Present Duke of Leinster (then Marquess of Kildare), but it was sold ca 1960 and is now an hotel.”
11. Leixlip Manor hotel (formerly Liffey Valley House hotel, formerlySt. Catherine’s Park), Leixlip, Co Kildare
The house that stood before the current Manor House was taller and was tenanted by the Earl of Lanesborough. Then in 1792, it was occupied by David La Touche, of the Huguenot banking family. It shortly thereafter burned to the ground and in around 1798 a new house, also called St Catherine’s Park, was built in the same townland to the design of Francis Johnston; it is now Leixlip Manor Hotel & Gardens.
12. Martinstown House, Kilcullen, Co Kildare – accommodation
featured in Great Irish Houses. Forewards by Desmond FitzGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008.
p. 232. “Martinstown House is one of the finest cottage ornee style buildings in Ireland today. Originally part of the huge estates of the Dukes of Leinster, this fine house was commissioned by Robert Burrowes [d. 1850, son of Kildare Dixon Borrowes, 5th Baronet] and completed by the Burrowes family between 1832 and 1840, when decorative effects such as thatched roofs, undressed stonework and verandahs made of free growing branches were being incorporated into rural Irish dwellings. While experts feel the house was built in 1833, it may have been started years earlier, with many of the outbuildings including stables and also the walled gardens dating to some time between 1815 and 1820.” The book’s authors add that Decimus Burton was involved in the creation of this house.
“Beautiful self catering, Georgian Manor centrally located in the hearth of Kildare in a very private setting. De Burgh Manor comprises of 15 bedrooms all ensuite. The ground floor consists of a double reception room, drawing room, dining room, bar, library , breakfast room and kitchen. Situated on c. 6 acres of grounds overlooking the River Barrow.“
The website also tells us about the history:
“De Burgh Manor was built circa 1709 [the National Inventory says it was built around 1780] by Thomas Burgh [1670-1730] of Oldtown [built ca 1709 by Thomas Burgh (1670-1730), MP, Engineer and Surveyor-General for Ireland, to his own design. The centre block was burned 1950s. A house has now been made out of one of the wings. He also designed Kildrought house, a Section 482 property] for his brother William Burgh later known as Captain William De Burgh and who became Comptroller and Auditor General for Ireland. Thomas Burgh was Barracks Overseer for Ireland from 1701 and was also responsible for [building] – the Library at Trinity College Dublin, Collins Barracks Dublin – now a museum – and Dr Steeven Hospital Dublin.
William De Burgh was born in 1667 and had a son, Thomas, and a daughter, Elisabeth. Thomas, born in 1696, eventually became a Member of Parliament for Lanesboro, Co. Longford. Freeman of Athy Borough and Sovereign of Athy, in 1755 he married Lady Ann Downes, daughter of the Bishop of Cork & Ross. Her mother was a sister to Robert Earl of Kildare. Her brother, Robert Downes, was the last MP for Kildare in 1749 and was Sovereign of Athy.
Thomas had two sons, William and Ulysses [Ulysses was actually the grandson of Thomas, son of another Thomas]. William born in 1741 went on to represent Athy as an MP in Parliament between 1768 and 1776. A monument to his memory by Sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott, a statue of faith, which depicts him with a book in one hand and a scroll in the other and stands in York Minster. He wrote two books on religion and faith.
Ulysses, born in 1788succeeded to the title of Lord Downes [2nd Baron Downes of Aghanville] on the death of his cousin William Downes who was made Lord Chief Justice in 1803 and created Lord Downes on his retirement in 1822. It was Ulysses De Burgh who presented the Town Hall Clock to Athy in 1846 and it was he who had the wings added to Bert House. [Mark Bence-Jones writes of Bert: “enlarged early in C19 by the addition of two storey Classical overlapping wings, of the same height as the centre block; which is of three storeys over basement with two seven bay fronts.”]
Ulysses’ daughter Charlotte was the last of the De Burgh’s to call Bert House home with her husband Lt. General James Colbourne [2nd Baron Seaton of Seaton, co. Devon]. Charlotte and James came to Bert House in 1863 as Lord and Lady Seaton after the death of Lord Downes. It was sold by them in 1909 to Lady Geoghegan who then sold it onto her cousin, Major Quirke.“
2. Firmount, Clane, County Kildare – whole house or weddings
“Firmount House is a unique and stunning venue just outside Clane in County Kildare, only 40minutes from Dublin city centre. Lovingly restored by the owners, the house is known for flexibility and creativity and is now open for weddings, private parties, film shoots, yoga retreats and corporate events. Enjoy visiting the Firmount website and see for yourself the lifelong journey these restoration warriors have taken to provide you with the perfect location in a wonderful, natural setting.
This fabulous house consists of a sitting room, breakfast room and dining room downstairs reached from a large hallway, alongside a commercial kitchen and butlers pantry. The first floor consists of seven large and sumptuous bedrooms – five doubles and two twin rooms with plenty of room for two travel cots which are also provided. There are also six bathrooms. Heated by oil fired radiators, there are also two stoves in the main entertaining space.
“Firmount House has a colourful history dating from the 13th century when there was reputed to be a fortified house on the current site. The Down Survey of 1655 seems to show a house on the land (then known as Keapock). In the 18th century the house was owned by the Warburtons and sat on extensive grounds. The story of the current house really begins in 1878 when Hugh Henry Snr having married his cousin Emily Henry (of Lodge Park, site of the current K-club) bought Firmount house and renovated it extensively. It seems he took what was a Georgian house, wrapped it in concrete (one of the first houses of it’s kind) and added a Victorian wing to the South.
The estate consisted of 409 acres at that point. Hugh Henry’s son, imaginatively named Hugh Jr, inherited the house in 1888 and lived there until 1917. It is rumoured that his wife, Eileen, had nightmares of the house going down in flames – although given it was made of concrete, we think she would have been ok. The house became a WWI hospital in 1917 and 390 soldiers were treated there until 1919, with no deaths registered – thank goodness for that. However the next decades were not so lucky for the house. In 1929 the house was bought by Kildare County Council and turned into a TB sanatorium. It ran as such until 1961. There are local stories of movies being run in the ballroom for patients with the now Mayor of Clane, at the projector. And of patients sitting on the elevated banks at the very front of the house on the roadside, watching life on the road go by but being unable to participate. 1964 brought the purchase of the house by the Department of Defence who ran it as a Control Centre for Nuclear Tracking and named it Section Seven Regional Control.
Here things get really interesting as the basement of the house was intended to house senior officials, media and communications personel in the event of nuclear fall out. It is rumoured the Taoiseach (Irish prime-minister) was supposed to have a bunker on site and the house can still be found on Russian nuclear maps! This picture shows one of the several signs found in the house. The downside of government and county council ownership is that many original period features were lost through ignorance, neglect and the reinforcement of windows, floors, porticos and doors with concrete.
The current “madthings” bought the house in 2012 with the aim of slowly bringing Firmount house back to life, window by window and floor by floor aswell as bringing Firmount forward into a gathering place with a welcome for all.“
3. Griesemount House, County Kildare, whole house rentals– see above
 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 dates in 2023: Feb 2-6, Mar 6-10, Apr 6-10, May 1-10, June 1-10, July 1-10 August 12-21, Nov 2-5, Dec 2-6, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP €6, child/student €3
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 dates in 2023: June 1-30, Mon-Sat, July 4-28, Tue-Fri, Aug 7-27, 10am-2pm
Fee: €8 paid voluntarily in honesty box to benefit Our Lady’s Hospice.
“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 dates in 2023: Apr 3-9, 10-14, May 8-14, 15-21, June 6-10, July 4-8, Aug 12-25, Sept 5-9, Oct 2-6, 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
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
all year, except Dec 25, Mon-Fri, 9.30am-8pm, Sun, 10am-7pm Fee: Free
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.”
“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 dates in 2023: Jan 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30-31, Feb 1-3, May 2-6, 10-13, 15-18, 27, June 6-10, 12-17, 19-24, Aug 12-20, 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
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
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: See the website. 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.” 
Jan 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31, Feb 1, 6-8, Mar 3-7, May 3-4, 6-10, 15-18, June 6-8, 10-14, 19-20, Aug 12-20, Sept 4-6, 11-13, 18-19, 23-24, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/OAP €8, student €5, child free, Members of An Taisce and The Irish Georgian Society €5
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.
“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.