“Avondale House & Forest Park includes the Charles Stewart Parnell Museum. Over 500 acres of mature woodland with tree’s from all over the world including the tallest collection of Trees in Ireland. We have walking trails from an easy 1 hour walk to a tough 5 hour walks. Avondale House was built in 1779. In 1846 Charles Stewart Parnell was born in the house, one of Ireland’s greatest ever political leaders of modern Irish history. Today the house is a museum. Avondale is a beautiful Georgian House designed by James Wyatt and built in 1777 and completed in 1779 contains fine plasterwork by the Francini Brothers and many original pieces of furniture. The American Room is dedicated to Admiral Charles Stewart – Parnell’s American grandfather who manned the USS Constitution during the 1812 war. In 1904 the state purchased the Avondale Estate to develop modern day forestry in Ireland. Today its still regarded as the historic home of Irish Forestry and silviculture.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 15. “A square house of 2 storeys over basement, built 1779 for Samuel Hayes, a noted amateur architect who possibly designed it himself. 5 bay entrance front, the 3 centre bays breaking forward under a pediment; small Doric porch with paired columns, Coade stone panels with swags and medallions between lower and upper windows. Garden front with central bow; the basement, which in the entrance front is concealed, is visible on this side with its windows have Gibbsian surrounds. Magnificent and lofty 2 storey hall with C18 Gothic plasterwork and gallery along inner wall. Bow room with beautiful Bossi chimneypiece. Dining room with elaborate neo-Classical plasterwork on walls and ceiling; the wall decorations incorporating oval mirrors and painted medallions. Passed to William Parnell-Hayes, brother of the 1st Baron Congleton, and grandfather of Charles Steward Parnell, who was born here and lived here all his life with his mother and elder brother. Now owned by the dept of Lands, Forestry Division, which maintains the splendid demesne as a forest park…The house has in recent years been restored by the Board of Works.” 
The National Inventory tells us that the house may have been designed by James Wyatt.
6. Corke Lodge, Co Wicklow – gardens open to visitors
Opening dates 2022: June 21-Sept 8th 2022, Tuesday to Saturdays and all of Heritage Week, August 13-21st, 9:00-13:00
Open other times by appointment only.
No pets allowed.
The website tells us:
“The house was built on and incorporates the remains of an older structure, visible on the 1750 maps of Dublin. Situated on the lands owned by Hannagh Tilson Magan it was commissioned by her or by her son William Henry Magan between 1815 and 1820.
William Magan is known to have employed the Architect William Farrell to design a country house, Clonearl, in Co. Offaly in 1815. This house was destroyed by fire in the 1840’s but it is clear from the surviving plans that the distinctive pillastered design is mirrored in both Killyon manor, Co. Meath another Magan/Loftus house and in Corke Lodge. Unusual fenestration and similar door treatments also link the two surviving properties. Close by the church at Crinken, endowed by Hannagh Magan was also designed by Farrell. So it would not be unreasonable to assume that Corke Lodge, which has all the hallmarks of an architectural ‘capriccio’ is by the same hand. The main façade and the two front reception rooms are in the classical style. The rooms at the back and above have gothic detailing.
The last Magan owner of this property as well as the other huge Magan/Tilson/Loftus estates was Augusta. Her eccentricities and reclusive life are said to have inspired Charles Dickens, who visited Dublin, in his creation of Miss Haversham, in the Great Expectations.
The most striking feature of the house is the bold architectural treatment of the classical facade, a miniature of the two great houses mentioned above. By contrast, the back elevations are in a flat gothic stile reflecting the romantic nature of the planted ‘wilderness’. The interiors retain all their original features in terms of marble mantle pieces, pillared architraves and plasterwork. Although the house originally would not have been used for more than a few days a year by the Magans when bathing in the nearby sea or visiting the family tombs at Crinken, it has been continuously inhabited since its incorporation into the Woodbrook estate By Sir Stanley Cochrane in 1906. Sir Stanley, heir to a mineral water fortune, was an accomplished athlete and opera singer who created on his estate championship cricket pitches a golf course and the Laurel Park Opera House, precursor of Glyndebourne, and where Dame Nellie Melba sang.
The house as it presents itself today was restored and furnished in 1980 by architect Alfred Cochrane. It pioneered the current trends in historicist restoration of country houses and was featured in a number of local and international publications.“
Opening (if Covid allows) April 2nd to July 1st, 2022. By appointment only.
“The gardens surrounding this late eighteenth century house (c.1790) were laid out towards the end of the nineteenth century with plantings of many fine specimens including Rhododendron arboreum, Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba’, and Camellia japonica. Also included are a number of specimen mature trees, including a fine Chilean myrtle, Luma apiculata, planted c. 1880. When the Butler family acquired the property, a white garden in a sheltered enclosure behind the house was added together with a wild meadow which reaches its peak in mid June.
The indefatigable Mrs Delany, eighteenth century social commentator, diarist, artist and friend of Dean Jonathan Swift commenting on Rossanagh demesne on which Dower House was built wrote: ‘It is a very pretty place… neatly kept’. As early as 1733, A.C. Forbes noted that the largest tree in Ireland, a Spanish chestnut flourished in the demesne. It was under this tree that Methodist preacher, the Reverend John Wesley preached during one of his many visits in June, 1789. Rossanagh holds links to many well known ‘personalities’ of the day including musician/composer, Thomas Moore, artists, George Romney, Maria Spilsbury-Taylor, politicians, Henry Grattan and William Pitt, the Younger together with Patrick Bronte, father of distinguished English novelists, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Described as one of ‘Wicklow’s finest gardens’ (Jane Powers), the gardens are open each year in aid of The Wicklow Hospice.“
8. Greenan More, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow– section 482
contact: Paul Arnold Tel: 087-2563200 www.greenanmore.ie Open: May 1-31, June 1-12, Aug 12-31, Sept 1-18, Wed- Sun, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 10am-3pm
9. Huntingbrook, County Wicklow – gardens open to public
The Gardens open Wednesday 6th April until Saturday 24th September 2022
Hours Wednesday – Saturday 11am–4pm
“Designed to be a thoroughly immersive experience, the gardens are home to one of Ireland’s largest private collections of plants. A riot of colour, shape and texture, the gardens are always on the move with fresh surprises at every visit.”
contact: Anthony Ardee Tel: 01-2863405 www.killruddery.com Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, Tue-Suns and Bank Holidays. National Heritage Week 13-21, 9am-6pm, Fee: adult €8.50, garden and house tour €15.50, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, garden and house tour €13, child €3, 4-16 years, garden and house tour €5.50
13. Knockanree Garden, Avoca, Co Wicklow – section 482, garden only
contact: Peter Campion and Valerie O’Connor Tel: 085-8782455 www.knockanreegardens.com Open: May 20-21, 23-28, 30-31, June 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-30, July 1-3, Aug 13-21, Oct 1, 3-8, 10-14, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2
contact: Liz McManus Tel: 087-2357369 Open: May, June, Sept, Oct, Mon & Thurs, July & Aug, Mon, Thurs, & Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 1pm-5pm, Sunday, 9am-1pm
This house forms part of one of Bray’s earliest, best preserved, and most distinctive seafront terraces; it is also of some historical value due to the fact that James Joyce lived in the property between 1887 and 1891.
15. Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co. Wicklow – section 482, garden only
“The very best gardens intrigue and restore us, and so it is with June Blake’s garden which is a rare fusion of inspired design and painterly planting. Situated in the townland of Tinode in west Wicklow, and spread over three rural acres, it wraps itself around June’s home, a handsome Victorian farm-steward’s cottage surrounded by a huddle of austerely beautiful, granite-stone farm buildings, one of which -the Cow House- has recently been the subject of an award-winning, modern architectural conversion.In a previous life, Blake was a gifted jewellery maker. Those same carefully honed skills- a razor sharp eye and keen attention to detail, an artist’s deep appreciation of colour, texture and form, as well as the ability to take a raw, unpolished material and expertly craft it into something aesthetically deeply satisfying- still shine through brightly in her excitingly contemporary country garden. Within it are many different areas of interest. These include intricately planted borders of gem-like beauty, swathes of naturalistic, prairie-style planting, sculptural landforms, a flower meadow that comes to life in spring with sprinkles of crimson red Tulip ‘Red Shine’, generous stretches of woodland intersected by curving cobble paths and filled with choice shade-lovers, and a formal, rectangular pool whose silver sliver of water is a mirror to the cloud-streaked Wicklow sky.Each one is so thoughtfully, imaginatively and expertly executed that it would be enough by itself to bring joy to the heart of any gardener. But it is when they are combined together as a whole that they form what is, without doubt, a truly remarkable garden.” Fionnuala Fallon.
The house was designed by William Caldbeck in 1864. Tinode House was burned to the ground in 1922 by the IRA, and has since been partially rebuilt.
“Ballyknocken House, Farm and Cookery School – Scenically located on 280 acres only 47 km south of Dublin City Centre in County Wicklow, Ireland. Our charming 4* Victorian style farm guesthouse offers 7 guest bedrooms plus a 3-bedroom Milking Parlour apartment, surrounded by scented kitchen gardens, offering a farm to fork experience. Home to celebrity chef and award-winning food writer, Catherine Fulvio, we pride ourselves on continuing the family tradition of providing B&B accommodation for over fifty years here in County Wicklow.
We offer an intimate, cosy, warm and friendly experience not only for individual guests for Foodie Short Breaks and for visiting Wicklow but we also welcome private parties, whether it’s a corporate, friend and family gathering or hen party. Ballyknocken can be booked exclusively for accommodation, cookery events and onsite activities for your company day out or your celebration.“
2. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Co Wicklow– 482 and Airbnb, see above
3. Bel Air Hotel (formerlyCronroe), Ashford, Co Wicklow
“Bel-Air is an old Manor House Hotel on 200 acres farm and parkland. The house and stable yard are in the middle of the estate, with the land surrounding it in all directions. There is wonderful parkland to the front of the house looking out to the coast, while the tillage land is behind the house. In the centre of the estate is old woodland, which has lovely jumping lanes. In the spring, bluebells and wild garlic bring colour and aroma to the tracks and trails. And the heady scent and sight of the vibrant yellow gorse makes your heart sing.
The stable yard is from ca 1750 and the current house was built in 1890. Both the house and the yard are listed for preservation and wherever you look you find evidence of the old days.
Even though we are less than an hour from Dublin, you feel like you are miles from anywhere and you also take a leap back in time. Bel-Air is not just a place – it’s a way of life!“
4. Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village, County Wicklow
“Relax and unwind at The Wells Spa, a designated ‘resort spa’. Dine at The Strawberry Tree, Ireland’s first certified Wild and Organic Restaurant, or La Taverna Armento, a Southern Italian style bistro. We also host Actons Country Pub, The Orchard Café, an Organic Bakery, a Smokehouse and a Wild Food Pantry and much more. Macreddin Golf Course designed by European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley is a short stroll from BrookLodge.
Macreddin Village has twice won AA Hotel of the Year, Ireland’s Culinary Hotel of the Year and Ireland’s Luxury Eco-Friendly Hotel. Other recent awards for The Strawberry Tree Restaurant include titles such as Best Restaurant and Best Organic Restaurant.“
“Clone House, first built around 1650, is surrounded by five acres of private land and gardens.
Based in the heart of vibrant and beautiful County Wicklow, just an hour south of Dublin, Clone House offers a unique holiday experience and quality accommodation for up to 26 guests.
We cater for events such as family reunions, corporate events, hens & stags and small weddings.“
“Clone House was originally built by the O’Byrne family in the 1650’s. Back then it was the Manor House on a large estate stretching across Moneyteigue, Clone and Coolahullen. The house’s history is as grand and interesting as its demeanor. Clone House provided refuge to the famous Billy Byrne of Ballymanus, was burnt down in the 1798 Rebellion, restored around 1805 and nowadays functions as a beautiful guesthouse.“
6. Croney Byrne, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – courtyard accommodation
“Wicklow is a great holiday destination and you will love staying in our luxurious Self Catering Holiday Homes in one of the most beautiful locations in Irelands Ancient East. Croneybyrne Courtyard is a family friendly destination where children love our park with playground and collecting their eggs for breakfast from our hens and geese. See our accommodation page for more details. A mere 1 hour drive from Dublin city it is a great escape with many acres of wilderness on our doorstep including Clara Vale Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Reserve where you can spend hours exploring without seeing another soul or hearing the sound of modern distractions. There you will see Sika Deer as well as Badger, Fox, Rabbits and the occasional Hare, not to mention the myriad of Birds, including the spectacular Red Kite and Spotted Woodpecker.
There are forest and mountain walks, we are near the Avonmore Trails and within easy reach of the Wicklow Way and the beautiful Vartry Tracks and Trails. Or for the more adventurous, there are challenging Rock Climbing activities as well as hiking on the highest mountain in Wicklow Lugnaquilla or the many mountain tops in the area. If you are looking for a Walking Holiday in Wicklow see our Walking/Hiking pages for a list of our top walks in the area.“
7. Druid’s Glen hotel and golf club (formerly Woodstock), Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Woodstock, which has now been converted to Druid’s Glen hotel:
p. 287. “(Tottenham, sub Ely, M/PB) A three storey five bay block of ca 1770, with single-storey five bay block added ca 1840 by Rt Rev Lord Robert [Ponsonby] Tottenham [1773-1850], Bishop of Clogher [son of Charles Tottenham Loftus 1st Marquess of Ely], who bought the property after 1827; it had previously been rented for a period by the Lord Lieutenant, Marquess Wellesley. The centre block has a one bay breakfront and a die which was probably added by Bishop Tottenham at the same time as the single-storey Ionic portico, which is by Sir Richard Morrison. Giant blind arches in end pavilions; balustraded parapets on wings. Garden front with curved bow in central breakfront; now asymmetrical because of projecting C19 wing on one side and other additions. Hall running through the full depth of the house, divided by a screen of columns from the staircase, which is of fine solid C18 joinery; rococo plasterwork in the manner of Robert West in panels on the walls above the staircase, and curving round the apse at the back of the hall in the bow of the garden front; similar plasterwork on the ceiling of the staircase and landing. Dining room with rococo plasterwork in centre of ceiling. Large and lofty drawing room in right hand wing with frieze and cornice of elaborate C19 plasterwork, rather in the manner of Sir Richard Morrison. Handsome C19 room with bold cornice and ceiling medallion in wing flanking garden front. Sold 1947, afterwards the home of Mr and Mrs G. Van den Bergh. It is now the home of Mr and Mrs William Forwood, who have carried out a most sympathetic restoration of the house, with the help of Mr Jeremy Benson.”
The National Inventory tells us:
“Detached five-bay three-storey over basement former country house, built in 1770, now in use as a hotel / country club. The original house was probably to designs by Robert West the eminent Irish stuccodore. Two-storey wing additions added in c.1830 to designs by Sir Richard Morrison. There are later additions to the rear elevation. The walls are finished in painted lined render. A short flight of stone steps rises to the front door; it has a four-pane fanlight and is flat-headed. This is set within a projecting portico with Ionic columns. Window openings are flat-headed and have moulded surrounds; those to the piano nobile also have blocking courses and projecting cornice. The hipped roof is finished with natural slate and cast-iron rainwater goods. Chimneystacks are rendered with plain caps and clay pots. Much of the late Georgian interior has been retained; this includes rococo plaster work to the hallway, the original stair and fireplaces to principal rooms. The building is set within a large demesne which is now in use as a golf course.” 
8. June Blake’s Garden, Turkey House and Cow House, Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden, see above
It was built around 1750 as stables and converted in 1798. The range consists of four wings based around a large courtyard with the main wing to the front (west) having two-storey projections to its north and south ends.
The website tells us: “Rathsallagh House has been owned and run by the O’Flynn family for over 30 years, it has a happy and relaxed atmosphere with log and turf fires in the bar and drawing rooms. The food at Rathsallagh is country house cooking at its best, Game in season and fresh fish are specialities. Breakfast in Rathsallagh is an experience in itself and has won the National Breakfast Awards a record four times.
Rathsallagh also has conference and meeting rooms, Spa room, billiard room, and tennis court and is surrounded by the magnificant Rathsallagh Golf Club.“
The website tells us: “Summerhill House Hotel is where glamour and the countryside blend in one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. Our location in the cosy village of Enniskerry is a gloriously refreshing antidote to city living or stressful lives. Reconnect with family and friends and let the kids run free. Lose track of time as you breathe in clean air, stride for miles through nature walks on your doorstep, stargaze under big skies, and, most importantly – relax, with a dose of the finest Wicklow hospitality.“
11. Tinakilly House, Rathnew, Co Wicklow – country house hotel
“Set in 14 acres of mature landscaped gardens overlooking the Irish Sea Tinakilly offers peace and tranquillity yet is only 45 minutes from Dublin. This stunning award winning Country House Hotel in Wicklow is steeped in history and oozes charm and sophistication.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 304. “A house of 1870 by James Franklin Fuller, built for Commander Robert Charles Halpin, RN, who commended the steamship Great Eastern when she laid the first Atlantic cable. In vaguely Queen Anne revival style; entrance front with two bay centre between three sided bows; pedimented porch. Roof on bracket cornice with central dormer. Side elevation with central three sided bow. Very impressive central hall, an early example of the hall-cum-living room which was to become an almost obligatory feature of late Victorian and Edwardian country houses; with an imperial staircase rising to a bridge gallery which continues around two of the walls. The ceiling is elaborately coved and coffered; the soffits of the stairs and gallery are richly ornamented with plasterwork. The fireplace is surmounted by a triple window, so that the flue appears to vanish; a conceit which, like the “living hall” itself, became increasingly popular towards the turn of the century. Halpin died 1894; his widow was living at Tinakilly 1912.”
The website gives us the history:
“Tinakilly House was constructed for Captain Robert Halpin, who was born in Wicklow Town and who succeeded in becoming Commander of The Great Eastern when it laid most of the world’s transoceanic telegraph cables. The cable connecting Europe to America was laid in 1866 from Valentia Bay in Ireland to Hearts Content in Canada. A section of this cable and a fine colour print of The Great Eastern can be seen today in Tinakilly Country House Hotel & Gardens. Most of Captain Halpin’s memorabilia is in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire.
Halpin is reputed to have been given an open cheque by the British Government to build his new mansion in gratitude for his contribution to improving world communications and thereby world trade. He recruited the then very fashionable Irish architect, James Franklin Fuller, to design the house. The timber, which is so evident and gives such character, was selected in London by Halpin. The doors on the ground floor are of Burmese mahogany with many panels of different woods, the best of which are in “birds eye” maple. The architraves window shutters and stairs are in American pitch pine. Fireplaces were imported from Italy with the exception of the drawing room where a fine Georgian one graces the room.
In 1870 the land extended to 400 acres, two Head Gardener’s were employed, one for inside the walled garden to grow fruit and vegetables and the other to supervise the seven acres of pleasure gardens. There are fine stands of beech eucalyptus and evergreen oak while two giant sequoias (American Redwood) are at either end of the old tennis court. The site chosen for the house is on elevated ground two miles north of Wicklow Town, overlooking Broadlough Bird Sanctuary and the Irish Sea.
Halpin married the daughter of a wealthy Canadian whaling merchant. They had three daughters, the youngest of whom, Belle, lived in Tinakilly until the early 1950’s. Captain Halpin died at the young age of 58 from blood poisoning after cutting his toe.
In 1949 the house and lands were purchased by Augustus Cullen, a Wicklow solicitor. The Trustee’s sold on condition that Belle Halpin retain the house for her lifetime, which she did until 1952. Rumour has it that her ghost continued to occupy the house as well as Miss Halpin’s housekeeper – hence the Cullen’s never took occupation. During the last six years of Mr Cullen’s ownership, the house was only used in the summer when it was rented by a group of Jesuit priests for summer retreats. Any ghosts quickly departed.
In 1959 the house and lands were sold to Mr Gunther Smith whose nephew, Mr Heinrich Rolfe, inherited the property in 1962. His wife ran the house as a guesthouse while Mr Rolfe concentrated on farming. A colourful Frenchman called Jean Claude Thibaud then rented the house and ran it as a “Restaurant Francais”. A thatched cottage bar was constructed in the hall while stucco plaster on the dining room walls appeared to give an effect of “waves by the sea”. One day Jean Claude discovered his kitchen chimney was blocked by the home of a family of building crows. Not wishing to climb out onto the roof to discover which of the 36 chimney pots needed freeing, he took a sledgehammer to a top floor bedroom and through the flue of a fireplace allowing the smoke into the bedroom. He then opened the window and closed the door. A French solution to an Irish problem.
In 1978 an Irish couple, Dermot & Anne Garland, who had experience in running the Pembroke Restaurant in Dublin, swapped with the Thibauds and completed a purchase agreement for Tinakilly House. The Garland’s redecorated Tinakilly and ran a successful restaurant. Dermot tragically died leaving Anne to struggle on with their two young sons.
In 1982 Tinakilly sold to William & Bee Power, who decided to develop a full hotel putting bathrooms ensuite and installing a modern fully equipped kitchen. Redecorating and furnishing of the hotel was undertaken by William & Bee to ensure the homely Victorian character so evident to the visitor today. Great care has been taken in all reconstruction work to maintain the nautical theme. Bedrooms were named after ships.
In 1991 the Power’s constructed 15 suites all overlooking the Irish Sea and Broadlough Bird Sanctuary. Sunrise is a spectacle to behold. The Victorian Halpin Suite was developed to cater for conferences and weddings.
In 1997 the East wing was extended northwards with the addition of 24 suites and a lift, bringing the total compliment of bedrooms to 51. Also in that year, a new dining room, the Brunel, was built to the west of the house. All of this work has been architect controlled to ensure the true character of Tinakilly is maintained. In January 2000, Tinakilly was taken over by William & Bee’s son and daughter-in-law, Raymond & Josephine.
In 2013 Tinakilly House changed hands again, the owners are passionate about this grand country manor, adding refreshing touches through out the house but always in keeping with the character. The Great Hall is alive again with chatty conservations over afternoon tea, the Brunel restaurant and menus are refreshing, wedding guest fill the house with laughter and joy. So check back with us to see the old and new meld to give this beautiful Victorian manor a new chapter in history.“
The website tells us: “Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort is a luxury 4 star retreat situated in the garden of Ireland, County Wicklow. Perched on the banks of the Blessington Lakes against the backdrop of the Wicklow mountains, yet only 45 minutes drive from Dublin. Offering delicious food, relaxed bars and deluxe guest accommodation, the views are breathtaking and the golf course is immense. Step back in time as you enter the 18th century Manor House which stands imposingly at the heart of our 200 acre resort. Get married, get your colleagues together or get some rest and relaxation. Tulfarris Hotel in Wicklow is yours to enjoy.“
The website tells us of the history of the house:
“Tulfarris House derives its name from the land it is situated on. Tulfarris comes from the Gaelic ‘Tulach Fherghuis’ meaning Fergus’ Hill.
From a document known as the Faints, which contains legal judgements from the Tudor period, it is clear that the lands known as Tulfarris were included with the manor of Rathmore, Co. Kildare. This estate was in the possession of Gerald Fitzgerald (Garret Oge), 9th Earl of Kildare. Until 1534, the Fitzgerald dynasty dominated both the lands and events that occurred in much of Ireland. The rebellion of Gerald’s son Thomas, popularly known as Silken Thomas, resulted in the confiscation of the entire estate by the crown. In 1541, the crown to Walter Troot, Vicar of Rathmore, leased the manors of Rathmore, including Tulfarris.
Shortly afterwards in 1545, the lands were granted in full to Sir John Travers, a knight from Monkstown, Co. Dublin. Sir John Travers had an heir by his first marriage, Henry. Henry married Gennet Preston [d.1599], daughter of the third Viscount of Gormanstown [Jenico Preston, d. 1560]. Henry however, died young leaving two daughters, Mary & Catherine. John Travers died in 1562 and the lands were inherited by Henry’s daughters, Mary & Catherine.
Mary married James Eustace, 3rd Viscount of Baltinglass. After James played a leading role in the Desmond Rebellion of 1579, The Baltinglass estate including Mary’s share of Rathmore, were confiscated by the crown. Mary managed to have her share of the estate returned to her in her husband’s lifetime.
Her sister Catherine married John Cheevers of Macetown, Co. Meath. Catherine’s share of the Rathmore Estate included Tulfarris and was inherited by Catherine’s son Henry. Henry in turn married Catherine Fitzwilliam and their son Walter inherited the title to Tulfarris. Inquisitions dated 24th September 1640, detail the size of the estate at the time of Henry Cheever’s death. According to this document, Tulfarris contained one ruined Castle, 20 messuages, 70 acres of land and a manor.
Tulfarris’ turbulent history continued and in a list of outlaws intended for the House of Lords and dated 1641-1647, five entries for Tulfarris were found. During that time, the crown again confiscated Tulfarris.
Tulfarris and other properties were granted to Colonel Randall Clayton on 15th October 1667, in trust for the officers of the Cromwellian soldiers of 1649. Tulfarris was subsequently granted to Captain John Hunt of the Cromwellian soldiers of 1649. His son, Vere Hunt, later sold the land to John Borrowes of Ardenode, Co. Kildare. In 1713, Robert Graydon of Russellstown held Tulfarris. The means of transfer of ownership between Borrowes and Graydon is uncertain, however, Borrowe’ss niece and granddaughter both married Graydons.
Much of the house’s more recent history is associated with the Hornridge family who held the land from the early eighteenth century until the 1950’s. James Hornridge came to Ireland from Gloucester with Cromwell’s parliamentary Army in 1659 and settled in Colemanna in Co. Carlow.
The Historical information regarding how the Hornridge’s came to own Tulfarris is unclear. His son Richard Hornridge married Hester Hogshaw of Burgage, Blessington Co. Wicklow in 1699. It is most likely that Tulfarris came into the Hornridge’s possession through this marriage.”
13. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Dunbur Head, County Wicklow € for 4
Beautifully restored small Castle situated in the Vale of Avoca, within walking distance of the Golf Club. Only 4km from Arklow Town and only 3km from the stunning Avoca Village. The Castle is ideal for those who are looking for a relaxing break to take in the beautiful scenery, walk ways, fishing and golfing.
The space If you choose to book the Gatelodge, you and your guests will have full use of the Small Castle.
 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.
2. Burtown House and Garden, Athy, Co. Kildare– section 482
contact: James Fennell Tel: 059-8623148 www.burtownhouse.ie Open: May 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, June 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, July 6-9, 13-16, 19-23, 27-30, August 3-6, 10-21, 24-27, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child under €5 free
Burtown House and Gardens, Athy, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2022, Courtesy Failte Ireland
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:
“Ballytore, in County Kildare, was a stronghold of the Irish Quakers and the centre of a sizeable Quaker community. One of their members, Robert Power, built Burtown House as the hub of a two thousand acre farming enterprise in the 1720s. His Georgian villa, shown on early maps as “Power’s Grove,” was only one room deep so wings were added later in the century. These were subsequently removed, though their faint outlines can still be identified and Burtown was further extended in the early nineteenth century when a full height bow was added on the garden front.
The new extension provided a bow ended room on the garden front, a large bedroom above and a grand staircase, lit by a tall round-headed window. Pretty plasterwork in the manner of James Wyatt was also introduced at the time, most notably in an arched alcove in the bow-ended room, which is likely to have been the original dining room. The alcove is filled with a shallow fan, and delightfully cursive sprays of vine leaves, and is flanked by a pair of classical vases on pilasters of foliage with naive Corinthian capitals.
Burtown has never been sold in all its three hundred years. The house passed from the Power family to the Houghtons and thence to the Wakefields, who gave it a new roof with widely projecting eaves in the early nineteenth century. They also lengthened the sash windows, installed a new front door with a fanlight in a deep recess, and carried out a number of other alterations.
When Mr. Wakefield was killed playing cricket Burtown passed to his sister, who had married a fellow Quaker from County Tipperary, William Fennell. Their son, William James was a keen horseman but “was asked to leave the Quaker congregation because of his fondness for driving a carriage with two uniformed flunkeys on the back”.
Today Burtown is in the midst of two hundred acres of parkland, including ten acres of lush flower, vegetable and woodland gardens with many fine walks. The house has now been home to five generations of the Fennell family, and to the acclaimed botanical artist and illustrator, Wendy Walsh. Coincidentally, the leading Irish botanical artist of the early twentieth century, Lydia Shackleton, also came from the same small Quaker community.” 
“Donadea Forest Park includes Donadea Castle and estate, the former home of the Aylmer family up until 1935. There are many historical features including the remains of the castle and walled gardens, St. Peter’s church, an ice house and boat house. The Lime tree avenue planted in the 19th century formed the original entrance to the estate. Another feature of the park is the 9/11 Memorial, a scaled replica of the twin towers carved in limestone. The small lake is brimming with ducks, waterhens and has a beautiful display of water lilies in the summer. There is a café open throughout the year.“
In 1581 Gerald Aylmer, (1548-1634), Knight, of Donadea, son of George Aylmer, of Cloncurry, and grandson of Richard Aylmer, of Lyons, built a new tower in Donadea, not fully completed until 1624 and it is now the oldest part of the Castle. 
In 1626, he repaired the medieval Church in Donadea and built a new extension in which he established his family burial plot. In the extension he also constructed an Altar Tomb monument as a burial memorial for his family. Gerald was titled by the Crown and became the first Baronet of Donadea.
The Aylmers were connected with the various conflicts and rebellions over the next two centuries. During the wars of the 1640s, Sir Andrew, 2nd Baronet (c. 1610-c. 1671), supported the rebels and was imprisoned at the beginning of the war.
Although he was a brother-in-law of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, there were no favours granted to him. The Aylmers rebuilt the castle after it was burned by James Butler’s troops.
In 1689, after the battle of the Boyne, Lady Helen Aylmer, widow of the 3rd Baronet, (born Plunkett, daughter of Luke Plunkett 3rd Earl of Fingall) was in charge of the Castle. She was outlawed due to her support for James II, but she managed to hold on to the Castle and lands under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick.
In 1736, Sir Gerald, 5th Baronet, died leaving an only son FitzGerald who became the 6th Baronet.
He was only one year old when his father died and was subsequently raised by his mother (Ellice or Ellen, daughter of Gerald Aylmer, 2nd Baronet of Balrath, County Meath) and her relatives who were members of the established church. FitzGerald subsequently conformed to the established religion. In 1773, he built a new house in front of the Castle and incorporated the Tower in his new residence.
Gerald, 8th Baronet, held the lands of Donadea between 1816 and 1878 and he is accredited with most of the construction work that is visible in Donadea demesne today. He began his building program in the 1820s by re-routing the roads away from the Castle and the construction of a high wall enclosing the demesne. Gate lodges were then built at all the entrances.
He also built a new grand entrance known as the Lime Avenue.
In 1827 he completely remodelled the front of the Castle which gave it an attractive bow shaped appearance. It has been suggested that he employed the renowned architect Richard Morrison to design this new structure.
The older cabin-type dwellings close to the castle were demolished and new estate houses built at the Range. To the west of the Castle he built an eight acre area of gardens and paddocks, surrounded and sub-divided by walls. In the Castle yard he built dwellings for staff and elaborative farm buildings. He also constructed the artificial lake and the Ice House. Large areas of the demesne were planted and, by the time of his death, Donadea demesne was listed as one of the finest parkland settings in the county.
Outside the demesne he was involved in numerous construction projects including the famous ‘Aylmer Folly’, viz. the Tower on the summit of the hill of Allen. (see ) Sir Gerald’s grandson Justin, 10th Baronet, died unmarried in 1885. His sister Caroline inherited the castle and much of the demesne, while the baronetcy passed to a cousin. Caroline Maria Aylmer, who was the daughter of Sir Gerald George Aylmer, 9th Baronet, was the last Aylmer to live at Donadea. She died in 1935, leaving the estate to the Church of Ireland who, in turn, passed it bequeathed to the Irish state.
The castle remained unoccupied and its roof was removed in the late 1950s.
For more on the Aylmer family, see The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Kildare by Turtle Bunbury & Art Kavanagh (published by Irish Family Names, 2004).
contact: Patricia Orr Tel: 086-2552661 Open: May 1-18, Aug 1-22, Dec 1-20, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, (Irish Georgian Society members free)
7. Griesemount House, Ballitore, Co Kildare– section 482
contact: Katharine Bulbulia Tel: 087-2414556 www.griesemounthouse.ie Open: April 4-8, 25-29, May 3-17, June 7-10, 13-26, July 4-8, 11-15, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child €3
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:
“In 1685, the village of Ballitore on the river Griese in the southern corner of County Kildare became the first planned Quaker village in England and Ireland. The Shackleton family from Yorkshire settled here some decades later and besides establishing wool and corn mills, founded the famous village school in 1726. Thanks to an entry by Mary (née Shackleton) Leadbetter in her ‘Annals of Ballitore’, we know that the first stone of Griesemount House (also known as Ballitore Hill House) was laid on Midsummer Day in 1817. While the three-bay side elevation is symmetrical, the two-bay front façade with the front door under the left window is quite modest, as was often the case with Quaker houses. It was built by George Shackleton, who had grown up in Griesebank House beside the now-ruinous Ballitore Mills on the river just below. He married Hannah Fisher and they raised 13 children in the new house, including the noted botanical artist Lydia Shackleton, the first artist-in-residence at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. One of her first recorded sketches is of the house. The family lived here until the early 20th century; the house then changed hands several times. It was briefly owned and restored by the mother of mezzosoprano Frederica von Stade, and has recently come into new ownership.” 
9. Kildrought House, Celbridge Village, Co. Kildare– section 482
contact: June Stuart Tel: 01-6271206, 087-6168651 Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-3, May 16-31, June 1-3, Aug 11-31, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3, child under 5 years free, school groups €2 per head
See my entry, on its way!
10. Larchill, Kilcock, Co. Kildare– section 482
contact: Michael De Las Casas Tel: 087-2213038 www.larchill.ie Open: May 1-20, 23-31, June 1-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-30, Aug 13-21, 27-28, 10am- 2pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €4, concession for groups
Open during Heritage Week. The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:
“The forebears of the Greenes of Millbrook House in the far south of County Kildare lived at Kilmanaghan Castle and Moorestown Castle [now a ruin] in County Tipperary. A great grandson of the family patriarch Captain Godfrey Greene moved up to settle near Carlow. William Nassau Greene (1714-1781) was a businessman and magistrate, and built a residence known as Kilkea Lodge (c. 1740) adjacent to the ancient Fitzgerald seat at Kilkea Castle, where his descendants are still resident. A younger son, John (1751-1819), who became High Sheriff of Kildare and Captain of the Castledermot Yeomanry, built a neighbouring house at Millbrook with the help of his father. It was completed in 1776 with its attendant mill and millrace off the River Griese, which had replaced an earlier mill in the nearby Kilkea Castle demesne. The house passed through generations of the family until finally the mill ceased operating under Thomas Greene (1843-1900), a poet and author who was made High Sheriff of Kildare in 1895. The house was left by inheritance to one of the cousins from Kilkea Lodge, father of the present owner. Throughout WWII, he had served as a frontline doctor in the 4th Indian Division in North Africa, Italy and Greece, and returned with his wife in 1950 to an utterly neglected house. Millbrook is still in the process of being restored to its former state.” 
contact: Joan Hayden Tel: 01-8722238 Open: Jan 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 8.30am-12.30pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3
16. Steam Museum Lodge Park Heritage Centre, Lodge Park, Straffan, Co. Kildare– section 482
contact: Robert C Guinness Tel: 01-6288412 www.steam-museum.com Open: June 1-6, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, July 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, Aug 1, 3-7, 10-21, 24-28, 31, 2pm-6pm, Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/child/student €5, concession by negotiation
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us about Lodge Park:
“Lodge Park, overlooking a fine stretch of the River Liffey, was built by Hugh Henry who had married his cousin, Lady Anne Leeson from Russborough [daughter of Joseph Leeson 1st Earl of Milltown]. Completed in about 1776, the centre block forms the core of an unusual composition with curved quadrants leading to a pair of two-storey wings, both attached to two further pavilions by curtain walls to form a unique elongated ensemble of five interconnected buildings, “perhaps the most extreme example of the Irish Palladian style.”
Henry’s father was the merchant banker Hugh Henry, who had purchased the entire Straffan estate with 7,000 acres. Lodge Park was long thought to be the last building by Nathaniel Clements, who died in 1777, but has now been attributed to John Ensor. The hipped roof is surrounded by a granite-topped parapet, and the walls are finished in rough cast, with ashlar block quoins and granite window surrounds with detailing. It is Ireland’s best exampe of concatenation, having curtain walls attached to the main house, leading to two pavilions, attached by two gateways to two further buildings. Hugh’s son Arthur built the Victorian walled garden, now beautifully restored and open to the public, as well as the fine gate lodge. The house was bought by the Guinness family in 1948.
The walled garden has been beautifully restored while a disused Victorian church has been re-erected in the grounds to house a magnificent Steam Museum with early inventor’s models, scientific engineering models and historic works of mechanical art. The Power Hall displays six huge stationary steam engines, which are run on special occasions.” https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Lodge%20Park
Places to stay, County Kildare:
1. Balyna, Moyvalley, Co Kildare – weddings, accommodation
“Balyna House lies to the south of Moyvalley Bridge over the Grand Canal, about half way between Enfield and Kinnegad on the old Dublin — Galway road. The house lies in the centre of the estates 500 acres. Balyna Estate was granted in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I to the O’Moore family because they had lost their land in Laois and were reinstated in Balyna.
Major Ambrose O’Ferrall married Letitia More in 1796. Their eldest son Richard More O’Ferrall was born in 1797. [ I don’t think this is correct. I believe that Letitia More married Richard O’Ferrall (1729-1790) and that their son was Ambrose More O’Ferrall who married Ann Baggot daughter of John Baggot of Castle Baggot, Rathcoole. Richard More O’Ferrall (1797-1880) was their son]. He is reputed for having been responsible for the erection of the Celtic cross which now stands to the rear of the house. It is said that this Cross, along with another was transported from Europe, the two being encased in wooden crates and towed behind the ship on a barge. Legend has it that one was lost at sea, but its twin survives to this day.
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 30. [More O’Ferrall] “The ancestral home of the O’More family, the land having been granted to them by Eliz I as a small compensation for their forfeited territories in Laois… A new house was built 1815, which was burnt 1878; this was replaced by the present house, built 1880s. It is slightly Italianate, with a Mansard roof carried on a bracket cornice; of 2 storeys with a dormered attic. Entrance front with two 3 sided bows and a single-storey Ionic portico, 5 by garden front with pediment, the windows on either side being larger than those in the centre. Imposing staircase with handrail of decorative ironwork; ceiling of staircase hall has modillion cornice. Chapel in garden. Sold 1960s, subsequently owned by Bewleys Oriental Cafe Ltd” 
The website continues: “The first real record of any house dates from 1815 when Ambrose built a large mansion. That Georgian house was burned down and replaced in the 1880’s by the present Italianate mansion.
The estate was a refuge for bishops and priests for centuries and Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests here in the year 1678 — 1680. For this loyalty, the family was granted Papal permission to build a private Chapel on the estate (located to the rear of the house) and up to approximately 1914 Sunday Mass was offered. It was only used intermittently after that, with the last occasion being in the summer of 1959.
The estate remained in the More O’Ferrall family until May 1960 when it was sold to the Bewley family (of Café fame). The wonderful milk and cream in the Cafes came from the pedigree Jersey herd at Balyna. In 1984 the estate was sold to Justin Keating; it was sold again in 1990-1991 to George Grant. Moyvalley was developed into a Hotel & Golf Resort in 2007.
Balyna House consists of 10 luxurious ensuite bedrooms, 3 reception rooms to cater for up to 100 guests, Balyna Bar and Cellar Bar. The house is available exclusively for private events and weddings.
In 2014 the resort was purchased by the late Oliver Brady (well-known horse trainer from Co. Monaghan) with his business partner a well know entrepreneur Rita Shah owner of Shabra Recycling Plastic’s Group, Thai business woman Jane Tripipatkul and her son Mark McCarthy who are based in London.
It is likely that several Irish and European military campaigns were discussed and argued over at Balyna, as apart from the fierce-some O’More’s and the well documented Irish battles in which they took part, several later generations saw service in European armies. All three sons of Richard and Letitia O’Ferrall saw service abroad. The eldest, Ambrose, and his youngest brother, Charles, rose to the rank of Major in the Royal Sardinian Army, while the middle brother, James attained the rank of Major General in the Austrian Hohenzollern Army.“
Incidentally, there was a Bagot family of “Castle Baggot” in Rathcoole, and neither son had children so all the Bagot property, which included land around Smithfield in Dublin and extensive property in County Carlow, passed to the daughter, Ann, who married the above-mentioned Ambrose More O’Ferrall.
“As a digression, it is worth noting that Rory O’ More’s eldest daughter, Anne, married Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan and famous military leader. His father in law was the man behind the Irish Rebellion of 1641.
King James had adopted the policy of remodelling the Irish army so as to turn it from a Protestant-led force to a Roman Catholic led one, and Sarsfield, whose family were Roman Catholics, was selected to assist in this reorganisation. Colonel Sarsfield went to Ireland with Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell , who was appointed commander-in-chief by the king.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 31. “A tower-house with a long plain 2 storey wing attached. In 1814, the residence of Jos Atkinson, in 1837, of Capt Robinson.”
The website gives a timeline:
“1288: Nicholas Barby built the original Castle towards the end of the 13th Century on the land which was originally owned by the Great Norman family the Fitzgerald’s.
1310: The Castle was built as a fortress to protect the village and people of Barberstown from the attack of the rebellious Ui Faolain tribesmen who tried to burn the town (among others) in 1310. It has traditionally found itself in the middle of political struggle and local wars which generally resulted in change of ownership.
Retaining Ownership: Some of its previous owners have gone to extreme lengths to retain ownership. Just how far some went is illustrated by the story of the body that is said to be interred in the tower of the Castle Keep (the original part of the Castle). His fate can be explained by reading the lease on the Castle at the time in which was written that the lease would expire when he was buried underground (ie. his death). The ending of a lease normally resulted in an increase in rent so after the man’s death he was buried in the tower above the earth which ensured the family continued to hold the lease to the Castle!
The walls of the Castle Keep walls slope inwards so as to prevent an enemy getting out of range by closing up to the building. Ironically however the rooms on the upper floors of the Castle are larger than those on the ground level as their walls are somewhat thinner.
Penal Times: The neighbouring village of Straffan is named after St. Straffan, one of the early sixth century missionaries. Its close linkages with the local town and people were proven when an underground tunnel from the Church in Straffan to the Castle was found in 1996 during renovations. A ‘Priest’s Hole’ can be also found in the Castle which was originally made to protect the priests of the town during Penal Times.
1630: William Sutton of one of the most important families in the area owned the property. The population of Barberstown at the time was 36!
1689: Lord Kingston [I’m not sure who they mean here – Robert King (d. 1693) was the 2nd Baron of Kingston at the time] had his ownership confiscated by Earl of Tyrconnell after the accession to power of James 11 of England. It was around this time that it fell into the less glamorous hands of the Commissioners of the Revenue who let it out to a Roger Kelly for £102 annual rent in the late 1600s.
1703: It was purchased by Bartholomew Van Homreigh in 1703 for £1,033 the sixth owner in six years. At the time the property was 335 acres. Van Homreigh had been mayor of Dublin in 1697 and his greatest ‘claim to fame’ lies in the fact that he was the father of Vanessa of whom Swift wrote so passionately about. He sold it to the Henrys who were prone to excessive spending at the time….
1830: The Henry’s had no option but to sell it to Mr. Hugh Barton [1766-1854] who completed the last wing of the house in the 1830s which added to the present day unique architectural status of Barberstown. He is also famed for constructing Straffan House known today at the K-Club.
1900: As the property became too expensive to retain as a residence, the Huddlestons who owned Barberstown Castle in the 1900s sold it to Mrs. Norah Devlin who converted it into a hotel in 1971. Barberstown was one of the first great Irish country houses to display its splendour to the outside world when it opened as a hotel in 1971. It has maintained the elegance of design over the centuries by sympathetically blending its Victorian and Elizabethan extensions with the original Castle Keep.
1979: The acclaimed Musician, Singer, Songwriter & Record Producer Mr. Eric Clapton CBE purchased the property in 1979 and lived in the property until 1987. Music sessions took place in the Green Room and original Castle Keep during the time Eric lived here with many famous Rockstars from all over the world coming here to stay.
1987 to Present Day: Upon purchasing Barberstown Castle from Eric Clapton in 1987, this beautiful historic house has since been transformed from a 10-bedroom property with three bathrooms to a 55-bedroom Failte Ireland approved 4 Star Hotel. They are a proud member of Ireland’s Blue Book of properties and Historic Hotels of Europe.
Since 1288 Barberstown has had 37 owners all of whom had the foresight to protect its heritage and character. Look out for the names of all the owners of Barberstown Castle painted on the bedroom doors of the hotel!”
3. Batty Langley Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare€€
One of the entrances to the Castletown demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley (1696-1751) 1741. Batty Langley was an English garden designer who produced a number of engraved “Gothick” designs for garden buildings and seats. He was named “Batty” after his father’s patron, David Batty. He also published a wide range of architectural books.
The website tells us that the name ‘Carton’ comes from the old Irish name ‘Baile an Cairthe’ or Land of the Pillar Stone.
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Carton (1988):
p. 60. “(Talbot de Malahide, B/PB; Fitzgerald, Leinster, D/PB; Nall-Cain, sub Brocket, P/BP) The lands of Carton always belonged to the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare, whose chief castle was nearby, at Maynooth; in C17, however, they were leased to a junior branch of the Talbots of Malahide, who built the original house there.”
The Carton website tells us that the lands of Carton first came into the ownership of the FitzGerald family shortly after Maurice FitzGerald (d. 1176) played an active role in the capture of Dublin by the Normans in 1170 and was rewarded by being appointed Lord of Maynooth, an area covering townlands which include what is now Carton. The website goes on to tell us:
“His son became Baron Offaly in 1205 [Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, d. 1203] and his descendant John FitzGerald [5th Baron Offaly, d. 1316], became Earl of Kildare in 1315. Under the eighth earl, [Gerald FitzGerald (1455-1513)] the FitzGerald family reached pre-eminence as the virtual rulers of Ireland between 1477 and 1513.
However, the eighth earl’s grandson, the eloquently titled Silken Thomas [the 10th Earl of Kildare] was executed in 1537, with his five uncles, for leading an uprising against the English. Although the FitzGeralds subsequently regained their land and titles, they did not regain their position at the English Court until the 18th century when Robert, the 19th Earl of Kildare, became a noted statesman.“
It surprises me that after Silken Thomas’s rebellion that his brother was restored to the title and became the 11th Earl on 23 February 1568/69, restored by Act of Parliament, about thirty years after his brother was executed.
It was William Talbot, Recorder of the city of Dublin, who leased the lands from Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Kildare (1547-1612). William Talbot was created 1st Baronet Talbot, of Carton, Co. Kildare on 4 February 1622/23. He was MP for Kildare in 1613-1615. He built a house at Carton. His son Richard was created 1st Duke of Tyrconnell in 1689 by King James II, after he had been James’s Groom of the Bedchamber. He fought in the Battle of the Boyne and was loyal to the Stuarts, so was stripped of his honours when William of Orange (William III) came to power.
Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell (1630-1691), courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “After the attainder of Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, James II’s Lord Deputy of Ireland, Carton was forfeited to the crown and sold 1703 to Major-Gen Richard Ingoldsby, Master-General of the Ordnance and a Lord Justice of Ireland; who added a two storey nine bay pedimented front to the old house, with wings joined to the main block by curved sweeps, in the Palladian manner. In 1739 Thomas Ingoldsby sold the reversion of the lease back to 19th Earl of Kildare [Robert FitzGerald (1675-1744)], who decided to make Carton his principal seat and employed Richard Castle to enlarge and improve the house.“
Richard Ingoldsby (c.1664/5–1712) was the son of George, who came to Ireland with the Cromwellian army in 1651 and became a prominent landowner in Limerick. Richard fought in the Williamite army. The Dictionary of Irish Biography tells us that Richard Ingoldsby purchased Carton House and demesne in Co. Kildare for £1,800 in 1703 from the Talbot family. He also owned a town house in Mary St., Dublin. He married Frances, daughter of Col. James Naper of Co. Meath; they had at least one son, Henry Ingoldsby (d. 1731). Henry lived the high life in London and Carton had to be sold to pay his debts in 1738, and he sold it back to Robert Fitzgerald the 19th Earl of Kildare.
Robert FitzGerald the 19th Earl of Kildare married Mary O’Brien, daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin.
Bence-Jones continues: “Castle’s rebuilding obliterated all traces of the earlier house, except for a cornice on what is now the entrance front and the unusually thick interior walls. He added a storey, and lengthened the house by adding a projecting bay at either end; he also refaced it. He gave the entrance front a pediment, like its predecessor; but the general effect of the three storey 11 bay front, which has a Venetian window in the middle storey of each of its end bays, is one of massive plainness. As before, the house was joined to flanking office wings; but instead of simple curved sweeps, there were now curved colonnades.”
The Archiseek website tells us:
“In 1739, the 19th Earl of Kildare employed Richard Castle to build the existing house replacing an earlier building. Castle (originally Cassels) was responsible for many of the great Irish houses, including Summerhill, Westport, Powerscourt House and in 1745, Leinster House, which he also built for the FitzGeralds.“
There is a projecting bay on either side of the garden front facade with a Venetian window in the middle storey of either projecting bay. According to Mark Bence-Jones, these were designed by Richard Castle. The flanking wings were joined initially by curved colonnades, later replaced by straight connecting links.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The work was completed after the death of 19th Earl for his son [James (1722-1773)], 20th Earl, who later became 1st Duke of Leinster and was the husband of the beautiful Emily, Duchess of Leinster [Emily Lennox, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond] and the father of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the United Irish Leader.”
They certainly were a rebellious family! It is said that this saved the house from being burnt by Irish rebels in 1920s, as a portrait of Edward Fitzgerald the United Irishman was shown to the would-be arsonists. Emily Lennox’s sister, Louisa, married Thomas Conolly and lived across the parkland in Castletown House. Stella Tillyard writes of the life and times of the sisters, Emily and Louisa and it was made into a mini series for the BBC, entitled “The Aristocrats” which was filmed on site at Carton House. I’d love to read the book and see the movie! She also wrote about Edward FitzGerald.
Emilia Olivia, Duchess of Leinster (née Usher St. George), (1759-1798), wife of the 2nd Duke of Leinster Date 1780 Engraver William Dickinson, English, 1746-1823 After Joshua Reynolds, English, 1723-1792, courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “3rd Duke, Lord Edward’s nephew, [Augustus Frederick Fitzgerald (1791-1874)] employed Sir Richard Morrison to enlarge and remodel the house ca 1815, having sold Leinster House in Dublin. Morrison replaced the curved colonnades with straight connecting links containing additional rooms behind colonnades of coupled Doric columns, so as to form a longer enfilade along what was now the garden front; for he moved the entrance to the other front [the north side], which is also of 11 bays with projecting end bays, but has no pediment. The former music room on this side of the house became the hall; it is unassuming for the hall of so important a house, with plain Doric columns at each end. On one side is a staircase hall by Morrison, again very unassuming; indeed, with the exception of the great dining room, Morrison’s interiors at Carton lack his customary neo-Classical opulence.”
Archiseek continues: “Carton remained in the control of the FitzGeralds until the early 1920s when the 7th Duke sold the estate and house to pay off gambling debts of £67,500. In 2000, Carton was redeveloped as a “premier golf resort and hotel”. A hotel was added to the main house, and the estate’s eighteenth-century grounds and landscaping were converted into two golf courses.” 
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “Beyond the staircase, on the ground floor, is the Chinese bedroom, where Queen Victoria slept when she stayed here; it remains as it was when decorated 1759, with Chinese paper and a Chinese Chippendale giltwood overmantel. The other surviving mid-C18 interior is the saloon, originally the dining room, in the garden front, dating from 1739 and one of the most beautiful rooms in Ireland. It rises through two storeys and has a deeply coved ceiling of Baroque plasterwork by the Francini brothers representing “the Courtship of the Gods”; the plasterwork, like the decoration on the walls, being picked out in gilt. At one end of the room is an organ installed 1857, its elaborate Baroque case designed by Lord Gerald Fitzgerald [1821-1886], a son of the 3rd Duke.“
“The door at this end of the saloon leads, by way of an anteroom, to Morrison’s great dining room, which has a screen of Corinthian columns at each end and a barrel-vaulted ceiling covered in interlocking circles of oak leaves and vine leaves.
“The demesne of Carton is a great C18 landscape park, largely created by 1st Duke and Emily Duchess; “Capability” Brown was consulted, but professed himself too busy to come to Ireland. By means of a series of dams, a stream has been widened into a lake and a broad serpentine river; there is a bridge by Thomas Ivory, built 1763, an ornamental dairy of ca 1770 and a shell house. Various improvements were carried out to the gardens toward the end of C19 by Hermione, wife of 5th Duke, who was as famous a beauty in her day as Emily Duchess was in hers; she was also the last Duchess of Leinster to reign at Carton, for her eldest son, 6th Duke, died young and unmarried, and her youngest son, 7th Duke, was unable to live here having, as a young man, signed away his expectations to the “50 Shilling Tailor” Sir Henry Mallaby-Deeley, in return for ready money and an annuity. As a result of this unhappy transaction, Carton had eventually to be sold. It was bought 1949 by 2nd Lord Brocket, and afterwards became the home of his younger son, Hon David Nall-Cain, who opened it to the public. It was sold once again in 1977.”
6. Castletown Gate Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare€ for 3
“The Village at Lyons, County Kildare is often described as a restoration but to be frank it is more a recreation. By the time the late Tony Ryan bought the estate in 1996, the buildings beside the Grand Canal, which had once included a forge, mill and dwelling houses, were in a state of almost total ruin. Therefore the work undertaken here in the years prior to his death in 2007 involved a great deal of architectural salvage, much of it brought from France, although some Irish elements were incorporated such as a mid-19th century conservatory designed by Richard Turner, originally constructed for Ballynegall, County Westmeath. Today the place primarily operates as a wedding venue, providing an alluring stage set for photographs but bearing little resemblance to what originally stood here.”
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Lyons:
p. 196. “(Alymer/IFR; Lawless, Cloncurry, B/PB1929; Winn, sub St. Oswalds, B/PB) Originally the seat of the Aylmer family. Sold 1796 by Michael Aylmer to Nicholas Lawless,the 1st Lord Cloncurry, son of a wealthy blanket manufacturer, who had a new house built in 1797, to the design of an architect named Grace.
Three storey block with a curved bow on either side of its entrance front, joined to two-storey wings by curved sweeps. About 1801, shortly after his release from the Tower of London, where he had been imprisoned for two years on account of his advanced political views and friendship wiht some of the United Irishmen, the 2nd Lord Cloncurry hired Richard Morrison to undertake improvements and alterations to his father’s house, work continuing till 1805.
During this period, Lord Cloncurry was in Italy, collecting antiques and modern sculpture for the house; he also acquired three antique columns of red Egyptian granite from the Golden House of Nero, afterwards at the Palazzo Farnese, which were used as three of the four columns in a single-storey portico at Lyons, with a triangular pediment surmounted by a free-standing coat-of-arms.The other notable alteration made to the exterior of the house at this time was the substitution of straight colonnades for the curved sweeps linking the main block to the winds, a change similar to that which Morrison made a few years later at Carton. Also the main block and wings were faced with rusticated ashlar up to the height of one storey on the entrnace front. The hall was given a frieze of ox-skulls and tripods based on the Temple of Fortuna Virilis in Rome, doorcases with fluted entablatures and overdoor panels with classical reliefs; a pair of free-standing antique marble Corinthian columns were set against one wall, and vaarous items from Lord Cloncurry’s collection fo sculpture disposed around the other walls. The walls of the dining room and music rom were painted with Irish waterfalls – and other enchanting decoration by Gaspare Gabrielli, an artist brought by Lord Cloncurry from Rome. The bow-ended dining room was also decorated with a wall painting, of Dublin Bay; and was adorned with reliefs of the story of Daedalus.”
Bence-Jones continues: “The seven-bay garden front was left fairly plain, but before it a vast formal garden was laid out, with abundant statuary and urns and an antique column supporting a statue of Venus half way along the broad central walk leading from the house to what is the largest artificial lake in Ireland. Beyond the lake rises the wooded Hill of Lyons.
The Grand Canal passes along one side of the demesne, and there is a handsome Georgian range of buildings beside it which would have been Lord Cloncurry’s private canal station. A daughter of 3rd Lord Cloncurry was Emily Lawless, the poet, a prominent figure in the Irish Revival of the early yars of the present century. Her niece, Hon Kathleen Lawless, bequeathed the Lyons estate to a cousin, Mr G M V Winn, who sold it about 1962 to University College, Dublin, which has erected a handsome pedimented arch from Browne’s Hill, Co Carlow at one of the entrances to the demesne.”
Art Kavanagh’s book on the Landed Gentry and Aristocracy: Meath, volume 1, tells us more about the Aylmers of Balrath. During the reign of Henry VI, Richard Aylmer of Lyons was a Keeper of the Peace for both Dublin and Kildare. He was in charge of protecting the settler community from attack by the neighbouring O’Toole and O’Byrne septs. The family rose to become one of the most prominent families in Meath and Kildare and key figures in the Dublin administration. Before the end of the 16th century they had established two independent branches at Donadea in Kildare and Dollardstown in County Meath.
The first Aylmer of real significance, Art Kavanagh tells us, was John Aylmer (c. 1359 – c. 1415) who married Helen Tyrell of Lyons, an heiress, at the end of the 14th century, and so the family acquired Lyons. [p. 1, Kavanagh, published by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, 2005]
9. The K Club, Straffan House, County Kildare
Straffan House, the K Club, courtesy of the K Club Resort, 2005.
The Straffan estate formed part of the original land grant bestowed upon Maurice Fitzgerald by Strongbow for his role in the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169. In 1679, the property was purchased by Richard Talbot, the Duke of Tyrconnell who commanded the Jacobite army in Ireland during the war between James II and William of Orange. Tyrconnell’s estates were forfeited to the crown in the wake of the Williamite victory. In about 1710, the property was purchased by Hugh Henry, a prosperous merchant banker, who also owned Lodge Park. He married Anne Leeson, a sister of Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown. Straffan passed to their son, Joseph, who travelled in Europe and collected art. In April 1764 he married Lady Catherine Rawdon, eldest daughter of the 1st Earl of Moira.
Their son John Joseph (1777-1846) married Lady Emily Fitzgerald, the 23-year-old daughter of the 2nd Duke of Leinster. He was an extravagant spender and had to sell Straffan in 1831.
Hugh Barton (1766-1854) acquired Straffan House from the Henry family in 1831 and his descendents remained there until the 1960s. The Barton family were part of the Barton & Guestier winemakers. Hugh soon commissioned Dublin architect, Frederick Darley, to build a new house, based on Madame Dubarry’s great Château at Louveciennes to the west of Paris.  The house passed through many hands subsequently.
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Straffan House (1988):
p. 266. “(Barton/IFR) An imposing C19 house in a style combining Italianate and French chateau. Main block of two storeys with an attic of pedimented dormers in a mansard roof; seven bay entrance front, the centre bay breking forward and having a tripartite window above a single-storey balustraded Corinthian portico. Entablatures on console brackets over ground-floor windows; triangular pediments over windows above and segmental pediment of central window. Decorated band between storeys; balustraded roof parapet; chimneystacks with recessed panels and tooth decoration. The main block prolonged at one side by a lower two storey wing, from which rises a tall and slender campanile tower, with two tiers of open belvederes. Formal garden with elaborate Victorian fountain. Capt F.B. Barton sold Straffan ca 1949 to John Ellis. It was subsequently the home of Kevin McClory, the film producer, and later owned by Mr Patrick Gallagher, who restored the main block to its original size.”
10. Kilkea Castle, Castledermot, Kildare – hotel
Kilkea Castle County Kildare by Elena on flickr constant commons 2005.
p. 167. “(Fitzgerald, Leinster, D/PB) A medieval castle of the FitzGeralds, Earls of Kildare, especially associated with C16 11th Earl of Kildare, the most famous “wizard Earl.” [Gerald (1525-1585)] After Carton became the family seat in C18, it was leased to a succession of tenants; one of them being the Dublin silk merchant, Thomas Reynolds, friend of Lord Edward Fitzgerald through whom he became a United Irishman, only to turn informer when he realised the full aims of the movement. His role as informer did not prevent the unhappy Reynolds from having the castle, which he had only recently done up in fine style, sacked by the military; who tored up the floorboards and tore down the panelling on the pretext of searching for arms. Subsequent tenants caused yet more damage and there was a serious fire 1849; after which the third Duke of Leinster resumed possession of the castle and restored and enlarged it as a dower-house for his family. The work was sympathetically done, so that the tall grey castle keeps its air of medieval strength with its bartizans and its massively battered stone walls; though its battlements and its rather too regularly placed trefoil headed windows are obviously C19. AT one side of the caslte a long, low, gabled office range was added, in a restrained Tudor Revival style. The interior is entirely of 1849, for the lofty top storey, where the principal rooms were originally situated, was divided to provide a storey extra. The ceilings are mostly beamed, with corbels bearing the Leinster saltire. In 1880s the beautiful Hermione, Duchess of Leinster (then Marchioness of Kildare) lived here with her amiable but not very inspiring husband [Gerald the 5th Duke of Leinster]; finding the life not much to her taste, she composed the couplet “Kilkea Castle and Lord Kildare/are more than any woman can bear.” After the sale of Carton 1949, Kilkea became the seat of the 8th and Present Duke of Leinster (then Marquess of Kildare), but it was sold ca 1960 and is now an hotel.”
11. Leixlip Manor hotel (formerly Liffey Valley House hotel, formerlySt. Catherine’s Park), Leixlip, Co Kildare
The house that stood before the current Manor House was taller and was tenanted by the Earl of Lanesborough. Then in 1792, it was occupied by David La Touche, of the Huguenot banking family. It shortly thereafter burned to the ground and in around 1798 a new house, also called St Catherine’s Park, was built in the same townland to the design of Francis Johnston; it is now Leixlip Manor Hotel & Gardens.
Rt Hon. David La Touche of Marlay (1729-1817) Date c.1800 by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Irish, 1740-1808, courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.
12. Martinstown House, Kilcullen, Co Kildare – accommodation
Martinstown House 2012, photograph courtesy of Martinstown House on flickr constant commons.
featured in Great Irish Houses. Forewards by Desmond FitzGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008.
p. 232. “Martinstown House is one of the finest cottage ornee style buildings in Ireland today. Originally part of the huge estates of the Dukes of Leinster, this fine house was commissioned by Robert Burrowes [d. 1850, son of Kildare Dixon Borrowes, 5th Baronet] and completed by the Burrowes family between 1832 and 1840, when decorative effects such as thatched roofs, undressed stonework and verandahs made of free growing branches were being incorporated into rural Irish dwellings. While experts feel the house was built in 1833, it may have been started years earlier, with many of the outbuildings including stables and also the walled gardens dating to some time between 1815 and 1820.” The book’s authors add that Decimus Burton was involved in the creation of this house.
“Beautiful self catering, Georgian Manor centrally located in the hearth of Kildare in a very private setting. De Burgh Manor comprises of 15 bedrooms all ensuite. The ground floor consists of a double reception room, drawing room, dining room, bar, library , breakfast room and kitchen. Situated on c. 6 acres of grounds overlooking the River Barrow.“
The website also tells us about the history:
“De Burgh Manor was built circa 1709 [the National Inventory says it was built around 1780] by Thomas Burgh [1670-1730] of Oldtown [built ca 1709 by Thomas Burgh (1670-1730), MP, Engineer and Surveyor-General for Ireland, to his own design. The centre block was burned 1950s. A house has now been made out of one of the wings. He also designed Kildrought house, a Section 482 property] for his brother William Burgh later known as Captain William De Burgh and who became Comptroller and Auditor General for Ireland. Thomas Burgh was Barracks Overseer for Ireland from 1701 and was also responsible for [building] – the Library at Trinity College Dublin, Collins Barracks Dublin – now a museum – and Dr Steeven Hospital Dublin.
William De Burgh was born in 1667 and had a son, Thomas, and a daughter, Elisabeth. Thomas, born in 1696, eventually became a Member of Parliament for Lanesboro, Co. Longford. Freeman of Athy Borough and Sovereign of Athy, in 1755 he married Lady Ann Downes, daughter of the Bishop of Cork & Ross. Her mother was a sister to Robert Earl of Kildare. Her brother, Robert Downes, was the last MP for Kildare in 1749 and was Sovereign of Athy.
Thomas had two sons, William and Ulysses [Ulysses was actually the grandson of Thomas, son of another Thomas]. William born in 1741 went on to represent Athy as an MP in Parliament between 1768 and 1776. A monument to his memory by Sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott, a statue of faith, which depicts him with a book in one hand and a scroll in the other and stands in York Minster. He wrote two books on religion and faith.
Ulysses, born in 1788succeeded to the title of Lord Downes [2nd Baron Downes of Aghanville] on the death of his cousin William Downes who was made Lord Chief Justice in 1803 and created Lord Downes on his retirement in 1822. It was Ulysses De Burgh who presented the Town Hall Clock to Athy in 1846 and it was he who had the wings added to Bert House. [Mark Bence-Jones writes of Bert: “enlarged early in C19 by the addition of two storey Classical overlapping wings, of the same height as the centre block; which is of three storeys over basement with two seven bay fronts.”]
Ulysses’ daughter Charlotte was the last of the De Burgh’s to call Bert House home with her husband Lt. General James Colbourne [2nd Baron Seaton of Seaton, co. Devon]. Charlotte and James came to Bert House in 1863 as Lord and Lady Seaton after the death of Lord Downes. It was sold by them in 1909 to Lady Geoghegan who then sold it onto her cousin, Major Quirke.“
2. Firmount, Clane, County Kildare – whole house or weddings
“Firmount House is a unique and stunning venue just outside Clane in County Kildare, only 40minutes from Dublin city centre. Lovingly restored by the owners, the house is known for flexibility and creativity and is now open for weddings, private parties, film shoots, yoga retreats and corporate events. Enjoy visiting the Firmount website and see for yourself the lifelong journey these restoration warriors have taken to provide you with the perfect location in a wonderful, natural setting.
This fabulous house consists of a sitting room, breakfast room and dining room downstairs reached from a large hallway, alongside a commercial kitchen and butlers pantry. The first floor consists of seven large and sumptuous bedrooms – five doubles and two twin rooms with plenty of room for two travel cots which are also provided. There are also six bathrooms. Heated by oil fired radiators, there are also two stoves in the main entertaining space.
“Firmount House has a colourful history dating from the 13th century when there was reputed to be a fortified house on the current site. The Down Survey of 1655 seems to show a house on the land (then known as Keapock). In the 18th century the house was owned by the Warburtons and sat on extensive grounds. The story of the current house really begins in 1878 when Hugh Henry Snr having married his cousin Emily Henry (of Lodge Park, site of the current K-club) bought Firmount house and renovated it extensively. It seems he took what was a Georgian house, wrapped it in concrete (one of the first houses of it’s kind) and added a Victorian wing to the South.
The estate consisted of 409 acres at that point. Hugh Henry’s son, imaginatively named Hugh Jr, inherited the house in 1888 and lived there until 1917. It is rumoured that his wife, Eileen, had nightmares of the house going down in flames – although given it was made of concrete, we think she would have been ok. The house became a WWI hospital in 1917 and 390 soldiers were treated there until 1919, with no deaths registered – thank goodness for that. However the next decades were not so lucky for the house. In 1929 the house was bought by Kildare County Council and turned into a TB sanatorium. It ran as such until 1961. There are local stories of movies being run in the ballroom for patients with the now Mayor of Clane, at the projector. And of patients sitting on the elevated banks at the very front of the house on the roadside, watching life on the road go by but being unable to participate. 1964 brought the purchase of the house by the Department of Defence who ran it as a Control Centre for Nuclear Tracking and named it Section Seven Regional Control.
Here things get really interesting as the basement of the house was intended to house senior officials, media and communications personel in the event of nuclear fall out. It is rumoured the Taoiseach (Irish prime-minister) was supposed to have a bunker on site and the house can still be found on Russian nuclear maps! This picture shows one of the several signs found in the house. The downside of government and county council ownership is that many original period features were lost through ignorance, neglect and the reinforcement of windows, floors, porticos and doors with concrete.
The current “madthings” bought the house in 2012 with the aim of slowly bringing Firmount house back to life, window by window and floor by floor aswell as bringing Firmount forward into a gathering place with a welcome for all.“
3. Griesemount House, County Kildare, whole house rentals– see above
 Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
“Original home to the Overend family, today Airfield House is an interactive tour and exhibition which brings visitors closer to this admired Dublin family. Here you’ll view family photographs, letters, original clothing and display cases with information on their prize-winning Jersey herd, vintage cars and their much loved Victorian toys and books.
We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few.
Every Wednesday through to Sunday at 11.30am and then again at 2.30pm we offer visitors guided house tours.“
Postal address Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow contact: Alfred Cochrane Tel: 087-2447006 www.corkelodge.com Open: June 21-Sept 8, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €8
“The house was built in the 1820’s to designs by William Farrell as an Italianate seaside villa. A Mediterranean grove was planted with a Cork tree as its centrepiece. In the remains of this romantic wilderness, the present owner, architect Alfred Cochrane, designed a garden punctuated by a collection of architectural follies salvaged from the demolition of Glendalough House, an 1830’s Tudor revival mansion, built for the Barton family by Daniel Robertson who designed Powerscourt Gardens.”
“There is more fun at Corke Lodge” writes Jane Powers, The Irish Times, where ” the ‘ancient garden’ of box parterres is punctuated by melancholy gothic follies, and emerges eerily from the dense boskage of evergreen oaks, myrtles, and a writhing cork oak tree with deeply corrugated bark. Avenues of cordyline palms and tree ferns, dense planting of sword-leaved New Zealand flax, and clumps of whispering bamboos lend a magical atmosphere to this rampantly imaginative creation.”
contact: Selina Guinness Tel: 01-4957483 www.selinaguinness.com Open: Jan 6-10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, Feb 4, 7, 11, 14, 28, Mar 7, 11, 14, 25, 28, May 3-6, 10-13, 17-22, 24-29, June 8-11, 13, 17-19, 21-23, Aug 13-21, Jan, May, June, 10am-2pm, Feb, Mar, 2.30pm-6.30pm, National Heritage Week, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP €8 student/child free, Members of An Taisce and The Irish Georgian Society €6
Open days 3rd Friday & Sat of months Feb – October
“Tyrrelstown House & Garden is set in 10 hactre of parkland in Fingal, North County Dublin, just minutes from the M50, off the N3 (Navan Road). There are 2 walled gardens, and an arboretum with woodland walks including 2 hectares of wild flower & pictorial meadows. Lots of spring bulbs and cyclamen adorn this lovely sylvan setting.
The walled gardens are over 600 years old and include a wide range of alkaline and acid loving plants and shrubs and include an organic vegetable garden.
The Wilkinson family arrived here in 1895 & have been farming the land ever since.“
The website tells us that the word “clontarf” means “meadow of the bull” and that the sound of the waves on the shore sounded like the bellowing of a bull. The National Inventory describes the castle:
“Detached country house, built 1836-7, comprising square-plan single-bay four-stage pastiche tower house with curved corners to east end with taller tower to rear (north) of this, both with battered bases, and having complex-plan gabled four-bay two and three-storey Tudor Revival house attached to west end, having two-bay porch and two-storey canted-bay windows with crenellations to front elevation, gabled breakfront and canted-bay window with crenellations to west elevation, extensive recent extensions to rear (north) and east elevations. Now in use as hotel.” 
The summary appraisal of the castle tells us:
“William Vitruvius Morrison was commissioned by J.E.V. Vernon to rehabilitate Clontarf Castle in 1835. The original castle was built by the Knights Templar and added to over several centuries by the Vernon family, who were granted land in Clontarf, having arrived with Cromwell in 1649. The castle was demolished and rebuilt in its entirety in 1836-7. It was designed in the Gothic Revival style and uses the architectural vocabulary of medieval castle architecture to impress the viewer and to refer to the medieval origins of Clontarf Castle. The numerous gables and the two towers create a number of interesting viewing angles, and were purposely designed to imitate a building gradually developed over centuries, with a pastiche medieval tower house contrasting with the more domestically scaled house block to the west. It was notable at the time for its visibility from the surrounding area. The well carved stonework is testament to the craftwork of nineteenth-century stonemasons. It retains richly decorative interior features, including joinery and plasterwork ceilings.”
The National Inventory entry continues the description: “Crenellated parapets with corner turrets and machicolations to tower, with pitched natural slate roofs to house having carved limestone copings and finials to raised barges, carved limestone octagonal-plan chimneystacks, and cast-iron rainwater goods. Snecked cut limestone walls to towers and ashlar limestone walls to house, with carved limestone stringcourses, painted carved shields to gables, carved Portland stone shield and date-stone to porch. Round-headed loops to towers and round-headed window openings to front tower, some paired, having carved limestone surrounds with chevron motif and leaded windows. Tudor-arch window openings to bay windows to house, having carved limestone surrounds, transoms and mullions, and leaded lights. Square-headed and Tudor-arch window openings with carved limestone label-mouldings, and timber cinquefoil and Tudor-arch leaded lights. Round-headed tripartite window openings under shared carved limestone label-moulding to porch, having leaded lights. Pointed arch door opening to porch, having carved limestone roll mouldings to surround, flanked by octagonal-plan piers with richly carved Portland stone capitals, double-leaf timber doors. Tudor-arch door opening to west elevation of house, having chamfered reveals and timber panelled door. Recent square-headed door opening to west elevation, with double-leaf timber doors. Round-headed door opening to west elevation of rear tower, having carved limestone surround. Retains extensive interior features, including plasterwork ceilings, timber wainscoting and joinery, fireplaces and encaustic tiled floors. Set in own grounds with carpark to front, entrance from south from tree-lined approach, from Castle Avenue.”
2. Finnstown, Lucan, Co Dublin – hotel – Closing December 6th 2022.
The website does not tell us about the history. The National Inventory describes the house:
“Detached seven-bay two-storey over basement Victorian former country house, c.1865, now in use as a hotel. Timber sash windows in segmental-arched openings with moulded dressings, decorative keystone and bracketed stone sills. Two-storey central breakfront with projecting flat-roofed porch having parapet. Timber panelled door with fanlight and flanking windows, all with round-headed dressed arches with prominent keystones. Smooth rendered walls with raised quoins and moulded string and eaves courses. Three-sided two-storey projecting bay on north-west elevation with doorway leading to ornamental foot bridge over basement access.” 
Boutique accommodation. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us it is a terraced double-pile three-bay four-storey over basement former townhouse, built c. 1800. It has round-headed door opening with brick voussoirs, engaged Ionic columns and pilasters supporting a fluted frieze with paterae and cornice, spoked fanlight with fluted surround and ribbed coving with raised lettering ‘HARRINGTON HALL’. Inside it has decorative plasterwork cornice and ceiling in the entrance hall.
The National Inventory tells us further:
“Though altered for use as a hotel, this former townhouse positively contributes to the historic character of the street, which is dominated by late-Georgian and early-Victorian townhouses. The restrained façade is enriched with balconettes and most notably, a Neo-classical doorcase featuring a decorative fanlight embellished by ribbed coving and further complemented by decorative sidelights. The doorcase glazing allows additional light into the entrance hall, highlighting the delicate plasterwork ceiling. Harcourt Street was opened 1777 by John Hatch, barrister and Seneschal of the Manor of St. Sepulchre. Development was sporadic until the late 1790s when Messrs Hatch, Wade and Whitten obtained approval from the Wide Street Commissioners for the further development of the street.“
4. Killiney Castle, Killiney, Co Dublin – Fitzpatrick’s hotel
“Welcome to Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel Dublin. Our 18th century 4 star luxury castle hotel is located near the historic village of Dalkey and the coastal town of Dun Laoghaire & only minutes from Killiney Beach, nestled next to Killiney Hill, with panoramic views over Dublin Bay and beyond. The Family owned & run Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, now in its third generation offers guests tranquility, breathtaking scenery and old world elegance which blends seamlessly with the hotels modern luxury making it the ideal location for business or pleasure.“
Archiseek tells us:
“This house has been alternatively known as Mount Malpas, Roxborough and Loftus Hill. The first house on the site was built about 1740 for Col. John Mapas or Malpas. The property was owned in turn by a Mr. Maunsell, Henry Loftus, Viscount of Ely, Lord Clonmel and Robert Warren, who in 1840 enlarged the house and called it Killiney Castle. He also restored and added to the monuments on the hill.
The Georgian house was given Gothic decoration and remodelled by Sandham Symes, including castellation, corner turrets, another pair of turrets in the centre, and a Gothic porch. Later the arrangement of the centre was altered to create a canted bow a storey higher than the rest of the front and with a conical roof. Now garishly painted, and forms the centrepiece of a hotel complex dating from the 1970s.”
The Castle website tells us:
“The Colonel’s [Colonel Henry Loftus 1st Earl of Ely] stay was a short one; in 1772 he advertised the castle and its 150 acres for sale despite his short tenure. During his time in residence however, Colonel Loftus and his nephew converted the barren stoney soil to meadow and pasture and cut a road around the hill, his successor was Lord Clonmel [John Henry Scott, 1st Earl of Clonmell] who in 1790 improved the estate further spending £3,000 in the process, a handsome sum of money in the early 19th century.
The name Robert Warren is very much associated with the Castle and it was he who in 1840 enlarged the house and called it Killiney Castle. He also restored and added to the monuments on the hill, repairing the obelisk originally erected by Col. Mapas and donated land and most of the money for the building of Killiney parish church. The land on the hill – once part of the estate – was purchased from his son, Robert Warren Jnr. by Queen Victoria’s jubilee memorial association and subsequently re-named Victoria Hill – as we still know it today.
Its subsequent owners included a Mrs Chippendale Higgan. The trees and shrubs she planted can still be seen today and provide a decorative setting for the castle.
In the 20th Century Killiney Castle was used by the Black & Tans, the IRA and the Republicans in the civil war before being burnt by Free State Troops. It was requisitioned by the Government during the 1939-45 period and used as billets for the army
Killiney Castle exchanged hands again with the late Paddy and Eithne Fitzpatrick taking over the helm in the 1970’s, transforming it into a first class hotel and re-naming it Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel. Today their daughter Eithne Fitzpatrick Scott-Lennon owns the hotel and together with her family continues to guide the way to its continued success, whilst maintaining the original Castle charm and Irish welcome long associated with the Castle.“
In the castle: The Lutyens Guest Wing was added in 1908-1910. Referred to as one of Lutyens’ finest examples of domestic architecture, the two sections of Lambay Castle complement each other perfectly and are seamlessly, almost invisibly, connected by a long central corridor that runs beneath the East Terrace.
The Whitehouse was completed in 1933 for Rupert Baring’s two sisters Daphne and Calypso (daughters of Cecil and Maude) and their large families. It was the final Baring-Lutyens architectural addition to the island and Cecil died just one year after its completion.
The Whitehouse may be booked by private groups subject to the prior approval of Lambay Estate. As a house of historical value, as well as personal importance to the family, it is not well suited as a party venue or for groups with many young children. Please email email@example.com for enquiries.
O’Connell’s Cottage (No.6) is at the end of the row of Coastguard Cottages, which dates back to the 17th Century. Originally two cottages, it was merged into one large home for the estate manager and his family of eight, and has kept his name ever since.
The website for the Sutton Martello tower tells us: “Martello Tower Sutton offers self-cateringaccommodation with a difference. This unique historic building is available for rental as a holiday home, a short-term letting, or even corporate letting.
Built-in 1804, Martello Tower Sutton is located on the north coastline of Dublin Bay, Ireland, with breathtaking views of the bay and surrounding areas. Set in Red Rock, Sutton, the Tower has been refurbished to a high standard and offers guests a truly unique self-catering holiday option.
Accommodation consists of three levels: two bedrooms and a bathroom on the lower level; living area and balcony overlooking the bay on the middle level; and a modern kitchen/dining room offering breathtaking 360° views from roof level.“
The website gives the history:
“Fear of an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte reached panic proportions among the authorities in Ireland and England in 1804 and was the reason Martello Towers were built, first in Ireland and then in England. Their purpose was to provide what were, in those days, ‘bombproof’ towers from which fire could be directed at ships of the hourly expected French invasion fleet. Martello Tower Sutton was the first Tower to be built in Dublin and is referred to in the annals as Tower No. 1.
The name “Martello” derived from the name of a tower at Mortella point in the gulf of Fiorenzo. The Royalist French along with the Royal Navy, failed to take the tower after attempting to rebel against the Napoleonic French in 1794. So impressed were the British by the strength of the tower, they suggested that similar towers would be useful in Ireland and England...
The original Towers from the Napoleonic era are circular in shape, with 2-4 meter thick walls, which were made from solid stone that was all sourced locally. The entrance doorway of the towers are three metres from the ground which meant at the time access to the entrance was only made by a ladder. The ladder then could be removed to protect against an invader.
The Towers never fired a cannon in anger, as Napoleon never invaded Ireland or England. However, it is believed that the Towers acted as a deterrent, as Napoleon had every intention to invade England using Ireland as a “back door” bridgehead.
In total there were 50 Martello Towers built in Ireland, and 103 built in England. The Military numbered the towers for easy reference. Towers were also built in South Africa, Majorca and the whole Mediterranean area but most are not Martello Towers, but rather defence towers against pirates.
The function and purpose of the Towers in Ireland today differs from one to another. In Dublin while there are 21 Towers that remain standing many are derelict, some demolished, some are owned by government departments, and others are privately owned, some of which are habited and some uninhabited.”
The website tells us that it was built in 1720, then restored in 2005. Each suite has a large, stylish bathroom and soundproofed windows. Archiseek tells us that the Merchant Hall building was built in 1821 by Frederick Darley – I’m not sure if the hotel is located in this building. Merchant Hall was built as a Guild Hall.
From the website: “The Merrion is one of the most significant restoration projects which has taken place in Dublin over recent years. The Georgian architecture lends itself perfectly to the needs of a hotel: the elegantly simple and dignified exterior of the houses give presence and a wonderful sense of arrival, to The Merrion. Mornington House has transitional interiors of great magnificence which provide an exciting backdrop for the activities of the hotel and its guests. These four important Listed houses have been sympathetically restored and brought back to life to be enjoyed by people from all over the world.” Peter MacCann, General Manager, The Merrion
“The Main House of the hotel is comprised of four meticulously restored Grade I Listed Georgian townhouses and a specially commissioned contemporary Garden Wing is arranged around two private period gardens. The houses were built in the 1760’s by Lord Monck (Charles Stanley Monck) for wealthy Irish merchants and nobility. He lived in No. 22, which became known as Monck House. The most important of the four houses is, however, No. 24 Upper Merrion Street. This was leased to Garrett Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, in 1769, it has since been known as Mornington House. The house is remembered historically as being the birthplace of Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington. All four houses had been in use as state offices for most of this century. The well-known Irish writer, Flan O’Brien,(also known as Myles na Gopaleen) author of “The Third Policeman,” allegedly worked in the buildings when he worked for the government.“
“The four houses forming the Main House of The Merrion are typical of domestic Georgian architecture in Ireland. The plain exteriors rely for effect on the carefully worked out classical proportions of the timber sash windows and their relation to the whole façade. The door cases, with their varied treatment and intricate beautiful fanlights, were where the builder could impose some individuality on the building.
In most other areas, the normal lease laid down strict requirements. Internally, there were no such restrictions. This explains the wealth of varied plasterwork and woodwork contained in the houses. The architectural detail of the houses clearly indicates the progression of their construction. No. 21 has intricate rococo plasterwork and a particularly heavy staircase. The detail lightens as one progresses along the terrace, although No. 22, the first to be built, is an exception. Here the main stair hall and the principal reception rooms have much lighter detailing, in the neo-classical, Adam style. In the midst of this lighter decoration, there are examples of heavier detail, such as the intricate Corinthian cornice in the stairwell, and the superb third floor room with coved ceilings and dramatic rococo plasterwork. Monck House was “modernised” in the late 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century.
No. 23 was also “modernised” thirty or forty years after completion. The reception rooms in particular changed after 1790 when the windows were enlarged, window boxes and shutters modified and connections made to the front room. The removal of the principal stairs and hall inside the front door may have been done later in order to increase the number of rooms in the house. Since all four houses are Grade 1 Listed, immense care was taken before work began on the site. Planning Permission was granted after two years, with the Architect dealing with all relevant bodies including An Taisce (The Irish National Trust). Work eventually started in October 1995. The Merrion comprises 123 rooms and 19 suites. The interior is designed using Irish fabrics and antiques to reflect the architecture and original interiors of the Main House. Throughout the hotel guests benefit from the latest technology. There is a choice of two restaurants and two bars. A luxurious Spa and swimming pool, six magnificent meeting and private dining rooms, and a private car park.“
The website tells us: “In 1932, in America, the present owner’s parents purchased plans for use in building their new home, Mooreen House. The design was already famous and had been awarded the title House of the Year, and a full-scale replica was constructed in Macy’s New York Department Store.
While intended for 20th century living the interior cleverly combines the grandeur of former times with a modern economy of space, all in authentic Art Deco taste. Today this is reflected by the original contents which combine with the building to form a family home of considerable elegance and charm. The house, with a newly built cottage using all the latest insulation techniques for additional guests, is set in 20 acres of beautifully maintained private gardens and woodlands. The owner can justly claim her place in Ireland’s history since her grandfather, The O’Rahilly, was one of the few 1916 leaders killed in the fighting near the GPO.”
“Number 31 is Dublin’s premier tucked away place to stay, combining a period Georgian townhouse and a light filled modernist mews, once home to famed architect Sam Stephenson and the epicentre of social Dublin in the 1960s and 70s.
The place to stay of choice for artists and design enthusiasts, here light, colour and texture combine to create a mildly eccentric, laid back luxury vibe.
The Mews building at Number 31 was a disused stable when it was bought by renowned and controversial architect Sam Stephenson in 1957, allegedly for £1000, which he quickly turned into Dublin’s perfect James Bond baddie pad.
The elegant Georgian town-house on Fitzwilliam Place with ornate stucco ceilings and spacious rooms is decorated as an homage to the Jazz age, featuring stunning period pieces and objet’s d’art from our owners collection.
A secluded garden joins both buildings, a tranquil space for guests to enjoy.
Delia’s renowned breakfast is one of the highlights here and seals our reputation for serving the Best Breakfast in Dublin among those in the know. It’s no surprise Number 31 was awarded Georgina Campbell’s 2017 Guesthouse of the Year.
As a guest at Number 31, lounge in Stephenson’s high style 1970s sunken living room and even stay in Sam’s Room with the latest 21st century technology at your fingertips as you dream about bygone glitterati.
All this and more is hidden behind a traditional Dublin Georgian façade in a luxury townhouse that also features Jazz themed rooms and its cool sounds and décor of the Jazz Age in New Orleans, Chicago, London, New York, Paris, and even Berlin.“
14. St. Helen’s, Booterstown, Co Dublin – now Radisson Blu Stillorgan hotel €€
The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us that it was built around 1750 for Thomas Cooley – Barrister/MP for Duleek, and was originally named Seamount. St. Helen’s is:
“A listed two storey, five bay classical house with a centre pediment carried on coupled Corinthian pilasters, and lower wings, which are single-storey on one side and two-storey on the other. It has a cladding of Portland stone and a glass conservatory with curved roof. The fourth gatelodge was shared with San Souci. The garden is thought to have been originally designed by Ninian Niven (the Victorian age landscaper). The 1st Viscount Gough [Hugh Gough (1779-1869), 1st Viscount of Goojerat and of Limerick], renamed the House St Helen’s during his tenure and employed John McCurdy to makes extensive alterations and additions so as ‘to add to the accommodations and comfort’ in 1862/3. A beech tree planted in the garden had a circular iron seat which was slowly subsumed by the tree. The garden also contained one of the few old Mulberry trees in the locality.
The house was renovated again for Sir John Nutting when he purchased it in 1897 by English architect William Douglas Caroe. It had four gatelodges, one of which was opposite St Thomas’s Church and another which as on Booterstown Avenue. By 1903 the house was the location for parties and charity concerts with over 500 people sometimes in attendance to hear Madame Alice Etsy or Melfort D’Alton sing, or a ball with Gottlieb’s band in attendance. The Nuttings were gracious hosts and they opened the gardens of their home for many charitable events.” Sold 1925 to Christian Brothers, who sold 1988, and after a period of uncertainty it was sold for conversion to an hotel in 1996. 
“The Cottage has a great history and has stood here for over 200 years looking down over the City boundaries, Dublin Bay and beyond.
This unique Irish Cottage has been tastefully restored to the highest modern standards so as to provide four star comforts within its two foot thick walls. The Cottage is a great place from which to explore.“
16. Tibradden Farm Cottages, Rathfarmham, Dublin 16€ for 4-8
“Waterloo House is situated in Ballsbridge Dublin 4, just off the bustling Baggot Street and only a few minutes walk from St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street and many of Dublin’s key places of interest. Waterloo House offers free off-street parking – an absolute rarity in downtown Dublin! Yet amazingly, we are on one of the tranquil tree-lined avenues of Ballsbridge – a quiet residential street with gardens on both sides. Waterloo House has 19 bedrooms, all are en-suite with HD flat screen TVs, direct-dial telephones and tea/coffee making facilities. There is also a lift to all floors. Reception is provided on a 24 hour basis and there is free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. Enjoy the hustle and bustle when you want it and then retreat to Waterloo House for a quiet night’s sleep. Waterloo House has combined two tall 1830’s Georgian townhouses to offer the finest in luxury four star boutique accommodation in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – an elegant and stylish inner Dublin City Centre suburb. This fashionable address also boasts some of the finest restaurants in Dublin.“
Dalkey Lodge, which dates to c. 1660, is the oldest surviving house in the heritage town of Dalkey. The house stands on just over an acre of mature, walled gardens, just a few minutes stroll from Dalkey village.
Accommodation comprises of a drawing room, dining room, well equipped kitchen, eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, games room / library with bar and a fully equipped utility room. The drawing room, dining room, games room and six of the bedrooms have fireplaces.
The castle dates from around 1420, according to Timothy William Ferrars.  Ferrars tells us that SIR GEOFFREY DE LUTEREL (c1158-1218), who had large estates in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Yorkshire, accompanying KING JOHN to Ireland, and diligent in public affairs, “obtained a grant from the crown of Luttrellstown, on the payment of twenty ounces of gold, to hold by military service, and had livery of these lands” from John Marshal, Lord Marshal of Ireland.
Thomas Luttrell (1466-1544) was Chief Justice of Ireland and lived in Luttrellstown. He married Anne Aylmer, of Lyons, County Kildare, in 1506. Another Thomas Luttrell of Luttrellstown married Alison St. Lawrence, of Howth Castle, daughter of the 10th Baron Howth (Nicholas St Lawrence, d. 1643).
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 195. “(Luttrell, Carhampton, E/DEP; White, Annaly, B/PB; Guinness, sub Iveagh, E/PB). An old castle of the Pale, originally the seat of the Irish Luttrells; whose members, during the course of C18, included the notorious Col Henry Luttrell [1655-1717], murdered in his sedan-chair in the streets of Dublin 1717; and two sisters, Anne, who married George III’s brother, the Duke of Cumberland, and Elizabeth, who is said to have committed suicide in Augsburg after being sentence to sweep the streets chained to a wheelbarrow, on a charge of picking pockets.” 
This Henry Luttrell had raised and commanded five squadrons of cavalry for King James II. Although a Jacobite (a supporter of King James II) he was pardoned after the Treaty of Limerick (and therefore allowed to keep his lands, which had been confiscated from his brother, Simon [1600-1660]. Simon was married to Mary Preston, daughter of Jenico Preston, 5th Viscount Gormanston and his wife Margaret St Lawrence of Howth. He sat in the Patriot Parliament of King James II and was a representative for Carlow hence would have known Mark Baggot who also sat as representative for Carlow at that time!). In 1702, Henry was appointed a major-general in the Dutch service; but, on the death of King William III, retired to his principal residence at Luttrellstown.
Bence-Jones continues: “The brother of these two ladies, Gen Henry Luttrell, 2nd Earl of Carhampton, sold Luttrellstown ca 1800 to Luke White [1740-1824], MP, self-made millionaire who changed the name of the property to Woodlands, and encased the old castle in romantic early C19 Gothic, with battlements and round and polygonal turrets; he also added to it, and remodelled and redecorated the interior; creating the octagonal entrance hall, with its ceiling of plaster Gothic vaulting, and giving the ballroom its magnificent and unusual ceiling of plaster vaulting with Adamesque ornamentation. The only major interior surviving from Luttrell’s time is the library, which in their day was the entrance hall; it has an unusual C18 ceiling with a bow and arrow in high relief.“
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The two principal ranges of the castle are at an acute angle to each other, which makes for attractive vistas through the rooms in unexpected directions. An entrance tower and porch, and a Tudor-Revival banqueting hall, were added to the castle later in C19, probably in 1850s by Luke White’s son, who afterwards became 1st Lord Annaly [Henry, 1789-1873]. 3rd Lord Annaly [Luke, 1857-1922], who held various court appointments under Edward VII and George V, went back to calling the castle by its old name of Luttrellstown. For some years, early this century, Luttrellstown was owned by Major E.C. Hamilton; then, ca 1927, it was bought by Hon Ernest Guinness [Arthur Ernest Guinness, (1876-1949) son of the 1st Earl of Iveagh], who gave it to his daughter, Hon Mrs Brinsley Plunket [Aileen], on her wedding [to Brinsley Sheridan Bushe Plunket]. During the years that Luttrellstown was her home, Mrs Plunket decorated and furnished the castle with palatial elegance, and entertained in a grand manner. She replaced C19 Tudor banqueting hall with a splendid dining room in early C20 style, with birds and swags and foliage of stucco in high relief on the walls, and a painted ceiling by de Wit. The room was designed by Mr Felix Harbord, who also designed an Adamesque drawing room decorated with grisaille paintings by Peter de Gree fro Oirel Temple, and transformed the staircase hall with a painted ceiling by Thornhill. The demesne of Luttrellstown is of great extent and beauty, with a large lake spanned by a many-arched bridge, a sham ruin and Doric temple.”
“A Georgian mansion built by Dublin snuff merchant Lundy Foot back in 1790. Frequent visitors to the house included the Great Emancipator Daniel O’Connell, Eoin Mac Neill, Padraig Pearse and William Smith O’Brian, among many other famous figures from Anglo-Irish history.
A truly unique house set on 45 acres in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, with spectacular views over Dublin City and stretching out as far as the Irish Sea. We are only 25 minutes from Dublin Airport and from Dublin city centre. The house has been lovingly and tastefully restored in recent years, with large drawing and reception rooms and open fires. Our beautiful dining room sits 20 people at our regency table. There is a large games room in the basement of the house with table tennis, pool table, and a full-sized snooker table.
There is lots to do in the immediate area including numerous hiking trails both on the estate and in proximity including the Dublin Way and the Wicklow Way. We have an equestrian centre next door with reduced rates for guests and some of Dublin’s most infamous pubs are within 10 minutes of the house, with great local food, traditional music, and Irish dancing.
The house really is one-of-a-kind.
Orlagh house is the perfect location for couples who want something different from the norm, a unique and truly personal day to remember. Exclusively yours for your wedding day with a second day optional, we also have 14 bedrooms to offer your guests.
We have an in-house catering team who can create your perfect menu, from sit down formal dining to a more laid-back BBQ’. Choose from our indoor ballroom or numerous outside garden areas. Our wedding team are there to help you with everything you may need.“
 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.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 61. (Archdale/IFR) “A noble house of 1773 on the shores of Lough Erne, built by Colonel Mervyn Archdall in 1773 to replace a “Plantation castle” originally built by John Archdale 1615.
Three storeys over a basement; a six bay entrance front with a two bay breakfront centre; and a tripartite doorway with Ionic pilasters, entablature and pediment, the latter breaking forwards on two Ionic columns to form a porch, which appears to have been a subsequent alteration.
The side elevation was of three bays, the bottom storey having Venetian windows with Gothic astragals in its outer bays. The quoins were rusticated and bold; with a solid roof parapet. Derelict since 1959 and now ruinous.” 
Built in about 1618 by Sir James Balfour, a Scottish planter, the castle was in continuous occupation until the early 19th century. Open all year.
Timothy William Ferres tells us: “CASTLE BALFOUR formed the nucleus of the town [Lisnaskea]. It stands beside the parish church, in the graveyard. The Castle was built with local stone ca 1618 by Sir James Balfour. Sandstone was used for the quoins and dressings. The main block consists of a rectangular block, 78 feet by 24 feet, with a large wing projecting to the east and west, comprising two L-shaped units. The northern block has three storeys with attics. The kitchen is vaulted, with a fireplace and oven. Corbelled turrets and gun-slits are a feature.
During the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Castle Balfour and the village were burnt but later reoccupied. In 1689, the Castle was again badly damaged by the Jacobite armies but was repaired after the Williamite victory at Limerick. About 1780, Castle Balfour was sold to the 1st Earl of Erne, and the Balfours subsequently left County Fermanagh.
The last person to inhabit the Castle was James Haire (1737-1833), of Nutfield, who leased the Castle from Lord Erne. James Haire and his family ceased to occupy the castle after it was destroyed by an arson-based fire in 1803 (his mother, Phoebe, was killed in the rubble caused by the fire).
Thereafter the Castle remained ruinous, until it was placed in state care by the 6th Earl of Erne in 1960.
Major conservation work was carried out between 1966-68 and again during the late 1990s.” 
“Castle Coole is one of the greatest neo-classical country houses in Ireland. Home to the Earls of Belmore, it was commissioned and built to impress by the first Earl of Belmore by Amar Lowry Corry, 1st Earl Belmore (1740-1802) and furnished largely by Somerset Lowry Corry, 2nd Earl (1774-1841).
Castle Coole boasts some of the finest neoclassical architecture, interiors, furniture and Regency furnishings in Ireland. Original drawings by the architects, the building records, inventories and invoices recording the daily work of the joiners, plasterers and painters in the 1790s and the furnishing of the house 1807 to 1821 helped guide the restoration of Castle Coole in the 1980s. This combination of place, collection and archival record must be unique in Ireland where so many records and collections have been dispersed. It speaks of careful husbandry by generations of the family who cherished the past.
John Corry, a merchant from Scotland, bought land in Fermanagh in 1655 that had previously belonged to one of the participants in the Ulster Plantation. John’s son, James, supported William of Orange in his Irish war with James II, during which the old castle at Coole was burnt down. A replacement was built in c1707 – not a fortified castle but a brick building with sash windows and tall chimneys, signalling a period of peace and prosperity in Ulster after years of unrest.”
The estate was inherited by Colonel James’s grandson, Leslie (named after his mother, who was Sarah Leslie. Sarah Leslie’s sister Martha married Reverend William Armar, Archdeacon of Connor and Margetson Armar was their son), in 1726 when he was still a minor. The estate was then managed by his cousin, Margetson Armar, who had been brought up at Castle Coole and who married Leslie’s sister Mary in 1736. Leslie Corry died young and so Margetson continued to manage Castle Coole. He brought about improvements of the farm and house and his wife was a talented gardener. They had no children so the house passed to their nephew, Armar Lowry-Corry. Armar was the son of Sarah Corry, a sister of aforementioned Leslie Corry who died young and Galbraith Lowry, who added the name Corry to his surname in 1764, on condition that his son would inherit the Corry estates. Armar Lowry-Corry’s sister Anne married into the Cole family of Florence Court in County Fermanagh (see below).
The website continues: “Through marriages and connections, the combined estates of the Lowry, Corry and Armar families (amounting to over 70,000 acres of tenanted land by 1779) were all inherited by Armar Lowry Corry in 1779 [he inherited after the deaths of Margetson Armar (1773), Mary Armar (nee Corry, died in 1774) and Sarah Lowry-Corry (nee Sarah Corry, she married Galbraith Lowry, and she died in 1779]. Armar, MP for Tyrone, was raised to the peerage as Lord Belmore in 1780 (and earl in 1797) and began to plan a new house, more suited to contemporary taste and his position in society. Architect Richard Johnston from Dublin was employed in 1789 but Belmore switched to James Wyatt, then at the height of his career and particularly skilled in the neoclassical style. Wyatt never visited the site, sending all his drawings from England. Much of the building work was carried out by skilled Irish builders and craftsmen and some of the furniture designed by Wyatt was made by the Irish joiners, including a great mahogany sideboard, and a large wine cooler for the dining room. The house is faced with Portland limestone from England; specialist plasterers under Joseph Rose created the decoration to the ceilings and walls; marble chimneypieces were commissioned from Richard Westmacott and Domenico Bartoli created scagliola columns and pilasters.
The ground floor of the central block contains the principal receptions rooms. The wings and first floor bedrooms were the family’s private quarters. The vast basement contains service rooms with separate areas governed by Housekeeper, Butler and Cook, who could come and go via a large service tunnel that connected the basement to the service yards.“
One is not allowed to photograph inside, because the furnishings are owned by the present 8th Earl. You can see photographs of the sumptuous interiors on the website. The house was handed to the National Trust by the 7th Earl in 1951 but the family still occupy a wing.
Armar Lowry-Corry married Margaret Butler, daughter of Somerset Butler, the 1st Earl of Carrick. They had a son, Somerset, who became the 2nd Earl of Belmore. She died young, and Armar remarried, this time to Lady Henrietta Hobart, the daughter of the Earl of Buckinghamshire, who was Lord Lieutenant at the time. Henrietta however was not happy at Castle Coole and was twenty two years younger than her husband so they divorced, which would have been unusual at the time. He married a third time, this time to Mary Anne Caldwell, in 1794, from nearby Castle Caldwell in County Fermanagh (now a ruin). It was Armar who built the house we see today. He had it built in a new location, at the top of the hill, since he suffered from rheumatism so wanted to avoid damp. The old house burned down in 1797 while the new house was being built.
The website continues: “The 2nd Earl [Somerset (1774-1841)] had campaigned fiercely against the Act of Union of 1800 which led to the abolition of the independent Irish parliament. He lost his parliamentary seat, only becoming a representative peer in the British House of Lords in 1819. In the meantime, he concentrated on the furnishing of Castle Coole, commissioning John and Nathaniel Preston of Dublin to supply complete rooms of furniture from 1807 onwards. Inspired no doubt by the interiors he saw in London where he had a house, Castle Coole was as lavishly furnished as the greatest Regency interiors.
To add to the splendour the Second Earl of Belmore commissioned furniture from Preston’s of Dublin in 1807, in lavish French Empire style. Preston’s also made the most extravagant piece of furniture in the house, the State bed, which was commissioned for the visit of George IV in 1821, although in the end he never visited Castle Coole meaning the ornate decoration has stayed in perfect condition.
Perhaps to escape creditors, Somerset took his family away for a 4-year tour of the Mediterranean in 1816, visiting Malta, Egypt and the Holy Land. He acquired a paid position as Governor of Jamaica [appointed by his friend the Duke of Wellington, who was prime minister at the time] in 1828 finding himself in the middle of a highly volatile situation. Leading up to the abolition of slavery, the British government sought to improve the living conditions of the [300,000] enslaved people, but this was resented by the plantation owners who dominated the local assembly [in Jamaica]. Belmore’s attempts at moderation were not welcomed by either side. In December 1831 many of the enslaved people rebelled, martial law declared, and the leaders executed. Belmore was blamed for mis-handling the situation and recalled to London. His conduct was subsequently vindicated, but it must have been a bitter end to his posting.“
Somerset’s son Armar Lowry-Corry (1801-1845) became the 3rd Earl of Belmore but died a few years after his father and his brother Somerset (1835-1913) succeeded as the 4th Earl.
The website continues: “The 4th Earl, Somerset (1835-1913), rescued the family’s finances by selling land, reducing the estate to some 20,000 acres, enabling a partial redecoration of Castle Coole. In 1867 Somerset was appointed Governor General of New South Wales, where he supported the development of the railways. The 5thEarl never married but lived on modestly at Castle Coole with five unmarried siblings [one of whom was his brother Cecil the 6th Earl]. By the time the 7thEarl [a great nephew of the 4th Earl, grandson of the 3rd Earl, Major Galbraith Lowry-Corry (1913-1960)] inherited in 1949, the burden of taxes and the expense of maintaining the house led to the house and 70 acres of land being transferred to the National Trust with a grant from the Ulster Land Fund, the contents remaining on loan.
The present 8th Earl lives nearby and continues to take an active interest in the house and demesne.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 64. “(Lowry-Corry, Belmore, E/PB) The most palatial late C18 house in Ireland, built 1790-98 by 1st Earl Belmore to the design of James Wyatt, who adapted earlier designs by Richard Johnston, and also showed himself to be much influenced by Stuart and Revett’s Antiquities of Athens, so that the house is an unusually perfect example of late C18 Hellenism, massive and unrestrained; yet keeping certain Palladian features such as Venetian windows and a balustraded roof parapet; and following the traditional Palladian plan of a centre block and wings. The centre block of two storeys and nine bays, with a pedimented portico of four giant Ionic columns on the entrance front, and a curved central bow lined with giant fluted Ionic columns on the garden front; the wings single storey and consisting, on the entrance front, of deep colonnades of fluted Doric columns ending in small Doric pavilions, and on the garden front of five bay links and end pavilions with Venetian windows. The ends of the wings have central features of four fluted Doric columns and are as perfectly finished as the major elevations; all being of beautifully cut masonry in a pale silvery Portland stone which was brought here at great expense, being shipped to Ballyshannon, taken overland to Lough Erne, shipped to Enniskillen and taken the last two miles in bullock carts.“
Bence-Jones continues: “It was no less expensive getting English plasterers to come here under the supervision of Joseph Rose; and it seems that the austerity of the interior plasterwork was to some degree for reasons of economy; though in fact it is entirely suited to the Grecian purity of the house. The single-storey hall is of great depth and dramatic simplicity, its only adornments beinga Doric frieze, a pair of small Doric chimneypieces by Westmacott facing each other on either side and a screen of Doric columns in porphyry scagliola at the inner end. The splendour is reserved for the oval saloon in the middle of the garden front, which is lined with grey scagliola Corinthian pilasters and has a frieze of swags and delicate ornament on the flat of the ceiling; it is flanked by the drawing room and the dining room, forming a magnificent enfilade. The library, which has its original delicately moulded bookcases, is on one side of the hall, separated from the drawing room by the staircase hall, which contains a double stone staircase of great length, leading up to a landing with a screen of yellow and brown scagliola Doric columns. The first floor lobby, lit by glass domes, rises into an attic storey which is not visible from the outside of the house; and is surrounded by a gallery with a colonnade probably inspired by the interiorsof the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Paestuum. In 1797, just before the present house was completed, the earlier house, which was small, built 1709 and with a rather heavy pediment, was burnt to the ground. The earlier family pictures and furniture were probably lost in this fire, which would explain why the house contains comparatively few portraits, making for large stretches of unrelieved wall, again very much in keeping with the Grecian simplicity. As a contrast, however, there is the sumptuous gilt Regency furniture in the saloon, introduced by 2nd Earl, and the bed, festooned with flame silk, in the state bedroom, said to have been decorated for George IV, who, however, never slept here. The garden front of the house overlooks a lake on which there is the oldest nonmigratory flock of greylag geese in the British Isles; it is said that if ever they go, the Belmores will also go. There are some wonderful trees in the park, and fine stables by Sir Richard Morrison. Castlecoole has been maintained by the Northern Ireland National Trust since 1951 and is open to the public.”
The house is very cleverly surrounded by tunnels for the servants, which run along the basement level outside the house. The tunnels allow light to reach down to the tall sash windows of the basement. There is a special entrance for horse riders, where they can enter the tunnels after their hunt to go into the basement of the house where a special area for changing and washing was created in the basement with a unique Roman bath-style plunge pool down a few steps for the home owners and their guests, which would be filled by the servants with heated water. The changing area is beautifully designed and the tunnels are covered with grills which let in the light, so that the basement lets in the sunlight.
Another underground tunnel leads down to the Grand Yard. It was created in order to avoid a servants’ entrance at ground level. Deliveries could be made by driving up the tunnel to a back door into the basement area.
“The Grand Yard was designed by Richard Morrison for the 2nd Earl of Belmore in 1817. The area was used for several purposes including dairy, stables, laundry house, candle factory and servants accommodation quarters [including the Steward’s House, which is still owned by Lord Belmore, as well as the farm yeard].
The Grand Yard is surrounded by stables and coach houses. The stables and coach houses not only housed the family’s work horses, coach horses and coaches but also had space available to accommodate visitor’s horses and coaches – Strangers Stables and Coachhouses as they were referred to on plans.“
For more about the wonderful interior of the house, of which one can take a tour, see the website. The tour takes in the centre block. On the ground floor are the library, drawing room, dining room, morning breakfast room, and the round impressive Saloon with its bow front. Upstairs above the saloon is the bow room (decorated with Chinese style wallpaper, curtains and covered furniture, this room was used by the ladies during the day for sewing, reading and playing cards), a lovely double-height lobby that has more pretty plasterwork, and the state bedroom decorated for King George IV (with a particularly beautiful tester bed with gorgeous folded swags of curtains, original tassels and fringes, pleated sunburst lining and a generous rosette of scarlet silk above the bed inside the curtains. Bed steps flank the bed, like the ones we came across and used during our stay in “Norman’s Room” in Castle Leslie, and the bed is topped with gold coronets and gilt poles), as we have come across before in other houses (Charleville in County Wicklow and Loughton in Offaly). The lobby is lit by an impressive oval skylight and two further circular skylights. On the upper, attic, floor, that one can see from the lobby, are more Doric columns painted to look like marble, and a iron balustrade that matches the staircase. Doors off the lobby lead to the bow room and the state room, and two doors either side lead to the four principal bedrooms in the corners.
Also upstairs is the Library, which has a particularly impressive pelmet which end with what our guide told us have been called griffin heads but she thinks, and I agree, that they look more like camels, reflecting the 2nd Earl’s passion for travel. He travelled extensively in Egypt, travelling up the Nile, and he sponsored excavations and began a collection of Egyptian antiquities. He sold some of these later to the British Museum in 1842 to pay off debts. The unusual tentlike ceiling of the kitchens is made of a special fireproof material as it is underneath the room where the 2nd Earl stored his treasures.
The stair hall has a staircase that breaks into two, to create a “floating” imperial staircase, with iron balusters that contain gilded rosettes, with a slim mahogany handrail. At the bottom of the stairs is a table with many lamps for the residents and guests to bring up to their room at night.
The castle is still in private hands but the grounds are open to the public.
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 95. “(Crichton, Erne, E/PB) A large castellated mansion combining Baronial and Tudor-Revival elements, by the side of one of the many inlets of Upper Lough Erne, built 1829 to the design of Edward Blore. The entrance front has a gabled projection with a corbelled oriel at each end, but they are not entirely similar; while the tall, battlemented entrance tower, which incorporates a porte-cochere, is not central but to one side, against the left hand gable. The adjoining garden front is symmetrical, dominated by a very tall central tower with slender octagonal turrets, inspired by various Tudor gatehouse towers in England, but without a doorway. On either side of it is a gable and oriel. In the park are the ruins of the earlier Crom Castle, a Plantation castle of 1611, destroyed by fire in 1764.”
The website tells us: “Enniskillen Castle, situated beside the River Erne in County Fermanagh, was built almost 600 years ago by Gaelic Maguires.
Guarding one of the few passes into Ulster, it was strategically important throughout its history. In the 17th century it became an English garrison fort and later served as part of a military barracks. This historic site houses two museums, Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 121. (Cole, Enniskillen, E/PB) A large and impressive fortress at one side of the island in the River Erne on which the town of Enniskillen is built; with walls enclosing a ward of courtyard, an inner keep and a tall and frowning water gate with two conical-roofed bartizans. Until C18 the castle stood on a small island of its own, separated from the rest of the island by a ditch of water crossed by a draw-bridge. The castle was originally built C15 by the Maguires; it was granted 1607 to Captain William Cole, who rebuilt the keep as a house for himself, and renovated all the fortifications; the water gate probably dates from his time. The Coles continued to live on and off at the castle until 1739; afterwards, they established themselves permanently at Florence Court. The castle then became barracks, and the keep was rebuilt once again. The buildings remain in good repair.”
“Florence Court epitomises the Irish country house: a grand and elegant house in a romantic setting with self-sufficient demesne complete with gardens, parkland, woodland, and supporting buildings. The beauty and peacefulness of Florence Court bely the sometimes turbulent lives of those who lived and worked here during the course of its 300-year history.
Captain William Cole came to Ireland as part of Elizabeth 1’s army of colonisation in 1601. He oversaw the creation of Enniskillen at its strategically important location on Lough Erne and lived in Enniskillen Castle, becoming Provost and then Governor. Many generations of the family continued to be involved in the governance of the area and as members of parliament. A century later, his descendant Sir John Cole (1680-1726) built a lodge to the south west of the town, and named it after his wife, Florence [Wray]. The house he built in the 1720s was not fortified as the early 1700s were a time of relative peacefulness in Ulster compared to the previous century. The present Florence Court house we see today was built by Sir John’s son, also called John Cole, who was raised to the peerage as Lord Mount Florence in 1760. The house was still unfinished at the time of young John’s death. The colonnades and pavilions were completed by his son, William Willoughby Cole (1736-1803) who became Earl of Enniskillen in 1789.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 125. “(Cole, Enniskillen, E/PB) A tall, early to mid-C18 block of three storeys over a basement and seven bays, its front heavily enriched with rustications, balustrades, pedimented niches and other features; joined by long arcades with rusticated pilasters to pedimented and pilastered single-storey pavilions. The centre block was probably built by John Cole, MP, afterwards 1st Lord Mountflorence, whose mother was the Florence after whom the house is named; the name was probably originally given to a shooting-box built here in the days when the family lived at Enniskillen Castle. The arcades and pavilions seem to date from ca 1770, and would have been added by William Cole, 1st Earl of Enniskillen; they were possibly designed by Davis Duckart. They blend perfectly with the centre block, and the whole long, golden-grey front has a dream-like Baroque beauty that is all the greater for being somewhat bucolic. The centre block has a three bay breakfront with a central pedimented niche between two windows in the top storey, a Venetian window between two niches in the storey below, and a pedimented tripartite doorway on the ground floor. The rear elevation has a central three sided bow with rusticated window surrounds, but there is nothing like the lavish ornament here that there is on the front. Curved sweeps join the back of the house to outbuildings.”
The only room we were allowed to photograph inside was the Colonel’s Room, which is in one of the pavilions and which is where the tour begins.
Mark Bence-Jones continues, describing the inside of Florence Court: “The interior contains some wonderfully vigorous rococo plasterwork, in the manner of Robert West and apparently dating from 1755. In the hall, which is divided from the staircase by an arch, the decoration is architectural, reflecting the outside, with banded pilasters and a Doric frieze. Through the arch and up the staircase of splendid joinery with its handrail of tulip wood, the plasterwork becomes more rococo: great panels of foliage on the walls, and a cornice of pendants and acanthus. From the half landing one gets a view downwards to the hall and upwards through two arches at the top of the stairs to the Venetian Room, lit by the great Venetian window, which has what is probably the finest ceiling in the house; with a swirl of foliage and eagles and other birds of prey in high relief. The drawing room, to the right of the foot of the staircase, has a cornice of acanthus foliage, masks of “Tragedy” and “Comedy,” baskets of fruit and and birds. The ceiling of the dining room, on the other side of the staircase hall, is more elaborate, with foliage and birds and a central panel of cherubs puffing from clouds. There was formerly a delightful ceiling in the nursery on the top floor, with drums, rocking horses and other toys incorporated in the ornament. The park, which is dramatically overshadowed by the sombre mountains of Benknocklan and Cuilcagh, contains the original Irish or Florence Court yew. The 5th Earl and his son, the late Viscount Cole, gave Florence Court to the Northern Ireland National Trust in 1953. Two years later, the centre of the house was severely damaged by fire; fortunately the staircase and much of the plasterwork was saved, and most of what was lost was restored under the direction of the late Sir Albert Richardson. No photographic record existed of the nursery ceiling, which was among those destroyed, so this was not reinstated. Florence Court is open to the public.”
The website tells us: “The house is a bit of a mystery: the architect or architects are unknown and in some of the main rooms superb decorative plasterwork survives though there is no record of who the skilled plasterers were. The main block probably dates to the 1760s and its colonnades and wings to the 1770s. These hide extensive yards and service buildings, grouped cleverly around the back of the house.
At around the same time, the formal landscape of the 1720s was re-designed by William King, one of the great landscape gardeners of the late 18th century, who planted belts of trees to provide shelter and woodland, and clumps of trees in open parkland, where sheep, horses and cattle could graze. The mass of Benaughlin mountain provides a dramatic backdrop to the composition. The demesne provided the immediate needs of the household and employment for staff, servants and farm labourers, with grazing for cattle, sheep and horses, a large deer park, arable land for crops and woodlands for timber. A major restoration of the 19th century walled garden is underway through the dedication of volunteers and staff. The vegetable and fruit garden is full of activity once again, giving a sense of Florence Court as the hive of industry that enabled it to be largely self-sustaining.”
“At its height, it was further supported by nearly 30,000 acres of tenanted farmland, which provided much-needed rental income. The latter part of the 19th century in Ireland was dominated by the Land Wars: a period of unrest and reappraisal of the historic form of land tenure and landlord- tenant relations. Like most other estates, Florence Court’s estate was significantly reduced by various Land Acts brought in by the British government in around 1900 to deal with the situation. In so doing, many houses in Ireland lost their main source of income from tenanted land and began a gradual decline in fortune. With the impact of the 1st and 2nd World Wars and rising taxes, Florence Court eventually proved impossible for the family to maintain and the house was transferred to the National Trust in 1954.”
The website tells us: “Through the 19th century the 3rd and 4th Earls of Enniskillen continued the work of their ancestors by investing in and developing the land and the estate. William, 3rd Earl, was also a keen palaeontologist, and gathered a large collection of fossil fish which he eventually sold to the British Museum. As Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Ireland he was also involved in many civic duties. William’s first wife, Jane Casamaijor, laid out the American garden with rhododendrons and azaleas on the slopes south of the house. William invested heavily in the estate and demesne. The 3rd Earl also built a Tile, Brick and Pottery Works which turned local clay into drainage pipes, bricks and tiles (no longer extant). The sawmill transformed trees into everything from coffins to fence posts, railway sleepers, furniture and gates.”
“After a devastating fire in 1955 the interiors of the house were quickly rebuilt and repaired. The contents had been on loan from the family and many had miraculously survived the fire. They were removed by the 6th Earl in the 1970s, when he and his wife went to live elsewhere but were generously returned by his widow, Nancy, in the 1990s. This breathed renewed life back into the house and the Trust continues to restore the gardens and demesne buildings so that all can enjoy this remarkable house, gardens and demesne and hear the story of those who created them.“
Places to stay, County Fermanagh
1. Belle Isle Courtyard cottages and castle accommodation, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh Northern Ireland€(self-catering)
“Belle Isle provides an outstanding mix of natural beauty and authentic heritage on a private 400 acre estate designated a Special Area of Conservation with a range of accommodation options including castle rental, luxury cottages and self-catering apartments. Whether you are looking to host your wedding, enjoy a private event with friends and family or just have a relaxing weekend with your pets, we have something for everyone. Enjoy a Summer Getaway to the Belle Isle Estate with one of our great special offers.
Belle Isle has a rich history dating back to before the 15th century as the place where the Annals of Ulster were written. Belle Isle Castle was built in the early 17th century as the home to many generations of nobles and has been hosting events since as early as 1760. In 1991, the castle was fully refurbished to open its doors to more visitors. Belle Isle Estate stretches over 470-acres across Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is a private estate with access to its estate grounds and trails open solely its visitors. If you are looking for the ultimate experience in luxury, Belle Isle Estate is one of the best hotels Fermanagh can offer.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 38. “(Gore, Bt/PB; Porter, sub Baird/IFR) A house beautifully situated on an island in Upper Lough Erne; the seat of a distinguished C18 soldier, Sir Ralph Gore, 6th Bt, 1st and last Earl of Ross and Viscount Bellisle, who was C-in-C in Ireland 1788. Bought early in C19 by Rev. J.G. Porter. The present house appears to incorporate a two storey C18 range with a three sided bow at one end, to which a range of 1820-30 was added at right angles, with a staircase hall, top-lit by an octangular lantern, in the re-entrant. The house was re-modelled post 1880 in the plain English Tudor manor house style made popular by Norman Shaw and his disciples; producing a gable entrance front with mullioned windows, a projecting porch and a tall, church-like battlemented tower at the corner of th 1820-30 range. The latter range, which is the garden front facing the lough, remains unaltered apart from having Victorian plate-glass windows; at one end is the end bow of C18 range, with Georgian astragals. Inside the house, arches were opened up between the staircase hall and the rooms at either end of it, to make a much larger hall; the staircase hall was also widened at the expense of the rooms in 1820-30 range, the old wall being replaced by a massive oak beam. An oak staircase with barleysugar balusters replaced the original stairs; the walls were panelled in oak, or decorated with half-timbering. The octangular ceiling lantern, however, was left undisturbed. The drawing room, in 1820-30 range, was redecorated, having been reduced in width, and given a chimneypiece of old oak carving, possibly of more than one period and nationality. The room extending into the bow of C18 range, which is now the drawing room, was given a stone Tudor fireplace; but it still keeps its original doors with shouldered C18 architraves. In 1907 the entrance front was prolonged by a wing in Tudor style containing a long and lofty gallery, with a timbered roof, an elaborate Tudor fireplace and overmantel and a minstrels’ gallery, the balustrade of which has slender turned uprights and would appear to be late C17 or early C18 woodwork brought from elsewhere. At this end of the entrance front stands a pedimented and gable-ended office wing which would appear to date from quite early C18. After the death of N.H.A. Porter 1973, Belle Isle was inherited by his niece, Miss Olivia Baird.”
2. Colebrooke gate lodge,Colebrooke Park, County Fermanagh€ for 4
Colebrooke Estate in Co. Fermanagh, N.Ireland offers guests a haven of peace and privacy with over 1000 acres to play in. The 5 star Whitehill Cottage and 5 star Woodcock Corner Cottage are sensitively restored original Estate workers cottages. Rossbeg Cottage is located in a stunning part of Co. Donegal, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We are proud of all the properties, which offer high standards of comfort, with all the modern conveniences you would expect to find in quality accommodation.
“A converted farm building with a spacious living area and views of the Lough Erne.
Erne View is the largest in a row of holiday cottages on the shores of Lough Erne. The cottage boasts stunning views, an open fire and a wet room on the ground floor.
Enjoy a coffee whilst taking in the view over to the Island of Inishfendra before heading down to the nearby jetty for a stroll along the shoreline.
Adventurers might want to take advantage of the Lough Erne Canoe Trail which offers guided trips and canoe hire. Further afield, the pretty town of Enniskillen, with its historic castle, is just 20 miles away.“
5. Florence Court, County Fermanagh – Butler’s Apartment
Butler’s Apartment served as living quarters for the male servants at Florence Court, the 18th-century mansion next door to the holiday home. This atmospheric first floor apartment overlooks the laundry courtyard and adjoining woodland garden. Inside, you’ll find many historical quirks such as the period fireplaces, large sash windows and wooden floorboards.
6. Manor House Hotel (formerly Killadeas Manor and before that, Rockfield), County Fermanagh
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 168. “(Irvine/LGI1912) A two storey Victorian Italianate house, in a splendid position on the shores of Lough Erne. Entrance front with pediment and porch in the form of a three arched loggia, flanked by a square tower with glazed belvedere and urns on its parapet. Now a hotel.”
A younger son of the Irvines of Castle Irvine [now dilapidated but you can visit the grounds], John Irvine, acquired the estate in 1660. It was known as Rockfield. The website tells us it remained as Rockfield until it was rebuilt in 1860 by Colonel John Gerard Irvine (1823-1902), who brought workmen from Italy to do the interior decoration which exists to this day.
The name of Rockfield was changed to Killadeas Manor House by Major John Irvine who succeeded to Killadeas in 1835 and died in 1860. It was his son, Colonol John Gerard Irvine, who rebuilt Killadeas, incorporated some parts of the old house into the new mansion.
The website adds that in a directory of Fermanagh, published in 1879, the author states that Rockfield was built in 1710, and greatly altered and added to in 1868 by Colonel Irvine under the direction of that able and artistic architect, Mr Armstrong of Belleek. There are some obvious similarities between the architecture of the Belleek Pottery and The Manor House not least the unusual narrow, arched windows.
During the 1939-45 war it was requisitioned by the Government and was for a time used by the American Forces. The house itself was used as an Officers’ Mess and Headquarters for the Seaplane base of Killadeas. It was a plane from this base which sighted the ‘Bismarck’ and consequently resulted in the destruction of this mighty battleship. The Manor House remained in the Irvine family until 1957 when it was acquired for a Hotel.
Ashbrooke is the Dower House for the Colebrooke Estate it has been in the Brooke family for over 200 years. Formerly the home of Viscount and Viscountess Brookeborough the house has recently been fully restored and renovated to provide luxurious accommodation.
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Colebrook Park in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 89. “(Brooke, Brookeborough, V.PB) An austere Classical house of 1825 by William Farrell; built for Sir Henry Brooke [1770-1834], 1st Bt of 2nd creation. Two storey nine bay front, with a pedimented portico of four giant Ionic columns; three storey irregular side; eaved roof. Of cut-stone, with a sprinking of red sandstone ashlars which gives the elevation a pleasant reddish tinge. Large entrance hall; double staircase in back hall. Drawing room with original white and gold damask wallpaper. Sitting room with C19 arabesques. Large dining room, which Lord Craigavon, 1st Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, christened “Golgotha” on account of the numerous deer skulls covering the walls. The home of Sir Basil Brooke, 5th Bt and 1st Viscount Brookeborough, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland 1943-63; he and the late Lady Brookeborough made an attractive sunken garden at one end of the house. The house stood empty for some years after the death of 1st Viscount, 2nd Viscount living in Ashbrooke, a smaller house on the estate. But the present Lord and Lady Brookeborough have moved back into Colebrook.”
2. Belle Isle Courtyard cottages and castle accommodation, Lisbellaw, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh Northern Ireland
1. Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan– see my write-up:
2. Hilton Park House, Clones, Co. Monaghan– section 482
contact: Fred Madden Tel 047-56007 www.hiltonpark.ie (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April- Sept House and garden tours available for groups Jan 31, Feb 1-4, 7-11, 28, Mar 1-4, 7-11, May 3-6, 8-20, June 2, 13-17, 20-24, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, Sept 11, 18, 25, weekdays, 9am-1pm, Sunday, 1pm-5pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €8, child €5
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 153. “[Madden] (formerly Maddenton). A large late-Georgian house of 2 storeys over a basement, 11 bay entrance front with the 5 centre bays breaking forward; rebuilt after a fire 1804. In 1872 the basement was excavated so that it became in effect a ground floor, as at Montalto, Co Down, and the house was refaced with Dungannon stone; with a pierced roof parapet and pediments over the windows of the principal storey. At the same time, a handsome Ionic porte-cochere was added, with coupled columns in the centre; and the principal reception rooms were given decorative ceilings.”
The website has a detailed history of the Madden family:
“The family is descended from the princes of Oriel and in particular from Maine, who left Clogher in the 5th Century to find less populous lands, for they were a quarrelsome breed and were always warring and fighting among themselves. Maine settled a large area astride the Shannon and became the progenitor of the tribes of Hy-Many. From Anmchadh, son of Eoghan Buac, fourteenth in descent from Maine, sprang the tribe of O’Madden, who were the chiefs of Siol Anmchadha. Our line almost certainly comes from John O’Madden, great grandson of Eoghan O’Madden, the celebrated Lion of Birra and Chief of Siol Anmchadha, (1323-47). Two of John’s elder brothers were Chiefs of the clan from 1411 to 1451 and one of their sons, Cobthach, killed his two elder brothers, Brasil and Diarmuid, to claim their birth right, but the third brother, Eoghan Carregh, killed him first to claim the chieftainship. From this constant quarrelling and frequent fratricide, John appears to have fled to England, where he settled at Bloxham Beauchamp in Oxfordshire. From parish records we know that he was in humble circumstances, but each generation seems to have improved their lot until four generations later, in 1599, Thomas marries Elizabeth Pettifer of a well-established local family: it must be presumed that the family became Protestant during the Reformation. Thomas Madden, the name having become anglicised, then becomes Comptroller to Sir Thomas Wentworth, later Earl of Strafford, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, returns to Ireland and takes up residence at Baggotsrath.
In 1635 his son John, attorney to HM Court of Castle Chambers, General Solicitor for Parliamentary Sequestrations, of Maddenton in Co.Kildare, married Elizabeth Waterhouse, heiress of Manor Waterhouse in Co.Fermanagh, thus contracting the second advantageous marriage in successive generations.
His son John, who was three times President of the Irish College of Physicians and clearly a most cultured man as he had a very valuable collection of early Irish and English historical manuscripts, married Mary Molyneux, sister of William Molyneux, who in 1684 founded the Dublin Philosophical Society to ‘the design of the Royal Society in London’. [a Baggot whom I hope was an ancestor of mine, Mark Baggot (d. 1718 and buried in St Audoen’s, Dublin) was also a founding member of the Dublin Philosophical Society, and the only Catholic member).]
It is not surprising that the next generation produced a remarkable philanthropist in the Rev. Samuel Madden DD. His brother John and his uncle, Sir Thomas Molyneux of Castle Dillon, in Co.Armagh, were founders of the Dublin Society and Samuel joined them within the first year and he set the agenda for encouragement of improvements in the Arts, Agriculture and Manufacturing by guaranteeing an annual sum for premiums from his own pocket, provided they were matched by the society; for this, as well as for giving premiums to Trinity College, Dublin, he earned the soubriquet ‘Premium’. Such was his generosity, Mrs. Delaney recalls in one of her contemporary letters, that his wife, who was something of a shrew, would not let him go out with any money on his person as he would give anything he had to any poor that he met. It was through Madden’s friendship with the Earl of Chesterfield that the Dublin Society received its Royal Charter. He was a collector of works of art and left Trinity 20 of his best paintings at their choice to hang in the Provost’s House for ever.
Madden wrote a number of books and plays, not always putting his name to them. The most interesting are ‘Reflections and Resolutions proper to the Gentlemen of Ireland’, which amongst many exhortations states that raw materials should not be exported to England, but rather that ‘value should be added at home’, and ‘A Memoir of the Twentieth Century’. A thousand copies of the latter were printed in 1735, but were destroyed prior to publication on the order of the government; only a half dozen copies survive. Two of his books, ‘Memoirs’ and ‘Boulter’s Monument’, published 1745, were dedicated to Frederick, Prince of Wales, to whom he had been tutor. It is interesting to speculate what influence this literary, cultured man may have had on the young prince, who contrary to the martial and philistine Hanoverians that spawned him, became the greatest royal patron of the arts and architecture since Charles the Second and who was left at home in Hanover for the first 20 years of his life, whilst his grandfather and his father ruled Britain.
A member of Swift’s circle and a kinsman of Oliver Goldsmith, Madden was particularly admired by Dr. Johnson, who said of him, ‘his is a name Ireland ought to honour’.
On the home front, Samuel was rector of Newtownbutler and kept a fine garden at Manor Waterhouse; in particular he was an expert in growing fruit and his manuscript catalogue and plan for ‘fruit trees planted in espalier hedges at Manor Waterhouse’ in 1740 is in the Hilton library. Tragically, all his manuscripts were left to his son, John of Hilton and they were lost in the fire 40 years later.
In 1734 he purchased the Hilton Estate, then comprising some 4000 acres, for his third son and around the same time bought an estate at Spring Grove, Rosslea, for his youngest son. As both his elder sons failed to bring children to majority, the Manor Waterhouse estate fell to John Madden of Hilton, but it appears to have been largely uninhabited after Premium Madden died in 1765 and the house hardly seems to have existed by the start of the 19th century. The old castle had been sacked in the Jacobite wars and it may be that the new one had not been well built.
The next generation, Colonel Samuel Madden of the Monaghan Militia, nearly finished the Maddens at Hilton, for this man was nothing like his namesake grandfather. He turned out to be a gambler and bon viveur and there is a vivid account of his excesses throughout the 1790s, culminating in the fire of 1803, the arrival of his creditors in 1812 and his expiry in 1814. His son, Colonel John [1756-1814] of the Monaghan Militia was left to pick up the pieces, about £5 million in today’s terms. Colonel John’s good fortune was a rich and prudent cleric, the Rev. Charles Dudley Ryder, for a grandfather, who seeing the calibre of his son in law, had kept most of his fortune from his daughter, knowing her husband would gamble all away. Dudley Ryder was the son of the Rev. John Ryder, Archbishop of Tuam, and had married Catherine, last of the Charnell family of Snarestone Hall in Leicestershire. The Snarestone Estate was made over to Colonel Sam by 1795 and would appear to have been sold soon after 1802; thereafter Dudley Ryder kept his powder dry until after old Sam’s demise. Colonel John appears to have worked hard and played hard. He took much of his lands on the Monaghan and Fermanagh estates in hand and became a noted breeder of Shorthorn cattle and hackney horses. So successful was he at the latter that long after his death people would come looking for horses of the ‘old Hilton strain’. He built the Ride, a colonnade for exercising horses on wet days under his study window. During an election, he even found time to fight a duel with the Lord Rossmore of the day, wounding the peer in the leg. He had always kept a yacht in Dublin Bay, with a skipper and crew of four but this was swapped for a smaller boat when he inherited his father’s debts. A member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, he won a race right round Ireland in the Ganymede and sailed off to the Mediterranean, bringing back from Naples one of the fine chimney pieces. He also built a villa at Sandycove to accommodate his sailing activities, where he eventually died in 1844, leaving a young widow and three sons, the oldest of whom was only seven, which resulted in the young heir being made a ward of Chancery. Sydney Anne, the young widow, was daughter of old Admiral William Wolseley, an old salt who had spent much of his life at sea and who had the distinction of being the only captain to share prize money with Nelson in the Mediterranean. Wolseley’s son, whilst serving as a midshipman on the flag ship HMS Superb, had the distinction of being presented to the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon had put himself under the protection of the British navy after Waterloo and he was taken aboard HMS Bellopheron on which vessel he was to be taken into exile at St.Helena. Napoleon was invited to breakfast with Admiral Hotham on the Superb, where he was treated with full honours and insisted on being presented to all the officers.
Young John,(1837-1902) left more of a mark on Hilton than all his predecessors except the first. At 19 he sank the well, from which we still get our water, 135 feet into the ground under his own superintendence. At 21 he celebrated throwing off the yoke of the Court of Chancery by erecting the bell tower, which at around 70 feet meant that he had covered 200 feet up and down in two years. At twenty-four he travelled for months on horseback through the eastern states of America up to the Great Lakes; this only a year before the Civil War. Back home he joined Isaac Butt’s Home Rule Party, but failed to get elected in the three elections he fought. Disappointed, and particularly so when he saw Parnell take over the Home Rulers, he reverted to Toryism. The rest of his life he devoted to travel, improving – first the park, then the gardens and pleasure grounds and finally the house and all the time writing . He kept a diary from 1868 onwards and published his magnum opus, The Wilderness and its Tenants in three volumes in 1897; this meticulous work is an inventory of the natural world prior to the industrial revolution. Having read widely of the early travellers and hunters, he found during his own travels in the latter half of the 19th Century that much had been altered since the start of the century; that the great herds of buffalo had been reduced, that the Sahara had moved and he wanted to set down a yardstick by which future depredations could be assessed. The public were not sufficiently concerned to buy his book and his warnings went unheeded. Of particular interest to the family, is his journal, which records details of the estates in Monaghan, Fermanagh and Leitrim during and before his time. Another record of immense intrinsic value is the photographic record of his younger brother, Charles Dudley Ryder, who obtained a camera in 1858 when only 19 and his albums, up until his death in 1874 at Cork Barracks of typhoid fever, show the park, house and gardens as they were before being improved. Charles and his brother, William Wolseley, both served in the 8thKing’s Liverpool Regiment and both died within 5 weeks of each other, William in Brighton. William was very involved in the loyal orders and built the Protestant Hall in Scotshouse. There is some mystery about him because, from his brother John’s diary, it is clear that he was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and he served two years in Strangeways Gaol, Manchester. One can only surmise that some loyalist fracas led to his conviction, but it should also be remembered that a letter of his instructing Protestants not to interfere with Fenian processions had much to do with defusing local tensions.
John appears to have been serious to a fault and to have had a highly developed sense of his own rectitude. He ‘laid an information’ in court in Dublin against the Fenians’ who he was convinced were going to contravene the Party Processions Act at an imminent rally, which he thought unreasonable as his side had kept that law at a recent event. His case was not accepted and to prove his point, he marched, at no little risk to himself, in the Fenian rally and was no doubt delighted to be proved correct. He was a Magistrate, a Deputy Lieutenant for two counties and High Sheriff. On being appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Leitrim, he refused the honour saying that he was no longer prepared to serve an administration that had presided over a complete breakdown in law and order. He was summarily stripped of all his honours and appointments ‘for this studied insult to the Queen’. He at least had the satisfaction that all the magistrates in Ireland signed a petition in favour of his reinstatement.
He married the niece of the 3rd Earl of Leitrim, known as the ‘wicked’ Earl who was popularly believed to exercise his seignorial rights on his tenants’ daughters, in particular on their wedding night. He was murdered in 1878. The funeral took place at St.Michan’s in Dublin and such was Leitrim’s reputation that a mob turned out and overturned the hearse and the mourners had to be rescued by the police.
Owing to Lord Leitrim’s unfortunate will, which all but disinherited his successor and left all to his elderly, well off cousin, who would gladly have renounced his right, litigation loomed again for John Madden, whose children had a reversion under the will. Madden felt it his duty to protect his minor children’s interest and so litigation commenced causing Lady Dartrey to write of him ‘…(he) is a semi-madman, who stood as a Tory Home Ruler for Monaghan in 1868 and wrote such outrageous letters that he was struck off the list of JPs’. It may of course be that her staunch Whig politics had something to do with her opinion.
And so to the 20th Century and Lt.Col. John Clements Waterhouse Madden, ‘Jack’, (1870-1935). Called to the English Bar in 1895 and the Irish Bar in 1897, he had the task of winding up the estates as a result of the Land Acts, Acts which probably caused greater damage to the stock of great country houses in Ireland than all other events. Prior to Independence he held the usual posts that went with his rank, JP, High Sheriff, DL. He was a Standing Committee Member of the Ulster Unionist Council and a Deputy Grand Master of Ireland in the Orange Society. Incensed, however, by the activities of Craig and Carson whereby they engineered the setting up of the Boundary Commission and so tore up the agreement that the nine Ulster counties would remain under the Crown, he resigned from the Orange Order, disgusted that the Belfast Loyalists were loyal only to themselves. He made his own submission to the Boundary Commission, that the border should be a visible water boundary, coming in the estuary of the Erne in the west and exiting at the mouth of the Fane in the east. Whatever sense this may have made, it was a self serving device to try to ensure that Hilton remained north of the line and that the works of the Great Northern Railway, on the north bank of the Fane in Dundalk, would do likewise.
After Independence he was elected a Monaghan County Councillor. During the Troubles of 1920-1922 he took certain defensive measures at Hilton, that were designed to protect his property in the event of attack, no doubt comforted by his father’s foresight in installing steel shutters half a century before. The Colonel was of massive frame and utterly without fear. He was a hard taskmaster and much disliked at Clones railway station where he never found things to his liking as a director of the Great Northern Railway, expecting standards of turnout from railwaymen more appropriate to that of guardsmen.
On one occasion he crossed swords with General Eoin O’Duffy of Blueshirt fame. Jack had been to Belfast by train on GNR business and on his return to Clones station found his car gone. He was told it had been commandeered in the name of the State by General O’Duffy and was thus forced to walk the 4 miles home in pouring rain.
He wrote complaining at this high handed treatment and he asked the General to tell him if his government wished people such as he to leave the country. The reply was non commital, non apologetic and cited national business. Jack married Agnes Tate, daughter of Sir William Henry Tate, Bt. and granddaughter of the donor of the Tate Gallery. His brother Gerald, who was killed commanding a battalion of the Irish Guards in World War 1, married Mabel Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch. Sister Sydney, romantic poet and publisher of ‘Rose Petals- for those who love me’, married Chandos, Marquess of Ailesbury and in later life had the misfortune to entertain Queen Mary and her waspish companion, Osbert Sitwell, at Savernake . Misfortune because Sitwell remembered her as a romantic girl pursuing some German princling at a ball and was struck sufficiently by the change wrought by the years so as to describe her in a book as ‘standing like a pillar of red granite’. It would be kinder to remember her by her portrait at Hilton, depicting the romantic young girl holding her dog.
Jack’s eldest son, John William Ryder (1913 – 1996), was educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he was an accomplished oar. After university he joined the Irish Guards, serving in Palestine in 1937-8. He was in the party that took the Dutch Royal family and Cabinet off the Hook of Holland in 1940 and was in the thick of the bloody fighting that took place after the Boulogne landing in 1941. He then joined the 2nd Bn. Irish Guards, which was to form part of the Guards’ Armoured Division, with whom he landed in Normandy in 1944 but was wounded some 3 weeks later at La Marvindiere, losing a leg, which forced his retirement with the rank of Major. He brought his family to live at Hilton in 1945 and himself took a refresher course in agriculture at Cirencester. Encouraged by a neighbour, Jack Gibson, he established a Hereford herd, which became famous all over Ireland. Owning a great deal more land than the average in Ireland at that time, he saw it as his duty to use every square yard and to employ as many as possible on the land. He became a great innovator, introducing silage making to the area and planting orchards, Christmas trees, which he exported to Britain and Dutch bulbs; at one time in the 1950s there were five acres of daffodils, gladioli and tulips as well as onions. Subsequently he built up a dairy herd and became a considerable expert on forestry. He advised a number of friends on their woodlands on a regular basis. His great strength was thorough research, wherein he consulted all the experts and read all the books, before starting on a project. He was a keen sailor of small boats and kept two ‘Snipe’ at Crom and sailed most weekends throughout the summer. A lifelong afficionado of motor racing, he competed three times in the Circuit of Ireland Rally in Morris Minors. A first class shot, it was easy to forget that he had but one leg. He married Nita Mellor in 1937, daughter of Brigadier-General J.Seymour Mellor CBE DSO MC and Betty Marquand, a granddaughter of Henry G. Marquand who made the original endowment to the picture gallery of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, of which he was President: she was also related to the Robeson family, big plantation owners in the Carolinas, from whom the singer Paul Robeson is said to have taken his name. Seymour Mellor was a distinguished soldier who fought in the Boer War, and the First World War, with the KRRC. In 1920 he went for two years to Poland to reorganise their police force; his ‘Letters from Warsaw’, which were compiled by his wife are a fascinating document of the times there. Thereafter he became a King’s Messenger on the Constantinople run and during the Second World War was Provo Marshal UK and Chief Constable of the War Department Constabulary.“
The website tells us more about the house:
“Hilton Park is one of the great surviving houses of Ireland. Built in 1734 the house combines elegant historical grandeur with contemporary country house comfort. Located in the remote and unspoilt drumlins of County Monaghan yet just 90 minutes from Dublin and Belfast Airports, Hilton is perfect for corporate groups or families and friends seeking the intimacy and exclusivity of a stunning property set amidst 400 acres of undisturbed natural beauty. The house has magnificent reception rooms, including one of the country’s finest dining rooms that is the perfect setting for those special occasion dinner parties. The house also features a more informal living spaces with stunning vaulted ceilings, a classic country house kitchen for self-catering groups. The house also a table tennis room, billiard room and library. Outside there is croquet and lawn games, fishing on both lakes (plus wild swimming), a rowing boat and complimentary golf on the next door 18 hole course. A stay at Hilton will feel like you’re a million miles from anywhere. But for those in search of a truly authentic Irish pub, fear not for Connolly’s Pub a mere fifteen-minute walk through the estate serves up a truly great pint beside a roaring fire. The intriguing history of the house by Johnny Madden
There has been a house at Hilton Park since the early 17th Century, although its earliest name was Killshanless until changed to Maddenton, presumably in recognition of the earlier Madden property in Co. Kildare and was finally changed to its present name at the end of the 18th Century. When Samuel Madden purchased the estate for his third son in 1734, he built a house incorporating the original building. In 1803 a servant, answering a call of nature or the bell to lunch, history does not relate which, put down a bucket of glowing coals from a cleaned-out grate and burned down the house. It is said to have burnt for two days the glow being seen in Clones. The main and upper floors were completely gutted, many works of art and furniture perished and most of Samuel Madden’s archive, then housed at Hilton, was lost.
The house was rebuilt over the following 15 years or so, it is believed to the design of James Jones; meanwhile the family lived in the male servants’ quarters over the stables. The two principal bedrooms and the dining room remain intact from this rebuilding, as does the north end. The dining room has a fine ‘Nelson’ ceiling of ropes and oakleaves, reflecting no doubt that Admiral Lord Nelson had fallen at Trafalgar in 1805 and that Colonel John Madden’s father-in-law, Admiral William Wolseley, had been Admiral of the Red in his fleet.
The next John Madden, a true Victorian ‘improver’, set about transforming his house in the 1870s into an Italian ‘palazzo’, with the technical assistance of the young, local architect, William Hague, who became well known as architect of many fine Roman Catholic churches, including the cathedral in Monaghan. This involved digging out the basement, so that it became the ground floor, introducing a new hall, inner hall, staircase and gallery, as well as a ballroom and boudoir. The exterior was encased in cut Dungannon sandstone; enrichments and a handsome ‘porte-cochere’ were added. The house was then virtually fortified with steel shutters and a massive front door in deference to the Land League, who by then could smell the blood of the landlords.
The Hilton that John Madden bequeathed is today substantially as he altered it, except that it is electrified, centrally heated, every bedroom has its ‘en suite’ bathroom and the ballroom has been divided to make two drawing rooms.
As a ‘piano nobile’ the main floor commands outstanding views over the park, parterre and lake. Hague’s fine watercoloured architectural drawings for these works can be seen on the way downstairs to the breakfast room. Madden records in his diary that he consulted Sir Charles Lanyon, but it is probable that he engaged Hague because he was cheaper and more likely to accept the influence of his patron than the older man. The house is furnished with period pieces that have been here for generations and musical guests are encouraged to play the splendidly original ‘Erard’ concert grand piano, which is contemporary with Chopin and is exactly the piano he might have played. There is also a fine chimney piece that Colonel John brought back from Naples in his yacht in the first decade of the 19th Century. Through the back windows the colonnaded ride that he built can be seen, under which his horses were exercised on wet days – it is believed to be unique in Ireland.“
The Flat Lakes festival used to take place on the grounds of Hilton Park, and we attended in June 2011.
3. Mullan Village and Mill, Mullan, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan– section 482
contact: Michael Treanor Tel: 047-81135 www.mullanvillage.com Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6.30pm Fee: €6
“Blessingbourne Estate came into the Montgomery family by marriage to the Armar family in the early 18th century. The builder of Blessingbourne was a man of taste; Hugh De Fellenberg known as “Colonel Eclipse”, Montgomery, grandfather of Captain Peter Montgomery.
Blessingbourne originally belonged to the Armars. The Estate came to the Montgomerys in the eighteenth century when Elizabeth Armar married Hugh Montgomery [b. 1692], of Derrygonnelly Castle in Fermanagh.
The first Montgomery to live at Blessingbourne was another Hugh. Hugh was born in 1779 and known for some reason as “Colonel Eclipse”. His portrait, which he gave to his old school, Eton, shows him to have been very handsome. However, he was unlucky in love.
He vowed he would never marry and built himself a bachelor retreat at Blessingbourne, a romantic thatched cottage. He also built the charming little Gate Lodge (transformed to the present day 5 star Gate Lodge)
But his bachelorhood ended after a few years, for he married a Spanish girl and had a son. His son’s godmother was Lady Byron, who remained a close friend and was greatly attached to his sister Mary, a key figure in the development of Blessingbourne.
It descended in the family to Peter Montgomery, Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone, who died childless, after which it passed to a cousin. The property was ultimately the inheritance of Captain Robert Lowry, a direct descendant of Colonel Eclipse, and now belongs to Colleen and Nicholas Lowry.
The Classic Tour encompasses everything well loved about the Estate. Current estate owners Nicholas and Colleen Lowry host all Tours personally. This tour includes a walk through the Victorian gardens, with their majestic setting overlooking the beautiful Lough Fadda. As well as, a private tour of main ground floor rooms of the impressive Manor House. The Manor House was built in 1871-74 and designed by Pepy’s Cockerall a close friend of William Morris. After that, enjoy a guided stroll around the extensive Coach , Carriage and Costume Collections from yesteryear.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 44. “(Montgomery/IFR) There was originally no house at Blessingbourne, an estate which came to the Montgomerys through marriage early in C18; the family seat being Derrygonnelly Castle in County Fermanagh, which was burnt later in C18 and not rebuilt. The family lived for some years at Castle Hume, which they rented; then, at the beginning of C19, a romantic thatched cottage was built by the side of the lough at Blessingbourne by Hugh Montgomery (known as Colonel Eclipse) as a bachelor retreat for himself after he had been crossed in love. His bachelorhood ended in 1821, when he married a Spanish girl; but during the next 50 years the family lived mainly abroad, so that his cottage was all they needed for their occasional visits to County Tyrone. The present Victorian Elizabethan house was built by his grandson, Hugh de Fellenberg Montgomery, between 1870 and 1874, to the design of F. Pepys Cockerell. Pepys Cockerell, son of the better-known C.R. Cockerell, as an artist as much as an architect; his patron and his patron’s wife were also people of tate; so that Blessingbourne is an unusually attractive and successful example of it style and period. The grey stone elevations are not overloaded with ornament; such as there is had restraint: caps on the chimneys, small finials on the gables, curved and scrolled pediments over some of the mullioned windows. The interior of the house is comfortable, with great character. The hall has a staircase incorporated in a screen of tapering wooden piers. Through glazed arches one looks across an inner hall to the lough and mountains. The principal rooms have chimneypieces of carved sone in a Tudor design, flanked by niches for logs: some of them being decorated with William de Morgan tiles. The dining room still keeps its original William Morris wallpaper of blue and green grapes and foliage; while there is another original Morris paper in the library. The late owner, Capt P. S. Montgomery, former President of th Northern Ireland Arts Council, stylishly redecorated much of the interior, which houses his collection of modern Irish art. Blessingbourne has passed to his nephew, Captain R.H.Lowry.”
“The O’Neills were perhaps the greatest of the Irish clans, whose origins date back as far as the 10th century and whose lineage includes two High Kings of Ireland.
Hugh O’Neill became leader of the clan in 1595 and as such was known as The O’Neill. A charismatic, even romantic figure, he had a long, tempestuous and complicated relationship with the English Crown, a relationship largely of convenience – for both parties. It was characterised by double-crossing by each side, building and abandoning strategic alliances. And ultimately, by all-out war.
In this story Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and the last inaugurated chief of the O’Neills, plays the central role. Dungannon was at the eye of an international political storm from 1594 to 1603, during which time The O’Neill would lead mighty armies, would win and lose battles, and create problems for at least four monarchs.
And the repercussions were serious. Some might say that the consequences are still being felt today. When Hugh O’Neill was ultimately outmanoeuvred, his defeat paved the way for two connected seismic events that would forever transform his kingdom.
The O’Neill was a military genius who repeatedly got the better of the Crown’s generals in Ulster. However, after a bitter defeat at the Battle of Kinsale, he was driven to bid farewell to the Hill of the O’Neill and the lands he ruled over.
O’Neill’s departure for Spain, with the Earl of Tyrconnell and 90 followers, became known as the Flight of the Earls. It was a pivotal event in Irish history, effectively marking the end of the Gaelic way of life.
With The O’Neill and his followers effectively gone into exile, the way was clear for the organised colonisation of their lands by wealthy settlers, largely from Scotland and England under King James I. This was known as the Plantation, a plan conceived to subdue, control and ‘civilise’ the wayward Irish. Instrumental in managing the process and distributing the lands was the Lord Deputy of Ireland – Arthur Chichester, who had defeated Hugh O’Neill in the Nine Years War. (Chichester would go on to become a major figure in the founding of Belfast.)
The Plantation is the point that marks the shift in Ulster from an ancient Gaelic tradition to a new Anglo-Scottish ethos. It is in effect, the beginning of another age in the history of Ireland, Ulster, Dungannon and, of course, of the Hill.
“Killymoon castle sits in picturesque surroundings overlooking the Ballinderry River on the outskirts of Cookstown just 50 miles from Belfast by car. The castle is a grade A listed building designed by the famous John Nash who also designed the Regent Street area of London and its most famous landmark Buckingham Palace. The castle was originally built in 1600 for James Stewart, six generations of the Stewarts lived in the castle until 1852. It was described in the Irish Penny Journal of 1841 ‘as one of the most aristocratic residences in the province of Ulster’.”
“The original castle, built in 1671 by James Stewart on the substantial demesne had been granted to him under the Plantation Settlement. Stewarts ancestors had come from Scotland during the plantation to settle in Cookstown, and in 1666 James bought the land lease for the castle site from Alan Cooke – the founder of Cookstown. The castle was destroyed by fire in 1801 and in 1802, Colonel William Stewart had a new, more imposing castle built, designed by John Nash, the famous London Architect.
Killymoon was Nash’s first castle in Ireland, and reputedly cost £80,000 to build (about £7.4 million today). It was described in the Irish Penny Journal of 1841 as “one of the most aristocratic residences in the province of Ulster”, with state apartments consisting of “a breakfast-parlour, dining room, ante-room and drawing-room, all of which are of noble proportions and their woodwork of polished oak”.
The Killymoon estate remained the property of the Stewart family for six generations; however, their extravagant lifestyle caused the Stewart family to fall on hard times, especially during the years of the Irish famine. The estate was sold in 1852 for £100,000. In 1857, the castle had again been sold to the Cooper family; and, in 1865, Colonel Bolton, an English gentleman, purchased the castle.
A mere ten years later, Mervyn Stuart Thomas Moutray JP, became the owner of Killymoon Castle until 1916, when Gerald Macura bought the castle and town of Cookstown for almost £100,000. By 1918, Macura was also in financial difficulties and was compelled to sell off his assets. John Coulter bought the castle and grounds in 1922 and it remains the home of the Coulter family to this day.
Take a tour of Killymoon Castle and step back in time. Visit Lady Molesworth’s morning room, the oval dining room whose restrained plasterwork and marble fireplace show the dignity of their Georgian origin. Ascend the magnificent cantilever style staircase and admire the fragile plasterwork like sugar spires on an inverted wedding cake .
Colonel Stewart was only 27 when this castle was built and it must have been a truly wonderful fairy tale to bring his beautiful bride to this romantic spot.
Fortunes and families rise and fall and this fabulous fairy dwelling which cost £80.000 to build in 1807, was gambled in a game of poker and sold for an unbelieveable sum in the 1920’s
Group tours can be arranged by clicking the button below and filling out a request form. Private tours also available.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 173. “(Stewart/LGI1912; Moutray/LGI1912) One of John Nash’s earliest castles, built ca 1803 for William Stewart, MP, incorporating part of the previous house which was burnt ca 1800. A building with a romantic silhouette in a glorious position above the Ballinderry river with a backdrop of sweeping woods and parkland. The principal front dominated by an almost central battlemented and machicolated round tower and turret; at one end, an octagonal battlemented and machicolated tower; at the other, the profile of the square tower in the adjoining front, the base of which is arched to form a porte-cochere. The latter tower has slender octagonal corner turrets, with cupolas. Pointed windows grouped together under segmental hood-mouldings, which were regarded by Nash and his contemporaries as Saxon. Good interior planning with square, circular and octagonal rooms fitted together. Hall with double staircase, lit by Gothic lantern on plaster fan-vaulted ceiling. Drawing room with plain gilt plasterwork cornice of wreath and honeysuckle design. Library in form of Gothic chapel, with stained glass windows. Sold after William Stewart’s death 1850. Subsequently the seat of the Moutray family.”
5. Lissan House, Drumgrass Road, Cookstown, County Tyrone, BT80 9SW.
The house is open from Easter to mid September on Saturdays and Sundays, and during July and August it is open Thursday to Sunday. Opening hours are from 12:00 – 17:00. 3 guided tours per day at 12:30, 14:00 and 15:30.
“Lissan House is an enchanting country residence set within a 260 acre demesne of ancient woodland and forestry.
The estate was created in the 17th century and remained the home of the Staples family for nearly 400 years. Lissan came to prominence in 2003 when its popularity helped it reach the final of the BBC Restoration programme.
Following extensive redevelopment, the house opened its doors in spring 2012 to reveal modern interactive exhibits and original family furnishings which take you on a unique journey through the history of the estate and the family characters that have shaped it. Children will be kept entertained in the house with the teddy bear treasure hunt. The demesne also features a challenging adventure playground for children, a wooded picnic area, walled garden.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 188. “(Staples, Bt/PB) A plain three storey 9 bay Georgian house with later additions. At one end, a single-storey wing with a three-sided mullioned bow. At the other, a gable-ended office range. And in the middle of the entrance front, a single-storey protuberance of unusual depth, embodying a porch and a bow-fronted porte-cochere with windows. Some time post mid-C18, a garden was laid out here by the architect, Davis Duckart; with an “artificial sheet of water with cascades, and a picturesque bridge.”
Nestled in the heart of the estate’s historic courtyard the collection of 5 award-winning self-catering apartments are ideal for family breaks, romantic breaks and groups. Guests can enjoy a relaxing country estate experience.
Guests can choose from 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom self-catering accommodation, all of which are pet friendly. Experience a home from home environment with the apartment’s warm and inviting décor. All apartments feature open plan Living, Dining and Kitchen areas. On-site laundry facilities are available.
5. Cobblers Cottage Omagh, County Tyrone(sleeps 5)€
The lovingly renovated Cobblers Cottage has a cosy living/kitchen/dining area, 2 spacious bedrooms (sleeps 5) & a bathroom.
Enjoy the simplicity of this recently renovated 200 year old traditional Irish cottage in peaceful surroundings of Tyrone at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains between Omagh and Cookstown, in the area of Creggan.
Stay with us in our Castle Lodge, located in the grounds of Killymoon Castle on the banks of the Ballinderry River, offers the most tranquil of breaks. Only a short distance from Cookstown town centre and a one hour drive to the north coast, Donegal or Belfast. With Killymoon golf club and the Ballinderry River on your doorstep what better way to relax.
9. The Lower House Rooms, Donaghmore, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, BT70 3EZ€
Located in Donaghmore in the heart of Mid-Ulster, the conversion of The Lower House into 7 rooms of accomodation has been our pride and joy. Renovated with the finest fixtures, fittings and decoration, a stay at The Lower House rooms is an experience full of character and luxury.
4 Stunning self catering family cottages situated in the Dungannon countryside, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland
 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.
contact: Ian Elliott Tel: 087-9772224 www.corravahan.com Open dates in 2022: Jan 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 31, Feb 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28, Mar 1, 7-8, May 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29-31, Aug 13-27, 29-30, Sept 5-6, 12-13, 9am-1pm, Sundays 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5
This house is a delight! The owners, the Elliotts, who purchased the house in 2003, appreciate the intricacies of the house and its history, and convey this with enthusiasm. Corravahan House has an excellent website which describes the history of the house and its occupants, along with photographs from former days.
Ian Elliott obliged us by opening on a day not normally scheduled. Visits are further curtailed by Covid-19 restrictions and distancing and safety requirements. I appreciate when anyone is willing to accommodate a visit this year.
We drove to the house on our way to Donegal to visit Stephen’s mother. We stopped a night in Monaghan, so had plenty of time for our visit. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t get to see the gardens – we will have to visit another time!
The National Inventory of Historic Architecture tells us that Corravahan House is an Italianate style three-bay three-storey over basement former rectory, built 1841. It has a one-storey projecting entrance porch to the front, containing a four-panelled timber door. The Inventory website also mentions “glazed tripartite loggia” and the bow on the rear elevation.
The Inventory notes the slate roof “with oversailing eaves” and the cornice on the chimneystacks. The garden facing walls are of “random rubble” with large corner stones at the rear elevation, and other walls have been rendered.
On the garden elevation, there is a Wyatt window with plain stone mullions and projecting cornice under red-brick relieving arch, and brick dressings to window openings on upper floors, garden front.
The Inventory mentions the “ruled-and-lined rendered walls.” Ian pointed this out to us inside the timber lean-to. One can see the original wall, and the lines hand-drawn. The lines are to make the rendered wall appear to be made of stone blocks! We can see a clearer, more recent example of this on a new structure built in the yard, but again, more on this later.
The windows in the bow have curved sashes and timber, although the glass in the windows is flat. These windows would be particularly difficult to craft, to fit the curve of the bowed wall.
Ian greeted us, along with a friendly dog. We stepped into the porch, which has four-over-four timber sash windows to the sides. A further door leads into the entrance hall.
The house was built for a clergyman, Marcus Gervais Beresford (1801-1885). Before he had this house built, he rented nearby as he was the Vicar for Drung, appointed by his father in 1828. The previous parsonage had been condemned as unfit for use. Reverend Marcus Beresford was the great-grandson of Marcus Beresford, the 1st Earl of Tyrone (1694-1763), whom we came across when we visited Curraghmore in County Waterford (the husband of Catherine, who built the Shell House). The 1st Earl’s son John, an MP for County Waterford, was Marcus Gervais’s grandfather, and John’s son, George (1765-1841), Marcus Gervais’s father, became Bishop for Kilmore, County Cavan. Bishop George Beresford married Frances, a daughter of Gervase Parker Bushe and Mary Grattan (a sister of Henry Grattan (1746-1820), the politician and lawyer who supported Catholic emancipation) . Marcus Gervais followed in his father’s footsteps, and as the third son, joined the Church.
The website for Corravahan tells us that the Beresfords engaged the services of the architect William Farrell, who had recently completed the new See House at Kilmore for Bishop George, to construct Corravahan as the new rectory for the parish. According to Wikipedia, William Farrell was a Dublin-based Irish architect who was the “Board of First Fruits” architect for the Church of Ireland ecclesiastical province of Armagh from 1823-1843. In this time he designed several Church of Ireland churches, as well as houses for the clergy. He built several houses in County Cavan, including Rathkenny [ca. 1820] and Tullyvin [built ca 1812], Shaen House in Laois (now a hospital), Clonearl House in County Offaly, and Clogrennan House in County Carlow.
Due to the family’s connections and status, the house was designed to impress. It is the details that indicate its quality, and visitors who were meant to be impressed would have recognised the signs. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage lists some of the details – for example: “Entrance hall has decorative timber panelled walls set in round headed arch recesses with panelled pilasters having squared Doric entablature. Flooring of decorative black and white tiles mimicking Italian marble.”
The vestibule is Grecian Classical in style. The arches are of plaster. Ian reckons the floor tiles are Portland stone – a stone of particularly good quality – and a darker limestone, perhaps Kilkenny marble. You can see in the photograph the quality craftsmanship of the wood panelling on the walls. And this is just the front hall! A door to the right leads into what would have been the Vicar’s office where he would meet his parishioners. Guests to be entertained would enter straight ahead into the main part of the house.
We entered a room that is now the library. It is the second library of the house. The first room, the Bishop’s office, was the first library. A later resident of the house, Charles Robert Leslie, became wheelchair bound and an elevator was installed into the house where the first library had been, so a second room was converted into a library, which had previously been the morning room. A window was covered over with bookcases, which is still visible from the outside of the house.
Marcus Beresford followed in his father’s footsteps and was appointed Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in 1854. He moved out of Corravahan, and the next Vicar of Drung moved in, the Reverend Charles Leslie.
This Charles Leslie’s father, John, was the son of Charles Powell Leslie I, whom we came across when we visited Castle Leslie in County Monaghan. John was Charles Powell Leslie’s second son, and since he was not to inherit Castle Leslie, he joined the Church. He rose quickly due to his connections, and became Bishop of Dromore in 1812 and Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in 1841. He married the daughter of the Bishop of Ross, Isabella St. Lawrence, from the Howth Castle family of St. Lawrences (her grandfather was the 1st Earl of Howth. The castle was still in private hands, until sold by the Gaisford-St. Lawrence family in 2019. I would love to see it!). He preceded Marcus Beresford as Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. His eldest son, Charles became vicar of Drung in 1855. He moved into Corravahan with his wife and children (or as they liked to call it, “Coravahn.”  Their only daughter, Mary, died shortly afterwards, aged just 15.
Charles Leslie married, first, Frances King, daughter of General Robert Edward King, 1st Viscount Lorton of Boyle, County Roscommon, and his wife Frances Parsons (daughter of the 1st Earl of Rosse, the family who own Birr Castle, County Offaly, another section 482 property), in 1834. After she died, childless, he married Louisa Mary King, daughter of Lt-Col Henry King, 1st cousin of his first wife. The Corravahan website tells us that in 1836, Charles went on a tour of Europe with the Viscount and some members of his family, including his late wife’s cousin, Louisa, who he would marry the following year.
Charles Leslie continued to serve as the Vicar of Drung until 1870. He was then appointed, following in the footsteps of his father and of the former resident of Corravahan Reverend Marcus Beresford, Bishop of Kilmore. He died, however, three months after his appointment and so never moved from Corravahan. Following his death, his widow and five sons retained the house as a private residence, while providing a new, more modest rectory for the parish on nearby land. This house is also listed in the National Inventory of Historic Architecture, as Drung Rectory. The entry incorrectly states that it no longer serves as a rectory. It does in fact still serve the parishes of the Drung Group. It was built around 1870, to the east of the walled garden of Corravahan.
Charles Leslie’s second son, Charles Robert Leslie (1841-1904), lived on the estate, running it for his father after retiring from the British army (the oldest son, John Henry Leslie, married and subsequently lived in England). It was he who became disabled and for whom the elevator was installed. Stephen and I were fascinated to learn that he kept diaries, and that the diaries are on the shelves in the library at Corravahan!
They would be fascinating to read, as he was engaged in Canada as Captain of the 25th King’s Own Borderers, who repelled a Fenian invasion from New York state! The Fenians, an Irish Republican organisation based in the United States, conducted raids on British army forts, custom posts and other targets in Canada in an attempt to pressure the British to withdraw Ireland .
Charles never married and when he died, in September 1904, ownership of Corravahan passed to his younger brother, Cecil, third son of Reverend Charles Leslie and Louisa.
The Corravahan website tells us that Cecil Edward St. Lawrence Leslie (1843-1930) was educated at Oxford, returning to live permanently at Corravahan, and served periodically on the judiciary in Cavan, otherwise living off his investments and rental income on lands he owned. The website continues:
“In 1876, he married Emily Louisa Massy-Beresford (1854-1890), a first-cousin-twice-removed of Rt. Rev. Marcus Gervais Beresford, the builder of Corravahan. She was the daughter of Very Rev. John Maunsell Massy, Dean of Kilmore, who had wisely added the name Beresford (by royal licence) subsequent to his equally wise marriage to Emily Sarah Beresford, daughter of Rev. John Isaac Beresford of Macbie Hill, Peebles-shire, who was the grand-niece of George, Bishop of Kilmore and great-great-granddaughter of the Earl of Tyrone. Cecil and “Loo” had two sons, Charles and Cecil George, the last children raised at Corravahan before the present.”
The elder son, Charles, died at the age of 13. The younger, Cecil George, nicknamed “Choppy,” joined the military. He died of tuberculosis in 1919, predeceasing his father.
A fourth son of Reverend Charles and Louisa, Henry King Leslie (1844-1926) married Ruth Hungerford-Eagar. The website tells us that he served as a land agent to numerous estates, and it was while he was living at Kilnahard, Mountnugent, possibly working for the Nugent family of Bobsgrove, or Farren Connell, that Ruth gave birth to their son, Frank King Leslie, in 1885. He died in Gallipoli in 1915. Henry and Ruth also had two daughters, Madge and Joan, who we will return to presently.
The youngest of Reverend Charles’s five sons, Arthur Trevor Leslie (1847-1886), also joined the military, and died in 1886 at Corravahan, probably due to illness contracted in his service.
By 1930, then, all of Rev. Charles Leslie’s five sons had died, the only survivors of the subsequent generation were Henry’s daughters, Margaret Ruth Leslie (1886-1972) and Nancy Joan Leslie (1888-1972). Thus upon Cecil’s death in 1930 it was to his nieces that he left Corravahan, along with the accumulated wealth of the previous generations. The sisters remained unmarried.
Frank King Leslie’s fiancee, May Haire-Forster, remained close to the family and joined Madge and Joan, to live in Corravahan after 1930. The three women lived together in the house for forty years. They modernised the house, having inherited quite a bit of money from their brothers, so they were able to install electricity and central heating. They were careful to preserve many elements of the house that they may have remembered fondly as children, however, in a way that someone who did not grow up in the house may not have retained. They were popular in the neighbourhood and continued to give employment to people of the area.
The sisters installed electric lights before rural electrification of Ireland, which occurred in 1957. The sisters innovatively used a wind turbine system to create their electricity.
The house passed in 1972 to Madge’s god-daughter, Elizabeth Lucas-Clements, daughter of the Lucas-Clements family of nearby Rathkenny House. Rathkenny, also designed by William Farrell, was built for Theophilus Lucas-Clements in the 1820s . Having sold Corravahan and its contents in 1974, largely to meet various bills for death-duties, Elizabeth Lucas-Clements retained much material that was personal to the Leslie family, and, among other items, gave the diaries of Charles Robert Leslie to the current owner.
The house then stood empty for five years and was occupied only occasionally for a further twenty-five years, until it was purchased by its current owners, the Elliotts. The surrounding farmland and outbuildings, walled garden and orchard no longer belong to the house. The National Inventory tells us: “The walled garden is located to the south-east of the lawns, and once formed part of an extensive landscape of gardens, woods, paths, and ponds more in the style of a country house demesne reflecting the particularly wealthy status of the clergy incumbents of Beresford and following him Rev. Charles Leslie.” The Elliotts are restoring the eight acres they have remaining around the house.
We moved from the former morning room to the drawing room.
The room has an egg and dart pattern ceiling cornice and a large bay window. This is the “glazed tripartite loggia having steps to the garden” mentioned in the National Inventory [see 1. And we saw a loggia before in the Old Rectory in Killedmond, County Carlow]. It does not look like a door, but the middle panel of the windows slides up into the frame in an ingenious manner to make a door. Ian is not sure if this bay window is original to the house. On the one hand, it is not well-constructed as it does not have a relieving arch over it, which would lend solidity, and as a result, the ceiling has cracked over time. This seems particularly odd as there is a relieving arch over another window. But William Farrell has built similar designs in other places. Ian has seem something similar to the door/window in Castle Ward, County Down, and apparently there is something like it in Abbeville in Dublin, another Beresford residence.
On a purely personal note, the ironwork on the windows reminded me of the protecting grille on our windows and doors in Grenada, though the Grenada one is simpler.
I admired the built-in shelving unit in the drawing room and asked whether it was original to the house.
It was not. There were doors here between the drawing room and the former morning room, closed up when the second library was created. You can see Stephen wearing his mask in the photograph, as we were all protecting ourselves from Covid-19!
We entered the dining room next. Ian pointed out that as we followed the typical daily progress of a house resident from room to room: morning room to drawing room to dining room, we followed the path of the sun shining in to the house! It was well designed!
The bow in the house contains the dining room.
The bow makes the room look grander and larger than it would with straight walls. It necessitates having slightly curved wooden window frame joinery, however, requiring skill and extra expense. The glass in the windows, fortunately, is not curved, as that would be even more expensive and difficult. The room has more beautiful curtain pelmets and decorative plaster coving.
It also has a decorative ceiling rose. The other architectural novelty in this room is an arched recess for a sideboard.
Interestingly, it appears that the Beresfords had a smaller sideboard than the Leslies. The Leslies had to have the recess widened! They did not leave their sideboard but the Elliotts were lucky enough to find one that fit perfectly!
The room has the Classical feature of symmetrical details, which includes the doors. There are four doors in the room. Two of them, however, exist merely for balance. One leads to a drinks cabinet and the other appears to have been used as a cupboard for the silverware, as it has a strong lock. The other doors lead from the main house, and to the servants’ area, for serving the food.
I was also delighted to see the old fashioned railing around the top of the walls – a tapestry rail. It is perfect for hanging pictures. In the room there was a picture of Marcus Gervais Beresford, who later became the Archbishop of Armagh, and one of Bishop John Leslie, the father of Charles who moved into the house when Marcus Beresford left.
The tapestry rail runs all around the room along the ceiling. On the right, above, is Marcus Gervais Beresford. Note that on the top of the portrait frame is the mitre of an Archbishop. The portrait of Bishop John Leslie is on the left hand side, and in the photograph below:
Next, we went out to the servants’ hall. It has large built-in cupboard along the wall:
This was specially built to hold extra leaves of the dining room table! I wondered what was the purpose of the little shelf under the cupboard. Ian explained – the board on the wall across from the ledge comes down to form a shelf, on which the dishes coming from the kitchen were placed. There is another shelf that can be lowered behind where I was standing to take the photograph, that is on the other side of the door coming from the dining room, which would have been for the dirty dishes!
Before the cupboard was built for the leaves of the table, the wall had what looked like wooden panelling. Guests would have seen this if they glimpsed out into the hall from the dining table, and they would have been impressed to see that even the serving hall was panelled.
What looks like carved wood panelling, is actually wallpaper! I couldn’t believe it – the wood looks so real! I had to run my finger over it, and still found it hard to believe! Unfortunately the rest of the wallpaper has been painted over, below the leaf cupboard. The wood appearance wallpaper would have come halfway up the wall to look like wood panelling.
From the hall we entered a kitchen which is inside the timber lean-to. This was added on since the original kitchen was in the basement. A dumbwaiter was built into this lean-to for the sisters Madge and Joan, for the ease of their housemaid.
Inside the shaft where the dumb waiter goes up and down, Ian pointed out the original wall of the house. It was here that we could see the way the wall had been drawn on, “ruled and lined rendered walls,” to make it look like it was made of stone.
The servants would have lived in the basement and in the outbuildings to the side of the house in the coachyard and stable block. The top of the house was the nursery. I took a photo of the outbuildings from the top floor of the house, the attic storey. In this photograph you can see the arches of the coach house. Servants would have lived above.
You can just about see the solar panels which have been carefully installed, in such a way as not to damage the roof slates, which have been repaired and replaced by the current owners. The building on the left is new, but has been so well-made that it looks like the older buildings! Here again Ian pointed out how the render has been decorated so that around the new arches, it looks like stonework but is really cement plaster, carefully etched to mimic the original cut stone of the adjacent coach-house doorways.
There are two staircases in the house – the back stairs for the servants, and the main staircase.
The back stairs lead up to the nursery attic storey.
The rooms upstairs are airy and bright and surprisingly large. Looking out a window, we had a bird’s eye view of the giant old Lebanon Cedar tree, which must be about 300 years old.
My family had a Lebanese cedar also nearly as old, at our house in Puckane, County Tipperary:
We then used the main staircase to return downstairs. It has a mahogany handrail and carved timber balusters, and is overlooked by a grand arched window.
This Wyatt window topped with arches is a style favoured by the architect William Farrell. There are similar windows in other houses he built, Rathkenny House and the See House in Kilmore. There is also a window like this in the courthouse in Virginia, County Cavan, but this is not an original – the window was originally an arch and was copied from Farrell’s windows.
The stairs are ornamented with Vitruvian scrolls, which is a motif from Greek temples. The fact that these were carved in stone in temples lends to the idea that the stairs are made of stone, although they are of wood. The bannisters are painted black and can be mistaken at a glance for wrought iron.
We ended our tour at the bottom of the stairs in another lovely hall space complete with fireplace. We signed the guest book, and look forward to returning to see the garden and to explore more outside!
“At this stage the house passed to Elizabeth Lucas-Clements ( Margaret’s god daughter) of the aforementioned neighbouring Rathkenny. Catherine Beresford, daughter of the Rt. Hon John de la Poer Beresford had, years before, married Henry Theophilus Clements of also nearby Ashfield Lodge, a cousin of the Rathkenny Lucas-Clements.”
The blog gives a great image of the way the gentry families intermarried and connected:
“These houses and families can often be like circles looping into each other, not unlike Olympic rings, connecting at a point, distant again perhaps for a period, but uniting again before this “pattern “ frequently continues unabated.”