Munster’s counties are Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.
I have noticed that an inordinate amount of OPW sites are closed ever since Covid restrictions, if not even before that (as in Emo, which seems to be perpetually closed) [these sites are marked in orange here]. I must write to our Minister for Culture and Heritage to complain.
1. Ennis Friary, County Clare
2. Scattery Island, County Clare
3. Askeaton Castle, County Limerick
4. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick – currently closed
5. Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick – castle closed at present, can see outside
6. Lough Gur, County Limerick
7. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary
8. Famine Warhouse 1848, County Tipperary
9. Holycross Abbey, County Tipperary – must prebook for tour
10. The Main Guard, County Tipperary – closed at present
11. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary
12. Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary
13. Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
14. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary – closed at present
15. Swiss Cottage, County Tipperary
1. Ennis Friary, Abbey Street, Ennis, County Clare:
General Enquiries: 065 682 9100, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the OPW website:
“The O’Briens of Thomond, who once ruled much of north Munster, founded this medieval Franciscan friary. It grew quickly into a huge foundation, with 350 friars and a famed school of 600 pupils by 1375. It was the very last school of Catholic theology to survive the Reformation.
The building contains an exceptional wealth of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century sculptures carved in the local hard limestone, including one of St Francis himself displaying the stigmata. An arch between the nave and transept bears a remarkable image of Christ with his hands bound.
Don’t forget to visit the sacristy, an impressive structure with a ribbed, barrel-vaulted ceiling. Take especial note of the beautiful east window, with its five lancets, as it lights up the chancel.” 
“Off the northern bank of the Shannon Estuary lies Scattery Island, the site of an early Christian settlement founded by an extraordinary man.
St Senan, who was born in the area, built his monastery in the early sixth century. It included a mighty round tower, which at 36 metres is one of the tallest in Ireland.
There are six ruined churches on the site too. The Church of the Hill stands on a high spot, the very place where, legend has it, an angel placed Senan so that he could find – and then banish – the terrible sea-monster called the Cathach. It is believed that Senan is buried beside another of the medieval churches.
Scattery was invaded many times over the centuries. The Vikings in particular believed that the monastery held many riches and returned several times to ravage it.
A short boat trip will take you to the island, where you can explore its multi-layered, 1,500-year history.“
3.Askeaton Castle, County Limerick:
General information: 087 113 9670, email@example.com
From the OPW website:
“In the very heart of this County Limerick town stand the impressive remains of a medieval fortress. Askeaton Castle dates from 1199, when William de Burgo built it on a rock in the River Deel.
Over the centuries, the castle proved itself key to the history of Munster. It was the power base of the earls of Desmond after 1348. In 1579 it held out against the English general Sir Nicholas Malby, an incident that helped spark the second Desmond Rebellion.
The banqueting hall is one of the finest medieval secular buildings in Ireland. The tower is partly ruined, but some fine windows and an exquisite medieval fireplace have remained.
The early eighteenth-century building nearby was used as a Hellfire Club. These clubs were rumoured to be dens of excess in which wealthy gentlemen indulged in drink, mock ritual and other nefarious activities.“
The Fitzgeralds, Earls of Desmond, held the castle for over 200 years and ruled Munster from it.
4. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick:
General information: 061 396666, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the OPW website:
“Desmond Castle Adare epitomises the medieval fortified castle in Ireland. It is strategically situated on the banks of the River Maigue, from where its lords could control any traffic heading to or from the Shannon Estuary.
The castle was built for strength and security. A formidable square keep forms its core; the keep stands within a walled ward surrounded by a moat.
Desmond Castle Adare changed hands several times before becoming a key bastion of the earls of Desmond in the sixteenth century. During the Second Desmond Rebellion, however, it fell to the English after a bloody siege. Cromwellian forces laid waste to the building in 1657, although restorers have since helped to recall its former glory.
Guided tours are now available for anyone who wants to walk in the footsteps of the FitzGeralds and experience their courageous spirit.“
This castle belonged to the Earls of Kildare for nearly 300 years until the rebellion in 1536, when it was forfeited and granted to the Earls of Desmond who gave the castle its present name.
5.Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick:
General information: 069 77408, email@example.com
From the OPW website:
“Many of Ireland’s surviving medieval halls are in west Limerick. The Desmond Banqueting Hall in Newcastle West is one of the most impressive among them.
It was begun in the thirteenth century by Thomas ‘the Ape’ FitzGerald, so named because of the story that an ape took him from his cradle to the top of Tralee Castle – and delivered him safely back again.
However, most of the spacious, imposing structure was created in the fifteenth century, at the height of the Desmond earls’ power, and used as a venue for frequent and lavish banquets.
The oak gallery, from which musicians would provide a raucous soundtrack for the revelry below, has been fully restored.“
A castle was built here in the 13th century by the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Desmond. The present structure dates to the 15th century.
6.Lough Gur, County Limerick:
From the OPW website:
“Lough Gur is a site of international significance due to the area’s rich archaeology and environment. It is home to Ireland’s oldest and largest stone circle and the only natural lake of significance in South East Limerick. Lough Gur also has an abundance of ancient monuments in State care with a reported 2,000 archaeological monuments in a 5km radius. Visitors to Lough Gur Lakeshore Park will find a hillside visitor centre where you can take part in a guided or self guided tour of the exhibition. There is also an option to take a full outdoor guided tour of the archaeological monuments. Tours are tailor made and can range from 30 minutes to 3 hours. The Lakeshore Park and tours are run by Lough Gur Development Group.“
7.Cahir Castle, County Tipperary:
General information: 052 744 1011, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen and I visited Cahir Castle in June 2022, and I was very impressed. I had no idea that we have such an old castle in Ireland with so much intact.
From the OPW website:
“Cahir Castle is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles. It stands proudly on a rocky island on the River Suir.
The castle was was built in the thirteenth century and served as the stronghold of the powerful Butler family. [The Archiseek website tells us it was built in 1142 by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond] So effective was its design that it was believed to be impregnable, but it finally fell to the earl of Essex in 1599 when heavy artillery was used against it for the first time. During the Irish Confederate Wars it was besieged twice more.
At the time of building, Cahir Castle was at the cutting edge of defensive castle design and much of the original structure remains.“
Our tour guide took us through the castle as if we were invaders and showed us all of the protective methods used. We were free then to roam the castle ourselves.
The name derives from the Irish ‘an ChathairDhun Iascaigh’ meaning stone fort of the earthen fort of the fish.
The information leaflet tells us that the area was owned by the O’Briens of Thomond in 1169 at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion. The area around Cahir was granted to Phillip of Worcester in 1192 by John, Lord of Ireland, who later became King John. His nephew William was his heir – I’m not sure of his surname! But then his great-granddaughter, Basilia, married Milo (or Meiler) de Bermingham (he died in 1263). They lived in Athenry and their son was the 1st Lord Athenry, Piers Bermingham (died 1307).
Edward III (1312-1377) granted the castle to the James Butler 3rd Earl of Ormond in 1357 and also awarded him the title of Baron of Cahir in recognition of his loyalty. The 3rd Earl of Ormond purchased Kilkenny Castle in c. 1392. Cahir Castle passed to his illegitimate son James Gallda Butler. James Gallda was loyal to his mother’s family, the Desmonds, who were rivals to his father’s family, the Butlers.
In their book The Tipperary Gentry, William Hayes and Art Kavanagh tell us that the rivalry between the Butlers of Ormond and the Fitzgeralds of Desmond turned to enmity when the War of the Roses broke out in England, with the Ormonds supporting the House of Lancaster and the Desmonds the House of York. The enmity found expression in the battle at Pilltown in 1462. The enmity continued for over a century, and the last private battle between the Ormonds and the Desmonds was the Battle of Affane, County Waterford, in 1565. 
Thomas Butler (d. 1558) was created the 1st Baron Caher (of the second creation), County Tipperary, in 1543. He married Eleanor Butler, daughter of Piers Butler 8th Earl of Ormond (d. 26 August 1539) and Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare (d. 3 September 1513). Their son Edmund became the 2nd Baron Caher (died 1560) but the title died with him and The Peerage website tells us his barony fell into abeyance between his two aunts.
The brother of Thomas 1st Baron Caher, Piers Butler (d. after February 1567/68) had a son Theobald who was then created 1st Baron Caher [Ireland, of the 3rd creation] on 6 May 1583. (see The Peerage website )
It was Piers Rua Butler, the 8th Earl of Ormond (c. 1467 – 1539), who brought peace between the warring factions of Fitzgeralds of Desmond and the Butlers of Ormond. He married Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald (or Garret) Fitzgerald (1455-1513) 8th Earl of Kildare. His efforts culminated in a treaty called the Composition of Clonmel. It stated that Edmund Butler of Cahir should receive the manor of Cahir on condition that he and all his heirs “shall be in all things faithful to the Earl [of Ormond] and his heirs.” The Barons of Cahir were not allowed to keep their own private army nor to exact forced labour for the building or repair of their castle or houses. (see ).
This storyboard tells us that Ireland was dramatically different from Renaissance England in its language, customs, religion, costume and law. It was divided into 90 or so individual “lordships” of which about 60 were ruled by independent Gaelic chieftains. The rest were ruled by Anglo-Irish lords. Queen Elizabeth saw Ireland as a source of much-needed revenue. She did not have sufficient resources nor a strong enough army to conquer Ireland so she encouraged her authorities in Dublin to form alliances between the crown and any local chieftains who would submit to her authority. Many chieftains who submitted did so in order to assist them in their own power struggles against their neighbours. Elizabeth especially needed this support in order to ensure that if Spain invaded Ireland she would be able to quell rebellion.
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, travelled to Ireland to subjugate Ulster and Shane O’Neill (“The O’Neill) in 1573. He failed, and had to sell of much of his land in England to pay debts accrued from raising an army. He died in Dublin of typhoid in 1576.
His son, the 2nd Earl of Essex came to Ireland to quell a rebellion which included the rise of Hugh O’Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone (1550-1616), cousin of Shane O’Neill.
The storyboard tells us that Hugh O’Neill fought alongside the 1st Earl of Essex in Ulster between 1573 and 1575. He also fought for Queen Elizabeth in 1580 against the rebel Gerald Fitzgerald, 14th Earl of Desmond (circa 1533, d. 11 November 1583), and as thanks he was made Earl of Tyrone. However, he turned against the crown in 1594 and formed an alliance with Red Hugh O’Donnell to fight against the Queen’s troops, in the Nine Years War.
The ties between the Earls of Essex and Queen Elizabeth I are complicated. When Walter Devereux the 1st Earl died in Ireland, his wife, Lettice Knollys, remarried. She and Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, married secretly, a fact which enraged the disappointed Queen. It was Robert Dudley who introduced his stepson Robert Devereux 2nd Earl of Essex to Elizabeth and he subsequently became her favourite, alongside Walter Raleigh. However, Elizabeth was to be angered again when this next favourite, Devereux, also secretly married, this time to Frances Walsingham, who was the widow of Sir Philip Sidney. We came across her before when we visited Portumna Castle as she later married Richard Bourke 4th Earl of Clanricarde. Philip Sidney was the son of Henry Sidney (or Sydney) who had been Lord Deputy of Ireland.
Robert Devereux the 2nd Earl of Essex sought to re-win courtly favour by going to fight in Ireland, following the footsteps of his father, and persuaded Elizabeth to name him Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
In May 1599, Essex and his troops besieged Cahir Castle. He arrived with around two to three thousand men, a cannon and a culverin, a smaller and more accurate piece of heavy artillery.
Thomas Butler the 10th Earl of Ormond, who owned the castle in Carrick-on-Suir and was another favourite of the Queen, as he had grown up with her in the English court. However, the storyboards tell us that he at first rebelled, alongside Thomas Butler 2nd Baron Cahir (or Caher – they seem to be spelled interchangeably in historical records) and Edmond Butler, 2nd Viscount Mountgarret (1540-1602), another titled branch of the Butler family.
By the time of the 1599 siege, the Earl of Ormond was fighting alongside Essex, and Cahir Castle was held by rebels, including Thomas Butler’s brother James Gallada Butler (not to be confused with the earlier James Galda Butler who died in 1434). Thomas Butler 2nd Baron Cahir travelled with Essex toward the castle. Baron Cahir sent messengers to ask his brother to surrender the castle but the rebels refused. Thomas Butler 2nd Baron Cahir was suspected of being involved with the rebels. Thomas was convicted of treason but received a full pardon in 1601 and occupied Cahir Castle until his death in 1627. James Gallada Butler claimed that he had been forced by the rebels to fight against Essex. Essex and his men managed to capture the castle.
During the three days of the siege, the castle incurred little damage, mostly because the larger cannot broke down on the first day! Eighty of the defenders of the castle were killed, but James Gallda Butler and a few others escaped by swimming under the water mill. This siege was to be the only time that castle was taken by force. James Gallda recaptured the castle the following year and held it for some months. The Butlers regained possession of the castle in 1601.
Inside the castle in one room was a wonderful diorama of this siege of Cahir Castle, with terrifically informative information boards.
Failing to win in his battles in Ireland, however, Essex made an unauthorised truce with Hugh O’Neill. This made him a traitor. The Queen did not accept the truce and forbid Essex from returning from Ireland. He summoned the Irish Council in September 1599, put the Earl of Ormond in command of the army, and went to England. He tried to raise followers to oust his enemies at Elizabeth’s court but in doing so, he brought a small army to court and was found guilty of treason and executed.
Cahir Castle was taken again, this time by Murrough O’Brien (1614-1674, 6th Baron Inchiquin and later created 1st Earl of Inchiquin in 1647) in the Confederate War, which followed the rebellion of 1641. O’Brien fought on the side of the Crown – his ancestor Murrough O’Brien was created 1st Baron Inchiquin in 1543 by the Crown in return for converting to Protestantism and pledging allegiance to the King (Henry VIII). Since he took the castle for the crown, it implies that at this time Lord Caher fought against the crown again – and since the information boards tell us that the 1599 siege was the only time it was taken by force, force must not have beeen used at this later time. This must have been the time that Oliver Cromwell in 1650, when the occupants surrendered peacefully.
Once invaders get through the portcullis they are trapped in a small area, where defenders can fire arrows and stones at them. The walls of this area slope outwards towards the bottom, known as a base batter, so falling rocks bounce off them to hit the invaders.
The Butlers of Ormond also had to forfeit their land in the time of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate. Both branches of the Butlers had their lands restored with the restoration of the monarchy with Charles II in 1662.
The castle layout was changed considerably and enlarged during work to repair some of the damage caused by the battles, but was then left abandoned until 1840 when the partial rebuilding of the Great Hall took place. 
The core of the castle is the keep.
There’s an excellent history of Cahir on the Cahir Social and Historical Website:
“Throughout the reigns of Elizabeth I and Charles I, Cahir Castle appears as a frequent and important scene in the melancholy drama of which Ireland was a stage. The Castle was taken and re-taken, but rarely damaged and through it all remained in the hands of the Roman Catholic Butlers of Cahir. By this time Cahir had become a great centre of learning for poets and musicians. Theobald, Lord Cahir [I assume this was 1st Baron Cahir of second creation who died in 1596] was said by the Four Masters “to be a man of great benevolence and bounty, with the greatest collection of poems of any of the Normans in Ireland”.
“A study of the Butler Family in Cahir in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries reveals the rise and fall of one of the minor branches of the House of Ormond. At the end of the fifteenth century, they possessed extensive powers, good territorial possessions and a tenuous link with the main branch of the Butler family. During the sixteenth century, their possession was strengthened by the grant of the title of Baron of Cahir with subsequent further acquisition of land, but they came under closer central government control. A complete reversal in their relations with the Earls of Ormond occurred, strengthened by various marriage alliances. They also participated in political action, both in the Liberty of Tipperary and at National Level. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries their position was affected by their adherence to Roman Catholicism, which resulted in their revolt during the Nine Years War, and subsequent exclusion from power by the Central Administration. They formed part of the Old English Group and as such, suffered from the discriminatory politics practiced by the Government. From 1641 they became minor landowners keeping their lands by virtue of the favour of their relative, the Duke of Ormond. In 1647 the Castle was surrendered to Lord Inchiquin for Parliament but re-taken in 1650 by Cromwell himself, whose letter describing acceptable terms of surrender still survives. At the restoration of Charles II, in 1660, George Matthews, (as Warden of Cahir Castle and half-brother to the Duke of Ormond), retained the Cahir lands for the Lord Cahir, then a minor.”  George Matthew was married to Eleanor Butler, daughter of Edmond Butler, 3rd/13th Baron Dunboyne. She seems to have married twice: first to Edmond Butler son of 3rd Baron Cahir, then to to George Matthew. Her son was Piers Butler, 4th Baron Cahir, who was just seven when his father died.
Piers Butler 4th Baron Cahir (1641-1676) married George Mathew’s niece, Elizabeth Mathew (1647-1704). They had no male issue, but two daughters. His daughter Margaret married Theobald Butler, 5th Baron Cahir (d. 1700), great-grandson of the 1st Baron Cahir.
“Despite embracing the Jacobite Cause in the Williamite Wars, the Cahir estate remained relatively intact. However, the Butlers never again lived at Cahir Castle but rather at their country manor, Rehill House, where they lived in peace and seclusion from the mid-seventeenth century, when not living abroad in England and France.
…By 1700 a sizeable town had grown around the Castle, although hardly any other buildings survive from this period. Agriculture, milling and a wide range of trades would have brought quite a bustle to the muddy precursors of our present streets. At this time, the Castle was quite dilapidated and was let to the Quaker William Fennell, who resided and kept a number of wool combers at work there.” 
Margaret Butler daughter of the 4th Baron Cahir was the 5th Baron Cahir’s second wife. His first wife, Mary Everard, gave birth to his heir, Thomas (1680-1744), 6th Baron Cahir. Thomas had several sons, who became 7th (d. 1786) and 8th Barons Cahir (d. 1788), but they did not have children, so that title went to a cousin, James Butler (d. 1788), who became 9th Baron Cahir.
“On the completion of Cahir House [in the town, now Cahir House Hotel] in the later 1770’s, Fennell rented Rehill House from Lord Cahir and lived there over half a century. [The Barons moved to Cahir House.] A strong Roman Catholic middle class emerged. James, 9th Lord Cahir [d. 1788], practiced his religion openly. He maintained strong links with Jacobite France, and paid regular visits to England. While not a permanent resident, he kept his Cahir Estates in impeccable order and was largely responsible for the general layout of the Town of Cahir. Under his patronage, some of the more prominent buildings such as Cahir House, the Market House and the Inn were built during the late 1770s and early 1780s. In addition, the Quakers built the Manor Mills on the Bridge of Cahir, the Suir Mills (Cahir Bakery), and the Cahir Abbey Mills in the period 1775-90.“
The son of the 9th Baron Cahir, Richard, became 10th Baron and 1st Earl of Glengall.
“… The young Lord Cahir married Miss Emily Jeffereys of Blarney Castle and together they led Cahir through the most colourful period of its development…Richard, Lord Cahir, sat in The House of Lords as one of the Irish Representative Peers, and in 1816 was created Earl of Glengall, a title he enjoyed for just 3 years. He died at Cahir House of typhus in January 1819, at the age of 43 years. Richard, Viscount Caher, (now 2nd Earl of Glengall), had already taken his place in political circles while his mother, Emily, ran the Estate with an iron fist.” 
“During the Great Famine (1846-51), Lord and Lady Glengall did much for the relief of the poor and the starving. Lord Glengall’s town improvement plan was shelved in 1847 due to a resulting lack of funds and his wife’s fortune being tied up in a Trust Fund. The Cahir Estates were sold in 1853, the largest portion being purchased by the Trustees of Lady Glengall. This sale came about due to Lord Glengall being declared bankrupt. The Grubbs had by now become the most important Quaker family in the district and bought parts of the Cahir Estate during the 1853 sale...
In the interim, Lady Margaret Butler (elder daughter and heir of Lord Glengall) had married Lieut. Col. Hon. Richard Charteris, 2nd son of the 9th Earl of Wemyss & March. Using a combination of her mother’s Trust and Charteris funds, Cahir Town and Kilcommon Demesne were repurchased.
Lady Margaret, although an absentee landlord, resident in London, kept a close watch on her Cahir Estates through two excellent managers, Major Hutchinson and his successor William Rochfort… Her son, Richard Butler Charteris took over her role in 1915 and remained resident in Cahir from 1916 until his death in 1961. In 1962, the House, and circa 750 acre estate core (within the walls of Cahir Park and Kilcommon Demesne) were auctioned…And so ended the direct line of Butler ownership in Cahir, almost 600 years.“ 
The castle became the property of the state after the death of Lord Cahir in 1961; it was classified as a national monument and taken into the care of the Office of Public Works. 
Our tour guide took us through the outside of the castle, showing us its defenses. Our tour ended inside the Great Hall, or dining hall.
The dining hall has a magnificent ceiling. The building would have originally been of two storeys, and taller. The appearance today owes much to restoratation work carried out by William Tinsley in 1840, when the building was converted into a private chapel for the Butler family. The hammer-beam roof and the south and east wall belong to this period. The external wall dates from the 13th century.
Next we explore the keep building.
8.Famine Warhouse 1848, Ballingarry, County Tipperary:
General information: 087 908 9972, email@example.com
From the OPW website:
“How did an ordinary farmhouse near Ballingarry, County Tipperary, become the site of a bloody siege and a monument of the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848?
It was here that rebels, under the leadership of Protestant aristocrat William Smith O’Brien, besieged 47 police officers who had barricaded themselves into the McCormack homestead, taking 5 children hostage. After two of their number were killed, the rebels finally gave in. They were later transported to penal colonies abroad.
The Warhouse, as it became known, is now a museum. Its contents illuminate the history of the Young Irelander Rebellion, the trials of its leaders, their exile in Australia and escape to the USA. The exhibition places the rebellion in the context of the Great Famine and the upheaval that rocked Europe during that turbulent year.“
Traditionally it was known as Ballingarry Warhouse or The Widow McCormack’s House.
9.Holycross Abbey, County Tipperary:
From the OPW website:
“As destination for pilgrims, Holy Cross Abbey, near Thurles, County Tipperary, has a rich history. Pilgrims travelled here for eight centuries to venerate the relic after which the abbey and surrounding villages are named – a piece of the True Cross of Christ’s crucifixion.
Today this working parish church is a peaceful landmark and a place for quiet contemplation and historical discovery. As well as inspecting the relic of the cross, you can marvel at the building’s ornate stonework. The chancel is possibly the finest piece of fifteenth-century architecture in the country. The abbey also houses one of the only surviving medieval wall paintings in Ireland.“
10.The Main Guard, Sarsfield Street, Clonmel, County Tipperary:
General Information: 052 612 7484, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the OPW website:
“In the seventeenth century County Tipperary was a palatinate, ruled by James Butler, duke of Ormond. When the duke decided he needed a new courthouse, he built one in the heart of Clonmel [built in 1673]. Later, when it was used as a barracks, it became known as the Main Guard.
A fine two-storey symmetrical building, some elements of its design were based on works by the famous Sir Christopher Wren.
In the eighteenth century it was the venue for the Clonmel Assizes. The most notable trial it witnessed was that of Father Nicholas Sheehy, the anti-Penal Laws agitator. Sheehy was hanged, drawn and quartered.
In about 1810, the ground floor was converted into shops, but the building has recently undergone an award-winning restoration. The open arcade of sandstone columns is once again an attractive feature of the streetscape, while inside you will find a fantastic exhibition and event space.“
11. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary
General information: 067 33850, email@example.com
The OPW doesn’t seem to have a site for this currently, but there is information at a site about Nenagh:
“Nenagh Castle was built by Theobald Walter (the first of the Butlers of Ormond) around 1200. To this day the cylindrical keep adorns the town and like most keeps it formed part of the perimeter of the fortress. The walls have now almost disappeared, but fragments remain.
Built from limestone Nenagh Castle measures fifty-five feet in external diameter at the base and rises to a height of one hundred feet. The Castle features four storeys and thanks to a recent renovation this wonderful landmark now represents the town’s premier tourist attraction.
The building and has stone spiral stairs to the top. There are 101 steps in all to the top. Access to the tower is through a passageway within the base of the wall. This has low head room and visitors will need to stoop to avoid hitting the stone above. All children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 
12. Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary:
General Information: 051 640787, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the OPW website:
“Joined on to an earlier medieval riverside castle, Ormond Castle Carrick-on-Suir is the finest example of an Elizabethan manor house in Ireland. Thomas, 10th Earl of Ormond [“Black Tom” (1531-1614)], built it in 1565 in honour of his distant cousin Queen Elizabeth.
The magnificent great hall, which stretches almost the whole length of the building is decorated with some of the finest stucco plasterwork in the country. The plasterwork features portraits of Queen Elizabeth and her brother Edward VI and many motifs and emblems associated with the Tudor monarchy.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes:
“The house, which is horseshoe shaped, forming three sides of a small inner court, and the castle the fourth. The house is of 2 storeys with a gabled attic; the towers of the castle rise behind it. The gables are steep, and have finials; there are more finials on little piers of the corners of the building. There are full-sized mullioned windows on the ground floor as well as on the floor above, the lights having the slightly curved heads which were fashionable in late C16. There is a rectangular porch-oriel in the centre of the front, and an oriel of similar form at one end of the left-hand side elevation. The finest room in the house is a long gallery on the first floor, which had two elaborately carved stone chimneypieces – one of which was removed to Kilkenny Castle 1909, but has since been returned – and a ceiling and frieze of Elizabethan plasterwork. The decoration includes busts of Elizabeth I, who was a cousin of “Black Thomas,” Ormonde through her mother, Anne Boleyn, and used to call him her “Black Husband”: she is said to have promised to honour Carrick with a visit. The old castle served as part of the house and not merely as a defensive adjunct to it: containing, among other rooms, a chapel with carved stone angels.” 
Thomas Butler (1582-1614) the 10th Earl of Ormond is a fascinating character. He was the eldest son of James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond, and his wife Joan Fitzgerald, daughter of the 10th Earl of Desmond. Because he was dark-haired, he was known to his contemporaries as “Black Tom”or “Tomas Dubh”. As a young boy, Thomas was fostered with Rory O’More, son of the lord of Laois (his mother was granddaughter of Piers Rua Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond) before being sent to London to be educated with the future Edward VI. He was the first member of the Butler family to be brought up in the protestant faith. In 1546, he inherited the Ormond earldom following the sudden death of his father. He fought against the Fitzgerald Earls of Desmond in the Desmond Rebellions, as he was loyal to the British monarchy. He was made Lord Treasurer of Ireland and a Knight of the Garter.
He was highly regarded by Queen Elizabeth to whom he was related through her mother Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn was the granddaughter of the 7th Earl of Ormond making Elizabeth and Thomas cousins. Thomas married three times but left no heir and was succeeded by his nephew Walter Butler 11th Earl of Ormond. He died in 1614 and was buried in St Canice’s cathedral, Kilkenny.
James Butler the 12th Earl of Ormond and 1st Duke of Ormond (1610-1688) spent much of his time here and was the last of the family to reside at the castle. On his death in 1688 the family abandoned the property and it was only handed over to the government in 1947, who then became responsible for its restoration.
13. Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary:
General Information: 062 61437, email@example.com
From the OPW website:
“Set on a dramatic outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel, iconic in its historic significance, possesses the most impressive cluster of medieval buildings in Ireland. Among the monuments to be found there is a round tower, a high cross, a Romanesque chapel, a Gothic cathedral, an abbey, the Hall of the Vicars Choral and a fifteenth-century Tower House.
Originally the seat of the kings of Munster, according to legend St. Patrick himself came here to convert King Aenghus to Christianity. Brian Boru was crowned High King at Cashel in 978 and made it his capital.
In 1101 the site was granted to the church and Cashel swiftly rose to prominence as one of the most significant centres of ecclesiastical power in the country.
The surviving buildings are remarkable. Cormac’s Chapel, for example, contains the only surviving Romanesque frescoes in Ireland.“
14.Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary:
General information: 0505 21850, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the OPW website:
“In the heart of Roscrea in County Tipperary, one of the oldest towns in Ireland, you will find a magnificent stone motte castle dating from the 1280s. It was used as a barracks from 1798, housing 350 soldiers, and later served as a school, a library and even a sanatorium.
Sharing the castle grounds is Damer House, named for local merchant John Damer, who came into possession of the castle in the eighteenth century. The house is a handsome example of pre-Palladian architecture. It has nine beautiful bay windows. One of the rooms has been furnished in period style.
The grounds also include an impressive garden with a fountain, which makes Roscrea Castle a very pleasant destination for a day out. There is also a restored mill displaying St Crónán’s high cross and pillar stone.“
This was originally the site of a motte and bailey fortification known as King John’s Castle. The original wooden castle was destroyed in the late 13th century and was replaced with a stone structure built in 1274-1295 by John de Lydyard. The castle was originally surrounded by a river to the east and a moat on the other sides.  It was granted to the Butlers of Ormond in 1315 who held it until the early 18th Century. The castle as we see it today was built from 1332.
Eoin Roe O’Neill, at the head of 1,200 men, stormed Roscrea in 1646 and reportedly killed every man, woman and child. The only survivor was the governor’s wife, Lady Mary Hamilton (1605-1680), who was a sister to the Earl of Ormond [married to George Hamilton, 1st Baronet of Donalong County Tyrone and of Nenagh, County Tipperary]. She was again forced to play host in the castle to O’Neill three years later which again ended by the guests looting everything in sight. 
Damer House is of three storeys and nine bays and has a scroll pediment doorway and inside, a magnificent carved staircase. The Irish Georgian Society was involved in saving it from demolition in the 1960s.
Roscrea Castle was sold to the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, by the James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormond in 1703. It was bought by Joseph and his nephew John Damer (1674-1768) in 1722. The Damer family who built an elegant three-storey pre-Palladian house in the courtyard in c. 1730.
In their book The Tipperary Gentry, Hayes and Kavanagh tell us that Joseph Damer was born in Dorset in England in 1630. The came to Ireland after the restoration of Charles II when land was being sold cheaply by Cromwellian soldiers who were given land instead of pay but did not want to remain in Ireland. He bought land in Tipperary and became a sheep farmer. He also became involved in banking in Dublin. His nephew John acted as his agent in Tipperary. Jonathan Swift wrote a ditty mocking Joseph Damer’s parsimony:
“He walked the streets and wore a threadbare cloak
He dined and supped at charge of other folk
And – by his look – had he held out his palms
He might be thought an object fit for alms.”
He had no children and left his vast fortune when he died in 1720 to his nephews John (1674-1768) and Joseph (1676-1736), sons of his brother George Damer. He was so wealthy that he entered folklore with tales of how he gained his wealth, and he was compared to King Midas, as if everything he touched turned to gold.
The nephew John had no children and his brother Joseph inherited. Joseph became MP for Tipperary in 1735. He died three years later.
Robert O’Byrne tells us that his son Joseph (1717-1798) inherited the house and castle was later created the Earl of Dorchester.  He was an absentee landlord and his brother managed his Irish properties. He built a mansion named Damerville which was very grand, but was demolished in 1775. Their sister Mary married William Henry Dawson, 1st Viscount Carlow, who lived at Emo in Laois. It was her offspring who later inherited the Damer properties.
Joseph’s son John (1744-1776) married Ann Seymour, a sculptress. He spent all of his inheritance and killed himself. Subsequently it was his younger brother George who inherited the title to become 2nd Earl of Dorchester. None of Joseph’s offspring had children, however, so the properties passed to the 2nd Earl of Portarlington, a second cousin, who assumed the name Dawson-Damer.
Mary who had married the 1st Viscount Carlow had a son John Dawson (1744-1798) who became 1st Earl of Portarlington, Queen’s County. He married Caroline Stuart, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Bute and his writer wife, Mary Wortley Montagu. He commissioned James Gandon to built Emo Court in Queen’s County (Laois). It was his son John Dawson (1781-1845), 2nd Earl of Portarlington, who inherited the Damer fortune and lands, and added Damer to his surname.
The castle was used as a barracks from 1798, housing 350 soldiers. It was used later as a school, a library, and a tuberculosis sanatorium. Roscrea Castle fell into disrepair in the 19th century, and when the roof collapsed extensive repairs were needed in the 1850s. It was named a national monument in 1892, and is now under the care of the OPW.
15.Swiss Cottage, Ardfinnan Road, Cahir, County Tipperary:
General Information: 052 744 1144, email@example.com
From the OPW website:
“The Swiss Cottage, just outside the heritage town of Cahir, is a cottage orné – a fanciful realisation of an idealised countryside cottage used for picnics, small soirees and fishing and hunting parties and was also a peaceful retreat for those who lived in the nearby big house.
Built in the early 1800s [around 1810] by Richard Butler, 1st Earl of Glengall, who, we believe, managed to persuade world-famous Regency architect John Nash to design it [he also designed Buckingham Palace for the Crown]. Originally, simply known as “The Cottage” it appears to have acquired its present name because it was thought to resemble an Alpine cottage.
Inside, there is a graceful spiral staircase and some exquisitely decorated rooms. The wallpaper is partly original and partly the fruit of a 1980s restoration project, in which the renowned fashion designer Sybil Connolly was responsible for the interiors.“
We visited the Swiss Cottage in June 2022. The guide told us that the Glengalls probably never even spent a night in their cottage! They used it for entertaining. A Swiss Cottage, or cottage ornee, was the ultimate in impressive entertainment. It was meant to look like it had grown from the ground, and it was designed deliberately off-kilter and asymmetrical with different windows, wavy rooves, oddly shaped rooms. Even the expensive floorboards were painted to look like they were made of a cheaper wood!
Every window has a different shape.
Walking under the balcony one is embraced with the glorious scent of the roses and other flowers.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs inside – I’m not sure why! The furniture is on loan from the National Museum, so perhaps that is why, to deter robbery.
I had a feeling that we might not be allowed to take photographs inside and so before the tour I took a few photographs looking through the windows.
 Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
contact: Ciaran Murphy Tel: 086-1701060 Open: May 1-31, Aug 1-31, 5pm-9pm Fee: adult/student €5, child/OAP free, group discount available.
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:
“Detached three-bay two-storey house, dated 1665, and renovated c. 1740. Hipped slate roof with red brick chimneystacks. Roughcast rendered walls with string course between ground and first floors and moulded eaves course. Timber sliding sash windows. Carved limestone door surround comprising shouldered surround with entablature above, approached by flight of limestone steps. Timber panelled double leaf doors. Retaining interior features. Attached single-bay single-storey outbuilding to right. Date plaque from house moved to outbuilding. Rendered gate piers to site with wrought-iron railings.“
It was a barracks and one point, and is now a farm. An article in the Irish Times tells us that it was owned by the families of Hickman, Peacocke, Lyons and Murphy. 
2. Bunratty Castle, County Clare
maintained by Shannon Heritage
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses:
p. 49. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB; and Thomond, E/DEP; Studdert/IFR; Russell/IFR; Vereker, Gort, VPB) One of the finest 15C castles in Ireland, standing by the side of a small tidal creek of the Shanon estuary; built ca 1425, perhaps by one of the McNamaras; then held by the O’Briens, who became Earls of Thomond, until 6th Earl [Barnabas O’Brien (d. 1657)] surrendered it to the Cromwellian forces during the Civil War. A tall, oblong building, it has a square tower at each corner; these are linked, on the north and south sides, by a broad arch just below the topmost storey. The entrance door leads into a large vaulted hall, or guard chamber, above which is the Great Hall, the banqueting hall and audience chamber of the Earls of Thomond, with its lofty timber roof. Whereas the body of the castle is only three storeys – there being another vaulted chamber below the guard chamber – the towers contain many storeys of small rooms, reached up newel stairs and by passages in the thickness of the walls. One of these rooms, opening off the Great Hall, is the chapel, which still has its original plasterwork ceiling of ca 1619, richly adorned with a pattern of vines and grapes. There are also fragment of early C17 plasterwork in some of the window recesses. After the departure of the O’Briens, a C17 brick house was built between the two north towers; Thomas Studdert [1696-1786], who bought Bunratty early in C18, took up residence here in 1720. Later, the Studderts built themselves “a spacious and handsome modern residence in the demesne: and the castle became a constabulary barracks, falling into disrepair so that, towards the end of C19, the ceiling of the Great Hall collapsed. Bunratty was eventually inherited by Lt-Com R.H. Russell, whose mother was a Studdert, and sold by him to 7th Viscount Gort [Standish Robert Gage Prendergast Vereker (1888-1975)] 1956. With the help of Mr Percy Le Clerc and Mr John Hunt, Lord Gort carried out a most sympathetic restoration of the castle, which included removing C17 house, re-roofing the Great Hall in oak and adding battlements to the towers. The restored castle contains Lord Gort’s splendid collection of medieval and C16 furniture, tapestries and works of art, and is open to the public; “medieval banquets” being held here as a tourist attraction. Since the death of Lord Gort, Bunratty and its contents have been held in trust for the Nation.” 
“Craggaunowen Castle - built by John MacSioda MacNamara in 1550 a descendant of Sioda MacNamara who built Knappogue Castle in 1467. After the collapse of the Gaelic Order, in the 17th century, the castle was left roofless and uninhabitable. The Tower House remained a ruin until it and the estate of Cullane House across the road, were inherited in 1821 by ”Honest” Tom Steele, a confederate of Daniel O’Connell, Steele had the castle rebuilt as a summer house in the 1820s. He used it and the turret on the hill opposite for recreation. His initials can be seen on one of the quoin-stones to the right outside. “The Liberator”. By the time of the First Ordnance Survey, in the 1840s, the castle was “in ruins”. After he Steele in 1848 the lands were divided, Cullane going to one branch of his family, Craggaunowen to another, his niece Maria Studdert. Eventually the castle and grounds were acquired by the “Irish Land Commission”. Much of the land was given over to forestry and the castle itself was allowed to fall into disrepair. In the mid-19th century, the castle, herd’s house and 96 acres were reported in the possession of a Reverend William Ashworth, who held them from a Caswell (a family from County Clare just north of Limerick). In 1906, a mansion house here was owned by Count James Considine (from a family based at Derk, County Limerick). Craggaunowen Castle was restored by John Hunt in the 1960s – he added an extension to the ground floor, which for a while housed part of his collection of antiquities. The collection now resides in the Hunt Museum in the city of Limerick.” 
4. Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, County Clare
Maintained by Shannon Heritage.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 115. “(Martyn/LGI1912; Gogarty/IFR; Russell, Ampthill, B/PB) An old tower-house with a bawn and a smaller tower, on a creek of Galway Bay; which was for long roofless, though in other respects well maintained by the Martyn family, of Tulira, who owned it C18 and C19, and which was bought in the present century by Oliver St John Gogarty, the surgeon, writer and wit, to save it from threat of demolition. More recently, it was bought by the late Christabel, Lady Ampthill, and restored by her as her home; her architect, being Donal O’Neill Flanagan, who carried out a most successful and sympathetic restoration. The only addition to the castle was an unobtrusive two storey wing joining the main tower to the smaller one. The main tower has two large vaulted rooms, one above the other, in its two lower storeys, which keep their original fireplaces; these were made into the dining room and drawing room. “Medieval” banquets and entertainments are now held here.”
Timothy William Ferrers writes about it on his website:
“KILRUSH HOUSE, County Clare, was an early Georgian house of 1808.
From 1881 until Kilrush House was burnt in 1897, Hector Stewart Vandeleur lived mainly in London and only spent short periods each year in Kilrush.Indeed during the years 1886-90, which coincided with the period of the greatest number of evictions from the Vandeleur estate, he does not appear to have visited Kilrush.
In 1889, Hector bought Cahircon House and then it was only a matter of time before the Vandeleurs moved to Cahircon as, in 1896, they were organising shooting parties at Kilrush House and also at the Cahircon demesne.
Hector Stewart Vandeleur was the last of the Vandeleurs to be buried at Kilrush in the family mausoleum. Cahircon House was sold in 1920, ending the Kilrush Vandeleurs’ direct association with County Clare. Hector Vandeleur had, by 1908, agreed to sell the Vandeleur estate to the tenants for approximately twenty years’ rent, and the majority of the estate was purchased by these tenants.
THE VANDELEURS, as landlords, lost lands during the Land Acts and the family moved to Cahircon, near Kildysart.
In 1897, Kilrush House was badly damaged by fire.
During the Irish Land Commission of the 1920s, the Department of Forestry took over the estate, planted trees in the demesne and under their direction the remains of the house were removed in 1973, following an accident in the ruins.Today the top car park is laid over the site of the house.
Vandeleur Walled Garden now forms a small part of the former Kilrush demesne. The Kilrush demesne was purchased by the Irish Department of Agriculture as trustee under the Irish Land Acts solely for the purpose of forestry. The Kilrush Committee for Urban Affairs purchased the Fair Green and Market House.” 
6. Knappogue or Knoppogue Castle, County Clare
Knappogue is maintained by Shannon Heritage.
Mark Bence-Jones writes about Knoppogue, or Knappogue, Castle in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 180. “(Butler, Dunboyne, B/PB) A large tower-house with a low C19 castellated range, possibly by James Pain, built onto it. Recently restored and now used for “medieval banquets” similar to those at Bunratty Castle, Co Clare.”
7. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co. Clare – section 482
contact: Billy Loughnane Tel: 086-2565012 www.clareecolodge.ie Open: June 1-August 31, Wed-Sun, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free
The website tells us: “Clare Ecolodge at Loughnane’s, Feakle, in the heart of East Clare, is a unique family-run guest accommodation experience. We also offer group and self-catering accommodation as well as residential courses. The buildings, which have been in the family for over 100 years, were renovated 10 years ago. Since then we have been welcoming guests from all over the world.“
The website has a terrific history of the house. First, it tells us:
“Mount Ievers Court is an 18th c. Irish Georgian country house nestled in the Co. Clare countryside just outside the town of Sixmilebridge. The house was originally the site of a 16th c. tower house called Ballyarilla Castle built by Lochlann McNamara. The tower house was demolished in the early 18th c. to construct the present house, built between 1733-1737 by John & Isaac Rothery, for Col. Henry Ievers.
Mount Ievers Court has been home to the Ievers family for 281 years and since then generations of Ievers and their families have worked hard to maintain the house in order to ensure that the estate retains a viable place in the local community and Ireland’s heritage long into the future. Mount Ievers is currently owned by Breda Ievers née O’Halloran, a native of Sixmilebridge, and her son Norman. Norman is married to Karen, an American by birth, who has a keen interest in Irish history & the family archives.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 214. “(Ievers/IFR) The most perfect and also probably the earliest of the tall Irish houses; built ca. 1730-37 by Colonel Henry Ievers to the design of John Rothery, whose son, Isaac, completed the work after his death and who appears to have also been assisted by another member of the Rothery family, Jemmy. The house, which replaced an old castle, is thought to have been inspired by Chevening, in Kent – now the country house of the Prince of Wales – with which Ievers could have been familiar not only through the illustration in Vitruvius Britannicus, but also because he may have been connected with the family which owned Chevening in C17. Mount Ievers, however, differs from Chevening both in detail and proportions; and it is as Irish as Chevening is English. Its two three storey seven bay fronts – which are almost identical except that one is of faded pink brick with a high basement whereas the other is of silvery limestone ashlar with the basement hidden by a grass bank – have that dreamlike, melancholy air which all the best tall C18 Irish houses have. There is a nice balance between window and wall, and a subtle effect is produced by making each storey a few inches narrower than that below it. The high-pitched roof is on a bold cornice; there are quoins, string-courses and shouldered window surrounds; the doorcase on each front has an entablature on console brackets. The interior of the house is fairly simple. Some of the rooms have contemporary panelling; one of them has a delightful primitive overmantel painting showing the house as it was originally, with an elaborate formal layout which has largely disappeared. A staircase of fine joinery with alternate barley-sugar and fluted balusters leads up to a large bedroom landing, with a modillion cornice and a ceiling of geometrical panels. On the top foor is a long gallery, a feature which seems to hark back to the C17 or C16, for it is found in hardly any other C18 Irish country houses; the closest counterpart was the Long Room in Bowen’s Court, County Cork. The present owners, S.Ldr N.L. Ievers, has carried out much restoration work and various improvements, including the placement of original thick glazing bars in some of the windows which had been given thin late-Georgain astragals ca. 1850; and the making of two ponds on the site of those in C18 layout. He and Mrs Ievers have recently opened the home to paying guests in order to meet the cost of upkeep.”
The website tells of the ancient origins of the family, and goes on to explain:
“A parchment found in the sideboard at Mount Ievers in July 2012 maintains that Henry Ivers arrived in Ireland in 1640 from Yorkshire, where the family had been settled since arriving with William the Conqueror nearly six hundred years earlier. It also records that Henry settled in County Clare in 1643 when he was appointed Collector of Revenue for Clare and Galway.“
contact: Mary Hawkes- Greene Tel: 065-7077200 www.newtowncastle.com , Open: Jan 10-May 31, Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon-Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 16 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Fee: Free.
The website tells us: “The historic Newtown Castle has occupied a prominent position in Ballyvaughan since the 16th century. Having lain derelict for many years, the castle’s restoration began in 1994, completed in time for the opening of the Burren College of Art in August of that year.
Newtown Castle is once again a vibrant building in daily use, central to the artistic, cultural and educational life of the Burren. It is open free of charge to the public on week days. Newtown Castle is also available to hire for: wedding ceremonies, small private functions or company events.”
The Castle was built in 1480 by Diarmuid O’Dea, Lord of Cineal Fearmaic. The uppermost floors and staircase were badly damaged by the Cromwellians in 1651. Repaired and opened in 1986, the castle houses an extensive museum, an audio visual presentation and various exhibitions.
Free car/coach parking and toilets Tea rooms and bookshop Chapel Modern History Room 1700AD – 2000AD Museum – Local artefacts 1000BC – 1700AD Audio – visual presentation – local archaeology Medieval masons and carpenters workshop Roof wall – walk to view surrounding monuments
Places to Stay, County Clare
1. Ballynalacken Castle, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare – hotel €€
The website tells us that the property has been in the O’Callaghan family for three generations, and is now run by Declan and Cecilia O’Callaghan. The rooms look luxurious, some with four poster beds, and the hotel has a full restaurant.
The website tells us: “The original house was owned by the famous O’Brien clan – a royal and noble dynasty who were descendants of the High King of Ireland, Brian Ború. The house , castle and 100 acres of land was bought by Declan’s grandfather Daniel O’Callaghan, in 1938 and he and his wife Maisie opened it as a fine hotel. It was later passed to Daniel’s son Dennis and his wife Mary and then to his son, Declan. Declan and Cecilia have three children who also assist in the family business.“
“Standing tall on a limestone outcrop, our very own Castle, Ballinalacken Castle, is a two-stage tower house which was built in the 15th or early 16th century. It is thought the name comes from the Irish Baile na leachan (which means “town of the flagstones/tombstones/stones”).
10th Century: The original fortress is built by famous Irish clan, the O’Connors – rulers of West Corcomroe.
14th Century: The fortress itself is found and Lochlan MacCon O’Connor is in charge of its rebuilding.
1564: Control of West Corcomroe passes to Donal O’Brien of the O’Brien family.
1582: The lands are formally granted by deed to Turlough O’Brien of Ennistymon. After the Cromwellians triumphed in the area, five of Turlough’s castles are razed to the ground – but Ballinalacken is saved as it was not on the list of “overthrowing and demolishing castles in Connaught and Clare.”
1662: Daniel dies and grandson Donough is listed as rightful holder of the Castle.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 26. “(O’Brien/LGI1912) A single-storey house with a curved bow, close to an old keep on a rock. The seat of the O’Brien family, of which Lord Chief Justice Peter O’Brien, Lord O’Brien of Kilfenora (known irreverently as “Pether the Packer”) was a younger son.”
2. Ballyportry Castle, Corofin, County Clare – a tower house, € for 4-8 for one week
“Rising bluntly out of the craggy landscape, Ballyportry is the finest example in Ireland of a complete medieval Gaelic Tower House. Built in the 15th century it has been beautifully restored with careful attention being paid to retaining all its original features and style, yet with the comforts of the 21st century.”
3. Castle Fergus House, or Ballyhannon, County Clare – coach house accommodation €€€ or € for 15 or castle €€ for 10
There is a private house, a tower house castle and coach house.
“Castlefergus House, also known as Ballyhannon Castle: A Blood Smyth property from the late 18th century, sold by the Blood Smyth to the Bloods of Ballykilty in the early 20th century. This house was occupied by Daniel Powell in 1814 but the Blood Smyths were in residence in the 1830s and 1850s. They appear to have held the property from Ralph Westropp. The mansion house of Castlefergus was in the possession of Rev William Blood Smith in 1906.” 
“A 19th century coach house adjacent to Ballyhannon Fortress Castle. Take a step back in time, and enjoy the unique experience of this historic landmark, at our bed and breakfast. We are at the end of a private drive, so no one will be “passing by” to interfere with your peace and tranquility.”
“The castle of Ballyhannon, also known in later times as Castlefergus, most likely from its proximity to the River Fergus, is a late fifteenth century towerhouse of untypical internal design within the context of the Co. Clare group of towerhouses. The castle stands in the townland of Castlefergus close to Latoon Creek, which itself feeds into the River Fergus. Ballyhannon townlands (both north and south) lie to the north east of the castle. The older spelling, Ballyhannan, is retained in these townland names. The townland name can be translated as O’Hannan’s or O’Hannon’s home. Although there are many substantial families of Hannon in Munster and Connaught, the name seldom appears in the annals of medieval Ireland.
The death in 1266 of Maelisa O’Hannen, prior of Roscommon, is one of the few such entries.In the census of 1659 the name was found in considerable numbers in the Barony of Bunratty. The prefix O, was dropped in the submergence of Gaelic Ireland and has not been resumed. Strictly speaking Hannon is the anglicised form of the Gaelic O’ hAnnáin, a name chiefly associated with Co. Limerick. It was common at the end of the sixteenth century in many parts of Connaught and Munster. The Hannons or Ó hAnnáin are a Dalcassian sept of noble Milesian ancestry whose members attained the status of knighthood, and whose patrimonial lands were in this area, south of Quin. Their name is still retained in the townlands of Ballyhannan north and Ballyhannan south. Although the Hannon name is remembered in the name of Ballyhannon Castle, their history is of an earlier period and no references to the family can be found in connection with the history of the castle itself.
The castle was built about 1490 by Hugh, and possibly Síoda, sons of Donnchadh MacNamara. This period was described by the noted antiquarian, T.J.Westropp, as the “Golden Age of castle-building in Thomond”, because of the high standard of construction which had been achieved by the masons at this period. Although Ballyhannon Castle was the home of the MacNamaras for many centuries, there are some references to the O’Briens, on whose lands it stood, in relation to its history. For example in the year 1560, a grant was made by Queen Elizabeth I to Conor O’Brien, Earl of Thomond, of Ballyhannon Castle, and several other castles, previously held by Donnell O’Brien; “To hold in tail male, by service of one knight’s fee”, meaning that the property would pass onto his male heirs, subject to military service to the Queen. In the lists of the castles of the county for the years 1570 and 1574 Ballyhannon Castle was owned by Covea Riogh MacNamara, son of Mahon. Some transcriptions of these lists record the castle as being owned by William Neylon. This was due to an error in aligning the columns during the transcription of the original manuscript lists.
A fireplace with the inscription “H.T.E. 1576” was recorded by Westropp & Twigge in the 1890’s, as being in the castle. This was one of the earliest dated fireplaces in the county, though it cannot now be located within the castle. In 1586 Queen Elizabeth I issued a pardon to Hugh, son of Covea MacNamara, of Ballyhannon Castle for being in rebellion. He had to provide sureties for his future good behaviour and answer at the local courts as requested. In the 1626 rental of the 5th Earl of Thomond, Henry O’Brien, Ballyhannon Castle was listed as being rented to one Robert Hawksworth, with one quarter of land for the sum of £4.00. It is likely that Hawksworth was one of the many English Protestant settlers brought into the county by the O’Briens and settled on the O’Brien properties in Thomond during this period. The settling of English Protestants on lands of the native Irish Catholics precipitated the 1641 rebellion and many records exist of the Irish despoiling the settlers and turning them out of their newly acquired lands and properties. The MacNamaras of Ballyhannon acted no differently than the other displaced Irish. John Smith of Latoon complained of his losses which, “amounted to £1,354, including his lease for life of Lattoon, and his outlay upon buildings and sea embankments.” He complained that Oliver Delahoyde of Fomerla Castle in Tulla, “with fifty men came, on the night of 15th January 1642, and stripped him of part of his goods. The work of spoilation was subsequently completed by the MacNamaras of Ballyhannon” among others. Most of the Irish landowners who took part in this rebellion were later stripped of their possessions. Among those noted as having forfeited their property after the rebellion was Mahone MacNamara of Ballyhannon. His property was disposed of to Pierce Creagh (a Protestant settler) and to the Earl of Thomond, Barnabas O’Brien, 6th Earl. After the rebellion, the Cromwellian campaign attempted to complete the subjugation of the native Irish, and many of their castles were dismantled by the Commonwealth forces to render them defenceless. Ballyhannon appears to have escaped this destruction and a sketch of the castle in 1675, which survives in the “Edenvale Survey”, shows it to have been roofed and in good condition. The castle appears to be surrounded by a bawn wall with a gate and loophole windows at this time. With the assention to the English throne of the Catholic King James II in 1685, the fate of the native Irish improved somewhat for a time. Ballyhannon Castle was one of the castles noted by Sir Daniel O’Brien, Viscount Clare, as being suitable for the imprisonment of Protestant settlers who were now being dispossessed. A letter written in 1689 describing the events of the time is worth recording. “Take every one of them that are young (Seir or Mr.), and let the common sort lie in the prison, and the rest strictly guarded, or rather put into some strong castle that has a geate to be locked on the outside like Ballyhannon”. Pierce Creagh who had received part of the MacNamara property at Ballyhannon after the rebellion was named as one of those to be imprisoned in the above letter from Sir Daniel O’Brien. The castle is also mentioned in 1690 when Thomas Hickman, who seemed to be living in fear during another upsurge in the conflict, asked Sir Donough O’Brien to collect some of his belongings from Ballyhannon Castle and to keep other possessions of his in a safe place, as he expected the castle was soon to be garrisoned. The castle appears on Henry Pelham’s “Grand Jury” map of 1787 under the names Ballyhannon and Castlefergus, which is the first time Castlefergus appears as the name of the castle. Hely Dutton, writing in 1808, records the castle as: “Fergus – inhabited and lately white-washed! ”. There are also some references to the Blood family of Castlefergus, though these relate most likely to Castlefergus House which stood south west of the castle and is now demolished. Charlotte Blood, daughter of William Blood, who was murdered at his house at Applevale near Corofin, married her cousin Matthew Henry Blood, M.D. of Castlefergus in 1831. Westropp, writing in 1917 notes some curious traces of settlement in the fields at Castlefergus, most likely the remains of ringforts and other early Bronze Age habitation sites. Samuel Lewis, writing, in 1837, notes Castlefergus as: “The fine modern residence” of William Smith Blood Esq. He adds: “adjoining which are the remains of the ancient edifice”, telling us that by this date the castle was uninhabited, probably for the first time in 350 years. By 1858 the castle was ivy-covered and described as: “a fine old green-mantled tower” on the grounds of Castlefergus House.
The American millionaire and oil heiress Elizabeth Phillips (of Phillips Petroleum) and her husband Henry D. Irwin, who chose to call it “Ballyhannan Castle”, (using the older townland spelling), restored the building to its former glory in 1970. It is currently rented out to top-of-the-market tourists as a unique ‘out-of-the-way’ destination. It was also home to rock stars, as well as several American and British film stars during film making in the region.
Robert Twigge’s description of the castle in the early 1900’s is of interest and is appended here. “The castle stands on a low rock, scarped to the west and had no outworks, (the bawn noted in 1675 having been removed by this time). The very perfect tower, measuring 33’6” x 24’, is in excellent preservation, having been inhabited in the last century. The pointed south door is defended by a shot-hole on the left and a murder hole above. The stair mounts round the s.w. angle, and at the 14th step a long corridor with 2 lights in the w. wall is reached. At the n. end a spiral staircase of 72 steps leads to the top. At the 12th step from the corridor another passage through the n. wall is reached. 5 curved steps at the s. end of the w. corridor lead to a similar passage along the s. wall over the porch and lodge. There is a handsome trefoil headed window of 2 lights in the s.w. angle and a garderobe to the s.e. angle. Mounting the spiral stair still higher other corridors, over the lower ones, in the w. and s. sides, are reached. There are 4 main stories under the stone vault forming the roof. The basement story has very deep recesses under the corridor and the 2 on the n. side have a narrow chamfered screen between them. A fireplace bears the date 1576, but this was of course a later addition to the building”.
In Quin, County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland is one of the most renowned authentic medieval castles in Ireland to rent, whether as a self catering vacation rental, or in which to have your castle wedding or to mark one of life’s special occasions.
Dating back to the late 15th century, in recent years it has proven to be the most popular choice of foreign and Irish tourists alike, for both catered events and self catering accommodation.
Known locally as Castlefergus, in the Irish Governmental records it is registered as a National Monument and “Listed/Protected” structure, intended to protect its historic, architectural and aesthetic significance. It is indeed fortunate that we, the current owners, take great care of it and are in a position to allow it to continue to be among the few castles in Ireland to rent on an exclusive basis for the likes of weddings, honeymooners, family reunions or other milestone events, or just for those who wish to have the unique experience of having an entire real medieval Irish castle privately to themselves.”
4. Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare – hotel €€€
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 109. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB) Originally a large early C18 house with a pediment and a high pitched roof; built for Sir Edward O’Brien, 2nd Bt; possibly inspired by Thomas Burgh, MP, Engineer and Surveyor-General for Ireland. Elaborate formal garden. This house was demolished ca 1826 by Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Bt (whose son succeeded his kinsman as 13th Lord Inchiquin and senior descendant of the O’Brien High Kings) and a wide-spreading and dramatic castle by James and George Richard Pain was built in its place. The castle is dominated by a tall round corner tower and a square tower, both of then heavily battlemented and machicolated; there are lesser towers and a turreted porch. The windows in the principal fronts are rectangular, with Gothic tracery. The interior plan is rather similar to that of Mitchelstown Castle, Co Cork, also by the Pains; a square entrance hall opens into a long single-storey inner hall like a gallery, with the staircase at its far end and the principal reception rooms on one side of it. But whereas Mitchelstown rooms had elaborate plaster Gothic vaulting, those at Dromoland had plain flat ceilings with simple Gothic or Tudor-Revival cornices. The dining room has a dado of Gothic panelling. The drawing room was formerly known as the Keightley Room, since it contained many of the magnificent C17 portraits which came to the O’Brien family through the marriage of Lucius O’Brien, MP, to Catherine Keightley, whose maternal grandfather was Edward Hyde, the great Earl of Clarendon. The other Keightley portraits hung in the long gallery, which runs from the head of the staircase, above the inner hall. Part of the C18 garden layout survives, including a gazebo and a Doric rotunda. In the walled garden in a C17 gateway brought from Lemeneagh Castle, which was the principal seat of this branch of the O’Briens until they abandoned it in favour of Dromoland. The Young Irelander leader, William Smith O’Brien, a brother of the 13th Lord Inchiquin, was born in Dromoland in C18 house. Dromolond castle is now a hotel, having been sold 1962 by 16yh Lord Inchiquin, who built himself a modern house in the grounds to the design of Mr Donal O’Neill Flanagan; it is in a pleasantly simple Georgian style.”
5. Ennistymon House, Ennistymon, Co. Clare, now Falls Hotel €€
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 121. “(Macnamara/IFR) :A two storey seven bay gable-ended C18 house with a two bay return prolonged by a single-storey C19 wing ending in a gable. One bay pedimented breakfront with fanlighted tripartite doorway; lunette window in pediment. Some interior plasterwork, including a frieze incorporating an arm embowed brandishing a sword – the O’Brien crest – in the hall. Conservatory with art-nouveau metalwork; garden with flights of steps going down to the river. The home of Francis MacNamara, a well-known bohemian character who was the father-in-law of Dylan Thomas and who married, as his second wife, the sister of Augustus John’s Dorelia; he and John are the Two Flamboyant Fathers in the book of that name by his daughter, Nicolette Shephard.”
The National Inventory tells us Gregan’s Castle was built in 1750. It tells us Gregan’s Castle is a: “six-bay two-storey house, built c. 1750, with half-octagonal lower projection. Extended c. 1840, with single-bay two-storey gabled projecting bay and single-storey flat-roofed projecting bay to front. Seven-bay two-storey wing with single-storey canted bay windows to ground floor, added c. 1990, to accommodate use as hotel.”
The website tells us:
“Welcome to Gregans Castle Hotel. Please take a look around our luxury, eco and gourmet retreat, nestled in the heart of the beautiful Burren on Ireland’s west coast. The house has been welcoming guests since the 1940s and our family have been running it since 1976. Our stunning 18th century manor house is set in its own established and lovingly-attended gardens on the Wild Atlantic Way, and has spectacular views that stretch across the Burren hills to Galway Bay.
Inside, you’ll find welcoming open fires, candlelight and striking decoration ranging from modern art, to antique furniture, to pretty garden flowers adorning the rooms. Gregans Castle has long been a source of inspiration for its visitors.
Guests have included J.R.R Tolkien, who’s said to have been influenced by the Burren when writing The Lord of the Rings, as well as other revered artists and writers such as Seamus Heaney and Sean Scully.
And for the guests of today: with warm Irish hospitality, stylish accommodation, outstanding service and exceptional fine dining in our award-winning restaurant, we truly are a country house of the 21st century. You can do nothing or everything here. And whatever you choose, we’d like you to join us in celebrating all that is wondrous and beautiful in this truly exceptional place.“
Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray
7. Loop Head Lightkeeper’s Cottage, County Clare €€ for 2; € for 4-6
“Perched proudly on an enclosure at the tip of Loop Head stands the lighthouse station. Surrounded by birds and wild flowers, cliffs and Atlantic surf, Loop Head offers holiday accommodation with all of the spectacular appeal of the rugged west coast.“
8. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co Clare – see above
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 212. (Synge/IFR; Tottenham/IFR) A Victorian house of two storys over basement built 1873 by Lt Col G.C. Synge and his wife, Georgiana, who was also his first cousin, being the daughter of Lt-Col Charles Synge, the previous owner of the estate. The estate was afterwards inherited by Georgiana Synge’s nephew, Lt-Col F. St. L. Tottenham, who made a garden in which rhododendrons run riot and many rare and tender species flourish.”
The website tells us:
“Mount Callan House & Restaurant is situated in the beautiful surroundings of West Clare in the heart of Kilmaley village. We are a small, family-run restaurant, led by Chef Daniel Lynch, and guest house with a deep connection to our rural community.
The local landscape is our inspiration and our food is created using the very best seasonal ingredients from award-winning, local suppliers.
We encourage creativity, a good working environment and a community approach for the benefit of all.“
10. Mount Cashel Lodge, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare – period self-catering accommodation €
The website describes it: “Enjoy luxury self-catering accommodation in these beautifully restored 18th Century lakeside lodges. Set in a 38 acre private landscaped estate with private Lake, riverside walk and Victorian cottage garden to explore. Lake boating, kayaking and fishing are available on site to complete this idyllic retreat.“
11. Newpark House, Ennis, County Clare – accommodation €
The website tells us: “Newpark House was built around 1750, and since then it has been the property of three families: the Hickmans, the Mahons and the Barrons.
The Hickmans came into the possession of Cappahard Estate in 1733. On part of this estate, Gortlevane townland, Richard Hickman built a house and landscaped around it. Around this time he re-named the townland Newpark. Several of those trees from the planting of the new park still survive. On his marriage in 1768 his father transferred the property to Richard. He died in 1810 and this property transferred to his son Edward Shadwell Hickman. Edward was a Crown Solicitor in Dublin and put the property up for rent.
The Mahons: Patrick Mahon, a member of the new up and coming Catholic gentry, took up this offer and moved his family into Newpark. The Mahon family were very involved in the campaign for equal rights for Catholics in Ireland. Patrick’s son, James Patrick commonly known as The O’Gorman Mahon, nominated Daniel O’Connell to contest the famous Clare Election of 1828. O’Connell’s victory in this election resulted in the granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829. It is highly likely that Daniel O’Connell stayed at Newpark during his visits to Ennis at this time. O’Gorman Mahon (1802-1891) had a very colourful life which ranged from hunting bears in Finland with a Russian Tzar to becoming a Colonel and Aide-de-Camp to the President of Costa Rica. Back in Ireland he is said to have introduced Parnell to Kitty O’Shea.
While the Mahon family were living here they totally remodled the house. They added on wings and castlated the house in the Gothic revival style which was fashionable in Ireland at that time. The architect responsible would seem to be either John Nash or one of his former apprentices, the Pain brothers, all three were working in the area at this time.
Of special historical significance is a pair of crosses on the turrets of the house. These crosses have shamrocks on the ends and were put there to commerate Catholic Emancipation. The Mahon family purchased the estate outright in 1853 and held it until 1904.
At times when Newpark was owned by the Hickmans and Mahons several other families and individuals lived there. The Ennis poet Thomas Dermody spent time here with his father before he set off from Newpark, in 1785, for Dublin, in search of fame and fortune. Thomas remarked on the comfort he felt at Newpark during his time there. Also to have lived at Newpark were Captain William Cole Hamilton, a Magistrate (1870-1876), William Robert Prickett (1883-1886) and Philip Anthony Dwyer (1888-1904), Captains in the local Clare Division of the British Army.
The Barrons: In 1904 the property came into ownership of the present family, the Barrons. Timothy ‘Thady’ Barron was born on the side of the road, in 1847, during the famine. His father had lost his herdsman job, along with the herdsman’s cottage, due to a change of landlord. After a few tough years his father got another herdsmans job and Thady followed in his fathers footsteps. Thady moved in to Newpark in 1904 with his family and he lived he until his death in 1945. In the 1950s Thady’s son James ‘Amy’ bought the property from his sister Nance. In 1960 Amy’s son Earnan and his new wife Bernie moved into a barely habitable Newpark House. They set about slowly but surely bringing the house back to live. Luckily for them they got an opportunity to furnish the house with antiques, which were at that time considered second-hand furniture. Bernie opened up Newpark House as a B&B in 1966. Her son, Declan, is the present owner and we are looking forward to 50 years in business in 2016.”
12. Sheedy’s Hotel and Restaurant, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare €€
“Only few castles in the West of Ireland have survived into our times. Ballynagowan (Smithstown) Castle has played an exciting role in the history of North Clare, taking its name from ‘beal-atha-an-ghobhan’, meaning the ‘mouth of the smith’s ford’.
It was first mentioned in 1551 when the last King of Munster, Murrough O’Brien, (also known as the Tanist, was created 1st Earl of Thomond and 1st Baron of Inchiquin in 1543), willed the Castle of Ballynagowan to his son Teige before his death.
Over the years it accommodated many famous characters of Irish history. Records show that in 1600 the legendary Irish rebel “Red” Hugh O’Donnell rested there with his men during his attack on North Clare, spreading ruin everywhere and seeking revenge on the Earl of Thomond for his being in alliance with the English.
In 1649 Oliver Cromwell’s army came from England with death and destruction. The Castle was attacked with cannons when Cromwell’s General, Ludlow, swept into North Clare striking terror everywhere he went.
In 1650 Conor O’Brien of Lemeneagh became heir of the castle. His death, however, came shortly afterwards in 1551, as he was fatally wounded in a skirmish with Cromwellian troops commanded by General Ludlow at Inchicronan. With him had fought his wife Maire Rua O’Brien (“The Red Mary”, named after her long red hair), one of the best known characters in Irish tradition. She had lived in the castle as a young woman and it is the ferocity and cruelty attributed to her, which has kept her name alive. Legends tell that to save her children’s heritage after Conor’s death she married several English generals, who were killed in mysterious ways one after the other- she supposedly ended her bloody carrier entombed in a hollow tree.
During 1652 almost all inhabitable castles in Clare including Smithstown were occupied by Cromwellian garrisons, a time of terrible uncertainty as Clare was under military rule.
Over the next decades Ballynagowan Castle was the seat of army generals, the High Sheriff of County Clare and Viscount Powerscourt, one of the most powerful aristocrats who had their main residence – a monumental neogothic palace – in Dublin.
The castle was last inhabited mid 19th century and until its recent restauration served as beloved meeting point for couples -, songs and poems about it finding their way into the local pubs.“
14. Spanish Point House, Spanish Point, County Clare €
The is a Victorian house, originally called Sea View House.
The website tells us:
“In 1884 the local Roman Catholic Bishop, James Ryan, expressed a wish to start a primary and secondary school in Miltown Malbay, a short distance from Spanish Point House, but his vision was unrealised for many years to come.
In 1903 the bishop’s estate donated £900 to the Mercy Sisters to establish a school, but things did not happen until 1928, when three houses owned by the Morony estate were offered for sale to the Mercy Sisters with the intention of establishing a school at Spanish Point. The Moronys were a family of local landlords who had owned a significant number of properties in the Spanish Point and Miltown Malbay area between 1750 and 1929, including Sea View House, Miltown House, and The Atlantic Hotel.
The Moronys were responsible for much of the development of the locality of Spanish Point, which began in 1712 when Thomas Morony took a lease of land, later purchased by his eldest son, Edmund, divided it into two farms and leased it to two local landlords for thirty-one years. Francis Gould Morony willed Sea View House, which he built in 1830, to his wife’s niece, Marianne Harriet Stoney, who married Captain Robert Ellis. The house was inherited by the Ellis family and one of their sons – Thomas Gould Ellis – became the son and heir.”
15. Strasburgh Manor coach houses, Inch, Ennis, County Clare €
“The buildings that comprise the holiday homes were the coach houses attached to the House.
Once occupied by James Burke, who was killed in the French Revolution in 1790, the House was named after the French town of Strasbourg.
It figured prominently in Irish history up to its demise in 1921, when it was burned down during the Irish War of Independence.
Families associated with it included: Burke, Daxon, Stacpoole, Huxley, Mahon, Talbot, Taylor, Scott & McGann (ref: ‘Houses of Clare’ by Hugh Weir, published by Ballinakella Press, Whitegate, Co. Clare).“
Whole House Rental, County Clare
1. Inchiquin House, Corofin, County Clare – whole house rental, €€€ for 2, € for 6-10
The website tells us “Inchiquin House is an elegant period home in County Clare, romantically tucked away in the west of Ireland not far from the Wild Atlantic Way. It is the perfect base from which to explore the unique Burren landscape, historic sites, and the region’s many leisure activities.“
2. Mount Vernon lodge, Co Clare – whole house accommodation € for 7-11 people
“Mount Vernon is a lovely Georgian Villa built in 1788 on the Burren coastline of County Clare with fine views over Galway Bay and the surrounding area.
Built in 1788 for Colonel William Persse on his return from the American War of Independence, Mount Vernon was named to celebrate his friendship with George Washington. The three remaining cypress trees in the walled garden are thought to have been a gift from the President.
During the nineteenth century Mount Vernon was the summer home of Lady Augusta Gregory of Coole, an accomplished playwright and folklorist and a pivotal figure in the Irish Cultural Renaissance. It was her collaboration with W.B.Yeats and Edward Martyn that created the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1904. Lady Gregory entertained many of the luminaries of the Irish Literary Revival at Mount Vernon including W.B.Yeats, AE (George Russell), O’Casey, Synge and George Bernard Shaw.
In 1907 Lady Gregory gave the house to her son Robert Gregory as a wedding present and it was from here that he produced many of his fine paintings of the Burren landscape. He later joined the Royal Flying Corps and was shot down by ‘friendly fire’ in 1918, an event commemorated by W.B.Yeats in his famous poem, An Irish Airman Foresees his Death.
A feature from this period are the unusual fireplaces designed and built by his close friend the pre-Raphaelite painter Augustus John.“
“Take a step back in time with a hotel steeped in history that offers luxurious surroundings within 30 acres of private gardens and woodland.
The Doric columns that lead to an elegant oak staircase in the lobby are indicative of the grand decoration throughout the hotel. Impressive drawing rooms with ornate cornices, adorned with marble fireplaces provide an ideal setting for afternoon tea or morning coffee.
Elegant accommodation, fine dining with traditional Irish cuisine, rooms that tell a story and the picturesque natural setting, will all comprise to make your stay at Ballyseede Castle an unforgettable one.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 28. “(Blennerhassett/IFR; Blennerhassett, Bt/PB) A large three storey block of ca 1760 with two curved bows on the entrance front and another bow on the side, given a battlemented parapet, hood mouldings and other mildly baronial touches late C19 by James Franklin Fuller. At one side of the front is a long and low castellated service wing, with round and square turrets, the other side of which has a sham wall, consisting of a long range of false windows. This Gothic work dates from 1816 and may well be by Sir Richard Morrison. Rather narrow bifurcating staircase rising behind a screen of Doric columns at one end of the hall. Bequeathed 1965 by Miss Hilda Blennerhassett to her kinsman Sir Adrian Blennerhassett, 7th Bt, who sold it 1867. Now an hotel.”
“Dhu Varren Garden, owned by Mark and Laura Collins, began its development in 2001. Since then it has grown to contain one ofthe largest and most diverse plant collections of any private garden in Ireland. This continues to grow as new and exciting plantsare sourced from around the world. It has been described by visitors as ‘Kerry’s Botanical Garden’.“
5. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry
Open: Feb-Dec 9.30am-dusk Fee: adult €8.50, child €6, family €26 (2 adults + 3 children under 17 years)
The website tells us: “Kells Bay Gardens is one of Europe’s premier horticultural experiences, containing a renowned collection of Tree-ferns and other exotic plants growing in its unique microclimate created by the Gulf Stream. It is the home of ‘The SkyWalk’ Ireland’s longest rope-bridge.“
“Found in County Kerry’s Killarney National Park, Knockreer House and Gardens are within walking distance of Killarney Town. The area includes a circular walk with excellent views of the Lower Lake.
The Knockreer section of Killarney National Park is within walking distance of Killarney Town, County Kerry. This area was formerly part of the Kenmare Estate, which was laid out by Valentine Brown, the third Viscount of Kenmare. Deenagh Lodge Tearoom dates back to 1834 and was the gate lodge of the Kenmare Estate. The tearoom is a popular haunt with locals and visitors after a stroll in the park. It is located just inside Kings Bridge across from St Mary’s Cathedral.
Knockreer House, a short walk up the hill, is the Killarney National Park Education Centre and is built on the site of the original Killarney House, which was destroyed by fire in 1913. The circular walk is signposted and offers excellent views of the Lower Lake. On the circular walk there is a pathway off to the right that leads up to the viewing point on top of the hill, which provides a wonderful panorama of the surrounding countryside.“
“This nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, famed world wide for their splendour and beauty. As a focal point within Killarney National Park, Muckross House is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape.
Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colourist Mary Balfour Herbert. This was actually the fourth house that successive generations of the Herbert family had occupied at Muckross over a period of almost two hundred years. William Burn, the well-known Scottish architect, was responsible for its design. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843.
Originally it was intended that Muckross House should be a larger, more ornate, structure. The plans for a bigger servants’ wing, stable block, orangery and summer-house, are believed to have been altered at Mary’s request. Today the principal rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the nineteenth century landowning class. In the basement, one can imagine the busy bustle of the servants as they went about their daily chores.
During the 1850s, the Herberts undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition. They purchased the estate from Lord and Lady Ardilaun early in the twentieth century. It was at this time that the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were developed.“
“Constructed entirely without mortar, Staigue cashel encloses an area of 27.4 m (90 ft) in diameter, with walls as tall as 5.5 m (18 ft) and a sturdy 4 m (13 ft) in thickness. It has one double-linteled entrance, a passageway 1.8 m (6 ft) long. In the virtual-reality environment (above) click the hotspots to proceed to the fort’s interior. It is similar in construction to the Grianan of Aileach in Co. Donegal, and was possibly constructed in the same period of the Early Medieval period (approximately fifth to eleventh century CE). The fort is surrounded by a large bank and ditch, most evident on its northern side. This may have been a part of Staigue’s defenses, or it may be a prehistoric feature that pre-dates the construction of the stone fort.“
The website continues: “In 1897 T.J. Westropp reported that the local peasantry called the building Staig an air, which he translated as “Windy House, or “Temple of the Father,” or “The Staired Place of Slaughter.” These different translations may inspire distinctly different conjectures about the builders of Staigue. It has been described as both a temple or an observatory, and has been attributed to many different cultures in the past, such as Druids, Phoenicians, Cyclopeans, and Danes. But it was, of course, built by the “Kerrymen of old.”
The sign at the site explains that Staigue “was the home of the chieftain’s family, guards and servants, and would have been full of houses, out-buildings, and possibly tents or other temporary structures.” The illustration from this sign is in the gallery below. Cashels, of which Staigue is an impressive and probably high-status example, were enclosed and defendable farmsteads of the Irish Early Medieval period. They housed an extended family and, in high-status examples, their retinue. However archaeologist Peter Harbison was unable to explain why the ancient architects would have created so many (10) sets of X-shaped stairs climbing up the inner face of the wall to its ramparts.“
contact: Ursula Leslie Tel: 068-36198, 087-2917301 Open: May, June July, Aug, 2pm-4pm Fee: adult/OAP €5, student €2, child free
“Tarbert House, near the town of that name in County Kerry, stands in wooded parkland beside the River Shannon, a few miles downstream from Glin and just across the county bounds. The plain, square, seven-bay seat of James Leslie, erstwhile Bishop of Limerick, was built precisely in the middle of his diocese for convenience, and dates from the 1750s. The house, which is still owned by the bishop’s descendants, was given an additional storey in the mid-19th century but retains its mid-Georgian character and plan, with robust joinery and chimneypieces, and a fine collection of family portraits, furniture, papers and objects.” 
The website tells us: “If you are seeking an utterly unique experience, genuine Irish hospitality and a hotel with character, the Arbutus Hotel is for you. Established in 1926 by our grandparents, we continue our proud family tradition of extending the warmest of welcomes to the Arbutus Hotel and Killarney. We are perfectly situated amongst the shops, pubs and restaurants of Killarney town centre, minutes’ walk from the train station. Parking is available in the adjacent carpark.
Every landscape produces and inspires characters whose stature seems to mirror the landscape itself. Tim Buckley was such a character, raised on the borders County Cork and the ‘Kingdom’ of Kerry. Today, Tim is remembered as the founder of the Arbutus, the unique and historic Killarney hotel. Even a glimpse of the path he travelled before establishing the Arbutus will help to explain why it remains a distinct and remarkable place.
Tim’s parents both survived the horrors of the potato famine to raise a family of two girls and five boys, including Tim who was born in 1885, at Toorbona in County Cork, close to the Kerry border. As a child he was bright, observant and active. Attending the local fairs with his father, he saw the wealthy farmers and the poorer farmers, he noticed the business people with their property, confidence and social standing. This made a formidable impression on him and it was from the fairfield in Killarney that he first noticed what was then Russell’s Hotel. He vowed that one day it would be his, hankering for it from the fair or eyeing it across the road from Casey’s Corner. The hotel became his mission and his vision. At the age of 24, with little hope of raising the necessary money at home, he set off for New York where many had gone before him. What made him different was he didn’t bring dreams with him, he brought a vision. He remained in New York for more than fifteen years. Like many Irish people, he had relatives who had gone before him. In New York, he went to stay with his aunt, who consoled his mother by writing: “he is going to a foreign country but going to his own family, always remember that.” Driven by his vision, Tim worked hard at a number of jobs including on the railways, in a bakery, as a hackney driver and in a hotel. America could be a lonely place for homesick immigrants and Tim was no exception. He never forgot the feeling of being away from home, a feeling he found perfectly expressed in the poem “The Dawn on the Hills of Ireland”, which became his party piece:
“For thirty years ‘asthore macree’, Those hills I now feast my eyes on Ne’er met my vision, save at night, In memory’s dim horizon,
Even so, ’twas grand and fair they seemed In the landscape spread before me, But dreams are dreams, and I would awake To find American skies still o’er me.”
He knew all eight verses off by heart and would recite them at gatherings for the rest of his life. As well as building up capital, he spent those years developing his vision of what he would do when he bought the Russell Hotel. The time came in 1924 when, unlike today, very few Irish emigrants returned and many never saw their families again. True to his rare strength of character, Tim did return to Kerry. Not only that, but he had arranged a match for himself, corresponding with a Kerry matchmaker from New York. Julia Daly was born on April 10th 1898, the second of two daughters. Her older sister was to inherit the farm, leaving a good marriage her best option for a secure future. Julia was made of strong stuff and was ready for the challenge of marrying the aspiring hotelier. In the year before his return, she had attended Ramsgrange Cookery School in Wexford, getting the necessary skills for hotel catering.
Tim and Julia were married on the 31st of January 1925, in her home townland of Ballydaly, Co. Cork. His savings, combined with her dowry, enabled them to buy Russell’s Hotel, which had been running since 1880. Their new endeavor would utilise their combined wealth of talents to realise his vision for a new generation of hotel. A new vision required a new name. Tim and Julia settled on the name Arbutus, after the tree. The Arbutus, or Strawberry Tree, is the only tree native to Ireland but not to Britain, and grows only in Cork, Sligo and, most famously, Kerry. ‘Arbutus’, therefore, represents what is special and unique about the region. But Tim was as pragmatic as he was romantic. He also settled on the name ‘Arbutus’ because, beginning with ‘A’, it would appear earlier in tourist brochures and pamphlets, not to mention listings for the telephone, which was just making its presence felt. Though Kerry had been an important tourist destination for wealthy travelers since the 1750s, Tim created the Arbutus as a destination in itself, a place of distinction to which travelers would return and recommend to others. In a practice that would later become a norm among quality hotels around the world, he arranged for guests to be picked up at Cobh. Two uniformed Arbutus drivers drove guests back in Tim’s pristine Buick and Dodge limousines imported specially form the USA. On their arrival at the Arbutus guests would be met by a welcome which combined local charm and international standards of hospitality. Tim Buckley saw the Arbutus as much more than a building, he saw the hotel holistically, as a place where the hospitality experience merged seamlessly with location, structure and detail. He commissioned the interior design himself, overseeing everything down to the smallest detail. Much of the work was undertaken by Dan Connor, trained by a master carpenter from the famous German village of Oberammergau, who had been brought back to Ireland by Lord Kenmare. To this day, Tim’s collection of specially commissioned ‘Celtic Deco’ furniture, fittings and tableware can be seen throughout the Arbutus – probably the only collection of its kind. Known affectionately as ‘The Boss’, Tim Buckley was admired and respected in Killarney, both as a businessman and a family man.
Tim Buckley and Julia Daly established the Arbutus Hotel Killarney in 1926. Their style of hospitality merged seamlessly with location, structure and detail to create something special for their guests.
Their son Pat and his wife Norrie Comer, took over in 1960, modernising the hotel whilst maintaining the spirit created by his parents.
Grandson Seán, his wife Carol Dempsey and their 3 children, Emer, Roisin and Ronan continue the promise made over 85 years ago and have maintained the warmth and friendliness that sets the Arbutus apart.
The Arbutus Killarney, there ever…“
2. Ballyseede Castle/ Ballyseedy (Tralee Castle), Tralee, county Kerry – hotel, see above €€
3. Cahernane (or Cahirnane) House, Killarney, Co Kerry – hotel
“Beautifully situated on a private estate on the edge of Killarney National Park, our luxury four-star hotel is located just twenty minutes’ walk from Killarney town centre. The entrance to the hotel is framed by a tunnel of greenery which unfurls to reveal the beauty of this imposing manor house, constructed in 1877 and formerly home to the Herbert Family.
Cahernane House Hotel exudes a sense of relaxation and peacefulness where you can retreat from the hectic pace of life into a cocoon of calmness and serenity. The only sounds you may hear are the lambs bleating or the birds singing.
Cahernane House was built as the family residence of Henry Herbert in 1877 at a cost of £5,992. The work was carried out by Collen Brothers Contractors. The original plans by architect James Franklin Fuller, whose portfolio included Ballyseedy Castle, Dromquinna Manor and the Parknasilla Hotel, was for a mansion three times the present size.“
The website tells us: “If you are looking for the perfect hideaway which offers peace, tranquility, plus a wonderful restaurant on the lake, Carrig House on the Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way is the place for you. The beautifully appointed bedrooms, drawing rooms and The Lakeside Restaurant, overlooking Caragh Lake and surrounded by Kerry’s Reeks District mountains, rivers and lakes create the perfect getaway.
Carrig House was built originally circa 1850 as a hunting lodge, it was part of the Blennerhassett Estate. It has been mainly owned and used by British Aristocracy who came here to hunt and fish during the different seasons.
The house was purchased by Senator Arthur Rose Vincentin the early 20th. Century. Vincent moved here after he and his wealthy Californian father in law Mr. Bowers Bourne gave Muckross House & Estate in Killarney to the Irish Government for a wonderful National Park.
Bourne had originally purchased Muckross House from the Guinness family and gave it to his daughter Maud as a present on her marriage to Arthur Rose Vincent. However, Maud died at a young age prompting Bourne and Vincent to donate the estate to the Irish State.
Vincent remarried a French lady and lived at Carrig for about 6 years, they then moved to the France. The country house history doesn’t end there, Carrig has had many other illustrious owners, such as Lady Cuffe , Sir Aubrey Metcalfe, who retired as the British Viceroy in India and Lord Brocket Snr, whose main residence was Brocket Hall in England.
Frank & Mary Slattery, the current owners purchased the house in 1996. They are the first Irish owners of Carrig since it was originally built and have renovated and meticulously restored the Victorian residence to its former glory.
For over two decades Frank & Mary have operated a very successful Country House & Restaurant and have won many rewards for their hospitality and their Lakeside Restaurant. They are members of Ireland’s prestigious Blue Book.
Carrig House has 17 bedrooms, each individually decorated in period style with antique furniture. Each room enjoys spectacular views of Caragh Lake and the surrounding mountains. All rooms are en suite with bath and shower. Those who like to indulge can enjoy the sumptuous comfort of the Presidential Suite with its own separate panoramic sitting room, male and female dressing rooms and bathroom with Jacuzzi bath.
The restaurant is wonderfully situated overlooking the lake. The atmosphere is friendly, warm and one of total relaxation. The menu covers a wide range of the freshest Irish cuisine.
Irish trout and salmon from the lake and succulent Kerry lamb feature alongside organic vegetables. Interesting selections of old and new world wines are offered to compliment dinner whilst aperitifs and after-dinner drinks are served in the airy drawing room beside open peat fires.
Within the house, chess, cards and board games are available in the games room.“
“Since Brian and Helen opened their Boutique style property in 2005, the name of Castlewood House has become synonomous with style and sophistication.
We have created an oasis of calm within a few minute’s walk to the Marina area of Dingle town. Every effort has been made to ensure that our guests get the very best Dingle has to offer and the house is designed to make utmost advantage of the fabulous views of Dingle Bay. All areas of the house are elegant and sophisticated with an eclectic mix of old and new. Timeless antique pieces and a stunning art collection make Castlewood House a feast for the senses.
Our elegant drawing room overlooks Dingle Bay where you can sit and relax and just watch the world go by. The room has an elegant marble fireplace and comfy sofa’s that are just waiting for you to sink into! Enjoy a glass of wine or Afternoon Tea by the fire. Your every need is anticipated and you can enjoy complimentary tea/coffee along with our homemade cakes and biscuits which are available throughout the day for you to enjoy. The room has a library of books, travel guides, style magazines, board games and jigsaws for your enjoyment. Our honesty bar is also stocked and you can settle up for your drinks on your departure.“
“Dingle Benners Hotel is an intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Dingle town. With a long standing history of warm welcomes and award winning food, while staying with us you can explore the town at your own pace.
Centered around 52 guest rooms, including Classic, Superior and our Four Poster Guest Rooms we offer you a calming haven to celebrate that special occasion, or simply to get away from it all.
Food is at the heart of what we offer here at Dingle Benners Hotel and past awards include the Gorgina Campbell award for Irish Breakfast of the year.
If you are seeking the very best of location to experience all the magic that Dingle has to offer, Dingle Benners Hotel is the perfect choice.“
It was constructed for Sir John Columb around 1889-90. The website tells us:
“There are many elements to Dromquinna Manor. Firstly it is a stunning waterside estate unlike anything else. Set on 40 acres of parkland planted in the 1800s, the Estate offers an abundance of activities and facilities.
The Manor, dating from the 1890s, is dedicated to catering for Weddings and events. The Oak Room is the heart of the Manor and is classical in every sense. Stylish beyond words with views of Kenmare Bay celebrations here are truly memorable. The Drawing Rooms and Terrace all make for a very special and memorable occassion for all. It is a real family and friends party as opposed to a hotel ballroom function.
8. Fahagh Court, Beaufort, Co Kerry – now Killarney Country Club and accommodation €
Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 122. (Morrogh-Bernard/IFR) An irregular two storey house with a shallow battlemented bow and a rusticated doorcase of sandstone on its front, and a gable at the back. Now an hotel.”
“A fantastic mid-terrace property in the grounds of Killarney Country Club just outside Faha near Beaufort in County Kerry, eight miles from Killarney.
Stone built but with a modern feel and fantastic mountain views, this is an excellent base for a family or friends to come to County Kerry and do some sightseeing.
There are two bedrooms upstairs, a double and a twin, along with a shower room, while on the ground floor there is an open plan living area with kitchen, dining area and living area, keeping everyone together while breakfast is being rustled up ahead of a day of exploring.
French doors in the living area take you out to the rear garden, with spectacular views of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, home to Carrauntoohil, the highest peak in Ireland.
With a bar on site there will be no arguments about who the designated driver will be.
With great scenery in the surrounding area, be sure to do a bit of sightseeing while out for a walk or a cycle in the fresh Irish air.
Only a short drive down the road, Beaufort will tend to your basic needs while Killarney is only eight miles away, where you can sample a range of shops, restaurants and pubs with some good local Irish music being played.“
9. Glanleam, Valentia Island, Co Kerry – accommodation €
“Glanleam was built as a linen mill in 1775 and later converted into a house by the Knight of Kerry, who planted the magnificent sub-tropical gardens. In 1975 Meta Kreissig bought the estate which had declined for 50 years. She rescued the house, restored and enlarged the garden and, with her daughter Jessica, made it a delightful place to stay, with a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture and an extensive library. The setting looking out over the harbour is magical. There are green fields, a beach and a lighthouse, and Valentia Island is connected to the Kerry mainland by a car ferry and a bridge.
Glanleam was converted into a country house by the 19th Knight of Kerry (1808-1889). His father had developed the famous Valentia slate quarry (the slates were especially in demand for billiard tables, then very much in vogue). The Knight, an enthusiastic botanist, recognised the unique potential of the island’s microclimate for sub-tropical plants and laid out a fifty acre garden, using species just introduced from South America. His efforts won him great acclaim at the time and today his gardens have matured into dense woodlands.
Together Meta Kreissig and her daughter Jessica have refurbished the house, furnishing it with an amalgam of antique and modern pieces, and opened it to guests. There is an extensive library, several of the rooms have their original Valentia slate chimneypieces, and the bedrooms have luxurious Bonasck designer bathrooms. The gardens have also benefited from their attention. One recent visitor described the ‘radial planting of vegetables’ in the centre of the walled kitchen garden as ‘a jewel’.“
10. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry € see above
“The Killarney Park is one of the finest five-star hotels that Ireland has to offer. The hotel is on the doorstep of Killarney’s town centre and is situated adjacent to the 25,000 acre Killarney National Park. One of the last few Family Owned and run five-star hotels in Ireland, The Killarney Park is set on its own mature grounds and guests can enjoy the privacy of dining in the secluded garden space. The Killarney Park by name is a hotel, but what sets it aside as one of the best, is the amazing team that strives daily, to deliver an unparalleled guest experience.“
12. Killeen House Hotel and Rozzers Restaurant, Aghadoe, Killarney, Co Kerry
“Within a 10 minute drive of Killarney town, we are perfectly located to explore all that the Kingdom of Kerry has to offer. Sightseeing, walking, hiking, golfing, fishing… it is all on your doorstep when you are staying with us. We are located in the townland of Aghadoe, but we prefer to call it “the Place God made when He was in good humour”.
Killeen House Hotel & Rozzers Restaurant was opened by Michael and Geraldine in 1992. While Michael has retired in recent years, Geraldine is still very much the Lady of the House with her daughter Michelle at her side.“
The website tells us that Muxnaw Lodge in Kenmare is an attractive Victorian house, with spectacular views of the Kenmare River and Suspension Bridge.
Muxnaw Lodge features in Jane O’Hea O’Keeffe’s Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry. Mercier Press, Cork, 2013:
p. 242. “John Desmond Calverley Oulton (konwn as Desmond), who was born at Clontarf Castle in 1921, is the son of John George Oulton and Sybil Mona Calverley. He has long and loving memories of his childhood home at Clontarf Castle, where he played with his siblings in truly magical surroundings…”
p. 245. “During his childhood days, Desmond and his family would travel to Kerry each summer to stay at Muxnaw Lodge at Kenmare, which had been owned for generations by his mother’s people, the Calverleys. A lovely gabled building, the Lodge was built in 1801 as a hunting and fishing lodge by the Calverley family. It is situated on a spectacular site overlooking the Kenmare River and is now run as an up-market guesthouse.
The name Muxnaw comes from the Irish Mucsnamh (the swimming place of the pigs). Joyce’s Irish Place Names gives this explanation:
“The natural explanation seems to be that wild pigs were formerly in the habit of crossing… at this narrow point. The Kenmare River narrowed at this point by a spit of land projecting from the northern shore, and here in past ages, wild pigs used to swim across so frequently, and in such numbers, that the place was called Muscnamh or Mucksna.”
p. 245. “Desmond explains the complexities of hisfamily history: “Colonel Vernon, owner of Clontarf Castle, had several daughters and a son. One daughter, Edith Vernon, married Walter Calverley who owned Muxnaw Lodge. They had two children, my mother, Sybil Mona Calverley, and Walter Calverley. Walter was killed during the first world war, and following the death of Walter Calverley Sr, Muxnaw Lodge went to his brother, Charles, who left it to his niece, my mother.” “
Archiseek tells us that Derryquin Castle was: “Designed by James Franklin Fuller, built for the Bland family. The main block was of three storeys, with a four-storey octagonal tower running through its centre. The entrance door was at one end, flanked by a two-storey, part-curved wing. There were rectangular, pointed and camber-headed windows; battlements, and machiolations. It was burnt in 1922, and the ruins demolished in 1969. It was located in the grounds of what is now the Parknasilla Hotel.
Fuller was related to the Bland family – his mother Frances was the third daughter of Francis Christopher Bland of Derryquin. Fuller also designed the Parknasilla Hotel in 1897.“
The website tells us:
“Parknasilla Hotel, nestled in the shadows of the Kerry mountains amidst islands, inlets and hidden beaches.
Come stay with us and feel the restorative power of nature and marvel in the splendour of the seascape and landscape that surrounds you here.
The word Parknasilla ,(means the field of Sallys) [perhaps “salix” meaning Willow], for so many is evocative of so many things, tucked away in the corner of a subtropical paradise on the Kenmare river , it’s a place of beauty, of rare plants, islands linked by timber bridges and coral inlets.
Where the sea, the light and clouds put on a continual show to delight the senses. A place where people come as guests and leave as friends, with its tradition of hospitality stretching back over 125 years. It has hosted royalty, dignitaries, family gatherings and romantic get aways.
It has provided people with that peaceful haven for them to recalibrate and recharge their batteries but it has also been that place of quite inspiration for writers and artist from George Bernard Shaw to Ceclia Ahern .
With its winding walks, this 200 acre estate walled gardens, golf course, island dotted bay and spa coupled with a world class resort with a 4 star hotel houses and apartments it provides one with that perfect retreat to suit all tastes.
It is a place of many layers constantly evolving, seen through the prism of history it’s a place where people create their own be it in the friends formed or memories laid down to last a life time, a place to return to again.”
The website tells us about the history of Parknasilla:
“The origins of the rise of the Great Southern Hotels and Parknasilla arised from the middle of the 19th century. Despite the ravages of the famine, Ireland was seen as an exotic tourism destination and this was particularly true after Queen Victoria’s trip to Ireland and Kerry in 1861, that saw an explosion of tourism from overseas. Railway lines were developed in the mid 1850’s from Dubin to remote towns of Killarney, Dingle, Galway and Sligo and later new lines were developed from Killarney for instance to Kenmare.
In the South of Ireland, the most import railway was the Great Southern and Western Dublin-Cork Link that opened in 1849. Excursions were promoted and resort hotels that were built were to supplied with customers by new railway line. New doors opened for Parknasilla around the start of the 1890’s, when in 1893 Kenmare became the terminuis of the branch line. Subsequently two years earlier, the Derryquin Estate was in 1891 by the Bland family in various lots. Bishop Graves of Limerick who had leased the part of the property for a long period off the Blands, purchased in one lot, and only a short time after sold the property to the Great Southern Hotel Group.
On the 1st of May 1895, The Southern Hotel Parknasilla opened, the name Parknasilla which means “The field of the willows” began to appear on the maps. It was also refered to as the “Bishops House Hotel, Parknasilla”.The story of the construction of architecture is also an interesting one. Eminent architect James Franklin Fuller was chosen by the Great South and Western Railway, prior 1895. Fuller himself left an incredible legacy behind, he was responsible for the designs of some of Ireland’s most iconic buildings such as Kylemore Abbey, Ashford Castle, Kenmare Park (formely the Great Southern Kenmare) and Farmleigh House.
Born in 1835 in Kerry, he was the only son of Thomas Harnett Fuller of Glashnacree by his first wife, Frances Diana, a daugther of the Francis Christopher Bland of Parknasilla dn Derryquin Castle. The Blands were indeed synomous with Parknasilla for over two centuries, and new chapter for Parknasilla future now had an incredible link with its past.
The hotel originally started out in what was known as “The Bishops House”, however a better position was chosen in 1897 for a new purpose buillt hotel. The new Parknasilla Hotel faced down the Kenmare Bay an offered its guests uparelled views of the Atantic Ocean. The facilties of the new hotel included Turkish Hot and Cold Seawater Baths, reading and games rooms and bathrooms on every floor. This decision came after unprecedented demand that well exceed supply.“
The website also tells us about the early owners of the property:
“The Blands of Derryquin Castle Demense were a Yorkshire family, the first of whom Rev. James Bland came to Ireland in 1692 and from 1693 was vicar of Killarney. His son Nathaniel, a judge and vicar general of Ardfert and Aghadoe obtained a grant of land in 1732 which would later become the Derryquin Estate. Derryquin Castle was the third house of the Blands on this land but it is not known when it was first constructed, its earliest written mention being in 1837, however it was indicated some decades earlier by Nimmo in his 1812 map.
The estate is said to have reached its zenith under the guidance of James Franklin Bland (1799-1863). His nephew the well known architect James Franklin Fuller described the castle estate in his autobiography as a largely self-supporting community busy with sawmill, carpenter’s shop, forge as well as farming and gardening. A fish pond existed on the water’s edge just below the castle, alternatively described as being self-replenishing with the tide or restocked from a trawler.
The castle itself consisted of a three-storey main block with a four-storey octagonal tower rising through the centre and a two storey partly curved wing branching off in a western direction. Major renovations were carried out and a significant additional wing running southwest, overlooking the coastline was added sometime between 1895 and 1904.
James Franklin Bland’s death in 1863 the estate passed to his son Francis Christopher, the estate slipped into decline during the time that he was absent while travelling and preaching on Christian ministry, this being during the years of land agitation in Ireland. Part of the estate was sold in the landed estates court in 1873 but ultimately the decline continued with the remainder being sold in 1891.
It was bought in 1891 for £30,000 by Colonel Charles Wallace Warden. He had retired in 1895 as Colonel of the Middlesex Regiment (previously known as the 57th) He had seen action in the Zulu War of 1879 and on his death on 9th March 1953 in his 98th year was its oldest survivor. He also fought with the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War. As landlord of Derryquin he was highly unpopular with tenants and neighbours alike, his behaviour regularly mentioned in Parliament. After the burning of Derryquin Castle he retired to Buckland-tout-Saints in Devon and acquired an estate there with his payment from the burning of Derryquin.
However in 2014 Derryquin castle rose again out of the ashes to feature in a novel by Christopher Bland chairman of the BBC who having discovered a photo of his ancestors decided to write the novel Ashes in the Wind it interweaves the destinies of two families: the Anglo-Irish Burkes and the Catholic Irish Sullivans, beginning in 1919 with a shocking murder and the burning of the Burkes’ ancestral castle in Kerry. Childhood friends John Burke and Tomas Sullivan will find themselves on opposite sides of an armed struggle that engulfs Ireland. Only 60 years later will the triumphant and redemptive finale of this enthralling story be played out.“
“The Randles Hotel Killarney offers 4 Star accommodation in Killarney and is ideally located, just five minutes’ walk from Killarney Town Centre. This unique Kerry Hotel has been welcoming guests since 1906. Famous for its Irish hospitality, guests will enjoy the comfort and elegance of an era long since passed complemented by the most modern of facilities.“
The website tells us: “Welcome to the 4 Star Sneem Hotel in Co. Kerry, Winner of the Travellers’ Choice Award. Sneem Hotel is nestled in Goldens Cove on the famous Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way. This quiet and unspoilt location will take your breath away and make you feel right at home from the moment you arrive at this beautiful hotel. Big things are important to us at Sneem Hotel, like a spacious, comfortable luxury accommodation in Kerry you can call your own, or our self catering Kerry holiday apartments offering the practicalities of home with the luxury of a 4 Star Hotel, wide-open skies, and the endless seashores of Kenmare Bay.“
p. 83. “(Magill/IFR) A three storey 5 bay C18 house. Doorcase with entablature on console brackets flanked by narrow windows. Fine gate piers with pineapples.”
The Hidden Ireland website tells us: “
“Churchtown Estate incorporates both Churchtown House and Beaufort Golf Club. The centre piece is the Georgian Churchtown House built in 1740 by Sir Rowland Blennerhassett. In 1860 James MacGillycuddy Magill bought the estate and turned it into one of the largest dairy farms of its time in the south west region.
James’s grandson and great grandson’s closed the farm in the early nineties and with the help of golf architect Arthur Spring, developed Beaufort Golf Course which was officially opened in 1995. The golf course went through further development in 2007 when it was re-designed by Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie Ebert – Leading International Golf Architects.
Churchtown House mixes traditional elegance with country house charm and modern facilities. 2 large elegant reception rooms, roaring fires and quiet reading rooms add to the atmosphere. There is also a home entertainment room and games room in the basement of the house for guests to enjoy.
The House comfortably sleeps 12 in 6 spacious bedrooms, with a selection of King or twin rooms, with 2 additional ‘pull out’ beds if needed to accommodate 14 guests. All bedrooms have private bathrooms with modern facilities. The kitchen is fully equipped with an Aga and halogen hob, modern appliances and beautiful breakfast table looking out onto the courtyard and Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil.
The ruins of 15th century Castle Corr standing on the 15th green was designed as a square tower house. Castle Corr (Castle of the round hill) was built circa 1480 by the MacGillycuddy’s, a branch of the O’Sullivan Mór Clan. Fearing that it would have been taken by the English forces Donagh MacGillycuddy burnt the castle in 1641 but restored it in 1660. Donagh went on to become High Sheriff of Kerry in 1687.
The castle was abandoned by Donagh’s son Denis in 1696 when he married into the Blennerhassett family in nearby Killorglin Castle. The stone of Castle Corr was taken to build the Georgian manor Churchtown House.“
2. Coolclogher House, Killarney, co Kerry – whole house rental accommodation
“Coolclogher House built in 1746 is a historic manor house set on a 68 acre walled estate near Killarney on the Ring of Kerry. The house has been restored to an exceptional standard by Mary and Maurice Harnett and has spacious reception rooms, a large conservatory containing a 170 year-old specimen camellia and seven large luxurious bedrooms, each with their own bathroom and with magnificent views over the gardens and pasture to the dramatic mountains of the Killarney National Park.
This is an excellent base for exploring this ruggedly beautiful county and Coolclogher House specialises in vacation rental for groups of up to 16 people. It is right on the Ring of Kerry and Ross Castle and Killarney town are within walking distance while the Gap of Dunloe and Muckross House are in easy reach. It is the ideal special holiday destination for extended family groups, golfing groups or celebrating that special occasion.
The famous Lakes of Killarney, the Killarney National Park, Muckross House and Abbey and Ross Castle are all within easy reach. Killarney is an ideal starting point on the famous Ring of Kerry, going by way of Kenmare, Parknasilla and Waterville, and returning via Cahirciveen, Glenbeigh and Killorglin, but there are also wonderful drives through Beaufort and the Gap of Dunloe, along Caragh Lake to Glencar or, for the more ambitious, a day trip to the Dingle Peninsula or the wonderful Ring of Beara. There are world famous golf courses at Waterville, Tralee and Ballybunion while boat trips on the famous Lakes of Killarney, fishing and horse riding can all be arranged.
Situated 5 minutes from the historic town of Killarney, which boasts a number of excellent dining options and a wide variety of entertainment, this mansion house is the perfect base for a longer stay and a wonderful location for a family reunion or for celebrating a special occasion.“
 p. 49. 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.
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
Open dates in 2021: all year, National Heritage Week, events August 14-22 Fee: Free
Ballybrittan, Edenderry, Co. Offaly
Open dates in 2021: Jan 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 23-24, 30-31, Feb 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Mar 6-7,13- 14, 20-21, 27-28, May 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, June 12-13,19-20, 26-27, July 3-4,10- 11,17-18, 24-25, 31, Aug 14-22, Sept 4-14, 2pm-6pm.
Fee: free – except in case of large groups a fee of €5 p.p.
Shinrone, Birr, Co. Offaly
Open dates in 2021: Jan, Feb, July, Aug, Sept, daily 2pm-6pm
Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly
Open dates in 2021: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm