Places to Visit and Stay, Munster: County Cork

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

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

For places to stay, I have made a rough estimate of prices at time of publication:

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;

€€ – up to approx €250 per night for two;

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Cork:

1. Annes Grove Gardens, County Cork – OPW

2. Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork – section 482

3. Ballymaloe House, Cloyne, County Cork

4. Ballynatray, Youghal, County Cork (also Waterford) – section 482

5. Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Co. Cork – section 482

6. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork – section 482

7. Barryscourt Castle, County Cork – OPW

8. Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork

9. Blarney Castle & Rock Close, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

10. Blarney House & Gardens, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

11. Brideweir House, Conna, Co. Cork – section 482

12. Burton Park, Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork – section 482

13. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482

14. Desmond Castle, Kinsale, County Cork – OPW

15. Doneraile Court, County Cork – OPW

16. Drishane Castle & Gardens, Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork – section 482

17. Drishane House, Castletownshend, Co. Cork – section 482

18. Dunkathel House [or Dunkettle], Glanmire, Cork

19. Dún Na Séad Castle, Baltimore, Co. Cork – section 482

20. Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens – OPW

21. Garrettstown House, Garrettstown, Kinsale, Co. Cork – section 482

22. Fenns Quay, 4 & 5 Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

23. Ilnacullin, Garanish Island, County Cork – OPW

24. Inis Beg gardens, Baltimore, County Cork

25. Kilcascan Castle, Ballineen, Co. Cork – section 482

26. Kilshannig House, Rathcormac, Co. Cork – section 482

27. Riverstown House, Riverstown, Glanmire, Co. Cork – section 482

28. Woodford Bourne Warehouse, Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

Places to stay, County Cork

1. Annes Grove (formerly Ballyhemock or Ballyhimmock), Castletownroche, Co Cork – gate lodge accommodation €€

2. Ballincurra House, County Cork – coach house, estate cottages, and whole house rental

3. Ballinterry House, Rathcormac, Co Cork – accommodation https://www.facebook.com/BallinterryH/

4. Ballylickey House, Bantry, Co Cork – now the Seaview House Hotel €€

5. Ballymacmoy, Killavullen, Co Cork – coach house airbnb 

6. Ballymaloe, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation 

7. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental

8. Ballyvolane, Castlelyons, Co Cork – Hidden Ireland accommodation €€€

9. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork  €€

10. Castle Martyr, Co Cork – hotel €€€

11. Castle Townshend, Co Cork – accommodation,

12. Clifford House, Clifford, Co Cork – airbnb

13. Creagh (former Glebe House), Skibbereen, Co Cork – B&B 

14. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482

15. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages

16. Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, Co Cork €€

17. Elizabeth Fort Parade Houses, County Cork € for 3

18. Galley Head Lighthouse Keepers House, County Cork € for 3-4

19. Coach House Apartments, Glebe Country House, Ballinadee Bandon County Cork

https://glebecountryhouse.ie

20. Glenlohane cottage, Kanturk, Cork – accommodation €€ in house; Pink Cottage € for 3-5 for one week

21. Glenville Park, Glenville, County Cork (previously known as The Manor and as Mount Pleasant) – accommodation 

22. Inis Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork

23. Killee Cottage, Mitchelstown, County Cork €€

24. Kilmahon House, County Cork

25. Kilshannig, County Cork holiday accommodation

26. Liss Ard Estate, County Cork

27. Lota Lodge, Glanmire, Co Cork – now the Vienna Woods Hotel 

28. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibbereen, County Cork – whole house or gate lodge –

29. The Courtyard, Mallow

30.  Maryborough, Douglas, Co Cork – Maryborough Hotel €€ 

31. Old Bank Townhouse, Kinsale, County Cork

32. Perryville, Kinsale, Co Cork – hotel €€ 

[see 5]. Seaview House Hotel, Ballylicky, County Cork

33. Springfort Hall, Mallow, Co cork – hotel

Whole House Accommodation, County Cork

1. Aspen House, Dromgarriff Estate, Glengarriff, Cork, Ireland – whole house rental  

2. Ballincurra House, County Cork – coach house, estate cottages, and whole house rental

3. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental

4. Barnabrow, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation

5. Blackwater Castle (Castle Widenham, or Blackwater Valley Castle) Castletownroache, Co Cork

6. Blairscove House, County Cork

7. Careysville (Ballymacpatrick Castle), Clondulane, Fermoy, Co.Cork, Ireland P61 VF53 – accommodation (whole house accommodation 11 guests)

8. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above

9. Dunowen House, Co Cork – Blue Book Accommodation

10. Farran House, County Cork, whole house rental

11. Longueville, Mallow, Co Cork – Blue Book accommodation

12. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house €€€ for two, € for 5-8; or gate lodge €

13. Rincolisky Castle, Whitehall, co Cork – renovated, whole house.  €€€ for 2, € for 5.

14. Southernmost House, Cape Clear Island, County Cork

Cork:

1. Annes Grove Gardens, County Cork – OPW

Annes Grove County Cork 1981, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive [1]

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

2. Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Gerald McGreal
Tel: 087-2400831
Open: Feb 10-13, 19-27, Mar 10- 13, May 5-8, 19-22, 26-29, June 9-12, 23-26, July 21-24, Aug 13-21, 25-28, Sept 1-4, 22-25, 8am-12 noon

Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3 

An article published on June 2nd 2013 in the Irish Examiner by Peter Dowdall gives a wonderful description of the garden. He writes:

From tiny little details, such as a glimpse of a marble seat in the distance through an accidental gap in a hedge, to a perfectly-positioned specimen tree, this garden needs senses on high alert.

If I am to be honest, I was expecting a garden recreated by the book and with a certain degree of interest from the owner. What I discovered was a garden being recreated by a man who is now thinking of the future generations and recreating this garden with a passionate attention to detail. Every plant that goes in is carefully considered; every stone and brick that went into creating an orangery from a derelict pig shed and a belfry from a cowshed were reused from the estate. Fallen slates, which weren’t good enough to use on buildings, create an edge around the rose beds.

What I love about the place is that the rule book is not evident, trial and error is the order of the day, which to me is real gardening. Except when it comes to the meticulous planning of the box hedges in the potager and the Horological Maze, which at this stage is on its third planting because the original Taxus (yew) failed due to a blight which struck again a few years later. The maze was replanted using Lonicera and is thriving, though it will be a few years before it is truly at its best…I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Sunday than roaming through the ‘garden rooms’ here.

Looking down on this garden, which is next to the maze, from an elevated platform you could imagine yourself in the south of France, except for the single-figure temperatures. Other features to admire include the fantastic Anglo-Chinese Regency-style bridge, constructed by the owner’s brother, and the pergola, which has been planted with several climbers including Jasminum, Laburnum, David Austin roses, Wisteria and Passiflora.

However, no account of a visit to this garden is complete without mentioning the Horological Maze.

What, I hear you ask is a Horological Maze? Well it’s a design centred on a French mantle clock, which is surrounded by interlocking cog-wheels, pinions and coil springs, all inspired by the workings of a typical mechanism. It also reflects the owner’s interest in horology and provides a balance in its garden sculpture to the turret clock presiding over the courtyard.

The owner took his inspiration for this creation from visits to Blenheim Palace and Weston Park in England, Shanagarry and Faithlegg in Ireland, and the Summer Palace in Vienna.

3. Ballymaloe House, Cloyne, County Cork

www.ballymaloe.ie

Ballymaloe House, 2017, photograph for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [2]

The website tells us:

Ballymaloe House is a family run Country House Hotel and restaurant on 300 acres of farmland located in beautiful East Cork countryside. Internationally recognised as the birthplace of Modern Irish Cuisine, Ballymaloe House offers you the very best of Irish hospitality and seasonal locally sourced or homegrown food.
A unique Irish Country House experience.”

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [3]

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

p. 24. “[Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E/PB; Corker sub. Corcor/LGI1912] A castle built towards the end of C16 by the FitzGeralds of Imokilly, enlarged 1602 by Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald [b. 1555]; confiscated by Cromwell; occupied for a period after the Restoration by William Penn [1644-1718], of Pennsylvania, when he was managing his father’s estate at Shanagarry, nearby; subsequently occupied by 1st Earl of Orrery [Roger Boyle (1621-1679)], presumably while he was repairing and improving his nearby seat of Castle Martyr; acquired towards end of C17 by Lt-Col Edward Corker; sold by him ante his death 1734 to Hugh Lumley, who added some new buildings to the castle some time ante 1750. As a result of Lumley’s additions, Ballymaloe is now predominantly early C18 in character; consisting of a plain two storey six bay range with an old tower built into one end of it, and a three storey gable-ended range at right angles to the two storey range, and joined to it by a return; forming a house on a “L”- plan. Some of the windows have thick early C18 glazing-bars. A staircase with thin turned balusters rises from the inner end of the hall, which has a ceiling with simple Adamesque decoration. The large room to the right of the hall has simple Adamesque frieze. Ca 1800, Ballymaloe was the residence of the Penn Gaskell family, who were descended from William Penn. In 1814, it was the residence of William Abbott. In 1837, it was owned by a Mr Forster; in 1908, it was occupied by William Litchfield. Until ca 1947, it was the home of Mr and Mrs J.M. Simpson; since then, it has been the home of Mr and Mrs Ivan Allen.” [4]

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

The Ballymaloe website elaborates the history:

Ballymaloe was a castle of the Imokilly Geraldines. Richard FitzMaurice FitzGerald was a son of the Knight of Kerry, who was appointed as Seneschal, or governor, of the area by the Earl of Desmond in 1440. The original castle was probably built by him shortly after that time. By the time of the Desmond rebellion, the occupant was John FitzEdmund FitzGerald who was known as ‘the Queen’s John FitzEdmond’ to distinguish him from the Seneschal of the same name who was a leader of the Insurrection and owned nearby Castlemartyr.

John FitzEdmund of Ballymaloe castle was an illegitimate son of Edmund by Honor Ni Donagh, ‘a woman of Muskerry’ and was well up in the list of efficient contrivers and gatherers of land of his time. John FitzEdmund appointed himself Sheriff of Cork in 1570 and during the Desmond rising he ‘dyd hang his (legitimate) brother James FitzEdmund’ in 1582. John refused to join O’Neill in 1599 and his lands were devastated, but he survived to be knighted by Mountjoy at Cloyne for his faithfulness in 1602.

Despite their differences, the close ties to the Geraldines were apparent when John FitzEdmund’s son, Edmund, was married to Honora, widow of his namesake, the late Seneschal. In 1611 this Edmund died and she was a widow again so old Sir John leased her the lands at a nominal rent before he died the following year aged 85.

A daughter of her rebellious father, she housed the homeless friars at Ballymaloe. Her son John moved to Ballymaloe where he died in 1640.

By the time of the Confederate War in 1641, the owner was her grandson, another Edmund and he lost the lands for taking the ‘rebel’ side. They passed to Broghill, (Roger Boyle, son of the Earl of Cork; newly-created Earl of Orrery, but living on a narrow edge of survival since he had escaped a charge of treason in London. Broghill lived at Ballymaloe after his enforced retirement as President of the court of Munster in 1672 before making his last home at Castlemartyr.

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

By the middle of the 18th Century, the occupier was Abraham Forster, and early in the 19th century, his grandson demolished parts of the old castle. It was he who largely build the house into its present form. Sometime later it passed to the Litchfield’s, and in 1924 Simpson, a nephew of the latter family came into possession. Mr. Simpson sold the house and farm to Myrtle and Ivan Allen in 1948 and it remains owned by the Allen family to this day.

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

Myrtle and Ivan Allen bought Ballymaloe in 1948 from the Simpson family. The Simpsons were known in the area for their parties and Myrtle and Ivan had, in fact, met at Ballycotton Lifeboat fundraising dinner at Ballymaloe a few years previously. Ivan had wide farming interests, growing tomatoes and cucumbers in glasshouses and mushrooms in dark wooden sheds at nearby Kinoith as well as managing the orchards there.

However, Ivan longed for a mixed farm and when Ballymaloe came up for sale he decided to buy it. Myrtle and Ivan spent the next sixteen years farming and bringing up their children. The farm was a success producing milk, butter, cream, eggs, home raised pork and veal as well as fruit and vegetables. Myrtle became highly knowledgeable about cooking their produce and began writing a cookery column in the Irish Farmers Journal.

In 1964, Myrtle, encouraged by Ivan, decided to open Ballymaloe as a restaurant. The children were growing up and she could see a different future ahead of her:

“On a winter’s day I sat by the fire alone and wondered what I would do in this big house when they were all grown up – Then I thought about a restaurant.”

Her aim was to emulate the best Irish Country House cookery.  Myrtle and Ivan then placed an advert in the Cork Examiner: Dine in a Historic Country House. Open Tuesday to Saturday. Booking essential. Phone Cloyne 16.

So Myrtle scrubbed down the kitchen table, and with the help of two local women she began. They cooked on an Aga at first and she was helped front of house by Ivan and their daughter Wendy. Their shepherd Joe Cronin ran the bar.

The food was good and the restaurant flourished. They cooked using their own produce- unpasteurised milk and cream, veal, pork, homemade sausages and black puddings, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Ivan went to Ballycotton every day for the fresh catch. Local beef and lamb came from Mr.Cuddigan, the butcher in Cloyne. Myrtle also encouraged local farmers’ wives to bring in their surplus produce and blackberries, elderflowers and watercress were brought in by children for pocket money.

Although times have changed at Ballymaloe, the essential spirit of the place is rooted in these improvised beginnings and in the relationship of the farm to the table which underlies the elegance of Irish Country House cooking.

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

The National Inventory describes it: “Detached six-bay two-storey country house, built c. 1780, with four stories to rear (north) elevation, three bays to rear forming central projection and having single-storey additions to rear. Tower house, c.1450, incorporated into west elevation and taller L-plan three-storey house c. 1730 to east, five-bay two-storey hipped-roofed block with slightly projecting east bay to north-east corner…The fascinating multiphase construction is evident in the variety of styles and blocks which form the house. Formerly the seat of the FitzGeralds of Imokilly, it was enlarged by Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald. It was occupied at one time by William Penn of Pennsylvania and by First Earl of Ornery. Its impressive size is enhanced by fine proportions and by the retention of various timber sliding sash windows. The central doorcase and large petal fanlight form the main artistic focus and enhance the impressive and symmetrical façade. The other blocks add tremendous context. The tower house incorporated into the main house is a very notable archaeological feature. The house retains much early fabric and forms a group with related outbuildings and gate lodge.” (see [3])

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

4. Ballynatray, Youghal, County Cork (also Waterford)

See my entry www.irishhistorichouses.com/2022/05/26/places-to-visit-and-stay-in-munster-county-waterford/

5. Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Justin Green
Tel: 025-36349
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) 

www.ballyvolanehouse.ie

Open: all year except Jan 1, Dec 24-31

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website tells us: “Welcome to Ballyvolane House, a historic Irish country house of extraordinary warmth, style and comfort that provides luxury manor house accommodation, bespoke intimate weddings, glamping and private house parties/exclusive house rentals, located in the beautiful North Cork countryside of southern Ireland. Ballyvolane House is also home to Bertha’s Revenge Gin.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The National Inventory describes the house: “Ballyvolane House is a fine example of the Victorian Italianate domestic architecture, in this case being applied to a house which was originally a three-storey early eighteenth-century structure. The top storey was removed when the house was remodelled in 1847. The classically proportioned façade is enlivened by the decorative render dressings including oak-leaf brackets to the eaves, window surrounds and heavy continuous sill course. The porch constitutes the decorative focus of the house and is articulated by pilasters. The doorway is flanked by skillfully carved marble engaged columns with ornate foliate capitals which add further artistic interest to the façade. The block to the west was built to house the servants and is of a simpler design and treatment. This building, together with extensive outbuildings and walled gardens, adds valuable context to the site.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website tells us about the history:

There is an inescapable air of frivolity at Ballyvolane – the name itself means ‘the place of springing heifers’ and is testament to the fertility, richness and natural diversity of the land on which the estate lies.

Originally built in 1728 by Sir Richard Pyne, a retired Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Ballyvolane was designed in the classic Georgian country house style with three storeys An amorous descendent, Arthur Pyne, acquired sufficient capital from his marriage to three wealthy women to have the house considerably enlarged in the early 19th century.

The three-storey house was again modified in 1872 by George Pyne. He had the building pulled apart and then, by removing the top storey, recreated a two-storey house rendered in Italianate style, with an extensive west end wing.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website continues: “Recent research carried out Terence Reeves-Smyth unearthed tender documents for the remodelling of Ballyvolane from this time – the architect was Richard Rolt Brash (1817-1876), a Cork architect, whose father and brother were well known builders in the city. RB Brash is better known as a very active antiquarian and friend of John Windele – he was especially interested in round towers.

The rebuilding/remodelling in the early 1870s followed the re-acquisition of the house and demesne by the Pyne family in 1869. Arthur Pyne (1747-1839) who probably built the present house around c1800 and laid out the present parkland (which looks Regency in date), was succeeded by his eldest son Jasper Pyne. Unfortunately, when Jasper died in 1860-1 he left no male heirs and as a result his wife and daughters did not inherit the property (the estate had been left by his father Arthur entailed for a life and could only be inherited by male issue). Consequently, following a big court case in May 1861 the property passed to Jasper’s younger brother, the Rev. William Masters Pyne, Rector of Oxted in Surrey. In March 1864 the Rev Pyne put the place on the market through the Encumbered Estates Courts. It remained on the market until bought by another member of the Pyne family in January 1869.

It appears that Ballyvolane was originally purchased by Sir Richard Pyne in 1702-3 for £696; prior to this it had been the property of Sir Richard Nagle and Edmond Barry, but had been granted (forfeited lands) to Viscount Sidney. At the same time Sir Richard Pyne also purchased three other Co Cork properties from the Commissioners for Sale of Forfeited Estates; one was Blarney, the others were the estates of Ballinaneala and Ardra. He also in England bought Great Codham Hall in Essex, where the family continued to live well into the 19th century.

The Pynes built the present house and lived here until 1953, when it was bought by the late Cyril Hall Green (known as Squirrel Green) and his wife Joyce (née Blake), on their return from Malaya, where Squirrel had managed rubber plantations since the 1920’s. Ballyvolane was passed on to Squirrel’s son, Jeremy, who ran it as a mixed tillage and dairy farm until the mid 1980’s when it became one the founding members of the Hidden Ireland group, an association of town and country houses offering a unique and exclusive style of accommodation and chosen for their architectural merit and interesting characteristics.

Ballyvolane was managed as a successful country house bed and breakfast by Jeremy and his wife, Merrie until January 2004, when the reins were handed to his son Justin and his wife, Jenny. Justin and Jenny are experienced hoteliers having gained international management experience in some of the best hotels in the world namely Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, The Legian in Bali, Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai and prior to moving home, Justin was GM of Babington House (part of Soho House) in Somerset. Three generations of the Green Family now live at Ballyvolane.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

6. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork – section 482

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph 1989 from the National Library, flickr constant commons.
Bantry House, County Cork, photograph by Chris Hill, 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2]) “Many more substantial changes were made in 1845 by Richard, Viscount Berehaven (1800-67), the son of the first Earl of Bantry, a passionate art collector …To accommodate his new furnishings, the Viscount built a fourteen bay block to the rear of the old house consisting of a six-bay centre of two storeys over a basement flanked by four-storey bow end wings. No doubt inspired by the grand baroque palaces of Germany, he gave the house a sense of architectural unity by lining the walls with giant red brick pilasters with Coade-stone Corinthian capitals, the intervening spaces consisting of grey stucco and the parapet adorned with an attractive stone balustrade. He also lay out the Italianate gardens, including the magnificent terraces on the hillside behind the house, most of which was undertaken after he had succeeded his father as the second Earl of Bantry in 1851.”

contact: Julie Shelswell-White
Tel: 087- 9811149
www.bantryhouse.com
Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm
Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €11.50, child €5, groups over 8-20, €8 and groups of 21 or more €9

The website tells us:

The original house was built in around 1690, a three storey five bay building, by Samuel Hutchinson. Called Blackrock, [and before that, Seafield – Mark Bence-Jones in his A guide to Irish Country Houses dates this nucleus of the house of three storeys five bays as being built by the Hutchinson family in around 1740] it forms the nucleus of the present Bantry House. Today the house has many treasures: exquisite French furniture, tapestries and objets d’art, which give it the air of a baroque palace. According to Reeves-Smyth, it was acquired by Richard White [1700-1776], a farmer from Whiddy Island, in the 1760’s, and he had amassed a fortune from pilchard-fishing, iron-smelting and probably from smuggling. Through a series of purchases, he acquired most of the land around Bantry including large parts of the Beare Peninsula, and these estates were enlarged by his grandson Richard White (1767-1851.) 

This grandson, Richard White, raised defenses in 1796 against the French invasion. The weather, however, scuttled the invasion. Richard White was created Baron Bantry in 1797 in recognition of his “spirited conduct and important service.” In 1801 he was made a viscount, and in 1815 he became the Earl of Bantry. 

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph by Chris Hill, 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

.”..A two-storey addition with bowed ends and a six-bay front facing onto Bantry Bay were added in 1820, providing space for two large drawing rooms and several bedrooms above. Many more substantial changes were made in 1845 by Richard, Viscount Berehaven (1800-67), the son of the first Earl of Bantry, a passionate art collector who travelled regularly across Europe, visiting Russia, Poland, France and Italy and bringing back shiploads of exotic goods between 1820 and 1840. To accommodate his new furnishings, the Viscount built a fourteen bay block to the rear of the old house consisting of a six-bay centre of two storeys over a basement flanked by four-storey bow end wings. No doubt inspired by the grand baroque palaces of Germany, he gave the house a sense of architectural unity by lining the walls with giant red brick pilasters with Coade-stone Corinthian capitals, the intervening spaces consisting of grey stucco and the parapet adorned with an attractive stone balustrade. He also lay out the Italianate gardens, including the magnificent terraces on the hillside behind the house, most of which was undertaken after he had succeeded his father as the second Earl of Bantry in 1851. After his death in 1867 the property was inherited by his brother William, the third Earl (1801-1884), his grandson William the fourth and last Earl (1854-91), and then passed through the female line to the present owner, Mr. Shelswell-White.

Today the house remains much as the second earl left it, with an important part of his great collection still intact. Nowhere is this more son than the hall where visitors will find an eclectic collection garnered from a grand tour, which includes an Arab chest, a Japanese inlaid chest, a Russian travelling shrine with fifteenth and sixteenth century icons and a Fresian clock. There is also a fine wooden seventeenth century Flemish overmantel and rows of family portraits on the walls. The hall was created by combining two rooms with the staircase hall of the original house and consequently has a rather muddled shape, though crisp black and white Dutch floor tiles lend the room a sense of unity.. Incorporated into this floor are four mosaic panels collected by Viscount Berehaven from Pompeii in 1828 and bearing the inscriptions “Cave Canem” and “Salve.” Other unusual items on show include a mosque lamp from Damascus in the porch and a sixteenth century Spanish marriage chest which can be seen in the lobby. 

The most spectacular room is the dining-room, dominated by copies of Allan Ramsay’s full-length portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, whose elaborate gilt frames are set off by royal blue walls. The ceiling was once decorated with Guardi panels, but these have long since been removed and sold to passing dealers at a fraction of their worth. The differing heights of the room are due to the fact that they are partly incorporated in the original house and in the 1845 extension, their incongruity disguised by a screen of marble columns with guilded Corinthian capitals. Much of hte furniture has been here since the second Earl, including the George III dining table, Chippendale chairs, mahogany teapoy, sideboards made for the room, and the enormous painting The Fruit Market by Snyders revealing figures reputedly drawn by Rubens – a wedding present to the first Countess.

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph by Chris Hill, 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The description on the website continues: “The first flight of the staircase from the hall belongs to the original early eighteenth century house, as does the half-landing with its lugged architraves. This leads into the great library, built around 1845 and the last major addition to the house. The library is over sixty feet long, has screens of marble Corinthian columns, a comparmented ceiling and Dublin-made mantelpieces at each end with overhanging mirrors. The furnishing retains a fine rosewood grand piano by Bluthner of Leipzig, still occasionally used for concerts. The windows of this room once looked into an immense glass conservatory, but this has now been removed and visitors can look out upon restored gardens and the steep sloping terraces behind. Visitors can stay overnight on a B&B basis. It is located on the outskirts of Bantry on the N71.

Bantry House and Gardens, Bantry, Co Cork, photo by George Karbus 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
View from the top of the “Sky Steps” (also known as the “100 Steps”) Showing the house and Bantry Bay, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

7. Barryscourt Castle, County Cork – OPW

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

8. Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork

Blackrock Castle, Cork, from the National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

The Archiseek website tells us:

Blackrock Castle lies on the shore of the river Lee, in the city of Cork, in County Cork in Ireland. 

The circular watchtower of Blackrock Castle was built in 1604, on the site of an earlier fort. With its 2.2 meter thick walls, it was designed to withstand cannon fire. It was built to defend the city against attacks from pirates and the Spanish, who had landed at Kinsale 3 years earlier. But it also served to protect the English Lord Deputy Mountjoy against the citizens of Cork, who had been slow to acknowledge King James I. 

Later Blackrock Castle was used by the Mayors of Cork for the Admiralty Court. Also known as the Maritime Court, it exercised jurisdiction over all maritime caes and offences. 

In 1827 the castle was gutted by fire following the annual Corporation banquet. Two years later, in 1829, it was rebuilt and enlarged in Gothic Revival style. 

Later it was used as a meeting place, a private residence, a restaurant and commercial offices before it was acquired by the Cork City Council in 2001. At present the castle houses an astronomy center/museum especially aimed at children.” [5]

9. Blarney Castle & Rock Close, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

Kissing the Blarney Stone, County Cork, photograph from the National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
Kissing the Blarney Stone, around 1897, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
The Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

contact: Charles Colthurst
Tel: 021-4385252
www.blarneycastle.ie
Open: all year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec, 9am-4pm, Mar-Oct, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes

Blarney Castle, March 2003.

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

p. 43. “An exceptionally large keep with an angle-tower, built 1446 by the McCarthys of Muskerry, and world-famous for having the Blarney Stone built into its battlements. Having been fortified by Donogh MacCarthy, 4th Earl of Clancarty [d. 1734], who fought for James II in the Williamite War, it was acquired by the St. John Jefferyes family. In the mid to late C18, James St. John Jefferyes built a four storey Georgian-Gothic house onto the old keep; with a central bow and a turret and cupola; pointed windows and curvilinear pinnacled battlements. The Jefferyes family also laid out a landscape garden known as Rock Close, with great stones arranged to look as though they had been put there in prehistoric times. The C18 house was burnt early in C19 and not rebuilt; its ruin now forms a picturesque adjunct to the keep. In 1874 a new house was built, on a different site further into the demesne and overlooking the lake.”

Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

Blarney Castle and the nearby Scotch Baronial house are owned by Charles Colthurst. His ancestors came to the property by marriage.

Craig, Maurice and Knight of Glin, Ireland Observed, A Handbook to the Buildings and Antiquities. Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork, 1970:

Easily the most famous of Irish castles for adventitious reasons, the castle is, nevertheless, remarkable in its own right. Built in 1446 by the McCarthys of Muskerry, it consists of an enormous machicolated keep with an angle-tower containing a staircase [ machicolation is a series of openinings in the floor of projecting parapets in castles and tower-houses through which  offensive substances can be dropped on the enemy below]. On one side are the remains of a considerable eighteenth century Gothick extension, built by the Jefferyes family, who also laid out the eleborate landscape garden, with the picturesque peudo-megalith, known as the Rock Close [Gothic is the pointed style which followed the Romanesque. “Gothick” is used to mean the half-serious use of pointed forms in the early romantic period, as opposed to their serious use in the Gothich revival after about 1830].”

entry in MacDonnell, Randal. The Lost Houses of Ireland. A chronicle of great houses and the families who lived in them. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. London, 2002

The old Blarney Castle was built at Blarney in 1446 by Cormac Laidir (‘the strong’) MacCarthy, an ancestor of Cormac mac Diarmada. The family, as Barons of Blarney, Viscounts of Muskerry and Mountcashel and Earls of Clancarty, dominated the area until they left Ireland in the aftermath of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690….”

Charles I created Cormac (Charles) MacCarthy (the son of Cormac mac Diarmada) Baron of Blarney and Viscount Muskerry in 1628 and the 2nd Viscount, Donnchadh (or Donough), became the 1st Earl of Clancarty in 1658. The Honourable Justin MacCarthy, brother of the 4th Earl of Clancarty, was created Viscount Mountcashel; both brothers were supporters of James II. As a result of the Williamite victory at the Boyne, the family’s titles and estates were declared forfeit in 1691.”

In 1692 the forfeited lands were sold to The Hollow Sword Blades Company from London. Richard Davies, the Dean of Cork, took a lease on the castle, which, together with its demesne of 3000 acres, was sold in 1701 to Sir Richard Pyne, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. It is said that when Davies left Blarney he took enough materials with him to build himself a new house. Whether or not this is the reason, Pyne sold on the estate, pretty well immediately, to Sir James Jefferyes, who had been the Governor of Cork since 1698.

…p. 28 “Sir James Jefferyes was the Governor of Cork and married the sister of John Fitzgibbon, 1st Earl of Cork (the Lord Chancellor of Ireland who forced the Act of Union through parliament). George Jefferyes [1768-1841] married Anne, daughter of the Right Hon. David la Touche [1729-1817 – we came across the La Touche family when we went to Harristown in County Kildare] of Marlay, the richest man in Ireland and head of the banking dynasty. The next generation was represented in the person of St. John Jefferyes who left a son, also St. John, who lived in Paris and died in 1898. He never inherited the estate, which passed to his sister Louisa [1820-1915], who married George Colthurst.” George Colthurst was 5th Baronet.

Randall MacDonnell continues, telling us about the Colthurst family: p. 29 “The Colthursts had arrived in Ireland from Yorkshire towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign and settled in Cork. Christopher Colthurst was murdered by the rebels in 1641 near Macroom in County Cork. By the 1730s, they were High Sheriffs of County Cork, and in 1744 John Colthurst [c. 1722-1775], who had married the daughter of the 1st Earl of Kerry [Thomas Fitzmaurice (1668-1741)], Lady Charlotte Fitzmaurice, was created a baronet. It would be uncharitable to suggest that it was his father-in-law’s influence that procured him this advancement. He was Member of Parliament for Doneraile from 1751 (and afterwards for Youghal and Castle Martyr). His son Sir John Colthurst, the 2nd Baronet, was killed in a duel with Dominick Trant in 1787 and the title passed to his brother (MP for Johnstown, Co Longford and then for Castle Martyr until 1795), who married Harriet, daughter of the Right Hon. David la Touche ([1729-1817] – Harriet was a sister of Anne who married George Jefferyes [1768-1841]). Sir Nicholas Colthurst, the 4th Baronet, was the MP for the city of Cork from 1812-1829.

It was his son, Sir George Colthurst, the 5th Baronet, who married Louisa Jefferyes of Blarney Castle in 1846. Louisa inherited the Blarney estate in 1862, and they started to build a new house in 1872. This new building is in the Scots-Baronial style of architect John Lanyon, eldest son of Sir Charles Lanyon.

p. 30 “The mirrors and fireplaces, as well as the neoclassical porch, came from Ardrum House, the Colthurst’s ruined house at Inniscara in Co Cork…

Sir George and Louisa’s son and two grandsons (the 6th, 7th and 8th Baronets) did nothing of any consequence, save that Richard Colthurst, the 8th Baronet, was High Sheriff of Co Dublin between 1920-1921. …

The 9th Baronet, Sir Richard Colthurst, is the present head of the family, and he and his wife have restored the new castle, which was in danger of going the way of the old one. His son Charles, a member of the Irish Timber Growers Association, is a solicitor in Cork. He has three daughters and a son, John, born in 1988.

The family motto Justem ac Tenacem (Just and Persevering) and the quartered Colthurst and Jefferyes Arms are set in the entrance façade of a house that had laid empty and left to rot for three generations, until Sir Richard Colthurst and his wife moved in, replumbed, rewired and redecorated it, and, in the process, saved the building – for once a statement that does not contain a word of Blarney.

http://irishantiquities.bravehost.com/cork/blarney/blarney.html

Blarney Castle is a large rectangular keep with a bartizan on three sides and a corner-tower, also with a bartizan. It sits on a rock and has substantial remains of a bawn with three turrets (one separate). At the base of the rock is a larger turret, known as the Dungeon. It has a rock-cut passage. Just inside the entrance to the castle is a murder-hole. The ceiling of the first-floor room is vaulted and there is an early 18th century fireplace.

The vaulting supports a large room with three mullioned windows and a fireplace. Above this is the banqueting hall and above that is the Chapel.

There are two spiral stairways from which may be entered a number of small rooms. These include a garderobe, the Earl’s room (with oriel window) and the kitchen (with two large fireplaces). There is a good uninterrupted roof-walk.

Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

10. Blarney House & Gardens, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

Blarney House, County Cork, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

contact: Charles Colthurst
Tel 021-4385252
www.blarneycastle.ie
Open: June 1-Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €7, concession joint with castle

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

p. 43. “It is in the Scottish Baronial style, of rough-hewn ashlar; of two storeys over a high basement with a gabled attic. Round corner turret and bartizans with conical roos; stepped gables and dormer gables; rectangular plate-glass windows. Porch with two Ionic columns on entrance front, the window above being framed by Corinthian pilasters, an entablature and strapwork cresting on garden front. Entrance hall with timbered ceiling and flight of stone steps leading up to the level of the principal rooms. Top-lit inner hall with Jacobean style oak staircase; first floor landing with arches and Corinthian pilasters. Large and small drawing rooms en suite, with friezes of Adam-Revival plasterwork. Adam-Revival frieze also in dining room. Passed through marriage to the Colthurst family.

The National Inventory tells us it dates from 1874. It was built for the St. John Jefferyes family. James St. John Jefferyes (1734-1780) married Elizabeth Cosby, daughter of William Cosby Governor of New York, whom we came across when we visited Stradbally Hall in Laois. Her first husband was Augustus FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton. Before St. John Jefferyes married Elizabeth Cosby, however, he was married to Arabella Fitzgibbon, and they had a son, George Charles Jefferyes (1768-1841). He had a son, St. John George Jefferyes (1798-1862) whose daughter Louisa married George Colthurst 5th Baronet, and it was they who had the house built. The house is by John Lanyon (1839-1900), son of Charles Lanyon, and he joined Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon architectural firm (Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn built Castle Leslie in County Monaghan). John Lanyon built Belfast Castle also (1868-70).

11. Brideweir House, Conna, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Ronan Fox
Tel: 025-36386

www.brideweir.ie
Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, OAP free

Brideweir House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us: “Every house has its tales to tell and Brideweir House in Conna, Co Cork is no exception. In the year  1822  famine had hit Ireland. In Conna the local Reverend Ludlow Tonson chaired a meeting of the parish on 29th July in favour of constructing a bridge over the River Bride. 

Its purpose was “to facilitate communications in the area, and to offer employment”. A petition was sent to Dublin Castle and the rest, as they say, is history. The bridge still has pride of place today over the River Bride. 

But it’s safe to say that the reverend Tonson must have had a vested interest in seeing the bridge built. It was to be just a stone’s throw from the location of his two storey over basement rectory, Brideweir House, built in 1822, the same year he helped raise the petition

The Reverend’s house, completed for the princely sum of £923 (thanks to a gift and a grant, both of £300 from the Board of First Fruits), was situated on a glebe of seven acres and boasted a fine coach house and stables, all still in existence today.

12. Burton Park, Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Jess Angland
Tel: 022-59955
www.slieile.ie 

Open: May 8-July 7, Mon-Sat, closed Bank Holidays, Aug 13-21, 11am-3pm Fee: adult/child/OAP/student €9

Burton Park, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us:

Slí Eile exists to promote mental health recovery and to support people to achieve lives that are enjoyable, satisfying and authentic.

In the Irish language, slí eile means ‘another way’ and Slí Eile was set up to provide an alternative recovery option for those who might otherwise have to spend time in psychiatric hospital.

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

p. 50. “(Perceval, Egmont, E/PB; Ryan-Purcell/IFR) Originally a fine cut-stone house built in several stages between ca 1665 and 1686 for Sir John Perceval, 1st Bt, and his two sons, Sir Philip, 2nd Bt and Sir John, 3rd Bt; designed by Captain William Kenn, his son Benjamin, and Thomas Smith. Of two storeys over a basement, with a dormered attic; 7 bay front, with unusually tall windows. The roof was surmounted by a row of tall chimneys and a lantern with a copper ball on top of it. The house stood within a series of walled enclosures, with turrets at the outer corners. Like his brother, the 3rd Bt died young, 1686, leaving several infant sons, one of whom eventually became 1st Earl of Egmont [John Perceval (1683-1748)]. In 1690 the house was burnt by James II’s troops as they retreated south after the Battle of the Boyne. A new two storey house was built by the Earl of Egmont in the late-Georgian period; it was subsequently acquired by the Purcell family, who refaced it in Victorian cement and gave it a high roof with curvilinear dormer-gables. Hall with staircase rising round it; stairs of wood, with thin balusters. Pedimented Georgian doorcases put in later. Large drawing room with ceiling of delicate late-Georgian plasterwork; walls decorated in the Louis Seize style. Victorian dining room. Castellated entrance gateway, from which a straight avenue of trees leads up to the house.” 

13. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Michael O’Sullivan
Tel: 022-24433
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April-Sept
Public tours of house all year

Creagh House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 94. “(Becher/IFR; Wrixon -Becher, Bt/PB; Harold-Barry/IFR) A pleasant Regency house of two storeys over a basement, built ca 1820. Entrance front with a single deep semicircular bow and one bay; fanlighted doorway beneath trellised porch; a second bow is said to have been intended, but never built. Side elevation fo three bays and a three sided bow. Eaved roof.  

Curving staircase, with slender wooden balusters; drawing room extending into the semi-circular bow, dining room in the three-sided bow.  Delightful gardens laid out by the present owner, Mr. P.J. Harold-Barry, extending to the shore of the estuary and along the banks of a mill-race and millpoint, with the ruined mill providing a folly-like “object.” “

14. Desmond Castle, Kinsale, County Cork – OPW

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

15. Doneraile Court, County Cork – OPW

Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020.

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

16. Drishane Castle & Gardens, Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Thomas Duggan
Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008
www.millstreet.ie
Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 9am-5pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult.

Drishane Castle, County Cork, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

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

p. 108. “(Wallis/IFR) A three storey C18 house built alongside the keep of a C15 castle of the MacCarthys by the Wallises, castellated and extended between 1845 and 1860. Battlemented parapet; entrance front with square corner-towers and central porch tower – with presumably later battlemented porte-cochere built onto its front – prolonged by a single-storey range joining it to a two storey wing or pavilion with Irish battlemented corner towers. Adjoining front with three sided bow and mullioned windows, prolonged by a slightly lower wing ending in a square tower, joined by high battlemented walls to the old keep, which stands on a mound at this corner of the house. Two storey hall with gallery; Goergian doorcases with entablatures. Two drawing rooms opening into each other with an arch. The old keep was completely restored some time post 1879 by Lady Beaumont, mother of Major H.A.B. Wallis, the last member of the family to live at Drishane, which was sold 1908 by order of the court of Chancery. It was re-sold a year later to the Sisters of the Infant Jesus, who opened a boarding school and domestic economy school here.” 

17. Drishane House, Castletownshend, Co. Cork – section 482

Drishane House, County Cork.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/03/07/drishane-house-castletownshend-co-cork/
Contact: Thomas Somerville
Tel: 028-36126, 083-574589
www.drishane.com
Open: May 1-31, Aug 13-21, Oct 2-21, 11am-3pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €8, student/child €6

18. Dunkathel House [or Dunkettle], Glanmire, Cork

– open to public May-Oct

Dunkathel, photo from 1981, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons

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

p. 115. “(Tonson, sub Tonson-Rye/IFR and Riversdale, BDEP; Trant/LGI1958; Morris/LG1879; Gubbins/LG1937-Supp; Russell/IFR) A house in the Palladian manner, consisting of a two storey nine bay centre block joined by screen walls with rusticated niches to office wings extending back; the front ends of the wings being treated as two storey two bay pavilions with oculi in their upper storey. The front of the centre block has quoins at its sides and framing a three bay breakfront; a solid roof parapet and fanlighted doorcase with an entablature and engaged Tuscan columns. Built post 1780 by Abraham Morris, a wealthy Cork merchant who became an MP after a celebrated electoral case which ended in the unseating of his successful opponent, Lord Kingsborough; the architect of the house is not known, but the Knight of Glin has suggested that it might be by an associate of Davis Duckart, who designed the nearby Lota; since the design clearly owes much to Duckart’s influence. The wings from two sides of a courtyard at the back of the house, being joined by a range containing a room with a frieze of C18 plasterwork, which is possibly a remnant of the previous house, built by Dominick Trant, MP – who had a fine collection of pictures here – itself the successor to an earlier house on a different site built by Richard Tonson, MP. The present house has an impressive bifurcating staircase of stone with graceful iron balusters behind a wide arch at the back of the hall, which is adorned by fluted Corinthian pilasters of wood. The hall keeps its early C19 decorations, the walls marbled to represent Siena, the ceiling painted as a blue sky with clouds. The other main rooms have simple friezes. The house stands in a fine situation overlooking the Lee estuary just below the mouth of the Glanmire River. Sold ca 1870 by Jonas Morris to the Wise Gubbins family, from whom it was inherited by the Russell family.” 

Dunkathel, photo from 1981, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
Dunkathel, photo from 1981, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons

19. Dún Na Séad Castle, Baltimore, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Donna O’Driscoll
Tel: 087-7374592
www.baltimorecastle.ie
Open: March 1-Oct 31, 11am -6pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, children under 12 free

Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.
Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.

The website tells us:”Dunasead Castle, also known as Dún a Séad, Dunashad or Baltimore Castle, lies in the town of Baltimore in Cork, in County Cork in Ireland. 

The site of Dunasead Castle, a rocky cliff above Baltimore Harbour, has been fortified since a very long time. The first fortification was maybe a ringfort. After that an Anglo-Norman castle was built here in 1215. In 1305 that castle was taken and destroyed by the MacCarthys. Subsequently the O’Driscolls took possession of the site and built a castle. 

The O’Driscolls were constantly under pressure from encroachments by Anglo-Norman settlers and rival Gaelic clans on their territory and trade interests, which resulted in the castle being attacked and destroyed numerous times in the following centuries. 

The present Dunasead Castle was built in the 1620’s by the O’Driscolls. In 1631 the castle narrowly escaped an attack by a band of pirates from Algiers, who landed in Baltimore and took 107 captives to a life of slavery in North Africa. 

In the 1640’s it was surrendered to Oliver Cromwell’s forces and passed to the Coppingers. In 1642 the O’Driscolls fruitlessly attempted to recover the castle by force. In the 1690’s the Coppingers were forfeited. After the 17th century the castle fell to ruin

Between 1997 and 2005 the ruined castle was rebuilt, at first as a private residence. At present it is a small museum.”

Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.
Worn steps at Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.

20. Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens – OPW

maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust, now OPW.

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

Fota House, County Cork, August 2020.

21. Garrettstown House, Garrettstown, Kinsale, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Denis Mawe
Tel: 021-4778156
Open: May 15-Sept 5, 12 noon-5pm
Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €5, groups of 10+ adults €5 per person

www.garrettstownhouse.com

Garrettstown House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 132. “(Cuthbert-Kearney/LG1863; Franks/IFR) Some time ante mid-C18, the Kearney family – who, like other families along the south-west coast of Ireland, are reputed to have become rich through smuggling – began building themselves a grand house with two wings facing each other across a forecourt in the Palladian manner; levelling a site for it out of the solid rock above the sea at great expense. The two wings, of an attractive golden stone, their handsome pedimented facades, each with a rusticated doorway, facing each other across the forecourt, fwere completed. But whether the house itself was actually built is uncertain; though Charles Smith (writing 1750) implies that it was. If it existed, it cannot have survived very long; for one of the wings subsequently became the house, being enlarge dfor this purpose…Towards the end of C19, Garrettstown was inherited by the Franks family, who sold it ca 1950. It is now ruinous.” It is no longer ruinous and has undergone major renovation.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage gives the following appraisal:

Built by the Kearney family between the years 1702 and 1720, with changes and additions being made until 1740, this building was originally a wing of a substantial country house. The main house was never started due to financial reasons and this, one of the flanking buildings, was subsequently turned into a stable block. The money saved by not building the main house was spent on improving the gardens and grounds. The house was passed down through the female line, staying within that lineage until 1950 when it was sold to the Land Commission. Although now in use as offices, the building retains much of its original form and character seen in the tooled limestone detailing and its grand scale. The retention of many of the original outbuildings and the extensive gardens on the site give further evidence to the wealth and status of this former country house.” 

22. Fenns Quay, 4 & 5 Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

contact: Clare Supple
Tel: 089-4646208
www.encorestaging.org
Open: May 1-Nov 30, Sat-Sun, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: Adult €3, OAP €2, student €1

The website tells us:

Fenns Quay Sheares Street is a listed building in Cork. It is one of the oldest terraced buildings in Cork. It is a three-bay three-storey former house, built c.1740, as a group of four with the adjoining three buildings to the east. Now in use as restaurant and accomadation.

Comprising of:

Pitched slate roof with red brick corner chimneystacks and cast-iron rooflights.

Red brick walls to upper floors having ashlar limestone keystones over first floor windows.

Timber sliding sash windows.

Projecting timber shopfront. Retaining interior features.” You can have a virtual tour on their website.

23. Ilnacullin, Garanish Island, County Cork – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

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

24. Inis Beg gardens, Baltimore, County Cork

https://www.inishbeg.com/homepage/

Inish Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork, photograph by George Karbus 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

The website tells us:

Inish Beg, Irish for “small island”, is the most northerly of the Carbery Hundred Islands of County Cork Ireland and lies in the unspoilt tidal estuary of the Ilen River. There is a bronze age Cromlech (boulder burial) within the grounds, as well as a tree covered Lissaghaun (little fort or fairy mound) in front of the main house.The local saint, St. Fachtna is recorded as having been given the “Book of Dues” on the island in the 6th century.The island belonged to a Richard White in the 17th Century and was acquired by the MacCarthy Morrough family in 1830. Initially used as a sporting estate, the main house was finally finished in 1899.The population of the island followed a familiar pattern to that of much of the rural west of Ireland. Lewis quotes 109 inhabitants in 1837, but the numbers then declined to 11 by 1901 following the famine years of the mid nineteenth century and the agricultural depression of the 1880’s.

In 1908 Kay Summersby was born at Inish Beg House. She came to notoriety as a close companion of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Inish Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork, photograph by George Karbus 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

Inish Beg Estate comprises 97 acres; 

  • 42 of these are birdsong-filled woodlands which are sympathetically managed and include exceptional tree ferns, bamboo, several ponds, bird hides and carriage drives,
  • 42 acres are green fields sweeping down to the Ilen Estuary where sheep and ponies graze, for this is a working farm run on organic principles.
  • the remaining 13 acres is taken up with buildings, a walled garden with glass house and fruit cages, a sunken garden with fountain, a cherry drive, an orchard, a daffodil lined avenue and two woodland gardens.
  • see also https://westcorkgardentrail.com

25. Kilcascan Castle, Ballineen, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Alison Bailey
Tel: 023- 8847200
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: Free

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

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

p. 165. “Daunt/IFR) A two storey early C19 castellated house. Symmetrical entrance front with projecting bays joined by battlemented cloister; rectangular tracery windows. Battlemented bow and square turret.” 

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

The seat of the Daunt family between 1712 and 1987, this picturesque country house is thought to have been built in the early decades of the nineteenth century around the time of the second wedding of Joseph Daunt, to replace an earlier house. Though the architect is unknown, it has been suggested that it is the work of the Pain brothers. According to James N. Healy’s The Castles of Co.Cork the contractors were a local family named Hickie. It is a fine addition to the county’s architectural heritage, and retains much of its excellently executed historic fabric. It was apparently the site of the last death by duelling in 1826, at which time Joseph Daunt was shot and killed by his cousin from Manch House. It has more illustrious associations with the following generation, William O’Neill Daunt (1807-94) was a leading Nationalist politician and one time secretary to Daniel O’Connell.

26. Kilshannig House, Rathcormac, Co. Cork – section 482

Kilshanning House, County Cork, August 2020.

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/12/10/kilshannig-house-rathcormac-county-cork/
contact: Hugo Merry
Tel: 025-36124
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 8.30am- 2.30pm, 

Fee: adult €10, child/student €8.50, group discount by arrangements 

27. Riverstown House, Riverstown, Glanmire, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Denis/Rita Dooley
Tel: 021-4821205
Open: May 5-Sept 10, Thurs, Fri, Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €7, student €5

Riverstown House, County Cork, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 242. “An early C18 house, enlarged and remodelled 1730s by Dr Jemmett Browne, Dean of Ross and afterwards Bishop of Cork. The house consists of a double gable-ended block of 2 storeys over a basement which is concealed on the entrance front, but which forms an extra storey on the garden front, where the ground falls away steeply; and a 3 storey 1 bay tower-like addition at one end, which has 2 bows on its side elevation. The main block has a 4 bay entrance front, with a doorway flanked by narrow windows not centrally placed. The hall, though of modest proportions, is made elegant and interesting by columns, a plasterwork frieze and a curved inner wall, in which there is a  doorcase giving directly onto an enclosed staircase of good joinery. To the left of the hall, in the 3 storey addition, are 2 bow-ended drawing rooms back to back. Straight ahead, in the middle of the garden front, is the dining room, the chief glory of Riverstown, the walls and ceiling fo which are decorated with plasterwork by the Francini brothers, probably their earliest work in Ireland and dating from ca. 1734. The decoration of the ceiling incorporates an oval of allegorical figures representing Time rescuing Truth from the assaults of Discord and Envy, based on a painting by Poussin now at the Louvre. The walls are surrounded by panels with large Classical figures in high relief. The spaces between the windows are covered with exuberantly rococo decoration of flowers and foliage incorporating mirrors, which still have their original glass. The house was owned by Bishop Browne’s descendents until the present century. In 1950s it was empty and deteriorating; so that at one stage there was a plan to remove the dining room plaster-work, for fear that it would otherwise perish. It could not, however, be removed from the walls, so moulds were taken from it, from which were made copies now at Aran an Uachtarain. It was indeed fortunate that the Riverstown dining room was left intact; since, from 1965 onwards, the house was sympathetically restored by its present owner, Mr. John Dooley, with the help of the Irish Georgian Society. The rooms have been suitably and most attractively furnished, and the house is now open to the public.” 

Riverstown County Cork, 1970, National Libary archives. (see [1])
Riverstown, 1975, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive. (see[1])

28. Woodford Bourne Warehouse, Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

contact: Edward Nicholson
Tel: 021-4273000
www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com
Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm
Fee: Free.

Now a fast food outlet, this used to be a warehouse, and the Architect is William Henry Hill (1837-1911).

Places to stay, County Cork

1. Annes Grove (formerly Ballyhemock or Ballyhimmock), Castletownroche, Co Cork – gate lodge accommodation €€

https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/annes-grove-miniature-castle/

A miniature medieval castle, Annes Grove Gatelodge was designed in 1853 to impress visitors to the main house – Annesgrove House and Gardens. 

2. Ballincurra House, County Cork – whole house rental, and cottages

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/ballinacurrahouse/

and https://www.ballinacurra.com/the-coach-house/

The website tells us: “Ballinacurra House is an elegant Georgian Mansion built c.1770 which has been fully renovated and upgraded over the past 20 years. The Estate consists of the main Manor House, Stone Cottage and Coach House – set behind 10 foot high stone walls with lawns, fields, river jetty and forest – and only 5 minutes’ drive from Ireland’s premier tourist town of Kinsale. Whether it’s for a holiday or some type of event … we’ve got you covered. The Owners’ 30 years of experience in event management is one of the reasons that Ballinacurra House is known as Ireland’s Premier Events House with a guarantee of privacy, discretion and style. And is the ideal venue for corporate retreats, client hosting, birthday parties, team-building events, golf groups, family reunions, private parties, friend gatherings and … weddings with a difference.

For the first time we are now opening up the property to give groups of various sizes the opportunity to enjoy the uniqueness of the property! So depending on the size of your family or group, we have developed a range of options for self-catering (minimum 3 days) and our fully staffed and catered premium product for Private Groups (price on request). So now you can choose from:

  1. Estate Cottage 1 – The Coach House – up to 7 people – Self Catering – from €1,200 A 3 bedroom/4 bathroom separate 1,200 square foot home with a private outdoor dining terrace. This building has been renovated from the original coach house for the main manor house – and perfect for up to 7 people.
  2. Estate Cottage 2 – The Stone Cottage – up to 10 people – Self Catering – from €2,200 A stand-alone 1,800 square foot home with 4 bedrooms/4.5 bathrooms with its own private garden. This building was the original gardener’s cottage for the main manor house – now fully renovated that will sleep up to 10 people comfortably.
  3. Manor House (Partial) – up to 20 people – Self Catering – from €8,800 You will enjoy private use of Two Wings of the Manor House including 8 ensuite bedrooms and a range of living rooms, dining rooms, country style kitchen and outdoor dining options (can be catered or staffed by request).
  4. Manor House (Whole) – from 28 to 36 people – Full Catered & Staffed Only – on request There are 14 Bedrooms in the Manor House that can accommodate up to 36 adults + 3 children sharing and a whole range of living and entertainment spaces. Due to the numbers, this is only available on a fully catered and staffed basis.
  5. Whole Estate – from 44 to 54 people – Fully Catered & Staffed Only – on request The entire Estate consisting of the Manor House, Stone Cottage and Coach House for your private and exclusive use. A total of 22 ensuite bedrooms which is fully staffed and catered. This can cater for up to 54 adults + 4 children sharing.”

3. Ballinterry House, Rathcormac, Co Cork – accommodation

Ballinterry House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Ballinterry House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

 https://www.facebook.com/BallinterryH/

https://castlelyonsparish.com/who-i-am/accommodation/accommodation-2/

Ballinterry House Accommodation 
P: +353 (0)25 87835  or  +353 (0)87-6508555 
E: ballinterryhouse@yahoo.co.uk 

Frank Keohane writes in his Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County that:

p. 21. “After the Williamite wars, landowners had the confidence to invest in their property and improve their estates, building new houses and offices, and creating enclosed landscaped demesnes. Of the minor gentry, most aspired to nothing more than a house that was solidly built, symmetrical and convenient. At first, middling houses were unsophisticated in their form and planning, often only one room deep but sometimes having a return containing a staircase or service rooms, thus forming an L-plan or T-plan. Steep gable-ended roofs were almost universal, hipped roofs and the use of parapets the exception. This arrangement continued throughout the 18th century for gentry houses, and well into the C19 for larger farmhouses. Early examples include Ballinterry (Rathcormac), Velvetstown (Buttevant), Rosehill at Ballynacorra (Midleton) and Aghadoe at Killeagh.”

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

p. 290. “(Barry/IFR) An early C18 house built on the site of a castle which in 1699 belonged to Andrew Morrough or Murragh, an attainted Jacobite; the house was until comparatively recently surrounded by old fortifications including four round towers, of which one and the fragments of another survive. Gable ended main block of two storeys with attic lit by windows in gable-ends; five bay front, originally seven bay, the windows on either side of the centre having been blocked up; presumably in the late Georgian period, when the other windows of the front appear to have been reduced in size and the interior walls rearranged. Simple fanlighted doorway. Original grass terrace with flagged pavement along front. Two storey return wing; central projection at rear of main block containing late-Georgian stairs with balustrade of plain sturdy wooden uprights. Stairs now open to hall; formerly separated from it by screen of C18 panelling with Gothic fanlight, now removed to first floor lobby of wing. Bought 1703 by the 4th Earl of Barrymore [James Barry (1667-1747)]; afterwards passed to the Ross family and then by marriage and descent to the Ryders and Henleys successively. From 1821 to 1862 the home of Archdeacon (“Black Billy”) Ryder, remembered for his part in the “Gortroe Massacre” in 1834, a tragic episode of the Tithe War. Ballinterry is now the home of Mr Hurd Maguire Hatfield, the stage and screen actor, who has carried out a sympathetic restoration of the house [who sold it to the current owners, Michael and Anne in 2007].” 

The interior extensively damaged by a fire in 1991. Michael and Anne bought the period propety as a restoration project and realised it would be suitable for taking guests. An article in the Irish Times on Oct 3 2013 by Ellen Lynch tells us about the renovation:

Michael and Ann spent three years taking up rotting floors, dismantling partitions, uncovering windows and other original features, and taking the house “back to the future” by renovating and modernising it in a way which was wholly sympathetic to its origins.  

In December 2007, without power and with no floorboards, the couple had no choice but to decamp with their young children to a cottage in outbuildings on the property. They moved back in during the spring of 2009.

They managed to complete the work with the help of a conservation architect and the encouragement and blessing of Cork County Council’s conservation officer, Mona Hallinan. The Georgian Society declared it one of the most sympathetic restorations they’ve seen.  

Ann credits Michael’s unerring eye for detail and his capacity for hard work in bringing everything together to make Ballinterry House what it is today – a splendid country house with a truly authentic feel. 

4. Ballylickey House, Bantry, Co Cork – hotel, Seaview House Hotel €€

https://www.seaviewhousehotel.com/

The website tells us:

Welcome to Seaview House Hotel, a delightful 4 star country house hotel full of character, set in private and well tended grounds in the quiet village of Ballylickey beside Bantry in the heart of West Cork.

Offering award-winning cuisine, luxurious B&B and a modern Spa & Bath House.

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

p. 290. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, Lansdowne, M/PB) A two storey house of mid C19 appearance; pillared porch between two three sided bows, the front being prolonged on one side by a similar bow, and on the other by a lower service wing ending in a gable. Orignally a shooting box of the Marquesses of Lansdowne (see Derreen); acquired by the Graves family who made a noteable garden here and added an extra storey to the house ca 1950 when they turned it into a hotel. After a serious fire 1984, the house was rebuilt without the additional storey, regaining its original C19 character.” 

5. Ballymacmoy, Killavullen, Co Cork – coach house airbnb 

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/6862913?source_impression_id=p3_1589550654_DKKIguPPQK2Nhhvp&guests=1&adults=1

https://thecoachhouseatballymacmoy.weebly.com/ballymacmoy-house.html

The website tells us: “Ballymacmoy is the estate of origin of the wild geese family, the Hennessy’s of Cognac and is still owned and inhabited by their descendants.  40 kilometres from Cork International Airport, Ballymacmoy is a 23 acre estate located at the edge of the little village of Killavullen (200 inhabitants).  It is made up of grasslands and wooded areas with 3.5 miles of exclusive fishing rights along the Blackwater river, it includes a 1 acre walled garden and a unique prehistoric private cave reserved for guests.” 

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

p. 24. “[Hennessy/IFR] A two storey late-Georgian house on a rock overhanging the River Blackwater. Entrance front of three bays and curved bow; Wyatt windows, subsequently reglazed with central mullions; fanlighted doorway now obscured by plain porch. Simple battlemented arch at opposite end of house. Hall with elaborate early to mid-C19 plasterwork; reeded cornice with rosettes, central oval of acanthus. Partly curving stair with slender wooden balusters at inner end of hall beyond arch with rope ornament. Fine doorcases with Doric entablatures and rope ornament on architraves. Cornices of oakleaves in drawing room and ante room. Bow-ended ballroom with higher ceiling than the other principal rooms and simpler and presumably earlier C19 plasterwork; oval moulding in centre of ceiling, with flat pan pendentives at corners. Fluted pilasters on walls. Oak chimneypiece in the “Arts and Crafts” style, with overmantel incorporating needlework panel, carved in 1905 by Harriette, widow of J.W. Hennessy. There is a similar oak fireplace in the dining-room, which has been entirely done over in Edwardian Tudor; with a beamed ceiling, timber-studded walls and painted coat-of-arms. Sold 1932 by Mr. C.J. Hennessy to his kinsman, the late Monsieur J.R. Hennessy, of La Billarderie, Cognac. Recently tenanted by Mr. Ian Sherriff, who ran it as a guest house.” 

6. Ballymaloe, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation – see above

7. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental – see my entry under County Waterford – the gardens are on the 2022 Section 482 list.

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/ballynatray-coach-house-area/

Ballynatray House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us of the accommodation: “a. As the name suggests, it was originally the Coach House where the owner of the Estate would have kept the horse drawn carriages along with all the necessary tack for the horses. Sometimes these buildings housed some very ornate and fascinating carriages. The two storey Coach House takes centre stage in the stable yard and has been transformed into a beautiful, luxurious 4 bedroom self catering property. Downstairs there is a very relaxing style open plan kitchen & dining area with comfortable couches which allow for great conversations even while you prepare a bite of lunch or dinner.

Within the quaint stable yard and in view of Ballynatray House itself, the Coach House really is a home from home with beautifully maintained gardens & parklands. The Coach House offers self-catering accommodation most suited to families as there is plenty of space both inside and in the stable yard which has beautifully maintained gardens. Guests can also view the walled kitchen garden which can be accessed from the stable yard.  This is the perfect retreat for any family who wishes to step back from the hustle & bustle of modern life and just relax and soak up the atmosphere only a private estate can offer.

b. Set in the grounds of Ballynatray Estate, the Garden Flat is located in the stable yard and is suitable for those looking for a self-catering holiday. There are two double bedrooms on the ground floor which would ideally suit two couples or if the need arises one of the bedrooms can be changed to be a twin room. There is a large bathroom and the kitchen is well equipped, decorated in the style of a country kitchen with painted units, stone floor and large kitchen table to seat ten. The Garden Flat can be used for a luxury self catering week in the beautiful Irish countryside.

c. The Garden House is a quaint little cottage that sits at the bottom of the walled garden next to the beautiful Ballynatray House. Set across two floors the Garden House boasts a beautiful double room complete with comfortable armchairs either side of the open fire that fills the complete upstairs area. This is an ideal adult only location where romantic notions are never very far away.

The wonderful location allows those who book the Garden House to wander through the estate which is one of the finest estates you will find in the Irish countryside. Taking long walks along the Blackwater or taking a picnic while you go exploring you could easily get lost in the beautiful countryside that is the Ballynatray Estate.

d. From history we know that on an estate like Ballynatray the owners would employ a groom to keep their horses fed, watered and groomed. As on many estates the job came with accommodation next to the stable as the groom was expected to be on hand if any of the family wished to go horse-riding or if one of the horses fell ill. This is the case on the Ballynatray Estate.

Renovated & situated in the stable yard the Groom’s Flat is an ideal self catering option for two people. The Groom’s Flat now boasts a beautiful open plan structure which allows guests the feel of an authentic cottage complete with the original stone floor in the kitchen and a small wood burner. The double bedroom benefits from French doors, whilst the heritage bathroom includes a shower and is decorated with small hand painted tiles. It is extremely comfortable and would be ideal for anyone looking to escape from the frenetic buzz of city life to somewhere beautiful and rural where every need is catered for in this self-contained Estate.

8. Ballyvolane, Castlelyons, Co Cork – Hidden Ireland accommodation, see above €€€

https://ballyvolanehouse.ie 

9. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork - see above €€

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph from the National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

10. Castle Martyr, Co Cork – hotel  €€€

and Castle Martyr Lodges

https://www.castlemartyrresort.ie

Mark Bence-Jones writes in 1988 of Castle Martyr in A Guide to Irish Country Houses:

p. 72. “(Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E/PB; Boyle, Shannon, E/PB; Arnott, Bt/PB) Originally an old castle of the FitzGeralds, Seneschals of Imokilly, to which an early C17 domestic range was added by richard Boyle, the “Great” Earl of Cork, who bought it from Sir Walter Raleigh, to whom it had been granted, along with other confiscated Geraldine estates. Having been damaged during the Civil Wards, it was repaired and made “English like” by Lord Cork’s third son, 1st Earl of Orrery, to whom it had passed; only to suffer worse damage in the Williamiate War, after which it was left a ruin, and a new house built alongside it early in C18 by Henry Boyle, who became Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and eventually 1st Earl of Shannon. The house was greatly enlarged by 2nd Earl between 1764/71, and further remodelled in late-Georgian period. While giving it an abnormally long facade, the subsequent additions did not take away from the house’s early C18 character, beign on the same scale and in the same style as the original building. Entrance front of two storeys and 17 bays, consisting of a five bay recessed centre with a giant pedimented portico between projecint wings, the forward-facing one bay ends of which are prolonged by a further five bays on either side. The ends of the projecting wings on either side of the centre are framed by rusticated pilasters, and formerly had Venetian windows in their lower storey, which have now been made into ordinary triple windows; there is also a rusticated pilaster at either end of the facade. The front is unusual in having three entrance doorways, of similar size, one under the portico and one in the centre of the five outer bays on either side; originally these doorways had plain architraves, but they were replaced by rusticated doorcases early this century. High-pitched, slightly sprocketed roofs. Irregular garden front; range of three bays on either side of a curved central bow, then a four bay range set slightly back with a balustraded colonnade of coupled Doric columns along its lower storey, then a range set further back again, of the same height as the rest of the facade but of one storey only, with three tall windows. Long, narrow and low-ceilinged hall with bifurcating wooden staircase at one end; late-Georgian frieze. A wide pilastered corridor runs from the staircase end of the hall, opening into a series of reception rooms along the garden front’ they are of modest size, low-ceilinged and simply decorated. In contrast to them is the magnificent double cube saloon or ballroom at the opposite end of the hall., which rises the full height of the house and is lit by the three tall windows in the single-storey part of the garden front. It has a coved ceiling with splendid rococo plasterwork in the manner of Robert West – birds, swags, flowers, foliage and cornucopiae in high relief – and a doorcase with fluted Ionic columns and a broken pediment. This room was one of 2nd Earl’s additions; it was finished by 1771, when it was seen by Arthur Young, who considered it to be the best room he had seen in Ireland. It certainly rates among the dozen or so finest Irish country house interiors; or anyhow whould have done when it had its chimneypiece and its original pictures and furnishings. The entrance front of the house overlooks a sheet of water which is part of the remarkable artificial river made ante 1750 by 1st Earl; it winds its way between wooded banks through the demesne and round the neighbouring town of Castlemartry; broad and deep enough to be navigable by what was described in C18 as “an handsome boat.” The entrance gates from teh town are flanked by tall battlemented walls shaped to look like Gothic towers; from the side they reveal themselves to be no more than stage scenery. Castle Martyr was sold early in the present century to the Arnott family; it was subsequently re-sold and is now a Carmelite College.” 

11. Castle Townshend, Co Cork – accommodation

http://castle-townshend.com/

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

We came upon the Townshend family when we visited Drishane, as the Somervilles nearby intermarried with their cousins the Townshends. See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/03/07/drishane-house-castletownshend-co-cork/

The website tells us:

In the picturesque village of Castletownshend, past ‘The Two Trees’ at the bottom of the hill, you’ll find our family-run boutique B&B.  Nestled at the edge of a scenic harbour and natural woodlands for you to explore, The Castle is a truly unique place to stay. It has the warm, homely feel of a traditional Irish B&B, but with a few extra special touches.

Steeped in history, The Castle has been home to the Townshend family since the 1650s and has been receiving guests for over 60 years. Inside the old stone walls, you’ll find welcoming faces to greet you, roaring fires to warm you, and comfy beds to sink into. Each room has its own story to tell, with the oak-panelled hall and spacious dining room retaining most of their original features, furniture, and family portraits.

Full of character and old-world charm, The Castle offers a welcoming retreat from everyday life. There are lots of things to do in the local area, like whale-watching and kayaking. Or, you can simply rest and recharge your batteries in the unique surroundings. After enjoying a complimentary breakfast, stroll through the winding pathways of our historic grounds, discovering ivy-covered ruins and their stories along the way. Then, as the sun sets, sit out the front with a drink in your hand, watching the boats in the harbour sway gently back and forth.

While you are a guest in our family’s home, the only thing on your To Do list is to relax. We will look after the rest.

The building is in fact a 17th century castellated house, not a defensive castle from earlier times. It was built by Colonel Richard Townesend towards the end of the 17th century, starting off as a much smaller dwelling. The first castle, known as ‘Bryan’s Fort’, was attacked and destroyed by the O’Driscolls in 1690, and its ruins remain in The Castle grounds to this day. Richard then built a second castle, which is thought to be where Swift’s Tower still stands. 

In 1805 the floors were lowered to make the ceilings higher, a decision that left The Castle in ruins. However, instead of rebuilding it, the stone was used to add castellated wings to the dwelling on the waterfront. This became The Castle as you see it today. 

Disaster struck again in 1852 when the newly built East Wing went up in flames. The blaze was so fierce that the large quantity of silver stored at the top of the wing ran down in molten streams. The family sent a Bristol silversmith to search the ruins and value the silver by the pound, which he did and promptly disappeared to America with a large part of it! The family still have some of that silver, all misshapen from the fire. The East Wing was rebuilt soon after the fire and The Castle has remained unchanged in appearance ever since.

The family name, however, has undergone several changes over the years. The original spelling was Townesend, which later became Townsend. In 1870, the head of the family, Reverend Maurice Fitzgerald Townshend, consulted with the Townshends of Raynham, Norfolk. Following this, it was requested that the whole family add the ‘h’ into the name. However, some families were quite content with the current spelling and refused to adopt the new one. This resulted in various different spellings spread across the branches throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia and Canada.

Much has been written about the Townshend family and The Castle over the years, and this rich history is documented in great detail here. You can also read the book ‘An Officer of the Long Parliament’, which is an account of the life and times of Colonel Richard Townesend and a chronicle of his descendants.

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

p. 78. “[Townshend/IFR) A castellated house, consisting of two battlemented towers joined by a range with dormer gables. Panelled hall. The tower of the parish church rises picturesquely from among the trees immediately above the house, which stands on the shore of Castle Haven.” 

Jane O’Hea O’Keeffe tells us of the Castle’s builder, in her Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry (Mercier Press, Cork, 2013): p. 83. “In the late 1600s Richard Townsend, an officer in the Cromwellian army, acquired lands at Castlehaven in west Cork originally owned by the O’Driscoll clan. Richard Townsend also owned other lands in County Cork totalling over 6,540 acres. It was he who built the castle at Castletownshend, the centre portion of which still remains. The two towers at each corner of the castle today were added in the eighteenth century.

She continues: “Over the following centuries, members of the Townsend family served as high sheriffs of County Cork. In 1753 Richard Townsend was the office-holder and in 1785 Richard Boyle Townsend was appointed to the position. In the 1870s Richard M.F. Townsend owned over 7,000 acres near Dingle in County Kerry, inherited from the FitzGerald family, Knights of Kerry. At that time, the estate of the late Rev. Maurice Townshend extended to over 8,000 acres in County Cork...”

Frank Keohane describes Castle Townshend in his Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County:

p. 314. “The Castle. A house of several parts, the seat of the Townshends. The earliest, described as ‘newly built’ in 1780 by the Complete Irish Traveller, is presumably the two-storey, five-bay rubble-stone centre block, with dormers over the upper windows and a two-storey rectilinear porch. Taller three-storey wings with battlements carried on corbelled cornices and twin- and triple-light timber-mullioned windows. The E. wing was perhaps built in the late 1820s; the W wing was added after a fire in 1852. Modest interior. Large low central hall with a beamed ceiling and walls lined with oak panelling and gilded embossed wallpaper. Taller dining room to the r., with a compartmented ceiling; a Neoclassical inlaid fireplace in the manner of Bossi, and a large Jacobean sideboard. C19 staircase with barley-twist type balusters. 

Octagonal three-stage battlemented tower, 60 m west of the castle.” 

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

12. Clifford House, Clifford, Co Cork – airbnb

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/23073945?source_impression_id=p3_1589821677_g%2Fl3KzQeCDhVcv1s&guests=1&adults=1

The airbnb posting tells us you can rent a room in the house:

A beautiful Georgian house set in wonderful countryside, amongst old and established trees with lawns and a walled vegetable garden with exceptional views overlooking the Nagle Mountains and the Blackwater River running below.

Situated between Mallow and Fermoy approx 12 miles from either with three local villages Killavullen, Castletownroche and Ballyhooly each a 2.5 miles away. Cork city is 45 minutes drive.

The space

This is the perfect place to relax, unwind or position yourselves for a weekend of fishing and relaxation. You are welcome to walk around the grounds, relax in the sitting room in front of the fire read or watch TV.

Guest access

The double bedroom is comfortable and spacious with a king size bed with en suite bathroom which has been recently upgraded.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us: “This solid and handsome country house was built by Richard Martin on a prominent position overlooking the River Blackwater. It developed over the centuries, as evidenced by the various additions. The house is notable for the quantity and quality of historic fabric retained such as the varied small-paned sash windows and slate roof, helping to maintain the integrity of the composition. The cut limestone piers with pineapple caps are a most decorative feature.” 

13. Creagh (former Glebe House), Skibbereen, Co Cork – B&B

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us Creagh House in Skibbereen is a: “Detached four-bay two-storey former glebe house, built c.1820, now in use as private house…Set overlooking an inlet, this house occupies an attractive site which is enhanced by its well maintained grounds. Built as the glebe house for the Church of Ireland church to the west, it forms an interesting group with the church and graveyard. It is a reminder of the influence and prosperity of the Church of Ireland in the early nineteenth century, when many churches and clergy residences were built throughout the country. It retains much of its original character and charm.”

14. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482 – see above

15. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above

www.drishane.com

16. Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, Co Cork €€
Email: reservations@eccleshotel.com

Tel: +353 – 27 – 63003
www.eccleshotel.com

17. Elizabeth Fort Parade Houses, County Cork € for 3

https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

18. Galley Head Lighthouse Keepers House, County Cork € for 3-4

https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

Galley Head Lighthouse, County Cork, 2016 photograph Courtesy George Karbus for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

19. Coach House Apartments, Glebe Country House, Ballinadee, Bandon, County Cork € https://glebecountryhouse.ie

A fantastic option for travellers looking for a quiet stay, in a strategic location, to explore Kinsale, West Cork and beyond.  We offer Warm hospitality with a romantic and relaxed atmosphere.

Our facilities are fully equipped with all the comforts you need, as well as beautiful formal gardens with a Lavender walk, Partier and Rose Garden. We have areas for walks, an enclosed garden for our dog guests, and easy access to the main tourist attractions of Blarney, Kinsale and West Cork.

Under the hospitable ownership of Gill and Caroline, this classically proportioned Georgian Rectory has been providing a restful retreat for guests since 1989, and everybody loves it for its genuine country house feeling and friendliness.

Spacious reception rooms have the feeling of a large family home, and generous, stylishly decorated bedrooms have good bathrooms, fast Internet connection, and tea/coffee making facilities. The Rose Room, on the ground floor, has French doors to the garden.

Set in two acres of beautiful, well-tended gardens (including a productive kitchen garden), this charming old rectory near Kinsale has a lovely wisteria over the front door and it is a place full of interest.

Check in is between 4.00pm and 6.00pm when Complimentary Afternoon Tea is served. Please let us know if you require check in at a different time and we can arrange it.”

20. Glenlohane, Kanturk, Cork – B&B accommodation and self-catering cottage €€ in house; Pink Cottage € for 3-5 for one week

Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

 www.glenlohane.ie

The website tells us: “Desmond, Melanie and their son, Gordon, run Glenlohane as an extremely private house with an air of friendly informality so unique to Irish Country House Bed and Breakfasts. Certainly not considered a ‘room for the night’ type of B&B, there are no public signs at the roadside to draw the attention of casual visitors. Guests are welcomed on a pre-arranged basis and know where they are going by the detailed directions in this web site. There are no public and private quarters as in a professional place and guests may use facilities of the entire house as if staying with friends.

There are family dogs and a cat in the background and animals play a large part of life at Glenlohane. Less than a quarter of a mile away, and still on the farm, is a Self Catering Cottage that can be rented on a weekly basis. Apart from farm animals, there are also horses, ponies, fantail pigeons and bantam hens in the traditional stable yard.

Whether it be at Glenlohane for B&B or Glenlohane Cottage for self catering, staying is for the discerning visitor who wishes to learn more about Ireland’s history and culture through personal contact with the owners. One is also well positioned for sightseeing throughout the Scenic Southwest of the country.

and Cottages on https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/glenlohane-cottage/

Glenlohane Cottage has been part of the Sharp Bolster family who are celebrating 275 years in Glenlohane House in 2016. It is an exceptional period cottage built in the 1600’s and added onto over the centuries. Centered in the Glenlohane farm estate, this geographic location is one of the very best locations for touring the Scenic Southwest of Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle, Rock of Cashel, Cork City, Blarney, Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Kinsale, Bantry & the Beara, and even Schull are all easy day trips.

Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The Glenlohane website gives us a history of the house:

Glenlohane Country House was built by Desmond’s antecedents in 1741. Your hosts, Desmond, Melanie and their son Gordon represent the 9th and 10th generations of the same family living at Glenlohane since its inception. Surrounded by terraced lawns overlooking a park like setting, the house was built by John Sharp, of Mount Conway, near Cork City in 1741. Mount Conway still stands.

Early records show the Sharp family in the parish of St. Katherine, Dublin in 1535. As a prominent Quaker family that became eminently successful in the woolen industry in the mid 1600’s, they also built Roundwood House in Co Laois at the same time that Glenlohane was being built in Co Cork. Anthony Sharp was reputed to employ 500 people at the time, which would have made him one of Ireland’s largest employers. For Dublin, that is a sizeable concern even by today’s standards! As sizeable land owners, the Bolsters have been within 5-6 miles of Glenlohane since Elizabethan times and John Hawkes Bolster of Egmont House, Churchtown, Co Cork married Sarah Sharp of Glenlohane in the early 1800’s. The house was extended to its present size shortly thereafter. We now have the opportunity to share our family’s heritage by offering guests Irish Country House Accommodation in the heart of the Co Cork countryside.

Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

21. Glenville Park, Glenville, County Cork (previously known as The Manor and as Mount Pleasant) – accommodation 

http://www.glenvillepark.com

Glenville Park, County Cork, August 2020.

This is the home of the late Mark Bence-Jones, whom I refer to so much on this website! Stephen and I were very excited to discover that his daughter rents rooms in the house for visitor accommodation.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us:

p. 139. (Hudson-Kinahan, sub Kinahan/IFR; Bence-Jones/IFR) Originally a two storey five bay C18 house, of rendered rubble with block window surrounds of cut stone; it was fronted by a semi-circular forecourt or enclosure, with a gate at either end. The seat of a branch of the Coppinger or Copinger family, the estate having originally belonged to the O’Keefes. Bought between 1776-1788 by Dr Edward Hudson, who built a new house a short distance from the old one, and at right angles to it; consisting of three storey three bay gable-ended centre, with a fanlighted doorway, and two storey one bay gable-ended wings. This house was the home of Dr Edward Hudson’s son, William Elliot Hudson [1796-1853], composer, collector of ancient Irish music and Irish patriot [his Dublin home was St. Enda’s in Rathfarnham, previously called The Hermitage and Fields of Odin]. The estate eventually passed to Wm Elliot Hudson’s nephew, Sir Edward Hudson-Kinahan, 1st Bt [the son of William Elliot’s sister Charlotte, who married Robert Henry Kinahan], who enlarged and remodelled the house to the design of Sandham Symes 1887. A new two storey front was built onto the house, making it twice as deep, other additions were built at the back, and the original part of the house was reconstructed with two storeys instead of the original three, so as to make the rooms as high as those in the new additions. The new front is in the Victorian-Georgian style, faced in grey cement and of considerable length; it has a small pedimented breakfront with a pair of round-headed windows above a balustraded and fanlighted porch. On either side of the centre is a three sided bow between two bays; the façade being prolonged at one end by an additional bay, beyond which is a three storey one bay wing set back.

Glenville Park August 2020: At the back of the house is a bow fronted pavilion like wing, containing a single large room, joined to the main building by a corridor.
The Historic Houses of Ireland website identifies the Hudson-Kinahan arms are displayed in the pediment of the unusally arranged central breakfront of Glenville Park. 

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “Entablatures on console brackets above ground floor windows, shouldered window surrounds in upper storey, parapeted roof. At the back of the house is a bow fronted pavilion like wing, containing a single large room, joined to the main building by a corridor. Long hall running the full depth of the house, with staircase at its inner end, behind an arch with plasterwork mouldings; modillion cornice. Doorcases with segmental pediments in the hall and principal receptions rooms, which have Victorian plasterwork cornices of flowers and foliage; the drawing room has an original C19 wallpaper in faded lemon and grey. Spacious landing or upper hall at head of stairs.”

Glenville Park: Long hall running the full depth of the house, with staircase at its inner end, behind an arch with plasterwork mouldings; modillion cornice. Doorcases with segmental pediments in the hall and principal receptions rooms, which have Victorian plasterwork cornices of flowers and foliage.
Glenville Park: spacious landing at the top of the stairs.
Stephen in our room at Glenville Park, August 2020. You can see Mark Bence-Jones’s book on the bedside table!
Reading a novel by Mark Bence-Jones in our bedroom at Glenville Park, August 2020.

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us: “The Hudson-Kinahan family died out with the third baronet, Sir Robert, and the house became the home of Colonel Philip Bence-Jones and his wife, who purchased Glenville from the trustees in 1949. The Bence-Jones family, who originally came from Lisselane, near Clonakilty in West Cork, were looking for a new home after their house, Annemount on Cork Harbour, had been destroyed by fire.” [8]

Mark Bence-Jones continues his description: “Walled garden with old beech hedges and walls of faded pink brick; the back of the Coppinger house being at one side of it. Glen garden containing a noteable collection of rhododendrons and other shrubs and trees; long flight of steps down hillside to formal pool. Bought 1949 from the trustees of Sir Robert Hudson-Kinahan, 3rd Bt, by Col Philip Bence-Jones, who carried out various alterations to the house and threw three small rooms together to make a chapel, which has stained glass windows by Mr Stanley Tomlin and Mr Patckick Pollen, and a stone altar by the late Seamus Murphy, above which is a statue of the Madonna which survived the fire at Annemount.” 

The chapel in the house, with the statue of the Madonna which survived the fire at Annemount. In 1949 a Roman Catholic chapel was formed out of three small first-floor rooms. Alter by Seamus Murphy, stained glass by Stanley Tomlin.

We spent a heavenly week at Glenville Park during Heritage Week of 2020, when we used it as a base to visit several Section 482 and OPW properties.

Glenville Park: “Glen garden containing a noteable collection of rhododendrons and other shrubs and trees; long flight of steps down hillside to formal pool.
The site of an old church, where William E. Hudson is buried, near an ancient well, Doonpeter’s Well. It is the second oldest consecrated ground in Ireland, an information panel told us. A “Pattern” takes place every year on 23rd June, Bonfire Night, an ancient tradition. The sacred well and ring fort are pre-Christian.

22. Inis Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork – see above €

https://www.inishbeg.com/homepage/

23. Killee Cottage, Mitchelstown, County Cork €€

https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

Once one of a number of bothies stretching along this quiet country lane, Killee Cottage and its neighbour are now the only two thatched cottages remaining.

24. Kilmahon House, County Cork

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/kilmahon-house/

The Hidden Ireland website tells us:

The beautiful Kilmahon House, built in 1780, is a fully restored Georgian Country House offering elegant Bed & Breakfast accommodation. The house is also available for smaller events on special request. Just 30 minutes from Cork airport and the Historic city of Cork, Kilmahon is situated in the East Cork Village of Shanagarry. It is only a short walk to Ballymaloe Cookery School and the blueflag beaches along Ballycotton Bay.

Kilmahon is an impressive listed Glebe Heritage House of Ireland and has been lovingly restored over a number of years. The result is a seamless blend of original period features and modern facilities, set within the idyllic coastal surroundings of County Cork’s nature.

Spending a few days in this secluded ancient environment offers a chance to rejuvenate in comfort and peace. Weather with a good book in front of a warm fire or a stroll through the old gardens, you will find yourself uplifted and reset from the stresses of everyday life.

THE GROUNDS

While the house was restored so too were the gardens surrounding it. The walled rose garden has been brought back to life and is a feast of colour through the summer months; a perfect and private space for guests to relax in. An expansive lawn to the front provides a large open space and stunning views over fields toward the ocean, while old stone walls and mature trees in abundance maintain the sense of privacy at Kilmahon.

THE RECEPTION ROOMS
Period fireplaces with log fires set a welcoming tone in each of the elegant reception rooms in Kilmahon House. Rooms are tastefully furnished with antiques and original art work effortlessly combining style and comfort. Large Georgian windows provide idyllic views onto the formal gardens below and Ballycotton Bay beyond.

THE BEDROOMS

A wonderful nights rest in one of the six individually designed en-suite bedrooms awaits guests at Kilmahon House. Recent restorations allow for the inclusion of modern power showers and super-king beds whilst still enjoying the ambience of antique furniture, sumptuous furnishings and spectacular scenic views.

BOOKING YOUR STAY

Kilmahon offers guests luxury Bed & Breakfast accommodation or the house also can be taken for exclusive rental where guests can enjoy staying in this outstanding Georgian house and its beautiful surroundings. Julia will be happy to organise with you any catering requirements you have. Kilmahon House is an ideal setting for family breaks. Contact the house directly to check availability.

25. Kilshannig, County Cork holiday accommodation – see above

26. Liss Ard Estate, County Cork

https://lissardestate.ie

The Sky Garden at Liss Ard by James Turrell.

The website invites us to “Escape to 163 acres of pristine nature with manicured gardens, a 40 acre private lake and James Turrell’s renowned Irish Sky Garden. The Estate features 26 unique guest rooms in the heart of West Cork, the culinary capital of Ireland.

The Manor was built in 1853, a fine early Victorian country house built by H.W. O’Donovan, who succeeded his brother as The O’Donovan in 1870. The Victorian Lake House was built in 1870.

The James Turrell Sky Garden:

James Turrell’s The Irish Sky Garden

For over half a century, the internationally renowned landscape artist James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception. New Yorker critic Calvin Tompkins writes, “His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form.” ” It was built in 1992.

Mark Bence-Jones tell us about Liss Ard (1988):

P. 188. “[O’Donovan/IFR] A long two storey early Victorian house, built ca. 1840 by H.W. O’Donovan, who succeeded his brother as The O’Donovan 1870. Entrance at end; fine rooms. Sold ca 1924 by Col. M.W. O’Donovan, The O’Donovan. In recent years the home of the late Captn and Mrs Richard Ansdell.” 

27. Lota Lodge, Glanmire, Co Cork – now the Vienna Woods Hotel https://www.viennawoodshotel.com/

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Lota Lodge (1988): p. 191. “(Sharman-Crawford/LGI1912) A two storey Regency house with circular projections and iron veranda. Eaved roof. Partly destroyed by fire 1902, rebuilt 1903.” 

The website tells us:

Cork’s Vienna Woods Country House Hotel has a history as dramatic as the rich mustard tone that sets the building apart from the surrounding woodlands on the peaks of Glanmire, Co. Cork.

The building, perched on a height overlooking the Glashaboy River, has stood proudly since 1756. Built by Davis Ducart as a summer leisure lodge for Lord Barrymore, the building was designed in the Regency Style, a style that was very popular in the latter part of the 18th century.

Characteristic traits of the Regency Style include an emphasis on the classical form, and the forging of a close relationship between structure and the landscape, evident in The Vienna Woods Country House Hotel, which nestles in to the surrounding mountainous woodlands.

Vienna Woods, or Lota Lodge as it was originally titled, forms part of a collection of grand country houses in the Glanmire area of Cork, like; Dunkathel House, Glenkeen, Glyntown House, Lauriston House and Brooklodge House.

The house was home to AF Sharman Crawford and his family from 1875-1946, who was thankfully here to restore the house to its original glory after a fire in the early 1900s destroyed some of the original building. Crawford was a managing director of the Beamish and Crawford Brewery, (which was founded by his uncle, William Crawford II), and the city of Cork benefited from his philanthropic disposition, particularly in the arts; in fact the Crawford family funded the establishment of the Crawford Art Gallery and the Crawford School of Art.

As with so many other grand houses in 20th century Ireland, the building was purchased by a religious order in 1951, and was used as a seminary for 13 years, until it was converted into a hotel in 1964 by Joan Shubuek renamed the building ‘Vienna Woods’, because of the parallels she drew between the area, and the Austrian capital city where she had lived for a number of years.

The Fitzgerald family along with Michael Magner, bought the hotel in 2006 and renamed it ‘The Vienna Woods Country House Hotel’. Michael Magner, one of the co-owners, is also the General Manager of the hotel, and this close level of personal care and involvement is most evident in the building’s most dramatic makeover to date, which has taken almost fifteen years to complete.  The Fitzgeralds/Magners have lovingly and painstakingly restored much of the original protected features of the building.

28. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house or gate lodge –

http://www.loughinehouse.com

This beautiful holiday house and cottage are set on stunning Lough Ine sometimes spelt Lough Hyne – which is well known as one of the most romantic spots in West Cork.

Just 85km from Cork airport, Lough Ine is easily accessible but also far enough off the beaten track to be the perfect place to get away for either a romantic break or a fabulous family holiday.

29. The Courtyard, Mallow

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/the-courtyard-mallow/

The Courtyard, Mallow has been lovingly renovated and is at the rear of the main Georgian house which was built in 1780 and was the original home of the Carpenter family. The Courtyard, Mallow is situated on a working farm and equestrian centre.

Comprising of two 2-bedroomed self-catering apartments, and one 1-bedroomed self-catering apartment we can provide for couples and friend/family groups alike. Your home-from-home, each apartment at The Courtyard is equipped with all cooking facilities that you need, WiFi, and television sets with endless channels and movies to choose from. Catering and shopping is available upon prior request and subject to availability.

All three apartments have been recently refurbished and each apartment is elegantly decorated with its own unique style and story.  We have scoured vintage and antique shops around the country to add that extra flare and individuality to the living spaces of The Courtyard apartments. We use White & Green luxury organic cotton bed linen on all beds and Dalkey liquid handmade soap to ensure our guests can fully unwind during their stay. All bedrooms are ensuite for your comfort and privacy.

30.  Maryborough, Douglas, Co Cork – Maryborough Hotel €€

  https://www.maryborough.com

The website tells us:

Located in the leafy suburbs of Douglas, yet minutes from Cork City Centre, The Maryborough has a character and style all of its own. Set in 18 acres of 300-year-old listed gardens and woodland, our family-owned boutique hotel affords guests an experience in luxury itself and is among the top hotels in Cork.  The Maryborough Hotel is unique with its charming 18th Century Mansion accompanied by the creatively designed contemporary extension. All of this combined makes The Maryborough the perfect destination.

The hotel delivers a unique experience in an exceptional atmosphere. From the moment you enter, we will guarantee you a level of personal service and care designed to match the exquisite surroundings of our 300-year-old listed gardens. Guests can enjoy an award-winning restaurant in Cork, state of the art Leisure Club and luxurious ESPA spa.

Our History

The Maryborough Hotel & Spa is one of the most renowned 4 star hotels in Cork today. The Maryborough’s Georgian Manor House was built in 1710 by Mr Richard Newenham [note that a Richard Newenham of Maryborough married Sarah Devonsher, niece of Abraham Devonsher of Kilshannig]. Descendants of the Newenhams as well as other families lived there up until the 1990s when it was purchased by the O’Sullivan family. In 1997 the family opened what is now The Maryborough Hotel, a 4 star luxury hotel in Cork with 93 bedrooms.

Since becoming a hotel, the Mansion House has fortunately retained its striking original architectural features. Some of the rooms at The Maryborough still showcase Adam style decoration – notably the entrance hall and some mantelpieces. This adds to the historical relevance of the manor house and contributes to the decadence and luxury of this boutique hotel in Cork.

The former eighteenth-century stately home is set amid acres of woods and beautiful gardens, just south of Cork’s historical city centre in Douglas. John Newenham, a younger brother of the last Newenham owner of The Maryborough was a great gardener and collector of trees. Thanks to his inspired work the gardens at The Maryborough still host quite a collection, in particular of rhododendrons, making it one of the reasons for The Maryborough being one of the best hotels in Cork.

The Maryborough works to continually develop a deluxe guest experience merging the hotels history with beautifully appointed accommodations. In order to incorporate the elegant grandeur of the old house into the hotel, several splendid suites were built on the upper floors of the Mansion House. Read more about our luxury suites in Cork.

To compliment the opulent charm of the old house, the hotel’s contemporary extension was built. It is here you will find our Deluxe, Executive and Family Rooms. Spectacular architecture blended with effortless service and genuine hospitality makes the Maryborough one of the top hotels in Cork.

31. Old Bank Townhouse, Kinsale, County Cork

https://www.oldbankhousekinsale.com

The website tells us:

Take an elegant townhouse in a spectacular location, add a gourmet cafe with a mouth watering array of local produce, mix well with the locals who love the atmosphere here, bring it all together with a very warm welcome and a pinch of kinsale humour… and you’ll have the Old Bank Townhouse.

Set in the heart of Kinsale, this beautifully renovated Bank House is both elegant and welcoming. Just a short walk from the of world renowned restaurants, inviting bars and interesting boutiques of Kinsale… yet only 25 minutes from cork city, the Old Bank Townhouse is popular with golfers and those with a passion for food.

Steeped in history, this Kinsale accommodation was originally the Munster & Leinster Bank.The beautiful Georgian facade with impressive sash windows used to front a waterway for passing ships that berthed in the quays running from the site of on old mill.

32. Perryville, Kinsale, Co Cork – hotel €€

 https://www.perryvillehouse.com

The website tells us:

Perryville House is an elegant and distinctive period townhouse overlooking Kinsale Harbour, County Cork in the south of Ireland. Originally built in 1820 and lovingly restored by us, Perryville House is now a warm, gracious and light-filled boutique guesthouse.

True to its original role as a private residence, Perryville House welcomes guests from all over the world to share and enjoy the finest Irish hospitality and luxury accommodation in Kinsale — your first stop on the Wild Atlantic Way. We invite you to savour a one-of-a-kind, historic hotel experience.

A masterpiece of Georgian architecture with later Victorian embellishment, Perryville House was built in 1820 by Captain Adam Warren Perry for his family whose ancestors continued to reside here until the late 1950s. It had various owners from then until 1997 when fired by the beauty, character and history of this lovely house, Andrew & Laura Corcoran undertook the mammoth task of refurbishing and bringing it back to its former glory. Situated in the heart of Kinsale, overlooking the harbour, Perryville House welcomes guests from April to October each year.

[see 5]. Seaview House Hotel, Ballylicky, County Cork

https://www.seaviewhousehotel.com/

33. Springfort Hall, Mallow, Co cork – hotel

https://www.springfort-hall.com

The website tells us:

“Tucked away amid tranquil woodlands , Springfort Hall Country House Hotel is a hotel for all seasons . The gardens and lawns at this 4 Star Hotel are a delight during the Summer , while in the Winter months, there’s no better place to relax with a glass of red wine than in The Baltydaniel Bar. Add to this , impeccably maintained 4 Star Accommodation and Sumptuous dining in The Limetree Restaurant and you will discover a wonderful 18th Century Country House Hotel Countryside. Explore one of the finest 4 Star Springfort Hall Country House Hotel.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us Springfort is (1988):

“(Foott/LGI1912; Grove-White/IFR; Clarke/IFR) A two storey early C19 house with two deep curved bows on each side of its two principal fronts. Open porch with square piers on entrance front, between the two bows and below a central Wyatt window; large triple windows in lower storey of bows. Service wing at side. Spacious bow-eded reception rooms; ceilings and surrounds of early C19 plasterwork. Plaster Gothic vaulting in staircase hall.” 

Whole House Rental County Cork:

1. Aspen House, Dromgarriff Estate, Glengarriff, Cork, Ireland

https://cashelfean.ie/aspen-house/

2. Ballincurra House, County Cork – coach house, estate cottages, and whole house rental – see above

3. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental – see above

4. Barnabrow, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation

https://www.barnabrowhouse.ie/

The website tells us: “Barnabrow Country House: in idyllic East Cork is discreet – it is like a secret garden that beckons. Visitors may happen upon it nestled in the rolling hills of East Cork with distant but tantalising glimpses of Ballycotton Bay. At first glance it appears contained – its banqueting hall, high on the hill, is not obvious, the twenty-two bedrooms are tucked away in various courtyards and the cottages are not apparent. 

The meandering passages entice the curious to explore, its various decks with their pleasing views invite others to relax while the menagerie of animals offers solace. Combined, these elements make Barnbrow Country House an atmospheric, intimate setting where memories, that last a lifetime, are created.  

Barnabrow Country House in East Cork is one of the most idyllic locations for romantic weddings, corporate events, special celebrations and group gatherings.  

The family and staff at Barnabrow are proud to act as caretaker of this lovingly-restored manor house and 30-acre estate which dates back to the 17th century. A recurrent comment of our guests is an appreciation of the relaxed and warm atmosphere here. Primarily we wish to share this great house with you. 

For the past four years, Head Chef, Stuart Bowes, who is Michelin Star-trained, has ensured a new level of excellence in our food: jus is prepared over three days, handmade sweets are on the pillows, herbal aromas pervade the air.  

Mary Russell’s discerning eye adds an artistic dab here and there to enhance the visual feast that Barnabrow has gradually become. Liam Irwan, our steadfast gardener, preserves its organic nature and tends to the donkeys, goats and fowl that so add to its ambiance.

Cloyne, Midleton, East Cork, Ireland. 
info@barnabrowhouse.ie 
+353 21 4652534  

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

p. 32. “A three storey 3 bay double gable-ended C18 house with single-storey 2 bay C19 wings. Wyatt windows in 2 lower storeys of C18 block. In 1814 the residence of Timothy Lane; in 1837, of J.R. Wilkinson; in recent years, of Lt-Cmdr and Mrs Whitehouse.”

5. Blackwater Castle (Castle Widenham, or Blackwater Valley Castle) Castletownroache, Co Cork 

https://www.blackwatercastle.com/

The website tells us:

A medieval Castle for rent in Ireland, the spectacular home of the former Viscount of Fermoy and Lords of the Barony of Fermoy, is a truly unique heritage site of international significance. Blackwater Castle, with a history extending back some 10,000 years to the Mesolithic period, is available to hire as a private Castle experience for exclusive Castle weddings, private parties, and family gatherings.

The Castle was first erected in the twelfth century on the site of the Bronze Age fortress of Dún Cruadha, an inland promontory fort which was established some 2,500 years ago or more on a rocky outcrop on the banks of the River Awbeg.   Beautifully appointed suites, welcoming reception rooms, historical tours, and extensive activities from zip-lining to fly fishing are all on offer at one of Ireland’s more interesting and best preserved castles set on a 50 acre estate of mature native Irish trees with a private stretch of the River Awbeg.

Visitors gracing the Castle down through the centuries include Early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, Druids and Chieftains, Strongbow’s Men at Arms, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Michael Jackson while Oliver Cromwell and his army also laid siege to the Castle.  More recently we have received the President of Ireland Uachtarán Michael D. Higgins who described the Castle as a “beautiful place” and set in “a majestic and pastoral environment”.  This exquisite Castle is available for private exclusive hire as the perfect venue for castle weddings, private parties and self catering holiday vacation rentals. Guesthouse options are also available for group bookings.

The Castle is a highly recommended venue with a coveted 5 star rating on Tripadvisor where we rank as the Best Speciality Accommodation in Cork. We were winners of the Best Hospitality, Tourism and Food Venue in the North Cork Business Awards 2017 while we have been selected for five consecutive years by One Fab Day as one of the best wedding venues in Ireland. in October 2015 The Irish Times listed us among the top ten Castles in Ireland while The Irish Examiner declared on 6 May 2015 that Blackwater Castle was one of only six Irish wedding venues you ever need in your “wedding venue little black book”.

Blackwater Castle is the original seat of the FitzHugh/Roche Family who travelled to Ireland with Strongbow in the late twelfth century.  The Castle is located on an elevated site (and former inland promontory fort) above the River Awbeg with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside from the Norman Tower which is reputed to be one of the best preserved medieval keeps in Ireland.  Blackwater Castle is blessed with a rich historical legacy the traces of which, dating from the early Mesolithic period or some 10,000 years ago, are visible today and are entertainingly and enthusiastically revealed and interpreted via guided tour with the owner Patrick Nordstrom.

Mark Bence-Jones also tells us of the castle (1988):

p. 79. Castle Widenham: “(Roche of Fermoy, V/DEP; Brasier-Creagh/IFR; Smyth/IFR; Cotter, Bt/PB) 

The old castle of the Viscounts Roche of Fermoy, on a rock high above the Awbeg River; consisting of a tall keep and a baily enclosed by a curtain wall with bastions and other fortifications. During the Civil War the castle was heroically defended against the Cromwellian forces by the Lady Roche of the time but she was eventually obliged to surrender. The estate was confiscated and granted to the Widenham family [to Colonel John Widenham in 1666, when it became known as Castle Widenham]; Lord Roche failed to recover it after the Restoration and was reduced to dire poverty. Later, in C17 or early C18 a house of two storeys and an attic was built onto the keep, incorporating some of the walls of the old castle; it stood within the bailey, the wall of which was still intact 1790s. Ca 1820s, Henry Mitchell Smyth [1795-1870, from Ballynatray, the gardens of which are on the Section 482 listing], whose wife Patricia (nee Brasier-Creagh) [1802-1837]was the eventual heiress of the Widenhams [via her mother, Elizabeth Widenham], castellated the house and extended it at the opposite end to the old keep; giving it a skyline of battlements and machiolations and a turreted porch on its entrance front. Probably at the same time, the bailey wall was largely demolished; though parts of it still survive, together with some of the outworks and a detached building which is thought to have been a chapel. A terrace ws built along the garden front later in C19 by H.J. Smyth. The rooms of the house have plain cornices and charming Georgian-Gothic shutters in the deep window recesses; the drawing room has segmental pointed doorways with rope ornament. The principal staircase has slender turned balusters, there is also a delightful little spiral staircase of wood, rather similar to that at Dunsany Castle, which goes up to the attic storey, whence a door leads into an upper room of the keep. From ca 1963-76, Castle Widenham was the home of Sir Delaval Cotter, 6th and present Bt [6th Baronet Cotter, of Rockforest, co. Cork] – whose old family seat, Rockforest, was nearby. Sir Deleval and Lady Cotter carried out an admirable restoration of the castle, which was in poor condition when they bought it; the rooms, as redecorated by them, were greatly improved and gained much from their fine furniture and the Cotter family portraits. They also made a garden in the outworks of the castle and opened up the views down to the river, which had become completely overgrown. Unfortunately, in 1976, circumstances oblighed them to sell it and move to England.” 

6. Blairscove House, County Cork: accommodation in the Piggery, Smoke House and Loft.

https://blairscove.ie/

The website tells us:

Blairscove House is situated on the picturesque inlet of Dunmanus Bay in West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way. Not touched by mass tourism, it appeals to visitors who want to get away ‘far from the madding crowd,’ yet desire premium facilities in terms of service and food, with home from home comforts in terms of welcome and accommodation.

Around the courtyard of a Georgian House, beautifully restored with cobbled paths, shrubs and flowers, are the restaurant and four stylish suites or small apartments which can be rented on a bed and breakfast or self-catering basis. Formerly a piggery, coach house and servants’ quarters, each suite is individually and very lovingly decorated with a quirky mix of contemporary and antique furnishings.

We also have another holiday cottage on Dunmanus Pier in West Cork, just 12km from Blairscove, in the direction of Mizen Head, again on the Wild Atlantic Way driving route.

7. Careysville (Ballymacpatrick Castle), Clondulane, Fermoy, Co.Cork, Ireland P61 VF53 – accommodation

https://careysville.com 

Careysville House sits on an escarpment overlooking the fishery, with stunning views of the Blackwater valley. Guests can look out of their bedroom window and see one of the most stunning stretches of salmon fishing in Ireland, not to mention watch the salmon jumping in the pools below. It was built in 1812 in the Georgian style, on the site of the old ruined Ballymacpatrick Castle.

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

 p. 56. “[Montgomery of Killee; Cavendish, Devonshire] “A C18 house of 2 storeys over a high basement and 5 bays, above the River Blackwater. Subtly spaced windows. The seat of the Carey family; passed by inheritance to the Montgomery family, from whom it was bought by the Duke of Devonshire, whose Irish seat, Lismore Castle, is a few miles further down the river.” 

The National Inventory tells us: “Built on the site of Ballypatrick Castle, this house has been used as a fishing lodge by the Duke of Devonshire for many years. It is a substantial house with elegant proportions and articulated by its cut limestone plinth course. The building retains many notable features and materials such as the varied timber sash windows and slate roof. The classically inspired porch retains its timber panelled doors and flanking pilasters. The different window treatments to the side and rear provide further interest to the house. The site retains associated structures such as the solidly constructed outbuildings, which provide valuable context to the side. The piers are finely crafted and indicative of the quality of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century craftsmanship.”

8. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above

9. Dunowen House, Co Cork, and Orchard Cottage – Blue Book Accommodation

https://dunowenhouse.ie/

The website tells us:

Dunowen House is a luxury 18th Century Private Rental Property, situated in a stunning coastal location ten minutes from vibrant Clonakilty town. Surrounded by private coves and sandy beaches, it offers guests the chance to totally escape and experience West Cork life.

When you book Dunowen House it is yours exclusively making it perfect for extended families, groups of friends, bespoke celebrations and intimate weddings.

It offers the comforts of a luxury small hotel with the privacy of an historic country estate – all to yourself.”

Orchard Cottage is a beautifully refurbished three bedroom house nestled within the peaceful one acre walled garden of Dunowen House.

This characterful old building, dating back to the 1800’s, has been sympathetically restored to a very high standard. It has three cosy bedrooms, two bathrooms, a wood burning stove and an open plan kitchen living area, offering accommodation for up to five guests. The cottage is suitable for up to three children within that number.

Orchard Cottage is available to rent with Dunowen House or on its own as a cute tranquil hideaway for short-breaks or longer holidays.

10. Farran House, County Cork, whole house rental

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/farran-house/

The Hidden Ireland website tells us: “An elegant Italiante style Manor house in mature beech woodland and gardens close to Cork City (15km).

The house is spacious and bright and beautifully decorated and it is set in 12 acres of mature beech woodland and landscaped gardens. Accommodation is exceptionally generous and gracious with antique furnishings, a grand piano and full-sized billiard table.

Situated 9 miles from Blarney, 38 miles from Killarney and 10 miles from Cork city and airpor, this is an ideal location for touring both Cork and Kerry and perfect for family reunions / anniversaries. It is available for self catering and catered rental, with accommodation for up to 16 people. Perfect for vacation rentals.

Ten 18-hole golf courses are within 25km. Children welcome.

11. Longueville, Mallow, Co Cork – Blue Book accommodation

https://www.irelands-blue-book.ie/houses.html?country=Cork

Mark Bence-Jones tells us of Longueville:

p. 191. “(Longfield/IFR) A three storey five bay C18 block, enlarged by the addition of two storey three bay wings in the late Georgian period, probably between 1800-5 by John Longfield, MP; the centre being refaced and some of its windows altered at the same time so as to make the front uniform. One bay central breakfront, Wyatt windows in two upper storeys above a fanlighted doorway beneath a single-storey portico. One of the wings was extended at right angles to the front ca 1866, and a charming Victorian conservatory of curved ironwork was added, probably at the same time. The principal reception rooms, which have simple early C19 plasterwork and doors of inlaid mahogany, extend on either side of the entrance hall, which has a floor of Portland stone. Behind is the staircase hall, with bifurcating staircase which is most unusual in rising to the top of the house; the central ramp and two returns being repeated in the storey above. Longueville was sold by the Longfields to the late Senator William O’Callaghan, whose son and daughter-in-law have opened it as an hotel.” 

The National Inventory tells us of the Turner conservatory:

Constructed in 1862, this glasshouse was the last designed by Richard Turner, whose portfolio includes the conservatory at the famous Kew Gardens in London. The cast-iron framework and attractively flawed glass are of considerable technical interest and create a focal point for Longueville House, to which it is attached.

12. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house €€€ for two, € for 5-8; or gate lodge €

http://www.loughinehouse.com/

The website tells us:

This beautiful holiday house and cottage are set on stunning Lough Ine sometimes spelt Lough Hyne – which is well known as one of the most romantic spots in West Cork.

Just 85km from Cork airport, Lough Ine is easily accessible but also far enough off the beaten track to be the perfect place to get away for either a romantic break or a fabulous family holiday.

The House: “This elegant Regency house was built in 1830 as a hunting lodge for Lord Carbery and maintains several original features to this day. It is surrounded by its own 15 acre estate on the edge of Lough Ine and includes a patio garden, beautiful walkways through the woods and gardens and a private shingle beach. The Lough is a famous beauty spot 5km from Skibbereen and 4km from Baltimore in West Cork, Ireland. The estate is located in a conservation area of outstanding natural beauty.

Elegantly furnished for comfortable country life, polished oak floors and period furniture add to the unique charm of this house. The unique vine-filled conservatory has a large breakfast area and elegant seating area with rattan furniture. Sun pours through the French windows in the interconnecting reception rooms, offering spectacular views of the garden, lough and surrounding hills.

From the elegant panelled hall, a striking curved staircase leads you to the first floor where you will find 3 double bedrooms and a large bathroom. The two front bedrooms overlook the sea and are elegantly decorated with material on the walls and fine furniture. One has an eighteenth century four-poster bed, the others have twin beds. The charming third room overlooks the gardens. The bathroom is worth noting for its historic bathtub, which used to belong to Winston Churchill!

On the ground floor there are two further wood panelled twin bedrooms each with their own bathroom containing bathtub and shower. The rowing boat is at your disposal to explore the island where you can see the remains of an O’Driscoll castle and picnic on the beach, or visit the shoreline and rapids that lead out to the sea.

The Gate Lodge: “The gate lodge is an 18th Century, small cosy house at the entrance of the property on the edge of the lough, with wonderful view of the sea, the island and the fields.

The ground floor is an open plan living room with a large fireplace, a dining area, a kitchenette and a spiral staircase leading to a twin bedroom overlooking the lough, a single bedroom and a bathroom with basin, W.C, bath and shower.

13. Rincolisky Castle, Whitehall, co Cork – renovated, whole house.  €€€ for 2, € for 5.

  https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/20771431?source_impression_id=p3_1646737924_o%2BwxYCDhpDgJDHfX

Rincolisky Castle, sometimes also called Whitehall Castle, lies on a hill on the southern shore or Roaringwater Bay, in County Cork in Ireland.

Rincolisky Castle, originally a 5 storey high, square tower house was built in 1495 by the powerful local O’Driscoll clan.

In 1602, after the Battle of Kinsale, the castle was easily taken by English forces. It was then given to Sir Walter Coppinger. He changed the name of the castle into Whitehall, after the townland in which it is situated. The Coppingers lost their possessions in 1690 for supporting James II.

It was then given to Samuel Townsend. The Townsends built a new mansion nearby; Whitehall House. They removed the 3 upper floors of Rincolisky Castle to provide building material for their new mansion. From then on the truncated 2 storeys high remnant of Rincolisky Castle fell to ruin. It is said that there is a tunnel leading from the castle to the mansion. One of the Townsends sent his little page boy down the passage to see if it was clear. The boy was never seen again.

In 2000, the ivy covered ruin of Rincolisky Castle was restored and made habitable again.” [9]

14. Southernmost House, Cape Clear Island, County Cork

https://hiddenireland.com/stay/self-catering-holiday-rentals/

The website tells us:

A unique Irish cottage for two overlooking the beautiful seascapes and landscape of Cape Clear Island. Cape Clear Island is located off the coast of West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way. The Island could be considered as part of the Hidden Ireland that is rarely encountered by visitors to the West of Ireland. The house is situated in a secluded location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Mizen Head, Roaring Water Bay and the South Harbour of Cape Clear.

Built pre-famine in approximately 1830 and occupied until 1890-1894. It was subsequently used as a cow house for many years before being restored in the mid 1990’s. There are no other houses between Southernmost House and the Atlantic Ocean, which suggests that the house is the most Southerly house in Ireland.

Beautiful sunrises to the East and unsurpassed sunsets to the West are daily occurrences at Southernmost House. The natural night time light and early morning light give another dimension to the magnificent views from each window. The landscape and seascapes never fail to captivate during all seasons of the year. There is always a magical aura to the regular cloudless starry nights. Southernmost House is a unique haven, offering guests among other things an opportunity to regain and engage in the quiet and simple enrichment of body and soul.

Southernmost House has been prepared specifically for the enjoyment and pleasure of one or two people. The house comprises a large sitting area with an open turf fire and large sun receiving windows. A dining area with panoramic views and a loft over in the traditional Irish style. A study for scripting reflective thoughts. A meditation room, to embrace calmness and serenity. Kitchen with all necessary cooking and storage facilities. Bathroom with bath and power shower. One double bedroom with traditional style super king bed and high quality bed linen. The house is presented and furnished in an authentic manner to reflect the resources available locally and with an aesthetic sympathic to the simple origins of the house.

There is no television in Southernmost House. There is a mobile internet ‘dongle’ available if required and a music unit with radio and c d player. A cross section of c d’s are on hand as well as selection of board and card games. Also a selection of Irish and classic books. There are two restaurants and two pubs on the Island. Costs include linen, heating, gas, turf and kindling etc for the open fire. We will be on hand to render assistance at any stage. A few non perishable cupboard basics are provided. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate children or pets. The house is strictly ‘no smoking’. A full list of terms and conditions will be available before confirmation of booking.

[1] https://repository.dri.ie/catalog

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

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/20908902/ballymaloe-house-ballymaloe-more-cork

[4] 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.

[5] https://archiseek.com/2012/blackrock-castle-cork/

[6] p. 300, Keohane, Frank. The Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County. Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 2020.

[7] O’Hea O’Keeffe, Jane.Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry (Mercier Press, Cork, 2013).

[8] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Glenville%20Park

[9] https://www.castles.nl/rincolisky-castle

Places to visit and to stay: Leinster: Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois

Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.

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

For places to stay, I have made a rough estimate of prices at time of publication:

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;

€€ – up to approx €250 per night for two;

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Kildare:

1. Blackhall Castle, Calverstown, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare – section 482

2. Burtown House and Garden, Athy, Co. Kildare – section 482

3. Castletown House, County Kildare – OPW

4. Coolcarrigan House & Gardens, Coolcarrigan, Coill Dubh, Naas, Co. Kildare – section 482

5. Donadea Forest Park and ruins of Donadea Castle, County Kildare (former home of the Aylmer family up to 1935)

6. Farmersvale House, Badgerhill, Kill, Co. Kildare – section 482

7. Griesemount House, Ballitore, Co Kildare – section 482

8. Harristown House, Brannockstown, Co. Kildare – section 482

9. Kildrought House, Celbridge Village, Co. Kildare – section 482

10. Larchill, Kilcock, Co. Kildare – section 482

11. Leixlip Castle, Leixlip, Co. Kildare – section 482

12. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare – OPW

13. Millbrook House, County Kildare: House and limited garden access for groups only

14. Moone Abbey House & Tower, Moone Abbey, Moone, Co. Kildare – section 482

15. Moyglare Glebe, Moyglare, Maynooth, Co. Kildare – section 482

16. Steam Museum Lodge Park Heritage Centre, Lodge Park, Straffan, Co. Kildare – section 482

Places to stay, County Kildare:

1. Balyna, Moyvalley, Co Kildare – Moyvalley Hotel 

2. Barberstown Castle, Kildare – hotel 

3. Batty Langley Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare

4. Burtown House holiday cottages

5. Carton House, Kildare – open to public, hotel 

6. Castletown Gate Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare

7. Castletown Round House, Celbridge, County Kildare : Irish Landmark

8. The Cliff at Lyons, County Kildare

9. The K Club, Straffan House, County Kildare

10. Kilkea Castle, Castledermot, Kildare – hotel 

11. Martinstown House, Kilcullen, Co Kildare – accommodation http://martinstownhouse.com/wordpress/ 

12. Moone Abbey, County Kildare holiday cottages

13. St. Catherine’s Park, Leixlip, Co Kildare – now Leixlip Manor hotel 

Whole house accommodation in County Kildare:

1. de Burgh Manor, Kilberry, County Kildare – whole house rental 

2. Griesemount House, County Kildare, whole house rentals

Kilkenny:

1. Aylwardstown, Glenmore, Co Kilkenny – section 482 

2. Ballysallagh House, Johnswell, Co Kilkenny – section 482 

3. Creamery House, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny – 482 

4.  Kilfane Glen & Waterfall Garden, Thomastown, County Kilkenny – 482 – garden only

5. Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny – OPW

6. Kilkenny Design Centre, Castle Yard, Kilkenny – Design Centre on 482

7. Kilrush House, County Kilkenny, ihh member, by appt. 

8. Rothe House, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny  

9. Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny – section 482 

10. Tybroughney Castle, Piltown, Co Kilkenny – 482 

11. Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum, Woodstock, Inistioge, Kilkenny, maintained by Kilkenny County Council

Places to stay, County Kilkenny

1. Ballyduff, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny – wedding venue, B&B 

2. Blanchville Coachyard, Dunbell, County Kilkenny

https://blanchville.ie/

3. Butler House, Kilkenny, co Kilkenny – accommodation 

4. Grange Manor, Ballyragget, County Kilkenny B&B

5. Leyrath (or Lyrath House), near Kilkenny, County Kilkenny – hotel 

6.  Mount Juliet, Thomastown, County Kilkenny – hotel 

7. Shankill Castle, Co Kilkenny

8. Waterside Guest House, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny

Whole House Rental County Kilkenny:

1. Annamult House, Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny – whole house rental 

2. Ballybur Castle, County Kilkenny €€€ for two, € for 10

http://www.ballyburcastle.com/

3. Castle Blunden, County Kilkenny whole house rental

4. Clomantagh Castle, Co Kilkenny – €€ for two, € for 3-8

5. Tubbrid Castle, County Kilkenny €€€ for two, € for 8

Laois:

1. Ballaghmore Castle, Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois – section 482

2. Ballintubbert House and Gardens, Stradbally, Co Laois – open to public  https://www.discoverireland.ie/laois/ballintubbert-gardens-house

3. Gardens at Castle Durrow, County Laois

4. Clonohill Gardens, Coolrain, Portlaoise, Laois

5. Emo Court, County Laois – OPW

6. Heywood Gardens, County Laois – OPW

7. Stradbally Hall, Stradbally, Co. Laois – section 482

Places to Stay, County Laois:

1. Ballaghmore Castle, Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois – section 482

2. Ballyfin House, Co. Laois – hotel €€€

3. Castle Durrow, Co Laois – a hotel 

4. Coolanowle Country House, Ballickmoyler, County Laois

5. Roundwood, Mountrath, Co Laois – guest house https://roundwoodhouse.com 

and the forge and writer’s cottage at Roundwood

Whole House Rental County Laois:

1. Preston House, Abbeyleix, County Laois

Kildare

1. Blackhall Castle, Calverstown, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare

Blackhall Castle, County Kildare.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/05/14/blackhall-castle-calverstown-kilcullen-county-kildare/
contact: Jeffrey & Naomi White
Tel: 087-6771661
Open: May 1-31, Aug 13-22, Sept 1-15, Dec 1-20, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free

2. Burtown House and Garden, Athy, Co. Kildare – section 482

Burtown House, County Kildare, June 2021.

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

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.” [1]

3. Castletown House, County Kildare – OPW

The Print Room, Castletown House, County Kildare.

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/21/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-carlow-kildare-kilkenny/

4. Coolcarrigan House & Gardens, Coolcarrigan, Coill Dubh, Naas, Co. Kildare – section 482

Coolcarrigan, County Kildare, September 2019.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/05/31/coolcarrigan-house-and-gardens-coill-dubh-naas-county-kildare/
contact: Robert Wilson-Wright
Tel: 086-2580439
www.coolcarrigan.ie
Open: Feb 1-4, 21-25, Mar 1-4, April 23-29, May 9-17, Aug 13-31, Sept 1-9, 14-16, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

5. Donadea Forest Park and ruins of Donadea Castle, County Kildare (former home of the Aylmer family up to 1935)

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

https://www.coillte.ie/site/donadea-forest-park/

The website tells us:

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.

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.
It has looked much the same for over fifty years: Donadea County Kildare by James P. O’Dea Circa 1958 National Library of Ireland on flickr

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. [2]

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

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. 

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

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. 

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

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 [2]) 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). 

6. Farmersvale House, Badgerhill, Kill, Co. Kildare – section 482

Farmersvale House, County Kildare, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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.” [3]

8. Harristown House, Brannockstown, Co. Kildare – section 482

Harristown House, County Kildare, August 2019.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/09/27/harristown-brannockstown-county-kildare/
contact: Hubert Beaumont
Tel: 087-2588775
https://www.harristownhouse.ie/
Open: Jan 3-14, Feb 21-28, Mar 1-4, May 3-13, June 13-26, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-9, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child €5

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

Kildrought, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us it is a detached three-bay two-storey over raised basement house with half-dormer attic, c.1720, on a symmetrical plan retaining early aspect with pediment to centre, single-bay two-storey lean-to lower recessed end bay to right (south-west) and five-bay three-storey rear elevation to south-east.

Kildrought, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Kildrought, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Kildrought, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The assessment states:

Kildrought House is a fine, substantial gentleman’s residence that is one of the earliest remaining private houses in the locality, having been begun prior to commencement of work on Castletown House. The house is of social importance, having been built by a patron of high status in the locality, as evidenced by the scale and fine detailing of the house. Built on a symmetrical plan that is interrupted only by a recessed end bay to right (south-west), the house is composed of graceful Classical proportions and centred to both primary elevations about fine door openings. The inclusion of a pediment to the entrance (north-west) front serves to articulate the skyline and is an unusual feature on Main Street. The construction of the house in rubble stone is of interest, and the unrefined quality suggests that it was originally rendered (possibly in a manner matching the outbuilding to north-west). The use of early red brick to the dressings is an attractive feature of the composition and reveals a high quality of craftsmanship in the locality, notably to the profiled courses to the eaves. The house presents an early aspect, although it is probable that some of the original features have been replaced over the years. Nevertheless, replacement materials have been inserted in keeping with the original integrity of the design and include multi-pane timber sash fenestration and glazed timber doors. Set back from the line of the street, the house is an unusual feature on Main Street, being the only building on the street that is fronted by a forecourt, and adds variety to the established streetline of the streetscape. The house is announced on the side of the road by a fine gateway that reveals a high quality of stone masonry, and which retains early iron work to the gates and railings – the repointing is very prominent, however, and future renovation works ought to follow traditional practises. The formal gardens to the south-east are of particular interest in terms of their landscape design qualities, and reflect the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fashions for formal landscaping. The house is complemented by a range of outbuildings that are individually of architectural heritage merit – the outbuilding to north-west is an attractive long range that is dominated by a graceful curvilinear gable. The building retains most of its original form and replacement materials have been inserted in keeping with the integrity of the original design. The summer house to south is also a picturesque feature in the grounds, constructed entirely of early brick with dressings including pilasters that appear to bulge, despite having no considerable weight over, together with a profiled eaves course. The Kildrought House estate is an important component of the architectural heritage of Celbridge, representing an almost-intact early eighteenth-century middle-size urban estate.” [4]

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

The website tells us:

Created between 1740 and 1780 Larchill Arcadian Garden is a ‘Ferme Ornée’ or Ornamental Farm and is the only surviving, near complete, garden of its type in Europe. The Ferme Ornée gardens of the mid 18th century were an expression in landscape gardening of the Romantic Movement. 

Emulating Arcadia, a pastoral paradise was created to reflect Man’s harmony with the perfection of nature. As is the case at Larchill, a working farm with decorative buildings (often containing specimen breeds of farm animal) was situated in landscaped parkland ornamented with follies, grottos and statuary.  Tree lined avenues, flowing water, lakes, areas of light and shade and beautiful framed views combined to create an inspirational experience enabling Man’s spirit to rejoice at the wonder of nature. 

At this time in Versailles, Marie Antoinette enjoyed extravagant pastoral pageants, housed specimen cattle in highly decorated barns, while she herself is said to have dressed as a milk maid complete with porcelain milk churns.  Freed from the restrictions of the 17th century formal garden, the Ferme Ornée represented the first move towards the fully fledged landscape parkland designs of Capability Browne. 

The inspiration for the Ferme Ornée garden at Larchill,  in rural Ireland,,is believed to have come directly  from the Prentices, a Quaker merchant family who owned the land which was to become Larchill within their estate of Phepotstown from the early 1700’s.  This was their country residence where they farmed flax for the production of linen, a highly prized fabric of the time. 

The Prentice family had trading connections throughout Europe and would have been aware of the new fashion in garden design.  In particular the famous gardens of Leasowes and Woburn Farm in England.  In Ireland the Prentice’s townhouse was adjacent to the home of Dean Swift in Dublin where he had developed his orchard and garden, ‘Naboth’s Vineyard.  Dean Swift and his great friend Mrs Delaney (known today for her exquisite floral collages) were most closely associated in Ireland with knowledge of the new movement in garden design.  Larchill was only 10 miles from Dangan Castle, often visited by Mrs Delaney,  where from 1730 an extravagant 600 acres of land was embellished  with a 26 acre lake, temples, statuary, obelisks and grottos by Richard Wellesley, Earl of Mornington and Grandfather of the Duke of Wellington.  This is entirely contemporary with the Prentice’s period of garden development on their estate. 

Thus there were many sources of reference for the Prentice family as they  created their own pastoral paradise before falling on hard times and bankruptcy due to failure in their trading enterprises.  The Ferme Ornée gardens were, as a result, leased separately from Phepotstown House and became known as Larchill after a boundary of Larch trees was planted around the farm and garden in the early 1800’s. 

It was after this time that the local Watson family leased Larchill and the famous connection was made, to this day, between Robert Watson, Master of the Carlow and Island Hounds and the Fox’s Earth folly.  Although the Fox’s Earth would certainly predate the Watson’s tenure at  Larchill, and the fact that Robert Watson was only a distant relative of the Watsons at Larchill, still it is believed that the Fox’s Earth was constructed in response to Robert Watson’s guilt at having killed one too many foxes and his fear of punishment in reincarnation as a fox. 

Although described in the notes to the 1836 Ordnance Survey as ‘the most fashionable garden in all of Ireland’ over the decades knowledge of the Larchill Ferme Ornée faded.  The parkland returned to farmland, the lake was drained and the formal garden was lost and used to graze sheep.  Although the follies became semi derelict and obscured by undergrowth and trees, the mystery and beauty of Larchill was still recognised.   Folklore stories of hauntings and the ‘strange’ nature of Larchill ensured its continued notoriety. 

In 1994 the de Las Casas family acquired Larchill.  Paddy Bowe, Garden Historian, visited Larchill and was the first to realise that Larchill was indeed a Ferme Ornée and an important ‘lost’ garden.  Four years of restoration followed with the aid of a grant from the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Program and a FAS Community Employment Project. 

In recognition of the quality and sensitivity of the restoration program Larchill Arcadian Garden has been awarded the 1988 National Henry Ford Conservation Award, the 1999 ESB Community Environment Award and the 2002 European Union Environmental Heritage Award. 

Follies: 

The Shell tower: 

At the north west corner of the restored Walled Garden the Shell Tower is a three storey, battlemented tower with single arched Gothic windows. 

The lower rooms are decorated with shells laid in geometric patterns – presumably by the hand of a gifted lady of the house following the fashionable pastime of the 18th century.   There are anecdotal tales of cart loads of shells being collected from Irish beaches to facilitate the inlay of such shell grottoes.  The Shell Cottage at nearby Carton House under the design of Emily, Duchess of Leinster, is a wonderful example. 

In the case of the Larchill Shell Tower, the shells appear to be mostly native varieties, many are cockles with some exotic exceptions such as conches – perhaps sourced via the trading connections of  the 18th century Prentice family who created the Ferme Ornée at Larchill. 

The Statue of Meleager: 

Now at the head of a water feature in the Walled Garden, this 18th century statue originally stood in the middle of the lake between the island fort of Gibraltar and the Lake Temple. 

For many years the statue was believed to be a representation of Nimrod the mighty hunter described in the Book of Genesis.  Larchill has many associations with the hunt through stories of the famous Mr Robert Watson and the Fox’s Earth.  However it is now known to be a statue of Meleager, hero of  the epic Greek mythological tale of the Calydonian boar hunt. Meleager is always represented with his hunting dog and the head of the slain boar as he is here. 

During the garden restoration the statue was not returned to its original position in the lake as it is protected from the elements in the Walled Garden.

Feuille: 

This is a circular mound planted with a spiral of beech trees to the side of the lake. 

It would appear to have been a practical and ornamental use for the soil excavated to create the lake itself.  Feuillé is an appropriate name as the word ‘folly’ is an archaic English term for a lush and overgrown area of bushes and trees and was likely to have derived from the French ‘la feuillé’ meaning leaf.”

11. Leixlip Castle, Leixlip, Co. Kildare – section 482

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare, June 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/09/04/leixlip-castle-county-kildare-desmond-guinnesss-jewelbox-of-treasures/
contact: Penelope Guinness
Tel: 01-6244430
Open: Jan 31, Feb 1-4, 7-11, Mar 28-31, Apr 1, 4-8, May 9-20, June 7-17, Aug 13-22, Sept 5-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4, concessions no charge for school groups

12. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare – OPW

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/21/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-carlow-kildare-kilkenny/

13. Millbrook House, County Kildare:

House and limited garden access for groups only

Minimum 4, maximum 8 visitors

May to September: 

Monday-Thursday, 11 am to 3 pm

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.” [5]

14. Moone Abbey House & Tower, Moone Abbey, Moone, Co. Kildare – section 482

Moone Abbey House, County Kildare, May 2019.

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/13/moone-abbey-house-and-tower-moone-county-kildare/
contact: Jennifer Matuschka
Tel: 087-6900138
Open: May 1-31, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-20, 12 noon- 4pm Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4

15. Moyglare Glebe, Moyglare, Maynooth, Co. Kildare – section 482

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 

Now called Moyvalley Hotel. https://www.moyvalley.com/aboutus.html

The website tells us:

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” [6]

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.

2. Barberstown Castle, Kildare – hotel 

www.barberstowncastle.ie

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

https://www.irishlandmark.com/propertytag/cottages-and-houses/?gclid=Cj0KCQiApL2QBhC8ARIsAGMm-KFInICcRSxwLSiDxfFNk5WFytNcVrLvOQYhzJbIBes4V-M65iXz0gYaAln_EALw_wcB

Batty Langley Lodge, Castletown, 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.

4. Burtown House holiday cottages – see above

www.burtownhouse.ie

5. Carton House, Kildare – open to public, hotel 

The north front of Carton House. The house was built in 1739 to designs by Richard Castle and remodelled in 1815 by Richard Morrison. Not Used Country Life archives, for 18/02/2009 . Photographer Paul Barker. [7]
Carton, Photograph for Tourism Ireland 2014, Ireland’s Content Pool. [7]
Carton House 2014, for Failte Ireland (see [7])

The Archiseek website tells us:

In 1739, the 19th Earl of Kildare employed Richard Castle to build the existing house replacing an earlier buildng. 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. 

In 1815 the 3rd Duke decided to sell Leinster House to the Royal Dublin Society and make Carton his principal residence. He employed Richard Morrison to enlarge and re-model the house. Morrison replaced the curved colonnades with straight connecting links to obtain additional rooms. At this time, the entrance to the house was moved to the north side. 

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.” [8]

The garden front of Carton House. The house was built in 1739 to designs by Richard Castle and remodelled in 1815 by Richard Morrison. Not Used Country Life archives, 18/02/2009.  Photographer Paul Barker.

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. After the attainder of Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnel. 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. 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 flaking office wings; but instead of simple curved sweeps, there were now curved colonnades

Carton House, photograph not used Country Life archives, 18/02/2009.  
Carton, Image for Country Life, by Paul Barker.
The coat of arms in the pediment on the garden front of Carton House Image by Paul Barker for Country Life, CCIII, 2009.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The work was completed after the death of 19th Earl for his son, 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.

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, 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.”

The Chinese Room at Carton House, decorated by Emily, Countess of Kildare in the mid 18th century. Above the chimneypiece is a Chippendale mirror erupting into a series of gilded branches, some of which are sconces. Pub.  Orig Country Life 18/02/2009  vol CCIII

” 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, a son of the 3rd Duke.

The Gold Saloon at Carton House, which was originally known as the Eating Parlour. The organ case was designed by Lord Gerald FitzGerald in 1857. Not Used Country Life archives 18/02/2009,  Photographer Paul Barker.
The Gold Saloon at Carton House, which was originally known as the Eating Parlour. Country Life archives, for 18/02/2009 [not used] 
The Courtship of the Gods in the Gold Saloon at Carton House. It dates from 1739 and was executed by the Lafranchini brothers. Cupids hang from wreaths and further putti sit on the cornice. Beneath this is a frieze with pairs of creatures and a series of masks and scallop shells. Not Used Country Life archives 18/02/2009 , photograph by Paul Barker. 

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 Saloon at Carton neg. 11423 Country Life archives, 14/11/1936  
Carton, From Country Life 14/11/1936  

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.” 

A shell cottage in the grounds of Carton House begun in the second half of the 18th century. A passage leads into a domed shell room embellished with coral and stained glass. Not Used Country Life archives 18/02/2009. Photographer Paul Barker.
Shell Cottage Carton, Photographer Paul Barker, for Country LIfe. Not used.
Shell Cottage Carton, Photographer Paul Barker, for Country LIfe. Not used.
Tyrconnell Tower in grounds of Carton House, photograph 2014 for Tourism Ireland. (see [7])

6. Castletown Gate Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare

https://www.irishlandmark.com/propertytag/cottages-and-houses/?gclid=Cj0KCQiApL2QBhC8ARIsAGMm-KFInICcRSxwLSiDxfFNk5WFytNcVrLvOQYhzJbIBes4V-M65iXz0gYaAln_EALw_wcB

7. Castletown Round House, Celbridge, County Kildare : Irish Landmark https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/castletown-round-house/

8. The Cliff at Lyons, County Kildare

www.cliffatlyons.ie

Robert O’Byrne writes about the Cliff at Lyons:

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.”[9]

The entrance front of Lyons House, designed by Oliver Grave for Nicholas Lawless, 1st baron Cloncurry circa 1786 and remodelled by his son Richard Morrison in 1802-05. Pub Orig Country Life 16/01/2003, vol. CXCVII by Photographer Paul Barker. (see[7])

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.” 

The garden front of Lyons House, The new orangery and pool house are the single-storey buildings flanking the central block. Pub Orig Country Life 16/01/2003, vol. CXCVII by Photographer Paul Barker. (see [7])

Bence-Jones continues: “The seven-bay garden front was left fairly plain, but before it a vast  formal garden was laid out, with abundant statuary and urns and an antique column supporting a statue of Venus half way along the broad central walk leading from the house to what is the largest artificial lake in Ireland. Beyond the lake rises the wooded Hill of Lyons. 

The Grand Canal passes along one side of the demesne, and there is a handsome Georgian range of buildings beside it which would have been Lord Cloncurry’s private canal station. A daughter of 3rd Lord Cloncurry was Emily Lawless, the poet, a prominent figure in the Irish Revival of the early yars of the present century. Her niece, Hon Kathleen Lawless, bequeathed the Lyons estate to a cousin, Mr G M V Winn, who sold it about 1962 to University College, Dublin, which has erected a handsome pedimented arch from Browne’s Hill, Co Carlow at one of the entrances to the demesne.” 

Art Kavanagh’s book on the Landed Gentry and Aristocracy: Meath, volume 1, tells us more about the Aylmers of Balrath. During the reign of Henry VI, Richard Aylmer of Lyons was a Keeper of the Peace for both Dublin and Kildare. He was in charge of protecting the settler community from attack by the neighbouring O’Toole and O’Byrne septs. The family rose to become one of the most prominent families in Meath and Kildare and key figures in the Dublin administration. Before the end of the 16th century they had established two independent branches at Donadea in Kildare and Dollardstown in County Meath.

The first Aylmer of real significance, Art Kavanagh tells us, was John Aylmer (c. 1359 – c. 1415) who married Helen Tyrell of Lyons, an heiress, at the end of the 14th century, and so the family acquired Lyons. [p. 1, Kavanagh, published by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, 2005]

9. The K Club, Straffan House, County Kildare

The Straffan estate formed part of the original land grant bestowed upon Maurice Fitzgerald by Strongbow for his role in the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169. In 1679, the property was purchased by Richard Talbot, the Earl 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. [10] 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 https://www.kilkeacastle.ie/

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 167. “(Fitzgerald, Leinster, D/PB) A medieval castle of the FitzGeralds, Earls fo Kildare, especially associated with C16 11th Earl of Kildare, the most famous “wizard Earl.” 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; 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. Martinstown House, Kilcullen, Co Kildare – accommodation http://martinstownhouse.com/wordpress/ 

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 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.

12. Moone Abbey, County Kildare holiday cottages – see above

13. St. Catherine’s Park, Leixlip, Co Kildare – Leixlip Manor hotel , formerly Liffey Valley House hotel http://www.leixlipmanorhotel.ie/about-us/the-manor-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.

Whole house accommodation in County Kildare:

1. de Burgh Manor (or Bert), Kilberry, County Kildare – whole house rental 

https://www.deburghmanor.ie

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]. 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 1788 [son of Thomas, grandson of Thomas who married Ann Downes] succeeded 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. Griesemount House, County Kildare, whole house rentals – see above

Kilkenny:

1. Aylwardstown, Glenmore, Co Kilkenny – section 482 

contact: Nicholas & Mary Kelly
Tel: 051-880464, 087-2567866
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 9am-5pm Fee: adult €5, OAP €3, child/student free

2. Ballysallagh House, Johnswell, Co Kilkenny – section 482 

Ballysallagh House, County Kilkenny, February 2022.

contact: Geralyn & Kieran White
Tel: 087-2906621, 086-2322105
Open: Feb 1-20, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student €5, child free, groups by arrangement

3. Creamery House, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny – 482 

contact: John Comerford
Tel: 056-4400080
www.creameryhouse.com
Open: May 14-Sept 30, Friday, Saturday, and Sundays, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 12 noon-5pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 18 free

4.  Kilfane Glen & Waterfall Garden, Thomastown, County Kilkenny – 482 – garden only

Kilfane, County Kilkenny, August 2021.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/12/16/kilfane-glen-waterfall-kilfane-thomastown-co-kilkenny/
contact: Susan Mosse
Tel: 056-7727105, 086-7919318 

www.kilfane.com

Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 11am-6pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €6.50, child €6, family €20

5. Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny – OPW

Kilkenny Castle, May 2018.

see my OPW entry, https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/21/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-carlow-kildare-kilkenny/

6. Kilkenny Design Centre, Castle Yard, Kilkenny – Design Centre on 482

contact: Aaron Quill
Tel: 064-6623331
www.kilkennydesign.com
Open: all year except Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 10am-7pm Fee: Free

7. Kilrush House, County Kilkenny, ihh member, by appt. 

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

William Robertson (1777 – 1850) was a native of Kilkenny where the patronage of Lord Ormonde stood him in good stead, since most of his work can be found in Kilkenny and the neighbouring counties of Laois, Tipperary and Waterford. When Richard St. George wished to move from his medieval castle at Kilrush near Freshford in 1820, Robertson was the obvious choice. His work is less exuberant than that of his namesake Daniel but he was a talented architect and produced an interesting early nineteenth century reinterpretation of the typical late-Georgian country house. 

The St Georges are a Norman family who ‘came over to England with the Conqueror’ and arrived in Ireland in the sixteenth century. They quickly became established here, with several branches in County Kilkenny and others in Galway, Leitrim and Roscommon.

The St Georges of Kilrush were active in political and cultural circles in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Richard St George was an M.P. in the Irish Parliament, with a town house at No. 8 Henrietta Street, while his cousin St George Ashe was the Provost of Trinity College and a close friend of Dean Swift. St. George was also a founding member of the Dublin Philosophical Society, which encouraged his numerous publications of scientific and national interest.

Richard considered moving out of his tower-house at Kilrush in the middle of the eighteenth century but this decision was left to his heirs, who built the existing house in the early nineteenth century. Kilrush has a three bay façade, a five bay garden front, a hipped roof with widely overhanging eaves, a single very large, central chimney-stack into which all the flues are diverted, and an interesting ground plan.

The cut-stone door case is a handsome arrangement of Doric half-columns and pilasters, supporting a deep entablature with swags beneath a semi-circular leaded fanlight. The ground floor windows to either side are set in shallow recesses with elliptical heads; otherwise the elevations are quite plain.

The most interesting internal space is the landing, a perfect Doric rotunda supporting a delicately glazed dome. This partly lights the inner hall below through a circular well in the floor. The dining and drawing rooms are both finely proportioned apartments, with many original fittings and furnishings, and their original wallpaper.

Kilrush looks out over mature parkland to a large mill, almost half a mile off.  The gardens contain a stupendous collection of snowdrops, there is a tower house, the former residence of the family in the attached yard, while an interesting early garden layout with connected canals has recently been identified and is currently in the course of restoration.” [11]

8. Rothe House, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny  

Rothe House, Kilkenny, photograph by Brian Morrison 2015 for Tourism Ireland (see[7])

Rothe House is a treasure, older than any house in Dublin! It was built around 1594-1610, by John Rothe FitzPiers (1560-1620) for his wife Rose Archer, and is the last merchant’s townhouse in Kilkenny surviving from the early post-medieval period. [12] The house, purchased by Kilkenny Archaeological Society in 1962, is open to the public as a museum displaying a selection of the historic artefacts collected by the Society since its founding in 1947.  The artefacts relate to Kilkenny heritage throughout the ages and some date from prehistoric times.  The adjoining garden has since 2008 been open to the public and is a faithful reconstruction of an early seventeenth-century urban garden. 

Garden at Rothe House, May 2018.
Rothe House, May 2018.

The National Inventory describes it:

Terraced five-bay two-storey over basement house with dormer attic on a U-shaped plan about a stone cobbled (east) courtyard with two-bay two-storey gabled central bay having jettied box oriel window to first floor, series of five round-headed openings to ground floor forming arcade, single-bay three-storey linking range to north-west, and three-bay three-storey parallel range to west (completing U-shaped plan about a courtyard) originally three-bay two-storey having round-headed carriageway to right ground floor. In use as school, c.1750. Restored, 1898, to accommodate use as Gaelic League house. Converted to use as museum, 1963-5. Restored, 1983. Restored, 1999, to accommodate use as offices.”

Rothe House, May 2018.
Rothe House, May 2018.
Rothe House, May 2018.
Rothe House, May 2018.

The Archiseek website tells us:

In 1594 a wealthy merchant called John Rothe built this magnificent Tudor mansion. Second and third generation houses were built around the cobelled courtyards and a well dating to 1604. The façade houses shops, one of them was John Rothe’s own. During the Confederation of Kilkenny, many dignitaries were entertained here by John Rothe and his cousin, the Bishop of Ossory. The building has been restored magnificently and is now home to Kilkenny Archaeological Society.” [13]

Rothe House, May 2018.
Rothe House, May 2018.
Plague Doctor! In 1348 there was Plague in Kilkenny. Friar John Clyn in the Franciscan Abbey across the road  recorded the effect of the plague on the town and the friary. He himself fell victim to the epidemic. 
Artefacts from the Confederation of Kilkenny.
Viking Sword.
“Pattens” – wooden shoes worn by women over their regular shoes to protect from mud.

9. Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny – section 482 

contact: Geoffrey Cope,
Tel: 087-2437125
www.shankillcastle.com
Open: Feb 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, Mar 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, Apr 2-3, 9-10, 16- 17, 23-24, 30, May 1, 5-8, 12-15, 19-22, 26-29, June 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30, July 1-3, 7-16, 21-24, 28-31, Aug 3-6, 10-21, 24-27, 31, Sept 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29- 30, Oct 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, 31, Feb- Apr, 11am-4pm, May- Oct, 11am-5pm Fee: house & garden, adult €10 garden €5, OAP/student €8, gardens €4

The website tells us:

Situated near the ruins of an old church, Shankill Castle began life as a tower-house built by the powerful Butler family during the medieval period. In 1708, the house was rebuilt by Peter Aylward who bought the land from his wife’s family. The new Shankill Castle was constructed as a Queen Anne house, set in a formal landscape, vista to the front and canal to the rear.

In the 1820s, the house was enlarged and castellated. Serpentine bays were added to the canal and an unusual polyhedral sundial given pride of place on a sunken lawn. A gothic porch bearing the Aylward crest and a conservatory were other additions. 

The stableyard and the castellated entrance to the demesne were built in 1850 and are attributed to Daniel Robertson.

10. Tybroughney Castle, Piltown, Co Kilkenny – 482 

contact: Louis Dowley
Tel: 087-2313106
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 10am-4pm Fee: adult €5, student €3, child/OAP free

11. Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum, Woodstock, Inistioge, Kilkenny, maintained by Kilkenny County Council

Mark Bence-Jones writes about Woodstock (1988):

p. 286. “(Fownes, Bt/EDB; Tighe/IFR) A house by Francis Bindon [for William Fownes, 2nd Baronet], probably dating from 1740s, which is unusual in being built round a small inner court, or light-shaft. Three storeys; handsomely rusticated entrance front of six bays with a central niche and statue above the entrance doorway…In 1770s Sarah Ponsonby lived here with her cousins, Sir William and Betty Fownes [born Elizabeth Ponsonby]; her friend, Eleanor Butler, having escaped from Borris, co Carlow, where she was being kept in disgrace, was let into Woodstock through a window, hiding herself in Sarah’s room for 24 hours before being discovered; shortly afterwards, the two friends left for Wales, where they subsequently became famous as the “Ladies of Llangollen.” Woodstock passed to the Tighes with the marriage of the daughter and heiress of Sir William Fownes to William Tighe, whose daughter-in-law was Mary Tighe, the poet, author of Psyche; she died at Woodstock 1810 aged 37, and Flaxman’s monument to her is in a small neo-Classical mausoleum behind the Protestant church in the village of Inistioge, at the gates of the demesne. There was also a statue of her in one of the rooms in the house. Woodstock was burnt ca 1920, and is now a ruin, but the demesne, with its magnificent beechwoods, still belongs to the Tighes.” 

The information board tells us that in 1804 flanking wings were added to designs by William Robertson (1770-1850). The house was burned in 1922 after being occupied by the Black and Tans.
The gardens at Woodstock, County Kilkenny, August 2021. The gardens at Woodstock, gloriously situated above the River Nore, were conceived on a grand scale by Colonel William Tighe (d. 1878) and Lady Louisa Lennox (d. 1900) as the centrepiece of a great estate.

The estate passed to the daughter, Sarah, of William Fownes and Elizabeth Ponsonby, and Sarah married William Tighe of Rossana, County Wicklow.

This information board tells us about the Arboretum at Woodstock, where a number of exotic trees were planted in the nineteenth century.
Entrance to walled garden at Woodstock.
Gardens at Woodstock, with reproduction Turner glasshouse.
“Turner bench” which matches the glasshouse at Woodstock.
The longest and oldest Monkey Puzzle Walk in Europe, at Woodstock.

Places to stay, County Kilkenny

1. Ballyduff, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny – wedding venue, B&B 

http://ballyduffhouse.ie/booking-enquiries/ 

The website tells us:

Ballyduff House is a classic Georgian country house with a 14th century castle, steeped in Irish history and full of the warmest of welcomes.

The River Nore sparkles as it runs along Ballyduff’s riverbank while sheep and cattle graze the pasture either side.

Open fires, the book lined library and the comfortable bedrooms furnished with Irish antiques capture an early 18th century experience tempered by discreet 21st century comfort.

This is real Ireland – calm, green and beautiful, set alongside the picturesque village of Inistioge with Dublin only an hour away.

2. Blanchville Coachyard, Dunbell, County Kilkenny

https://blanchville.ie/

The Coach Houses & Gardener’s Cottage are, as the name suggests, part of the beautiful old stone building that was originally the Coach House at Blanchville. The building has been sensitively and extensively refurbished and now offers guests comfortable and inviting Self-Catering Accommodation in three self-contained Holiday Homes.

These Heritage Holiday Lets feature a cosy woodburning stove or open fire, fully fitted modern kitchen and relaxing bedrooms – the perfect requisite for an enjoyable weekend break or holiday in Kilkenny.

3. Butler House, Kilkenny, co Kilkenny – accommodation 

https://www.butler.ie

View to Butler House and Garden, Kilkenny Leo Byrne Photography 2015. (see [7])

The National Inventory tells us about Butler house: “Semi-detached three-bay three-storey over basement house, built 1786, with pair of three-bay full-height bowed bays to rear (east) elevation. Extended, 1832, comprising two-bay three-storey perpendicular block to right. Renovated, 1972. Now in use as hotel. One of a pair…An elegantly-composed Classically-proportioned substantial house built either by Walter Butler (1713-83), sixteenth Earl of Ormonde or John Butler (1740-95), seventeenth Earl of Ormonde as one of a pair of dower houses…Distinctive attributes including the elegant bowed bays to the Garden (east) Front contribute positively to the architectural design value of the composition while carved limestone dressings with particular emphasis on the well-executed doorcase displaying high quality stone masonry further enliven the external expression of the house in the streetscape.”

The house was home to Lady Eleanor Butler who lived here after the death of her husband Walter in 1783. Lady Eleanor Butler was the mother of John, the 17th Earl of Ormonde and her daughter, also Eleanor, was one of the famous “Ladies of Langollen”.

James, Earl of Ormonde resided in the house while the Castle was under reconstruction in 1831.
A soup kitchen was run from here during the cholera epidemic of 1832.

The Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland held their meetings in Butler House in 1870. Kilkenny Design, the state design agency, restored Butler House in 1972. The decor and furnishings reflect a certain 1970s Art Deco style, which because of the muted colours and natural fabrics used, proved sympathetic to the original features of the house. In 1989, the Kilkenny Civic Trust acquired both Butler House and the Castle Stables. 

4. Grange Manor, Ballyragget, County Kilkenny B&B

Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.

http://grangemanorkilkenny.com

The website tell us: “Located in the heart of the Kilkenny countryside, this beautiful Georgian manorhouse is set into 26 acres of lush landscaped grounds. With the medieval city of Kilkenny just 20 mins drive, experience Irish culture at your own pace in in Grange Manor.”

Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory describes the doorcase: “Classically-detailed doorcase not only demonstrating good quality workmanship in a deep grey limestone, but also showing a pretty overlight.”
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory tell us: “Interior including (ground floor): central hall retaining carved timber surrounds to window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers with carved timber surrounds to opposing door openings framing timber panelled doors, and plasterwork cornice to ceiling on “bas-relief” frieze centred on “bas-relief” ceiling rose.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 145. “(Lannigan, Stannard and Dowdall, sub Bancroft/IFR) An old farmhouse to which Georgian reception rooms were added, producing a house of two storeys and nine bays, with a three bay breakfront centre higher than the bays on either side. Fanlighted doorway; high-pitched roof. Room with Adamesque plasterwork incorporating oval painted medallions.” 

It was occupied (1751) by Captain James Warren (d. 1758). It was advertised for sale in 2021.

Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory describes: “double-height staircase hall (north) retaining carved timber surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors, moulded plasterwork cornice to ceiling, staircase on a dog leg plan with turned timber “spindle” balusters supporting carved timber banister terminating in volute, carved timber Classical-style surround to window opening to half-landing framing timber panelled shutters, carved timber surrounds to door openings to landing framing timber panelled double doors having overlights, and decorative plasterwork cornice to coved ceiling centred on “bas-relief” ceiling rose.”
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. Staircase hall with Adamesque plasterwork incorporating oval medallions.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory tells us about the gate lodge: “A gate lodge erected by John Stannard (né Lannigan) (d. 1836) contributing positively to the group and setting values of the Grange House estate with the architectural value of the composition suggested by such attributes as the compact square plan form centred on a featureless doorcase; and the openings showing pretty lattice glazing patterns.”
Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
The Nore at Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
The Nore at Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.
The Nore at Grange Manor, photograph from myhome.ie 2021.

5. Lyrath House, near Kilkenny, County Kilkenny – hotel

 https://www.lyrath.com

Mark Bence-Jones writes:

p. 184. “(Wheeler-Cuffe, Bt/PB1934; Tupper/LGI1958) Originally a Tobin castle, acquired by the Wheeler family C17. By 1826, the house here consisted of a simple two storey five bay pedimented front facing west, with two wings running back from it to enclose a small three sided office court; the entrance door being on the south side; under a Regency veranda. In 1861, Sir Charles Wheeler-Cuffe, 2nd Bt, married Pauline Villiers-Stuart, daughter of Lord Stuart de Decies [of Dromana House, County Waterford – see my entry], whose parents did not regard this house as grand enough for her; so in that same year he rebuilt the main western block on a larger scale and in a rich Italianate style, while leaving the two storey wings more of less as they were.; his architect being John McCurdy. The entrance was moved from the south side to the new west front, which is pedimented and of five bays like its predecessor, but not entirely symmetrical; having a pair of windows on the ground floor to the left of centre, but a single window on the right. Entrance door framed by Ionic columns carrying a balustrade, above which is a Venetian window framed by an aedicule with a segmental pediment. All the ground floor windows have semi-circular heads, while the heads of the windows of the upper storey – apart from the central Venetian windows – are cambered. The garden front to the north has two single-storey balustraded curved bows, the windows of which are treated as arcades supported by Romanesque columns of sandstone. There is another Romanesque column separated the pair of windows in the centre of the front. The windows in the bow are glazed with curved glass. The roof is carried on a deep bracket cornice and there are prominent string courses, which give the elevations a High Victorian character. Hall with imposing imperial staircase, the centre ramp of which rises between two fluted Corinthian columns. There is a similarity between the staircase here and that at Dromana, Co Waterford, Pauline Lady Wheeler-Cuffe’s old home; except that the Dromana staircase was of stone, whereas that at Leyrath is of wood, with ornate cast-iron balustrades. On the centre ramp of the staircase there is still a chair with its back legs cut down to fit the steps; this was put there in 1880s for Pauline when she became infirm. Hall has a ceiling cornice of typical C19 plasterwork in a design of foliage, and door with entablatures which still have their original walnut graining. To the left of the hall, in the garden front, are the drawing room, ante-room and dining room, opening into each other with large double doors’ they have ceiling cornices similar to that in the hall, and good C19 white chimneypieces, enriched with carving; the drawing room and ante-room keep their original white and gold wallpaper. In the south wing there are smaller and lower rooms surviving from before the rebuilding; while first floor rooms in this wing have barrel ceilings throughout and contain some C18 chimneypieces of black marble.” 

The website tells us more about the history:

The name Lyrath is thought to date back to Norman times when “Strongbow” settled in Ireland during the Norman invasion. The area was originally called Le Rar or Le Rath by the French speaking De Ponte family who during the 12th century lived in the Monastery which was once located within the grounds. There is also a mention of a castle which was once said to have been situated within the grounds.

Prior to 1653 the lands were owned by the Shortall family, who then rented the ‘old castle in repair’ and land to Thomas Tobin, Constable of the Barony of Gowran. In 1664, a gentleman named Thomas Mances, paid a sum of 4s ‘hearth money’ for the old castle.

Later in the Seventeenth Century the property was acquired by Richard Wheeler through his kinship to Jonah Wheeler the Bishop of Ossary. By then the original ‘Tobin’ castle had been demolished.

Richard Wheeler’s son, Jonah Wheeler, married Elisabeth Denny-Cuffe, a descendant of the Desart-Cuffe family who had extensive landed property in the Counties of Carlow and Kilkenny, on his marriage Jonah decided to adopt the name Cuffe.

In 1814 the grandson of Jonah, also named Jonah, was living in the house with his with Elisabeth Browne, from Brownes Hill in neighbouring Carlow. Sir Jonah died in 1853 and his elder son, Sir Charles Denny Wheeler-Cuffe succeeded him.

To redesign the house Sir Charles engaged the services of John McCurdy, a Dublin born Architect, whose other commissions with his partner, William Mitchell, include Kilkenny’s Knocktopher Abbey, Dublin’s famous ‘Shelbourne Hotel’ and the South City Markets.

The current house is one of the most important surviving country houses built by John McCurdy.

Sir Charles and Pauline had no children, so on the death of Sir Charles, his nephew Sir Ottway Forteque Luke Wheeler-Cuffe inherited the baronetcy and demesne of Lyrath and became the primary resident. Sir Ottaway married Charlotte Isabel Williams in 1897. Lady Charlotte was the earliest known botanical explorer to reach the remote areas Burma and it was during these trips that she discovered several plants including two new species of Rhododendrons, Burmanicum, and Cuffianum (named after her). Cuffianum, the white rhododendron is extremely rare and has not been collected by any botanist since Lady Wheeler-Cuffe found in 1911.

Sir Ottway and Lady Charlotte stayed in Burma until Sir Ottway’s retirement in August 1921 when they finally returned to live at Lyrath. On her return to Lyrath, Lady Charlotte redesigned the gardens. The Conservatory adjacent to Tupper’s Bar in the new Hotel overlooks the Victorian garden designer by her which has been carefully restored to her original design (based on family records and drawings), they are also home to the ancient yew trees which are now protected by a preservation order.

Lady Charlotte lived in the house until her death in 1966 in her 100th year.

Following the death of Lady Charlotte, in 1967 the property was inherited by Lieutenant-Colonel G.W. Tupper whose grandfather had married Sir Charles’ sister in 1846. Reginald’s great nephew, Captain Anthony Tupper and his wife moved into the house and ran it as a traditional estate farm with a herd of Jersey cows, hens, and geese in the yard, calves in the haggard field and a big old-fashioned kitchen with dogs and cats which rambled in and out at will.

The Tuppers remained in the house until 1997.

When the Tuppers left, there was an auction at the house of all the furniture and the bits and pieces accumulated over several lifetimes laid out and labelled for sale. Fortunately, Xavier McAuliffe managed to obtain many of the items on auction that day, these items are now on display in the house and include to original large portraits hanging in the hallway and other paintings on display.

Xavier purchased the Estate in 2003 and developed the house into Lyrath Estate Hotel and Convention Centre, which opened its doors to the public in 2006.

6. Mount Juliet, Thomastown, County Kilkenny – hotel

Mount Juliet Gardens, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, photograph by Finn Richards 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Mount Juliet:

p. 214. “(Butler, Carrick, E/PB; McCalmont/IFR) A mid to late C18 house built by the 1st Earl of Carrick [Somerset Hamilton Butler, 8th Viscount Ikerrin and 1st Earl of Carrick (1719-1774)] across the River Nore from the former family seat, Ballylinch Castle on an estate which he had bought ca 1750 from Rev Thomas Bushe [1727-1795], of Kilmurry; traditionally named by him after his wife [Juliana Boyle, daugher of the 1st Earl of Shannon]. Of three storeys over basement, front of seven bays between two shallow curved bows, each having three windows. One bay central breakfront, with Venetian windows in the two upper storeys above tripartite pedimented and fanlighted doorway. Centre window in two lower storeys of bows roundheaded. Perron and double steps in front of entrance door, with iron railings. High pitched roof and massive stacks. Sold 1914 by 6th Earl of Carrick to the McCalmonts who had leased the house for some years. Major Dermot McCalmont made a new entrance in what had formerly been the back of the house, where the main block is flanked by two storey wings, extending at right angles from  it to form a shallow three sided court, and joined to it by curved sweeps. The interior of the house was richly decorated by 2nd Earl of Carrick 1780s with plasterwork in the manner of Michael Stapleton. The hall, which is long and narrow, is divided by an arcade carried on fluted Ionic columns, beyond which rises a bifurcating staircase with a balustrade of plain slender uprights; the present entrance being by way of a porch built out at the back of the staircase. The rooms on either side of the hall in what was formerly the entrance front and is now the garden front have plasterwork ceilings; one with a centre medallion of a hunting scene, another with a medallion of a man shooting. One of these rooms, the dining room, also has plasterwork on the walls, incorporating medallions with Classical reliefs. One of the wings flanking the present entrance front contains a ballroom made by Major Dermot McCalmont 1920s, with a frieze of late C18 style plasterwork; it is reached by way of a curving corridor. The demesne of Mount Juliet is one of the finest in Ireland, with magnificent hardwoods above the River Nore ; it includes the Ballylinch demesne across the river. There is a series of large walled gardens near the house Mount Juliet is famous for its stud, founded by Major Dermot McCalmont 1915. Sold 1987.” 

7. Shankill Castle, Co Kilkenny – see above

8. Waterside Guest House, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny

https://www.watersideguesthouse.com

This is set in a beautiful old mill on the river in Graiguenamanagh.

Whole House rental, County Kilkenny:

1. Annamult House, Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny – whole house rental 

https://annamultcountryhouseestate.com/terms-and-conditions/

The National Inventory describes Annamult: “Detached four-bay two-storey double gable-fronted Tudor-style country house, c.1825, incorporating fabric of earlier house, pre-1771, with three-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting open porch to centre ground floor, three-bay two-storey side elevations, and five-bay three-storey lower wing to left having single-bay (two-bay deep) two-storey connecting return to east.

2. Ballybur Castle, County Kilkenny €€€ for two, € for 10

http://www.ballyburcastle.com/

The website tells us:

Ballybur Castle is the ancient seat of the Comerford clan, built by Richard Comerford around 1588. Despite the violent times, it seems to have maintained a fairly peaceful existance. It was one of the seats of the powerful Comerford family, the only one remaining.

Ballybur Castle is typical of the single family castles of that period, built primarily for protection against warring groups travelling the countryside. They were usually surrounded by more temporary structures where the farm labourers lived and livestock were kept.

When trouble was brewing, a roofwatch was kept and at the sight of any hostile group, labourers and livestock were gathered into the castle.

The Comerford castles flourished in the 1500s and well into the 16th century, all three castles were clustered in this area. (There were two more castles near Ballybur Castle belonging to the Comerford clan).

One can imagine the social standing of the Comerfords, the entertainment and grand parties that took place in their castles were renowned. The Comerfords occupied Ballybur Castle during the confederation that took place in Kilkenny in 1641.

“And so it happened that the papal Nunco, Cardinal Rinnuncini on his way to Kilkenny stopped at Ballybur Castle where a reception was held in honour of him and many important personages came to pay their respect.”

The cardinal presented a very ornate rosary to Richard and Mary Comerford. This rosary was passed on through generations of the castle’s owners at Ballybur. It was presented to Rothe House by father Langton Hayward who said he was given the rosary by the Marnell sisters in 1970, who still occupied the castle.

John Comerford, son of Richard Comerford, was the last Comerford to reside at Ballybur Castle. He was banished to Connaught in 1654 and forfeited his castle and lands to Brian Manseragh during the Cromwellian distribution survey of that period. Interestingly, this Brian Manseragh is a forefather of Martin Manseragh, the present T.D. from Tipparary who was the Taoiseach’s special advisor for the north during the current peace negotiations.

We know little about the period between 1655 until 1841 when it is stated that Thomas Deigan was the occupier of Ballybur.

Locally it is known that the Marnell sisters married into the Deigan family. They occupied Ballybur until Frank and Aifric Gray bought it in 1979.

The Grays at Ballybur By Ruan Gray

When mum and dad bought Ballybur in 1979, there was no roof on the castle as it is said that; “Cromwell blew it off with a cannon at the end of Ballybur lane.”

At the time when my parents bought the castle, it was in a very poor state of repair. It was their intention to spend five years on it’s restoration. They received grant aid from the Kilkenny County Council to replace the windows, some help towards the rebuilding of the roof from the Heritage Council and from Barrow Suir Development to complete the renovation.

It is now 25 years since the work began, and it has been mostly accomplished by dad and some local builders. Now it is completely refurbished and open to visitors. It truly has been a labour of love.

3. Castle Blunden, County Kilkenny whole house rental

hhiref@castleblunden.com

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

A few miles from the cathedral city of Kilkenny, Castle Blunden stands on an elevated site in the midst of mature parkland. Dating from the 1750s, and still owned by the Blunden family, this pretty seven-bay building is typical of County Kilkenny houses from the mid-Georgian period. The house is rendered, with a profusion of cut limestone decoration and details, and a handsome sprocketed roof, while the later Doric porch compliments the symmetry of the facade. The basement is concealed by a ramped gravel approach, which makes the house appear both lower and wider than is actually the case, while the small lakes to either side add to the overall air of enchantment.” [14]

4. Clomantagh Castle, Co Kilkenny – accommodation, whole house on airbnb: €€ for two, € for 3-8

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/29346656?federated_search_id=050f383f-6e5e-45b5-9989-b166bfe7e70d&source_impression_id=p3_1650104926_er%2FjFSqCgEWzQLW5

The National Inventory tells us it is a farmhouse erected by John Shortal (d. 1857) or Patrick Shortal (d. 1858) representing an integral component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Kilkenny with the architectural value of the composition, one occupying the site of a hall adjoining the fifteenth-century Clomantagh Castle.

Clomantagh Castle - was home to the [8th] Earl of Ormond, Pierce Ruadh (1467-1539). When he died in 1539 the castle along with other properties was passed to his son Richard Butler, first Viscount Mountgarret (1500-1571). The castle and its estate stayed in the Butler family until it was forfeited during the war with Cromwell to Lieutenant Arthur St. George [ancestor of the Kilrush family]. After the war the castle changed hands twice more and a farmhouse was added by the Shortall family, the owners in the 1800’s, before its last owner  Willie White a local vet. The property is now owned by a non profit making charity called the Landmark Trust who preserve historic buildings. 

The Landmark site tells us:

The name Clomantagh comes from the Irish “cloch mantaigh”, meaning missing tooth or gappy smile. Locals gave this name to the castle as the irregular castellation reminded them of someone smiling with missing teeth.  

It has been established that the tower and bawn were built in the 15th century (c.1430). The tower house has been modified and extended over the centuries, and in the early 19th century a farmhouse was added providing accommodation with comfort, rather than defence, in mind. In recent times, the bawn walls have sheltered the buildings of a 20th century working farm. It also has a rare clochán (small dome-roomed structure) knit into the bawn walls. Five other tower houses can be seen from the roof of Clomantagh Castle, and they were all strategically aligned for defence purposes.

Clomantagh followed mainstream castle design, emerging as an almost square building, six storeys high, with massive walls built from local limestone, and a corner staircase. Inserted high on the south wall is a Sheela-na-Gig. This pagan symbol was adopted by medieval builders and incorporated as the building was erected. High up the remains of the stepped battlement walls, the merlons can be seen – a specifically Irish feature whose inspiration is considered to be Venetian. Inside the battlements a wide walkway gave access to all sides of the building. In the north east corner, a high watchtower has been built. This is knows as Moll Gearailt’s Chair, after the particularly ferocious original mistress of the house, Maighréad nhee Gearóid, who used to sit watching over her fields to ensure that her labourers were not slacking at their work. The walkway, or Alure, was sloped outward to allow run off water through drainage holes and stone spouts. Generally, battlement walls have not survived well, their thinner construction and unstable sloping bases have contributed to their disappearance from tower houses.  [15]

5. Tubbrid Castle, County Kilkenny €€€ for two, € for 8

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/29598290?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-06-05&check_out=2022-06-10&federated_search_id=6eebbe51-3470-4008-be61-4228d4019473&source_impression_id=p3_1652359358_O%2F1m3ENyNNeiOZ%2Bf

The entry tells us:

Tubbrid Castle is a unique 15th-century tower house, uninhabited for the last century and now restored to its former glory. We’ve highlighted original features to let you step back in time and added luxury touches so you can indulge your inner prince or princess.

Heritage
In 942 AD, Muircheartach, King of modern-day Ulster, marched his army of 1000 Leather Cloaks south to avenge his allies, who had been attacked by Callaghan, King of Cashel. Muircheartach’s bard, Colmanach, recorded the journey in an epic poem, Circuit of Ireland, in which he praised the beauty of Osraí (now Kilkenny), and the hospitality of its people. At the edge of enemy territory and on the cusp of battle, Muircheartach’s army set up camp in Tubbrid, on a plain that a millennium later is still called Bán an Champa (the Field of the Encampment). The King himself is thought to have slept at the fort where Tubbrid Castle now stands. A thousand years later, the people of Kilkenny still pride ourselves on our warm hospitality and from the top floor bedroom of Tubbrid Castle you can survey Bán an Champa and enjoy lodgings befitting a king.

Laois:

1. Ballaghmore Castle, Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois – section 482

contact: Grace Pym
Tel: 0505-21453
www.castleballaghmore.com
Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm Fee: adult €5, child/OAP/student €3, family of 4, €10

The website tells us:

Ballaghmore Castle was built in 1480 by the Gaelic Chieftain MacGiollaphadraig (now called Fitzpatrick), meaning son of the servant of Patrick. Lords of Upper Ossory. They defended North Munster, strategically placed as they were on the old Irish Road. A Sheela-na-Gig carved in stone is on the front facing wall, a pagan fertility symbol to ward off evil.

Ballaghmore was partially destroyed by Cromwell’s forces in 1647. It was restored in 1836 by a Mr. Ely who found a hoard of gold on the land. Ely was shot by an angry tenant and never lived in the castle. The castle was then used as a granary and afterwards fell into disuse, until the present owner Gráinne Ní Cormac, bought it in 1990 and restored it. Now furnished.

Gráinne (Grace) will delight you with stories of the history of the MacGiollaphadraigs (changed to Fitzpatrick by order of Henry 8th of England) which goes back to 500 B.C.

2. Ballintubbert House and Gardens, Stradbally, Co Laois – open to public  https://www.discoverireland.ie/laois/ballintubbert-gardens-house

The gardens at Ballintubbert have been described as ‘An enchanting work of art – intimate and extraordinarily peaceful”. 

The historic gardens at Ballintubbert have been expanded with an Arts & Crafts influence to include an impressive variety of over 40 ‘garden rooms’ and pedimented yew cloisters within 14 acres. 

Of particular note is the Sir Edwin Lutyens design water garden complimented by Gertrude Jekyll style planting schemes. 

There are wild flower meadows and woodlands influenced by William Robinson’s approach to ‘wild gardening’ in contrast to the formal lime walks that flank a hundred meter canal in the more classical gardening tradition. 

Opening Hours 

The gardens are open to view every Thursday from 10am to 5pm 
(April to September) 

Very occasionally the gardens may be closed with a private event – please check our Facebook page for details 

Admission €5 (children under 8 free) 
Guided tours available by appointment 

Allow 2 hours and please feel welcome all day. Relax & savour what lies ahead – this is a rich experience of the senses 

3. Gardens at Castle Durrow, County Laois

www.castledurrow.com 

4. Clonohill Gardens, Coolrain, Portlaoise, Laois

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/31/clonohill+gardens/

5. Emo Court, County Laois – OPW

see my OPW entry, https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/07/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-laois-longford-louth-meath-offaly-westmeath-wexford-wicklow/

Emo Court, County Laois.

6. Heywood Gardens, County Laois – OPW

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/07/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-laois-longford-louth-meath-offaly-westmeath-wexford-wicklow/

7. Stradbally Hall, Stradbally, Co. Laois – section 482

Stradbally Hall, County Laois, June 2021.

contact: Thomas Cosby
Tel: 086-8519272
http://www.stradballyhall.ie
Open: May 1-31, June 1-9, Aug 13-21, Oct 1-14, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/10/14/stradbally-hall-stradbally-co-laois/

Places to Stay, County Laois:

1. Ballaghmore Castle, Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois – section 482 – see above.

There is the tower house castle, a farmhouse or a cottage to stay in.

2. Ballyfin House, Co. Laois – hotel 

https://ballyfin.com

Ballyfin, photograph by Tony Pleavin 2018 for Tourism Ireland (see [7]).

The website tells us: “Steeped in Irish history, the site of Ballyfin has been settled from ancient times and was ancestral home in succession to the O’Mores, the Crosbys, the Poles, the Wellesley-Poles (the family of the Duke of Wellington) and later the Cootes.”

The east front of Ballyfin, dominated by the grand Ionic portico. The house was built in the 1820s for Sir Charles Coote to designs by Sir Richard and William Morrison. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.

The website continues:

The Coote family was descended from Sir Charles Coote, an Elizabethan adventurer who came to Ireland in 1601. The Coote coat-of-arms is prominently displayed above the entrance to Ballyfin.

The house itself was built in the 1820s for another Sir Charles Coote to designs by the great Irish architects Sir Richard and William Morrison. The Cootes enjoyed the house for exactly one hundred years employing a large team of servants to preserve the life of refined leisure that is documented in Edwardian photographs showing tea on the terrace or skating in the walled garden. As the political situation changed with the dawning of the Irish Independence, the Cootes sold the estate to the Patrician Brothers who, for much of the twentieth century, ran a much-loved school at Ballyfin. After many years of restoration Ballyfin reopened its doors in May 2011.

The restoration project took nine years – significantly longer than it took to build the house in the first place. Every single aspect of the house from the roof down required remedial attention. Skilled craftsmen worked on the elaborate inlaid floors, repaired the gilding and the stucco work or treated the stone work of the house which was disintegrating. After this emergency work, a process of redecoration could begin with carefully selected paint finishes, papers and textiles bringing the interiors back to life. The house has been furnished with a collection of Irish art and antiques from around the world, fine Irish mahogany, French chandeliers and mirrors by Thomas Chippendale. The result was spectacular, and one of Ireland’s most endangered great houses emerged ready for the current century, a place of grandeur, yet warmth, providing the kind of welcome envisaged when the house was first built.”

Ballyfin, photograph by Tony Pleavin 2018 for Tourism Ireland (see [7]). Wrought-iron curvilinear Victorian conservatory, c.1855, on a rectangular plan with apsidal ends and glazed corridor linking it to Ballyfin House. Designed by Richard Turner.

Mark Bence-Jones writes:

p. 21. “(Wellesley-Pole, sub Wellington; D/PB; Coote, Bt/PB)The grandest and most lavishly appointed early C19 Classical house in Ireland; built between 1821 and 1826 by Sir Charles Coote, 9th Baronet [1794-1864. He married Caroline Whaley, granddaughter of “Burn Chapel” Whaley whom we came across when we visited the Museum of Literature of Ireland in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin]; replacing a long, plain house of 1778 which had been the seat of William Wellesley-Pole [1763-1835], afterwards 1st Lord Marlborough and 3rd Earl of Mornington, a brother of the Duke of Wellington. Coote, the Premier Bt. of Ireland, who bought the estate from Wellesley-Pole ca 1812, seems originally to have employed an architect named Dominick Madden, who produced a design for a 2 storey house with a long library at one side running from front to back, and extending into a curved bow in the centre of the side elevation; a room very similar to the library at Emo Court, a few miles away. When this end of the house – which also contained a top-lit rotunda, another feature doubtless inspired by Emo – had been built, Coote switched from Madden to Richard Morrison, who, assisted by his son William Vitruvius Morrison, completed the house according to a modified plan, but incorporating Madden’s library wing which forms the side elevation of Morrison’s house, just has it would have done of Madden’s; it is of one bay on either side of the central curved bow, which is fronted by a colonnade of giant Ionic columns.”

The south front of Ballyfin, with the grand bow window for the library. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The Victorian conservatory at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.

Bence-Jones continues: “The side elevation is now prolonged by a gracefully curving glass and iron conservatory of ca 1850. The principal front is of 13 bays with a giant pedimented Ionic portico; the 2 end bays on either side being stepped back. The interior, almost entirely by the Morrisons, is of great magnificence and beautifully finished, with exciting spatial effects and a wealth of rich plasterwork, scagiola columns in Siena porphyry, green and black; and inlaid parquetry floors; originally the rooms contained a fine collection of pictures and sculpture and furniture said to have been made for George IV as Prince of Wales. A rather restrained entrance hall, with a coffered ceiling and a floor of mosaic brought from Rome, leads into the top-lit saloon in the centre of the house, which has a coved ceiling decorated with the most elaborate plasterwork and a screen of Corinthian columns at each end.

The upstairs top-lit saloon reminds me of that at Stradbally Hall. The first son of Charles Coote and Caroline Whaley died unmarried, the second son predeceased the first son, after marrying Margaret Mary Cosby of Stradbally. The third son, Algernon, became 11th Baron Coote and also joined the clergy. He died in 1920 and afterwards the house was sold.

The hall at Ballyfin, built in the 1820s for Sir Charles Coote to designs by Sir Richard and William Morrison. The mosaic centrepiece on the floor came from Rome in 1822. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
Ballyfin, the top-lit saloon in the centre of the house, which has a coved ceiling decorated with the most elaborate plasterwork and a screen of Corinthian columns at each end. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
Ballyfin top-lit saloon. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  vol. CCV. Photograph by Paul Barker.
Ballyfin, the top-lit saloon in the centre of the house, which has a coved ceiling decorated with the most elaborate plasterwork and a screen of Corinthian columns at each end. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
Detail of the ceiling in the saloon at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.

Bence-Jones continues: The saloon is flanked by the rotunda, which is surrounded by Ionic columns and has a coffered dome, and the staircase hall, which has pairs of engaged and recessed columns round its upper storey; the balustrade of the stairs and gallery being of brass uprights.

The rotunda at Ballyfin, which is encircled by eight Siena scagliola columns. The coffered dome is ornamented with hexagonal panels containing decorative stars set in an emphatic geometrical lattice. Country Life 31/08/2011  vol. CCV. Photograph by Paul Barker.
Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The staircase hall at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The staircase hall at Ballyfin. Country Life 31/08/2011  vol. CCV. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The doorway in the saloon at Ballyfin, looking through to the staircase hall. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.

Bence-Jones continues: “There is a splendid vista through the centre of the house, from the staircase hall to the library, which lies at right angles to this central axis, beyond the rotunda; it is divided by screens of Ionic columns. The drawing room has characteristic Morrison ceiling and gilt Louis XV decoration on the walls dating from 1840s and by a London decorator. Classical entrance gates with piers similar to those at Kilruddery, Co Wicklow and Fota, Co Cork; and a folly castle in the park. Ballyfin was sold by the Coote family 1920s and is now a college run by the Patrician brothers.” 

The library at Ballyfin, with screens of Scagliola columns. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  vol. CCV. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The library at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The library at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The Gold Drawing Room at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The Gold Drawing Room at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The dining room at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
A bedroom at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.

The Ballyfin website tells us:

At Ballyfin, stone walls enclose 614 acres of parkland, a lake and ancient woods, delightful garden buildings, follies and grottoes. The landscape, laid out in the mid-eighteenth century, is among the finest examples in Ireland of the natural style of gardening inspired by ‘Capability’ Brown.

There are many highlights that will keep garden lovers and outdoor enthusiasts exploring for days. These include the medieval-style tower, built as a folly in the 1860’s, the walled garden with its formal borders and kitchen gardens, the abundant wildlife to be seen on early morning walks and the restored Edwardian rock garden.”

Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The new cascade and classical temple at Ballyfin. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  [Not Used]. Photograph by Paul Barker.
Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  vol. CCV. Photograph by Paul Barker.
The south front of Ballyfin, with the grand bow window for the library. Beyond is the lake made in the 1750s. Image from archive of Country Life 31/08/2011  vol. CCV. Photograph by Paul Barker.

3. Castle Durrow, Co Laois – a hotel 

https://www.castledurrow.com

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Castle Durrow (1988(:

p. 66. “(Flower, Ashbrook, V/PB) An early C18 house of an attractive pinkish stone, with a high-pitched roof and tall stacks’ built 1716-18 by Col William Flower [b. 1685], MP, afterwards 1st Lord Castle Durrow, who employed a builder named Benjamin Crawley or Crowley. Of two storeys – originally with a dormered attic in the roof – and nine bays; the front being divided into three groups of three bays by giant Doric pilasters and entablature with urns; now erected on the front of a C19 enclosed porch. Alterntive triangular and segmental pediments over ground floor windows. Originally the house was flanked by single-storey outbuildings with mullion-and-transom windows; but these have since been replaced by other outbuildings; while the front has been extended by the addition of two projecting bays at one side. The interior was originally panelled, the hall and dining room in oak; but the panelling now survived only in two rooms. Subsequent generations of the family, who from 1751 held the title of Viscount Ashbrook [Henry Flower (1712-1752)], adorned the house with C18 plasterwork and C19 stained glass; as well as building the impressive castellated entrance gate in the square of the little town of Durrow. Castle Durrow was sold by 9th Viscount Ashbrook 1922 and is now a convent school.In recent years, the attic dormers have been removed.” 

The 4th Viscount, Henry Flower, married Deborah Susannah Freind. Their son the 5th Viscount, Henry, married Frances Robinson, daughter of John Robinson, who became 1st Baronet Robinson, of Rokeby Hall, Co. Louth, a section 482 property (see my entry). He was born John Freind, and changed his name to Robinson when he inherited Rokeby. The 6th and 7th Viscounts had no male heirs and the 8th Viscount, Colonel Robert Thomas Flower, was the son of the 5th Viscount. It was his son, the 9th Viscount, who sold Castle Durrow.

The website tells us:

Colonel William Flower commenced with the construction of the Manor in 1712. The Flower family assumed residence of Castle Durrow in 1716 and continued to expand and improve their estate on various occasions during their 214 year reign. Past research indicates that the Ashbrook family were generally regarded as benevolent landlords and of course the largest employer of Durrow Village.

In 1922 the banks finally foreclosed and the Flower family were forced to relocate to Britain. The castle was sold to Mr Maher of Freshford, County Kilkenny who was primarily interested in the rich timber reserves of the Estate and sold of most of the beautiful old oak trees to Britain, by 1928 the old hard wood forests of Durrow were scarce.

The Land Commission divided up the arable portions of the property and the Forestry department took over many of the woods for further plantation. During this time the great manor house remained entirely empty. The Bank of Ireland acquired the town and consequently for the next 40 years house property in Durrow was purchased from that bank.

In 1929 with the Bishop’s approval the Parish of Durrow acquired the Estate for the purchase price of £1800 and Castle Durrow was transformed into a school, St. Fintan’s College and Convent. The establishing of a school at Castle Durrow was testimony to the fact that beautiful buildings of the past could be used in the modern world. The Presentation order ran the castle as a closed convent before they opened up the castle as a primary and secondary school which stayed open until 1987.

In the 90’s, Peter and Shelly Stokes purchased Castle Durrow and began the castle’s renovations. The works took over 3 years to complete. The renovations were a bigger job than originally was thought; the roof had to be completely replaced, new wiring and plumbing was put in through the whole castle. When the roof was renewed the original black oak beams were exposed and they are now a feature in the oriental rooms. Irish oak floors with underfloor heating were put in. New wooden sash windows were made for the castle to replace the old rotten ones. The stained glass windows, fire places and magnificent plastered ceilings were all restored. Furniture for the entire house was handpicked from Irish and European auction houses and many family heirlooms and antiques can be found dotted around the grounds. The Stokes family manage the daily running of the castle and they are an intricate part of the charming homely feel.

4. Coolanowle Country House, Ballickmoyler, County Laois

http://www.coolanowle.com

The website tells us:

Coolanowle Country House is a multi award winning County House B&B offering an inviting and welcoming stay for all its guests. It also offers two tastefully restored  self catering holiday cottages as well as a cosy log house self catering chalet. In total it can accommodate up to 38 guests. 

Coolanowle is the perfect venue for small parties & events.  Set on 3 acres of natural woodland with historic flax ponds, it’s the perfect place to experience country living. Famous for organic traditional food and personal attention to detail, a stay here at Coolanowle will rejuvinate, regenerate and revive!  

5. Roundwood, Mountrath, Co Laois – guest house https://roundwoodhouse.com 

and the forge and writer’s cottage at Roundwood

The website tells us: “Nestled in 18 acres of native woodland, just over an hour from Dublin, Roundwood House is a B&B and restaurant with six bedrooms in the Main House, four in the older restored Yellow House, two self-catering cottages, a wonderful library, a dog that gives walking tours, two little girls, some hens and ducks to greet you on arrival and a rooster named Brewster.”

The website tells us a little of the history of the house: “Built in 1731 for a prosperous Quaker family of cloth makers by the name of Sharp, it retains much of its charm and feel from its early days.

Most of its original features remain intact including chimney pieces of Black Kilkenny marble, carved timber architraves, sash windows and Rococo plasterwork.The 1970s were a particularly colourful time in Roundwood’s history. Then, under the ownership of the Irish Georgian Society, Roundwood became a party house for a young, upper-class, bohemian setSome individuals stand out during the 1970s in Roundwood, including Brian Molloy, who abandoned his law degree in favour of working on restoring houses with the Irish Georgian Society. Molloy brought the derelict Roundwood back to life and guests remember his hospitality, with candlelight, bouquets of wild flowers and “music floating out from somewhere”.

Hannah’s parents, Frank and Rosemary Kennan, bought Roundwood in 1983, after it had been rescued by the Irish Georgian Society from the fate of demolition. A decade of restoration by the Society followed, after which Hannah’s parents opened their home to guests and lovingly ran it for 25 years.

Just over a decade ago, Hannah & Paddy took the reins. Paddy Flynn, a musician from Canada, met Hannah in Galway where she was studying Classical Civilization. They decided that a life as live-in hosts in a Georgin Country House was an appealing prospect and so left their city life behind to do just that. They and their two girls, Amélie and Lucie, look forward to welcoming you into their beautiful home.

An added feature of Roundwood is a special library:

Frank’s Library is situated in the old Coach House on the grounds of Roundwood House. It is an English language library with approximately two thousand volumes.

The library is intended to facilitate a general understanding of the development of civilisation & to celebrate those individuals who successfully climbed onto the shoulders of millions to give us something new & beautiful; a poem, a philosophy, a scientific theory, a painting, a symphony, a new kind of politics or technology. The intention is to do this within the overall picture of our history from the beginning, with our darkest periods included.

Spread over two levels, with ample desks and armchairs in cosy corners, the library is couched in exposed brick, with beautiful brass lighting fixtures, a wrought-iron gallery and spiral staircase. Its book cases are packed wall to wall with everything from Fisk’s tome on the Middle East to an impressive fine art and limited edition facsimile copy of the Book of Kells.

The Library is open to guests staying in the house and the self-catering cottages. For anyone  not booked to stay, but interested in visiting the library , please contact us in advance.

Whole House Rental County Laois:

1. Preston House, Abbeyleix, County Laois

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/preston-house/

Hidden Ireland tells us:

We are delighted that you have found our beautifully restored 18th Century Georgian House, with a private courtyard and wooded garden, located on the Main Street of the picturesque Heritage Town of Abbeyleix.

Preston House is the perfect space to unite for family gatherings or private parties. Boasting the home from home comforts of a fully equipped country kitchen, a drawing room, a music parlour & two dining rooms, our six luxurious suites are individually decorated with a quirky mix of chic and antique furnishings, providing ample living space to comfortably accommodate 14 people.

Our country manor kitchen, with an Aga to boot, was originally designed to cater for up to 80 people but it’s perfect for large or small gatherings. The individual room mixes are the perfect setting for family dining, relaxing with friends or celebrations. The house as a whole can be transformed into an event or workshop space, a cultural gathering or wellness space.

With a beautiful courtyard for outdoor dining, historic curtledge and a wonderful tree lined garden Preston House is the perfect place for a family break, a celebration or a unique wedding setting.

The Lords Walk is just a short walk from Preston House, every day, there is an adventure waiting in Laois. With its mountains, canals, forest trails, rivers & lakes, Laois is truly an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, Preston House and Abbeyleix is the perfect starting point to explore!

Each of the suites in Preston House has its own unique & fascinating story to tell. The Pembroke Suite was named after Pembroke Terrace, a group of four impressively designed houses built as part of a dowry by the 11th Earl of Pembroke & Montgomery when his daughter Emma married Thomas De Vesci the 3rd. At the turn of the century a constabulary barracks, an inspector’s house and the post office occupied Pembroke Terrace. The Preston Suite was named after a previous incarnation of this fine premises which was a post-primary school. Mr A. E. M. Charleton of Galway Grammar School was appointed Head Master in 1895. Two months later the school opened to both boarders and day pupils. It served as an excellent educational establishment until it closed in September 1966. The Heritage Suite was named after our local tourism and community centre Heritage house: It was a Boys National School until 1995, it now serves as heritage centre with a museum, meeting rooms and playground. It’s open to the public for guided tours, cultural events and exhibitions. Exhibits include ancient artifacts and recent traditional craft from Laois as well as artifacts from the Titanic Carpet factory here in Abbeyleix.

The Sexton Suite was named after Sexton House. On the retirement of the last sexton (an officer of a church), the house became somewhat derelict but as it forms a significant part of the town’s heritage its restoration was widely welcomed and it is now a notable stop on the Heritage Trails around the town. The Bramley Suite is named after Bramley’s premises on lower Main St dates back to the early 19th century. The first business was a saddlery and post office. Early in the 20th Century, the first automobile garage in Abbeyleix was opened at the rear of Bramley’s premises. The property beside Bramley’s was formerly the site of the Abbeyleix Carpet Factory, which closed in 1914. The De Vesci Suite is named after Abbeyleix House, home of the De Vesci family for over 300 years. It is a magnificent building built beside the Nore and situated in the rolling pastureland of the estate. It is now in private ownership. The estate is rich in history with the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey and the tomb of Malachy, King of Laois on its grounds.

[1] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Burtown%20House

[2] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Kildare%20Landowners

[3] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Griesemount%20House

[4] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11805062/kildrought-house-main-street-celbridge-celbridge-co-kildare

[5] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Millbrook%20House

[6] 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.

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

[8] https://archiseek.com/2014/carton-maynooth-co-kildare/

[9] https://theirishaesthete.com/2020/01/08/a-stage-set/

[10] http://www.turtlebunbury.com/history/history_family/hist_family_barton.html

[11] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Kilrush%20House

[12] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/12000025/rothe-house-15-16-parliament-street-gardens-st-johns-par-kilkenny-co-kilkenny

[13] https://archiseek.com/2010/1594-rothe-house-kilkenny-co-kilkenny/

and http://kilkennyarchaeologicalsociety.ie

[14] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Castle%20Blunden

[15] https://www.irishlandmark.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Clomantagh_castle.pdf

Office of Public Works properties: Leinster: Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny

Just to finish up my entries about Office of Public Works properties: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.

Carlow:

1. Altamont Gardens

[Dublin 2-21]

Kildare:

22. Castletown House, County Kildare

23. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare

Kilkenny:

24. Dunmore Cave, County Kilkenny – site currently closed

25. Jerpoint Abbey, County Kilkenny

26. Kells Priory, County Kilkenny

27. Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny

28. St. Mary’s Church, Gowran, County Kilkenny – site currently closed

Carlow:

1. Altamont House and Gardens, Bunclody Road, Altamont, Ballon, County Carlow:

Altamont House and Gardens, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

General information: (059) 915 9444

altamontgardens@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

A large and beautiful estate covering 16 hectares in total, Altamont Gardens is laid out in the style of William Robinson, which strives for ‘honest simplicity’. The design situates an excellent plant collection perfectly within the natural landscape.

For example, there are lawns and sculpted yews that slope down to a lake ringed by rare trees and rhododendrons. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen, sheltered by ancient oaks and flanked by huge stone outcrops, leads to the banks of the River Slaney. Visit in summer to experience the glorious perfume of roses and herbaceous plants in the air.

With their sensitive balance of formal and informal, nature and artistry, Altamont Gardens have a unique – and wholly enchanting – character.” [2]

Altamont, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

From Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the care of the OPW, Government Publications, Dublin, 2018:

Altamont House was constructed in the 1720s, incorporating parts of an earlier structure said to have been a medieval nunnery. In the 1850s, a lake was excavated in the grounds of the house, but it was when the Lecky-Watsons, a local Quaker family, acquired Altamont in 1924 that the gardens truly came into their own.

Feilding Lecky-Watson had worked as a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he nurtured his love of exotic plants, and of rhododendrons in particular. Back in Ireland, he became an expert in the species, cultivating plants for the botanical gardnes at Glasnevin, Kew and Edinburgh. So passionate was he about these plants that when his wife, Isobel, gave birth to a daughter in 1922, she was named Corona, after his favourite variety of rhododendron.” [3]

Altamont House and Gardens lake, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Around the lake are mature conifers that were planted in the 1800s, including a giant Wellingtonia which commemorates the Battle of Waterloo. [3] Corona continued in her father’s footsteps, planing rhododendrons, magnolia and Japanese maples. Another feature is the “100 steps” hand-cut in granite, leading down to the River Slaney. There are red squirrels, otters in the lake and river, and peacocks. Before her death, Corona handed Altamont over to the Irish state to ensure its preservation.

The Temple, Altamont House and Gardens, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Kildare:

22. Castletown House and Parklands, Celbridge, County Kildare.

Castletown House, County Kildare, Photo by Mark Wesley 2016, Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

General Information: castletown@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Castletown is set amongst beautiful eighteenth-century parklands on the banks of the Liffey in Celbridge, County Kildare.

The house was built around 1722 for the speaker of the Irish House of Commons, William Conolly, to designs by several renowned architects. It was intended to reflect Conolly’s power and to serve as a venue for political entertaining on a grand scale. At the time Castletown was built, commentators expected it to be ‘the epitome of the Kingdom, and all the rarities she can afford’.

The estate flourished under William Conolly’s great-nephew Thomas and his wife, Lady Louisa, who devoted much of her life to improving her home.

Today, Castletown is home to a significant collection of paintings, furnishings and objets d’art. Highlights include three eighteenth-century Murano-glass chandeliers and the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in the country.

It is still the most splendid Palladian-style country house in Ireland.

This photo was taken probably by Robert French, chief photographer of William Lawrence Photographic Studios of Dublin, National Library of Ireland flickr constant commons.

William Conolly rose from modest beginnings to be the richest man in Ireland in his day. He was a lawyer from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, who made an enormous fortune out of land transactions in the unsettled period after the Williamite wars.

The Archiseek website tells us:

“Soon after the project got underway Conolly met Alessandro Galilei (1691-1737), an Italian architect, who had been employed in Ireland by Lord Molesworth in 1718 [John Molesworth, 2nd Viscount, who had been British envoy to Florence]. He designed the façade of the main block in the style of a 16th century Italian town palace. He returned to Italy in 1719 and was not associated with the actual construction of the house which began in 1722. Sir Edward Lovett Pearce (died 1733), a young Irish architect, on his Italian grand tour became acquainted with Galilei in Florence and through this connection he was employed by the Speaker to complete Castletown when he returned to Ireland in 1724. Pearce had first hand knowledge of the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and his annotated copy of Palladio’s Quattro libri dell’architettura survives. It was Pearce who added the Palladian colonnades and the terminating pavillions. This layout was the first major Palladian scheme in Ireland and soon had many imitators.” [4]

Castletown House, County Kildare, Photograph from macmillan media for Tourism Ireland 2015, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

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

The centre block, of three storeys over a basement, has two more or less identical thirteen bay fronts reminiscent of the façade of an Italian Renaissance town palazzo; with no pediment or central feature and no ornamentation except for doorcase, entablatures over the ground floor windows, alternate segmental and triangular pediments over the windows of the storey above and a balustraded roof parapet. Despite the many windows and the lack of a central feature, there is no sense of monotony or heaviness; the effect being one of great beauty  and serenity. The centre block is joined by curved Ionic colonnades to two storey seven bay wings; the wings and colonnades having been designed by Pearce, who also designed the impressive two storey entrance hall, which has a gallery supported by Ionic columns. Apart from the hall, the long gallery upstairs and some rooms with simple wainscot, the interior of Castletown was still unfinished at the time of Speaker Conolly’s death, and remained so until after his great-nephew, the popular Irish patriot Tom Conolly, married Lady Louisa Lennox (daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond and sister of Emily, Duchess of Leinster) 1758.” [5]

William Conolly married Katherine Conyngham of Mount Charles, County Donegal, whose brother purchased Slane Castle. William and Katherine had no children, so his estate passed to his nephew William James Conolly (1712-1754) via his brother Patrick. We came across William James Conolly before in Leixlip Castle (another Section 482 property), which he also inherited. William James died just two years after Katherine nee Conyngham, so the estate then passed to his son Thomas Conolly (1738-1803).

Thomas Conolly (1738-1803) by Anton Raphael Mengs, painted 1758. The German painter Mengs captured Conolly as a 19 year old on his Grand Tour. He is shown posting in front of a Roman sarcophagus, the “Relief of the Muses,” now in the Louvre. He is wearing a rich satin suit with gilt braid, portraying a young cultured aristocrat. In reality he displayed little interest in ancient civilisation, and brought back no souvenirs from Rome save for this portrait. Portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Thomas’s wife, Lady Louisa Lennox, was one of five Lennox sisters, daughters of the Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond. From the age of eight she had lived at nearby Carton with her sister Emily, who was married to James Fitzgerald, the 20th Earl of Kildare (who became the 1st Duke of Leinster) where she was exposed to the fashionable idea of the day in architecture, decoration, horticulture and landscaping. [6]

Carton House, 2014, photographer unknown, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Archiseek continues: “The Castletown papers, estate records and account books, together with Lady Louisa’s [i.e. Louisa Lennox, wife of Tom Conolly] diaries and correspondence with her sisters, provide a valuable record of life at Castletown and also of the reorganisation of the house. Lady Louisa’s letters from the 1750s onwards are revealing of the fashions in costume design, fabric patterns and furniture. She played an important part in the alteration and redecoration of Castletown during the 1760s and 1770s. As no single architect was responsible for all of the work carried out, she supervised most of it herself. Much of the redecoration of the house was done to the published designs of the English architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) who never came to Ireland himself. Chambers also worked for Lady Louisa’s brother, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, at Goodwood in Sussex. In a letter, written in July 1759, Lady Louisa mentions instructions given by Chambers to his assistant Simon Vierpyl who supervised the work at Castletown.” [4]

Interior view of Castletown. Country Life 27/07/2016 
Image Number: 5499871  
Photographer: Will Pryce. In the niches are a pair of marble busts of the Earl and Countess of Dartrey by Lawrence McDonald carved in Rome in 1839. They came from Dartrey in County Monaghan which has been demolished (bequeathed to the Irish Georgian Society by Lady Edith Windham of Dartrey). The eighteenth-century organ was originally in the chapel of Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin (restored by the Cleveland Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society). 

Description of the Hall, from Archiseek: “This impressive two-storeyed room with a black and white chequered floor, was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. The Ionic order on the lower storey is similar to that of the colonnades outside and at gallery level there are tapering pilasters with baskets of flowers and fruit carved in wood. The coved ceiling has a central moulding comprising a square Greek key patterned frame and central roundel with shell decoration.” [see 4]

The staircase at Castletown House. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873959  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Country Life Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E.Henson.

 
Castletown House, June 2015. ‘The Boar Hunt’ by Paul de Vos (1596-1678) is framed by Lafranchini plasterwork.

Mark Bence-Jones continues:

In the following year, Tom Conolly and Lady Louisa employed the Francini to decorate the walls of the staircase hall with rococo stuccowork; and in 1760 the grand staircase itself – of cantilevered stone, with a noble balustrade of brass columns – was installed; the work beign carried out by Simon Vierpyl, a protégé of Sir William Chambers. The principal reception rooms, which form an enfilade along the garden front and were mostly decorated at this time, are believed to be by Chambers himself; they have ceilings of geometrical plasterwork, very characteristic of him. Also in this style is the dining room, to the left of the entrance hall. It was here that, according to the story, Tom Conolly found himself giving supper to the Devil, whom he had met out hunting and invited back, believing him to be merely a dark stranger; but had realised the truth when his guest’s boots were removed, revealing him to have unusually hairy feet. He therefore sent for the priest, who threw his breviary at the unwelcome guest, which missed him and cracked a mirror. This, however, was enough to scare the Devil, who vanished through the hearthstone. Whatever the truth of this story, the hearthstone in the dining room is shattered, and one of the mirrors is cracked. The doing-up of the house was largely supervised by Lady Louisa, and two of the rooms bear her especial stamp: the print room, which she and her sister, Lady Sarah Napier made ca 1775; and the splendid long gallery on the first floor, which she had decorated with wall paintings in the Pompeian manner by Thomas Riley 1776. The gallery, and the other rooms on the garden front, face along a two mile vista to the Conolly Folly, an obelisk raised on arches which was built by Speaker Conolly’s widow 1740, probably to the design of Richard Castle. The ground on which it stands did not then belong to the Conollys, but to their neighbour, the Earl of Kildare, whose seat, Carton, is nearby. The folly continued to be a part of the Carton estate until 1968, when it was bought by an American benefactress and presented to Castletown. At the end of another vista, the Speaker’s widow built a remarkable corkscrew-shaped structure for storing grain, known as the Wonderful Barn. One of the entrances to the demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley 1741. The principal entrance gates are from a design by Chambers. Castletown was inherited by Tom Conolly’s nephew, Edward Michael Pakenham, who took the name of Conolly. It eventually passed to 6th and present Lord Carew [William Francis Conolly-Carew (1905-1994)], whose mother was a Conolly of the Pakenham line. He sold it 1965; the estate was bought for development and for two years the house stood empty and deteriorating. Then, in 1967, Hon Desmond Guinness courageously bought the house with 120 acres as the headquarters of the Irish Georgian Society, and in order to save it for posterity. Since then the house has been restored and it now contains an appropriate collection of furniture, pictures and objects, which has either been bought for the house, presented to it by benefactors, or loaned. The house is open to the public.” 

Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, June 2015. In the stair hall, in the rococo plasterwork, Tom and Louisa Conolly are represented in plaster, along with shells, masks and flowers. 
Castletown House, June 2015.
My Dad Desmond and Stephen in the Dining Room of Castletown House, June 2015. The portrait, on the west wall, is of William Conolly in his robes as Speaker of the Irish House of Commons by Stephen Catterson Smith the elder (1806-1872) (donated by Mr and Mrs Galen Weston). This posthumous portrait was based on Jervas’s portrait of the Speaker in the Green Drawing Room. Note the vase on the side table, one of a pair of large Meissen gilt and white two-handled campana vases with everted rims and entwined scrolling serpent and acanthus handles. This pair of vases is reputed to have been given to Thomas Conolly (1823–1876) as a gift by the future French Emperor, Napoleon III.
The portrait over the fireplace in the dining room is a half-length portrait of Charles Lennox (1701–1750), 2nd Duke of Richmond and 2nd Duke of Lennox, wearing armour with the ribbon of the Order of the Garter, in a contemporary frame in the manner of William Kent. 

The Dining Room, description from Archiseek:

This room dates from the 1760s redecoration of Castletown undertaken by Lady Louisa Conolly and reflects the mid-eighteenth century fashion for separate dining rooms. Originally, there were two smaller panelled rooms here. It was reconstructed to designs by Sir William Chambers, with a compartmentalised ceiling similar to one by Inigo Jones in the Queen’s House at Greenwich. The chimney-piece and door cases are in the manner of Chambers. Of the four doors, two are false. 

Furniture original to Castletown includes the two eighteenth-century giltwood side tables. Their frieze is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms. The three elaborate pier glasses are original to the Dining Room. The frames are carved fruiting vines, symbols of Bacchus and festivity. These are probably the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809) who, with the firm of Thomas Jackson of Essex Bridge, Dublin, was paid large sums for carving and gilding throughout the house.

Cranfield Mirror, the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809).
Castletown House, June 2015.

The Red Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:

It is one of a series of State Rooms that form an enfilade and were used on important occasions in the eighteenth century. This room was redesigned in the mid 1760s in the manner of Sir William Chambers. The chimney-piece, ceiling and pier glasses are typical of his designs. 

The walls are covered in red damask which is probably French and dates from the 1820s. Lady Shelburne recorded in her journal seeing a four coloured damask, predominently red, in this room. The Aubusson carpet dates from about 1850 and may have been made for the room. Much of the furniture has always been in the house and Lady Louisa Conolly paid 11/2 guineas for each of the Chinese Chippendale armchairs which she considered very expensive. The chairs and settee were made in Dublin and they are displayed in a formal arrangement against the walls as they would have been in the eighteenth century. The bureau was made for Lady Louisa in the 1760s.

Castletown House, June 2015. A Chinese gilt and polychrome lacquer cabinet on Irish stand, with a pair of doors later painted with vignettes of romantic landscapes and birds on floral sprays. The landscapes on this lacquered cabinet are said to have been painted by Katherine Conolly as a gift for her great-niece, Molly Burton, in about 1725. Katherine, who had no children herself, looked after Molly after her father died. [7]
Chinese Chippendale sofas, Irish, c.1770.
The Green Drawing Room, Castletown House, June 2015. Portrait of the woman and child is Mrs Katherine Conolly with Miss Molly Burton, by Charles Jervas. The man on the other side of the door is Speaker William Conolly.

The Green Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:

The Conollys formally received important visitors to the house in the Green Drawing Room which was the saloon or principal reception room. The room was redecorated in the 1760s and like the other state rooms reflects the neo-classical taste of the architect Sir William Chambers. The Greek key decoration on the ceiling is repeated on the pier glasses and the chimney-piece. Originally these were pier tables with a Greek key frieze and copies of these may be made in the future. The chimney-piece is similar to one designed by Chambers for Lord Charlemont’s Casino at Marino.”

Upstairs, The Long Gallery, Castletown House, June 2015.

The Long Gallery, description from Archiseek:

measuring almost 80 by 23 feet, with its heavy ceiling compartments and frieze dates from the 1720s. Originally there were four doors in the room and the walls were panelled in stucco similar to the entrance Hall. In 1776 the plaster panels and swags were removed but traces of them were found behind the painted canvas panels when they were taken down for cleaning during recent conservation work. 

In the mid 1770s the room was redecorated in the Pompeian manner by two English artists, Charles Reuben Riley (c.1752-1798) and Thomas Ryder (1746-1810). Tom and Louisa’s portraits are at either end of the room over the chimney-pieces and the end piers are decorated with cyphers of the initals of their families: The portrait of Lady Louisa is after Reynolds (the original is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard) and that of Tom after Anton Raphael Mengs (the original is in the National Gallery of Ireland). The subjects of the wall paintings were mostly taken from engraving in d’Hancarville’s Antiquites Etrusques, Greques, et Romaines (1766-67) and de Montfaucon’s L’antiquite expliquee et representee en figures (1719). The busts of the poets and philosophers are placed on gilded brackets designed by Chambers. In the central niche stands a seventeenth-century statue of Diana. Above is a lunette of Aurora, the godess of the dawn, derived from a ceiling decoration by Guido Reni, the seventeenth century Bolognese painter. 

The three glass chandeliers were made for the room in Venice and the four large sheets of mirrored glass came from France. In the 1770s the Long Gallery was used as a living room and was filled with exquisite furniture. Originally in the room, there were a pair of side tables attributed to John Linnell, with marble tops attributed to Bossi, a pair of commodes by Pierre Langlois, that were purchased in London for Lady Louisa by Lady Caroline Fox and a pair of bookcases at either end of the room. 

In 1989 major conservation work was carried out on the Long Gallery. The wall paintings that had been flaking for many years were conserved. The original eighteenth-century gilding has been cleaned and the chandeliers restored. The project was funded by the American Ireland Fund, the Irish Georgian Society and by private donations.

The gallery at Castletown House, as decorated for Lady Louisa Conolly circa 1790. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873951  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E. Henson.
Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, July 2017. A set of three 18th-century Venetian coloured and plain glass 24-light chandeliers, decorated with flower heads and moulded finials. These three Murano glass chandeliers are unique in Ireland and rare even in Italy. It is believed that Lady Louisa ordered them from Venice between 1775 and 1778 for the redecorated Long Gallery. The chandeliers were wired for electricity in the mid-1990s; they were cleaned and restored by a Venetian firm of historic glass-makers in 2009. [see 7]
The Print Room, Castletown House, June 2015.

Print rooms were fashionable in the 18th century – ladies would collect their favourite prints and paste the walls with them – and Lady Louisa’s remains the only intact 18th century print room in Ireland. Those featured include Le Bas, Rembrandt and Teniers, the actor David Garrick and Sarah Cibber, Louisa’s sister Sarah, Charles I and Charles II as a boy, with whom Louisa shared a bloodline. [see 6]

The State Bedroom, Castletown House, June 2015. In the 1720s, when the house was first laid out, this room, along with the rooms either side, probably formed William Conolly’s bedroom suite. It was intended that he would receive guests in the morning while sitting up in bed or being dressed in the manner of the French court at Versailles. In the nineteenth century, the room was converted into a library and the mock leather Victorian wall paper dates from this time. Sadly, the Castletown library was dispersed in the 1960s and today the furniture reflects the room’s original use.
The library at Castletown House. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873961  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E. Henson.
The Blue Bedroom, Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, June 2015.
The Boudoir, Castletown House, July 2017.

From the website: “The Boudoir and the adjoining two rooms formed Lady Louisa’s personal apartment. The Boudoir served as a private sitting room for Louisa and subsequent ladies of the house. The painted ceiling, dado rail and window shutters possibly date from the late eighteenth century and were restored in the 1970s by artist Philippa Garner. The wall panels, or grotesques, after Raphael date from the early nineteenth century and formerly hung in the Long Gallery. Amongst the items inside the built-in glass cabinet are pieces of glass and china featuring the Conolly crest.

In the adjoining room, Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, OPW’s conservation architects have left exposed the walls to offer visitors a glimpse of the different historic layers in the room, from the original brick walls, supported by trusses, to wooden panelling to fragments of whimsical printed wall paper that once embellished the room.

Castletown House, July 2017.
Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, July 2017.
Lady Kildare’s Room is named after Lady Louisa’s sister Emily, Countess of Kildare and later Duchess of Leinster, who had raised Louisa and the two younger sisters Sarah and Cecilia at nearby Carton House after their parents’ death. She bore her husband, James FitzGerald, nineteen children, but when her younger sister Louisa suffered a miscarriage that put an end to her hopes of ever having children, Emily came to stay with her in Castletown until she had recovered.
As members of the aristocracy in eighteenth-century Ireland, Louisa and Emily garnered much attention. Emily described herself and her sister as ‘women of fashion’, a term that emphasised not only their social position, but their knowledge and love of fashion. This room now displays five remarkable eighteenth-century gowns worn for formal ceremonies from the Berkeley Costume Collection. Made in France, Italy, and England, the dresses on display consist of rich embroidered bodices and full skirts made from silk and gold thread.
Statue taken from the grave of Speaker William Conolly, of him reclining next to his wife.
Statue of Lady Catherine Conolly, from the grave (see above), by Thomas Carter.
Obelisk, Castletown, by Richard Castle, March 2022.
Obelisk, Castletown, by Richard Castle, March 2022.
Obelisk, Castletown, by Richard Castle, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, Castletown by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection NLI, flickr constant commons.
When we went to find the Wonderful Barn, we discovered there is not just one but in fact three Wonderful Barns!
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
The smaller Wonderful Barn.

23. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare:

Maynooth Castle, photograph by Gail Connaughton 2020, for Faitle Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

General information: 01 628 6744, maynoothcastle@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

This majestic stone castle was founded in the early thirteenth century. It became the seat of power for the FitzGeralds, the earls of Kildare, as they emerged as one of the most powerful families in Ireland. Garret Mór, known as the Great Earl of Kildare, governed Ireland in the name of the king from 1487 to 1513.

Maynooth Castle was one of the largest and richest Geraldine dwellings. The original keep, begun around 1200, was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. Inside, the great hall was a nerve centre of political power and culture.

Only 30 kilometres from Dublin, Maynooth Castle occupies a deceptively secluded spot in the centre of the town, with well-kept grounds and plenty of greenery. There is a captivating exhibition in the keep on the history of the castle and the family.

Kilkenny:

24. Dunmore Cave, Mothel, Ballyfoyle, Castlecomer Road, County Kilkenny:

General information: 056 776 7726, dunmorecaves@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Dunmore Cave, not far from Kilkenny town, is a series of limestone chambers formed over millions of years. It contains some of the most impressive calcite formations found in any Irish underground structure.

The cave has been known for many centuries and is first mentioned in the ninth-century Triads of Ireland, where it is referred to as one of the ‘darkest places in Ireland’. The most gruesome reference, however, comes from the Annals of the Four Masters, which tells how the Viking leader Guthfrith of Ivar massacred a thousand people there in AD 928. Archaeological investigation has not reliably confirmed that such a massacre took place, but finds within the cave – including human remains – do indicate Viking activity.

Dunmore is now a show cave, with guided tours that will take you deep into the earth – and even deeper into the past.

25. Jerpoint Abbey, Thomastown, County Kilkenny.

Jerpoint Abbey, May 2016.

General information: 056 772 4623, jerpointabbey@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Founded in the 12th century, Jerpoint Abbey is one of the best examples of a medieval Cistercian Abbey in Ireland. The architectural styles within the church, constructed in the late twelfth century, reflect the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. The tower and cloister date to the fifteenth century.

Jerpoint is renowned for its detailed stone sculptures found throughout the monastery. Dating from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries these include mensa tombs from the O’Tunney school, an exquisite incised depiction of two 13th century knights, the decorated cloister arcades along with other effigies and memorials. 

Children can explore the abbey with a treasure hunt available in the nearby visitor centre. Search the abbey to discover saints, patrons, knights, exotic animals and mythological creatures.

A small but informative visitor centre houses an excellent exhibition.

26. Kells Priory, Kells, County Kilkenny:

General information: 056 772 4623, jerpointabbey@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Kells Priory owes its foundation to the Anglo-Norman consolidation of Leinster. Founded by Geoffrey FitzRobert, a household knight and trusted companion of William Marshal the priory was one element of Geoffrey’s establishment of the medieval town of Kells. 

Although founded in c. 1193 extensive remains exist today which include a nave, chancel, lady chapel, cloister and associated builds plus the remains of the priory’s infirmary, workshop, kitchen, bread oven and mill. The existence of the medieval defences, surrounding the entire precinct, underline the military aspect of the site and inspired the priory’s local name, the ‘Seven Castles of Kells’.

27. Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny:

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by macmillan media 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. It sits on the banks of the River Nore. [see 1]
Kilkenny Castle, photograph by unknown 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1] The National Inventory describes: Random rubble stone walls with sections of limestone ashlar construction (including to breakfront having full-height Corinthian pilasters flanking round-headed recessed niches with sills, moulded surrounds having keystones, decorative frieze having swags, moulded course, modillion cornice, and blocking course with moulded surround to pediment having modillions), and limestone ashlar dressings including battlemented parapets (some having inscribed details) on corbel tables. The classical frontispiece was designed for James Butler, Second Duke of Ormonde possibly to designs prepared by Sir William Robinson. 

General information: 056 770 4100, kilkennycastleinfo@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Built in the twelfth century, Kilkenny Castle was the principal seat of the Butlers, earls, marquesses and dukes of Ormond for almost 600 years. Under the powerful Butler family, Kilkenny grew into a thriving and vibrant city. Its lively atmosphere can still be felt today.

The castle, set in extensive parkland, was remodelled in Victorian times. It was formally taken over by the Irish State in 1969 and since then has undergone ambitious restoration works. It now welcomes thousands of visitors a year.

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by unknown 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Kilkenny Castle has been standing for over eight hundred years, dominating Kilkenny City and the South East of Ireland. Originally built in the 13th century by William Marshall, 4th Earl of Pembroke, as a symbol of Norman control, Kilkenny Castle came to symbolise the fortunes of the powerful Butlers of Ormonde for over six hundred years. [8]

1n 1967 James Arthur Norman Butler (1893-1971), 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde sold the Castle to the Kilkenny Castle Restoration Committee for £50. Two years later it went into state ownership.

William Marshall (about 1146-1219) was married to the daughter of “Strongbow” Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. With the marriage, he gained land and eventually, the title, Earl of Pembroke. The daughter of Strongbow, Isabel, inherited the title of 4th Countess of Pembroke “suo jure” i.e. herself (her brother, who died a minor, was the 3rd Earl). Hence William Marshall became the 4th Earl through his wife, but then then was created the 1st Earl of Pembroke himself ten years after their marriage. They seem to have settled in Ireland and created place for themselves, beginning with setting up the town of New Ross and then restoring Kilkenny town and castle – a castle had pre-dated them, according to the Kilkenny Castle website. It tells us that the present-day castle is based on the stone fortress that Marshall designed, comprising an irregular rectangular fortress with a drum-shaped tower at each corner. Three of these towers survive to this day.

By 1200, Kilkenny was the capital of Norman Leinster and New Ross was its principal port. The Marshalls also founded the Cistercian abbeys at Tintern in County Wexford and Duiske in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny, as well as the castles at Ferns and Enniscorthy. He died and was buried in England. [9]

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by unknown 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

In 1317, the de Clare family sold the Kilkenny castle to Hugh Despenser. The Despensers were absentee landlords. In 1391 the Despensers sold the castle to James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, 9th Chief Butler of Ireland (1360–1405). The first Butler to come to Ireland was Theobald Walter Le Botiller or Butler, 1st Baron Butler, 1st Chief Butler of Ireland (1165–1206). He was called “Le Botiller” because he received the monopoly of the taxes on wines being imported into Ireland (which The Peerage website tells us was eventually purchased back by the Crown from the Marquess of Ormonde for £216,000 in 1811.)

The Butlers were an important family in Ireland. They fought for the king in France and Scotland, and held positions of power, including Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the monarch’s representative in Ireland.

The castle now forms a “u” shape, because in the time of Oliver Cromwell’s invasion, the fourth wall fell.[10] After the Restoration of 1660, there was a major rebuilding of the old castle. In 1826, another remodelling of the castle began. In 1935, the Butler family held a great auction, selling all of the castle’s furnishings.

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1] The National inventory describes the newer wing: Renovated, 1858-62, with eight-bay two-storey range to north-east reconstructed having canted oriel windows to first floor, and pair of single-bay single-stage corner turrets on octagonal plans
Kilkenny Castle, photograph by me in May 2018.

Thomas Butler the 7th Earl of Ormond (d. 1515) lacked a male heir, and on his death, the Earldom was contested between Sir Piers Butler and his grandchildren led by Sir Thomas Boleyn. Thomas was favoured by King Henry VIII when Henry married his daughter Anne Boleyn. Piers Butler (1467-1539) was a descendant of the 3rd Earl of Ormond. Piers relinquished the claim to the title Earl of Ormond to Boleyn and was created Earl of Ossory by Henry VIII. The lands of the 7th Earl were divided between both parties. After a rapid escalation of disputes with rural Fitzgeralds and Boleyns, Piers regained his position and was recognised Earl of Ormond in February 1538.

The Crown hoped Piers would improve the Crown’s grip over southern Ireland. Piers the 8th Earl of Ormond gained much from Crown, including suppressed monasteries. He married Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter of the 8th Earl of Kildare, in marriage arranged for the purpose of ending the long-standing rivalry between the two families. They lived in Kilkenny Castle and greatly improved it. Margaret urged Piers to bring over skilled weavers from Flanders and she helped establish industries for the production of carpets, tapestries and cloth. Margaret and her husband commissioned significant additions to the castles of Granagh and Ormond. They also rebuilt Gowran Castle, which had been originally constructed in 1385 by James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond.

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Roselinde Bon 2016 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]
Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Mark Wesley 2016 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]
Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Finn Richards, 2015 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

The 10th Earl of Ormond, “Black Tom,” had no direct heir so the Earldom passed to his nephew, Walter, a son of Sir John Butler of Kilcash. Unlike his uncle, who had been raised at Court and thus reared a Protestant, Walter the 11th Earl of Ormond was a Catholic. See my entry about the Ormond Castle at Carrick-on-Suir for more on “Black Tom.”

Walter Butler’s claim to the family estates was blocked by James I. The latter orchestrated the marriage of Black Tom’s daughter and heiress Elizabeth to a Scottish favourite Richard Preston. This gave Preston the title Earl of Desmond, and awarded his wife most of the Ormond estate, thus depriving Walter of his inheritance. Walter refused to submit and was imprisoned for eight years in the Fleet, London. He was released 1625. Thomas’s nine-year-old son, James, became the heir to the titles. Plans were made for a marriage between James and Elizabeth, only daughter of the Prestons, to resolve the inheritance issue.

James Butler (1610-88) 1st Duke of Ormond, 12th Earl of Ormond was the eldest son of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, and his wife Elizabeth Poyntz. Following his father’s death in 1619, 9-year-old James became direct heir to the Ormond titles. He was made a royal ward and was educated at Lambeth Palace under the tutelage of George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1629 he married his cousin Elizabeth Preston and reunited the Ormond estates, as she was the sole heiress of her mother Elizabeth, daughter of the 10th Earl of Ormond, who had married Theobald Butler, 1st Viscount Tulleophelim, and secondly, Elizabeth’s father Richard Preston, 1st Earl of Desmond.  

James succeeded to the Ormond titles in 1633 on the death of his grandfather, Walter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormond.

The website tells us: “A staunch royalist, Ormond was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in Ireland in 1641.  He served his first term of three as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1648 to 1650.  Following the defeat of the royalists in Ireland, Ormond went to exile and spent most of the years 1649 to 1660 abroad, moving about Europe with the exiled court of Charles II.  After the restoration of the monarchy in England, Ormond was rewarded with a dukedom and several high offices by a grateful king.  Though he enjoyed the king’s favour, Ormond had enemies at court and as a result of the machinations of the Cabal, which included powerful figures such as the Earl of Shaftesbury, he was dismissed from his post as Lord Lieutenant in 1669.  When he was raised to a dukedom in the English peerage in 1682, Ormond left Ireland to reside in England. During his last term as Lord Lieutenant (1677-85), he played a major role in the planning and founding of the Royal Hospital for old soldiers at Kilmainham, near Dublin.  The last decade of his life was marked by tragedy: all three of his sons and his wife died during that time. He died at his residence at Kingston Lacy in Dorset was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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James Butler 1st Duke of Ormond, Viceroy 1703-1707 and 1710-1713. Artist: Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680). He is wearing robes of the Order of the Garter, Ormond holds the wand of office of Lord Steward of the Household in his right hand.

The 1st Duke of Ormond had three sons: Thomas (1634-1680), 6th Earl of Ossory; Richard (1639-1686), 1st and last Earl of Arran; and John (1634-1677), 1st and last Earl of Gowran. He had two daughters, Elizabeth (1640-1665) and Mary (1646-1710). Mary married William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire.

During the 1st Duke of Ormond’s tenure the castle underwent improvements. Mark Bence-Jones describes:

The Great Duke transformed the castle from a medieval fortress into a pleasant country house, rather like the chateau or schloss of contemporary European princeling; with high-pitched roofs and cupolas surmounted by vanes and gilded ducal coronets on the old round towers. Outworks gave place to gardens with terraces, a “waterhouse” a fountain probably carved by William de Keyser, and statues copied from those in Charles II’s Privy Gardens. The Duchess seems to have been the prime mover in the work, in which William (afterwards Sir William) Robinson, Surveyor-General and architect of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, was probably involved; supervising the contruction of the Presence Chamber 1679. Robinson is also believed to have designed the magnificent entrance gateway of Portland and Caen stone with a pediment, Corinthian pilasters and swags which the second Duke erected on the street front of the castle ca 1709. Not much else was done to the castle in C18, for the Ormondes suffered a period of eclipse following the attainder and exile of the 2nd Duke, who became a Jacobite after the accession of George I.” [11]

James Butler 1st Duke of Ormond painted by John Michael Wright (1617-1694), and in centre, Elizabeth Poyntz (1588-1673), mother of the 1st Duke of Ormond, painted by John Michael Wright, and Elizabeth Preston (1615-1684), wife of the 1st Duke of Ormond, with her son Thomas, who became the 6th Earl of Ossory.

Thomas Butler (1634-1682) 6th Earl of Ossory, was the father of the 2nd Duke of Ormond. Thomas was also Lord Butler of Moore Park and Lord Deputy of Ireland, and was a soldier and Naval Commander, known as ‘Gallant Ossory’. Born at Kilkenny Castle in 1634, he was the second but eldest surviving son of the Duke of Ormonde. His childhood was spent at Kilkenny until he went with his father and brother Richard to England in 1647. They then went to France, where he was educated at Caen and Paris at Monsieur de Camps’ Academy. In Holland he married Amelia of Nassau, daughter of Lodewyk van Nassau, Heer van Beverweerd, a natural son of Prince Maurice of Nassau. Ossory was a witness when James, Duke of York (later King James II) secretly married Anne Hyde in 1660.

Ossory enjoyed the favour and support of both King Charles II and his queen. Because of his wife’s Dutch connections he was frequently sent on royal missions to that country. In 1670 he conducted William of Orange to England. John Evelyn, the diarist, was a close friend, who referred to him as ‘a good natured, generous and perfectly obliging friend’. He died suddenly in 1680, possibly from food poisoning, at Arlington House in London. He was buried in Westminster Abbey

James Butler 2nd Duke of Ormonde (1665-1745), Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, son of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory. First married Anne Hyde and then Mary Somerset; below, Mary Somerset (1665-1733), daughter of the Duke of Beaufort. In middle, Thomas Butler (1634-1680), Earl of Ossory, Lord Butler of Moore Park, Lord Deputyof Ireland. Second son of the Duke and Duchess of Ormond and father of 2nd Duke of Ormonde. Mary Somerset’s father top right, Henry Somerset (1629-1700), 1st Duke of Beaufort, 3rd Marquess of Worcester; below Anne Hyde (1669-1685), the 2nd Duke’s first wife, daughter of Lawrence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester, artist: William Wissing (1656-87).

James Butler (1665-1745) 2nd Duke of Ormonde, 13th Earl of Ormonde, was the eldest surviving son of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory and his wife Amelia van Beverweerd. Following his father’s death in 1680, James became the heir to his grandfather, James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, whom he succeeded in 1688.

Following his involvement in a Jacobite rising, he was impeached and a year later a Bill of Attainder was passed against him. His English and Scottish honours and his English estates were seized. Ormonde fled to France. He lived out his life in exile, and died at Avignon in France and was buried in 1746 in Westminster Abbey.

Christopher Butler (d. 1758?), Catholic archbishop of Cashel and Emly, son of Walter Butler of Garyricken and brother of Colonel Thomas Butler of Kilcash, portrait by James Latham (1696-1747); Charles Butler (1671-1758) 2nd Earl of Arran, youngest son of Thomas Butler Earl of Ossory and brother of the 2nd Duke of Ormonde; Colonel Thomas Butler of Kilcash (d. 1738) by James Latham. He was the son of Walter Butler and Garyricken and Mary Plunket. He inherited Kilcash from his grandfather Richard, youngest brother of the Duke of Ormond. His wife was Margaret Burke. Portrait attributed to Hans Hysing (1678-1753).

Charles Butler (1671-1758), 2nd Earl of Arran, de jure 3rd Duke of Ormonde, de jure 14th Earl of Ormonde was born on 4th September 1671, the youngest son of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory and Amelia of Nassau and brother of the 2nd Duke of Ormonde. Arran was enabled by an Act of Parliament in 1721 to recover his brother’s forfeited estates.

A younger brother of James the 1st Duke of Ormond was Richard Butler (d. 1701) of Kilcash, County Tipperary. His son was Walter Butler of Garyricken (1633-1700). Pictured above are the sons of Walter Butler: Christopher (the Catholic Archbishop) and Thomas (d. 1738).

Colonel Thomas Butler of Kilcash (d. 1738), son of Walter Butler of Garryricken and Lady Mary Plunket, inherited Kilcash from his grandfather Richard Butler, youngest brother of James, 1st Duke of Ormond.  A Colonel of a Regiment of Foot in the army of King James II, he married Margaret Bourke, widow of Viscount Iveagh and daughter of William, 7th Earl of Clanricarde. They had three sons: Richard (d.1711), Walter who died in Paris and John Butler of Kilcash, who succeeded to the Ormonde titles as de jure 15th Earl in 1758 on the death of his cousin Amelia, sister of James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde. The couple also had five daughters: one, Honora married Valentine Brown, Lord Kenmare.

A son of Thomas became the 15th Earl of Ormond, John Butler (d. 1766), because the 14th Earl (the 2nd Earl of Arran) had no children.

The title then passed to a cousin of the 15th Earl, Walter Butler (1703-1783), another of the Garryricken branch, who also became the 9th Earl of Ossory. He was the only son and heir of John Butler of Garryricken and Frances, daughter of George Butler of Ballyragget. He inherited the Ormonde titles in 1766 which he did not assume but took up residence at Kilkenny Castle. Walter, who remained a Roman Catholic, exercised no political role but undertook the restoration of the Castle and also built the stable block across the road from the Castle, today the Design Centre and National Craft Centre, and the Dower House, today Butler House.

Walter the 16th Earl of Ormonde carried out various repairs, decorating some of the rooms with simple late C18 plasterwork.

He married Eleanor Morres (1711-1793), the daughter of Nicholas Morres of Seapark Court, Co. Dublin, and of Lateragh, Co. Tipperary, and of Susanna, daughter of Richard Talbot of Malahide Castle. After Walter’s death in 1783, she moved  into the Dower House, today Butler House, across the road from the Castle.

Their son John (1740-1795) became known as “Jack of the Castle” and was the 17th Earl. Jack’s sister Susannah married Thomas Kavanagh of Borris House in County Carlow (see my entry about Borris House). Jack married Anne Wandesford, pictured below.

John Wandesford (1725-1784), Earl of Wandesford, father of Anne; below, Susan Frances Elizabeth (Anne) Wandesford (1754-1830), Countess of Ormonde, wife of 17th Earl of Ormonde and mother of 18th Earl, Artist: Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808); Landscape with Waterfall from the Italian school of 18th century and below, Before the Hunt. To right, Gilbert Clarke (d. 1725), by Sir Godffrey Kneller (1646-1723) and below, possibly Susanna nee Boun, wife of Gilbert Clarke.

Their son Walter (1770-1820) became the 18th Earl and 1st Marquess of Ormonde. He had no sons so his brother James Wandesford Butler (1777-1838) inherited the title and was recreated at 1st Marquess of Ormonde and became one of the largest landowners in Ireland with an estate worth more than £20,000 a year. He was created Marquess of Ormonde in 1825 and officiated as Chief Butler of Ireland at the Coronation of George IV. He married Grace Louisa Staples in 1807, they had ten children.

James Wandesford Butler the 1st Marquess undertook more renovations. Mark Bence-Jones describes:

Ca. 1826, the Kilkenny architect, William Robertson, when walking in the castle courtyard with the Lady Ormonde of the day, noticed that a main wall was out of true and consequently unsafe. One suspects it may have been wishful thinking on his part, for it landed him the commission to rebuild the castle, which he did so thoroughly that virtually nothing remains from before his time except for the three old towers, the outer walls and – fortunately – the 2nd Duke’s gateway. Apart from the latter, the exterior of the castle became uncompromisingly C19 feudal; all the 1st Duke’s charming features being swept away. Robertson also replaced one of two missing sides of the courtyard with a new wing containing an immense picture gallery; the original gallery, on the top floor of the principal range, having been divided into bedrooms. Robertson left the interior of the castle extremely dull, with plain or monotonously ribbed ceilings and unvarying Louis Quinze style chimneypieces.” [see 11]

The 1st Marquess died in Dublin in 1838 and was succeeded by his eldest son John Butler (1808-1854), 2nd Marquess, 20th Earl of Ormonde, Earl of Ossory and Viscount Thurles, Baron Ormonde of Lanthony, Chief Butler of Ireland (see his portrait below).

John the 2nd Marquess travelled extensively. His journals (now in National Library of Ireland) record his many journeys across  Europe to Italy and Sicily. He published an account of his travels, Autumn in Sicily, and he also wrote an account of the life of St. Canice. He married Frances Jane Paget in 1843. He continued the work of rebuilding Kilkenny castle that was started by his father. His journals show him to have a deep interest in art, and there are careful descriptions of several of the great galleries in Italy to be found in his writing. Although he continued to write in his journals during the years 1847 to 1850, no mention of the Irish famine is made. He died while bathing in the sea near Loftus hall on Hook Head, Co. Wexford. A marble tomb was erected in his memory in St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny.

The second eldest daughter of James Butler, 1st Marquess of Ormonde and Grace Louisa Staples, Anne Wandesford Butler married in 1838, the Right Honourable John Wynne of Hazelwood, Co. Sligo, which is now a distillery.

Another daughter, Louisa Grace Butler (1868-1896), the third eldest daughter of James Butler, 1st Marquess of Ormonde and Grace Louisa Staples, married Thomas Fortescue of Ravensdale, Co. Louth,  1st Baron Clermont in 1840.

The son of the 2nd Marquess, James Edward William Theobald Butler became the 3rd Marquess. His brother James Arthur Wellington Foley Butler (1849-1943), 4th Marquess, 22nd Earl of Ormonde, was the brother and heir to James Edward Butler, 3rd Marquess of Ormonde. He was educated at Harrow and joined the army becoming a lieutenant in the 1st Life Guards. He was state steward to the Earl of Carnarvon when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1887 he married Ellen Stager, daughter of American General Anson Stager.

As I mentioned earlier, it was James Arthur Norman Butler (1893-1971), 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde, youngest son of James Arthur, 4th Marquess of Ormonde, who in 1967 sold the Castle.

John Butler (1808-1854), 2nd Marquess of the 3rd creation, 20th Earl of Ormonde, Earl of Ossory and Viscount Thurles, Baron Ormonde of Lanthony, Chief Butler of Ireland. He died while bathing; Frances Jane Paget in middle (1817-1903), with her son James, Earl of Ossory. She was the daughter of General E. Paget and niece of Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquis of Anglesey, and wife of 2nd Marquess of Ormonde. Following the death of her husband, she managed the Ormonde estates and continued the rebuilding of Kilkenny Castle.  On top of the three,  over her father and uncle, is France Jane Paget again, with her dog. Below is her father General the Honourable Edward Paget (1775-1849), soldier and Governor of Ceylon. He was second in command under the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wards. He lost his right arm in Spain. Below him is Field Marshall Henry William Paget (1768-1854), 1st Marquis of Anglesey, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, brother of Edward, above.

You can take an online tour of the castle on the website https://kilkennycastle.ie/about/explore-the-castle-new/

Tapestry Room, in the North Tower. There are two tapestries from the “Decius” suite in the Tapestry room: The obsequies of Decius Mus. The Story of ‘Decius Mus’ is a heroic tale of a Roman Consul who foretold his own death at the Battle of Veseris (Vesuvius) in the Latin War (340BC). The tapestries are attributed to the workshop of Jan Raes, after designs by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. The ‘Decius’ suite had been in the ownership of the Ormonde family for over 300 years and was displayed in several of their residences before being acquired by OPW for display in Kilkenny Castle. Tapestries were an important feature of the interior decoration of large houses in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries and helped provide interior interest, warmth, and colour. You can read more about these tapestries on the Kilkenny Castle website.
Tapestry Room, in the North Tower: Desius Mus and Manlius Torquatus leave to fight the Latins.
The 12 foot thick walls of the Tapestry Room in the North Tower.
The Nursery. Boys were usually sent away to boarding school in England at a young age. The Butlers traditionally sent their sons to Harrow. Girls however generally received less formal education at home including sewing, drawing, etiquette and instruction on running a household. 
The Chinese Withdrawing Room. On the walls are remnants of hand painted Chinese wallpaper original to the room with monochrome infill carried out by the studio of David Skinner. This delicate paper was probably ordered as part of the redecorations done to the castle by the 18th Earl, Walter Butler. During the 19th century ladies withdrew here from the dining room leaving the men to enjoy their port and cigars after dinner, as was the social convention.
The Chinese Withdrawing Room. A tulipiére is an ornate vessel in which to grow tulips. They are typically constructed to accommodate one bulb per spout with a larger common water reservoir base. It is usually made of hand crafted pottery, classically delftware. This tulipiére was hand-made in Delft in 2009 as a one off.
The Ante Room.

From the website: “Today the first floor space is occuppied by three rooms: Anteroom, Library and Drawing Room, as it was in the 19th century. The processional lay out of the rooms, each opening into the next is characteristic of the Baroque style of the 17th century and was know as an ‘ enfilade’ suite of rooms. Baroque protocol dictated that visitors of lower rank than their host would be escorted by servants down the enfilade to the nearest room that their status allowed. In the 16th and 17th century the State Rooms were situated on this floor. 17th century history records that it was in these state apartments that James Butler 1st Duke of Ormonde received the Papal Nuncio Giovanni Battista Rinuccini during the Irish Confederate Wars of that century. An Anteroom was a small room used as a waiting room, that leads into a larger and more important room. The Anteroom and the room below,  today the Serving Room, were constructed in the area where an earlier stone staircase was situated.” The anteroom features a reproduction poplin wallpaper and bronze figurines in niches.

The anteroom leads to the library. “The interior decoration is a faithful recreation of the furnishing style of the mid to late 19th century. Thanks to a salvaged fabric remnant found behind a skirting board, it was possible to commission the French silk poplin on the walls in its original pattern and colour from the firm of Prelle in Lyons in France. The claret silk damask curtains are also based on the originals were made in Ireland. One of the nine massive curtain pelmets is original and an Irish firm of Master Gilders faithfully reproduced matching gilt reproductions. The bookcases were also reproduced based on one original bookcase acquired by the OPW in the 1980s, this original with its 19th century glass stands in the right end corner of the library. The matching pair of pier mirrors over the mantelpieces was conserved and re gilded.”

The Moorish Staircase: Created by the architects Woodward & Deane to allow better access to the Picture Gallery and provide another staircase in this awkwardly shaped building. It is a rising half-turn stairs around a sky-lit well. Charles Harrison (1835-1903), the stone carver, is credited with the carved naturalistic foliage and small animals which adorn the stairs.

The magnificent Picture Gallery is situated in the east wing of Kilkenny Castle.This stunning space dates from the 19th century and was built primarily to house the Butler Family’s fine collection of paintings.

From the website: “The Picture Gallery was built during the early nineteenth century building programme carried out by the architect William Robertson. It was constructed on earlier foundations. Robertston’s Picture Gallery, in keeping with his work on the rest of the castle, was in a Castellated Baronial style. Initially the gallery was built with a flat roof that had begun to cause problems shortly after its completion. The distinguished architectural firm of Deane and Woodward was called in during the 1860s to make changes to the overall design of the Picture Gallery block, and other corrections to Robertson’s work. These changes included the insertions of four oriels in the west wall and the blocking up of the eight windows, while another oriel added to the east wall…. The entire ceiling was hand painted by John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902), then Professor of Fine Arts at Newman College, Dublin, using a combination of motifs ranging from the quasi-medieval to the pre-Raphaelite, with interlace, gilded animal and bird heads on the cross beam.

The Marble Fireplace is made of Carrara marble and was designed by J. H. Pollen also in a quasi-medieval style. It was supplied by the firm of Ballyntyne of Dorset Street, Dublin. Foliage carving attributed to Charles Harrison covers the chimneypiece and a frieze beneath is decorated with seven panels, showing the family coat of arms and significant episodes from the family’s long history. Starting on the left, the first panel shows the buying the castle by the first Earl of Ormond in 1391 from the Despenser family – money changing hands is shown. The second panel depicts Theobald Fitzwalter acting as Chief Butler to the newly crowned King of England highlighting their ancient royal privilege and upon which their surname of Butler is based. On the third panel, you see King Richard the Second acting as godfather for one of the infants of the Butler family in 1391. The centrepiece is the family crest which can also be seen over the arch and gateway, with the family motto “comme je trouve”- “as I find”, as well as the heraldic shield guarded, the falcon, the griffin (a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle) and the ducal coronet. In the fifth panel, the 1st Duke of Ormond can be seen entering the Irish House of Lords still bearing his sword. Indeed, he refused to hand his weapon over as were the protocols in case it was used inside during an argument; this became known as The Act of Defiance. The sixth panel next to this symbolizes the charity of the Butler family showing Lady Ormonde giving alms to the poor. Finally, the sixth and last panel portrays the First Duke of Ormond’s triumphant return to Dublin from exile on the Restoration of Charles the Second in 1662, when he also established the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and founded the Phoenix Park.”

From the Poole photographic collection, National Library of Ireland. Royal visitors to the Picture Gallery of Kilkenny Castle: the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary with James Butler the 3rd Marquess of Ormond and his wife Elizabeth Grosvenor, also Two other Ormondes (likely the Marquess’ daughter & brother), Marshal & Lady Roberts (Frederick Roberts & Nora Bews), 4th Viscount & Viscountess De Vesci (John Vesey & Evelyn Charteris), Lady Eva Dugdale (later Lady of the Bedchamber), Earl of Ava (Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood d.1900), Sir Charles Leopold Cust (baronet), Sir Francis De Winton, Mr J. T Seigne JP (officer of Ormonde’s estate – we came across him when we visited Kilfane, as he lived in the house there), and “Mr Moncrieffe” 
King Charles II (1630-85); Artist: attributed to John Michael Wright (1617-1694)
Son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. During the civil war in England, Charles played an active role and fought with the army. After the defeat of the royalist, he left England for France to join his mother. In 1649, after the execution of his father, he was proclaimed king of Edinburgh and later in parts of Ireland by Ormond. In 1660 the monarchy was restored.
Full-length, standing in robes of the Garter in a pose frequently used in the studio of Sir Peter Lely. The portrait has suffered severe paint loss, and it is difficult to be certain about the attribution. The carefully delineated folds of linen, and the treatment of textures in general, are similar to those featured in the work of John Michael Wright. Other than the pose, it does not resemble the work of Sir Peter Lely. It may be one of a group of portraits which were undertaken by Wright when he painted several works for Ormond in the early 1680s.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the interior was largely redecorated and wood-carvings in the manner of Grinling Gibbons were introduced into some of the family rooms in the South Tower after the castle suffered damage 1922 during the Civil War, when, having been occupied by one side, it was attacked and captured by the other; the Earl of Ossory (afterwards 9th Marquess) and his wife being in residence at the time. In 1935 the Ormondes ceased to live in the castle, which for the next thirty years stood empty and deteriorating. It is now a wonderful place to visit, and has fifty acres of rolling parkland, a terraced rose garden, playground, tearoom and man-made lake, for visitors to enjoy.

28. St. Mary’s Church, Gowran, County Kilkenny:

General information: 056 772 6894, breda.lynch@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

This church was built in the late thirteenth century as a collegiate church and was served by a college – clerics who lived in a community but did not submit to the rule of a monastery. 

The church was patronised by the Butler family and many early family members are commemorated here with elaborate medieval tombs. The impressive ruins were decorated by the Gowran Master whose stone carvings are immortalised in the poetry of Nobel Laureate Séamus Heaney. 

The once medieval church was later partly reconstructed in the early 19th century and functioned as a Church of Ireland church until the 1970’s when it was gifted to the State as a National Monument. Today the restored part of the church preserves a collection of monuments dating from the 5th to the 20th centuries.

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

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

[3] p. 8, Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the Care of the OPW. Government Publications, Dublin 2, 2018.

[4] https://archiseek.com/2011/1770s-castletown-house-celbridge-co-kildare/

[5] p. 75. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[6] p. 129. Great Irish Houses. Forewards by Desmond FitgGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008. 

[7] https://castletown.ie/collection-highlights/

[8] https://kilkennycastle.ie/about/explore-the-castle-new/

[9] https://kilkennycastle.ie/about/characters-of-kilkenny-castle/

[10] http://www.stevenroyedwards.com/kilkennycastle-timeline.html

[11] p. 167. 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.

Office of Public Works Properties Dublin

I have noticed that an inordinate amount of OPW sites are closed ever since Covid restrictions, if not even before that (as in Emo, which seems to be perpetually closed) [these sites are marked in orange here]. I must write to our Minister for Culture and Heritage to complain.

Dublin:

1. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin

2. Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin

3. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin – closed at present

4. The Casino at Marino, Dublin – closed at present

5. Customs House, Dublin

6. Dublin Castle

7. Farmleigh House, Dublin

8. Garden of Remembrance, Dublin

9. Government Buildings Dublin

10. Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin

11. Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Dublin

12. Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

13. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

14. National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

15. Phoenix Park, Dublin

16. Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin

17. Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin – historic rooms closed

18. St. Audoen’s, Dublin

19. St. Enda’s Park and Pearse Museum, Dublin

20. St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin

1. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8:

July 2012, The Aras. The portico with giant Ionic columns was added in 1815 by Francis Johnston.

general enquiries: (01) 677 0095

phoenixparkvisitorcentre@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Áras an Uachtaráin started life as a modest brick house, built in 1751 for the Phoenix Park chief ranger. It was later an occasional residence for the lords lieutenant. During that period it evolved into a sizeable and elegant mansion.

It has been claimed that Irish architect James Hoban used the garden front portico as the model for the façade of the White House.

After independence, the governors general occupied the building. The first president of the Republic of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, took up residence here in 1938. It has been home to every president since then.” [1]

Photograph from the National Library, from when the building was the Vice Regal Lodge.

The park chief ranger was Nathaniel Clements(1705-1777), who was also an architect, and it was he who built the original house. Phoenix Park was originally formed as a royal hunting Park in the 1660s, created by James Butler the Duke of Ormond. A large herd of fallow deer still remain to this day. Since it was a deer park it needed a park ranger. Clements was also an MP in the Irish Parliament. He accumulated much property including Abbotstown in Dublin, and estates in Leitrim and Cavan. In Dublin, he developed property including part of Henrietta Street, where he lived in number 7 from 1734 to 1757. Another house he designed, which is sometimes on the Section 482 list, is Beauparc in County Meath, and another Section 482 property, Lodge Park in County Kildare. I hope to visit both this year! Desmond Fitzgerald also attributed Colganstown to him, though this is not certain, a house we visited in 2019. [2]

The administration of the British Lord Lieutenant bought the house from Nathaniel Clements’ son Robert 1st Earl of Leitrim, and it was used as his summer residence in the 1780s, and later became the Viceregal Lodge. See my footnotes for some portraits of Vicereines and Viceroys who may have lived in the Aras.

The East Wing was added in 1849 for a visit of Queen Victoria. George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon would have been Viceroy at that time (1800-1870). The Queen planted a Wellingtonia Gigantea tree which is still standing (others have planted trees also, including Queen Alexandria and Barak Obama, Charles de Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II and King Juan Carlos of Spain).

By Queen Victoria’s Wellingtonia Gigantea in July 2012.

The office of Lord Lieutenant was abolished in 1922 when the Irish Free State came into being. From 1922 until 1932 it was the residence of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State. In 1937 when the office of President of Ireland was established, the house became the house of the president.

Aras an Uachtarain, July 2012.
Photograph from the National Library of Ireland. This is the garden side of the house. The double height pedimented portico of four gian Ionic columns was added in 1815 by architect Francis Johnston.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us that after being bought by the government, the house was altered and enlarged at various times, notably by Michael Stapleton – who was an architect as well as noted stuccadore – Robert Woodgate and Francis Johnston. An extra storey was added to the wings and in 1815 Johnston extended the garden front by 5 bays projecting forwards, and in the centre of this front he added the pedimented portico of four giant Ionic columns which is the house’s most familiar feature. The Entrance Hall dates from 1751 and features a magnificent barrel-vaulted ceiling with plaster busts in the ceiling coffers. The State Reception Room (formerly the ballroom) features a plaster cast of a Lafranchini panel in the ceiling. The Francini Corridor leads from the Entrance Hall past the State Reception Room. One side of the corridor is lined with bronze busts of Irish Presidents mounted on marble columns and the other side features stucco panels showing classical figures. A new part of the West Wing was added for the visit of George V in 1911. The formal gardens were established by Decimus Burton in the 1840s.  

The Francini Corridor leads from the Entrance Hall past the State Reception Room. One side of the corridor is lined with bronze busts of Irish Presidents mounted on marble columns and the other side features stucco panels showing classical figures.

We attended a few of President Higgins’s summer parties at the Aras. These are open to the public, by booking tickets.

A covered ceiling with original mid-C18 plasterwork of Aesop’s fable theme. This beautiful plasterwork is by Bartholomew Cramillion. Another ceiling by him was taken from a house which was demolished, Mespil House in Dublin, and is now in what is called the President’s Study, and depicts Jupiter presiding over the elements and the four season and dates from the late 1750s.

During the incumbency of President Sean T. O’Kelly, a wonderful mid-C18 plasterwork ceiling representing Jupiter and the Four Elements, with figures half covered in clouds, was brought from Mespil House, Dublin, which was then being demolished, and installed in the President’s Reception Room, one of the two smaller rooms in the garden front of the original house. The Mespil House ceiling was brought here at the instigation of Dr. C.P. Curran, who was also instrumental in having casts made of the plasterwork by the Francini at Riverstown House, Co. Cork, which then seemed in danger; and which have been installed in the ballroom and in the adjoining corridor. 

One of the State Rooms in the Aras, 1984, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [3]
The Drawing Room.
Maude Gonne, by Sarah Purser.
Dining room at the Aras, July 2013.
The walled gardens at the Aras.
The Peach House glasshouse was designed by Richard Turner, constructed between 1836-37. Turner also designed the large palm houses in the Botanic Gardens in Dubln, Belfast and London. The one at the Aras underwent restoration between 2007-2009.
The gardens of the Aras, at 2012 garden party. The main parterre forms a pair of ringed Celtic crosses, as laid out by Decimus Burton in conjunction with Maria Phipps nee Liddell, Lady Normanby, wife of the Viceroy in 1838. Decimus Burton also designed many gardens in London including St. James’s Park, Hyde Park Corner and Regent’s Park. He was also an architect.
Maria Phipps nee Liddell, Marchioness of Normanby (1798-1882) by Sir George Hayter, Vicereine 1835-39, who laid out the gardens along with Decimus Burton. She persuaded Queen Victoria to support Irish weavers and grant them lucrative royal warrants. George Hayter was Queen Victoria’s favourite painter.
This lovely building is to one side of the main house at the Aras, I’m not sure what it is but it’s very picturesque.

2. Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin 7:

General enquiries: (01) 821 3021, superintendent.park@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

The military cemetery at Arbour Hill is the last resting place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising. It is therefore a place of pilgrimage for students and aficionados of this tempestuous moment in Irish history.

There is an adjoining church, the chapel for Arbour Hill Prison. At the rear of the church lies the old cemetery, containing fascinating memorials to British military personnel.

The clear focus of Arbour Hill, however, is the legend of the rising. Among those buried here are Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Major John MacBride. Their bodies were put into an unmarked pit and covered with quicklime, but their grave has now been saved from obscurity with an impressive memorial inscribed in English and Irish.

Arbour Hill Cemetery is at the rear of the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, where you can currently find a large display of 1916-related material.

3. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin:

Ashtown Castle is in the Phoenix Park. From the OPW website:

Ashtown Castle is a tower house that probably dates from the seventeenth century, but may be as early as the fifteenth.

For years it was completely hidden within the walls of a Georgian mansion once occupied by the under-secretary for Ireland. When that house was demolished in the late 1980s, the castle was rediscovered. It has since been fully restored and now welcomes visitors.”

The National Inventory tells us:

The castle was dated to the early seventeenth century on the basis of surviving fragments of a roof truss found in the wall during the restoration project in the early 1990s. There is in the stonework some suggestion of a further wing to the north, but no archaeological evidence was found, leaving this section unresolved. The builder is unknown, but in 1641 the estate was in the ownership of John Connell, a distant ancestor of Daniel O’Connell. Curiously the Civil Survey, 1654, lists him as a Protestant. Stone from a quarry at Pelletstown owned by Connell was used in the building of the original wall of the Park. The castle and its lands were purchased for the crown by the Duke of Ormonde in 1663 and it became the official residence of the second Keeper of the Park, Sir William Flower, who assigned it to a subordinate. The building was extended to become the Under Secretary’s residence in the late eighteenth century. After Independence it served as the residence of the Papal Nuncio. The later extension was demolished in the 1980s and the site was briefly considered for an official Taoiseach’s residence, the brief requiring the restoration of the castle. Although heavily restored, it is a rare surviving example of a fortified tower house close to the capital city.

The land at Ashtown was granted to the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in the 12th century by Hugh Tyrrell, 1st Baron of Castleknock. Restoration of the castle began in 1989.

4. The Casino at Marino, Cherrymount Crescent, Malahide Road, Marino, Dublin 3

The Casino at Marino, Dublin, August 2009. It looks like it houses one large room, but it actually has sixteen rooms, arranged over three floors.

General enquiries (01) 833 1618, casinomarino@opw.ie

From the website:

“The Casino is a remarkable building, both in terms of structure and history. Sir William Chambers designed it as a pleasure-house for James Caulfeild, first earl of Charlemont, beside his residence in what was then the countryside. It is a gem of eighteenth-century neo-classical architecture. In fact, it is one of the finest buildings of that style in Europe.

The term ‘casino’ in this case means ‘little house’, and from the outside it gives an impression of compactness. However, it contains 16 rooms, each of which is finely decorated and endlessly rich in subtle and rare design. The Zodiac Room, for example, has a domed ceiling which represents the sky with astrological symbols modelled around its base.

The Casino at Marino, Dublin, August 2009. At the front of the building stand Ceres and Bacchus, and at the back are Apollo and Venus. These represented the enjoyment and abundance that was intended for the Casino. The urns on the roof (disguised chimneys) can also be seen from this angle. The lions that guard each corner are Egyptian in style.
The painting is a portrait by William Hogarth of the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfeild (1728-1799) aged 13, with his mother, Elizabeth Bernard (portrait painted in 1741).

The Casino website tells us that the plan of the Casino is in the shape of a Greek cross, and it is only fifty feet square. There are three floors containing sixteen rooms. Although small, they are entirely habitable, with service rooms in the basement, reception rooms on the main floor, and sleeping quarters on the upper floor. There is, however, no evidence of any long term occupation of the building. The exterior of the building is that of a one-room Greek temple, so the complexity of the interior was achieved by remarkable architectural design. This includes faux windows, gib doors, hollow columns, and disguised chimneys. Only half of the great front door actually swings open to admit entrance.

Very little is known about how the inside of the building originally looked. There are brief descriptions surviving in Charlemont’s own correspondence or in that of visitors, or rare mentions in sales catalogues. The exterior of the building is heavily decorated. Four statues adorn the attic storey; Bacchus, Ceres, Venus, and Apollo declare the abundance and love of good living that inspired the creation of the Casino. Around the chimney-urns curve mermaids and mermen. The ‘ceilings’ of the outside porches are densely carved to create a stucco effect. Four large Egyptian-style lions guard the corners. [4] Service tunnels underground surround the building, lit from above by grilles.

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

“… in the form of a Roman Doric temple, … built over the years 1758-76. It is one of the most exquisite miniature C18 buildings in Europe; within an exterior that appears to be sculptured rather than built are a number of little rooms, each of them perfectly proportioned and finished; with plasterwork ceilings, doorcases and inlaid floors. Sir Sacheverell Sitwell compares them to the little rooms in the Petit Trianon, and indeed the Casino shows considerable French influence, both inside and out. Among those who worked on the Casino was Simon Vierpyl, the sculptor and builder from Rome, and Joseph Wilton, the sculptor. The house [Marino] has long been demolished, but the Casino is maintained as a National Monument and has been restored by Mr Austin Dunphy of O’Neill Flanagan and Partners, in conjunction with the Office of Public Works.” [5]

The Casino at Marino, Dublin, August 2009.

The website of the Casino educates us about the family who owned the Casino. James Caulfeild succeeded to the titles 8th Lord Caulfeild, Baron of Charlemont and 4th Viscount Charlemont on the death of his father in 1734. It was not until 1763 that he was created 1st Earl of Charlemont, as recognition for keeping the peace in the Armagh/ Tyrone area. He was well-known for his love of the arts, and spent a record nine years on Grand Tour through Europe, Turkey, and Egypt. With the help of his stepfather, Thomas Adderley, he established himself at Marino on his return to Ireland in 1755. Here he began the improvements to his Marino estate, one of which was the celebrated Casino.

He was a leader in many different areas of eighteenth-century Irish society. Instrumental in setting up the Royal Irish Academy, he was also its first President. He was a member of the Royal Dublin Society, and a supporter of Grattan’s parliament. He was also a founding member of the Irish Volunteers (formed to protect Ireland from invasion while British troops served in the American Revolutionary War). His contribution to Irish culture was significant and lasting. [6]

The website tells us that while James was on his Grand Tour in Rome, he had become acquainted with those he would eventually hire to create his estate at Marino. This included William Chambers, Simon Vierpyl, Johann Heinrich Müntz, and Giovanni Battista Cipriani. Charlemont’s heavy involvement in the composition of the buildings at Marino, as well as his house in Rutland Square, is clear from the correspondence that has survived. In many ways, what he created at Marino was a living testament to the different cultures and styles he had experienced while travelling, and his buildings there were fitting exhibition spaces to the huge number of souvenirs and collectable items he brought home.