“Carlow Castle in located in Carlow Town was at one stage one of the finest Norman castles ever built in Ireland. It was built around 1213 by William Marshall and the site was carefully chosen because of its strategic defensive location close to the River Barrow. In 1361 it was strengthened when it became the headquarters of the Exchequer of Ireland when it was moved here from Dublin. Although it was attacked and withstood a number of attempted assaults in 1494 and 1641, it’s great ‘low point’ came not through war but by a physician named Middleton. Middleton attempted to convert the castle into a lunatic asylum in 1814 when he tried to diminish the thickness of the walls by using explosives. He however made a gross miscalculation and ended up blowing most of the castle to pieces. All that remained were the 2 towers and a bit of the original wall.” 
4. Duckett’s Grove, Carlow – a ruin
Maintained by Carlow County Council. Destroyed by fire in 1933 but there is a walled garden open to visitor and one can see the impressive ruins.
The National Inventory tells us of the house:
“Remains of detached three-storey over basement country house, c. 1745 now in ruins. Gothic style mantle added, c. 1825. Designed by Thomas Cobden. Extended, c. 1845, with granite ashlar viewing tower on an octagonal plan, turrets and entrance screens added. Designed by J. McDuff Derick. Stable complex to rear.”
Thomas Duckett (1646-1682) purchased the property in 1695. He married Judith Power, granddaughter of 5th Baron of Curraghmore.
The property was once part of a 12,000 acre estate with eight acres of gardens.
The Duckett’s Grove website tells us:
“In 1695 Thomas Duckett (1) who is stated, by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms, to have been the son of James Duckett, of Grayrigg, Westmorland, by his third wife Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Walker, of Workington, Cumberland, purchased five hundred acres of land in Kneestown, Rainestown, and Ardnahue, Palatine, Co. Carlow from British landlord Thomas Crosthwaite from Cockermouth near the Lake District in Scotland. Thomas Crosthwaite owned a vast amount of land in Ireland during that period and had himself acquired this and other lands which comprised of 495 acres of plantation in 1666 under the Acts of Settlement (1666 – 1684) in the reign of King Charles II. However, Thomas Duckett did not make use of this land until the 1700s when he built a country house in Rainestown, replacing a smaller house on the same site where Duckett’s Grove stands today.”
The website continues:
“In the early years of the Ducketts’ story, intermarriage with some well-connected and wealthy families contributed greatly to their financial standing and allowed for the expansion of the Demesne. Thomas Duckett’s (1) wife Judith de la Poer was the heiress of the wealthy Pierce De La Poer of Killowen in County Waterford, grandson of the Honorary Pierce De la Poer, of Killowen, Brother of Richard, First Earl of Tyrone. Thomas Duckett (1) had one son, Thomas Duckett (2)[1667-1735] who was his successor and heir. The Duckett family extended their estate, and their wealth grew throughout the eighteenth century.
The only son from this marriage Thomas Duckett (2) (a member of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers) lived in Phillipstown Manor, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, situated approximately 3 miles from Kneestown and Rainestown which was a property purchased from the Earl of Ormonde. He married Jane Bunce, daughter of John Bunce, of Berkshire in 1687. His last will and testament was dated 18th January 1732 and was proved on 13th May 1735. Thomas Duckett (2) had three daughters and one son and heir; John Duckett Esq., (1) of Phillipstown, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow and Newtown, Co. Kildare, whose last will and testament dated 13th April 1733, was proved on 17th May 1738.“
A house called Phillipstown Manor built in 1745 according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage still survives – Thomas Duckett (1667-1735) and his wife Jane Bunce must have lived in an earlier version of this.
“John Duckett Esq., (1)married Jane Devonsher who was daughter of Thomas Devonsher Esq. from Cork. The first son of John Duckett (1) and Jane Devonsher was Thomas Duckett (3) of Newtown died unmarried.“
“John and Jane’s second sonWilliam Duckett (1) of Phillipstown, Co. Carlow married Janet Summers, daughter of Samuel Summers, Esq., and they had no children. Their third son, Abraham Duckett (1) of Ardnahue, Co. Carlow married Mary Jessop, daughter of Samuel Jessop, Esq. Abraham Duckett (1) and Mary Jessop had four sons (three sons, who all died without children) and three daughters.”
It was John and Jane’s fourth son, Jonas Duckett Esq. (1720-1797) of Co. Carlow (who Duckett’s Grove is said to have been named after), who passed Duckett’s Grove to the next generation. It may have been he who built a two storey Georgian house on the property later transformed into the current confection.
Jonas married Hannah Alloway, daughter of William Alloway, Esq. of Dublin, a merchant banker, who brought money to the marriage. They had four sons, their eldest son and heir being William Duckett who was born in 1761. In 1790 William Duckett (b. 1761)married another daughter of a banker, Elizabeth Dawson Coates, daughter and co-heir of John Dawson-Coates Esq, a banker of Dawson Court, Co. Dublin. The bank was called Coates and Lawless and in 1770 it was located at 36 Thomas Street.
William Duckett (b. 1761) and Elizabeth Dawson-Coates’s son John (1791-1866), added Dawson to his name, to become John Dawson-Duckett. I believe that this is because Elizabeth Dawson-Coates’s father John Dawson-Coates may have been the heir of John Dawson of the bank Wilcox and Dawson. [see 6]
John Dawson-Coates had two daughters who were his co-heirs, Elizabeth and Anne. Their brothers predeceased their father. Elizabeth married William Duckett (b. 1761) and Anne married William Hutchinson of Timoney, County Tipperary. 
The fortunes of the two heiresses, Elizabeth and Anne Dawson-Coates, coalesced when the daughter of Anne Dawson-Coates and William Hutchinson (Sarah Hutchinson Summers) married her cousin (John Dawson-Duckett) the son of Elizabeth Dawson-Coates and William Duckett.
John Dawson-Duckett (1791-1866) hired Thomas A. Cobden to turn his house into a castle.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 113. “(Eustace-Duckett/IFR) A square house of two and three storeys, transformed into a spectacular castellated Gothic fantasy by Thomas A. Cobden [1794-1842], of Carlow, for J. D. Duckett 1830 [John Dawson Duckett (1791-1866)]. Numerous towers and turrets, round, square and octagonal; notably a heavily machicolated round tower with a tall octagonal turret growing out of it. The walls enlivened with oriels and many canopied niches sheltering statues; more statues and busts in niches along the battlemented wall joining the house to a massively feudal yard gateway; yet more statues manning the battlements of one of the towers, and disposed around the house on pedestals. At the entrance to the demesne is one of the most stupendous castellated gateways in Ireland: with a formidable array of battlemented and machicolated towers and two great archways giving onto two different drives; the principal archway having a portcullis, and being surmounted by an immense armorial achievement, which was originally coloured. The house was burnt 1933 and is now a ruin.” 
John Dawson Duckett was appointed High Sheriff of County Carlow in 1819 and married Sarah Hutchinson Summers [or is it Sarah Summers Hutchinson?], daughter of William Hutchinson Esq. from Timoney Park, Co. Tipperary on 16th March 1819. They had two sons: the eldest, William (Dawson) Duckett (1822 – 1908) was named after his grandfather and he was the last blood heir to Duckett’s Grove. Their second daughter, Anne Duckett married Hardy Eustace of Castlemore, Tullow, Co. Carlow. They went on to live at Hardymount in County Carlow, which has gardens one can visit (see below).
David Hicks tells us in his book Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change, that more work was carried out in the 1840s, designed by architect John MacDuff Derick, who added extra floor space and prominent architectural features, such as a large circular flag tower, which was faced in local granite. A new basement kitchen as added with a billiard room above on the ground floor level. The exterior of the castle was decorated with various niches that contained statues and, on the facade of the building, heads of many mythological creatures. Bust of famous warriors decorated the length of the battlemented wall that joined the castle to one of the courtyards to its rear. Statues around the grounds depicted Greek and Roman figures.
As well as enlarging the castle, MacDuff Derick created the impressive entrance gateway, with an immense coat of arms carved by Kelly and Kinsella, which was gilded and coloured and features birds and animals associated with the lineage of the Duckett family.
The Ducketts were quite happy to allow members of the public to picnic in their gardens until one group disturbed the peace in 1902, peering in their windows, and the family closed the grounds to the public.
The courtyards of outbuildings are accessed from either side of the castle by impressive gateways with towers and arches.
William Dawson Duckett (1822 – 1908) married twice. His first wife died without any children. One year later William Dawson Duckett, at the age of 73 years, married 21 year old Maria Georgina Thompson. Maria Georgina Thompson was daughter of Captain Robert Gordon Cummins and widow of Theophilius Thompson of Forde Lodge, Co. Cavan. She had one daughter.
The website tells us:
“William (Dawson) Duckett (2) now had a new wife Maria and a stepdaughter Olive. He didn’t live that long afterwards, as he died on 22nd June, 1908 aged 86. He was the last member of the Duckett family line to live in Duckett’s Grove Gothic Mansion, in Rainestown, Carlow, leaving just his wife Maria and her daughter [Olive, by a previous marriage of Maria to Theophilus Thompson] living there after his death. In his last will and testament dated 29th February, 1904, William (Dawson) Duckett (2) willed his estate to his widow, Maria Georgina Duckett with the exception of a small section of his estate willed to his nephew, John Hardy Rowland Eustace with the instruction that the Duckett family name be affixed to the name Eustace, giving rise to the name ‘Eustace Duckett’ from Castlemore. [William Dawson Duckett’s sister Anne married Hardy Eustace and their son was John Hardy Roland Eustace] Maria’s daughter Olive married Captain Edward Stamer O’Grady circa 1916.
“It was also at this time that Maria decided to leave Duckett’s Grove following alleged threats from seven Carlow businessmen who were disgruntled and had become malicious in their feelings towards her, allegedly wanting to acquire Duckett’s Grove Gothic mansion. She decided to live in ‘De Wyndesore’, a mansion on Raglan Road, Dublin which was purchased for her as a wedding gift by her late husband William (Dawson) Duckett 2. She spent some time moving between her Dublin and London homes and rarely returned to Duckett’s Grove.” She became mentally ill and paranoid and the only heir to Duckett Grove, her daughter Olive, was cut from her will. [see the full story in Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! Published by Jimmy O’Toole, Carlow, Ireland, 1993. Printed by Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, Kildare.]
Driving to Duckett’s Grove, you first come across the impressive entrance gates:
The National Inventory tells us about these gates:
“The double entrance arches and lodges were designed in a gothic-revival style by J.McDuff Derick [1810-1859] about 1840. This structure is difficult to describe but is a mixture of walls, buttresses, towers and crennelations with lancet windows and heavily mullioned windows. This is possibly the most elaborate entrance to any estate in Ireland and is of considerable architectural importance.” 
Om 1921 Duckett’s Grove was sold to a consortium of local farmers. After the sale the house was occupied by British soldiers and later by Irish Free State soldiers during the Civil War. The Ducketts were held in high regard by the community so that house was not damaged beyond the soldiers taking pot-shots at the statues. The house was sold again, this timme to Theo Frederick George Thompson of the Hanover Works in Carlow (see David Hicks). While he was deciding what to do with it the disaster of the fire occurred.
After the fire the building was sold to Charles Balding of Rainstown House and in later years, used as a riding school. The gate lodge was converted into a pub in the 1970s. In 2005 Carlow County Council took possession of Duckett’s Grove for use as a public park with the intention of conserving the castle and restoring the gardens.
After wandering around the castle we went back through the stable yard toward the walled garden.
The walled garden has also been redeveloped.
The brick walls of the walled garden retain the sun’s heat better than the granite of surrounding building structures.
5. Garryhill House, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow– can visit gardens
It is advised to contact the property directly prior to making arrangements to visit. +353599727240
“Garryhill House was built by the Earl of Bessborough (Viscount Duncannon) [Brabazon Ponsonby (1680-1758) 2nd Viscount Duncannon, 1st Earl of Bessborough] around 1740 on the site of the ancient Garryhill castle, originally built by Art Og Kavanagh, King of Leinster . During the last decade of the fourteenth century, Art Oge McMurragh (King of Leinster) lived at Garryhill. His house would have been built of a wooden structure “of clay and wattle made”, the roof would have been thatched and surrounded by a kraal-like compound, housing a sizeable community of friends and followers. In 1394, Richard II lost his patience with Art, who had been a thorn in the side of the English for years, and decided to attack. Richard and his great army crossed the Barrow at Leighlinbridge, Garryhill was captured and went up in flames.
Art and his wife were caught by surprise but escaped into the woods. In 1394, Richard II said goodbye to Garryhill to return to England. The first Earl of Bessborough, Brabazon Ponsonby, was one of Carlow’s largest land owners with property holdings of 10,578 acres (in addition to approx. 24,000 acres in Kilkenny). The ancient wall of the Garden would suggest a possible bawn. A date stone incorporated into the gateway to the Garden displays an engraving of 1696. Soon after serving as Governor General of Canada between 1931 and 1935 the 9th Earl [Vere Brabazon Ponsonby, 9th Earl of Bessborough] sold the house to end 200 years of association with the Bessborough Family.” 
The website tells us: “Hardymount Gardens comprise of 1 hectare of lawns and shrubs surrounded by magnificent beech and oak trees. Located near Tullow, County Carlow, the colourful, lively gardens feature many unusual plants and flowers.
One of the largest Spanish chestnut trees in the country greets visitors on arrival to 1 hectare of lawns and shrubs surrounded by magnificent beech and oak trees. Found just outside Tullow, County Carlow, Hardymount Gardens features a wonderful walled garden that sits behind the house and contains many unusual plants and flowers in the herbaceous border: lilac-coloured Erysimum, yellow helianthus, beds of old roses, downy variegated mint, mimosa, blue agapanthus, California tree poppies, Chinese foxgloves and much, much more.
The grass paths take visitors past the pond with lilies and fish, and by espaliered apple trees, lobelia tupa, a pergola clothed with wisteria and under planted with hollyhocks and foxgloves. There is a vegetable garden and a summer house at the end of the garden which provides a quiet area for rest and relaxation. Hardymount is a truly amazing walled garden full of colour and vigour thanks to its owner and her dedication to gardening.
Group lunches and teas are available upon request. Car Parking available (a coach may park on road). No dogs or picnics.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Hardymount House in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 149. “(Eustace-Duckett/IFR; Maude, sub Hawarden, PB). A two storey bow-ended Georigan house with giant pilasters at each end of the entrance front. The recent owner, Mr H.A.C. Maude, introduced some chimneypieces from Belgard. Now the home of Mrs Patrick Reeves-Smith.”
7. Huntington Castle, Clonegal, Co Carlow – on section 482
See my write-up:
https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/06/28/huntington-castle-county-carlow/ Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford contact: Alexander Durdin Robertson Tel: 053-9377160 www.huntingtoncastle.com Open: Feb 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Mar 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Apr 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16- 17, 23-24, Nov 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Dec 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 11am-5pm Fee: house/garden, adult/student €9, garden only €6, OAP house/garden €8, garden only €5, child house /garden €6, garden only €3, group and family discounts available.
8. Killedmond, Borris, Co Carlow.(Old Rectory, Killedmond)– section 482
“The House is available for private hire for family gatherings, retreats or corporate events. Distinct character and warmth characterise the 12 individually appointed bedrooms in the manor house. All have gracious views of the surrounding countryside and retain all the original features of the 19th century house. All bedrooms have recently been renovated and include the modern comforts you would expect to find.” It has twelve rooms in the house and 15 self-catering lodges.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 23. “(Lecky/LGI1937 supp) A somewhat stylized Tudor-Revival house of stucco with stone facings, built ca 1830 for John James Lecky to the design of Thomas A. Cobden, of Carlow. Symmetrical front of two storeys and high attic, with three unusually steep gables ending in finials; recessed centre with three-light round-headed window edged with stonework in a rope pattern above a stone Gothic porch of three arches. Tall Tudor chimneystacks at either end; slender battlemented pinnacles rising from corbels at the angles of the roof parapet. Battlemented single storey wing at one side, prolonged by battlemented screen walls with Gothic gateway. Irregular wing with steep gables and dormers at back. Sold ca 1953. Now a novitiate of the Patrician Brothers.”
The Record of Protected Structures describes the house’s porch as a loggia. It adds that the walls are of smooth rendering painted and the windows have late-19th century sashes. There is a single-storey wing on the right-hand side and an arch into the yard. The rear of the house has a two-storey service wing. The interior retains original decoration. The immediate grounds are contained within a ha-ha.
Jimmy O’Toole writes in his The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! Published by Jimmy O’Toole, Carlow, Ireland, 1993. Printed by Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, Kildare.
Chapter: Lecky of Ballykealy
p. 147. “In 1953, the Lecky name was added to the growing list of departing gentry families from County Carlow. The Ballykealy seat had been in their possession since 1649, but not even three centuries of roots and tradition could hold back the tide of a rapidly changing financial climate that had already accounted for the departure of most of their neighbouring families. The 300 acre estate was bought by the Land Commission, and the house was purchased in the early 1960s for use as a noviciate for the Patrician Brothers, owners of the Wolseley family seat near Tullow since 1925.
The sale of Ballykealy was the first tell-tale sign of looming financial problems for the last owner, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Beauchamp Lecky, who moved to London with his family. Within four years, he had more debts than assets, and bankruptcy proceedings were instituted against him… On 26th Sept 1957, the War Office Colonel said his early morning good-byes to his wife and three children, got on a train for central London, and was never seen again by friends and family. Thirty six years on, the missing persons file on Colonel Lecky still remains open at Scotland Yard. ..
p. 149. The Lecky family were one of several Quaker families in Couty Carlow, the first of them having come to County Donegal from Stirling in Scotland during the reign of Eliz I. In 1873, John J. Lecky had 1,440 acres at Ballykealy; John F. Lecky had 44 acres at Lenham Lodge, and W.E.H. Lecky the historian had 721 acres at Aughanure, Bestfield and Kilcock. This property he inherited from his father John Lecky of Newgardens, and from his mother Maria Hartpole of Shrule Castle, Co Laois, he inherited an additional 1,200 acres.“
2. Huntington Castle, County Carlow– see above €€ B&B in castle or self-catering in wing or gate lodge or cottage.
“Kilgraney is a gracious Georgian country house with courtyard suites and cottages overlooking the Barrow valley. The property is less than ninety minutes by car from Dublin and is located halfway between Bagenalstown and Borris village. Kilgraney Courtyard Suites and Cottages are open for B & B packages from May to October 2022.
Surrounded by extensive gardens and granite stone courtyards filled with culinary, aromatic and medicinal plants, the property offers guests a memorable country house experience in a tranquil rural setting on the Carlow Kilkenny border.
Since 1994 we have been inspired by Kilgraney and captivated by what the surrounding countryside, towns and people have to offer. For the 2020 season we have decided to take a break from the kitchen and close our dining room. We will continue to offer our renowned breakfast and can recommend some very fine local restaurants.
Through words and images we invite you to our home and we hope that they entice you to come and experience Kilgraney for yourself.
At Kilgraney House we create a place of peace and tranquility and therefore we close the house at 1.00 am. If you wish to stay out later than this please book one of our courtyard suites, the garden cottage or the lodge.“
“The house is a charming late Georgian house, overlooking the Barrow valley, and is conveniently situated halfway between Kilkenny city and Carlow town. The house takes its name from the Irish ‘cill greine’ which means ‘sunny hill’ or ‘sunny wood’.
Kilgraney (Kilgreaney ) has seen many changes over the centuries. The house, spelt Kylgrany, appears on Mercator’s Map of Carlow in 1595 and parts of the lower courtyard, reached through the kitchen garden, date to around this time. The main house was built around 1820 although the north wing is part of older dwelling and thought to be mid-18th century. A fire in the 1920’s destroyed the original interiors and the rebuilding left Kilgraney House with a Georgian exterior and a plain early 20th century interior. Now carefully restored, the house has immense character and a simple elegance that is full of irony and amusement. The lush interiors are an eclectic mix of traditional furniture with carefully chosen pieces of fabric, furniture and art from around the world.“
Source: Ireland’s Blue Book of Country Houses & Restaurants.
4. Killedmond Rectory, County Carlow– shepherd’s huts €
The National Inventory tells us that it was designed around 1847 by Daniel Robertson. It was built for William McClintock-Bunbury (1800-1866). Around 1953, it was truncated and reordered, to make it more liveable, and this was designed by Alan Hope.
Lisnavagh is a wedding venue, and there are buildings with accommodation, including the farm house, converted courtyard stables, the groom’s cottage, schoolhouse, farm and blacksmiths cottages and the bothy.
The website tells us that:
“The estate is owned by William & Emily McClintock Bunbury. Lisnavagh House & Gardens is managed by Emily and William along with a hardworking and dedicated team in both the house and the gardens.
William McClintock Bunbury returned to Lisnavagh in 2000 with a view to creating a financially sustainable life and business on the estate. In 2001, The Lisnavagh Timber Project was established and during the following years parts of Lisnavagh Farmyard were refurbished into offices some of which now house the family enterprises.“
In his book about the Carlow Gentry, Jimmy O’Toole writes:
“The Bunbury wealth was considerably enhanced after the marriage of a later generation William Bunbury to Catherine Kane, daughter of Redmond Kane, a wealthy Dublin merchant in 1773. William [who lived at Moyle, County Carlow], who was elected MP for Carlow in 1776, was killed two years later when he was thrown from his horse in Leighlinbridge. It was the marriage of William and Catherine’s only daughter, Jane Bunbury to John McClintock, MP, of Drumcar, Co Louth, in 1797, that linked the Bunbury and McClintock names. It was their son John who was created Lord Rathdonnell on 21st Dec 1868. Their second son, William Bunbury-McClintock-Bunbury, born 1800, in compliance with the will of his maternal uncle Thomas Bunbury, MP, assumed the name of Bunbury in addition to that of McClintock. The McClintocks were an old Scottish family and the first to settle in Ireland was Alexander McClintock, who purchased the Rathdonnel estates in County Donegal in 1597, from where the title originated.” 
John McClintock married a second time, to Elizabeth Le Poer Trench, daughter of the 1st Earl Clancarty.
William Bunbury and Catherine Kane had two sons, Thomas and Kane. Jimmy O’Toole writes about these brothers (p. 66):
“The election of 1841, when Thomas Bunbury and his Tory colleague Henry Bruen II, defeated Daniel O’Connell Jr and John Ashton Yates, was one of the bitterest election contests every witnesses in County Carlow…. A bachelor, Thomas’s 6000 acre estate in the parishes of Kellistown, Rathmore and Rathvilly, passed to his brother Kane after his death.”
“His seat in Parliament was taken by his nephew William McClintock-Bunbury [1800-1866, son of John McClintock and Jane Bunbury], who was returned unopposed, and held the seat for sixteen years with a brief interruption in 1852. William had served as a Captain with the Royal Navy during the 1820s and 1830s…After inheriting the family’s Carlow estates, he completed the building of Lisnavagh, a large and rambling Tudor-Revival house of granite, in 1847. The architect was John McGurdy. That year, William and his wife Pauline, daughter of Sir James Stronge of Tynan Abbey in Armagh, and their young family, moved from Louth to live at Lisnavagh.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 187. “[Bunbury/LG1863; McClintock-Bunbury, Rathdonnell, B/PB] A large and rambling Tudor-Revival house of grey stone, built 1847 for William McClintock-Bunbury, MP, brother of 1st Lord Rathdonnell, to the design of John McCurdy. Many gables and mullioned windows; some oriels; but all very restrained, with little or no ornament and hardly any Gothic or Baronial touches apart from a porte-cochere on the service wing, which was set back from the main entrance front, and a loggia of segmental-pointed arches at the other side of the house. The port-cochere served the luggage entrance; the hall door having no such protection. Staircase of wood, ascending round large staircase hall. Drawing room with ceiling of ribs and bosses and marble chimneypiece in Louis Quinze style, en suite with library; richly carved oak bookcases. The house was greatly reduced in size ca. 1953 by 4th Lord Rathdonnell [William Robert McClintock-Bunbury (1914-1959) – with much help with his wife Pamela]; that part which contained the principal rooms being demolished, and the service wing being adapted to provide all the required accommodations. The porte-cochere, which comes in the middle of the entrance front of the reduced house, is now the main entrance. Because of the irregular plan of the house as it originally was, the service wing only abutted on the main building at one corner, which has been made good with a gable and oriel from the demolished part; so that the surviving part of the house looks complete in itself; a pleasant Tudor-Revival house of medium size rather than the rump of a larger house. A large library has been formed out of several small rooms; it is lined with the bookcases from the original library, and with oak panelling and Cordova leather of blue-green and dull bronze-gold. Fine baronial gate arch.”
contact: Bobbie Smith Tel: 059-9775282 www.lorum.com (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: Feb 14-November 30
The Irish Historic Houses Association website tells us:
“The valley of the River Barrow is particularly beautiful, especially downstream from Bagenalstown where the river, which forms the boundary between Counties Carlow and Wexford, flows along the western foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains. The Barrow passes through the towns of Borris and Graiguenamanagh and the village of St. Mullins, where the valley sides become increasingly steep. In the late 1850s Denis Pack-Beresford [1818-1881], a local landowner from nearby Fenagh, donated land for a new church and rectory at Lorum near Kilgreaney, a small hamlet overlooking the river under the shadow of Mount Leinster. ” 
Denis Pack took the name Beresford from his mother, Elizabeth Louisa Beresford who was a daughter of George De La Poer Beresford, 1st Marquess of Waterford, of Curraghmore.
The Irish Historic Houses continues: “Lorum is a restrained Gothic building of warm, golden Carlow granite and a fine example of a Victorian country rectory. Of two storeys, the principal fronts are all of three bays, with a studied asymmetry that falls just short of becoming symmetrical. There are many gables and the entrance is recessed beneath a wide gothic arch, which acts as a porch and helps to give the building a solid, comfortable appearance that embodies the religious certitudes of the Church of Ireland during the last years of establishment.
The interior is decorated in a mild and restrained Victorian Gothic; bright and airy, not too large or grand but solid and respectable. While Lorum may well have been built to the designs of Welland and Gillespie, there is little doubt that the dominant influence was the religious architecture of Augustus Welby Pugin.” (see )
William Joseph Welland and William Gillespie, the Dictionary of Irish Architects tells us, were appointed joint architects to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in May 1860, following the death of Joseph Welland. According to this dictionary, both men were already in the employment of the Commissioners, and they held the post until the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland on 31 December 1870. During their ten years in office, they developed an increasingly personal and idiosyncratic version of Gothic in the churches which they designed. They designed many churches, all over Ireland.
The Irish Historic Houses website tells us: “The first rector was the Revd. King Smith who was installed at Lorum in 1863 and the house continued in use as a rectory until 1957, when it was offered for sale by the parish and bought by Tennant Young, father of the present owner.” (see )
A Carlow county website tells us that:
“In the second half of the 20th century the Church of Ireland passed thorough a period of rationalisation. Parishes were amalgamated; churches closed and a number of rectories became redundant and were sold. Among these was Lorum Old Rectory which Mr. Young purchased as a home for his family. Fast forward for another thirty-five years and his daughter Bobbie, on inheriting the house, was forced to make it pay and, together with her late husband Don, decided to provide country house accommodation for visitors to the region.” 
The Irish Historic Houses website continues: “To the north is a small, enclosed stable yard with a coach house for the rector’s trap, a stable for his horse, and quarters for his groom and other servants. Today Lorum is unusual because both house and grounds have been so little altered, a fate shared by few other Irish rectories.” (see )
The National Inventory describes is as:
“Detached three-bay two-storey Tudor Revival former rectory with half-dormer attic, c. 1864, with mullioned window openings, gables and series of service wings. Now in use as guesthouse. Stable complex to rear with two-storey coach house.“
The Record of Protected Structures adds that the roof is high pitched, covered with natural slates, and has Victorian, earthenware chimney-pots and has wide eaves.
The Old Rectory Lorum website tells us:
“Lorum is a place known to a few – but in the 19th century, when the protestant church of Ireland enjoyed wealth and state patronage, it was the spiritual hub of a parish which included an exceedingly comfortable and spacious rectory. The clergy have departed and the rectory is now the property of Bobbie Smith, who provides guests with fantastic dinners in a dining room which retains its hint of 19th century opulence. Antique bedrooms with modern comforts provide for rest, to be followed by a most splendid breakfast. The lady of the house, incidentally, is a mine of information on Carlow and the organiser of bicycle tours in the region.“
The Record of Protected Structures describes Mount Wolseley:
“A three-bay, two-storey, Italianate house designed by the firm of Sir John Lanyon about 1870. It has painted, lined and rendered walls, a basement, raised coigns, string courses, an enclosed porch with a segmental-headed doorcase and side lights, windows with architraves, wide, bracketed eaves and a hipped roof with a pair of stacks. The sash windows have large panes of glass. On the left-hand side is a service wing. The house is well maintained and in use as a hotel.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 218. “(Wolseley, Bt, of Mount WolseleyPB) A two storey slightly Italianate Victorian house. Camber-headed windows; ornate balustraded porch; roof on bracket cornice. Wing with pyramidal roof. Now a school.”
Jimmy O’Toole tells us:
p. 211. “Richard Wolseley, from Staffordshire, was the first to settle in Tullow, where he inherited the irish estates of his father, also Richard. The elder Richard, who served with King William III in Ireland, was MP for the Borough of Carlow during the reign of Queen Anne (1703-1713). His son, who served as an MP for the Borough from 1727-1768 – a record continuous tenure of parliamentary representation – was created a Baronet in 1744. The family had 2,500 acres in Carlow and 2,600 acres in Co Wicklow. The Wolseleys, according to O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Letters, were the beneficiaries of land grants after the Cromwellian settlement, but his claim that Mount Arran was included is wrong. Mount Arran, purchased from Charles Butler, Earl of Arran, did not come into their possession until some time after 1725, because on 23 March that year, the second Duke of Ormonde leased the estate to Thomas Green of Rahera, Co Carlow. The original of this lease was presented at a meeting of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland earlier this century, by Fr. James Hughes of Maynooth.” 
The house was reconstructed by Sir Thomas Wolseley in 1864 and the estate was sold to the Patrician Order for £4,500 in 1925 by the daughters of Sir John Richard Wolseley. When Sir John died aged forty, he was succeeded in the title by his brother Sir Clement James Wolseley who was probably the last of the family to occupy Mount Wolseley.
In 1994 Mount Wolseley was purchased by the Morrissey family and has since been developed into a four star, quality hotel and 18-hole championship golf course with a range of activities on its doorstep offering guests plenty of things to do on their stay. 
Before it was owned by the Wolseleys, the area was called Mount Arran, and belonged to the Baggot family! It belonged to John Baggot. I have tried to research this history. John was father of Mark, who was a founding member of the Dublin Society, and who also owned much property around St. Michan’s and Smithfield. Their land deeds are in Carlow County Library. In John Ryan’s The History And Antiquities Of The County Of Carlow (1833) there is an abstract of convenyances from the Trustees of the Forfeited Estates in County Carlow in 1688:
“The estate of John Baggott, Esq., attainted; which having been granted 26th Feb., 1697, to Joost, Earl of Albemarle [Arnold Joost van Keppel, 1st Earl of Albemarle (1670-1718) a Dutch military leader who fought for William III], were by him, by deeds of lease and release, dated 27th and 28th February, 1698, for the sum of three hundred pounds conveyed to Charles Balwin, of Dublin, Esq., in trust for Mark Baggott, Esq., to whom, by deeds of lease and release, dated 8th and 9th March, 1698, he conveyed the same in execution of the said trusts ; and the said Baggott, by indenture dated 22nd March, 1702, assigned and made over his interest and right of purchasing the premises from the trustees, for three hundred and five pounds ten shillings to said Ph. Savage. — Inrolled 8th April, 1703.”
There were complications over this transaction, as of course the land was not given up willingly! I believe John Baggot fought at the Seige of Limerick, and was present when the truce and Treaty were drawn up, stating that those holding the castle would stop their fighting if they were promised that their land would not be taken from them. Thus, John Baggot’s land should not have been forfeited, despite him being a Catholic. However, John Baggot died and his son Mark should have inherited the land in Carlow and Dublin. Mark’s Protestant neighbours protested, calling Mark Baggot a “violent Papist.”
“Mark Baggot of Mount Arran, Co. Carlow, inquisition of forfeited estate, Baggot produced a deed which settled land on Mark after the father’s death. Jury refused deed and land was granted to Abermarle, from John, but Mark disputed and won. Mark was in the article of Limerick but his father wasn’t. With the passing of the Act of Resumption the estate became vested in the trustees, and Mark accordingly lodged his claim. Before it came up for hearing, his father died, thus the admission of the claim would mean immediate restoration to Mark.
The case was contested, local feeling against Mark amongst Carlow Protestants, as he was called “a violent Papist,” son of John Baggot late of Mount Arran (according to Turtle Bunbury’s website, John Baggot was a Catholic soldier: John Baggot, a Catholic soldier, leased Tobinstown in 1683 from Benjamin Bunbury. Bagot was attainted for serving King James II and his Carlow estates were acquired in 1702 by Philip Savage.). Mark was High Sheriff of Carlow in 1689, “acted with pride against Protestants.“
When John Baggot was outlawed and his estate forfeited, Ormond “quite irregularly” gave fresh lease of Mount Arran to Richard Wolsley, the son of Brigadier William Wolsley. Richard Wolsley did not want to give the house up to Mark Baggot.
Mark had an ally in Bishop William King of Derry and later of Dublin, due to common interest in Maths and barometers! There are many of Baggot’s letters in King’s correspondence. Mark writes to him that “the gentleman who lives in my house..uses all his interest and power to hinder and delay.”
Mark Baggot lost his land at Mount Arran but inherited Shangarry, Ballinrush, Portrussian, in Carlow, and they were preserved in the family and descended to James John Bagot Esq. of Castle Bagot, Rathcoole, County Dublin, the last male of his name (from him they passed to his sister and her husband, Ambrose More O’Ferrall).
Whole House rental, County Carlow
1. Sandbrook, Tullow, Co Carlow – wedding/retreat venue
The website tells us that Sandbrook is a handsome period country house, originally built in the early 1700s in Queen Anne style [the National Inventory says 1750], and sits in 25 acres of mature parkland on the Wicklow/Carlow border in the heart of the Irish Countryside with views toward Mount Leinster and the Wicklow Mountains. The National Inventory further describes it:
“five-bay two-storey over basement house with dormer attic, c. 1750, with pedimented central breakfront having granite lugged doorcase, granite dressings, two-bay lateral wings, Palladian style quadrant walls and pavilion blocks. Interior retains original features including timber panelled hall and timber staircase.“
It belonged to the Echlin family. There are records of an Anne Echlin who died in 1804 owning Sandbrook (see Jimmy O’Toole’s book, ). She seems to have leased it to Clement Wolseley when Mount Arran was burned during the 1798 Rebellion.
She left the property, consisting in total of 500 acres, to Robert Marshall of Dublin, and he sold to Brownes of Browne’s Hill for £488 in 1808. William Browne-Clayton moved to live in Sandbrook after his marriage to Caroline Watson-Barton in 1867 and remained there until he inherited Browne’s Hill on the death of his father, Robert Browne-Clayton, in 1888.
O’Toole writes: “Sandbrook was another example of the many Irish country houses that attracted senior British army officers when they retired after the First and Second World Wars. General George Lewis bought the house in 1918 and after his wife’s death in 1938 the property was purchased by Brigadier Arthur George Rolleston who had retired from the army.
… In 1959 Sandbrook was purchased by John and Mary Allnatt… In the 1960s, Mrs. Allnatt purchased Rathmore Park for her son from her first marriage, Brendan Foody, but after he had decided not to return to live in Ireland, Rathmore was sold. He inherited Sandbrook following his mother’s death in September.”
The website tells us: “Sandbrook is the perfect venue for a family gathering or wedding celebration. With five interconnecting reception rooms downstairs, a covered terrace, huge lawn space and a separate loft space above converted stables there is a vast array of facilities should you wish to bring a group. Personal attention to detail and impeccable hospitality are evident throughout Sandbrook, with log fires burning in the hearths and fresh flowers in the hallways.“
 p. 113, 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 am compiling a list of Historic Houses open for visits.
I am working on fuller descriptions with photographs of places that may not be Section 482 but may be open to the public on specific dates, and will be publishing these soon, probably by Province, as I did for the Office of Public Works properties.
Some big houses are now hotels or b&bs, and may be possible to visit, so I am including them on this list [in red]. This list is neither exhaustive nor necessarily accurate – check listing in advance to see if they are still open to the public.
Here is the Summary List – I hope it will be useful for you for trips around the country, including Northern Ireland which is a treasure trove! Let me know if you have any other recommendations!
I am listing the Section 482 properties in purple to distinguish them from other places to visit. On the map, what I call “whole house accommodation,” by which I mean for 10 or more guests, such as wedding venues, are marked in orange.
For places to stay, I have made a rough estimate of prices at time of publication:
€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;
€€ – up to approx €250 per night for two;
€€€ – over €250 per night for two.
1. Antrim Castle and Clotworthy House, County Antrim – estate and gardens open to the public, the Castle was destroyed by fire. The stable block, built in the 1840s and now known as Clotworthy House, is used as an arts centre.
“A 19th century coach house adjacent to Ballyhannon Fortress Castle. Take a step back in time, and enjoy the unique experience of this historic landmark, at our bed and breakfast. We are at the end of a private drive, so no one will be “passing by” to interfere with your peace and tranquility.”
“Rising bluntly out of the craggy landscape, Ballyportry is the finest example in Ireland of a complete medieval Gaelic Tower House. Built in the 15th century it has been beautifully restored with careful attention being paid to retaining all its original features and style, yet with the comforts of the 21st century.”
4. Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare – hotel €€€
Estate Cottage 1 – The Coach House – up to 7 people – Self Catering – from €1,200 A 3 bedroom/4 bathroom separate 1,200 square foot home with a private outdoor dining terrace. This building has been renovated from the original coach house for the main manor house – and perfect for up to 7 people.
Estate Cottage 2 – The Stone Cottage – up to 10 people – Self Catering – from €2,200 A stand-alone 1,800 square foot home with 4 bedrooms/4.5 bathrooms with its own private garden. This building was the original gardener’s cottage for the main manor house – now fully renovated that will sleep up to 10 people comfortably.
Manor House (Partial) – up to 20 people – Self Catering – from €8,800 You will enjoy private use of Two Wings of the Manor House including 8 ensuite bedrooms and a range of living rooms, dining rooms, country style kitchen and outdoor dining options (can be catered or staffed by request).
Manor House (Whole) – from 28 to 36 people – Full Catered & Staffed Only – on request There are 14 Bedrooms in the Manor House that can accommodate up to 36 adults + 3 children sharing and a whole range of living and entertainment spaces. Due to the numbers, this is only available on a fully catered and staffed basis.
Whole Estate – from 44 to 54 people – Fully Catered & Staffed Only – on request The entire Estate consisting of the Manor House, Stone Cottage and Coach House for your private and exclusive use. A total of 22 ensuite bedrooms which is fully staffed and catered. This can cater for up to 54 adults + 4 children sharing.
3. Ballinterry House, Rathcormac, Co Cork – accommodation
The website tells us: “Ballymacmoy is the estate of origin of the wild geese family, the Hennessy’s of Cognac and is still owned and inhabited by their descendants. 40 kilometres from Cork International Airport, Ballymacmoy is a 23 acre estate located at the edge of the little village of Killavullen (200 inhabitants). It is made up of grasslands and wooded areas with 3.5 miles of exclusive fishing rights along the Blackwater river, it includes a 1 acre walled garden and a unique prehistoric private cave reserved for guests.”
a. the Coach House: The two storey Coach House takes centre stage in the stable yard and has been transformed into a beautiful, luxurious 4 bedroom self catering property. Downstairs there is a very relaxing style open plan kitchen & dining area with comfortable couches which allow for great conversations even while you prepare a bite of lunch or dinner.
b. the Garden Flat is located in the stable yard and is suitable for those looking for a self-catering holiday. There are two double bedrooms on the ground floor which would ideally suit two couples or if the need arises one of the bedrooms can be changed to be a twin room.
c. The Garden House is a quaint little cottage that sits at the bottom of the walled garden next to the beautiful Ballynatray House. Set across two floors the Garden House boasts a beautiful double room complete with comfortable armchairs either side of the open fire that fills the complete upstairs area. This is an ideal adult only location where romantic notions are never very far away.
d. Renovated & situated in the stable yard the Groom’s Flat is an ideal self catering option for two people.
8. Ballyvolane, Castlelyons, Co Cork – Hidden Ireland accommodation €€€
Careysville House sits on an escarpment overlooking the fishery, with stunning views of the Blackwater valley. Guests can look out of their bedroom window and see one of the most stunning stretches of salmon fishing in Ireland, not to mention watch the salmon jumping in the pools below. It was built in 1812 in the Georgian style, on the site of the old ruined Ballymacpatrick Castle.
8. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above
Built around 1619 by Sir Baptist Jones, Bellaghy Bawn is a fortified house and bawn (the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house). What exists today is a mix of various building styles from different periods with the main house lived in until 1987.
Springhill has a beguiling spirit that captures the heart of every visitor. Described as ‘one of the prettiest houses in Ulster’, its welcoming charm reveals a family home with portraits, furniture and decorative arts that bring to life the many generations of Lenox-Conynghams who lived here from 1680. The old laundry houses one of Springhill’s most popular attractions, the Costume Collection with some exceptionally fine 18th to 20th century pieces.
Dating back to 1830, this sympathetically restored Georgian property offers a tranquil rural setting midway between Portstewart and Portrush. Whilst retaining many of the original features and charm, the open plan extension has been adapted to suit modern living. The accommodation comprises three main reception areas, a Magnificent Family Kitchen /Living and Dining area, a cosy and tastefully decorated Snug with open fire, access to south facing Orangery and large secluded cottage gardens. Upstairs are four well proportioned bedrooms sleeping up to eight guests and a spacious first floor balcony with sea views. Minimum 3 night stay.
contact: Selina Guinness Tel: 01-4957483 www.selinaguinness.com Open: Jan 6-10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, Feb 4, 7, 11, 14, 28, Mar 7, 11, 14, 25, 28, May 3-6, 10-13, 17-22, 24-29, June 8-11, 13, 17-19, 21-23, Aug 13-21, Jan, May, June, 10am-2pm, Feb, Mar, 2.30pm-6.30pm, National Heritage Week, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP €8 student/child free, Members of An Taisce and The Irish Georgian Society €6
“The Cottage has a great history and has stood here for over 200 years looking down over the City boundaries, Dublin Bay and beyond.
This unique Irish Cottage has been tastefully restored to the highest modern standards so as to provide four star comforts within its two foot thick walls. The Cottage is a great place from which to explore.“
15. Tibradden Farm Cottages, Rathfarmham, Dublin 16 € for 4-8
Waterloo House is situated in Ballsbridge Dublin 4, just off the bustling Baggot Street and only a few minutes walk from St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street and many of Dublin’s key places of interest.
contact: Michael Mullen Tel: 087-2470900 www.aranislands.ie Open: June-Sept, 9am-5pm. Fee: adult €2.50, child €1.50, family €5, group rates depending on numbers
19. Thoor Ballylee, County Galway
20.Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden – section 482, garden only Craughwell, Co. Galway
Margarita and Michael Donoghue Tel: 087-9069191 www.woodvillewalledgarden.com Open: Jan 28-31, Feb 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, June 1-30, Aug 13-22, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €8, student, €6, child €3 must be accompanied by adult, family €20-2 adults and 2 children
8. Kildrought House, Celbridge Village, Co. Kildare – section 482
contact: June Stuart Tel: 01-6271206, 087-6168651 Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-3, May 16-31, June 1-3, Aug 11-31, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3, child under 5 years free, school groups €2 per head
9. Larch Hill, Kilcock, Co. Kildare – section 482
contact: Michael De Las Casas Tel: 087-2213038 www.larchill.ie Open: May 1-20, 23-31, June 1-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-30, Aug 13-21, 27-28, 10am- 2pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €4, concession for groups
Discover this boutique gem, a secret tucked away in the heart of Ireland. This magnificent 17th century manor is complemented by its incredible countryside surroundings, and by the four acres of meticulously-maintained garden that surround it. Within the manor you’ll find a place of character, with open fires, beautiful furniture, fresh flowers and Irish literature. The manor retains its stately, historic charm, and blends it with thoughtful renovation that incorporates modern comfort.
1. Belleek Castle and Ballina House, originally Belleek Castle, Ballina, Mayo – hotel and gives tours
2. Brookhill House, Brookhill, Claremorris, Co. Mayo – section 482
contact: Patricia and John Noone Tel: 094-9371348, 087-3690499, 086-2459832 Open: Jan 13-20, Apr 13-20, May 18-24, June 8-14, July 13-19, Aug 1-25, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/child/student €3, National Heritage Week free
3. Enniscoe House & Gardens, Castlehill, Ballina, Co. Mayo – section 482
contact: Randall Plunkett Tel: 046-9025169 www.dunsany.com Open: June 24-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-22, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €25, OAP/student/12-18 years €15, child under 12 years free, National Heritage Week €10, under 12 years free
“Our 18th century riverside cottage has been converted into an elegant one bedroom hideaway for a couple.Set in blissful surroundings of gardens and fields at the entrance to a small Georgian house, the cottage is surrounded by ancient oak trees, beech and roses. It offers peace and tranquillity just one hour from Dublin.
A feature of the cottage is the comfy light filled sitting room with high ceiling,windows on three sides, an open fire, bundles of books and original art. The Trimblestown river, once famous for its excellent trout, runs along the bottom of its secret rose garden. Garden and nature lovers might enjoy wandering through our extensive and richly planted gardens where many unusual shrubs and trees are thriving and where cyclamen and snowdrops are massed under trees.The Girley Loop Bog walk is just a mile down the road.
The bedroom is luxurious and the kitchen and bathroom are well appointed. There is excellent electric heating throughout.“
2. Hilton Park House, Clones, Co. Monaghan – section 482
contact: Fred Madden Tel 047-56007 www.hiltonpark.ie (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April- Sept House and garden tours available for groups Jan 31, Feb 1-4, 7-11, 28, Mar 1-4, 7-11, May 3-6, 8-20, June 2, 13-17, 20-24, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, Sept 11, 18, 25, weekdays, 9am-1pm, Sunday, 1pm-5pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €8, child €5
3. Mullan Village and Mill, Mullan, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan – section 482
contact: Michael Treanor Tel: 047-81135 www.mullanvillage.com Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6.30pm Fee: €6
“Birdhill House & Gardens offers the ultimate mix of homeliness and grandeur. The perfect place to reflect and re-energize. Enjoy the welcoming warmth of this mid 1700’s Georgian country house. Nestled in the Suir valley with panoramic views of Knockmealdown and Comeragh mountains.
Explore the tranquil and breathtaking beauty of the gardens. Take the time to relax on one of the many terraces. Sip a glass of wine or dine al fresco around the fire pit. If you feel like a little exercise you might stroll along the river bank, be tempted to take out the rowing boat/kayak. Or maybe enjoy an energetic game of tennis. On a chilly day sit by a roaring fire in the drawing room or gather friends and family around the kitchen table to play games. Hide away in the library for a quiet read surrounded by relaxed elegance. Retire to the delightfully decorated bedrooms and snuggle down for sweet dreams, but be warned: the morning chorus here at Birdhill House & Gardens is quite spectacular. Oh! And watch out for Millie and her daughter Hettie, the sweetest of dogs.
Birdhill House and Gardens offers guests luxury accommodation with the option to add breakfast and dinner if you wish.
The west wing of the house also can be exclusively rented where guests can enjoy the freedom of self-catering and is an ideal house for family breaks. Contact the house directly to check availability for the exclusive rental of Birdhill House & Gardens.”
“Cahir House Hotel is a Historical Town House and the leading hotel in Cahir, County Tipperary. This former manor house offers luxury hotel accommodation in Cahir and is the ideal base for your hotel break in the South East of Ireland.“
This was the home of Richard Butler (1775-1819), 10th Baron Cahir and 1st Earl of Glengall and his wife, Emilia Jefferyes of Blarney Castle, when they moved from Cahir Castle. It was they who built the Swiss Cottage.
5. Cashel Palace Hotel, Cashel, County Tipperary €€€
“Crocanoir is a home away from home tucked away down a leafy boreen. This beautifully restored house offers a truly relaxing holiday where hospitality and a traditional Irish experience is offered in abundance. It enjoys stunning views of Slievenamon mountain and there are lovely countryside walks only a stroll from the doorstep. Guests are welcome to wander the woodland paths and leave the world behind. The Old House has oodles of character and is ideal for large families or groups of friends.“
7. Dundrum House, County Tipperary – hoteland self-catering cottages €€
4. Cappagh House (Old and New), Cappagh, Dungarvan, Co Waterford – section 482
contact: Charles and Claire Chavasse Tel: 087-8290860, 086-8387420 http://www.cappaghhouse.ie Open: April, June, & August, Wednesday & Thursday, May & September Wednesday Thursday & Saturday, National Heritage Week, August 13-21, Oct 1, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult/OAP/student/€5, child under 12 free
“The Earl of Cork built Richmond House in 1704. Refurbished and restored each of the 9 bedrooms feature period furniture and warm, spacious comfort. All rooms are ensuite and feature views of the extensive grounds and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access is available throughout the house. An award winning 18th century Georgian country house, Richmond House is situated in stunning mature parkland surrounded by magnificent mountains and rivers.
Richmond House facilities include a fully licensed restaurant with local and French cuisine. French is also spoken at Richmond House. Each bedroom offers central heating, direct dial telephone, television, trouser press, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, tea-and coffee-making facilities and a Richmond House breakfast.”
“A classic Georgian house in a unique setting. Lough Bawn house sits high above Lough Bane with amazing sweeping views. Nestled in a 50 acre parkland at the end of a long drive, Lough Bawn House is a haven of peace and tranquillity.“
3. Mornington House, County Westmeath – accommodation
“Mornington House, a historic Irish Country Manor offering luxury country house accommodation located in the heart of the Co. Westmeath countryside, just 60 miles from Ireland’s capital city of Dublin. Tranquility and warm hospitality are the essence of Mornington, home to the O’Hara’s since 1858.“
Whole House Rental/Wedding Venue County Westmeath:
“Kilmokea is a former Georgian rectory, in a quiet, rural location where the Three Sister Rivers, the Suir, Nore and Barrow, meet before flowing out into Waterford Harbour. It’s rightly renowned for its seven acres of award-winning gardens, with a wide range of unusual sub-tropical plants and wonderful organic vegetables. Nearby is beautiful Hook Peninsula, with excellent coastal walks and magnificent Blue Flag beaches, or you can stay at home and relax in our private indoor pool or with a soothing aromatherapy treatment.
Kilmokea in County Wexford, was originally a simple late Georgian Church of Ireland rectory built in 1794 and bought by Colonel and Mrs. David Price, who planned and planted a seven acre garden between 1950 and the mid 1980s with determination and taste. The mild, frost-free climate allowed them to plant a wide range of unusual plants from all around the world, including a number of sub-tropical species. These all flourished at Kilmokea and the garden became justly famous.“
contact: Anthony Ardee Tel: 01-2863405 www.killruddery.com Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, Tue-Suns and Bank Holidays. National Heritage Week 13-21, 9am-6pm, Fee: adult €8.50, garden and house tour €15.50, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, garden and house tour €13, child €3, 4-16 years, garden and house tour €5.50
14. Knockanree Garden, Avoca, Co Wicklow – section 482, garden only
contact: Peter Campion and Valerie O’Connor Tel: 085-8782455 www.knockanreegardens.com Open: May 20-21, 23-28, 30-31, June 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-30, July 1-3, Aug 13-21, Oct 1, 3-8, 10-14, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2
Wicklow Head Lighthouse has safeguarded the scenic Wicklow coastline since 1781. It is a peace seeker’s haven with inspiring and refreshing views of the Irish Sea. The landscape and scenery surrounding the lighthouse provide a perfect backdrop for a unique and memorable break.
Just to finish up my entries about Office of Public Works properties: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.
1. Altamont Gardens
2. Castletown House, County Kildare
3. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare
1. Altamont House and Gardens, Bunclody Road, Altamont, Ballon, County Carlow:
“A large and beautiful estate covering 16 hectares in total, Altamont Gardens is laid out in the style of William Robinson, which strives for ‘honest simplicity’. The design situates an excellent plant collection perfectly within the natural landscape.
For example, there are lawns and sculpted yews that slope down to a lake ringed by rare trees and rhododendrons. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen, sheltered by ancient oaks and flanked by huge stone outcrops, leads to the banks of the River Slaney. Visit in summer to experience the glorious perfume of roses and herbaceous plants in the air.
With their sensitive balance of formal and informal, nature and artistry, Altamont Gardens have a unique – and wholly enchanting – character.” 
From Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the care of the OPW, Government Publications, Dublin, 2018:
“Altamont House was constructed in the 1720s, incorporating parts of an earlier structure said to have been a medieval nunnery. In the 1850s, a lake was excavated in the grounds of the house, but it was when the Lecky-Watsons, a local Quaker family, acquired Altamont in 1924 that the gardens truly came into their own.
Feilding Lecky-Watson had worked as a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he nurtured his love of exotic plants, and of rhododendrons in particular. Back in Ireland, he became an expert in the species, cultivating plants for the botanical gardnes at Glasnevin, Kew and Edinburgh. So passionate was he about these plants that when his wife, Isobel, gave birth to a daughter in 1922, she was named Corona, after his favourite variety of rhododendron.” 
Around the lake are mature conifers that were planted in the 1800s, including a giant Wellingtonia which commemorates the Battle of Waterloo.  Corona continued in her father’s footsteps, planing rhododendrons, magnolia and Japanese maples. Another feature is the “100 steps” hand-cut in granite, leading down to the River Slaney. There are red squirrels, otters in the lake and river, and peacocks. Before her death, Corona handed Altamont over to the Irish state to ensure its preservation.
2.Castletown House and Parklands, Celbridge, County Kildare.
“Castletown is set amongst beautiful eighteenth-century parklands on the banks of the Liffey in Celbridge, County Kildare.
The house was built around 1722 for the speaker of the Irish House of Commons, William Conolly, to designs by several renowned architects. It was intended to reflect Conolly’s power and to serve as a venue for political entertaining on a grand scale. At the time Castletown was built, commentators expected it to be ‘the epitome of the Kingdom, and all the rarities she can afford’.
The estate flourished under William Conolly’s great-nephew Thomas and his wife, Lady Louisa, who devoted much of her life to improving her home.
Today, Castletown is home to a significant collection of paintings, furnishings and objets d’art. Highlights include three eighteenth-century Murano-glass chandeliers and the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in the country.
It is still the most splendid Palladian-style country house in Ireland.“
The Conolly familysold Castletown in 1965. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the estate was bought for development and for two years the house stood empty and deteriorating. In 1967, Hon Desmond Guinness courageously bought the house with 120 acres, to be the headquarters of the Irish Georgian Society, and in order to save it for posterity. Since then the house has been restored and it now contains an appropriate collection of furniture, pictures and objects, which has either been bought for the house, presented to it by benefactors, or loaned. It is now maintained by the Office of Public Works and the Castletown Trust.
William Conolly (1662-1729) rose from modest beginnings to be the richest man in Ireland in his day. He was a lawyer from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, who made an enormous fortune out of land transactions in the unsettled period after the Williamite wars.
William Conolly had property on Capel Street in Dublin, before moving to Celbridge. Conolly’s house was on the corner of Capel Street and Little Britain Street and was demolished around 1770.  The Kildare Local History webpage gives us an excellent description of William Conolly’s rise to wealth:
“In November 1688, William Conolly was one of the Protestants who fled Dublin to join the Williamites in Chester alongside his late Celbridge neighbour Bartholomew Van Homrigh.
On the victory of William III, he acquired a central role dealing in estates forfeited by supporters of James II, commencing his rise to fortune with the forfeited estates of the McDonnells of Antrim.
In 1691 he purchased Rodanstown outside Kilcock, which became his country residence until he purchased Castletown in 1709.
A dowry of £2,300 came his way in 1694 when he married Katherine Conyngham, daughter of Albert Conyngham, a Williamite General who had been killed in the war at Collooney in 1691.
He was appointed Collector and Receiver of Revenue for the towns of Derry and Coleraine on May 2nd 1698.
Conolly was the largest purchaser of forfeited estates in the period 1699–1703, acquiring also 20,000 acres spread over five counties at a cost of just £7,000.” 
He rose to become Speaker of the House of Commons in the Irish Parliament. William Conolly married Katherine Conyngham of Mount Charles, County Donegal, whose brother purchased Slane Castle in County Meath (see my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/07/19/slane-castle-county-meath/). As well as earning money himself, his wife brought a large dowry.
William Conolly purchased land in County Kildare which had been owned by Thomas Dongan (1634-1715), 2nd Earl of Limerick, in 1709. Dongan’s estate had been confiscated as he was a Jacobite supporter of James II (he became first governor of the Duke of York’s province of New York! The Earldom ended at his death). Dongan’s mother was the daughter of William Talbot, 1st Baronet of Carton (see my entry about Carton, County Kildare, under Places to stay in County Kildare https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/04/27/places-to-visit-and-to-stay-leinster-kildare-kilkenny-laois/).
The Archiseek website tells us about the design of Castletown House:
“Soon after the project got underway Conolly met Alessandro Galilei (1691-1737), an Italian architect, who had been employed in Ireland by Lord Molesworth in 1718 [John Molesworth, 2nd Viscount, who had been British envoy to Florence]. He designed the façade of the main block in the style of a 16th century Italian town palace. He returned to Italy in 1719 and was not associated with the actual construction of the house which began in 1722. Sir Edward Lovett Pearce (died 1733), a young Irish architect, on his Italian grand tour became acquainted with Galilei in Florence and through this connection he was employed by the Speaker to complete Castletown when he returned to Ireland in 1724. Pearce had first hand knowledge of the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and his annotated copy of Palladio’s Quattro libri dell’architettura survives. It was Pearce who added the Palladian colonnades and the terminating pavillions. This layout was the first major Palladian scheme in Ireland and soon had many imitators.” 
Mark Bence-Jones describes Castletown in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses. The centre block is of three storeys over basement, and has two almost identical thirteen bay fronts “reminiscent of the façade of an Italian Renaissance town palazzo; with no pediment or central feature and no ornamentation except for doorcase, entablatures over the ground floor windows, alternate segmental and triangular pediments over the windows of the storey above and a balustraded roof parapet. Despite the many windows and the lack of a central feature, there is no sense of monotony or heaviness; the effect being one of great beauty and serenity.”  The centre block is made of Edenderry limestone, and is topped by cornice and balustrade. On the ground floor the windows have frieze, cornice and lugged architrave, and on the first floor, alternating triangular and segmental pediments.
Pearce added the curved Ionic colonnades and two two-storey seven bay wings. He also designed the impressive two-storey entrance hall inside.
William died in 1729 aged just 67, so he had only a few years to enjoy his house. His wife Katherine lived on in the house another twenty-three years until her death at the age of 90 in 1752. William and Katherine had no children, so his estate passed to his nephew William James Conolly (1712-1754), son of William’s brother Patrick. We came across William James Conolly before in Leixlip Castle (another Section 482 property), which he also inherited. William James married Lady Anne Wentworth, the daughter of the Earl of Strafford. Her father, Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford is not the more famous Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford who was executed (of whom there is at least one portrait in Castletown) but a later one, of the second creation. William James died just two years after Katherine Conolly, so the estate then passed to his son Thomas Conolly (1738-1803).
Thomas married Louisa Lennox in 1758, one of five Lennox sisters, daughters of the Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond. From the age of eight she had lived at nearby Carton with her sister Emily, who was married to James Fitzgerald, the 20th Earl of Kildare (who became the 1st Duke of Leinster). At Carton, Louisa was exposed to the fashionable ideas of the day in architecture, decoration, horticulture and landscaping.  Louisa loved Castletown and continually planned improvements, planting trees, designing the lake and building bridges.
Archiseek continues: “The Castletown papers, estate records and account books, together with Lady Louisa’s [i.e. Louisa Lennox, wife of Tom Conolly] diaries and correspondence with her sisters, provide a valuable record of life at Castletown and also of the reorganisation of the house. Lady Louisa’s letters from the 1750s onwards are revealing of the fashions in costume design, fabric patterns and furniture. She played an important part in the alteration and redecoration of Castletown during the 1760s and 1770s. As no single architect was responsible for all of the work carried out, she supervised most of it herself. Much of the redecoration of the house was done to the published designs of the English architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) who never came to Ireland himself. Chambers also worked for Lady Louisa’s brother, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, at Goodwood in Sussex. In a letter, written in July 1759, Lady Louisa mentions instructions given by Chambers to his assistant Simon Vierpyl who supervised the work at Castletown.” (see )
Description of the Hall, from Archiseek: “This impressive two-storeyed room with a black and white chequered floor, was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. The Ionic order on the lower storey is similar to that of the colonnades outside and at gallery level there are tapering pilasters with baskets of flowers and fruit carved in wood. The coved ceiling has a central moulding comprising a square Greek key patterned frame and central roundel with shell decoration.” [see 6]
The polished limestone floor with its chequered design and the Kilkenny marble fireplace reflect William Conolly’s desire to build the house solely of native Irish materials. Unfortunately when we visited in October 2022, the hall was half hidden with a large two storey curtain, as the windows are all being repaired. As we can see in the photograph, the room has an Ionic colonnade to the rear, and a gallery at first floor level, and the stair hall is through an archway in the east wall.
From the entrance hall, one enters the magnificent Stair Hall. The Castletown website describes the stair hall:
“The Portland stone staircase at Castletown is one of the largest cantilevered staircases in Ireland. It was built in 1759 under the direction of the master builder Simon Vierpyl (c.1725–1811). Prior to this the space was a shell, although a plan attributed to Edward Lovett Pearce suggests that a circular staircase was previously intended.
The solid brass balustrade was installed by Anthony King, later Lord Mayor of Dublin. He signed and dated three of the banisters, ‘A. King Dublin 1760’. The opulent rococo plasterwork was created by the Swiss-Italian stuccadore Filippo Lafranchini, who, with his older brother Paolo, had worked at Carton and Leinster House for Lady Lousia’s brother-in-law, the first Duke of Leinster, as well as at Russborough in Co. Wicklow. Shells, cornucopias, dragons and masks feature in the light-hearted decoration which represents the final development of the Lafranchini style. Family portraits are also included with Tom Conolly at the foot of the stairs and Louisa above to his right. The four seasons are represented on the piers and on either side of the arched screen.“
Mark Bence-Jones continues:
In the following year, Tom Conolly and Lady Louisa employed the Francini to decorate the walls of thestaircase hall with rococo stuccowork; and in 1760 the grand staircase itself – of cantilevered stone, with a noble balustrade of brass columns – was installed; the work beign carried out by Simon Vierpyl, a protégé of Sir William Chambers. The principal reception rooms, which form an enfilade along the garden front and were mostly decorated at this time, are believed to be by Chambers himself; they have ceilings of geometrical plasterwork, very characteristic of him. Also in this style is the dining room, to the left of the entrance hall. It was here that, according to the story, Tom Conolly found himself giving supper to the Devil, whom he had met out hunting and invited back, believing him to be merely a dark stranger; but had realised the truth when his guest’s boots were removed, revealing him to have unusually hairy feet. He therefore sent for the priest, who threw his breviary at the unwelcome guest, which missed him and cracked a mirror. This, however, was enough to scare the Devil, who vanished through the hearthstone. Whatever the truth of this story, the hearthstone in the dining room is shattered, and one of the mirrors is cracked.“
The Dining Room, description from Archiseek:
“This room dates from the 1760s redecoration of Castletown undertaken by Lady Louisa Conolly and reflects the mid-eighteenth century fashion for separate dining rooms. Originally, there were two smaller panelled rooms here. It was reconstructed to designs by Sir William Chambers, with a compartmentalised ceiling similar to one by Inigo Jones in the Queen’s House at Greenwich. The chimney-piece and door cases are in the manner of Chambers. Of the four doors, two are false.
Furniture original to Castletown includes the two eighteenth-century giltwood side tables. Their frieze is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms. The three elaborate pier glasses are original to the Dining Room. The frames are carved fruiting vines, symbols of Bacchus and festivity. These are probably the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809) who, with the firm of Thomas Jackson of Essex Bridge, Dublin, was paid large sums for carving and gilding throughout the house.“
Between the front of the house, with its Entrance Hall, Stair Hall and Dining Room is a corridor, or rather, two corridors, one to the west and one to the east of the Entrance Hall. This corridor is on every storey, including the basement. To the rear (north) of the house on the ground floor is an enfilade of rooms: the Brown Study to the west end, next to another staircase, then the Red Drawing Room, the Green Drawing Room, the Print Room, the State Bedroom, and then small rooms called the Healy Room and the Map Room.
The corridors now hold paintings and art works, and one has a cabinet of Meissen porcelain.
Next to the Dining Room at the front of the house is the Butler’s Pantry, which contains photographs of the servants of Castletown, and a portrait of a housekeeper, Mrs Parnel Moore (1649–1761). It’s unusual to have a portrait of a housekeeper but perhaps someone painted her because she was a beloved member of the household, as she lived to be at least 112 years! This is a very old portrait dating back to the 1700s.
The Castletown website tells us about the Butler’s Pantry: “The Butler’s Pantry dates from the 1760s and connected the newly created Dining Room with the kitchens in the West Wing. Food was carried in from the kitchens through the colonnade passageway and then reheated in the pantry before being served. The great kitchens were on the ground floor of the west wing, with servants’ quarters upstairs. Upwards of 80 servants would have been employed in the house and kitchens in the late eighteenth century under the direction of the Butler and the Housekeeper.”
The Red Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:
“It is one of a series of State Rooms that form an enfilade and were used on important occasions in the eighteenth century. This room was redesigned in the mid 1760s in the manner of Sir William Chambers. The chimney-piece, ceiling and pier glasses are typical of his designs.
The walls are covered in red damask which is probably French and dates from the 1820s. Lady Shelburne recorded in her journal seeing a four coloured damask, predominently red, in this room. The Aubusson carpet dates from about 1850 and may have been made for the room. Much of the furniture has always been in the house and Lady Louisa Conolly paid 11/2 guineas for each of the Chinese Chippendale armchairs which she considered very expensive. The chairs and settee were made in Dublin and they are displayed in a formal arrangement against the walls as they would have been in the eighteenth century. The bureau was made for Lady Louisa in the 1760s.“
The neoclassical ceiling, which replaced the vaulted original, is based on published designs by the Italian Renaissance architect, Sebastiano Serlio, and is modelled after one in Leinster House (belonging to Lady Louisa’s sister’s husband the Earl of Kildare). The white Carrara chimney-piece came to the house in 1768.
The Green Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:
“The Conollys formally received important visitors to the house in the Green Drawing Room which was the saloon or principal reception room. The room was redecorated in the 1760s and like the other state rooms reflects the neo-classical taste of the architect Sir William Chambers. The Greek key decoration on the ceiling is repeated on the pier glasses and the chimney-piece. Originally these were pier tables with a Greek key frieze and copies of these may be made in the future. The chimney-piece is similar to one designed by Chambers for Lord Charlemont’s Casino at Marino.”
The Castletown website tells us: “The Green Drawing Room was the main reception room or saloon on the ground floor. Visitors could enter from the Entrance Hall or the garden front. Like the other state rooms it was extensively remodelled between 1764 and 1768. The influence of the published designs of Serlio and the leading British architect Isaac Ware can be seen in the neo-classical ceiling, door cases and chimney-piece...The walls were first lined with a pale green silk damask in the 1760s. Fragments of this silk, which was replaced by a dark green mid-nineteenth century silk, survived and the present silk was woven as a direct colour match in 1985 by Prelle et Cie in Lyon, France.”
The Brown Study is at one end of this enfilade of rooms. The website describes it:
“The Brown Study with its wood-panelled walls, tall oak doors, corner chimney-piece, built-in desk and vaulted ceiling is decorated as it was in the 1720s when the house was first built. This room was used as a bedroom in the late nineteenth century and then as a breakfast parlour in the early twentieth century.
Between the windows is a piece of the ‘Volunteer fabric’. Printed on a mixture of linen and cotton in Harpur’s Mills in nearby Leixlip, it depicts the review of the Leinster Volunteers in the Phoenix Park in 1782. Thomas Conolly was active in the Volunteer leadership in both Counties Derry and Kildare. The Volunteers were a local militia force established during the American War of Independence to defend Ireland from possible French invasion while the regular troops were in America. They were later linked to the Patriot party in the Irish House of Commons led by Henry Grattan and to their campaigns for political reform.“
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The doing-up of the house was largely supervised by Lady Louisa, and two of the rooms bear her especial stamp: the print room, which she and her sister, Lady Sarah Napier made ca. 1775; and the splendid long gallery on the first floor, which she had decorated with wall paintings in the Pompeian manner by Thomas Riley 1776.“
The website tells us about the Print Room, completed in 1769: “More than any other room in Castletown, the Print Room bears the imprint of Lady Louisa, who assiduously collected, cut out, and arranged individual prints, frames and decorations. The prints were glued on panels of off-white painted paper which was later attached to the walls on battens covered with cloth. Lady Louisa thus created an intimate, highly individual room which has survived changing tastes and fashions and is now the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in Ireland.”
Print rooms were fashionable in the 18th century – ladies would collect their favourite prints and paste the walls with them. Prints featured include Le Bas, Rembrandt and Teniers, the actor David Garrick and Sarah Cibber, Louisa’s sister Sarah, Charles I and Charles II as a boy, with whom Louisa shared a bloodline.
The room was later used as a billiards room, and this helped inadvertedly to save the prints, as our guide told us, as the smoke from their pipes helped to protect against silverfish insects which eat wallpaper.
Next to the Print Room is the State Bedroom. The website tells us:
“In the 1720s, when the house was first laid out, this room, along with the rooms either side, probably formed William Conolly’s bedroom suite. It was intended that he would receive guests in the morning while sitting up in bed or being dressed in the manner of the French court at Versailles. In the nineteenth century, the room was converted into a library and the mock leather Victorian wall paper dates from this time. Sadly, the Castletown library was dispersed in the 1960s and today the furniture reflects the room’s original use.“
Next to the State Bedroom is The Healy Room: “This room originally served as a dressing room or closet attached to the adjoining State Bedroom. It was used as a small sitting room and later became Major Edward Conolly’s bedroom in the mid-twentieth century, as it was one of the few rooms that could be kept warm in winter. It is now known as the Healy room after the pictures of the Castletown horses by the Irish artist Robert Healy (d.1771).”
Upstairs has more bedrooms, and the beautiful Long Gallery. A corridor overlooks the Great Hall.
To one side of the Stair Hall upstairs is Lady Kildare’s Room, named after Lady Louisa’s sister Emily, Countess of Kildare and later Duchess of Leinster, who had raised Louisa and the two younger sisters Sarah and Cecilia at nearby Carton House after their parents’ death. Currently being renovated, in the past the room housed the Berkeley Costume Collection. Made in France, Italy, and England, the dresses on display consist of rich embroidered bodices and full skirts made from silk and gold thread.
Across the upstairs East Corridor from Lady Kildare’s room is the Blue Bedroom. The website tells us that the Blue Bedroom provides a fine example of an early Victorian bedroom. Like the Boudoir, it forms part of an apartment with two adjoining dressing rooms, one of which was upgraded into a bathroom with sink and bathtub. The principal bedrooms, used by the family and honoured guests, were on this floor. Bedrooms on the second floor were also used for guests and for children, while the servants slept in the basement. This room has a lovely pink canopied bed, but we did not see the room when we visited in 2022.
At the front of the house on the other side of the Great Hall upstairs are the Boudoir, and Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, and across the West Corridor upstairs, the Pastel Room. The website tells us:
“The Boudoir and the adjoining two rooms formed Lady Louisa’s personal apartment. The Boudoir served as a private sitting room for Louisa and subsequent ladies of the house. The painted ceiling, dado rail and window shutters possibly date from the late eighteenth century and were restored in the 1970s by artist Philippa Garner. The wall panels, or grotesques, after Raphael date from the early nineteenth century and formerly hung in the Long Gallery. Amongst the items inside the built-in glass cabinet are pieces of glass and china featuring the Conolly crest.
In the adjoining room, Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, OPW’s conservation architects have left exposed the walls to offer visitors a glimpse of the different historic layers in the room, from the original brick walls, supported by trusses, to wooden panelling to fragments of whimsical printed wall paper that once embellished the room.“
Across the West Corridor upstairs is the Pastel Room. The Corridor has more portraits.
The Pastel Room, the website tells us, was originally an anteroom to the adjoining Long Gallery. It was used as a school room in the nineteenth century and is now known as the Pastel Room because of the fine collection of pastel portraits. The smaller pastels surrounding the fireplace include a pair of portraits of Thomas and Louisa Conolly by the leading Irish pastel artist of the eighteenth century, Hugh Douglas Hamilton.
From the Pastel Room, we enter the Long Gallery. The website tells us about this room:
“Originally laid out as a picture gallery with portraits of William Conolly’s patrons on display, its function and layout changed under Lady Louisa. In 1760, she had the original doorways to the upper east and west corridors removed, replacing them with the central doorway above the Entrance Hall. The new doorcases as well as new fireplaces at either end were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. The Pompeian style decoration on the walls dates from the 1770s and was inspired by Montfaucon’s publications on the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and by Raphael’s designs for the Vatican. The murals were the work of an English artist and engraver Charles Ruben Riley (1752–98). The Long Gallery became a space for informal entertaining and was full of life and activity as the following excerpt from one of Louisa’s letters suggests: “Our gallery was in great vogue, and really is a charming room for there is such a variety of occupations in it, that people cannot be formal in it. Lord Harcourt was writing, some of us played at whist, others at billiards, Mrs Gardiner at the harpsichord, others at chess, others at reading and supper at one end. I have seldom seen twenty people in a room so easily disposed of.”
The Long Gallery, description from Archiseek:
“…measuring almost 80 by 23 feet, with its heavy ceiling compartments and frieze dates from the 1720s. Originally there were four doors in the room and the walls were panelled in stucco similar to the entrance Hall. In 1776 the plaster panels and swags were removed but traces of them were found behind the painted canvas panels when they were taken down for cleaning during recent conservation work.”
Archiseek continues: “In the mid 1770s the room was redecorated in the Pompeian manner by two English artists, Charles Reuben Riley (c.1752-1798) and Thomas Ryder (1746-1810). Tom and Louisa’s portraits are at either end of the room over the chimney-pieces and the end piers are decorated with cyphers of the initals of their families: The portrait of Lady Louisa is after Reynolds (the original is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard) and that of Tom after Anton Raphael Mengs (the original is in the National Gallery of Ireland).
Archiseek tells us: “The subjects of the wall paintings were mostly taken from engraving in d’Hancarville’s Antiquites Etrusques, Greques, et Romaines (1766-67) and de Montfaucon’s L’antiquite expliquee et representee en figures (1719). The busts of the poets and philosophers are placed on gilded brackets designed by Chambers. In the central niche stands a seventeenth-century statue of Diana. Above is a lunette of Aurora, the godess of the dawn, derived from a ceiling decoration by Guido Reni, the seventeenth century Bolognese painter.
The three glass chandeliers were made for the room in Venice and the four large sheets of mirrored glass came from France. In the 1770s the Long Gallery was used as a living room and was filled with exquisite furniture. Originally in the room, there were a pair of side tables attributed to John Linnell, with marble tops attributed to Bossi, a pair of commodes by Pierre Langlois, that were purchased in London for Lady Louisa by Lady Caroline Fox and a pair of bookcases at either end of the room.
In 1989 major conservation work was carried out on the Long Gallery. The wall paintings that had been flaking for many years were conserved. The original eighteenth-century gilding has been cleaned and the chandeliers restored. The project was funded by the American Ireland Fund, the Irish Georgian Society and by private donations.“
Mark Bence-Jones tells us: “The gallery, and the other rooms on the garden front, face along a two mile vista to the Conolly Folly, an obelisk raised on arches which was built by Speaker Conolly’s widow 1740, probably to the design of Richard Castle. The ground on which it stands did not then belong to the Conollys, but to their neighbour, the Earl of Kildare, whose seat, Carton, is nearby. The folly continued to be a part of the Carton estate until 1968, when it was bought by an American benefactress and presented to Castletown. At the end of another vista, the Speaker’s widow built a remarkable corkscrew-shaped structure for storing grain, known as the Wonderful Barn. One of the entrances to the demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley 1741. The principal entrance gates are from a design by Chambers.“
The Obelisk, or Conolly Folly, was reputedly built to give employment during an episode of famine. It was restored by the Irish Georgian Society in 1960.
As Bence-Jones tells us, Castletown was inherited by Tom Conolly’s nephew, Edward Michael Pakenham, who took the name of Conolly, to become Pakenham Conolly. Thomas and Louisa had no children, and Thomas’s sister Harriet married John Staples, and their daughter was Louisa Staples. Louisa married Thomas Pakenham (1757-1836). It was their son, Edward Michael (1786-1849) who inherited Castletown.
The house then passed to his son, another Thomas Conolly (1823-1876). He was an adventourous character who travelled widely and kept a diary. Stephen and I recently attended a viewing of portraits of Thomas and his wife Sarah Eliza, which are to be sold by Bonhams. His diary of his trip to the United States during the time of the Civil War is being published.
Sarah Eliza was the daughter of a prosperous Celbridge paper mill owner, Joseph Shaw. Her substantial dowry helped to fund her husband’s adventurous lifestyle! A photograph album which belonged to her brother Henry Shaw, of a visit to Castletown, was rescued from the rubble of his home in London when it was destroyed by a German bomb in 1944. Sadly, he died in the bombing. The photograph album is on display in Castletown.
Sarah Eliza and Thomas had four children. Thomas, born in 1870, died in the Boer War in 1900. William died at the age of 22. Edward Michael (Ted), born in 1874, lived until his death in Castletown, in 1956. Their daughter Catherine married Gerald Shapland Carew, 5th Baron Carew, the grandson of Robert Carew, 1st Baron Carew of Castleboro House, County Wexford (today an impressive ruin), and son of Shapland Francis Carew and his wife Hester Georgiana Browne, daughter of Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo.
Catherine’s son, William Francis Conolly-Carew (1905-1994), 6th Baron Carew, inherited Casteltown, and added Conolly to his surname.
3.Maynooth Castle, County Kildare:
General information: 01 628 6744, firstname.lastname@example.org
“This majestic stone castle was founded in the early thirteenth century. It became the seat of power for the FitzGeralds, the earls of Kildare, as they emerged as one of the most powerful families in Ireland. Garret Mór, known as the Great Earl of Kildare, governed Ireland in the name of the king from 1487 to 1513.
Maynooth Castle was one of the largest and richest Geraldine dwellings. The original keep, begun around 1200, was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. Inside, the great hall was a nerve centre of political power and culture.
Only 30 kilometres from Dublin, Maynooth Castle occupies a deceptively secluded spot in the centre of the town, with well-kept grounds and plenty of greenery. There is a captivating exhibition in the keep on the history of the castle and the family.“
 p. 8, Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the Care of the OPW. Government Publications, Dublin 2, 2018.
 p. xiii, Jennings, Marie-Louise and Gabrielle M. Ashford (eds.), The Letters of Katherine Conolly, 1707-1747. Irish Manuscripts Commission 2018. The editors reference TCD, MS 3974/121-125; Capel Street and environs, draft architectural conservation area (Dublin City Council) and Olwyn James, Capel Street, a study of the past, a vision of the future (Dublin, 2001), pp. 9, 13, 15-17.
 p. 75. 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.
 p. 129. Great Irish Houses. Forewards by Desmond FitzGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008.
I love starting a new year. The new listing for Section 482 properties won’t be published until February or March, so at the moment we will have to rely on 2021 listings (January listings below).
I had an amazing 2021 and visited lots of properties! As well as those I’ve written about so far, I am hoping to hear back for approval for a few more write-ups. Last year Stephen and I visited thirteen section 482 properties, thirteen OPW properties, and some other properties maintained by various groups.
The Section 482 properties we visited were Mount Usher gardens and Killruddery in County Wicklow; Killineer House and gardens in County Louth; Salthill Gardens in County Donegal; Stradbally Hall in County Laois; Enniscoe in County Mayo; Tullynally in County Westmeath; Kilfane Glen and Waterfall in County Kilkenny; Killedmond Rectory in County Carlow; Coopershill, Newpark and Markree Castle in County Sligo and Wilton Castle in County Wexford.
The OPW properties we visited were Dublin Castle, the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, National Botanic Gardens, Rathfarnham Castle, St. Stephen’s Green, Iveagh Gardens, Phoenix Park and Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin; Emo Court, County Laois; Portumna Castle, County Galway; Fore Abbey in County Westmeath; Parke’s Castle, County Leitrim; and Ballymote Castle, County Sligo.
We also visited Duckett’s Grove, maintained by Carlow County Council; Woodstock Gardens and Arbortetum maintained by Kilkenny County Council; Johnstown Castle, County Wexford maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust (which also maintains Strokestown Park, which we have yet to visit – hopefully this year! it’s a Section 482 property – and Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens, which we visited in 2020); Dunguaire Castle, County Clare, which is maintained by Shannon Heritage, as well as Newbridge House, which we also visited in 2021. Shannon Heritage also maintains Bunratty Castle, Knappogue Castle and Cragganowen Castle in County Clare, King John’s Castle in Limerick, which we visited in 2019, Malahide Castle in Dublin which I visited in 2018, GPO museum, and the Casino model railway museum. We also visited Belvedere House, Gardens and Park – I’m not sure who maintains it (can’t see it on the website).
We were able to visit two historic properties when we went to view auction sales at Townley Hall, County Louth and Howth Castle, Dublin.
Finally some private Big Houses that we visited, staying in airbnbs, were Annaghmore in County Sligo and Cregg Castle in Galway.
Open dates in 2021: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, Mar 1-2, 8-9, May 4- 5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30-31, June 1-4, Aug 14-31, Sept 1-2, 9am-1pm, Sundays 2pm- 6pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5
Open dates in 2021: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm
Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal Madge Sharkey Tel: 086-3846843 Open dates in 2021: Jan 18-22, 25-29, Feb 1-5, 8-12, Aug 14-30, Sept 1-17, 20-23, 27-28, Nov 15- 19, 22-26, Dec 1-3 6-10, 13-14, 9am-1pm
Open dates in 2021: Jan 14-17, 23-24, 28-29, Feb 4-7, 11-12, 19-21, 26-28, May 3-13,16, 18-20, 23-27, June 2-4, 8-10, 14-16, 19-20, Aug 14-22, weekdays 2.30pm-6.30pm, weekends 10.30am-2.30pm Fee: adult/OAP €8 student €5, child free, Members of An Taisce the The Irish Georgian Society (with membership card) €5
Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden
Craughwell, Co. Galway Margarita and Michael Donoghue Tel: 087-9069191 www.woodvillewalledgarden.com Open dates in 2021: Jan 29-31, Feb 1-28, Apr 1-13, 11am- 4.30pm, June 1, 6-8, 13-15, 21-22, 27- 29, July 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 31, Aug 1-2, 6-8, 13-22, 27-29, Sept 4-5, 11am-5pm Fee: adult/OAP €6, child €3, student, €5, family €20, guided tours €10