Places to visit and stay in Munster: Limerick and Tipperary

Accommodation is in red. Section 482 properties are in purple.

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.

Limerick:

1. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick – section 482

2. Askeaton Castle, County Limerick – OPW

3. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick – OPW

4. Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick – OPW

5. Glebe House, Holycross, Bruff, Co. Limerick – section 482

6. Glenville House, Glenville, Ardagh, Co. Limerick – section 482

7. Glenquin Castle, Newcastle West, Co Limerick – open to visitors 

8. Glenstal Abbey, County Limerick

9. Kilpeacon House, Crecora, Co. Limerick – section 482

10. King John’s Castle, Limerick

11. Odellville House, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482

12. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limerick – section 482

13. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482

14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick – section 482

Places to stay, County Limerick:

1. Adare Manor, Limerick – hotel €€€

2. Ash Hill Towers, Kilmallock, Co Limerick – section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €

3. The Dunraven, Adare, Co Limerick € 

4. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland – whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11

5. Longcourt House Hotel, Newcastle West, Co Limerick 

6. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick €€

Whole house rental County Limerick

1. Ballyteigue House, County Limerick self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10

2. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11

3. Glin Castle, whole house rental.

4. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.

Tipperary:

1. Beechwood House, Ballbrunoge, Cullen, Co. Tipperary – section 482

2. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary – OPW

3. Carey’s Castle, Clonmel, County Tipperary

4. Clashleigh House, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary – section 482

5. Cloughjordan House, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary – section 482

6. Fancroft Mill, Fancroft, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary – section 482

7. Farney Castle, Holycross, County Tipperary

8. Grenane House, Tipperary, Co. Tipperary – section 482

9. Killenure Castle, Dundrum, Co Tipperary – section 482

10. Lismacue House, Bansha, Co. Tipperary – section 482

11. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary

12. Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary – OPW

13. Redwood Castle, Redwood, Lorrha, Nenagh, North Tipperary – section 482

14. The Rectory, Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary – section 482

15. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary

16. Silversprings House, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary – section 482

17. Swiss Cottage, County Tipperary – OPW

Places to stay, County Tipperary

1. Ashley Park, Nenagh, Co Tipperary – accommodation

2. Ballinacourty House, Co Tipperary – guest house and restaurant

3. Birdhill House, Clonmel, County Tipperary

4. Cashel Palace Hotel €€€

5. Dundrum House, County Tipperary – €€

6. The Rectory, Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Whole house rental/wedding venue County Tipperary

1. Bansha Castle, County Tipperary – whole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 7-16

2. Cloughjordan House, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary – section 482

3. Inch House, Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland – whole house rental €€€ for 2; €€ for 7-10

4. Killaghy Castle, Mullinahone, Tipperary – whole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 11-14

5. Kilshane, Tipperary, Co Tipperary

6. Kilteelagh House, Dromineer, Lough Derg, County Tipperary – whole house €€€ for 2; €€ for 10-12

7. Lisheen Castle, Thurles, County Tipperary €€€ for two, € for 11-14

8. Lismacue, County Tipperary, ihh member, whole house rental

www.lismacue.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: Mar 18-Oct 31

Limerick:

1. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick – section 482 €

contact: Simon and Nicole Johnson
Tel: 063-98035
www.ashhill.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: Apr 1-Sept 30, 9.30am-4.30pm Fee: adult €5, child/OAP/student €3

Ashill Towers, taken  c.1865-1914 by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
Ash Hill Towers, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [1]

The website tells us: “Ash Hill is a large, comfortable Georgian estate, boasting many fine stucco ceilings and cornices throughout the house. For guests wishing to stay at Ash Hill, we have three beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms, all of which can accommodate one or more cots…Open to the public from January 15th through December 15th. Historical tours with afternoon tea are easily arranged and make for an enjoyable afternoon. We also host small workshops of all kinds, upon request…For discerning guests, Ash Hill can be rented, fully staffed, in its entirety [comfortably sleeps 10 people]. Minimum rental 7 days.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes in his Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):

“(Evans/Carbery/ Johnson/ Harrington) A C18 pedimented house [the National Inventory tells us it was built in 1781], the back of which was rebuilt in Gothic 1833, probably to the design of James and George Richard Pain [the National Inventory corrects this – it was designs by Charles Frederick Anderson], with two slender round battlemented and machiolated towers. Rectangular windows with wooden tracery. Good plasterwork in upstairs drawing room in the manner of Wyatt and by the same hand as the hall at Glin Castle; saloon with domed ceiling. The towers have, in recent years, been removed. Originally a seat of the Evans family; passed in the later C19 to John Henry Weldon. Now the home of Major Stephen Johnson.” [2]

The website also tells us about its history:

The oldest evidence of habitation at Ash Hill is what is believed to be a long barrow grave dating somewhere between 4000 and 2000 B.C. This was described in letters written by Eileen Foster, an American visiting her ancestral home, Ash Hill, in 1908. Miss Foster wrote “close to the avenue, as they call it, although there are trees on only one side of the road, is a large green mound which is supposed to mark the burial place of one of the Irish chieftains and a number of his followers. It was the custom in those days to bury a dozen or so of his slaves with every chieftain. Father says he would like to explore the spot, but not a man could be found who would put a spade into the sacred earth”.

Also on the estate, beside the site of an old lake, there are the remains of a crannog (an Irish house built on a small island) usually dating prior to 1000 A.D. The lake was drained in the 1915 and during this process, the remains of numerous Irish Elk (deer from the interglacial period) were discovered.

Close to the lake, overlooking the town, is the site of Castle Coote, birthplace of Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Coote, conqueror of India. This castle was demolished in the later half of the eighteenth century.

The courtyard to the main house was built sometime between 1720 and 1740 and it was sympathetically restored in the 1950’s by the late Mrs. Denny Johnson. The present house, which overlooks this courtyard, was built by Chidley Coote [1735-1799] in 1781.

This part of the house has numerous ceilings of historical and architectural importance displaying dancers from Herculaneum which are similar to the stucco medallions found in the saloon at Castletown, County Kildare. Numerous windows, looking out onto the courtyard, date from this period and have the original glass. 

In the 1830’s, Eyre Evans [1773-1856] employed Charles Anderson, an architect, to build the front of the house in a Gothic style with two large towers on it. There are various Gothic features in this part of the house. Unfortunately, due to excessive rates (a valuation based property tax), some parts of the house, including the towers, were removed in the early 1960’s.

During the “troubled times”, the house was occupied by three sets of troops who looted and vandalized the property, using ancient family portraits for target practice. As these “troubled times” were ending, Michael Collins, the Irish leader at the time, visited the house on his way south to what would be his violent and untimely demise at the hands of his enemies. There is a considerable amount of graffiti left on the walls of the top floor rooms which were occupied by both troops and prisoners.

The first recorded ownership of Ash Hill was in 1667 when Chidley Coote [d. 1702, grandson of Charles Coote, 1st Baronet Coote, of Castle Cuffe, Queen’s Co., or perhaps his father Chidley Coote (d. 1668)] acquired the property from Catherine Bligh. It is probable that he had a son who was also Chidley Coote [(1678-1730). He married Jane Evans of Bulgaden Hall, Limerick.]. In 1726, Lieutenant General Eyre Coote [1726-1783] (son of Chidley Coote–a clergyman and owner of Castle Coote) was born at Ash Hill which was known as Castle Coote at that time [There were three other brothers: Robert Coote who married Anne Purdon of Ballyclough, County Cork (now partly demolished); Reverend Charles Coote who married Grace Tilson; Thomas Coote who married Eleanor White of Charleville, County Cork]. General Coote went on to become one of the greatest military tacticians of the eighteenth century with numerous victories to his credit, including winning India from the French in the Seven Years’ War and defeating Hyder Ali despite being outnumbered by almost twenty to one. This same victorious pattern was to be repeated in battles throughout the war. 

Coote’s nephew, Sir Eyre Coote [(1762-1823), son of Eyre Coote’s brother Reverend Charles Evans Coote (1713-1796)], who was born at Ash Hill in the late eighteenth century, became the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica between 1806 and 1808. It has been said that Coote, while living in Jamaica, had a relationship with a slave girl. Although unconfirmed, it is thought that Colin Powell, hero of the Gulf War, may be a descendent of this relationship.

Sometime prior to 1799, Ash Hill passed on to Eyre Evans. We are still attempting to ascertain if Eyre Evans was a descendent of Eyre Coote [I believe he is related: Jane Evans who married Reverend Chidley Coote had a brother named Thomas Evans (d. 1753). He had a son, Eyre Evans (1723-1773). This Eyre had a son also named Eyre Evans (1773-1856). It was he who inherited Ash Hill Towers. He married Anna Maunsell of Limerick]. We believe this could well be the case in light of both parties sharing the same first name as well as ownership of Ash Hill. At about the time of the Famine, ownership of the estate passed out of the Evans family and, in 1858, part of the estate was acquired by Thomas Weldon. In 1860, another part of the estate was acquired by Captain Henry Frederick Evans. In 1880, Evans’ widow sold her interest in the estate to John Henry Weldon, a son of Thomas Weldon. 

The Evans family was a large family with many branches that emigrated to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, Canada and U.S.A. One of the branch that emigrated to New Zealand was a prolific writer and much or possibly all of his writings were donated to the Alexander Turnbull library in Wellington, New Zealand. 

The estate passed out of the Weldon family to P.M. Lindsay in 1911. Captain Lindsay sold Ash Hill to Mrs. Denny Johnson in 1946. 

After Denise Johnson bought the property in 1946 she ran it as a successful stud, and she was a successful point-to-point rider with over 50 wins to her name. In 1956 she married Stado Johnson. After many falls she was told to “take up a safer sport then point-to point riding” by her doctor, she took up 3-day eventing and represented Ireland at an international level. 

Today, Ash Hill has been opened to the public and sees a great many people of vaired interests. From architects to historians interested in taking a peek at Ireland’s unique past, all are welcome. Ash Hill is still owned by the Johnson family who enjoy sharing their love of history and the outdoors with the public. Most days, Simon and Nikki Johnson can be found wandering around the estate tending to the garden and pastures. For those interested, Simon can be happily talked into a full tour.

2. Askeaton Castle, County Limerick – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

3. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

4. Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

5. Glebe House, Holycross, Bruff, Co. Limerick – section 482

Is it this? Brackvoan, former Presbytry, Bruff, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [3]

contact: Kate Hayes and Colm McCarthy
Tel: 087-6487556
Open: Jan 4-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, Aug 13-22, Sept 1-30, Mon-Fri, 5.30pm- 9.30pm, Sat-Sun, 8am-12 noon

Fee: Free

6. Glenville House, Glenville, Ardagh, Co. Limerick – section 482

Glenville House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [4]

contact: Owen O’Neill
Tel: 086-2541435
Open: Apr 1-30, May 1-31, Sept 1-13, Tue-Sat, Aug 13-21, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €3, child free

The National Inventory tells us it is a :”Detached three-bay two-storey country house, dated 1803, having six-bay block to north (rear) elevation, extending to east of main block and adjoining L-plan multiple-bay two-storey outbuilding. Central full-height breakfront to south (front) elevation. …Flat arched opening to east elevation with cut limestone surround, voussoirs and keystone, and double-leaf timber battened door… Lunette openings to first floor, east and west elevations, having tooled limestone sills, red brick surrounds and timber framed windows…

Once the home of William Massey, this building is currently undergoing restoration. Its size and massing make it a very notable feature on the landscape and the regular façade and restrain in ornamentation adds to the imposing appearance. The retention of timber sliding sash windows and limestone sills is significant, and adds to the architectural significance of the site. Symmetry is evident in the design and is enhanced by the hipped roof, central chimneystacks and breakfront. The outbuildings, walled garden to the rear, and gate lodge all serve to add context to the site. Keystone reads: ‘WM/AD/1803’.” [4]

Glenville House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [4]
Glenville House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [4]

7. Glenquin Castle, Newcastle West, Co Limerick – open to visitors 

One of the finest tower houses to survive from the 16th century, Gleann an Choim (Glen of the Shelter) is situated a few miles from Ashford at the edge of the road (open to the public during summer). 

This castle was a fortified dwelling, for the protection against raids and invaders, more correctly described as a Tower House. [5]

Robert O’Byrne tells us: “Thought to stand on the site of an older building dating from the 10th century, Glenquin Castle in Killeedy was built by the O’Hallinan family (their name deriving from the Irish Ó hAilgheanáin, meaning mild or noble). When the castle was built seems unclear; both the mid-15th and mid-16th centuries are proposed. Regardless, it is typical of tower houses being constructed at the time right around the country.” [6]

8. Glenstal Abbey, County Limerick

Glenstal Abbey, Courtesy Michelle Crowley 2020 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [7]

https://glenstal.com/

The website tells us: “Glenstal Abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks in County Limerick, Ireland, and is a place of prayer, work, education and hospitality. The monastery sits alongside a popular guesthouse and a boarding school for boys, housed within a 19th century Normanesque castle amidst five hundred magnificent acres of farmland, forest, lakes and streams.

We are happy to welcome groups who wish to visit the monastery and spend some time getting to know our place, our tradition and our life.”

You can book to stay, as a retreat: https://glenstal.com/abbey/stay/

View of a copy of the romansque cathedral door in Glenstall. Country Life 03/10/1974 [8]

The castle was built as a home for Joseph Barrington (1764-1846), 1st Baronet of Limerick. Joseph married Mary Baggott – I wonder are we distantly related? She was the daughter of Daniel Baggot (the landed families website tells us that he was a bootseller in Limerick!). Joseph’s son Matthew, 2nd Baronet was also involved with having the home built.

The front door is flanked by figures of Henry II and Queen Eleanor, who were such a warring couple that one wonders if they were chosen in ignorance: the Queen holds a scroll on which is inscribed the Irish welcome, Cead mile failte. [9]

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 139. “(Barrington, BT/Pb) A massive Norman-Revival castle by William Bardwell, of London, begun in 1837, though not finished till about 1880. 

The main building comprises a square, three-storey keep joined to a broad round tower by a lower range. 

The entrance front is approached through a gatehouse copied from that of Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire. The stonework is of excellent quality and there is wealth of carving; the entrance door is flanked by the figures of Edward I and Eleanor of Castille; while the look-out tower is manned by a stone soldier. Groined entrance hall; staircase of dark oak carved with animals, foliage and Celtic motifs, hemmed in by Romanesque columns; drawing room with mirror in Norman frame. Octagonal library at the base of the round tower, lit by small windows in very deep recesses; the vaulted ceiling painted with blue and gold stars; central pier panelled in looking-glass with fireplace. Elaborately carved stone Celtic-Romanesque doorway copied from Killaloe Cathedral between two of the reception rooms. Glen with fine trees and shrubs; river and lake, many-arched bridge. Now a Benedictine Abbey and a well-known  boys’ public school.” 

Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Sean O’Reilly writes: “the castle remains one of the most magnificent attempts at creating an Irish version of the medieval Anglo-Norman castle. Yet Glenstal’s castle-like form is not due to the need for defence. In a tradition going back to Georgian castles such as Glin, Co Limerick and Charleville forest, Co Offaly, the intention is to evoke some ancient time, but conbined with the needs of a modern country house.” [10]

“(p. 172)The appearance of antiquity might also give to its patron at least the suggestion of an ancient lineage, and that in itself, in an increasingly disjointed Irish society, was not without significance. The Barringtons settled in Limerick relatively late, at the end of the seventeenth century, and furthered their fame less though marriage than through hard work, innovative industry and successful trading. Pofessional advancement was not accompanied by significant social advance, and though Joseph Barrington was a baronet, the family were in essence business people rather than aristocracy. Although there was no speedier way of securing the impression of title and history than by having one’s own castle, his son Matthew, Crown solicitor for Munster, must have recognized the discomfort of real castles, and so decided to build a more comfortable, modern version. 

The design passed through numerous phases even before building began. Even after construction commenced in 1838, from designs provided by the successful English architect William Bardwell, changes, indecision and economic variables all added further complications. Initially, before the selection of the design, the problem was the choice of site. Not having inherited lands on which to build, Barrington might use any site, and he decided first on property he had leased in 1818 from the increasingly encumbered Limerick estates of the Lord Carberry. Part of these included the district of Glenstal, at one time intended as a site for the house, and although Barrington later turned to various other sites, he took with him the name. Consequently, in a very characteristic Georgian incongruity, the title of this apparently ancient castle bears no relation to the land on which it sits.

View of the Central peri of one of the fire places in the library at Glenstall. Country Life 03/10/1974 [8]
 

O’Reilly tells us “[William] Bardwell [1795-1890], little known today despite his long life – he died in 1890 aged 95 – was still less familiar when first employed by Barrington, and Glenstal remains his most important work. After training in England he advanced his studies, rather unusually for the date, in France. He gained some celebrity through competing both for the London Houses of Parliament, and for the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. It may well have been the Norman tower proposed by Bardwell as his entrance to Parliament that suggested him to his Limerick patron, though as all periods of architecture were intended to be represented in that building, any prospective client may have found something of interest. 

The ultimate inspiration for Bardwell’s Glenstal lay less with the designs of the Paines or O’Hara than with the work of Thomas Hopper, notably his Gosford Castle in Armagh, of 1819. This was the first Normal revival castle in these islands, and the first in a style that Hopper would make his own. Neither Barrington nor Bardwell need have been with Gosford itself, for by the late 1830s the type was not uncommon. 

…Bardwell was in Ireland in 1840, reviewing the completed work. It then extended from the largest, southern, tower to the gatehouse in the south-east wall. However, work stopped in the following year, and began again only in 1846 or 1847. Construction paused again in 1849, to recommence in about 1853, with Bardwell finally paid off, and a Cork architect, Joshua Hargrave, appointed to complete the work with restricted funds, and to create something approaching a functioning building…

Most carving was executed by an English firm, W.T. Kelsey of Brompton, which provided fifteen cases of columns, capitals and corbels in 1844. However, the detailing of much of the carved work suggests some familiarity with Irish early Christian sources, and echoes abound of recent work at Adare Manor, itself being slowly built over many years, although using native craftsmen. 

If much of the carved detail is evocative rather than accurate, there are also striking and significant copies of Irish early Christian design. The style was then only beginning to receive proper attention as part of Ireland’s heritage. The idea may have been inspired again by Dunraven’s Adare – Barrington is known to have had business dealings with the family – for they used such Hiberno-Romanesque designs in the doorcase of their entrance hall. At Glenstal we find superb copies, notably the doorcase connecting the dining room and drawing room. This is a magnificently carved and surprisingly accurate reconstruction of the doorway in Killaloe Cathedral, Co Clare, today recognized as one of the masterpieces of the Irish Romanesque. A lack of understanding of the importance of such work was prevalent in mid-nineteenth-century Ireland – it might be compared to the recent lack of interest in the heritage of the country house – and its introduction here was an important moment in the history of the revival of interest in Ireland’s Christian and Celtic legacy.

“…It was part of a wider interest in Ireland’s national character that the future of this important house was put in jeopardy. The tragic accidental shooting of the daughter of the 5th Baronet, Charles Barrington, by the IRA in an ambush on the Black and Tans in May 1921, led to the family’s departure and, eventually, the sale of the estate in 1925.

Timothy William Ferres quotes “The Origins and Early Days of Glenstal” by Mark Tierney OSB, in Martin Browne OSB and Colmán O Clabaigh (eds), The Irish Benedictines: a history (Dublin, 2005):

When eventually, in 1925, the time came to leave, Sir Charles made a magnificent gesture. He wrote to the Irish Free State government, offering Glenstal as a gift to the Irish nation, specifically suggesting that it might be a suitable residence for the Governor-General. 

Mr W T. Cosgrave, the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, and Mr Tim Healy, the Governor-General, visited Glenstal in July 1925, and ‘were astonished at its magnificence, which far exceeded our expectations’. However, financial restraints forced them to turn down the offer. Mr Cosgrave wrote to Sir Charles, stating that ‘our present economic position would not warrant the Ministry in applying to the Dail to vote the necessary funds for the upkeep of Glenstal’. “

9. Kilpeacon House, Crecora, Co. Limerick – section 482

contact: Donie and Mary Costello
Tel: 087-9852462
Open: May 3-June 30, Mon- Sat, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €4

Kilpeacon, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):

“[Gavin, sub Westropp/IFR] An early C19 villa undoubtedly by Sir Richard Morrison, though it is undocumented; having a strong likeness to Morrison’s “show” villa, Bearforest, Co Cork; while its plan is, in Mr. McPartland’s words, “an ingenious contraction of that of Castlegar,” one of his larger houses in the villa manner, 2 storey; 3 bay front; central breakfront; curved balustraded porch with Ionic columns; Wyatt windows under semi-circular relieving arches on either side in lower storey. Eaved roof. 5 bay side elevation. Oval entrance hall. Small but impressively high central staircase hall lit by lantern and surrounded by arches lighting a barrel-vaulted bedroom corridor. The seat of the Gavin family.

The landed estates database tells us:

Lewis writes that the manor was granted to William King in the reign of James I and that “the late proprietor” had erected a handsome mansion which was now the “property and residence of Cripps Villiers”. In his will dated 1704 William King refers to his niece Mary Villiers. The Ordnance Survey Field Name Book states that Kilpeacon House was the property of Edward Villiers, Dublin, and was occupied by Miss Deborah Cripps. Built in 1820 it was a large, commodious building of 2 stories. It was the residence of Edward C. Villiers at the time of Griffith’s Valuation, held in fee and valued at £60. Bought by Major George Gavin in the early 1850s from the Villiers and the residence of his son Montiford W. Gavin in the early 20th century. The Irish Tourist Association surveyor writes in 1942 that this house was completed in 1799. The owner was Mrs O’Kelly, her husband having purchased the house in 1927 from the Gavins. This house is still extant and occupied.” [11] 

10. King John’s Castle, Limerick

King John’s Castle Limerick, July 2018.

Maintained by Shannon Heritage. Archiseek tells us: “King John’s Castle, on the south side of Thomond Bridge head, built in 1210 “to dominate the bridge and watch towards Thomond”, is one of the finest specimens of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland.

The castle is roughly square on plan and its 60 meter frontage along the river is flanked by two massive round towers, each over 15m. in diameter with walls 3 metres thick. The castle gate entrance – a tall, narrow gateway between two tall, round towers is quite imposing. There is another massive round tower at the north east corner of the fortification, but the east wall and the square tower defending the south-east corner of the castle, and on which cannons were mounted, is long demolished. 

There was a military barracks erected within the walls in 1751, some of which still remains. Houses were also erected in the castle yard at a very much later date. These have now been removed and a modern visitor centre built on the walls. 

The walls and towers still remaining of the castle are in reasonably good state of preservation. The domestic buildings of the courtyard do not survive, except for remnants of a 13th century hall and the site of what could be the castle chapel.” [12]

King John’s Castle Limerick, July 2018.
King John’s Castle Limerick, July 2018.

The castle was built around 1197 under the orders of King John following the invasion of the Anglo-Normans. It was built on the site of an original Viking settlement believed to date back to 922 AD.” [13]

King John’s Castle, Limerick. The information board tells us that from here you can see the Gatehouse and the Great Hall. These are some of the earliest remaining features of the stone castle: the back of the twin-towered gatehouse and the northeast tower. The gatehouse defences were continued into the courtyard by means of an arched passageway, at the end of which were placed the inner gates of the castle. This extension was demolished in the 18th century.

The information board tells us that built between 1210-1212 along part of the line of the 12th century ringwork, the gatehouse was the first of its kind to be constructed in Ireland, with boldly projecting towers placed on either side of the gate. It followed the latest trend in European castle building, moving from rectangular to round towers, as curved walls offered better protection from attack, particularly from mining. Mining is when one digs a series of holes or “mines” under the walls in order to weaken the walls – hence comes our term “to undermine.” The two towers of the gatehouse are “D” shaped in plan, with three floors of circular chambers within and a parapet on top.

By flanking the gate, the two towers allowed the castle’s entrance to be defended in depth, from a number of well-positioned arrow loops in the chambers. The defences also included a portcullis and a murder hole. The castle was also supplied via the river, where there is a more modest watergate in the west curtain wall.

“In 1642 the castle was occupied by people escaping the confederate wars and was badly damaged in the Siege of Limerick. The confederate leader Garret Barry had no artillery so dug under the foundations of the castle’s walls, causing them to collapse. There was also considerable damage caused during the Williamite sieges in the 1690s and so the castle has been repaired and restored on a number of occasions.” [13]

It is a good place here to review the Siege of Limerick. Near the castle is the Treaty Stone: apparently the Treaty of Limerick, which was signed by, amongst others, John Baggot, was signed on this stone, which was later memorialised on a plinth. A series of plaques on the ground around the stone tells us the story of the Siege of Limerick:

The War of Two Kings. James II, a Catholic, was king of England. Parliament, unhappy with the power that James II had given to the Catholics, invite William and Mary to take over the throne. William of Orange was married to Mary the Protestant daughter of James. William arrives in England. James, fearing for his life, flees to France and gets support from his cousin Louis XIV, William’s enemy. James lands at Kinsale.

A document in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, with pictures of King William III and Queen Mary, the daughter of King James II.

William and Mary are crowned King and Queen of England. A French army of 7000 men arrive in Ireland to help James regain his crown.

King William arrives in Carrickfergus with a large army, aiming to take Dublin. Battle of the Boyne. James’ army had 25,000 poorly equipped Irish and French soldiers. William had 36,000 experienced soldiers from all over Europe. King William is victorious.”

King William sent General Schomberg first, who landed in Carrickfergus on 14th June 1690 with 300 troops.

Seats of Schonberg (or Schomberg) and King William III in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
Chair where King William III sat in St Patrick’s Cathedral where he gave thank for winning the Battle of the Boyne.

The plaques continue the story: “July 2nd 1690 James flees to France. By the 2nd July, most of the army had gathered in Limerick with Tyrconnell [Richard Talbot (1630-1691), 1st Duke of Tyrconnell] in charge. Limerick, an important port, was the second largest city in the country, with 1000 inhabitants. The Irish military in Limerick had few weapons. A small force of French cavalry were with the Irish cavalry on the Clare side of the Shannon. Their leader was Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan [1620-1693].

First Siege of Limerick. King William’s army began to set up camp while they waited for their heavy guns and ammunition to arrive from Dublin. Aug 10th 1690, In a daring overnight raid Sarsfield attacked the siege train at Ballyneely. King William continued his siege but massive resistance from the Jacobite army and the people of Limerick, plus bad weather, forced him to call off the siege.

King William returned to England leaving Baron de Ginkel in charge. Cork and Kinsale surrendered to William’s army. Sarsfield rejects Ginkel’s offer of peace. More French help arrives in Limerick as well as a new French leader, the Marquis St. Ruth. Avoiding Limerick, Ginkel attacked Athlone, which guarded the main route into Connaght. 30th June 1691, Athlone surrendered. St. Ruth withdrew to Aughrim. 12th July 1691 The Battle of Aughrim. The bloodiest battle ever fought on Irish soil. The Jacobites were heading for victory when St. Ruth was killed by a cannonball. Without leadership the resistance collapsed and by nightfall, the Williamites had won, with heavy losses on both sides. Most of the Jacobites withdrew to Limerick.

There is a John Baggot who fought in the Battle of Aughrim, and lost an eye. He later went to France with the Wild Geese, and served in the court of James II and “James III” (his followers called him James III although he was not the recognised king).

The city walls had been strengthened since the previous year. Tyrconnell died in mid-August and the promised help from Louis XIV had not yet arrived. The Second Siege of Limerick. Ginkel and the Williamites reached Limerick and took up positions on the Irishtown side. They bombarded the city daily with cannon. They managed to break down a large section of the walls at English town, but could not get into the city. With a large English fleet on the Shannon, the city was cut off and almost completely surrounded. Sept 22nd 1691 Ginkel’s army attacked the Jacobites who were defending Thomond Bridge. The drawbridge was ordered to be raised too soon and about 600 Irish were killed or drowned. This had a profound effect on the morale of the garrison. A council of war was held and the Jacobites decided to call a truce. Leaders from both sides saw that they could gain more by ending the fighting and the discussions were conducted with great courtesy. The Treaty was finally signed on October 3rd 1691, reputedly on the Treaty Stone.

Article Civil and Military, agreed on the 3rd day of October 1691, between the Right Honourable Sir Charles Porter, Knight, and Thomas Coningsby, Esq, Lords Justices of Ireland, and his Excellency the Baron de Ginkel, Lieutenant General, and the Commander in Chief of the English army, of the one part and Sarsfield and his followers on the other. The treaty had civil and military sections. The Civil articles promised freedom to practice their religion to Catholics, but in the years after 1691, harsh laws were passed against Catholics known as the Penal Laws.

The broken treaty embittered relations between the English and Irish for two centuries.

The military parts of the Treaty allowed the Irish Jacobites to join the French army. Most of the Irish (about 14,000 approx.) went to France with Sarsfield. Some of their wives and children also travelled to France. These exiles were known as the Wild Geese. The Wild Geese became part of the French army, which included Irish regimens until the French Revolution. Wine Geese: some of the Wild Geese got into the wine trade, where their names live on today, names such as Michael Lynch, who fought in the battle of the Boyne, Phelan, Barton, and Richard Hennessy of Hennessy cognac.

John Baggot’s sons (sons of Eleanor Gould), John and Ignatius, became soldiers and one fought for France and one fought for Spain.

In 1791 the British Army built military barracks suitable for up to 400 soldiers at the castle and remained there until 1922. In 1935 the Limerick Corporation removed some of the castle walls in order to erect 22 houses in the courtyard. These houses were subsequently demolished in 1989 when the castle was restored and opened to the public.” [13]

11. Odellville House, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482

Odellville, Photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [14]

contact: Aisling Frawley
Tel: 085-8895125
www.odellville.simplesite.com
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, student/OAP/child €4

The National Inventory tells us it is a detached five-bay two-storey over basement house, built c. 1780, with later two-storey extension to rear (south). It continues: “Odell Ville is typical of the small country houses of rural Ireland, often associated with the gentleman farmers of the eighteenth century. The retention of historic fabric such as sliding sash windows, fine tooled limestone details and modest door with its stepped approach all contribute positively to the building’s character. It was once the house of T. A. O’Dell, Esq. Athough of a modest design, the overall massing of the house makes a strong and positive impact on the surrounding countryside. The associated gate lodge adds further context and character to the site.” [14]

12. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limerick – section 482

contact: Frieda Keane Carmody
Tel: 087-2220692
Open: June 1-31, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 10am-4pm Fee: adult €10, child/OAP/student €5

The Landed estates database tells us:

Lewis described this mansion formerly called Cappa as “beautifully situated on the banks of the Shannon”. Marked as “Cappo” on the Taylor and Skinner map of the 1770s. Home of the Rice/Spring Rice family in the 19th century, valued at £40 in the 1850s and at £54 in 1906. Occupied by the Military in 1944, sold to Lady Holland in 1947 and to the Sisters of Mercy in 1953 who opened a school.” [15]

Mark Bence-Jones tells us in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):

“[Spring-Rice, Monteagle of Bandon, B/PB] A late-Georgian house of three storeys over basement, with 2 curved bows on its entrance front, which overlooks the estuary of the Shannon, and a wide curved bow in the centre of its garden front. At one side is a 2 storey Victorian wing almost as high as the main block; at the other side is 1 bay three storey addition and a lower 2 storey wing. Also in the Victorian period, a rather unusal porch was added, in the form of a short length of curving corridor, with an open arched end; it was placed not in the centre of the front, but to the left of the left-hand bow, growing out of the high two storey addition. This was subsequently removed and a more conventional entrace doorway made between the two bows with a pillared and pedimented doorcase. From the garden front, a straight walk between trees ascends the hillside. In recent years the home of Lt-Cmdr C.E. Hall; now owned by an order of teaching nuns.

Timothy William Ferres tells us in his blog:

“Thomas Rice, of Mount Trenchard, wedded Mary, daughter of Maurice FitzGerald, 14th Knight of Kerry, and had issue, a son, Stephen Edward Rice, of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1785, Catherine, only child and heir of Thomas Spring, of Castlemaine, County Kerry.” [16]

Their son was Thomas Spring-Rice (1790-1866), of Brandon, County Kerry, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1835-39. He married in 1811 the Lady Theodosia Pery, second daughter of Edmund, 1st Earl of Limerick. Thomas was elevated to the peerage in 1839 to become 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, County Kerry.

When the 5th Baron Monteagle of Brandon died in 1946, the estate was sold.

Recently the house was used as a Direct Provision Centre.

13. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482

The Turret, County Limerick – photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Donal Mc Goey
Tel: 086-2432174
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31,12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student/ free

Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):

“(Odell/LGI1958) A three storey house, 1 room deep, with a curvilinear gable at one end of its front; built 1683 by Major John Odell; said to have incorporated a turret surviving from an old house of the Knights Hospitallers, hence its name. Became a presbytery at the end of C19, when an enclosed porch was added on the front and a wing at the back.”

14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick – section 482

contact: John Roche
Tel: 087-8269123
Open: May 1-Nov 27, Saturday and Sundays, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €3

Places to stay, County Limerick:

1. Adare Manor, Limerick – hotel €€€

Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.
Adare Manor, photograph from Lawrence Collection, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

Originally a two storey 7 bay early C18 house with a 3 bay pedimented breakfront and a high-pitched roof on a bracket cornice; probably built ca 1720-1730 by Valentine Quin [1691-1744], grandfather of the first Earl of Dunraven [Valentine Richard Quin (1752-1824)]. From 1832 onwards the 2nd Earl [Wyndham Henry Wyndham Quin (1782-1850)], whose wife [Lady Caroline Wyndham]was the wealthy heiress of the Wyndhams of Dunraven, Glamorganshire, and who was prevented by gout from shooting and fishing, began rebuilding the house in the Tudor Revival style as a way of occupying himself; continued to live in the old house while the new buildings went up gradually behind it only moving out of it about ten years later when it was engulfed by the new work and demolished.

To a certain extent Lord and Lady Dunraven acted as their own architects, helped by a master mason named James Conolly; and making as much use as they could of local craftsmen, notably a talented carver. At the same time, however, they employed a professional architect, James Pain; and in 1846, when the house was 3/4 built, they commissioned A.W. Pugin to design some of the interior features of the great hall. Finally, between 1850 and 1862, after the death of the second Earl, his son, the 3rd Earl [Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871)], a distinguished Irish archaeologist, completed the house by building the principal garden front, to the design of P.C. [Philip Charles] Hardwick. The house, as completed, is a picturesque and impressive grey stone pile, composed of various elements that are rather loosely tied together; some of them close copies of Tudor originals in England, thus the turreted entrance tower, which stands rather incongruously at one corner of the front instead of in the middle, is a copy of the entrance to the Cloister Court at Eton.

Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick

The detail, however, is of excellent quality; and the whole great building is full of interest, and abounds in those historical allusions which so appealed to early-Victorians of the stamp of the second Earl, his wife and son. As might be expected, Hardwick’s front is more architecturally correct than the earlier parts of the house, but less inspired; a rather heavy 3 storey asymmetrical composition of oriels and mullioned windows, relieved by a Gothic cloister at one end and dominated by an Irish-battlemented tower with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted by High-Victorian decorative iron cresting. 

Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick:Irish-battlemented tower with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted by High-Victorian decorative iron cresting.

The Archiseek website tells us:

The structure is a series of visual allusions to famous Irish and English homes that the Dunravens admired. It is replete with curious eccentricities such as the turreted entrance tower at one corner rather than in the centre, 52 chimneys to commemorate each week of the year, 75 fireplaces and 365 leaded glass windows. The lettered text carved into the front of the south parapet reads: “Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but lost that built it.” The elaborate decoration is a miracle of stonework – arches, gargoyles, chimneys and bay windows. The interior spaces are designed on a grand scale. One of the most renowned interior spaces is the Minstrel’s Gallery: 132 foot long, 26-1/2 foot high expanse inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined on either side with 17th Century Flemish Choir Stalls. 

Other architects to have collaborated with the Earl include Lewis [Nockalls] Cottingham, Philip Charles Hardwick, and possibly A.W.N Pugin who designed a staircase and ceiling.” [17]

Adare Manor, Limerick: The lettered text carved into the front of the south parapet reads: “Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but lost that built it.” O’Reilly tells us that “The ornamental carving at Adare is one of the earliest manifestations of a survival – or perhaps revival – in Ireland of ancient carving traditions. This same tradition would shape the future of the Gothic revival in Ireland, and make the nineteenth century one of the most creative periods in the whole history of the nation’s architecture. Two names in particular are associated with the stonework over the 1830s and early 1840s, James Conolly and Michael Donoghue, but it remains uncertain as to which of them, if either, deserves the major credit.”
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The entrance hall has doorways of grey marble carved in the Irish Romanesque style; the ceiling is timbered, the doors are covered in golden Spanish leather. The great hall beyond, for which Pugin provided designs, is a room of vast size and height, divided down the middle by a screen of giant Gothic arches of stone, and with similar arches in front of the staircase, so that there are Gothic vistas in all directions. A carved oak minstrels’ gallery runs along one side; originally there was also an organ-loft. From the landing of the stairs, a vaulted passage constitutes the next stage in the romantic and devious approach to the grandest room in the house, the long gallery, which was built before the great hall, in 1830s; it is 132 feet long and 26 feet high with a timbered roof; along the walls are carved C17 Flemish choir stalls and there is a great deal of other woodcarving, including C15 carved panelling in the door.

The other principal reception rooms are in Hardwick’s garden front; they have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces; that in the drawingroom having been designed by Pugin.

Hall of Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.
Hall of Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.

Sean O’Reilly writes in his book Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of  Country Life.

Nowhere is the creativity of Adare more apparent than in the Great Hall and its associated spaces. Enclosed by screens of giant and more modest arches, round and pointed, surrounded by corridors, staircases and steps flying in an apparently conflicting succession of directions, and with galleries breaking through walls, not to mention the ubiquitous antlers of the Irish elk, the great hall was one of the most picturesque interiors of its day. Lady Dunraven described the room as being ‘peculiarly adapted to every purpose for which it may be required,’ observing that ‘it has been frequently used with equal appropriateness as a dining room, concert-room, ballroom, for private theatricals, tableaux vivants and other amusements.’ ” [18]

Inside Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012: The Gallery.
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick

O’Reilly writes: “If the hall is the most complex space, the most dramatic is the gallery, a huge timber-roofed space rising through two storeys and stretching nearly forty-five metres. With its architectural details, pictures and furnishings, the idea, as Cornforth so well expressed it, was to ‘create 250 years of history overnight.’ The family history from the twelfth century is traced in Willement’s stained glass and portraits – both family heirlooms and acquisitions – which carry the story through in more intimate, if also more vague terms. Seventeenth century Flemish stalls, purchased by the Dunravens during their Continental tour of 1834-36, add to the ambiguous combination of old and new.” [18]

Adare Manor, Limerick: 15th century carved panelling in the door. 
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick: Seventeenth century Flemish stalls, purchased by the Dunravens during their Continental tour of 1834-36.
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick: 15th century carved panelling in the door. 
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012. The other principal reception rooms are in Hardwick’s garden front; they have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces; that in the drawing room having been designed by Pugin. 
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, breakfast room, 2012.

O’Reilly adds: “It was Pugin’s successor, the English architect P.C. Hardwick, who developed the next and final major phase of work at Adare. This involved the laying out of the surrounding terraces, and the completion of the southern range, that which looks across to the river and occupies the site of the original classical house. Although Hardwick’s work embodies the professional finish of the later nineteenth century, it possesses none of the amateur exuberance of the earlier work. Yet his patron, the 3rd Earl, was to establish himself as one of the foremost authorities of Irish antiquities. He was a friend of the celebrated Irish antiquary George Petrie, and collated the material for the posthumously published Notes on Irish Antiquities, one of the most significant antiquarian publications of the century.” [18]

Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.

Mark Bence-Jones adds: “The house stands close to the River Maigue surrounded by a splendid desmesne in which there is a Desmond castle, and a ruined medieval Franciscan friary; one of 3 monastic buildings at Adare, the other 2 having been restored as the Catholic and Protestant churches.” 

Ruined medieval Franciscan friary at Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.

Unable to bear the expense of maintaining Adare Manor, the 7th Earl sold it and its contents in 1984. 

Veteran’s Memorial, Adare Manor, Limerick
Adare Manor, Limerick, veterans memorial

Among the trees southwest of the Manor House are Ogham Stones, which were brought to Adare Manor from Kerry by Edwin, the 3rd Earl of Dunraven. Ogham Stones date from the early 5th Century to the middle of the 7th Century. They are mainly Christian in context and are usually associated with old churches or early Christian burial sites. Ogham inscriptions are in an early form of Irish, frequently followed by Latin inscriptions and often read from the bottom upwards.

Ogham stones at Adare Manor, Limerick.

2. Ash Hill Towers, Kilmallock, Co Limerick – section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €

www.ashhill.com 

Ashill Towers, taken  c.1865-1914 by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

3. The Dunraven, Adare, Co Limerick € 

https://www.dunravenhotel.com/

4. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland – whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11

https://flemingstownhouse.com

plus self-catering cottage for up to 4 people.

5. Longcourt House Hotel, Newcastle West, Co Limerick 

https://www.longcourthousehotel.ie/our-story/

“It is a vibrant property and the teams behind it are equally passionate and dedicated to the hotel and guests who frequent it. Jim & Mary Long are the proprietors, who purchased the property in 2014 and lovingly restored it and redeveloped it for its opening in December 2017. They are both from West Limerick but reside in London and have always maintained their strong connections to the area and frequent visitors to the hotel and their extended family and friends.”

6. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick € or €€

https://www.woodlands-hotel.ie/home/history/

Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa, which is a founding member of Original Irish Hotels, began life more than 40 years ago as a four-bedroomed bed and breakfast (B&B) run by Mary and Dick (RIP) Fitzgerald as a way to supplement their farming income.  Today, it is an 89-room award-winning four-star hotel employing more than 200 people.”

Whole house rental County Limerick

1. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick – self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10

http://www.ballyteigue.com/

Ballyteigue House accommodation Limerick can accommodate nine people comfortably and there is a Courtyard Cottage which can accommodate an extra 6 people.

The House available for holiday lettings consists of 5 Bedrooms, 4 double or twin, and a single room. All rooms have their own bathroom.

Bruree is where President De Valera spent the early part of his life and went to school.

2. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland – whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests

https://flemingstownhouse.com

plus self-catering cottage for up to 4 people.

3. Glin Castle, whole house rental.

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.glin-castle.com/

You can see lovely photographs of the castle, inside and out, on the website.

The website tells us: “The castle comprises 5 exquisite reception rooms filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century furniture. The entrance hall with a screen of Corinthian pillars has a superb Neo-classical plaster ceiling and the enfilade of reception rooms are filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century mahogany furniture. Family portraits and Irish pictures line the walls, and the library bookcase has a secret door leading to the hall and the very rare flying staircase.

Upstairs there are 15+ individually decorated bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom. Colourful rugs and chaise longues stand at the end of comforting plump beds. Pictures and blue and white porcelain adorn the walls. The bedrooms at the back of the castle overlook the garden, while those at the front have a view of the river.

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us of the history:

The FitzGeralds first settled here in the 1200’s at nearby Shanid Castle following the Norman invasion of Ireland. Their war cry was Shanid Abu!  (Shanid forever in Gaelic). In the early 14th century the Earl of Desmond, head of the Geraldines, made hereditary Knights of 3 illegitimate sons he had sired with the wives of various Irish chieftains, creating them the White Knight, the Green Knight of Kerry and the Black Knight of Glin. For seven centuries they defended their lands against the troops of Elizabeth I, and during the Cromwellian plantation and Penal laws.

Coming into the hall with its Corinthian columns and elaborate plaster ceiling in the neo­ classical style, one can see straight ahead among a series of family portraits, some already mentioned, the picture of Colonel John FitzGerald [(1765-1803)the 23rd Knight of Glin], the builder of the house, wearing the uniform of his volunteer regiment the Royal Glin Artillery. In his portrait, which hangs over the Portland stone chimneypiece, he is proudly pointing at his cannon. In May 1779 Colonel John’s father, Thomas FitzGerald, whose portrait in a blue coat is on the left of the dining room door, wrote to Edmund Sexton Pery the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons to warn him that a French naval invasion was expected off the coast. There were rumours that the American privateer Paul Jones had sailed up the Shannon to Tarbert after he had defeated an English ship in Belfast Lough in the summer of 1779. France and Spain had declared war on England and were supporting the American colonists in the War of Independence. Panic spread among the gentry and nobility of Ireland in case the country should be left unprotected in the face of an invasion, and the Irish Volunteer Regiments were raised between 1778 and 1783-40,000 men having been enrolled by 1779 and 100,000 by 1782. Inspired by the success of the Americans and with the strength of the Volunteers behind them, Henry Grattan and his Patriot Party demanded legislative independence for Ireland from Britain following their achievement of the abolition of trade restrictions in 1778. These stirring optimistic times were the background to the building of Glin.” 

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website continues: “The new prosperity of the country was reflected in a great deal of public and private building and the accompanying extensive landscaping and tree planting showed the pride of Ireland’s ruling classes in their newly won but brief national independence-an independence which was shaken by the French Revolution and finally shattered by the Rebellion of 1798 and the ensuing Union with England in 1800. Colonel John supported this Union, though his faith in King and Country had faltered under the influence of his United Irishman brother, Gerald during the 1798 Rebellion, when his kinsman Lord Edward FitzGerald is said to have stayed at Glin. Colonel John had no political influence as all the local boroughs were in the hands of the new English settler families. This meant that unlike so many of them he did not spend money on a large Dublin house and thereby concentrated on cutting a greater dash at home. 

Unfortunately, we have no direct information about who designed the house or the identity of the craftsmen who styled the superb woodwork such as the mahogany library bookcase with its concealed secret door, the inlaid stair-rail, the flying staircase, or the intricate plaster ceilings. This is because many of the family papers were burned by the so-called ‘Cracked Knight’ in the 1860s. Tradition tells us that the stone for the house was brought across the hills from a quarry in nearby Athea on horse-drawn sleds by a ‘strongman’ contractor called Sheehy. This is the only name connected with the building of the house that has come down to us. 

It seems likely that Colonel John started his house sometime in the 1780s as he obviously used the same masons and carpenters as were used for two houses adjoining each other in Henry Street, Limerick, one built for the Bishop of Limerick, later Lord Glentworth, and the other for his elder brother the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Viscount Pery. These Limerick houses were finished by 1784 and it would seem not unlikely that they are the work of a good local carpenter /builder. Colonel John may well have been his own architect working with the excellent craftsmen that Limerick could obviously produce. The neo-classical plasterwork of the hall is possibly an exception as it is close to the work of two Dublin stuccadores, Charles Thorpe or Michael Stapleton. The motifs on the frieze reminds us of the Volunteer enthusiasm of the house for the military trophies, shields sprouting shamrocks and the full bosomed Irish harp which are to be seen on the hall ceiling all underline Colonel John’s patriotism. The French horn and the music book also reminds us that this hall doubled up as a ballroom; the music undoubtedly being played by the musicians from the artillery band. Colonel John loved music and had been taught the flute by a Gaelic music and dancing master, Seań Bán Aerach Ó Flanagán. The house stands on the banks of the widest part of the river Shannon and the snub nosed dolphins and tridents in· the corners of the main hall ceiling symbolise water, while flower-laden cornucopiae and ears of wheat represent the fruitful grasslands that surround the newly built mansion. Oval plaques with their Pompeian red background portray Roman soldiers depicting war and other figures characterise peace and justice. All this symbolism reminds us of contemporary events in the sea girt island of Ireland. This magnificent ceiling retains much of its original 18th century colouring. 

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

In 1789 Colonel John married his beautiful English wife, the daughter of a rich west country squire, and her coat-of-arms are impaled with his on the hall ceiling. Her portrait hangs above her husbands to the right of the drawing room door in the hall. Her coat-of-arms on the ceiling suggests that the house was still being decorated in 1789 although the money must have been beginning to run out, because work was stopped short on the third floor, and walls remained scored for plaster and pine doors are unpainted to this day. Financial problems must have marred their brief decade together at Glin as in 1791 the Dublin La Touche Bank called in their debts going back as far as 1736 and took a case to Parliament. In June 1801 a private Act of Parliament in Westminster was passed to force part of the Glin estate to be sold in order to pay off the many ‘incumbrances’ which had accrued through the 18th century. This document mentions that Colonel John had expended ‘Six thousand pounds and upward in building a mansion house and offices and making plantations and other valuable and lasting improvements…’. Comparing costs with other roughly contemporary buildings shows us that the cut stone Custom House in Limerick cost £8,000 in 1779 and Mornington House, one of Dublin’s largest houses, was sold for the same sum in 1791, so £6,000 ‘and upwards’ was a substantial sum in those days. Colonel John’s wife Margaretta Maria Fraunceis died at one of her father’s properties, Combe Florey in Somerset a few months after the Act was passed. In 1802, 5,000 acres of Glin were sold, and Colonel John himself died in 1803 leaving an only son, and heir aged 12. In June 1803 the local newspaper the Limerick Chronicle advertised sales of the household furniture, the library, , ‘a superb service of India china’, but no pictures or silver. The hall chairs and amorial sideboard in the hall survived because of their family associations but carriages, farm stock, and ‘the fast-sailing sloop The Farmer, her cabin neatly fitted up’ followed. The FitzGeralds of Glin were almost bankrupt.

It was only because of the long minority of John Fraunceis FitzGerald, the son and heir, and the fact that there were no younger children to provide for, which saw the estate on to 1812 when he attained his majority. Educated at Winchester and Cambridge he regained the family fortunes by successful gambling and though he married an English clergyman’s daughter with no great dower, he built the various Gothic lodges and added the battlements and sugar icing detail to the old Glin House making it into the ‘cardboard castle’ that it is today. This would have been typical of the romantic notions of the 1820s and he obviously thought that the holder of such an ancient title should be living in a castle like his medieval ancestors.

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The top floor was never completed and other than further planting, little else was done to Glin for over a hundred years as money was scarce during the Victorian period. Over 5,000 acres were sold by 1837 and for the rest of the century the estate consisted of 5,836 acres and the town of Glin. The rent roll came to between £3,000 and £3,800 a year but with mortgages, windows jointures, and other family charges there was in 1858 a surplus of only £777 16s. 5d. brought in from the estate. Not included in this would have been the income from the salmon weirs on the Shannon. Lack of money may have been a blessing in disguise for there were few Victorian improvements at Glin though the Dublin firm of Sibthorpe redecorated the staircase ceiling and added Celtic revival monograms in two roundels and carried out some stencil work in the library and smoking room. This work would have been done in the 1860s probably at the same time that the Protestant church at the gate was being rebuilt.

4. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.

Springfield Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.springfieldcastle.com 

The website tells us: “Springfield Castle is situated in the heart of County Limerick on a magical 200 acre wooded estate and is approached along a magnificent three quarter mile long avenue, lined with ancient lime trees. Enjoy an exclusive relaxing stay in a one of a kind castle.

Accommodation for up to 25 people in a unique Irish castle we are the perfect place for your vacation, family gathering or boutique wedding in Ireland. It is the ideal place to stay in an Irish castle, Springfield is centrally located allowing you to explore many of Ireland’s fantastic gems including the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a one of a kind place where you can unwind and relax.

Springfield castle is owned By Robert Fitzmaurice Deane the 9th Baron of Muskerry. Robert and his wife Rita are regular visitors. Robert has funded the ongoing restoration in Springfield since 2006, most recently of the garden cottage where he and Rita stay when visiting Ireland.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 263. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, sub Lansdowne, M/PB; Deane, Muskerry, B/PB) A three storey C18 house adjoining a large C16 tower house of the FitzGeralds, later bought by the Fitzmaurices, whose heiress married Sir Robert Deane, 6th Bt, afterwards 1st Lord Muskerry, 1775. …A two storey C19 Gothic wing with pinnacle buttresses was added at one end of C18 block, extending along one side of the old castle bawn, a smaller tower at another and outbuildings along two of the remaining sides to form a courtyard. 20C entrance gates and lodge in the New Zealand Maori style. C18 house was burnt 1923 and new house was afterwards made out of C19 Gothic wing, which was extended in the same style.” 

Springfield Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Springfield Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is a “Gothic Revival style country house with courtyard complex, commenced c. 1740, comprising attached eight-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt c. 1925, having single-bay three-stage entrance tower. Earlier two-bay three-storey wing to side (east) having single-bay three-stage gate tower with integral camber-headed carriage arch. Tooled limestone octagonal corner turrets with pinnacles to front (south) elevation of wing gate tower, rendered octagonal turrets and pinnacles to side (west) elevation of main block. Two-bay two-storey double-pile over basement block to rear (north) incorporating possibly earlier three-stage tower to north-west. Additional lean-to stairwell block to side (west) elevation of extension block.

This impressive country house is situated in a picturesque location with extensive panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The house and courtyard complex are the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry and occupies the site of an old bawn associated with the sixteenth-century tower house. The first record of a castle at Springfield is dated to 1280, when the Norman Fitzgeralds arrived. A visible mark to the tower house represents part of the roof line of an earlier eighteenth-century mansion that was built by John Fitzmaurice, a grandson of the 20th Lord of Kerry. Sir Robert Deane [1745-1818] married Ann Fitzmaurice in 1780, the sole heiress of Springfield and was a year later awarded the title Baron Muskerry. This mansion was burnt in 1921 by the IRA who were afraid that the occupying Black and Tans were going to convert the buildings into a garrison. The current house was rebuilt by ‘Bob’ Muskerry, the 5th Baron and follows the Gothic Revival style of the nineteenth century, with characteristic pinnacled turrets to the house and main entrance. The castellated entrance towers with tooled stone forming the main fabric of the turrets and a grand entrance door greatly enliven the façade of the building. The fine Gothic Revival style gate tower provides a glorious entrance to the substantial courtyard. A large variety of outbuildings display great skill and craftsmanship with well executed rubble stone walls and numerous carriage arches helping to maintain the historic character of the site. A curious mechanised clock controlling a mechanical calendar, lunar calendar and a bell constructed by the current owner’s great grand uncle is a mechanical masterpiece of great technical interest. Coupled with the archaeological monuments, this complex has a significant architectural value at a national level.

The website tells us about the history:

Steeped in history, it is the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry, whose motto Forti et fideli nihil dificile which means “nothing is difficult to the strong and faithful” underlies over 700 years of family history.

The earliest castle at Gort na Tiobrad, the Irish name for Springfield Castle, is reputed to date from 1280 when one of the Fitzgeralds, a junior member of the Earl of Desmond’s family, married a lady of the O Coilleains, who were the Gaelic Lords of Claonghlais. He took the title Lord of Claonghlais and subsequently built a castle at Springfield. The Tower house and build circa 1480. This was the beginning of a long association of the Fitzgeralds with the area. They were patrons to Irish poets and musicians.As you enter the impressive gateway to Springfield Castle a plaque on the wall commemorates Daithi O’Bruadair, a classical Irish poet of the seventeenth century who lived at the castle with his patrons, the Fitzgerald family, recording their lives (and general events). He described Springfield Castle as “a mansion abounding in poetry, prizes and people”

The Fitzgeralds soon became, as the saying goes “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and had an oft-times difficult relationship with the British monarchy. In 1691 they had their lands confiscated for the third and last time and Sir John Fitzgerald went to France with Sir Patrick Sarsfield to continue fighting the English there, never to return to Ireland. A younger son of the 20th Lord of Kerry, William Fitzmaurice [1670-1710], (cousins to the Fitzgeralds) then bought Springfield castle. His son, John, built a very large 3 story early Georgian mansion attached to the existing buildings. The Fitzmaurices occupied Springfield Castle until Sir Robert Deane married Ann Fitzmaurice, the sole heiress, in 1780. He was awarded the title Baron Muskerry in 1781 and the title Lord Muskerry has stayed at Springfield Castle to this day. The castle was burnt in 1921 during the war of Independence and rebuilt by “Bob” Muskerry the 5th Baron in 1929. The 9th Baron, Robert Fitzmaurice Deane, lives and works in South Africa at present, and started restoring the castle in 2006. Robert’s sister Betty, her husband Jonathan and their children Karen and Daniel run Springfield Castle and look forward to meeting you.

Tipperary:

1. Beechwood House, Ballbrunoge, Cullen, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Beechwood House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [17]

contact: Maura & Patrick McCormack
Tel: 083-1486736
Open: Jan 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, Feb 14-18, May 6-9, 13-23, Aug 13-21, Sept 2-5, 9- 12, 16-19, 23-26, 10.15am-2.15pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €2, child free, fees donated to charity

The National Inventory tells us Beechwood House is a:

Detached seven-bay three-storey country house, built 1741, with three-bay pedimented breakfront. Two-bay single-storey over basement flanking wings, added 1853. Tower house to rear, built 1594, giving overall T-plan and is multiple-bay three-storey block. Later greenhouse added to north…Timber panelled door set in square-headed opening with pedimented carved limestone surround having pulvinated frieze...

The form of this imposing country house, set in a mature landscape retains many notable features and materials, such as the slate roof, ashlar limestone quoins and interior features. Architectural features, such as the pedimented breakfront and flanking wings, enliven the regular façade. The doorway is notable for its design and execution. The remodelled tower house attached to the rear adds archaeological interest and indicates a long tradition of high status settlement at this site. The outbuildings survive in their original form and together with the country house and tower house combine to create an interesting and notable group of structures.” [19]

2. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

3. Carey’s Castle, Clonmel, County Tipperary – a ruin, owned by Coillte:

https://www.coillte.ie/site/careys-castle/

This is a beautiful mixed woodland that lies close to the Glenary River, a tributary of the Suir. The main feature of this site is the ruins of the castle that gives the forest its name. It is just 500m from the car park down a mixed woodland trail that leads to the river. It is believed to have been built at some stage during the 1800’s by the Carey family, who were local schoolmasters in the Clonmel area. A number of architectural styles are still evident in the ruined remains, including; Gothic windows, a Celtic round tower, a Norman Keep, and both Romanesque and Gothic arches. The remnants of a walled garden can be found to the southern side of the castle. An ice-house is located just off the trail beyond the castle. This is a stone-lined pit which used to serve as a ‘fridge’ when the castle was inhabited. Carey’s Castle was occupied by monks and up to recent years the ruins of the alms house was still in evidence. A real gem of a site for local historians.”

4. Clashleigh House, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Clashleigh House, County Tipperary, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Elizabeth O’Callaghan
Tel: 086-8185334
Open: April 5-28, May 3-31, Tues & Thurs, June 2-30, Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-29, Oct 4-27, Tues & Thurs, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4

The National Inventory tells us it is a “detached three-bay two-storey over basement country house, built c. 1810, with recessed lower irregular-plan four-bay two-storey 1930s extension to south, full-height bowed bay to rear and flat-roofed porch to front. Used as rectory 1920-1976. ..Rendered and timber porch with Doric-style portico and fixed windows with decorative consoles. Timber panelled double-doors having limestone steps and cast-iron bootscrape. Segmental-arched doorway with spoked fanlight and panelled shutters to interior. Folly and remains of walled garden to site. ..

This house is carefully-proportioned with widely-spaced diminishing windows and centrally-placed chimneystacks. The bow provides a sense of grandeur to the rear elevation, enhanced by the finely-crafted sash windows. One of several projects in the area commissioned by the Grubb family, it retains much of its demesne architecture, enhanced by mature grounds and planting, including the remains of a walled garden, finely-made entrance piers, and an interesting folly.

5. Cloughjordan House, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Cloughjordan House, County Tipperary, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Sarah Baker
Tel: 085-2503344
www.cloughjordanhouse.com
Open: May 2-31, June 1-30, Sept 5-30 Mon- Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €6, OAP €4

The website tells us: “An 800 year old French style manor house set in the lush countryside of North Tipperary. Cloughjordan House is at heart a place of wholesome home-grown food, warm, welcoming rooms, gardens to explore and wide lawns to play on.

The website tells us a little about the history of the house: “You can’t walk around the grounds of Cloughjordan House without feeling steeped in Irish history. The house itself has been there for over 800 years, dating back to as early as 1214. It’s covered in a colourful Virginia creeper residual from the historic Hodgins’ Arboretum and nursery gardens that the grounds were once famous for. The property has been in the hands of The Baker family since 1914 when they purchased it from the Hodgins family. In 1922, free state soldiers occupied the house and evidence of their target practise can see be seen on an ancient tree outside.

Peter Baker, his wife Sarah and their children; Julie, Holly and Sam are the proud residents of Cloughjordan House today. Over the past decade or more, they have transformed Cloughjordan House from a dairy farm into a magical destination with the best in food, atmosphere and accommodation. The family live in their own wing of the main house and welcome guests as though they are friends and family, even the family dogs Louis and Monty are available for a belly rub during your stay.”

The National Inventory tells us it is a “Detached multi-period country house, comprising five-bay two-storey central block, built c.1675, having rear stairs return, flanked by two blocks that advance forwards, eastern being medieval tower house and western being ballroom block built c.1850. Flanking blocks are gable-fronted and two-storey with attic, and middle block has pitched slate roofs with massive rendered chimneystacks. Rendered walls, with battered base and dressed quoins to tower house...Round-headed doorway with petal fanlight and replacement timber and glazed door to ballroom block. Part of original staircase with barley-twist balusters survives. Various gabled and lean-to additions to rear. Detached L-plan stable block, built c.1860. Wrought-iron gates set on limestone plinth to entrance. Remains of moat to north and east. 

Cloughjordan House is a substantial farmhouse that contains significant fabric from the medieval period to the nineteenth century. Its form, detailing and original fabric provide important information about rural architectural development in Ireland. The house also contains fine joinery and plaster work and the barley-twist staircase is a rare survival. It has one of the few surviving nursery gardens for which there is substantial documentation that is now preserved in the National Botanic Gardens.

6. Fancroft Mill, Fancroft, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Fancroft Mill, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Marcus & Irene Sweeney
Tel: 0505-31484, 087-9263300 

www.fancroft.ie

Open: May 11-31, June 1-2, 9-30, Aug 13-22, Oct 3-7, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €6, child free under 5 years, adult supervision essential, group rates available

Fancroft  Fancroft Gardens are not open to visitors for the seasons 2021/22.

The website tells us:

An extensive conservation project, commenced in 2006 by Marcus & Irene Sweeney, has resulted in the rescue from dereliction of this mill complex which is of noted industrial heritage importance. A set of new mill stones were installed in 2010. Milling capability is now restored for domestic   purposes. A recently installed generator contributes to the household heating system. All of the buildings at Fancroft are included on  the  Offaly County Council list of  Protected Structures.

The rescue from dereliction of the mill complex at Fancroft received public recognition in 2017 when the Irish Georgian Society awarded the owners one of their Conservation Awards. The inaugural Norman Campion award for Best Restored Industrial Site or Museum was conferred on Fancroft Mill & Gardens by the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland in 2019.

Approached by the winding  road  one has no idea of what lies behind the hedge  and across the stream which drives the water wheel  in the corn mill. Consequently the extensive gardens, created mostly in the 1990’s by previous owner Angela Jupe, unfold as a series of delightful surprises as one proceeds beyond the pebbled courtyard leaving the busy world behind.

In recent years Fancroft  Mill & Gardens has proven to be a wonderful venue for successful  heritage seminars, classical and traditional music events, sponsored walks and visits by interested individuals and groups from Ireland and overseas.

Eircode: E53 ET72.
e.mail: millgardens@gmail.com

7. Farney Castle, Holycross, County Tipperary

https://cyrilcullen.wordpress.com/farney-castle/

The website tells us:

Farney Castle Visitor centre

As well as being the Cullen family home, Cyril Cullen Knitwear and porcelain is designed and produced in the converted ‘old stables’ in the castle courtyard. The unique parian/porcelain designs are sold in what was the old dairy at Farney castle, the knitwear boutique is situated in the original kitchen of the castle and a coffee shop is situated in the 15th century round tower.It is the only Round Tower in Ireland occupied as a family home. Tours of the castle are available daily and harp recitals take place in the drawing room by arrangement.

The History of Farney Castle

The first castle was built at Farney in 1185 and this would have been a timbered structure. The present round tower was built in 1495 by Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, and it was part of a defensive system created by the Butlers to protect their land in Tipperary. The Butlers were in Farney Castle for 500 years but in 1536 the castle was confiscated by King Henry VIII of England. He returned the lands again to the Butlers in 1538 when he married Anne Boleyn who was the daughter of James, 3rd Earl of Ormond. Subsequently the castle was occupied for short periods by two other English monarchs namely King James 1st from 1617 – 1625, and King George 1st from 1716 -1721.

In 1649 Cromwell landed in Ireland and shortly after 1650 a Cromwellian soldier named Hulett took over the castle. Then in 1660 Capt. William Armstrong, a Cavalier who supported the Stuarts and who fought against Cromwell, acquired the castle and lands, and there were Armstrongs in the castle for the next 200 years. William Armstrong came from a Scottish Border country family which was famed in the sixteenth century for its ferocity, and in 1677 he purchased large estates in the area including Holy Cross Abbey and Holy Cross lands.

The round tower is 58 ft. high and has five stories. It is unusual in being circular whereas the majority of this sort of tower were square or oblong. It possesses a mural staircase (built within the thickness of the walls) off which it appears that secret rooms still exist undiscovered. The main door was opened up by Cyril Cullen having been closed for 200 years. There is a “murdering hole” over the main door and this enabled the castle defenders to shoot from above at any intruders. The tower castles were built to safeguard the Butler lands during the long periods when the family was away in England.”

8. Grenane House, Tipperary, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Grenane House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Philippa Mansergh-Wallace Tel: 062-52484 

www.hfhtours.ie

Open: May & Sept, Mon-Sat, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm, closed Sundays Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €6, group rates available

Mark Bence-Jones tells us it is: “[Mansergh] A 2 storey 3 bay late-Georgian house with a long 2 storey service wing. Enclosed porch with roundheaded windows; a Wyatt window on either side of it.

The National Inventory adds: “three-bay two-storey country house, of at least two phases, front elevation rebuilt c. 1820, with entrance porch. Rear part of east elevation of main block, together with lower two-storey wings, five-bay to north-west and two-bay to north-east, may be early eighteenth century. Additional double-pile three-bay two-storey block having pitched slate roof to north-east…A pleasing middle-sized house of balanced Georgian proportions, existing largely in its early form and retaining much of its original fabric. This house is elevated above other typical early nineteenth century middle-sized country houses by the inclusion of ornate features including the elaborate entrance porch with round-headed openings and the tripartite windows with delicately proportioned engaged clustered timber columns. The house, its yards, walled and terraced gardens, together with its monumental entrance piers, form an attractive and interesting group on a slightly elevated site in the landscape. “

9. Killenure Castle, Dundrum, Co Tipperary – section 482

Killenure Castle, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Eavaun Carmody
Tel: 087-6402664
www.killenure.com
Open: Feb 1-20, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 10.30am-2.30pm Fee: adult €10, child /OAP/student €5

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 170. “(Cooper/IFR) A large tower-house of the O’Dwyer family, burnt by the Cromwellians but still very well preserved, with a plain and unassuming C18 house of two storeys over basement alongside it. Sold in recent years, now a private school.” 

The National Inventory adds: “Detached two-storey country house, comprising T-plan five-bay block, c. 1770, with central pedimented breakfront and rear return, with four-bay block built to south-west, c. 1800, to give overall L-plan. Two-storey pitched addition to north gable, with single-storey lean-to extension to rear and having catslide addition to rear of later block. Early seventeenth-century fortified house located to west….Fortified house has round-plan corner towers and three-bay four-storey gable-fronted façade, triple-gabled rear elevation, rubble limestone walls, dressed limestone string courses, loops to towers and ground floor of main facades, upper floors of latter having square-headed one-and mullioned two-light and three-light windows, some blocked, to main facades with chamfered limestone surrounds and label-mouldings. Pointed-arch doorways to front and rear walls, and flight of external steps up to north-west tower. Conical slate roof to north-eastern tower, rubble limestone chimneystacks and dripstones. Some later square-headed window openings to south-east tower, with red brick surrounds, one having carved timber traceried casement windows. Lofted stable and coach house to rear of house with half-hipped slate roofs and rendered rubble limestone walls and having square- and segmental-headed openings. Three-bay single-storey gate-lodge with hipped slate roof and rendered walls and entrance gates with dressed limestone piers to vehicluar and pedestrian entrances with wrought-iron gates and flanking rubble limestone walls. 

This multi-period country house was formerly the home of the antiquary Austin Cooper. Its setting, next to a substantial fortified house, indicates considerable continuity of living at this location, and reflects the transition in attitudes to living patterns with a concentration on defence shifting to one of comfortable living. The later wing is typical of an early nineteenth-century country house with centrally-placed chimneystacks and tall sash windows. The fortified house retains mainly notable feature features including defensive elements such as the gun loops. The fortified house, country house and associated outbuildings make an impressive complex in the landscape.”

The Killenure website tells us:

Nestled in the spectacular scenery of South Tipperary, Killenure Castle the home of Killenure Dexter beef is a truly stunning gift from times gone by. It has held a central place in the local community for over five centuries, as a stronghold; a school; an artistic retreat; a visitor attraction; and vitally, a family home. 

Since its purchase in 2007, the house has been lovingly restored and updated. The renovations reflect the family’s role as both inhabitants and custodians of the castle, and have successfully balanced the needs – and responsibilities – that come with both. This continues the organic pattern of development that Killenure Castle has enjoyed for the over 450 years. From the original castle whose ruinous remains now dominates the space, to a charming ‘Hansel and Gretel’ style tree-house that is built around a 300-year-old living Irish Beech tree, the eclectic range of buildings reflects the fascinating range of almost five centuries of lucky inhabitants. 

As well as providing shelter for generations of owners and their families, Killenure Castle represents the centre of a community. Its survival through 500 years is testament to the strength of the community it represents, and Eavaun and her family are delighted to share the castle with visitors. As custodians of Killenure Castle, we have built a sustainable, community-orientated business, ensuring the survival of the castle and Killenure Dexter beef for future generations. 

Whilst the spectacular medieval castle and grounds have previously been open to visitors during the summer, they will remain closed in 2017 due to ongoing restoration works. If you would like to learn more, a guidebook is available for those wishing to learn more about this extra-ordinary castle, and the community that surrounds it. 

You can purchase a short history of Killenure which documents the history of Killenure from the O’Dwyer Clan up to the contemporary Killenure of today. The cost of the book is €5.00 plus postage. To order a copy please contact info@killenure.com  

10. Lismacue House, Bansha, Co. Tipperary – section 482, whole house rental

Lismacue House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Katherine Nicholson
Tel: 062-54106
www.lismacue.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: Mar 18-Oct 31

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 185. “[Baker/IFR] A late-Georgian house with battlements and other mild Gothic touches. 2 storeys;  entrance front of three bays with Gothic porch, prolonged by lower wing ending in a gable with tracery window. Side of five bays has a battlemented pediment with pinnacles. Another pediment on the rear facade.” 

The National Inventory adds: “This is an imposing and diverse country house, which has been enlivened through the addition of many Gothic-style elements. The early nineteenth-century middle wing provides a foil for the classically-designed original block, in its use of unrendered stone walls. The extensive and well-designed courtyard reflects the grandeur of this dwelling, which is set in landscaped grounds. The retention of early wallpaper to two ground floor reception rooms is an indication of the sympathetic maintenance this house receives.

The website tells us: “Lismacue House is a Luxury Georgian Country House set in the heart of Ireland.

This is the ideal property for anyone wanting to rent a luxury home for a quiet country break.

Approached by the gracious lime tree avenue, Lismacue House looks out on the splendour of the Galtee mountains.

Standing in 200 acres of parkland with the excellent ‘Ara’ trout fishing, this is the ideal location to relax and explore the wonders of Ireland.

The website tells us more about the history:

The original dwelling, situated in the “Oak Paddock” had  five chimneys and therefore incurred a hearth tax of 10/- according to the records of 1665.

On the 15th October, 1704 Lismacue was purchased by William Baker, ancestor of Kate Nicholson, for the sum of £923. Since then the house has been continually occupied by the family. Sir Augustine Baker, a solicitor, was President of the Incorporated Law Society in 1903. He compiled the family history in 1922, just before the Public Record Office was burned down.

The present house was completed in 1813 to the design of architect William Robertson. It is a classically proportioned Irish country house set in 200 acres and approached by one of the most impressive lime tree avenues in Ireland, planted c.1760 by Hugh Baker.

Lismacue is a beautifully maintained model of country house splendour with high ceilings and intricate plasterwork, broad staircases and gloriously stained pine floors. Differing architectural styles can be discerned between the main building, the wing and Coach House.

At the turn of the century guests were collected at Bansha railway station by trap.

The accommodation consists of a classically proportioned drawing room, dining room, breakfast room and library. The house is centrally heated throughout, with traditional warm and welcoming log fires in the reception rooms. All windows have the original pine shutters that are closed each evening.

The plasterwork in the Drawing Room is of unusual pendulous Gothic design and coupled with the gilt pelmets, mahogany doors and original wallpaper give it an air of timelessness and tranquillity. In the Dining room the elegant dining room table surrounded by the original Hicks chairs, which can seat a party of 12, is West facing thereby getting the benefit of the evening sun.

The library, overlooking the croquet lawn, contains original wallpaper, which is French in design, and is now almost two hundred years old. The architects preparatory sketches hang above the bookcase.

All bedrooms contain a King or Queen size bed and are especially designed for perfect rest. Each spacious room features antique furniture, direct dial telephones, fresh cut flowers all year round. There’s a sumptuous deep soaking bath and shower in all bathrooms. Each room enjoys panoramic views over the surrounding landscaped gardens and estate.

11. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

12. Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

13. Redwood Castle, Redwood, Lorrha, Nenagh, North Tipperary – section 482

Redwood Castle by irishfireside on flickr constant commons.

Redwood is off the Birr/Portumna Rd

contact: Coleesa Egan
Tel: 087-7479566 

www.redwoodcastleireland.com

Open: June 15-30, July 1-17, Aug 9-31, Sept 1-7, 2.30pm-6.30pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5

Redwood Castle from flickr constant commons Discover Lough Derg.

The website tells us:

Welcome to Redwood Castle in Co. Tipperary, ancient home of the MacEgan’s and O’Kennedy’s.

Today the Castle is one of the main historical attractions in the midlands of Ireland. Come and take a guided tour around Redwood Castle and learn about the history of the Castle and surrounding area.

The website tells us more about the castle:

Redwood is a complex structure made up of two main sections. Firstly, there are a series of main chambers stacked one above the other that form the core of the tower house. These are accompanied by a series of smaller ancillary rooms at the front of the building, which were used as bed chambers.

This layout may seem fairly straightforward but it is complicated by each room being on different levels. While we normally think of castle walls as thick and strong for defensive purposes, they were in reality riddled with passageways and staircases that served the larger rooms inside. Irish castle builders generally made very economical use of walls for domestic purposes rather than military strength, meaning that castles were far less impenetrable than they appeared.

A series of defensive features on the exterior such as battlements and machicolation were instead used to convey a certain military bravado to those who approached the castle. The occupants of these castles were aristocratic warriors who participated in an ancient martial culture, and castles played an important part in dramatising and expressing their identity.

The earliest recorded occupants of Redwood are the O’Kennedy sept who are referred to in possession of the castle in the 1540s. However, it was likely to have previously been in possession of the O’Maddens whose east Galway lordship once extended into the north of Ormond and the parish of Lusmagh beyond. They seem to have lost this territory in the 1440s and it would appear that the sept of O’Kennedy Roe came into possession of the castle around that time.

The Mac Egans were a prominent bardic family in their day, and they were one of only seven Irish families to practice the ancient Brehon Law. Of these seven, five served just one ruling family, one served five senior lords, and members of the Mac Egan clan served as the chief advisors to all of the remaining thirteen lords and chieftains. The position of the “Brehon” was one of great importance. They served as a kind of first minister for their master, functioning as his chief advisors on legal matters as well as those of a more general nature. In addition, they served as ambassadors and negotiators, brokering deals and treaties between the feudal lords of medieval Ireland. As such, they were widely respected and were treated as neutrals in any conflicts. There is only one medieval record of a Brehon being killed by an Irish chief, and even that was a case of mistaken identity. Finally, the Brehons sat in judgement on the Brehon courts, which ran in conflict with the English Common Law system which was theoretically the one and only legal system.

The website gives us more information about Brehon Law.

Redwood Castle was originally constructed around 1210 by an Anglo-Norman family by the name of De Cougan. Redwood’s strategic position was of the utmost importance owing to its close proximity to the River Shannon. The Anglo-Normans made several attempts to cross the Shannon and administer the west of Ireland, but none were successful enough to allow the invaders to settle on a permanent basis. As a result, the Anglo-Normans faced the constant danger of being attacked themselves from across the Shannon, leading to a long line of castles and towerhouses being constructed along its eastern bank. The original structure here at Redwood was only two storeys tall, and there were no entrances or exits here on the ground floor for security reasons. The original doorway would have been on the second floor, accessible by a retractable ladder. The main entrance you see today dates from the mid-1300s. For many years ivy covered all of the castle except this doorway, and so a lot of tourist material still mistakenly dates the entire castle from this period.

The De Cougans eventually vacated Redwood, and the castle was granted to the O’Kennedy family in 1350. It was then that the other floors were added to the castle. The local branch of the O’Kennedy family were based in Lackeen Castle, approximately 3 miles south of here, and so they turned this castle over to their chief bardic family, the Mac Egans. The bardic families played a crucial role in medieval Ireland, serving Gaelic chieftains and English lords alike. They fulfilled many functions, including those of advisors, administrators, lawyers, musicians, poets, physicians and ambassadors. However, each individual family tended to specialise in just one or two specific areas of study. The Mac Egans of Redwood were experts in historical study and the practice of the ancient Irish Brehon law. Only seven families in medieval Ireland practised and studied this ancient legal system. Most of these served only one master, whilst the Mac Egans served at least thirteen lords and chieftains, giving them a virtual monopoly over medieval Irish law. They founded a school of history and law here at Redwood, and some of Ireland’s foremost medieval thinkers had close links to this centre. Michael O’Cleary led a team of historians which compiled the famous Annals of the Four Masters, an enormous and comprehensive text which gave an account of all recorded Irish history up until the early seventeenth century. Upon its completion, Michael O’Cleary brought the text to some of the most influential men in the country, including the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Tuam. However, the first approval he sought was from a Flann Mac Aoghain, one of his former teachers and the lord of Redwood Castle.

However, by this time, Redwood Castle had reached its apex, and its decline began with a tide of political and religious unrest which culminated with Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in 1649. The development of artillery effectively ended the reign of castles and towerhouses in Ireland, which had previously only had to deal with the occasional uprising by poorly armed peasants. Nearby Lackeen Castle was forfeited to Cromwell’s troops in 1653, whilst records of 1654 state that by that date, the castle at Redwood was nothing more than a ruin. It therefore seems likely that Redwood was besieged sometime in 1653. There are no obvious signs of damage from heavy artillery on the outside of the castle, and therefore it seems likely that the castle was forfeited without a fight once the Mac Egans saw what they were facing. Whatever the circumstances of the castle’s seizure, we do know that once it was in the possession of Cromwell’s troops, it was fired and practically burnt to the ground. The roof and most of the floors were wooden, and so only the walls and the spiral stone stairway were left standing.

The castle remained in ruins for over 300 years. At the turn of the twentieth century, a local farmer cut a second opening into the ground floor, just wide enough to let through a horse and cart which could be sheltered from the elements under the stone-barred vaulted arch. It is believed that it took three men a fortnight to cut through the 11 foot thick western wall. In 1972, a lawyer from Castlebar, County Mayo by the name of Michael Egan bought Redwood Castle and undertook its restoration. He was a descendant of the Mac Egans of Redwood, and so was determined to restore his family seat to its former glory. The government refused to support the project with any grants, believing the ruins to be beyond redemption. Michael Egan therefore funded the entire restoration project out of his own pocket. His ultimate goal was to have the castle as a second family home, which could also be used for important family occasions. To avoid tax burdens, the castle was opened to the public for sixty days a year as a site of historical interest, beginning in the early 1980s.

To this day, Redwood Castle continues to host the Clan Egan Rallies, and to educate the public.

14. The Rectory, Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary – section 482

The Rectory, Cahir, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Richard Fahey
Tel: 087-2601994
(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: May 1-Oct 31

The National Inventory describes the house: “A substantial former rectory with an attractive bowed bay which dominates the principal elevation and creates interest in an otherwise austere design. The placement of the entrance doorway in an end elevation is unusual. Of significance also is the range of outbuildings to the north, with an attractive arched entrance and retaining much interesting fabric.” [20]

15. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

16. Silversprings House, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Silversprings House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Jim Gilligan
Tel: 086-2539187
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 13-21, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student€3, child €2

The National Inventory tells us: “Detached nine-bay two-storey former charter school with projecting pairs of end bays, built 1747, with projecting barrel-roofed porch addition…Patronised by Sir Charles Moore and John Dawson, this former charter school retains much of its original form and is a notable feature in the urban landscape. In the nineteenth century it was occupied by Charles Bianconi, who ran a coach transport enterprise throughout Ireand from his headquarters in Clonmel. It displays evidence of fine stonework in the window surrounds and eaves course which contrast with the limestone of the walls to enliven and offer textural variety to the façade.

17. Swiss Cottage, County Tipperary – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

Places to stay, County Tipperary

1. Ashley Park, Nenagh, Co Tipperary – accommodation

 https://hiddenireland.com/stay/bed-breakfast-guesthouses/

Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.
Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.

The Hidden Ireland website tells us:

“Ashley Park House has a magical quality that is particularly appealing. The avenue winds along the shore, through deep woods of oak and beech, until–suddenly–you reach the Georgian house, surrounded by tall trees, with beautiful views over a private lake. Inside, the rooms are large, comfortable and well equipped so offering a truly relaxing break away from the busyness of modern life.

Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.
Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.
Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.
Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.

The owners, Margaret & David McKenzie  run their home in a relaxed and informal way in the style of the traditional Irish country house, ideal for family and friends taking a break to celebrate a special occasion. Guests like nothing more than losing themselves in the woods and gardens, or rowing around the lake and exploring the ruins of the ancient fort on the island.

Ashley Park House sits peacefully in the middle of 76 acres of beech woodland and formal gardens in the heart of County Tipperary, in the centre of Ireland six miles north of the busy market town of Nenagh with its famous circular keep, on the road to Borrisokane and Birr. This beautiful 18th century country house, with its sweeping Edwardian verandas overlooking the lake, is approached through a rusticated stone arch, down a long tree-lined avenue with lovely views across Lough Ourna (‘the lake of the barley’), framed by ancient ring-forts on the shore, towards Keeper Hill in the distance

Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.

Ashley Park House retains many of its original Georgian fittings and has been faithfully restored to its original appearance, with fine period furniture and all modern comforts, giving visitors the opportunity to appreciate truly authentic Irish country house accommodation. The main rooms are spacious and relaxing, while the large bedrooms either overlook the lake in front, or have views over a series of walled courtyards at the rear where there are hens, ducks and peafowl. Recent renovations have created stylish new rooms in the Coach Houses next to the main house where modern comforts link with traditional styling.

Ashley Park House has a fantastic in house culinary team who prepare delicious suppers using fresh local ingredients to the highest standard. Enjoy a romantic break away with four course dinner in the Main House dining room overlooking the lake and then move into the luxurious drawing room to enjoy a digestif from the residents bar. Wake up refreshed to enjoy a delicious breakfast, which is Highly Recommended by the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards.

Our wonderful bedroom suite at Ashley Park, December 2016.
Our wonderful bedroom suite at Ashley Park, December 2016.
Our wonderful bedroom suite at Ashley Park, December 2016.
Our wonderful bedroom suite at Ashley Park, December 2016.
Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.
Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.

2. Ballinacourty House, Co Tipperary – guest house and restaurant

The original house has been demolished, but the stables has been converted into a guest house and restaurant. https://www.ballinacourtyhouse.com/bed-breakfast

The website tells us:

Mary and family look forward to welcoming you to Ballinacourty House. Whether you are coming to explore the local walking or hiking that Aherlow has to offer, visiting the ancient historical sites of Tipperary, or perhaps just passing through on a flying visit- you will be most welcome in our home.

We strive to ensure that your stay in the Glen of Aherlow is a memorable one. We offer our Guests comfortable overnight accommodation, hearty home-cooked breakfasts and personal attention, offering local expertise if required, all part of the unique Irish Home B&B experience you will receive at Ballinacourty House.

3. Birdhill House, Clonmel, County Tipperary

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/birdhill-house-gardens/

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.”

4. Cashel Palace Hotel, Cashel, County Tipperary – €€€

https://www.cashelpalacehotel.ie

The website tells us it is: “A Palladian manor, in the heart of Ireland, Cashel Palace is a luxury hideaway, meticulously restored and exquisitely reimagined. Spectacularly located by the Rock of Cashel in picturesque Co. Tipperary, the hotel is enveloped in nature and overlooked by ancient history.

Cashel Palace hotel, County Tipperary, photograph by Brian Morrison 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

The website tells us of the history:

Built in 1732, as the home of Church of Ireland Archbishop Theophilus Bolton, Cashel Palace was designed by the eminent architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. Lovett Pearce was one of the most celebrated architects of the time, and would go on to design Dublin’s impressive Parliament House – now the Bank of Ireland in College Green.

Palladian in style, Cashel Palace’s handsome red brick facade contrasts with its limestone rear. While the rear façade mirrors the front, the use of different materials makes it exceptionally rare for this period. Carved limestone dressings enhance the house’s symmetry, with the triple-opening Venetian – or Serlian – windows a typical feature of the Palladian style.

If you look closely at the front elevation, you will spot a crowned harp over the entrance. A fire mark issued by the Hibernian Insurance Company of Dublin, they were in business from 1771 to 1839 and were the first company in Ireland to offer fire insurance.

No expense was spared in the Palace’s construction, with dozens of skilled craftsmen hired to complete the ornate and capacious interiors. Thanks to generations of mindful custodians, many of the house’s original features were well preserved. Described as ‘a place of notable hospitality’ in Loveday’s Tour of 1732, it is clear the residents enjoyed the finest comforts of the day.

The large entrance hall retains its original wood panelling, and two imposing fluted Corinthian columns. Off the hall, stands the remarkable staircase, an early Georgian style carved from red pine and featuring hundreds of intricately hand-turned ‘barley sugar’ banisters.

Occupying 25 acres, with an impressive driveway and gardens, a private walkway, ‘The Bishops Walk’ was constructed, to give residents private access to the Rock of Cashel, ancient seat of the Kings of Munster and home to a 13th century Cathedral. Cashel Palace was not impervious to political upheaval, and suffered damage during the turbulent Wolfe Tone Rebellion of 1798. The 1st Earl of Normanton, then Archbishop of Cashel, oversaw the room repairs, with the modifications reflecting the fashionable Regency style of the time.

To the rear of the Palace beautiful gardens were planted, including two ancient mulberry trees. Predating the house, these striking trees stand tall today, planted in 1702 to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Anne.

During the construction and excavation the builders stumbled upon the opening of an ancient well. Perfectly formed and completely intact, the 15-foot well was historically used to provide water to the Main House of the Cashel Palace during the period when the Archbishops occupied the house from the 1730’s to the 1900’s.

Every period house in this time had a land agent who would brew beer for the owners, and it was Richard Guinness, who was the land agent for Archbishop Arthur Price, who used hops from the Palace Garden and water from this well to brew ale for Cashel Palace. His son Arthur Guinness, who was the Archbishop’s godson, was left £100 in his godfather’s will – the same £100 he used to secure the lease on the site of St. James’s Gate brewery in Dublin. This same well can be seen in The Glass Well at our sister property, Mikey Ryan’s Bar & Kitchen adjacent to the hotel.

101 years after it was built, the last Archbishop left Cashel Palace. In 1833, under the Church Temporalities Act, the dioceses of Cashel and Emly were merged with Waterford and Lismore. This act saw the then present resident, Archbishop Richard Lawrence, relocate to Waterford, where he and future successors would make their home. Without an Archbishop in residence, Cashel Palace was divided for use by the Dean of Cashel and a Canon of the Church of Ireland.

For more than 200 years, the Palace had found itself at the heart of religious life, hosting many powerful families and their guests. That all changed in 1959, when the Church of Ireland sold Cashel Palace to Lord Brockett, a man of some means. Opened as a luxury hotel in May 1962, Lord Brockett also owned the Wicklow Hotel in Dublin and Benner’s Hotel in Tralee at the time.

Over the years, Cashel Palace hosted many glamorous guests, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Diana Spencer and Prince Joachim of Denmark.

The hotel has enjoyed a long association with the horse-racing community and was once owned by the legendary horse trainer Vincent O’Brien before being sold to local entrepreneurs Pat and Susan Murphy who took stewardship and operated the hotel until its closure in 2014.

Then, in 2016, the iconic house was purchased by the Magnier Family, also owners of Coolmore, the world’s largest and most successful thoroughbred breeding operation. Since then, the house as undergone an incredible transformation which will see it transformed a magnificent five-star Relais & Châteaux property.

The doors of Cashel Palace opened more on 1st March 2022 after a long slumber, ready to welcome guests from across the globe, thus ushering in a new era in the legacy of a building already steeped in such incredible history.

5. Dundrum House, County Tipperary – hotel is temporarily closed but there are self-catering cottages. €€

https://www.dundrumhousehotel.com

6. The Rectory, Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary – section 482

The Rectory, Cahir, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Richard Fahey
Tel: 087-2601994
(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: May 1-Oct 31

Whole house rental County Tipperary

1. Bansha Castle, County Tipperary – whole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 7-16

Bansha Castle, County Tipperary by Kerry Kissane 2021 for Tourism Ireland (see [7]).

https://www.banshacastle.com

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 30. “(Butler/IFR) A two storey Victorian house with a round tower at one end, a square tower at the other and a gabled porch. Odd-shaped windows and a few blind loops; but no castellations or other pseudo-medieval features.” 

The website tells us: “If you’ve ever dreamed of staying in an Irish castle, then 300-year old Bansha Castle is exactly what you’ve been looking for. This gracious castle with elegant period features is beautifully positioned amid mature private parkland by the Glen of Aherlow, framed by the famous Galtee mountains. Built in 1760 and recently lovingly restored to full former glory, Bansha Castle is the perfect location for a private family gathering, birthday celebration or friendly get-together.

It tells us of the history also:

Bansha Castle was built circa 1760 on the site of the original 11th century castle. Extensively remodelled around 1830 and also in the early 1900s, it originally consisted of a late Georgian wing attached to a medieval tower house. The castle was the home of the O’Ryan family until late 1800s, when it was acquired by the British Government as a grace and favour house for General Sir William Butler on his retirement following the Boer war.

General Butler was born in Ballycarron, about three miles from Bansha village. After joining the British Army he saw service initially in Burma and India and was subsequently posted to Canada where he was responsible for submitting the report which led to the setting up of the North Western Police- the Mounties. Although a brilliant soldier, Butler hated war. As Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in South Africa in the 1890s, he tried to dissuade the British Government from taking on the Boers, knowing it would be a long and costly war, whereas the Government thought they were only up against inexperienced farmers. In 1899 he was forced to resign having been accused of having pro-Boer sympathies. He was made the scapegoat for the bloody war which followed and suffered intense humiliation.

Butler retired to Bansha Castle and happily was able to clear his name before he died in 1910. He carried out a number of alterations to the house – removing the castellations around the roof, demolishing the early tower, and replacing it and re-roofing the house. He was buried in Kilaldriff cemetery, not far from Bansha.

If General Sir William Butler was famous then his wife, Elizabeth Thompson was equally distinguished. She became Lady Butler, The Battle Artist. Never having witnessed war at first hand, her battle scenes won her the popularity and critical success that no other female British painter has ever approached. Among her most famous paintings are The Roll Call, Scotland Forever, and The Charge. Many of her paintings were completed in Bansha Castle. She used the top room of the North tower as her studio.

She continued to live on in Bansha Castle after her husband’s death. During the troubles in 1922, the house was occupied by the IRA. In great indignation Lady Butler walked out of the house, leaving everything behind. She was never to return. It was left to her son, a colonel in the British Army, to retrieve her paintings. One of her paintings, The Camel Corp, is rumoured to have a bullet hole in it,
received in Bansha Castle. She went to live with her daughter, Lady Gormanstown, at Gormanstown Castle where she died in 1932. An account of this episode can be read in her book A Little Kept.

Bansha Castle then became the property of Mr.Tom Givens, retired Chief of Police in Shanghai, before it was acquired in the early fifties by Dr.James Russell He ran it as a stud farm and bred the famous 1970s racehorse Rheingold on the lands. In 1975 there was a major fire and the house was closed for a number of years.

In 1982 John and Teresa Russell decided to renovate the house to provide luxury accommodation in Ireland. As can be observed, this renovation has become an ongoing labour of love.

2. Cloughjordan House, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary – section 482, wedding venue

Cloughjordan House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.cloughjordanhouse.com/accommodation

The website tells us: “Cloughjordan House has a variety of colourful accommodation options for guests. There is on-site accommodation for up to 86 guests. The attention to detail leaves each finished room with a sense of its own personality and flair, meaning every lodger has a unique experience of the venue. The bathrooms are stocked with The Handmade Soap Company toiletries and the property is littered with Nespresso machines so that guests can take a break during their stay to sit back and smell the coffee.

There are four double bedrooms with ensuites in the beautifully elegant main house. The bedrooms have all the glamour of period features but with modern adjustments for a more comfortable stay. Guests staying here are steeped in luxury with; super king sized beds, crisp Egyptian Cotton sheets, soft cashmere blankets from Hanly Woollen Mills and under floor heating in the bathrooms. They also have use of the sitting room in the main house for relaxing and tea/coffee facilities with homemade cookies. Sleeps 8.

There are two double bedrooms with ensuites above the cookery school in the Coach House. These rooms are an extension of the accommodation available in the main house. Guests have access to the living rooms there for relaxation. This building was originally a store for horse-drawn carriages, hence its name The Coach House. Sleeps 4.

There are four double bedrooms with ensuites located in the Dairy. The structure was the original milking parlour for 150 dairy cows which is why each room; Daisy, Bluebell, Buttercup and Primrose are named after the animals. The décor here is rustic with unique features making use of Cloughjordan farm wood and other farmyard materials like galvanised sheeting. The beds are traditional farm structures with super comfortable mattresses. The handcrafted nature of these rooms means you are guaranteed to have never stayed anywhere like this. Sleeps 8.

There are 18 bedrooms with ensuites located in the Cowshed. The bedrooms are farmyard inspired with wood used from the Cloughjordan House forest and wooden sinks and rugs from South Africa, where both Sarah and Peter love spending time. The beds are large and luxurious and the showers are powerful. The common room is like something out of a novel, spacious and bright with an Argentinian feel. The veranda opens out onto the property with big, comfortable couches complete with blankets for the ultimate in chilling-out and when the sun is shining this is the best spot in the house (or shed)! Sleeps 45.

The glamping area in the walled garden has 11 newly arrived wooden “pod” cabins offering Scandinavian comfort and style. Mattresses and bedding are the same as any of the other rooms in the house. In order to keep our guest’s stay as premium as possible, we have built a Pamper Room so that ladies can get ready in comfort for the day ahead. This Girlie Room is bright and spacious and comes complete with mirrors and plugs for appliances. Glamping guests have access to The Cowshed lounge for relaxing and chilling-out. Sleeps 22.

3. Inch House, Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland – whole house rental €€€ for 2; €€ for 7-10

http://www.inchhouse.ie

The website tells us:

The Egan Family are proud owners of Inch House since 1985. The family bought the house & farm that surrounds it with no idea as to the real treasure that lay inside this Georgian mansion. John, a farmer, and Nora, a nurse, along with their eight children have worked tirelessly to bring their dreams for Inch House to fruition and opened their home to guests in 1989 following a major restoration project.

Having run an  award winning restaurant for some 25 years since then, John and Nora now embark on a new journey and for the first time this year are offering their magnificent house to holiday makers for their exclusive hire. this is an exciting new venture for the Egans’ and given their extensive experience in the hospitality and food sector they aim to bring their experience into this new venture and bring their plans to fruition.

Inch House was built in 1720 by John Ryan on the site of a previous structure. John, who had inherited extensive lands from his father, Daniel, married Frances Mary Mathew of Thurles in 1723. Frances was daughter of George Mathew, and granddaughter of Lady Thurles (1587-1673), formerly Elizabeth Poyntz.

Lady Thurles was married twice, firstly to Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles (who, had he lived would have succeeded to the Earldom of Ormonde), and secondly to George Mathew. Her eldest son by the Butler marriage was the remarkable James, 1st Duke of Ormonde and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Her daughter was an ancestor of the late Princess of Wales. The descendants of her Mathew alliance were equally notable for they included the saintly Nano Nagle, Foundress of the Presentation Sisters in the 18th Century.

Nano Nagle was a daughter of Garnet Nagle and Anne Mathew granddaughter of Thomas Mathew of Anfield, a mere stone’s throw from the Ryan seat at Inch. The Capuchin priest, Rev. Theobald Mathew, the renowned “Apostle of Temperance” also descended from this Stock.

Ryans of Inch were one of the few landed Catholic families in Tipperary and in the late 18th Century and owned up to 5,000 acres of land. Inch remained the property of the Ryan family until 1985 when it was sold to the present owners, John and Nora Egan.

4. Killaghy Castle, Mullinahone, Tipperary – whole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 11-14

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/41229269?source_impression_id=p3_1646849021_iHJka1F69OaEkVKZ

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 169. “An old tower-house of the Tobin family, with a two storey five bay C19 castellated wing attached. Doorway with segmental pointed arch, mullioned windows with hood mouldings, bartizan. Forfeited by the Tobins 1653, passed to the Greene family, from whom it passed through marriage to the Despards; it was garrisoned by Lieut Despard 1798. It then passed by inheritance to the Wright family, by whom it was sold. Since then, it has been owned successively by the families of Watson, Fox, Naughton and Bradshaw.” 

The National Inventory describes it: “Detached T-plan five-bay two-storey country house, built c.1760, façade remodelled and octagonal turret added to southwest corner c.1825, and having four-storey tower house, built c.1550, adjoining to east. Lower two-storey extension to north gable of return. Adjoining outbuildings to rear….The turret, crenellations and label-mouldings applied to this building are a witty reference to the original defensive nature of the tower house to which it has been added. This combination of structures of various eras is familiar in large rural houses in Ireland. The later parts form an interesting horizontal counterpoint to the very tall tower house. The house forms an interesting group with the outbuildings and walled garden. “

5. Kilshane, Tipperary, Co Tipperary – whole house rental:

Kilshane, County Tipperary, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.kilshanehouse.ie

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 299. “(Low/LGI1912) A Classical house of ca 1830; two storey, 6 bay front with single storey Ionic portico; solid roof parapet with central die. A very large and handsome conservatory with curvilinear roofs, in the style of th Dublin ironmasters Richard and William Turner, was added to one end of the house ca 1880; it has an interior of cast-iron columns supporting delicate fan-like arches with. Central fountain. The seat of the Low family; afterwards owned by a religious order, which made some institutional additions to the house. Now owned by Mr and Mrs Ian Horst.

The National Inventory tells us this impressive country house was built by the architect C.F. Anderson for John Lowe. 

Kilshane, County Tipperary: the impressive conservatory – see the website for a better picture, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

6. Kilteelagh House, Dromineer, Lough Derg, County Tipperary – whole house €€€ for 2; €€ for 10-12

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/16299584?source_impression_id=p3_1646849122_v85eLlk0Y7hZDOYc

Kilteelagh House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 176. “(Gason/IFR) A house rebuilt in High Victorian style 1863 by Lt-Col W.C. Gason. Two storey; steep gables with bargeboards; rectangular plate glass windows and large two storey Perpendicular window in centre. High-pitched polychrome roof. Fine demesne along the shore of Lough Derg. Sold 1962 by Col A.W. Gason to Lt-Col J.A. Dene.” 

Kilteelagh House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Kilteelagh House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

7. Lisheen Castle, Thurles, County Tipperary €€€ for two, € for 11-14

airbnb https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/337170?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-05-16&check_out=2022-05-21&federated_search_id=e5acaa55-1906-41d1-92c4-e1dcc2012c70&source_impression_id=p3_1652454843_bH11BQ6b7Xq9YDK0

Lisheen Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The entry tells us: “In 1996, Michael and Joan undertook the complete restoration and renovation of the Castle, their son Zane now runs and manages the castle since 2009. This has been a real labour of love for them, as they have a wonderful appreciation of history and things beautiful. It was specially pleasing to Michael and Joan that all the craftsmen needed to carry our this momentous task were available locally. They have left no stone unturned to ensure that Lisheen Castle would be restored to its former glory, a residence fit for a Lord.

During your Irish castle vacation you will enter the beautiful hallway, through the Great Oak Door,you will be immediately impressed by the opulance of the diningroom, reception rooms and library. At the end of the long corridor visitors will see a beautiful Ash Carved Stairs. Upstairs, there are currently 9 luxury bedrooms, 8 of which are en-suite. While the emphasis in Lisheen Castle is historical, the facilities are up to today’s standard with wi-fi and pc/printer available for use by the guests.

One of the two kitchens is fully fitted to the highest catering standard. Of interest to the guests will be the “old-style kitchen”, which is furnished with pine furniture and terracotta floor.

Even though the Castle is centrally heated throughout, you can still experience the special ambience of the “open turf fires” which are in all the reception rooms.

Lisheen Castle is available for your Irish castle vacation on a weekly or monthly basis. So, go on, if you would like to experience the wonderful opulance of past times, while still having all the modern conveniences.

8. Lismacue House, Bansha, Co. Tipperary – section 482

Lismacue House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Katherine Nicholson
Tel: 062-54106
www.lismacue.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: Mar 18-Oct 31

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21813051/ash-hill-stud-ash-hill-kilmallock-co-limerick

[2] 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.

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21803033/brackvoan-bruff-limerick

[4] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21902807/glenville-house-glenville-ardagh-co-limerick

[5] https://www.limerick.ie/discover/eat-see-do/history-heritage/historic-attractions/glenquin-castle

[6] https://theirishaesthete.com/2021/09/13/glenquin-castle/

[7] https://www.irelandscontentpool.com/en

[8] https://www.countrylifeimages.co.uk/Search.aspx?s=glenstall

[9] https://landedfamilies.blogspot.com/search/label/Ireland?updated-max=2020-04-02T14:59:00%2B01:00&max-results=20&start=5&by-date=false

[10] p. 171, O’Reilly, Sean. Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of  Country Life. Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1998. 

[11] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/property-list.jsp?letter=K

[12] https://archiseek.com/2009/king-johns-castle-limerick/

[13] http://www.britainirelandcastles.com/Ireland/County-Limerick/King-Johns-Castle.html

[14] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21903717/odell-ville-ballynarooga-beg-limerick

[15] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/property-list.jsp?letter=M

[16] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/2014/12/mount-trenchard-house.html

[17] https://archiseek.com/2009/adare-manor-co-limerick/

[18] p. 160. O’Reilly, Sean. Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of  Country Life. Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1998. 

[19] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22401510/beechwood-park-graigue-upper-ardcrony-pr-tipperary-north

[20] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22111012/cashel-road-townparks-caher-pr-cahir-tipperary-south

Office of Public Works properties: Munster

Munster’s counties are Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

Clare:

1. Ennis Friary, County Clare

2. Scattery Island, County Clare

Cork:

3. Annes Grove, County Cork

4. Barryscourt Castle, County Cork

5. Charles Fort, County Cork

6. Desmond Castle, Kinsale, County Cork

7. Doneraile Court, County Cork

8. Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens, County Cork

9. Ilnacullin, Garanish Island, County Cork

Kerry:

10. Ardfert Cathedral, County Kerry

11. The Blasket Centre, County Kerry

12. Derrynane House, County Kerry

13. Listowel Castle, County Kerry

14. Ross’s Castle, Killarney, County Kerry

15. Skellig Michael, County Kerry

Limerick:

16. Askeaton Castle, County Limerick

17. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick

18. Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick

19. Lough Gur, County Limerick

Tipperary:

20. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary

21. Famine Warhouse 1848, County Tipperary

22. Holycross Abbey, County Tipperary

23. The Main Guard, County Tipperary

24. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary

25. Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary

26. Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

27. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary

28. Swiss Cottage, County Tipperary

Waterford:

29. Dungarvan Castle, County Waterford

30. Reginald’s Tower, County Waterford

Clare:

1. Ennis Friary, Abbey Street, Ennis, County Clare:

Ennis Friary, photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, Photograph by Eamon Ward 2020 for Failte Ireland. [1]

General Enquiries: 065 682 9100, ennisfriary@opw.ie

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.” [2]

Ennis Friary, photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, Photograph by Eamon Ward 2020 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

2. Scattery Island, County Clare:

Scattery Island, lies just off Kilrush, on the Shannon Estuary, in County Clare. It is the site of an early Christian settlement founded by St Senan, who built his monastery in the early sixth century. A short boat trip from Kilrush will take you to the island, where you can explore its multi-layered, 1,500-year history including its round tower and six ruined churches. Photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, by Airswing Media for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General Information: 087 995 8427, scatteryisland@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

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.

Cork:

3. Annes Grove, Castletownroche, County Cork:

Annes Grove, County Cork, 1981 from Dublin City Library and Archives. [3]

Tel: 022 26145, annesgrove@eircom.net

This is due to be open soon by the OPW. It does not have a website yet. In December 2015 Annes Grove House and Garden were donated to the state by the Annesley family.

Nestled into an eighteenth century ornamental glen, adjacent to the River Awbeg, the demesne of Annes Grove in north County Cork is the setting for the most exquisite Robinsonian-style gardens in Ireland….

The Gardens at Annes Grove were largely the creation of Richard Grove Annesley in the first half of the twentieth century.” [4]

Annes Grove, County Cork, 1981 from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]

The estate was previously known as Ballyhimmock, and it was acquired by William Grove around 1626.

In 1792 it was inherited by Arthur Grove Annesley (1774-1849) from an aunt by marriage, heiress to the Grove family, after which it was renamed by merging the two family names. [5] Arthur Grove Annesley’s uncle Francis Charles Annesley, 1st Earl Annesley of Castlewellan, County Down, married Mary Grove who inherited the estate from her father.

At the centre of the garden is a restored Gothic style summerhouse. The main house is of Queen Anne design, from the 18th century. Pergolas, a lily pond, Victorian stone fernery, a woodland walk and river garden, a rockery and wild water garden create an atmospheric setting.

4. Barryscourt Castle, County Cork:

From the OPW website:

Barryscourt Castle was the seat of the great Anglo-Norman Barry family and is one of the finest examples of a restored Irish Tower House. Dating from between 1392 and 1420, the Castle has an outer bawn wall and largely intact corner towers. The ground floor of the Tower House contains a dungeon into which prisoners were dropped via the ‘drop-hole’ located on the second floor.

The Barrys supported the Fitzgeralds of Desmond during the Irish rebellions of the late sixteenth century. To prevent it being captured by Sir Walter Raleigh and his army, the Barrys [David Barry, 5th Viscount Barry (1550-1617)] partially destroyed the Castle.

During the Irish Confederate War of the seventeenth century Barryscourt Castle was once again successfully attacked.  Cannon balls lodged in the wall above the Castle entrance bear witness to this conflict. The last head of the Barry family was Lord David Barry.

Barryscourt Castle has been extensively restored. The Main Hall and Great Hall have been completed and fittings and furnishings reinstated. Within the Castle grounds, the herb and knot garden and the charming orchard have been restored to their original sixteenth century design.

After David Barry’s death in 1617 the family made Castlelyons their principal seat (now a ruin). The castle was restored by the OPW and the Barryscourt Trust between 1987-1993, with reproduction furniture made by Victor Chinnery. [6]

An article in the Irish Examiner by Padraig Hoare published 22nd May 2021 tells us that the site is closed and will be for some time:

A reopening date must be established for one of East Cork’s most historic landmarks after languishing in the midst of safety works for five years.

That is according to Cork East TD Séan Sherlock, who said Barryscourt Castle in Carrigtwohill has to be a priority for the Government body in charge of the facility, the Office of Public Works (OPW).

History enthusiasts and families alike were disappointed in the summer of 2020, when it emerged that Barryscourt Castle would remain closed for another 18 months.

The latest update from the OPW given in response to a parliamentary question from Mr Sherlock suggests it may be even longer than the date anticipated a year ago.

The Department of Public Expenditure said restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic “has disrupted the good progress” of works being done to make the facility safe.

It is not possible at this time to give a precise date for reopening to the public,” the department said.

5. Charles Fort, Summer Cove, Kinsale, County Cork:

The Soldiers Quarters, the Hospital ward, the Lighthouse (by Robert Reading) and Magazine of the 17th Century Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Munster, Ireland. Photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, photograph by Cahir Davitt, 2016, for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General Enquiries: 021 477 2263, charlesfort@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

As one of the country’s largest military installations, Charles Fort has been part of some of the most momentous events of Irish history. During the Williamite Wars, for example, it withstood a 13-day siege before it fell. Later, in the Civil War of the early 1920s, anti-Treaty forces on the retreat burned it out.

Charles Fort is a massive star-shaped structure of the late seventeenth century, well preserved despite its history. William Robinson, architect of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin, is credited with designing it. Its dimensions are awe-inspiring – some of the outer defences are 16 metres high.

The view from the ramparts looking out over Kinsale Harbour is spectacular.

The Soldiers Quarters, and Magazine of the 17th Century Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Munster, Ireland. Photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, photograph by Cahir Davitt, 2016, for Failte Ireland. [see 1]
The seaward Devils Bastion and lighthouse of the 17th Century Charles Fort, with Kinsale boatyard in the background, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Munster, Ireland; Photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, photograph by Cahir Davitt, 2016, for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

6. Desmond Castle (also known as the French Prison), Kinsale, County Cork:

Desmond Castle Kinsale 1941, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

General Enquiries: 021 477 4855, desmondcastle@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Desmond Castle in Kinsale dates from around 1500. It is a classic urban tower house, consisting of a three-storey keep with storehouses to the rear.

Maurice Bacach Fitzgerald, the earl of Desmond, originally built the castle as the customs house for the town. [I think this must be the 9th Earl of Desmond – JWB] It served as a prison in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Because it usually held French inmates, as well as Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch and Americans, it became known locally as the French Prison and carries that name to this day. The building was co-opted as an ordnance store during the momentous Battle of Kinsale (1601) and served as a workhouse during the Great Famine.

Desmond Castle certainly had a colourful history and this continued into the twentieth century. In the early 1900s it was used as a venue to host local Gaelic League meetings. Finally, in the 1930s, a thriving undertaking business operated from within the National Monument.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

Freestanding three-bay three-storey tower house, commenced c.1500, abutting earthen terrace to rear. Attached cell blocks and exercise yards to rear (north-west) and platform to side (north-east). Historically used as magazine (1600-1601), as prison for foreign prisoners (1601-1790) and as borough jail (1791-1846). Restored in 1938 currently in use as museum.

7. Doneraile Court, County Cork:

Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020.
Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020. Tooled limestone porch with deep entablature, Ionic pilasters and columns, a heavy balustraded parpapet and swan neck doorcase. Oval heraldic motif to centre of parapet has curvilinear, foliate and wreath-swag decorative surround. Frank Keohane tells us that the porch is probably designed by G. R. Pain, added in the 1820s.

General enquiries: 046 942 3175, donerailecourt@opw.ie

From the website:

Doneraile Court towers majestically over the glorious Doneraile Park, a 160-hectare landscaped parkland and wildlife estate.

The house was built by the St Leger family around 1645 on the site of a ruined castle. By the time it was refurbished in the mid-eighteenth century it had become an outstanding example of Georgian architecture. Its associations range from links to the famous St Leger Stakes in horse racing and literature, with famous Irish writers such as Elizabeth Bowen. [A horse race took place in 1742 in which Edmund Burke and Cornelius O’Callaghan met a bet as to whose horse could cover the distance fastest between the church steeples of Buttevant and Doneraile. This gave rise to the term “steeplechasing.”]

Thirteen generations of the St Leger family lived at Doneraile over three centuries. The family had some extraordinary members. For example, Elizabeth St Leger made history when she became the first woman Freemason in the world in 1712.” Elizabeth (1695-1772) was the daughter of Arthur, 1st Viscount Doneraile. He was an active Freemason and sometimes hosted lodge meetings at his home. The story has it that Elizabeth fell asleep in the library, and woke to hear a secret Masonic ceremony taking place. When the Freemasons discovered that she had heard their secret, she had to be sworn in as a member in order to protect their privacy! She remained a member, as can be seen wearing Masonic symbols in portraits. She married Colonel Richard Aldworth, High Sheriff of County Cork.

The fine parklands are designed in the naturalistic style of the famous Capability Brown. They include many beautiful water features, plus a parterre walled garden and gardeners’ cottages. There are numerous pathways and graded walks. Lucky visitors might just spot some of the red deer, fallow deer, sika deer and Kerry cattle that live on the estate.” [7]

The house remained in the hands of the St Leger family until 1969. Following decades of care by the Irish Georgian Society, it passed to the OPW in 1994.

Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020.
Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020.
Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020.
Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020.

From the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage:

“Detached three-storey over half basement country house, built c. 1730, containing fabric of earlier house, built c. 1645. Possibly also incorporating fabric of medieval castle. Extended 1805, conservatory added 1825, extended 1869, and also incorporating other nineteenth-century additions.” The 1730s work on the house was carried out for Arthur St Leger, 2nd Viscount Doneraile (1694-1734). Mark Bence-Jones suggests that it was the work of architect Isaac Rothery, but Frank Keohane suggests it could have been Benjamin Crawley. [8] The bow-ended block on the left of the garden front was added 1756-58, payment was made for this to architect Thomas Roberts.

National Inventory Appraisal: “The artist who created the ornate plaster work to the interior is unknown, but was clearly highly skilled. Doneraile Park is associated with Edmund Spenser the poet, who refers to the River Awbeg which flows through the park as the ‘gentle mulla’. The lands were bought by William St Ledger from the Spensers [William St Leger (1586-1642), Privy Counsellor, Lord President of Munster, 1627, MP for Cork County, 1634, who was appointed, in that year, Sergeant-Major-General in the Army, employed to fight against the rebels in Ireland – JWB]. The timber panelled room to the interior is original to the earliest incarnation of the house. It is thought that it was here that Elizabeth St Ledger was initiated as one of only three female members of freemasons in history after eavesdropping on a meeting. Added to this association with important historical characters, Doneraile Court represents more than three hundred years of construction and alteration, with different architectural features representing each phase.”

The bow ends on the front facade were built when improvements were made by the Hayes St Leger 2nd Viscount of the second creation, between 1804-1808. At this time a new kitchen was added to the back of the house along with a now-lost Gothic conservatory.

The Hall was remodelled in the 1820s, when it was extended into the new porch. It has a screen of paired Ionic pillars, a frieze decorated with rosettes and an acanthus ceiling rose.

Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses:

“…On the other side of the house, a wing containing a new dining room was added 1869 by 4th Viscount Doneraile of the later creation. At the back of the hall is an oval late-Georgian staircase hall in which a staircase with slender wooden balusters rises gracefully to the top of the house beneath of ceiling of Adamesque plasterwork. To  the right of the staircase hall is one of the rooms of the original house, with a corner fireplace and fielded panelling; it was possibly in here that, ca 1713, Elizabeth St Leger was initiated as one of the only three women Freemasons in history, after she had been caught spying on a Lodge meeting held by her father. Behind this room was the vast and splendid dining room of 1869 which formerly had an immense mahogany sideboard in a mirrored alcove confronting a full-length portrait of the 4th Viscount with his favourite hunter. He was one of the greatest Victorian hunting men; ironically, he died of rabies through being bitten by a pet fox.  The three drawing rooms on the other side of the house are early C19 in character and probably date from the reconstruction after the fire; they have simple but elegant friezes, overdoors with volutes and windows going right down to the floor.  The long connection of the St Legers with Doneraile ended when Mary, Viscountess Doneraile died 1975. The garden, which boasts of a Lime Walk and a long “fishpond” or canal surviving from the original C18 layout, is now maintained by the Dept of Lands; as is the park, in which there is still a herd of red deer. The house, after standing empty for several years and becoming almost derelict, is in the process of being restored by the Irish Georgian Society, with a view to finding someone who would be willing to take it on. The 1869 dining room wing has been demolished.” [9]

From the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “Floating elliptical winder staircase with curved newel post and turned timber banisters. Timber treads with carved timber panels to side. Decorative render roses under stair. Ornate Adam-style ceiling with central ceiling rose and decorative fluted surround to stair ceiling.”

The staircase hall is lit by a tall round-arched window above an elliptical window.
The ceiling of Adamesque plasterwork, over the elliptical floating staircase (ie. Neoclassical interior design like the work of Scottish architect William Adams and his sons, most famous of whom are Robert and James).
Memorial to Lady Elizabeth St Leger, Viscountess Doneraile (d. 1761), in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, wife of Hayes St Leger, 4th Viscount Doneraile (1702-1767), daughter of Joseph Dean, Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer and of Margaret Boyle, daughter of Roger Boyle of Castlemartyr in County Cork.
The landscape of Doneraile is laid out in “Capability” Brown style, which is characterized by a natural flowing appearance rather than more formally patterned gardens.

8. Fota Arboretum and Gardens, Carrigtwohill, County Cork

General enquiries: (021) 481 5543

fota.arboretum@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Fota House was designed by 19th century architects Richard and William Morrison. From the beautifully proportioned rooms with exquisite plasterwork, to the preserved service wing and kitchens, Fota House offers visitors an intimate look at how life was lived in the past, for the cooks, butlers, footmen and maids who supported the lavish lifestyle of the gentry. Our painting collection is considered to be one of the finest collections of landscape painting outside the National Gallery of Ireland and includes works by William Ashford PRHA, Robert Carver, Jonathan Fisher and Thomas Roberts.” [10]

Front porch of Fota House. Fluted baseless Green Doric columns support a weighty entablature in which wreaths alternate wiht the Barry crest in the metopes.

Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses:

(Smith-Barry (now Villiers)/IFR) After Barry’s Court had been abandoned by the Barrymores, a hunting box was built on the nearby Fota Island, in Cork Harbour, by Hon John Smith-Barry [1725-1784], a younger son of 4th Earl of Barrymore, to whom Fota and some of the other Barrymore estates were given 1714. This house, of three storeys and seven bays, was greatly enlarged ca 1820 by John Smith-Barry [d.1837, grandson of his earlier namesake] to the design of Sir Richard Morrison, so that it became a wide-spreading Regency mansion of stucco with stone dressings. The original house, given a single-storey Doric portico with fluted columns and acroteria beneath a pedimented Wyatt window, remained the centre of the composition; flanked by two storey projecting wings with pedimented ends on the entrance front and curved bows on the garden front. A long two storey service range was added at one side. In 1856, a billiard room wing, in the same style as the Morrison wings but of one storey only, was added on the entrance front, projecting from the end of the service range. The space between this and the main building was filled in ca 1900 by Arthur Smith-Barry, 1st (and last) Lord Barrymore of a new creation [(1843-1925), grandson of John Smith-Barry], with a single-storey range containing a long gallery.” [11]

Frank Keohane tells us that the later John Smith-Barry settled here after his marriage to Eliza Courtenay of Ballyedmond, Midleton, County Cork. He was illegitimate, so perhaps he built the home to establish his reputation. [12] Smith-Barry hired John and William Vitruvius Morrison to enlarge the hunting lodge which had been built by his grandfather. He also built sea walls around the island and re-routed the public road to form a deer park and carriage drives around the shore.

Fota House facing onto the Pleasure Garden, photo by George Munday, 2014, Ireland’s Content Pool. [13]

Bence-Jones continues:“The exterior simplicity of Fota is a foil to the splendours within; for the interior has that richness which Sir Richard Morrison and his son, William Vitruvius, were so well able to create. The hall, which runs the entire length of the front of the original house, is divided by screens of paired Ionic columns with yellow scagliola.” The long gallery was designed by William H. Hill.

Fota House, County Cork, August 2020. The hall, which runs the entire length of the front of the original house, is divided by screens of paired Ionic columns with yellow scagliola. The floor is paved with Portland stone with inset iron grilles that served the old central-heating system. The entablatures of plasterwork have the repeating pattern of wreaths and Smith-Barry crests the same as on the porch.
The central compartment of ceiling plasterwork has heavy swagged laurel garlands and lyres.
The ceiling rose in the long hall, with oak leaf wreath entwined with snakes.

To the right of the long hall are the Drawing Room and Library. The Drawing Room is entered via a small ante-room.

The ante-room at Fota.
The ante-room at Fota, with stencilwork by Sibthorpe & Son of Dublin.

The Drawing Room Ceiling has deep borders with floral wreaths containing doves, alternating with lozenges of bay leaf containing Apollonian trophies of musical and hunting instruments. The drawing room and ante-room ceilings were added to in the 1890s with stencilwork and gilding by Sibthorpe & Son of Dublin.

The Drawing Room, Fota.
The Drawing Room, Fota. The fireplaces throughout Fota are of Neoclassical statuary marble, with Ionic columns and friezes enriched with wreaths and garlands.
The Drawing Room, Fota. The ceiling of the drawing room, which entends into one of the bows on the garden front, has a surrounding of foliage, birds and trophies in high relief, similar to that in the library, and late C19 stencilled decoration and panels of pictorial paper in the centre.
The Drawing Room, Fota.
The ceiling of the drawing room, which entends into one of the bows on the garden front, has a surrounding of foliage, birds and trophies in high relief, similar to that in the library, and late C19 stencilled decoration and panels of pictorial paper in the centre.
The Drawing Room, Fota.
The library, Fota.

To the left of the hall is the Dining Room. It has a screen of grey scagliola Corinthian columns at the sideboard end, and rich plasterwork with a ceiling border of vines on a trellis ground and a frieze of bucrania draped with garlands.

There are elaborate plasterwork ceilings in the library and dining room, which are in the Morrison wings, at either end of the hall; the dining room has a screen of grey marble Corinthian columns.
The chimneypiece in the dining room is garlanded with vines and flowers.

Also on display in the main reception rooms is a fine collection of art work described as the most significant of its type outside the National Gallery of Ireland.  Masterpieces of the eighteenth-century Irish Landscape School include works by William Ashford (1746-1824); George Barret (1730-84); Robert Carver (c.1730-91); and Thomas Roberts (1748-78).  Nineteenth-century art is represented by Daniel Maclise (1806-70); Erskine Nicol (1825-1904); and James Arthur O’Connor (1792-1841).  An entire room is dedicated to Irish watercolours and features the work of Mildred Anne Butler (1858-1941); Hugh Douglas Hamilton (c.1740-1808); and George Petrie (1790-1866).” [14]

At the back of the house is the study, which extends into one of the bows. It has a simple frieze of wreaths.

The Study, Fota.

Bence-Jones continues: “A doorway opposite the entrance door leads into the staircase hall, which is of modest size, being the staircase hall of the original house; but it has been greatly enriched with plasterwork. The ceiling is domed, with wreaths on the pendentives and eagles in the lunettes; there is a frieze of wreaths and at the head of the stairs two fluted Tower of Winds columns frame an enchanting vista to a second and smaller staircase, leading up to the top storey.” The stairs are of cantilevered Portland stone, with brass balusters and a mahogany handrail.

The staircase hall, which is of modest size, being the staircase hall of the original house; but it has been greatly enriched with plasterwork. The ceiling is domed, with wreaths on the pendentives and eagles in the lunettes; there is a frieze of wreaths and at the head of the stairs two fluted Tower of Winds columns frame an enchanting vista to a second and smaller staircase, leading up to the top storey. 

At the top of the stairs is a small recess, leading up to the secondary stair, with a pair of shell-headed niches, a Greek-key border and a pair of Tower of the Winds columns. A cross-corridor gives access to the bedrooms, the differing levels resulting in various little lobbies and landings.

The principal bedroom suite is placed over the Dining Room and communicates directly with nurseries in the service wing. The suite contains a boudoir with barrel-vaulted ceiling and a half-dome decorated with doves trailing garlands. Plaster drapery fills the lunette to the vault with a little top-lit skylight at the apex of the dome with amber and blue coloured glazing.

The Boudoir.
The Boudoir.
The Boudoir.

Fota passed to John Smith-Barry’s great-granddaughter Mrs Dorothy Bell (1894-1975), the last of the clan to live on the Barry estates. It was sold to University College Cork and in 1983, Richard Wood took a lease of the house and restored it with John O’Connell as architect, to display his collection of Irish art to the public. It was then sold and the pictures removed, and in 1991 the house and arboretum passed to the Fota Trust and in 1999 extensive conservation work was carried out under the direction of John Cahill of the Office of Public Works. [15]

The Nursery.
The servant’s bedroom.
The game store larder.
The Kitchen.
The back stairs in Fota.

Bence-Jones writes: In mid-C19, James Hugh Smith-Barry laid out formal gardens behind the house, with lawns and hedges, wrought-iron gates and rusticated piers, a temple and an orangery. He also began to plant the arboretum, which has since become world-famous. The planting was continued for more than a century after his death by his son, [Arthur Hugh Smith-Barry (1843-1925)] Lord Barrymore [1st Baron Barrymore], and by Lord Barrymore’s son-in-law and daughter, Major [William Bertram] and Hon Mrs [Dorothy] Bell; in the mild climate of Fota many rare and tender species flourish. The demesne of Fota extends over the entire island, which is skirted by the road and railway from Cork to Cobh; there are impressive Classical entrance gates by Morrison similar to those at Ballyfin, Co Laois and Killruddery, Co Wicklow. On the point of the island is an early C19 castellated turret, by John Hargrave of Cork. Fota was sold 1975 to University College Cork.” 

Arthur Hugh Smith-Barry (1843-1925), 1st Baron Barrymore.

The OPW website tells us:

The arboretum and gardens on Fota Island, just 16 kilometres from Cork city centre, are an essential destination for any one of a horticultural bent.

The arboretum extends over 11 hectares and contains one of the finest collections of rare, tender trees and shrubs grown outdoors in Europe. The unique conditions at Fota – its warm soil and sheltered location – enable many excellent examples of exotics from the southern hemisphere to flourish.

The gardens include such stunning features as the ornamental pond, formal pleasure gardens, orangery and sun temple. James Hugh Smith-Barry laid them out in the first half of the nineteenth century. Fota House, the Smith-Barrys’ ancestral home, still stands. The house, arboretum and gardens share the island with a hotel and golf resort and a wildlife park. [16]

9. Ilnacullin, Garanish Island, Glengarriff, Bantry, County Cork:

Italian garden, Garnish Island, Glengarriff, Beara, Co. Cork, Photograph by Chris Hill 2014, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

general enquiries: (027) 63040

garanishisland@opw.ie

Ilnacullin is an island in the coastal harbour at Glengariff in Bantry Bay. It has an almost sub-tropical climate with mild winters and high levels of rainfall and humidity. These conditions favour the growth of exotic plants. The gardens were set out in the Arts and Crafts style and contain Italianate pavilions and follies, framed against a backdrop of beautiful views.

From the OPW website:

Ilnacullin is an island garden of diminutive size and rare beauty. Nestled in the sheltered coastal harbour at Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, the gardens display a wealth of unique horticultural and architectural gems. Bryce House is a fitting memorial to the visionary creators of this unique place. 

The gardens of Ilnacullin owe their existence to the early twentieth-century creative partnership of John Annan and Violet Bryce, the island’s owners, and Harold Peto, an architect and garden designer. The area enjoys a mild and humid micro-climate that makes for spectacular and flourishing plant life all year round.

Small ferry boats and 60-seater waterbuses take visitors to Ilnacullin regularly. The short crossing usually includes an extra treat – a visit to the nearby seal colony and an opportunity to glimpse majestic sea eagles.

The Island was bequeathed to the Irish people by the Bryce’s son, Roland, in 1953 and is cared for by the OPW. Bryce House contains material from the Bryces’s lives, including John Annan Bryce’s collection of Burmese statues, Chinese ceramics, Japanese woodblock prints, metal works and rare exotic objects. There are also Old Master drawings by Salvator Rosa, Mauro Antonio Tesi and Giambattista Tiepolo. Over the years the Bryces hosted prominent cultural figures such as George (AE) Russell, George Bernard Shaw and Agatha Christie. [17] You can see a tour of the house and gardens on the website.

Kerry:

10. Ardfert Cathedral, Tralee, County Kerry

Ardfert Cathedral, 1965, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]

General Information: 066 713 4711, ardfertcathedral@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

No less a figure than St Brendan the Navigator was born in the Ardfert area in the sixth century. He founded a monastery there not long before embarking on his legendary voyage for the Island of Paradise. It was Brendan’s cult that inspired the three medieval churches that stand on the same site today.

The earliest building is the cathedral, which was begun in the twelfth century. It boasts a magnificent thirteenth-century window and a spectacular row of nine lancets in the south wall.

One of the two smaller churches is an excellent example of late Romanesque architecture. The other, Temple na Griffin, is named for a fascinating carving inside it – which depicts a griffin and a dragon conjoined.

Ardfert Cathedral, 1965, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]

11. The Great Blasket Island Visitor Centre, County Kerry:

Blasket Island Centre, Dingle, Co. Kerry. Photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, photograph by Chris Hill, 2014, for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

Dun Chaoin, Dingle, County Kerry

General enquiries: 066 915 6444, blascaod@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

In Dún Chaoin, at the very tip of the Dingle Peninsula, is an utterly unique heritage centre and museum. A stunning piece of architecture in itself, the Blasket Centre tells the story of the Blasket Islands and the tiny but tenacious Irish speaking community who lived there until the mid-20th century. 

Life on the Blaskets was tough. People survived by fishing and farming and every day involved a struggle against the elements. Emigration and decline led to the final evacuation of this extraordinary island in 1953.

The island population has left a massive cultural footprint. They documented the life of their community in a series of books which are invaluable social records and classics of Irish literature. They are both a window into the past and a fascinating resource for today.

Visit Ionad an Bhlascaoid  –  the Blasket Centre – to experience the extraordinary legacy of the Blasket Islanders and delve into the heart of Irish culture, language and history. [18] The website has lots more information for you to learn about life on the Islands. The Great Blasket was inhabited continuously for at least 300 years. It has Ireland’s largest colony of grey seals also. During the famine, there was not a single death recorded from hunger, as fishing sustained the islanders. At its peak the population reached 160, but declined due to emigration. Two of the houses have been restored by the OPW. The visitor centre is on the mainland but one can take a privately operated passenger boat to the Island, weather permitting.

ruined village on the Blasket Islands, 1987, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive. [see 3]

12. Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, County Kerry:

Derrynane House, County Kerry, photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, photo by George Munday, 2014. [see 1]

General enquiries: 066 947 5113, derrynanehouse@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

At the southern tip of the Iveragh Peninsula is Derrynane House, the ancestral home of one of the greatest figures of Irish history. Daniel O’Connell, known as ‘The Liberator’, was a lawyer, politician and statesman. The demesne landscape is now included in Derrynane National Historic Park – over 120 hectares of lands rich in natural and cultural heritage with a plethora of archaeological, horticultural, botanical and ecological treasures.

Derrynane was the home of the O’Connell family for generations. The young Daniel was raised there and returned almost every summer for the rest of his life.

The house now displays many unique relics of O’Connell’s life, including a triumphal chariot presented to him by the citizens of Dublin in 1844 and the very bed in which he passed away three years later.” [19]

Derrynane comes from the Irish meaning “the oak wood of St Fionan.” [20] Throughout Daniel O’Connell’s career, Derrynane was his country residence and the place where he and his family spent most of their summers. He inherited the house in 1825. He wrote in 1829:

This is the wildest and most stupendous scenery of nature – and I enjoy residence here with the most exquisite relish…I am in truth fascinated by this spot: and did not my duty call me elsewhere, I should bury myself alive here.” [see 20]

Derrynane House, County Kerry, photograph from Ireland’s Content Pool, photo by George Munday, 2014. [see 1]

Mark Bence-Jones writes about the house:

The house, which is believed to have been first late-roofed house in this remote and mountainous part of the country, originally consisted of two unpretentious ranges at right angles to each other, probably built at various times between ca 1700 and 1745 and somewhat altered in later years; one range being of two storeys and the other mainly of two storeys and a dormered attic, which in second half of C18, became a third storey. Between 1745 and 1825 a wing was built at what was then the back of the house, this side towards Derrynane Bay; and in 1825 the great Daniel O’Connell extended this wing in the same unpretentious style with rather narrow sash windows; so that what had previously been the back of the house became the front, with reception rooms facing the sea. O’Connell also built a square two storey block with Irish battlements at right angles to his main addition, forming at attractive three sided entrance court, the other two sides being 1745-1825 wing and one of the original ranges. The battlemented block is weather-slated, as indeed all O’Connell’s additions were originally; he also weather slated some of the older parts of the house. Finally, in 1844, O’Connell built a new chapel in thanksgiving for his release from prison. It flanks the entrance court on the side furthest from the sea and is Gothic; based on the chapel in the ruined medieval monastery on Abbey Island nearby; it was designed by O’Connell’s third son, John O’Connell, MP. The interior of the house is simple, and the ceilings are fairly low. The two principal reception rooms are the drawing-room and dining-room which are one above the other in 1825 wing; they have plain cornices; the dining room has a Victorian oak chimneypiece, the drawing room an early C19 Doric chimneypiece of white marble. The benches and communion rail of the chapel are of charmingly rustic Gothic openwork. The house is now owned by the Commissioners of Public Works, who demolished one of the original ranges 1965 [due to poor structural condition]. The rest of the structure has been restored and is open to the public, the principal rooms containing O’Connell family portraits and objects related to Daniel O’Connell’s life and career.” [21]

Derrynane, photograph 1990, Dublin City Library and Archive. [see 3]
Daniel O’Connell’s table, photograph 1941, Derrynane House, Dublin City Library and Archive. [see 3]
Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), portrait from Mansion House, Dublin, 2015.

The O’Connell family gave the house to the Derrynane Trust in 1946. Despite earlier warnings that it would not be responsible for O’Connell’s ancestral home, in late 1964 the government agreed to acquire Derrynane House from the Derrynane Trust.  David Hicks writes a good summary about Daniel O’Connell:

In the 18th and 19th centuries there was a series of restrictions placed on Catholics in Ireland – the Penal Laws – which curtailed them in many avenues of life. These restrictions extended to property ownership and education, and Catholics were also barred from holding political office. As a man of the law, O’Connell became an advocate for the abolition of the last vestiges of the Penal Laws and in 1823 brought the Catholic Church into Irish politics. He used his network of acquaintances to mobilise the people to campaign for Catholic emancipation from discrimination and to gain political rights for Catholics. Collections were taken and no matter how small the donation it was for a great cause. This led to the unification of Catholics in Ireland. In 1828, O’Connell stood for the British Parliament, the first Catholic to do so in over 100 years, and won his seat easily. While he had his supporters in the British cabinet, others such as the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel opposed Catholic emancipation. They were aware, however, that not allowing O’Connell to take his parliamentary seat would result in possible rebellion in Ireland. Another probelm arose: in order for O’Connell to take his seat in Parliament, he would have to take an Oath of Supremacy which recognised the British monarch as head of the Church and state. As the Pope in Rome is head of the Catholic church, O’Connell could not and would not swear allegiance to a British monarch as head of the Church of England. Wellington and Peel convinced the King to allow the emancipation of Catholics to prevent a possible uprising of the large Catholic population in Ireland. As a result Catholics gained political rights under the Emancipation Act of 1829 and could enter Parliament without taking the oath. O’Connell had to be re-elected before he could take his seat as the Act could not be implemented retrospectively. He was finally elected in 1829 to the British Parliament and became known as the Liberator, a moniker which is still associated with his legend.

By 1837 O’Connell had grown frustrated at how little he could achieve in Ireland in a British Parliament. He now launched a new campaign: to repeal the Act of Union between Ireland and Britain. While he did not want Ireland to leave the Empire, he did want her to have her own parliament where Catholics could exercise their own political power and ambitions. Initially, this campaign garnered a lot of support. In the 1840s, O’Connell held large meetings to campaign for the repeal of the Act of Union. These meetings were usually held in a large field, racecourse or fairground and opened with a huge procession of bands in uniform, floats, carriages and carts, with thousands of local residents on foot or horseback. Crowds gathered around a makeshift platform, on which O’Connell stood to address them. One of his largest political rallies was held at the provocative spot of the Hill of Tara, site of the residence of the former high kings of Ireland, intended to inspire the attending crowd of half a million people.  

The size of this rally was relayed to the British Parliament and within three months O’Connell was charged with conspiracy, creating discontent and disaffection, for which he was arrested and jailed. When he was released from prison he made his way through the crowded streets of Dublin on a specially made chariot which still survives at Derrynane.” [22]

Daniel O’Connell’s chariot, built to welcome him and parade him through streets when he is released from prison. Photograph taken October 2012.

13. Listowel Castle, County Kerry:

General information: 086 385 7201, padraig.oruairc@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Listowel Castle stands on an elevation overlooking the River Feale, above the location of a strategic ford. Although only half of the building survives, it is still one of Kerry’s best examples of Anglo-Norman architecture.

Only two of the original four square towers, standing over 15 metres high, remain. The towers are united by a curtain wall of the same height and linked together – unusually – by an arch on one side.

Listowel was the last bastion [of the Fitzgeralds] against the forces of Queen Elizabeth in the First Desmond Rebellion in 1569. The castle’s garrison held out for 28 days of siege before finally being overpowered by Sir Charles Wilmot. In the days following the castle’s fall, Wilmot executed all of the soldiers left inside.

14. Ross Castle, Killarney, County Kerry:

Ross Castle, Killarney, August 2007.

General Enquiries: 064 6635851, rosscastle@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Ross Castle perches in an inlet of Lough Leane. It is likely that the Irish chieftain O’Donoghue Mór built it in the fifteenth century. 

Legend has it that O’Donoghue still slumbers under the waters of the lake. Every seven years, on the first morning of May, he rises on his magnificent white horse. If you manage to catch a glimpse of him you will enjoy good fortune for the rest of your life.

Ross Castle was the last place in Munster to hold out against Cromwell. Its defenders, then led by Lord Muskerry, took confidence from a prophecy holding that the castle could only be taken by a ship. Knowing of the prophecy, the Cromwellian commander, General Ludlow, launched a large boat on the lake. When the defenders saw it, this hastened the surrender – and the prophecy was fulfilled [in 1652].

Ross Castle, County Kerry, photograph from the National Library of Ireland.
Ross Castle, Killarney, August 2007.

The Castle came into the hands of the Brownes who became the Earls of Kenmare and owned an extensive portion of the lands that are now part of Killarney National Park. It was leased to Valentine Browne (d. 1589), ancestor of the Earls of Kenmare, who was involved with the Plantation of Munster, surveying the land. He served as MP for County Sligo in the Irish Parliament in 1585/6. The Brownes obtained ownership of the castle and lands when it could be proven that they did not play a part in the Confederate Rebellions between 1641-1653. However, Valentine Browne (1639-1994) 1st Earl of Kenmare (and 3rd Baronet Browne of Mohaliffe, County Kerry) was loyal to James II had to forfeit his estate. The title Earl of Kenmare comes originally from Kenmare Castle in County Limerick. His grandson, 3rd Viscount, recovered the estates, but could not get possession of Ross Castle, which had been taken over as a military barracks, so around 1726 he built a new house a little way to the north of the castle, closer to the town of Killarney, Kenmare House, which has been demolished when a later house was built.

Ross Castle, Killarney, August 2007.

15. Skellig Michael, County Kerry:

Skellig islands, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, created for Failte Ireland, 2014. [see 1]

General Information: opwskellig@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

The magnificent Skellig Michael is one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Republic of Ireland.

On the summit of this awe-inspiring rock off the Kerry coast is St Fionan’s monastery, one of the earliest foundations in the country. The monks who lived there prayed and slept in beehive-shaped huts made of stone, many of which remain to this day.

The monks left the island in the thirteenth century. It became a place of pilgrimage and, during the time of the Penal Laws, a haven for Catholics.

Following in the monks’ footsteps involves climbing 618 steep, uneven steps. Getting to the top is quite a challenge, but well worth the effort.

As well as the wealth of history, there is a fantastic profusion of bird life on and around the island. Little Skellig is the second-largest gannet colony in the world.

Skellig Michael, 1967, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]
Skellig Michael monastery, 1958, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]

Limerick:

16. Askeaton Castle, County Limerick:

General information: 087 113 9670, askeatoncastle@opw.ie

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.

17. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick:

General information: 061 396666, info@adareheritagecentre.ie

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.

18. Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick:

General information: 069 77408, desmondhall@opw.ie

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.

19. Lough Gur, County Limerick:

Lough Gur, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Ken Williams 2021 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

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.

Lough Gur Visitor Centre, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Keith Wiseman 2013 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]
Lough Gur Visitor Centre, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Keith Wiseman 2013 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

Tipperary:

20. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary:

Cahir Castle, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Brian Morrison 2014 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General information: 052 744 1011, cahircastle@opw.ie

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, on an island in the river Suir, and is now situated inside the town centre of Cahir] 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.

An excellent audiovisual show now provides sightseers with a detailed appreciation of the castle’s long history. Visitors also flock to the castle because of its role as a film and TV location – it has featured in productions like Excalibur and The Tudors.

Cahir Castle, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Brian Morrison 2014 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

The name derives from the Irish ‘an Chathair’ meaning stone ringfort.

Edward III 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.  Thomas Butler (d. 1558) was created the 1st Baron Caher (of the second creation), County Tipperary, in 1543.

During the Irish Confederate Wars it was surrounded by hostile forces twice more and taken by Lord Inchiquin in 1647 and then Oliver Cromwell in the conquest of Ireland. 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 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. [23]

Cahir Castle, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by George Munday 2014 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

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 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.” [24]

Cahir Castle, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Liam Murphy 2016 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

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. On the completion of Cahir House in the later l770’s, Fennell rented Rehill House from Lord Cahir and lived there over half a century. A strong Roman Catholic middle class emerged. James, 9th Lord Cahir, 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.

The main line of the Cahir Butlers died out in 1788 with the death of Pierce, 10th Baron, but a distant cousin was discovered to accept the Title… The young Lord Cahir (Richard, 12th Baron) 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.” [24]

Cahir Castle 1943, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

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. Despite furious competition between Lady Glengall`s trustees and Sadleirs` Dublin solicitor at the offices of the Encumbered Estates Court, the demesne of Kilcommon and Cahir Town were lost to the Glengall Butlers.

Cahir Town and Demesne came up for auction again in 1857, on the suicide of Sadleir, but Lady Glengall`s Trustees were unable to purchase, due to their having already expended circa £200,000 on repurchasing the greater part of the Estate. The purchaser was Robert Malcomson, a prominent Quaker from Portlaw, Co, Waterford, whose mother was a Cahir Abbey Grubb. Malcomson`s Cotton Empire collapsed, and in 1876, Kilcommon Demesne was again auctioned. 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. [24]

21. Famine Warhouse 1848, Ballingarry, County Tipperary:

General information: 087 908 9972, info@heritageireland.ie

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.

22. Holycross Abbey, County Tipperary:

Holycross Abbey, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Liam Murphy 2016 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

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.

23. The Main Guard, Sarsfield Street, Clonmel, County Tipperary:

The Main Guard, or Clonmel Courthouse, County Tipperary. Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: five-bay two-storey courthouse and market house, built 1673, with arcaded ground floor to front and north gable, and pediment and cupola to roof. Until restored c.2000, building had been five-bay three-storey with triple public house front to ground floor, and timber sliding sash windows. Now in use as museum. The columns of the arcaded facades were recycled from the ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Inislounaght, to the west of the town and retain some decorative elements that testify to this fact. 

General Information: 052 612 7484, mainguard@opw.ie

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.

Main Guard, 1948, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]

24. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary

Nenagh Castle, photograph by Brian Morrison, 2017, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

General information: 067 33850, castlenenagh@gmail.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. [25]

Nenagh Castle, photograph by Brian Morrison, 2017, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

25. Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary:

Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, May 2018.

General Information: 051 640787, ormondcastle@opw.ie

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.

Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, National Library of Ireland Mason Catalogue.
Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir 1949, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive. [see 3]
Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir 1949, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive. [see 3]

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.” [26]

Detail from National Library of Ireland, Ormond Castle.
Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, May 2018.
Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, May 2018.
Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, May 2018.

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 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 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. 

Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, May 2018.
Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, May 2018.
Ormond Castle, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, May 2018.

26. Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary:

Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Brian Morrison 2018 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General Information: 062 61437, rockofcashel@opw.ie

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.

Rock of Cashel, 1955, from Dublin City Library and Archives [see 3].
Rock of Cashel ca. 1901, photograph from National Library of Ireland Flickr constant commons.

27. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary:

Roscrea Castle, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Chris Hill 2014 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General information: 0505 21850, roscreaheritage@opw.ie

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. [27] 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. [28]

Damer House, County Tipperary, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural heritage.

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. Robert O’Byrne tells us that John Damer’s nephew, another Joseph, inherited the house and castle was later created the Earl of Dorchester and that in the following century Damer House passed into the hands of another branch of the family, the Dawson-Damers who were Earls of Portarlington and whose main seat was Emo Court, County Laois. [29] Joseph the Earl of Dorchester’s sister Mary married William Henry Dawson, 1st Viscount Carlow, who lived at Emo in Laois.

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 and was later inherited by the Dawson and Dawson-Damer family who held the title of Earl of Portarlington. The Damer family who built an elegant three-storey pre Palladian house in the courtyard. 
 
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. The Irish Georgian Society was also involved

28. Swiss Cottage, Ardfinnan Road, Cahir, County Tipperary:

Swiss Cottage, Cahir, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Chris Hill 2015 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General Information: 052 744 1144, swisscottage@opw.ie

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 by Richard Butler, 1st Earl of Glengall, who, we believe, managed to persuade world-famous Regency architect John Nash to design it. 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.

Swiss Cottage, photograph from the National Library of Ireland.

Waterford:

29. Dungarvan Castle, County Waterford:

Dungarvan Castle, Waterford, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Chris Hill 2006 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General Information: 058 48144.

From the OPW website:

This castle dates from the early days of the Anglo-Norman settlement in Ireland. It was built c.1209 to safeguard the entrance to Dungarvan Harbour. The polygonal shell keep – a rare building type in Ireland – is the earliest structure on the site.

The castle has an enclosing curtain wall, a corner tower and a gate tower. Within the wall is a two-storey military barracks, which dates from the first half of the eighteenth century. It was used by the British Army and the Royal Irish Constabulary until 1922. During the Irish Civil War Dungarvan Castle was destroyed by the Anti-Treaty IRA.  It was subsequently refurbished and served as the Headquarters of the local Garda Síochana.

Today the Barracks and Castle grounds are open to visitors. Inside you will find a revealing exhibition on the Castle’s long and intriguing history.

30. Reginald’s Tower, The Quay, Waterford, County Waterford:

Reginald’s Tower, photograph from Ireland’s Content pool, by Mark Wesley 2016 for Failte Ireland. [see 1]

General information: 051 304220, reginaldstower@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Once described as ‘a massive hinge of stone connecting the two outstretched wings of the city’ this tower has never fallen into ruin and has been in continuous use for over 800 years. 

Originally the site of a wooden Viking fort, the stone tower we see today actually owes its existence to the Anglo-Normans who made it the strongest point of the medieval defensive walls. Later it was utilised as a mint under King John, before serving various functions under many English monarchs. Weapons, gunpowder and cannons have all been stored here reflecting various periods of Waterford’s turbulent history. 

Take the spiral stairs up and en route see the remains of a 19th century prison cell, artefacts from Waterford’s Viking history, and the sword of the Chief Constable whose family were the last residents of the tower.

On two floors are housed one branch of the Waterford Museum of Treasures, concentrating on the town’s thrilling Viking heritage.

[1] https://www.irelandscontentpool.com/en

[2] https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/

[3] https://repository.dri.ie/

[4] p. 12, Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the care of the OPW, Government Publications, Dublin, 2018.

[5] p. 310, Keohane, Frank. The Buildings of Ireland. Cork City and County. Yale University Press: New Haven and London. 2020.

[6] p. 261, Keohane, Frank. Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2020.

[7] See also https://doneraileestate.ie

[8] p. 377. Keohane, Frank. Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2020.

Another work Keohane identifies as being by Benjamin Crawley is Castle Bernard, now a ruin in County Cork:

Castle Bernard, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

[9] p. 105. 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.

[10] fotahouse.com

[11] p. 127. 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.

[12] p. 412. Keohane, Frank. Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2020.

[13] https://www.irelandscontentpool.com/en/media-assets/media/44873

[14] http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/PlacesToSee/Cork/

[15] p. 412. Keohane, Frank. Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2020.

[16] https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/fota-arboretum-and-gardens/

[17]https://garinishisland.ie/the-house-and-gardens/

[18] see the website https://blasket.ie/

[19] https://derrynanehouse.ie/the-house/

[20] p. 120. Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the care of the OPW, Government Publications, Dublin, 2018.

[21] p. 102. 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.

[22] p. 107-119, Hicks, David. Irish Country Houses, Portraits and Painters. The Collins Press, Cork, 2014. 

[23] http://www.britainirelandcastles.com/Ireland/County-Tipperary/Cahir-Castle.html

[24] http://www.cahirhistoricalsociety.com/articles/cahirhistory.html

[25] https://www.nenagh.ie/places-of-interest/details/nenagh-castle

[26] 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.

[27] See the blog of Patrick Comerford, http://www.patrickcomerford.com/search/label/castles?updated-max=2019-03-03T14:30:00Z&max-results=20&start=27&by-date=false

[28]https://curiousireland.ie/roscrea-castle-1281-damer-house-1730-rosscrea-co-tipperary/

[29]https://theirishaesthete.com/2013/09/23/bon-anniversaire/ and see my write-up about Emo Court, in OPW properties in Leinster: Laois.