Places to visit and stay in County Wicklow, Leinster

I have been dividing previous entries that were divided by Province into division by county as my entries were too long!

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

orange: “whole house rental” i.e. those properties that are only for large group accommodations or weddings, e.g. 10 or more people.

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

As well as places to visit, I have listed separately places to stay, because some of them are worth visiting – you may be able to visit for afternoon tea or a meal.

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 (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

For a full listing of accommodation in big houses in Ireland, see my accommodation page: https://irishhistorichouses.com/accommodation/

Places to visit in County Wicklow:

1. Altidore Castle, Kilpeddar, Greystones, Co. Wicklow – section 482

2. Avondale House, County Wicklow

3. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Wicklow, Co. Wicklow – section 482

4. Castle Howard, Avoca, Co. Wicklow – section 482

5. Charleville, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

6. Corke Lodge, Co Wicklow – gardens open to visitors 

7. Dower House, Rossanagh, Ashford, Co Wicklow – gardens open by appointment 

8. Greenan More, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – section 482

9. Huntingbrook, County Wicklow – gardens open to public 

10. Killruddery House & Gardens, Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

11. Kiltimon House, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow – section 482

12. Kingston House, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow – section 482

13. Knockanree Garden, Avoca, Co Wicklow – section 482, garden only

14. 1 Martello Terrace, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

15. Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co. Wicklow – section 482, garden only

16. Powerscourt House & Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

17. Russborough, The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow – section 482

18. Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden, open from Springtime 2022 

Places to stay, County Wicklow:

1. Ballyknocken House, Ashford, County Wicklow

2. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Co Wicklow – 482 and Airbnb 

3. Bel Air Hotel (formerly Cronroe), Ashford, Co Wicklow

4. Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village, County Wicklow

5. Clone House, Count Wicklow

6. Croney Byrne, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – courtyard accommodation

7. Druid’s Glen hotel and golf club (formerly Woodstock), Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow

8. June Blake’s Garden, Turkey House and Cow House, Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden 

9. Rathsallagh, Co Wicklow – accommodation €€

10. Summerhill House Hotel, County Wicklow €€

11. Tinakilly House, Rathnew, Co Wicklow – country house hotel

12. Tulfarris, Blessington, Co Wicklow - hotel 

13. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Dunbur Head, County Wicklow € for 4

14. Gate Lodge, Woodenbridge, Avoca, County Wicklow €€

Place to visit in County Wicklow:

1. Altidore Castle, Kilpeddar, Greystones, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Altidore, County Wicklow, June 2019.

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/06/25/altidore-castle-kilpeddar-greystones-county-wicklow/
contact: Philip Emmet
Tel: 087-7601369
Open: Mar 10-29, May 1-31, June 1-3, 1pm-5pm, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult /OAP €5, child under 12 years free, child over 12 and student negotiable, group rates.

2. Avondale House, County Wicklow

Avondale, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2014, Courtesy Failte Ireland.

https://visitwicklow.ie/listing/avondale-house-forest-park/

Avondale House & Forest Park includes the Charles Stewart Parnell Museum. Over 500 acres of mature woodland with tree’s from all over the world including the tallest collection of Trees in Ireland. We have walking trails from an easy 1 hour walk to a tough 5 hour walks. Avondale House was built in 1779. In 1846 Charles Stewart Parnell was born in the house, one of Ireland’s greatest ever political leaders of modern Irish history. Today the house is a museum. Avondale is a beautiful Georgian House designed by James Wyatt and built in 1777 and completed in 1779 contains fine plasterwork by the Francini Brothers and many original pieces of furniture. The American Room is dedicated to Admiral Charles Stewart – Parnell’s American grandfather who manned the USS Constitution during the 1812 war.  In 1904 the state purchased the Avondale Estate to develop modern day forestry in Ireland. Today its still regarded as the historic home of Irish Forestry and silviculture.

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

p. 15. “A square house of 2 storeys over basement, built 1779 for Samuel Hayes, a noted amateur architect who possibly designed it himself. 5 bay entrance front, the 3 centre bays breaking forward under a pediment; small Doric porch with paired columns, Coade stone panels with swags and medallions between lower and upper windows. Garden front with central bow; the basement, which in the entrance front is concealed, is visible on this side with its windows have Gibbsian surrounds. Magnificent and lofty 2 storey hall with C18 Gothic plasterwork and gallery along inner wall. Bow room with beautiful Bossi chimneypiece. Dining room with elaborate neo-Classical plasterwork on walls and ceiling; the wall decorations incorporating oval mirrors and painted medallions. Passed to William Parnell-Hayes, brother of the 1st Baron Congleton, and grandfather of Charles Steward Parnell, who was born here and lived here all his life with his mother and elder brother. Now owned by the dept of Lands, Forestry Division, which maintains the splendid demesne as a forest park…The house has in recent years been restored by the Board of Works.” [1]

The National Inventory tells us that the house may have been designed by James Wyatt.

3. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Wicklow, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Ballymurrin, County Wicklow, July 2019.

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/27/ballymurrin-kilbride-county-wicklow/
contact: Philip Geoghegan
Tel: 086-1734560
www.ballymurrinquakerfarmstead.eu
Open: Jan 2-21, July 23-31, Aug 1-31, 2pm-6pm Fee: free

4. Castle Howard, Avoca, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Castle Howard, County Wicklow, September 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/13/castle-howard-avoca-county-wicklow/
contact: Ailish Macken
Tel: 01-6327664
Open: Jan 10-12, Feb 14-18, Mar 7-9, 21-23, June 21-25, 29-30, July 1-2, 11-16, 25- 28, Aug 13-21, Sept 5-10, 17, 20-24, Oct 3-5, 10-12, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

5. Charleville, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Charleville, County Wicklow, August 2020.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/09/18/charleville-county-wicklow/
contact: Tatiane Baquiega
Tel: 01-6624455
Open: Feb 1-4, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25, 28, May 3-27, 30-31, June 1-3, 7, Aug 13-21, Mon-Fri, 1pm- 5pm, Sat & Sun, 9am-1pm

Fee: house €9, garden €6

6. Corke Lodge, Co Wicklow – gardens open to visitors 

Opening dates 2022: June 21-Sept 8th 2022, Tuesday to Saturdays and all of Heritage Week, August 13-21st, 9:00-13:00

Admission €8.

Open other times by appointment only.

No pets allowed.

The website tells us:

The house was built on and incorporates the remains of an older structure, visible on the 1750 maps of Dublin. Situated on the lands owned by Hannagh Tilson Magan it was commissioned by her or by her son William Henry Magan between 1815 and 1820.

William Magan is known to have employed the Architect William Farrell to design a country house, Clonearl, in Co. Offaly in 1815. This house was destroyed by fire in the 1840’s but it is clear from the surviving plans that the distinctive pillastered design is mirrored in both Killyon manor, Co. Meath another Magan/Loftus house and in Corke Lodge. Unusual fenestration and similar door treatments also link the two surviving properties. Close by the church at Crinken, endowed by Hannagh Magan was also designed by Farrell. So it would not be unreasonable to assume that Corke Lodge, which has all the hallmarks of an architectural ‘capriccio’ is by the same hand. The main façade and the two front reception rooms are in the classical style. The rooms at the back and above have gothic detailing.

The last Magan owner of this property as well as the other huge Magan/Tilson/Loftus estates was Augusta. Her eccentricities and reclusive life are said to have inspired Charles Dickens, who visited Dublin, in his creation of Miss Haversham, in the Great Expectations. 

The most striking feature of the house is the bold architectural treatment of the classical facade, a miniature of the two great houses mentioned above. By contrast, the back elevations are in a flat gothic stile reflecting the romantic nature of the planted ‘wilderness’. The interiors retain all their original features in terms of marble mantle pieces, pillared architraves and plasterwork. Although the house originally would not have been used for more than a few days a year by the Magans when bathing in the nearby sea or visiting the family tombs at Crinken, it has been continuously inhabited since its incorporation into the Woodbrook estate By Sir Stanley Cochrane in 1906. Sir Stanley, heir to a mineral water fortune, was an accomplished athlete and opera singer who created on his estate championship cricket pitches a golf course and the Laurel Park Opera House, precursor of Glyndebourne, and where Dame Nellie Melba sang.

The house as it presents itself today was restored and furnished in 1980 by architect Alfred Cochrane. It pioneered the current trends in historicist restoration of country houses and was featured in a number of local and international publications.

7. Dower House, Rossanagh, Ashford, Co Wicklow – gardens open by appointment 

https://www.dublingardengroup.com/the-dower-house/

Opening (if Covid allows) April 2nd  to July 1st, 2022.
By appointment only.

The gardens surrounding this late eighteenth century house (c.1790) were laid out towards the end of the nineteenth century with plantings of many fine specimens including Rhododendron arboreum,  Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alba’, and Camellia japonica. Also included are a number of specimen mature trees, including a fine Chilean myrtle, Luma apiculata, planted c. 1880. When the Butler family acquired the property, a white garden in a sheltered enclosure behind the house was added together with a wild meadow which reaches its peak in mid June.

The indefatigable Mrs Delany, eighteenth century social commentator, diarist, artist and friend of Dean Jonathan Swift commenting on Rossanagh demesne on which Dower House was built wrote: ‘It is a very pretty place… neatly kept’. As early as 1733, A.C. Forbes noted that the largest tree in Ireland, a Spanish chestnut flourished in the demesne. It was under this tree that Methodist preacher, the Reverend John Wesley preached during one of his many visits in June, 1789. Rossanagh holds links to many well known ‘personalities’ of the day including musician/composer, Thomas Moore, artists, George Romney, Maria Spilsbury-Taylor, politicians, Henry Grattan and William Pitt, the Younger together with Patrick Bronte, father of distinguished English novelists, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Described as one of ‘Wicklow’s finest gardens’ (Jane Powers), the gardens are open each year in aid of The Wicklow Hospice.

8. Greenan More, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – section 482

contact: Paul Arnold
Tel: 087-2563200
www.greenanmore.ie
Open: May 1-31, June 1-12, Aug 12-31, Sept 1-18, Wed- Sun, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 10am-3pm

9. Huntingbrook, County Wicklow – gardens open to public 

https://www.huntingbrookgardens.com

The Gardens open Wednesday 6th April until Saturday 24th September 2022

Hours
Wednesday – Saturday
11am–4pm

Designed to be a thoroughly immersive experience, the gardens are home to one of Ireland’s largest private collections of plants. A riot of colour, shape and texture, the gardens are always on the move with fresh surprises at every visit.” 

10. Killruddery House & Gardens, Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Killruddery, County Wicklow, April 2021.

contact: Anthony Ardee
Tel: 01-2863405
www.killruddery.com
Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, Tue-Suns and Bank Holidays. National Heritage Week 13-21, 9am-6pm,
Fee: adult €8.50, garden and house tour €15.50, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, garden and house tour €13, child €3, 4-16 years, garden and house tour €5.50

11. Kiltimon House, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Kiltimon House, County Wicklow, photograph courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Michelle O’Connor
Tel: 087-2505205
Open: May 2-22, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5

12. Kingston House, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow – section 482

contact: Liam Lynam
Tel: 087-2415795
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €3, OAP/student/child €2

13. Knockanree Garden, Avoca, Co Wicklow – section 482, garden only

contact: Peter Campion and Valerie O’Connor
Tel: 085-8782455
www.knockanreegardens.com
Open: May 20-21, 23-28, 30-31, June 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-30, July 1-3, Aug 13-21, Oct 1, 3-8, 10-14, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2

14. 1 Martello Terrace, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Martello Terrace, Bray, County Wicklow – photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Liz McManus
Tel: 087-2357369
Open: May, June, Sept, Oct, Mon & Thurs, July & Aug, Mon, Thurs, & Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 1pm-5pm, Sunday, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

This house forms part of one of Bray’s earliest, best preserved, and most distinctive seafront terraces; it is also of some historical value due to the fact that James Joyce lived in the property between 1887 and 1891. 

15. Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co. Wicklow – section 482, garden only

Mount Usher, County Wicklow, June 2021.

See my entry

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/06/30/mount-usher-gardens-ashford-co-wicklow/
contact: Caitriona Mc Weeney
Tel: 01-2746900
www.mountushergardens.ie

www.avoca.com/en
Open: all year, Jan-Mar, Nov-Dec, 10am-6pm, Apr-Oct, 10am-6pm Fee: adult €9, student/OAP €8, child €5, no charge for wheelchair users

16. Powerscourt House & Gardens, Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Powerscourt House and Gardens, photograph by Chris Hill 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/26/powerscourt-house-gardens-enniskerry-county-wicklow/
contact: Sarah Slazenger
Tel: 01-2046000
www.powerscourt.ie
Open: all year, closed Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €26, Nov- Dec, adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family €18

17. Russborough, The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow – section 482

Russborough House, County Wicklow, photography by Chris Hill 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [2]

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/08/russborough-house-blessington-county-wicklow/
contact: Eric Blachford
Tel: 045-865239
enc@russborough.ie
Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 10am-5pm,
Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €8, child €6, parking €3 per car

http://www.russborough.ie

18. Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden, open from Springtime 2022 

http://www.juneblake.ie/cms/

The very best gardens intrigue and restore us, and so it is with June Blake’s garden which is a rare fusion of inspired design and painterly planting. Situated in the townland of Tinode in west Wicklow, and spread over three rural acres, it wraps itself around June’s home, a handsome Victorian farm-steward’s cottage surrounded by a huddle of austerely beautiful, granite-stone farm buildingsone of which -the Cow House- has recently been the subject of an award-winning, modern architectural conversion. In a previous life, Blake was a gifted jewellery maker. Those same carefully honed skills- a razor sharp eye and keen attention to detail, an artist’s deep appreciation of colour, texture and form, as well as the ability to take a raw, unpolished material and expertly craft it into something aesthetically deeply satisfying- still shine through brightly in her excitingly contemporary country garden. Within it are many different areas of interest. These include intricately planted borders of gem-like beauty, swathes of naturalistic, prairie-style planting, sculptural landforms, a flower meadow that comes to life in spring with sprinkles of crimson red Tulip ‘Red Shine’, generous stretches of woodland intersected by curving cobble paths and filled with choice shade-lovers, and a formal, rectangular pool whose silver sliver of water is a mirror to the cloud-streaked Wicklow sky. Each one is so thoughtfully, imaginatively and expertly executed that it would be enough by itself to bring joy to the heart of any gardener. But it is when they are combined together as a whole that they form what is, without doubt, a truly remarkable garden.” Fionnuala Fallon.

The house was designed by William Caldbeck in 1864. Tinode House was burned to the ground in 1922 by the IRA, and has since been partially rebuilt.

Places to stay, County Wicklow:

1. Ballyknocken House, Ashford, County Wicklow

www.ballyknocken.ie

The website tells us:

Ballyknocken House, Farm and Cookery SchoolScenically located on 280 acres only 47 km south of Dublin City Centre in County Wicklow, Ireland. Our charming 4* Victorian style farm guesthouse offers 7 guest bedrooms plus a 3-bedroom Milking Parlour apartment, surrounded by scented kitchen gardens, offering a farm to fork experience. Home to celebrity chef and award-winning food writer, Catherine Fulvio, we pride ourselves on continuing the family tradition of providing B&B accommodation for over fifty years here in County Wicklow.

We offer an intimate, cosy, warm and friendly experience not only for individual guests for Foodie Short Breaks and for visiting Wicklow but we also welcome private parties, whether it’s a corporate, friend and family gathering or hen party. Ballyknocken can be booked exclusively for accommodation, cookery events and onsite activities for your company day out or your celebration.

2. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Co Wicklow – 482 and Airbnb, see above 

3. Bel Air Hotel (formerly Cronroe), Ashford, Co Wicklow

www.belairhotelequestrian.com 

The website tells us:

Bel-Air is an old Manor House Hotel on 200 acres farm and parkland. The house and stable yard are in the middle of the estate, with the land surrounding it in all directions. There is wonderful parkland to the front of the house looking out to the coast, while the tillage land is behind the house. In the centre of the estate is old woodland, which has lovely jumping lanes. In the spring, bluebells and wild garlic bring colour and aroma to the tracks and trails. And the heady scent and sight of the vibrant yellow gorse makes your heart sing.

The stable yard is from ca 1750 and the current house was built in 1890. Both the house and the yard are listed for preservation and wherever you look you find evidence of the old days.

Even though we are less than an hour from Dublin, you feel like you are miles from anywhere and you also take a leap back in time. Bel-Air is not just a place – it’s a way of life!

4. Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village, County Wicklow

https://www.originalirishhotels.com/hotels/brooklodge-macreddin-village

The website tells us:

Relax and unwind at The Wells Spa, a designated ‘resort spa’. Dine at The Strawberry Tree, Ireland’s first certified Wild and Organic Restaurant, or La Taverna Armento, a Southern Italian style bistro. We also host Actons Country Pub, The Orchard Café, an Organic Bakery, a Smokehouse and a Wild Food Pantry and much more. Macreddin Golf Course designed by European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley is a short stroll from BrookLodge.

Macreddin Village has twice won AA Hotel of the Year, Ireland’s Culinary Hotel of the Year and Ireland’s Luxury Eco-Friendly Hotel. Other recent awards for The Strawberry Tree Restaurant include titles such as Best Restaurant and Best Organic Restaurant.

5. Clone House, Count Wicklow

https://clonehouse.com

The website tells us:

Clone House, first built around 1650, is surrounded by five acres of private land and gardens.

Based in the heart of vibrant and beautiful County Wicklow, just an hour south of Dublin, Clone House offers a unique holiday experience and quality accommodation for up to 26 guests.

We cater for events such as family reunions, corporate events, hens & stags and small weddings.

Clone House was originally built by the O’Byrne family in the 1650’s. Back then it was the Manor House on a large estate stretching across Moneyteigue, Clone and Coolahullen. The house’s history is as grand and interesting as its demeanor. Clone House provided refuge to the famous Billy Byrne of Ballymanus, was burnt down in the 1798 Rebellion, restored around 1805 and nowadays functions as a beautiful guesthouse.

6. Croney Byrne, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow – courtyard accommodation

https://croneybyrne.ie

The website tells us:

Wicklow is a great holiday destination and you will love staying in our luxurious Self Catering Holiday Homes in one of the most beautiful locations in Irelands Ancient East. Croneybyrne Courtyard is a family friendly destination where children love our park with playground and collecting their eggs for breakfast from our hens and geese. See our accommodation page for more details.
A mere 1 hour drive from Dublin city it is a great escape with many acres of wilderness on our doorstep including Clara Vale Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Reserve where you can spend hours exploring without seeing another soul or hearing the sound of modern distractions. There you will see Sika Deer as well as Badger, Fox, Rabbits and the occasional Hare, not to mention the myriad of Birds, including the spectacular Red Kite and Spotted Woodpecker.

There are forest and mountain walks, we are near the Avonmore Trails and within easy reach of the Wicklow Way and the beautiful Vartry Tracks and Trails. Or for the more adventurous, there are challenging Rock Climbing activities as well as hiking on the highest mountain in Wicklow Lugnaquilla or the many mountain tops in the area. If you are looking for a Walking Holiday in Wicklow see our Walking/Hiking pages for a list of our top walks in the area.

7. Druid’s Glen hotel and golf club (formerly Woodstock), Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow

https://www.druidsglenresort.com

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Woodstock, which has now been converted to Druid’s Glen hotel:

p. 287. “(Tottenham, sub Ely, M/PB) A three storey five bay block of ca 1770, with  single-storey five bay block added ca 1840 by Rt Rev Lord Robert [Ponsonby] Tottenham [1773-1850], Bishop of Clogher [son of Charles Tottenham Loftus 1st Marquess of Ely], who bought the property after 1827; it had previously been rented for a period by the Lord Lieutenant, Marquess Wellesley. The centre block has a one bay breakfront and a die which was probably added by Bishop Tottenham at the same time as the single-storey Ionic portico, which is by Sir Richard Morrison. Giant blind arches in end pavilions; balustraded parapets on wings. Garden front with curved bow in central breakfront; now asymmetrical because of projecting C19 wing on one side and other additions. Hall running through the full depth of the house, divided by a screen of columns from the staircase, which is of fine solid C18 joinery; rococo plasterwork in the manner of Robert West in panels on the walls above the staircase, and curving round the apse at the back of the hall in the bow of the garden front; similar plasterwork on the ceiling of the staircase and landing. Dining room with rococo plasterwork in centre of ceiling. Large and lofty drawing room in right hand wing with frieze and cornice of elaborate C19 plasterwork, rather in the manner of Sir Richard Morrison. Handsome C19 room with bold cornice and ceiling medallion in wing flanking garden front. Sold 1947, afterwards the home of Mr and Mrs G. Van den Bergh. It is now the home of Mr and Mrs William Forwood, who have carried out a most sympathetic restoration of the house, with the help of Mr Jeremy Benson.” 

The National Inventory tells us:

Detached five-bay three-storey over basement former country house, built in 1770, now in use as a hotel / country club. The original house was probably to designs by Robert West the eminent Irish stuccodore. Two-storey wing additions added in c.1830 to designs by Sir Richard Morrison. There are later additions to the rear elevation. The walls are finished in painted lined render. A short flight of stone steps rises to the front door; it has a four-pane fanlight and is flat-headed. This is set within a projecting portico with Ionic columns. Window openings are flat-headed and have moulded surrounds; those to the piano nobile also have blocking courses and projecting cornice. The hipped roof is finished with natural slate and cast-iron rainwater goods. Chimneystacks are rendered with plain caps and clay pots. Much of the late Georgian interior has been retained; this includes rococo plaster work to the hallway, the original stair and fireplaces to principal rooms. The building is set within a large demesne which is now in use as a golf course.” [3]

8. June Blake’s Garden, Turkey House and Cow House, Tinode, Blessington, Co Wicklow – June Blake’s Garden, see above 

http://www.juneblake.ie/cms/ 

9. Rathsallagh, County Wicklow – accommodation €€

Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.

www.rathsallagh.com

It was built around 1750 as stables and converted in 1798. The range consists of four wings based around a large courtyard with the main wing to the front (west) having two-storey projections to its north and south ends.

The website tells us: “Rathsallagh House has been owned and run by the O’Flynn family for over 30 years, it has a happy and relaxed atmosphere with log and turf fires in the bar and drawing rooms. The food at Rathsallagh is country house cooking at its best, Game in season and fresh fish are specialities. Breakfast in Rathsallagh is an experience in itself and has won the National Breakfast Awards a record four times.

Rathsallagh also has conference and meeting rooms, Spa room, billiard room, and tennis court and is surrounded by the magnificant Rathsallagh Golf Club.

Joanna and David at Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
Rathsallagh House, County Wicklow, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
J Channing RS Rooms, Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.
Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.

10. Summerhill House Hotel, County Wicklow €€

https://summerhillhousehotel.com

The website tells us: “Summerhill House Hotel is where glamour and the countryside blend in one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. Our location in the cosy village of Enniskerry is a gloriously refreshing antidote to city living or stressful lives. Reconnect with family and friends and let the kids run free. Lose track of time as you breathe in clean air, stride for miles through nature walks on your doorstep, stargaze under big skies, and, most importantly – relax, with a dose of the finest Wicklow hospitality.

11. Tinakilly House, Rathnew, Co Wicklow – country house hotel

https://tinakilly.ie 

The website tells us:

Set in 14 acres of mature landscaped gardens overlooking the Irish Sea Tinakilly offers peace and tranquillity yet is only 45 minutes from Dublin. This stunning award winning Country House Hotel in Wicklow is steeped in history and oozes charm and sophistication.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 304. “A house of 1870 by James Franklin Fuller, built for Commander Robert Charles Halpin, RN, who commended the steamship Great Eastern when she laid the first Atlantic cable. In vaguely Queen Anne revival style; entrance front with two bay centre between three sided bows; pedimented porch. Roof on bracket cornice with central dormer. Side elevation with central three sided bow. Very impressive central hall, an early example of the hall-cum-living room which was to become an almost obligatory feature of late Victorian and Edwardian country houses; with an imperial staircase rising to a bridge gallery which continues around two of the walls. The ceiling is elaborately coved and coffered; the soffits of the stairs and gallery are richly ornamented with plasterwork. The fireplace is surmounted by a triple window, so that the flue appears to vanish; a conceit which, like the “living hall” itself, became increasingly popular towards the turn of the century. Halpin died 1894; his widow was living at Tinakilly 1912.” 

The website gives us the history:

Tinakilly House was constructed for Captain Robert Halpin, who was born in Wicklow Town and who succeeded in becoming Commander of The Great Eastern when it laid most of the world’s transoceanic telegraph cables.  The cable connecting Europe to America was laid in 1866 from Valentia Bay in Ireland to Hearts Content in Canada.  A section of this cable and a fine colour print of The Great Eastern can be seen today in Tinakilly Country House Hotel & Gardens.  Most of Captain Halpin’s memorabilia is in the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire.

Halpin is reputed to have been given an open cheque by the British Government to build his new mansion in gratitude for his contribution to improving world communications and thereby world trade.  He recruited the then very fashionable Irish architect, James Franklin Fuller, to design the house. The timber, which is so evident and gives such character, was selected in London by Halpin. The doors on the ground floor are of Burmese mahogany with many panels of different woods, the best of which are in “birds eye” maple. The architraves window shutters and stairs are in American pitch pine. Fireplaces were imported from Italy with the exception of the drawing room where a fine Georgian one graces the room.

In 1870 the land extended to 400 acres, two Head Gardener’s were employed, one for inside the walled garden to grow fruit and vegetables and the other to supervise the seven acres of pleasure gardens. There are fine stands of beech eucalyptus and evergreen oak while two giant sequoias (American Redwood) are at either end of the old tennis court. The site chosen for the house is on elevated ground two miles north of Wicklow Town, overlooking Broadlough Bird Sanctuary and the Irish Sea.

Halpin married the daughter of a wealthy Canadian whaling merchant. They had three daughters, the youngest of whom, Belle, lived in Tinakilly until the early 1950’s. Captain Halpin died at the young age of 58 from blood poisoning after cutting his toe.

In 1949 the house and lands were purchased by Augustus Cullen, a Wicklow solicitor. The Trustee’s sold on condition that Belle Halpin retain the house for her lifetime, which she did until 1952. Rumour has it that her ghost continued to occupy the house as well as Miss Halpin’s housekeeper – hence the Cullen’s never took occupation. During the last six years of Mr Cullen’s ownership, the house was only used in the summer when it was rented by a group of Jesuit priests for summer retreats.  Any ghosts quickly departed.

In 1959 the house and lands were sold to Mr Gunther Smith whose nephew, Mr Heinrich Rolfe, inherited the property in 1962.  His wife ran the house as a guesthouse while Mr Rolfe concentrated on farming.  A colourful Frenchman called Jean Claude Thibaud then rented the house and ran it as a “Restaurant Francais”.  A thatched cottage bar was constructed in the hall while stucco plaster on the dining room walls appeared to give an effect of “waves by the sea”.  One day Jean Claude discovered his kitchen chimney was blocked by the home of a family of building crows.  Not wishing to climb out onto the roof to discover which of the 36 chimney pots needed freeing, he took a sledgehammer to a top floor bedroom and through the flue of a fireplace allowing the smoke into the bedroom.  He then opened the window and closed the door.  A French solution to an Irish problem.

In 1978 an Irish couple, Dermot & Anne Garland, who had experience in running the Pembroke Restaurant in Dublin, swapped with the Thibauds and completed a purchase agreement for Tinakilly House. The Garland’s redecorated Tinakilly and ran a successful restaurant. Dermot tragically died leaving Anne to struggle on with their two young sons.

In 1982 Tinakilly sold to William & Bee Power, who decided to develop a full hotel putting bathrooms ensuite and installing a modern fully equipped kitchen. Redecorating and furnishing of the hotel was undertaken by William & Bee to ensure the homely Victorian character so evident to the visitor today. Great care has been taken in all reconstruction work to maintain the nautical theme.  Bedrooms were named after ships. 

In 1991 the Power’s constructed 15 suites all overlooking the Irish Sea and Broadlough Bird Sanctuary.  Sunrise is a spectacle to behold.  The Victorian Halpin Suite was developed to cater for conferences and weddings.

In 1997 the East wing was extended northwards with the addition of 24 suites and a lift, bringing the total compliment of bedrooms to 51. Also in that year, a new dining room, the Brunel, was built to the west of the house. All of this work has been architect controlled to ensure the true character of Tinakilly is maintained. In January 2000, Tinakilly was taken over by William & Bee’s son and daughter-in-law, Raymond & Josephine.

In 2013 Tinakilly House changed hands again, the owners are passionate about this grand country manor, adding refreshing touches through out the house but always in keeping with the character. The Great Hall is alive again with chatty conservations over afternoon tea, the Brunel restaurant and menus are refreshing, wedding guest fill the house with laughter and joy.  So check back with us to see the old and new meld to give this beautiful Victorian manor a new chapter in history.

12. Tulfarris, Blessington, Co Wicklow - hotel 

www.tulfarrishotel.com

The website tells us: “Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort is a luxury 4 star retreat situated in the garden of Ireland, County Wicklow. Perched on the banks of the Blessington Lakes against the backdrop of the Wicklow mountains, yet only 45 minutes drive from Dublin. Offering delicious food, relaxed bars and deluxe guest accommodation, the views are breathtaking and the golf course is immense. Step back in time as you enter the 18th century Manor House which stands imposingly at the heart of our 200 acre resort. Get married, get your colleagues together or get some rest and relaxation. Tulfarris Hotel in Wicklow is yours to enjoy.

The website tells us of the history of the house:

Tulfarris House derives its name from the land it is situated on. Tulfarris comes from the Gaelic ‘Tulach Fherghuis’ meaning Fergus’ Hill.   

From a document known as the Faints, which contains legal judgements from the Tudor period, it is clear that the lands known as Tulfarris were included with the manor of Rathmore, Co. Kildare. This estate was in the possession of Gerald Fitzgerald (Garret Oge), 9th Earl of Kildare. Until 1534, the Fitzgerald dynasty dominated both the lands and events that occurred in much of Ireland. The rebellion of Gerald’s son Thomas, popularly known as Silken Thomas, resulted in the confiscation of the entire estate by the crown. In 1541, the crown to Walter Troot, Vicar of Rathmore, leased the manors of Rathmore, including Tulfarris.

Shortly afterwards in 1545, the lands were granted in full to Sir John Travers, a knight from Monkstown, Co. Dublin. Sir John Travers had an heir by his first marriage, Henry. Henry married Gennet Preston [d.1599], daughter of the third Viscount of Gormanstown [Jenico Preston, d. 1560]. Henry however, died young leaving two daughters, Mary & Catherine. John Travers died in 1562 and the lands were inherited by Henry’s daughters, Mary & Catherine.

Mary married James Eustace, 3rd Viscount of Baltinglass. After James played a leading role in the Desmond Rebellion of 1579, The Baltinglass estate including Mary’s share of Rathmore, were confiscated by the crown. Mary managed to have her share of the estate returned to her in her husband’s lifetime.

Her sister Catherine married John Cheevers of Macetown, Co. Meath. Catherine’s share of the Rathmore Estate included Tulfarris and was inherited by Catherine’s son Henry. Henry in turn married Catherine Fitzwilliam and their son Walter inherited the title to Tulfarris. Inquisitions dated 24th September 1640, detail the size of the estate at the time of Henry Cheever’s death. According to this document, Tulfarris contained one ruined Castle, 20 messuages, 70 acres of land and a manor.

Tulfarris’ turbulent history continued and in a list of outlaws intended for the House of Lords and dated 1641-1647, five entries for Tulfarris were found. During that time, the crown again confiscated Tulfarris.

Tulfarris and other properties were granted to Colonel Randall Clayton on 15th October 1667, in trust for the officers of the Cromwellian soldiers of 1649. Tulfarris was subsequently granted to Captain John Hunt of the Cromwellian soldiers of 1649. His son, Vere Hunt, later sold the land to John Borrowes of Ardenode, Co. Kildare. In 1713, Robert Graydon of Russellstown held Tulfarris. The means of transfer of ownership between Borrowes and Graydon is uncertain, however, Borrowe’ss niece and granddaughter both married Graydons.

Much of the house’s more recent history is associated with the Hornridge family who held the land from the early eighteenth century until the 1950’s. James Hornridge came to Ireland from Gloucester with Cromwell’s parliamentary Army in 1659 and settled in Colemanna in Co. Carlow.

The Historical information regarding how the Hornridge’s came to own Tulfarris is unclear. His son Richard Hornridge married Hester Hogshaw of Burgage, Blessington Co. Wicklow in 1699. It is most likely that Tulfarris came into the Hornridge’s possession through this marriage.”

13. Wicklow Head Lighthouse, Dunbur Head, County Wicklow € for 4

https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/wicklow-head-lighthouse/

14. Gate Lodge, Woodenbridge, Avoca, County Wicklow €€

Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/32381149?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-07-10&check_out=2022-07-15&federated_search_id=c0dd098c-52b4-4f57-8873-90347b40e6c0&source_impression_id=p3_1652453929_%2FOAm61MZ%2FV9wewli

Beautifully restored small Castle situated in the Vale of Avoca, within walking distance of the Golf Club. Only 4km from Arklow Town and only 3km from the stunning Avoca Village. The Castle is ideal for those who are looking for a relaxing break to take in the beautiful scenery, walk ways, fishing and golfing.

The space
If you choose to book the Gatelodge, you and your guests will have full use of the Small Castle.

[1] Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

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

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/16401304/druids-glen-golf-club-woodstock-demesne-co-wicklow

Places to visit and stay in County Kerry, Munster

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

orange: “whole house rental” i.e. those properties that are only for large group accommodations or weddings, e.g. 10 or more people.

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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

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 (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

For a full listing of accommodation in big houses in Ireland, see my accommodation page: https://irishhistorichouses.com/accommodation/

Kerry:

1. Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co. Kerry – section 482, also a hotel for accommodation €€

2. Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, County KerryOPW

3. Derreen Gardens, Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry – section 482

4. Dhu Varren garden, Knockreigh, Milltown, Kerry, V93 VX27

5. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, County Kerry 

6. Killarney House, County Kerry

7. Knockreer House and Gardens, County Kerry

8. Listowel Castle, County KerryOPW

9. Muckross House,  Killarney, County Kerryopen to visitors 

10. Ross’s Castle, Killarney, County Kerry

11. Staigue Fort, County Kerry

12. Tarbert House, Tarbert, Co. Kerry – section 482

Places to Stay, County Kerry: 

1. Ballyseede Castle/ Ballyseedy (Tralee Castle), Tralee, County Kerry hotel, €€

2. Cahernane (or Cahirnane) House, Killarney, County Kerry – hotel 

3. Carrig Country House, County Kerry €€€

4. Castlemorris House, Tralee, County Kerry

5. Dromquinna Estate, County Kerry€€

6. Fahagh Court, Beaufort, County Kerry – now Killarney Country Club and accommodation €

7. Glanleam, Valentia Island, County Kerry – accommodation

8. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, County Kerry € 

9. Muxnaw Lodge, Kenmare, County Kerry € 

10. Parknasilla Resort and Spa, Kenmare, County Kerry 

Whole House Rental County Kerry:

1. Ballywilliam House, Kinsale, County Kerry – whole house rental, up to 16

2. Churchtown House, Killarney, County Kerry – whole house rental (sleeps 12)

3.  Coolclogher House, Killarney, County Kerry – whole house rental (up to 16 people)

Places to visit in County Kerry:

1. Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co. Kerry – section 482, also a hotel for accommodation €€

contact: Marnie Corscadden
Tel: 066-7125799
www.ballyseedecastle.com
Open: Mar 1-Dec 21, 28-31.
Fee: Free

It was first named “Elm Grove”, until a remodelling completed in 1821. It was then known as “Ballyseedy House”, until a remodelling during the 1880s, then known as “Ballyseedy Castle” until sold out of the Blennerhassett family in 1967. It is now “Ballyseede Castle Hotel.”

The website tells us:

Take a step back in time with a hotel steeped in history that offers luxurious surroundings within 30 acres of private gardens and woodland.

The Doric columns that lead to an elegant oak staircase in the lobby are indicative of the grand decoration throughout the hotel. Impressive drawing rooms with ornate cornices, adorned with marble fireplaces provide an ideal setting for afternoon tea or morning coffee.

Elegant accommodation, fine dining with traditional Irish cuisine, rooms that tell a story and the picturesque natural setting, will all comprise to make your stay at Ballyseede Castle an unforgettable one.”

Ballyseede Castle, County Kerry, photograph by Keith Robinson, flickr creative commons.

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

p. 28. “(Blennerhassett/IFR; Blennerhassett, Bt/PB) A large three storey block of ca 1760 with two curved bows on the entrance front and another bow on the side, given a battlemented parapet, hood mouldings and other mildly baronial touches late C19 by James Franklin Fuller. At one side of the front is a long and low castellated service wing, with round and square turrets, the other side of which has a sham wall, consisting of a long range of false windows. This Gothic work dates from 1816 and may well be by Sir Richard Morrison. Rather narrow bifurcating staircase rising behind a screen of Doric columns at one end of the hall. Bequeathed 1965 by Miss Hilda Blennerhassett to her kinsman Sir Adrian Blennerhassett, 7th Bt, who sold it 1867. Now an hotel.” [1]

A Blennerhassett family website tells us more about the history:

The Blennerhassett family settled at Ballycarty during the early 17th century and later occupied Ballyseedy also. In 1721 they built the first “Ballyseedy House”, among ruins of the geraldine Ballyseedy Castle at the west end of Ballytseedy Wood. This was occupied up to his death in 1775 by “The Great Colonel John” Blennerhassett (1691-1775).

The present “Ballyseedy House” (since c1969 known as “Ballyseede Castle Hotel”) was built c1780 as a new house named “Elm Grove” by the Colonel’s younger brother William Blennerhassett Sr (1705-1785). The work was completed c1788 by his son William Blennerhassett Jr. (c1735-1797), a substantial late 18th century country house situated on the south bank of the River Lee, within both Ballyseedy townland and Ballyseedy parish, close to the boundary between Ballyseedy and Ballycarty townlands.

The house was rebuilt and enlarged twice, firstly in 1821, the name “Elm Grove” being discarded at this date, the name reverting to “Ballyseedy” because the original old “Ballyseedy” at the west end of Ballyseedy Wood had by then fallen into disrepair and disuse. During this first remodelling (completed 1821) the north wing was added. In the north wing is a “Banqueting Hall” which features a foundation stone dated 1721, set into the wall over primitive 17th century black oak fireplace surround. The fireplace surround in the banqueting hall, also another 17th century wooden fireplace surround of finer workmanship that was installed in what was the library (now the hotel bar) of the main house, are believed to have been moved with other free-standing oak furniture from “Old” Ballyseedy” as it fell into ruin. It was William Blennerhassett Jr’s son Arthur (1779-1815) and his wife Dorcas Twiss (1775/7-1822) who commenced addition of the long north wing, something of a “folly” with the stable yard surrounded by a great wall of false windows, with two carriage entrances and a round tower of medieval appearance at the north-west corner. The work of architect Sir William Morrison, this remodelling was completed in 1821, exactly 100 years after the older “Ballyseedy House” house had been built, by his son Arthur Blennerhassett (b.1799 d.1843) then only 22 years of age.

During the 1880s Arthur’s grandson, Maj. Arthur Blennerhassett (b.1856 d.1939), commissioned a “mock castle” refacing of the house, as was popular during the late Victorian period, these changes causing what had previously been the front elevation and west facing main entrance to become the rear of the house. This work, executed by Kerry architect, historian and Blennerhassett descendant James Franklin Fuller, caused the house to lose its Georgian elegance and simplicity but resulted in the more impressive building we see today. Following these changes the house began to be referred to as “Ballyseedy Castle” and is named as such on the family headed writing paper of the time.” [2]

2. Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, KerryOPW

Derrynane House, County Kerry, photograph by George Munday, 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]

See my OPW write-up:

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

Daniel O’Connell, who lived at Derrynane.

3. Derreen Gardens, Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerrysection 482

John Daly
Tel: 087-1325665
https://www.derreengarden.com/
Open: all year, 10am-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children and 2 maps) €20

The website tells us: “A beautiful 19th century woodland garden with paths winding through rare tropical plants and opening onto sea views.

Set on a peninsula at the head of Kilmackillogue Harbour and surrounded by the Caha Mountains, the garden at Derreen covers 60 acres.

A network of winding paths passes through a mature woodland garden laid out 150 years ago with subtropical plants from around the world and incomparable views of the sea and mountains.

4. Dhu Varren garden, Knockreigh, Milltown, Kerry, V93 VX27

www.dhuvarrengarden.com 

The website tells us:

Dhu Varren Garden, owned by Mark and Laura Collins, began its development in 2001. Since then it has grown to contain one of the largest and most diverse plant collections of any private garden in Ireland. This continues to grow as new and exciting plants are sourced from around the world. It has been described by visitors as ‘Kerry’s Botanical Garden’.

5. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry 

contact: Billy Alexander
Tel: 066-9477975 

www.kellsbay.ie 

Kells Bay House and Gardens, Co Kerry. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan, 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [3])

Open: Feb-Dec 9.30am-dusk
Fee: adult €8.50, child €6, family €26 (2 adults + 3 children under 17 years) 

The website tells us: “Kells Bay Gardens is one of Europe’s premier horticultural experiences, containing a renowned collection of Tree-ferns and other exotic plants growing in its unique microclimate created by the Gulf Stream. It is the home of ‘The SkyWalk’ Ireland’s longest rope-bridge.

6. Killarney House, County Kerry

https://killarney.ie/listing/killarney-house-gardens/

Originally called Kenmare House. The stable block of Kenmare House was converted in 1830 into this house. The original Kenmare House was built in 1726 and was demolished in 1872 by the Valentine Augustus Browne, 4th Earl of Kenmare. The succeeding house, called Killarney House, and was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1913 and never rebuilt; instead, in 1915 the stable block of the original Kenmare House was converted into the present Killarney House, although the Brownes called it Kenmare House.

Kenmare House Kerry Photograph taken between 1880 and 1914 Lawrence Collection, National Library of Ireland NLI Ref L_CAB_01020
Killarney House and Gardens, photograph ©Fáilte Ireland by Finola White, 2020, Ireland’s Content Pool.

John McShain, renowned architect and building contractor, acquired Killarney House, the former home of the Earls of Kenmare, in 1956. After the death of McShain’s wife, Mary, in 1998, the stately house, and its lavish gardens were sold to the State with the proviso that the property would be incorporated into the neighbouring Killarney National Park. The McShains were allowed to live in the house for the remainder of their lives, and they remodelled extensively. When Mrs. McShain died in 1998 the house reverted to the state. It sat empty and became derelict, but in 2011 restoration was begun. The gardens are open to the public and at some stage, the house also will be opened up.

7. Knockreer House and Gardens, County Kerry

https://www.discoverireland.ie/kerry/knockreer-house-and-gardens

The website tells us:

Found in County Kerry’s Killarney National Park, Knockreer House and Gardens are within walking distance of Killarney Town. The area includes a circular walk with excellent views of the Lower Lake.

The Knockreer section of Killarney National Park is within walking distance of Killarney Town, County Kerry. This area was formerly part of the Kenmare Estate, which was laid out by Valentine Brown, the third Viscount of Kenmare. Deenagh Lodge Tearoom dates back to 1834 and was the gate lodge of the Kenmare Estate. The tearoom is a popular haunt with locals and visitors after a stroll in the park. It is located just inside Kings Bridge across from St Mary’s Cathedral.

Knockreer House, a short walk up the hill, is the Killarney National Park Education Centre and is built on the site of the original Killarney House, which was destroyed by fire in 1913. The circular walk is signposted and offers excellent views of the Lower Lake. On the circular walk there is a pathway off to the right that leads up to the viewing point on top of the hill, which provides a wonderful panorama of the surrounding countryside.

8. Listowel Castle, County Kerry – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

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

9. Muckross House (or Muckruss),  Killarney, County Kerry

Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

www.muckross-house.ie 

This nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, famed world wide for their splendour and beauty. As a focal point within Killarney National Park, Muckross House is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape. 

Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colourist Mary Balfour Herbert. This was actually the fourth house that successive generations of the Herbert family had occupied at Muckross over a period of almost two hundred years. William Burn, the well-known Scottish architect, was responsible for its design. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843. 

Originally it was intended that Muckross House should be a larger, more ornate, structure. The plans for a bigger servants’ wing, stable block, orangery and summer-house, are believed to have been altered at Mary’s request. Today the principal rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the nineteenth century landowning class. In the basement, one can imagine the busy bustle of the servants as they went about their daily chores. 

Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney National Park, Co Kerry ©Trustees of Muckross House 2019.
Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney National Park, Co Kerry Muckross House and Gardens, Killarney National Park, Co Kerry ©Trustees of Muckross House 2017.

During the 1850s, the Herberts undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition. They purchased the estate from Lord and Lady Ardilaun early in the twentieth century. It was at this time that the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were developed.

Muckross House, County Kerry, October 2012.
Muckross House 1970, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive. [4]
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

10. Ross’s Castle, Killarney, County Kerry

See my OPW write-up:

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

11. Staigue Fort, County Kerry

Staigue Fort, County Kerry, October 2012.

The following website gives us information about this ancient impressive fort: https://voicesfromthedawn.com/staigue-fort/

It tells us:

Constructed entirely without mortar, Staigue cashel encloses an area of 27.4 m (90 ft) in diameter, with walls as tall as 5.5 m (18 ft) and a sturdy 4 m (13 ft) in thickness. It has one double-linteled entrance, a passageway 1.8 m (6 ft) long. In the virtual-reality environment (above) click the hotspots to proceed to the fort’s interior. It is similar in construction to the Grianan of Aileach in Co. Donegal, and was possibly constructed in the same period of the Early Medieval period (approximately fifth to eleventh century CE). The fort is surrounded by a large bank and ditch, most evident on its northern side. This may have been a part of Staigue’s defenses, or it may be a prehistoric feature that pre-dates the construction of the stone fort.

Staigue Fort, October 2012

The website continues: “In 1897 T.J. Westropp reported that the local peasantry called the building Staig an air, which he translated as “Windy House, or “Temple of the Father,” or “The Staired Place of Slaughter.” These different translations may inspire distinctly different conjectures about the builders of Staigue. It has been described as both a temple or an observatory, and has been attributed to many different cultures in the past, such as Druids, Phoenicians, Cyclopeans, and Danes. But it was, of course, built by the “Kerrymen of old.”

Staigue Fort, October 2012

The sign at the site explains that Staigue “was the home of the chieftain’s family, guards and servants, and would have been full of houses, out-buildings, and possibly tents or other temporary structures.” The illustration from this sign is in the gallery below. Cashels, of which Staigue is an impressive and probably high-status example, were enclosed and defendable farmsteads of the Irish Early Medieval period. They housed an extended family and, in high-status examples, their retinue. However archaeologist Peter Harbison was unable to explain why the ancient architects would have created so many (10) sets of X-shaped stairs climbing up the inner face of the wall to its ramparts.

12. Tarbert House, Tarbert, Co. Kerry – section 482

contact: Ursula Leslie
Tel: 068-36198, 087-2917301
Open: May, June July, Aug, 2pm-4pm
Fee: adult/OAP €5, student €2, child free

Tarbert House, County Kerry, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Tarbert House, near the town of that name in County Kerry, stands in wooded parkland beside the River Shannon, a few miles downstream from Glin and just across the county bounds. The plain, square, seven-bay seat of James Leslie, erstwhile Bishop of Limerick, was built precisely in the middle of his diocese for convenience, and dates from the 1750s. The house, which is still owned by the bishop’s descendants, was given an additional storey in the mid-19th century but retains its mid-Georgian character and plan, with robust joinery and chimneypieces, and a fine collection of family portraits, furniture, papers and objects.” [5]

Places to Stay, County Kerry: 

1. Ballyseede Castle/ Ballyseedy (Tralee Castle), Tralee, county Kerryhotel, see above €€

2. Cahernane (or Cahirnane) House, Killarney, Co Kerry – hotel

 https://www.cahernane.com

Cahernane House, County Kerry, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, which tells us it is a seven-bay two-storey over part-raised basement Ruskinesque Gothic Revival style country house with dormer attic, dated 1877, possibly incorporating fabric of earlier house. Designed by James Franklin Fuller.

The website tells us:

Beautifully situated on a private estate on the edge of Killarney National Park, our luxury four-star hotel is located just twenty minutes’ walk from Killarney town centre. The entrance to the hotel is framed by a tunnel of greenery which unfurls to reveal the beauty of this imposing manor house, constructed in 1877 and formerly home to the Herbert Family.

Cahernane House Hotel exudes a sense of relaxation and peacefulness where you can retreat from the hectic pace of life into a cocoon of calmness and serenity. The only sounds you may hear are the lambs bleating or the birds singing.

Cahernane House was built as the family residence of Henry Herbert in 1877 at a cost of £5,992. The work was carried out by Collen Brothers Contractors. The original plans by architect James Franklin Fuller, whose portfolio included Ballyseedy Castle, Dromquinna Manor and the Parknasilla Hotel, was for a mansion three times the present size.

3. Carrig Country House, County Kerry €€€

https://carrighouse.com

The website tells us: “If you are looking for the perfect hideaway which offers peace, tranquility, plus a wonderful restaurant on the lake, Carrig House on the Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way is the place for you. The beautifully appointed bedrooms, drawing rooms and The Lakeside Restaurant, overlooking Caragh Lake and surrounded by Kerry’s Reeks District mountains, rivers and lakes create the perfect getaway.

Carrig House was built originally circa 1850 as a hunting lodge, it was part of the Blennerhassett Estate. It has been mainly owned and used by British Aristocracy who came here to hunt and fish during the different seasons.

The house was purchased by Senator Arthur Rose Vincent in the early 20th. Century. Vincent moved here after he and his wealthy Californian father in law Mr. Bowers Bourne gave Muckross House & Estate in Killarney to the Irish Government for a wonderful National Park.

Bourne had originally purchased Muckross House from the Guinness family and gave it to his daughter Maud as a present on her marriage to Arthur Rose Vincent. However, Maud died at a young age prompting Bourne and Vincent to donate the estate to the Irish State.

Vincent remarried a French lady and lived at Carrig for about 6 years, they then moved to the France. The country house history doesn’t end there, Carrig has had many other illustrious owners, such as Lady Cuffe , Sir Aubrey Metcalfe, who retired as the British Viceroy in India and Lord Brocket Snr, whose main residence was Brocket Hall in England.

Frank & Mary Slattery, the current owners purchased the house in 1996. They are the first Irish owners of Carrig since it was originally built and have renovated and meticulously restored the Victorian residence to its former glory.

For over two decades Frank & Mary have operated a very successful Country House & Restaurant and have won many rewards for their hospitality and their Lakeside Restaurant. They are members of Ireland’s prestigious Blue Book.

Carrig House has 17 bedrooms, each individually decorated in period style with antique furniture. Each room enjoys spectacular views of Caragh Lake and the surrounding mountains. All rooms are en suite with bath and shower. Those who like to indulge can enjoy the sumptuous comfort of the Presidential Suite with its own separate panoramic sitting room, male and female dressing rooms and bathroom with Jacuzzi bath.

The restaurant is wonderfully situated overlooking the lake. The atmosphere is friendly, warm and one of total relaxation. The menu covers a wide range of the freshest Irish cuisine.

Irish trout and salmon from the lake and succulent Kerry lamb feature alongside organic vegetables. Interesting selections of old and new world wines are offered to compliment dinner whilst aperitifs and after-dinner drinks are served in the airy drawing room beside open peat fires.

Within the house, chess, cards and board games are available in the games room.

4. Castlemorris House, Tralee, County Kerry

Castlemorris House, Tralee, County Kerry, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.bandbireland.com/accommodation/28161/castlemorris-house

Castlemorris is now a bed and breakfast. The National Inventory tells us it is a detached five-bay three-storey over basement house, built c. 1830, with single- and two-storey extensions to rear. Formerly residence of army officer in neighbouring barracks.

5. Dromquinna Estate, Co Kerry €€

 https://www.dromquinnamanor.com

Drumquinna Manor, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, which tells us that the house is an eleven-bay two-storey Jacobean Revival style country house with dormer attic, built c. 1890, designed by James Franklin Fuller.

It was constructed for Sir John Columb around 1889-90. The website tells us:

There are many elements to Dromquinna Manor. Firstly it is a stunning waterside estate unlike anything else. Set on 40 acres of parkland planted in the 1800s, the Estate offers an abundance of activities and facilities.

The Manor, dating from the 1890s, is dedicated to catering for Weddings and events. The Oak Room is the heart of the Manor and is classical in every sense. Stylish beyond words with views of Kenmare Bay celebrations here are truly memorable. The Drawing Rooms and Terrace all make for a very special and memorable occassion for all. It is a real family and friends party as opposed to a hotel ballroom function.

6. Killarney Country Club cottage (formerly Fahagh Court) Beaufort, Co Kerry € 

Mark Bence-Jones tells us about the main house (1988): p. 122. (Morrogh-Bernard/IFR) An irregular two storey house with a shallow battlemented bow and a rusticated doorcase of sandstone on its front, and a gable at the back. Now an hotel.

https://www.hogansirishcottages.com/cottage/County-Cork-Killarney/Killarney-Country-Club-Cottage-924208.html

or on airbnb https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/18733691?source_impression_id=p3_1652716587_lWafOPgeB9uWaPDl

The website tells us:

A fantastic mid-terrace property in the grounds of Killarney Country Club just outside Faha near Beaufort in County Kerry, eight miles from Killarney.

Stone built but with a modern feel and fantastic mountain views, this is an excellent base for a family or friends to come to County Kerry and do some sightseeing.

There are two bedrooms upstairs, a double and a twin, along with a shower room, while on the ground floor there is an open plan living area with kitchen, dining area and living area, keeping everyone together while breakfast is being rustled up ahead of a day of exploring.

French doors in the living area take you out to the rear garden, with spectacular views of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, home to Carrauntoohil, the highest peak in Ireland.

With a bar on site there will be no arguments about who the designated driver will be.

With great scenery in the surrounding area, be sure to do a bit of sightseeing while out for a walk or a cycle in the fresh Irish air.

Only a short drive down the road, Beaufort will tend to your basic needs while Killarney is only eight miles away, where you can sample a range of shops, restaurants and pubs with some good local Irish music being played.

7. Glanleam, Valentia Island, Co Kerry

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

Glanleam, County Kerry, photograph from National Inventory.

The website tells us:

Glanleam was built as a linen mill in 1775 and later converted into a house by the Knight of Kerry, who planted the magnificent sub-tropical gardens. In 1975 Meta Kreissig bought the estate which had declined for 50 years. She rescued the house, restored and enlarged the garden and, with her daughter Jessica, made it a delightful place to stay, with a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture and an extensive library. The setting looking out over the harbour is magical. There are green fields, a beach and a lighthouse, and Valentia Island is connected to the Kerry mainland by a car ferry and a bridge.

Glanleam was converted into a country house by the 19th Knight of Kerry (1808-1889). His father had developed the famous Valentia slate quarry (the slates were especially in demand for billiard tables, then very much in vogue). The Knight, an enthusiastic botanist, recognised the unique potential of the island’s microclimate for sub-tropical plants and laid out a fifty acre garden, using species just introduced from South America. His efforts won him great acclaim at the time and today his gardens have matured into dense woodlands.

Together Meta Kreissig and her daughter Jessica have refurbished the house, furnishing it with an amalgam of antique and modern pieces, and opened it to guests. There is an extensive library, several of the rooms have their original Valentia slate chimneypieces, and the bedrooms have luxurious Bonasck designer bathrooms. The gardens have also benefited from their attention. One recent visitor described the ‘radial planting of vegetables’ in the centre of the walled kitchen garden as ‘a jewel’.

8. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry € see above

https://www.kellsbay.ie/accommodation/

9. Muxnaw Lodge, Kenmare, Co Kerry €

https://www.muxnawlodgekenmare.com/

The website tells us that Muxnaw Lodge in Kenmare is an attractive Victorian house, with spectacular views of the Kenmare River and Suspension Bridge.

Muxnaw Lodge features in Jane O’Hea O’Keeffe’s Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry. Mercier Press, Cork, 2013:

p. 242. “John Desmond Calverley Oulton (konwn as Desmond), who was born at Clontarf Castle in 1921, is the son of John George Oulton and Sybil Mona Calverley. He has long and loving memories of his childhood home at Clontarf Castle, where he played with his siblings in truly magical surroundings…”

p. 245. “During his childhood days, Desmond and his family would travel to Kerry each summer to stay at Muxnaw Lodge at Kenmare, which had been owned for generations by his mother’s people, the Calverleys. A lovely gabled building, the Lodge was built in 1801 as a hunting and fishing lodge by the Calverley family. It is situated on a spectacular site overlooking the Kenmare River and is now run as an up-market guesthouse. 

The name Muxnaw comes from the Irish Mucsnamh (the swimming place of the pigs). Joyce’s Irish Place Names gives this explanation: 

The natural explanation seems to be that wild pigs were formerly in the habit of crossing… at this narrow point. The Kenmare River narrowed at this point by a spit of land projecting from the northern shore, and here in past ages, wild pigs used to swim across so frequently, and in such numbers, that the place was called Muscnamh or Mucksna.” 

p. 245. “Desmond explains the complexities of his family history: “Colonel Vernon, owner of Clontarf Castle, had several daughters and a son. One daughter, Edith Vernon, married Walter Calverley who owned Muxnaw Lodge. They had two children, my mother, Sybil Mona Calverley, and Walter Calverley. Walter was killed during the first world war, and following the death of Walter Calverley Sr, Muxnaw Lodge went to his brother, Charles, who left it to his niece, my mother.” “

10. Parknasilla Resort and Spa, Kenmare, Co Kerry 

Parknasilla, photograph from National Inventory.

https://parknasillaresort.com

The website tells us:

Parknasilla Hotel, nestled in the shadows of the Kerry mountains amidst islands, inlets and hidden beaches.

Come stay with us and feel the restorative power of nature and marvel in the splendour of the seascape and landscape that surrounds you here.

The word  Parknasilla ,(means the field of Sallys) [perhaps “salix” meaning Willow], for so many is evocative of so many things, tucked away in the corner of a subtropical paradise on the Kenmare river , it’s a place of beauty, of rare plants, islands linked by timber bridges and coral inlets.

Where the sea, the light and clouds  put on a continual show to delight the senses. A place where people come as guests and leave as friends, with its tradition of hospitality stretching back over 125 years. It has hosted royalty, dignitaries, family gatherings and romantic get aways.

It has provided people with that peaceful haven for them to recalibrate and recharge their batteries but it has also been that place of quite inspiration for writers and artist from George Bernard Shaw to Ceclia Ahern .

With its winding walks, this 200 acre estate walled gardens, golf course, island dotted bay and spa coupled with a world class resort with a 4 star hotel houses and apartments  it provides one with that perfect retreat to suit all tastes.

It is a place of many layers constantly evolving, seen through the prism of history it’s a place where people create their own be it in the friends formed or memories laid down to last a life time, a place to return to again.”

The website tells us about the history of Parknasilla:

The origins of the rise of the Great Southern Hotels and Parknasilla arised from the middle of the 19th century. Despite the ravages of the famine, Ireland was seen as an exotic tourism destination and this was particularly true after Queen Victoria’s trip to Ireland and Kerry in 1861, that saw an explosion of tourism from overseas. Railway lines were developed in the mid 1850’s from Dubin to remote towns of Killarney, Dingle, Galway and Sligo and later new lines were developed from Killarney for instance to Kenmare.

In the South of Ireland, the most import railway was the Great Southern and Western Dublin-Cork Link that opened in 1849. Excursions were promoted and resort hotels that were built were to supplied with customers by new railway line. New doors opened for Parknasilla around the start of the 1890’s, when in 1893 Kenmare became the terminuis of the branch line. Subsequently two years earlier, the Derryquin Estate was in 1891 by the Bland family in various lots. Bishop Graves of Limerick who had leased the part of the property for a long period off the Blands, purchased in one lot, and only a short time after sold the property to the Great Southern Hotel Group.

On the 1st of May 1895, The Southern Hotel Parknasilla opened, the name Parknasilla which means “The field of the willows” began to appear on the maps. It was also refered to as the “Bishops House Hotel, Parknasilla”.The story of the construction of architecture is also an interesting one. Eminent architect James Franklin Fuller was chosen by the Great South and Western Railway, prior 1895. Fuller himself left an incredible legacy behind, he was responsible for the designs of some of Ireland’s most iconic buildings such as Kylemore Abbey, Ashford Castle, Kenmare Park (formely the Great Southern Kenmare) and Farmleigh House.

Born in 1835 in Kerry, he was the only son of Thomas Harnett Fuller of Glashnacree by his first wife, Frances Diana, a daugther of the Francis Christopher Bland of Parknasilla dn Derryquin Castle. The Blands were indeed synomous with Parknasilla for over two centuries, and new chapter for Parknasilla future now had an incredible link with its past.

The hotel originally started out in what was known as “The Bishops House”, however a better position was chosen in 1897 for a new purpose buillt hotel. The new Parknasilla Hotel faced down the Kenmare Bay an offered its guests uparelled views of the Atantic Ocean. The facilties of the new hotel included Turkish Hot and Cold Seawater Baths, reading and games rooms and bathrooms on every floor. This decision came after unprecedented demand that well exceed supply.

The website also tells us about the early owners of the property:

The Blands of Derryquin Castle Demense were a Yorkshire family, the first of whom Rev. James Bland came to Ireland in 1692 and from 1693 was vicar of Killarney. His son Nathaniel, a judge and vicar general of Ardfert and Aghadoe obtained a grant of land in 1732 which would later become the Derryquin Estate. Derryquin Castle was the third house of the Blands on this land but it is not known when it was first constructed, its earliest written mention being in 1837, however it was indicated some decades earlier by Nimmo in his 1812 map.

The estate is said to have reached its zenith under the guidance of James Franklin Bland (1799-1863). His nephew the well known architect James Franklin Fuller described the castle estate in his
autobiography as a largely self-supporting community busy with sawmill, carpenter’s shop, forge as well as farming and gardening. A fish pond existed on the water’s edge just below the castle, alternatively described as being self-replenishing with the tide or restocked from a trawler.

The castle itself consisted of a three-storey main block with a four-storey octagonal tower rising through the centre and a two storey partly curved wing branching off in a western direction. Major renovations were carried out and a significant additional wing running southwest, overlooking the coastline was added sometime between 1895 and 1904.

James Franklin Bland’s death in 1863 the estate passed to his son Francis Christopher, the estate slipped into decline during the time that he was absent while travelling and preaching on Christian ministry, this being during the years of land agitation in Ireland. Part of the estate was sold in the landed estates court in 1873 but ultimately the decline continued with the remainder being sold in 1891.

It was bought in 1891 for £30,000 by Colonel Charles Wallace Warden. He had retired in 1895 as Colonel of the Middlesex Regiment (previously known as the 57th) He had seen action in the Zulu War of 1879 and on his death on 9th March 1953 in his 98th year was its oldest survivor. He also fought with the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War. As landlord of Derryquin he was highly unpopular with tenants and neighbours alike, his behaviour regularly mentioned in Parliament. After the burning of Derryquin Castle he retired to Buckland-tout-Saints in Devon and acquired an estate there with his payment from the burning of Derryquin.

However in 2014 Derryquin castle rose again out of the ashes to feature in a novel by Christopher Bland chairman of the BBC who having discovered a photo of his ancestors decided to write the novel Ashes in the Wind it interweaves the destinies of two families: the Anglo-Irish Burkes and the Catholic Irish Sullivans, beginning in 1919 with a shocking murder and the burning of the Burkes’ ancestral castle in Kerry. Childhood friends John Burke and Tomas Sullivan will find themselves on opposite sides of an armed struggle that engulfs Ireland. Only 60 years later will the triumphant and redemptive finale of this enthralling story be played out.

Whole House Rental County Kerry:

1. Ballywilliam House, Kinsale, County Kerry – whole house rental, up to 16

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/45838390?guests=1&adults=1&s=67&unique_share_id=db6b1a4c-0b7e-47c0-8005-a126984fd520&source_impression_id=p3_1662206216_56bfjuaKrGTdi%2Buf

8 bedrooms. Minimum 14 nights stay.

2. Churchtown House, Killarney, County Kerry (sleeps 12)

www.churchtownhousekerry.com

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 83. “(Magill/IFR) A three storey 5 bay C18 house. Doorcase with entablature on console brackets flanked by narrow windows. Fine gate piers with pineapples.” 

The Hidden Ireland website tells us: “

“Churchtown Estate incorporates both Churchtown House and Beaufort Golf Club. The centre piece is the Georgian Churchtown House built in 1740 by Sir Rowland Blennerhassett. In 1860 James MacGillycuddy Magill bought the estate and turned it into one of the largest dairy farms of its time in the south west region.

James’s grandson and great grandson’s closed the farm in the early nineties and with the help of golf architect Arthur Spring, developed Beaufort Golf Course which was officially opened in 1995. The golf course went through further development in 2007 when it was re-designed by Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie Ebert – Leading International Golf Architects.

Churchtown House mixes traditional elegance with country house charm and modern facilities. 2 large elegant reception rooms, roaring fires and quiet reading rooms add to the atmosphere. There is also a home entertainment room and games room in the basement of the house for guests to enjoy.

The House comfortably sleeps 12 in 6 spacious bedrooms, with a selection of King or twin rooms, with 2 additional ‘pull out’ beds if needed to accommodate 14 guests. All bedrooms have private bathrooms with modern facilities. The kitchen is fully equipped with an Aga and halogen hob, modern appliances and beautiful breakfast table looking out onto the courtyard and Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil.

The ruins of 15th century Castle Corr standing on the 15th green was designed as a square tower house. Castle Corr (Castle of the round hill) was built circa 1480 by the MacGillycuddy’s, a branch of the O’Sullivan Mór Clan. Fearing that it would have been taken by the English forces Donagh MacGillycuddy burnt the castle in 1641 but restored it in 1660. Donagh went on to become High Sheriff of Kerry in 1687.

The castle was abandoned by Donagh’s son Denis in 1696 when he married into the Blennerhassett family in nearby Killorglin Castle. The stone of Castle Corr was taken to build the Georgian manor Churchtown House.

3. Coolclogher House, Killarney, County Kerry – whole house rental accommodation, up to 16 people

https://coolclogherhouse.com/

Coolclogher House, County Kerry, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Coolclogher House built in 1746 is a historic manor house set on a 68 acre walled estate near Killarney on the Ring of Kerry. The house has been restored to an exceptional standard by Mary and Maurice Harnett and has spacious reception rooms, a large conservatory containing a 170 year-old specimen camellia and seven large luxurious bedrooms, each with their own bathroom and with magnificent views over the gardens and pasture to the dramatic mountains of the Killarney National Park.

This is an excellent base for exploring this ruggedly beautiful county and Coolclogher House specialises in vacation rental for groups of up to 16 people. It is right on the Ring of Kerry and Ross Castle and Killarney town are within walking distance while the Gap of Dunloe and Muckross House are in easy reach. It is the ideal special holiday destination for extended family groups, golfing groups or celebrating that special occasion.

The famous Lakes of Killarney, the Killarney National Park, Muckross House and Abbey and Ross Castle are all within easy reach. Killarney is an ideal starting point on the famous Ring of Kerry, going by way of Kenmare, Parknasilla and Waterville, and returning via Cahirciveen, Glenbeigh and Killorglin, but there are also wonderful drives through Beaufort and the Gap of Dunloe, along Caragh Lake to Glencar or, for the more ambitious, a day trip to the Dingle Peninsula or the wonderful Ring of Beara. There are world famous golf courses at Waterville, Tralee and Ballybunion while boat trips on the famous Lakes of Killarney, fishing and horse riding can all be arranged.

Situated 5 minutes from the historic town of Killarney, which boasts a number of excellent dining options and a wide variety of entertainment, this mansion house is the perfect base for a longer stay and a wonderful location for a family reunion or for celebrating a special occasion.

[1] Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[2] http://www.blennerhassettfamilytree.com/Ballyseedy-Castle.php

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

[4] https://repository.dri.ie/catalog?f%5Broot_collection_id_ssi%5D%5B%5D=pk02rr951&mode=objects&search_field=all_fields&view=grid

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

Places to visit and stay in County Clare, Munster

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

orange: “whole house rental” i.e. those properties that are only for large group accommodations or weddings, e.g. 10 or more people.

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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

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 (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

For a full listing of accommodation in big houses in Ireland, see my accommodation page: https://irishhistorichouses.com/accommodation/

Clare:

1. Barntick House, Clarecastle County Claresection 482

2. Bunratty Castle, County Clare

3. Craggaunowen Castle, Kilmurray, Sixmilebridge, County Clare

4. Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, County Clare

5. Kilrush House, County Clare‘lost,’ Vandeleur Gardens open 

6. Knappogue or Knoppogue Castle, County Clare

7. Mount Ievers Court, Sixmilebridge, County Clare  

8. Newtown Castle, Newtown, Ballyvaughan, County Clare – section 482

9. O’Dea’s, or Dysert Castle, County Clare

Places to Stay, County Clare 

1. Ballinalacken Castle, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare – hotel €€

2. Ballyportry Castle, Corofin, County Clare € for 4-8 for one week

3. Castle Fergus House, or Ballyhannon, County Clarecoach house accommodation €€€ or € for 15 or castle €€ for 10

4.  Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clarehotel €€€

5. Falls Hotel (was Ennistymon House), Ennistymon, Co. Clare €€

6. Gregan’s Castle Hotel, County Clare €€€

7. Loop Head Lightkeeper’s Cottage, County Clare €€ for 2; € for 4-6

8. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, County Clare

9. Mount Callan House and Restaurant, Inagh, County Clare – B&B 

10. Mount Cashel Lodge, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, County Clare €

11. Newpark House, Ennis, County Clare

12. Smithstown Castle (or Ballynagowan), County Clare € for 4-8 for one week

13. Spanish Point House, Spanish Point, County Clare €

14. Strasburgh Manor coach houses, Inch, Ennis, County Clare

Whole House Rental, County Clare

1. Inchiquin House, Corofin, County Clare – whole house rental € for 6-10

2. Mount Vernon lodge, County Clare – whole house accommodation € for 7-11 people

Clare:

1. Barntick House, Clarecastle Co. Claresection 482

contact: Ciaran Murphy
Tel: 086-1701060
Open: May 1-31, Aug 1-31, 5pm-9pm
Fee: adult/student €5, child/OAP free, group discount available.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

Detached three-bay two-storey house, dated 1665, and renovated c. 1740. Hipped slate roof with red brick chimneystacks. Roughcast rendered walls with string course between ground and first floors and moulded eaves course. Timber sliding sash windows. Carved limestone door surround comprising shouldered surround with entablature above, approached by flight of limestone steps. Timber panelled double leaf doors. Retaining interior features. Attached single-bay single-storey outbuilding to right. Date plaque from house moved to outbuilding. Rendered gate piers to site with wrought-iron railings.” [1]

An article in the Irish Times by Mary Leland published Saturday April 13th 2019 tells us a little more:

Plantation House, barracks and now a farm, Barntick House in Co Clare was built in 1665, renovated in 1740 and survived through the families of Hickman, Peacocke, Lyons and Murphy.

“In 2016 it was a case of do something or let it go completely,” Ciaran Murphy says. “But all the aesthetics are still in place and after the childhood I had out there I had to do something. Revenue was very helpful: once you adhere to the guidelines there’s no problem.”” [2]

2. Bunratty Castle, County Clare

maintained by Shannon Heritage

Bunratty Castle, County Clare, photograph by Chris Hill 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]

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

p. 49. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB; and Thomond, E/DEP; Studdert/IFR; Russell/IFR; Vereker, Gort, VPB) One of the finest 15C castles in Ireland, standing by the side of a small tidal creek of the Shanon estuary; built ca 1425, perhaps by one of the McNamaras; then held by the O’Briens, who became Earls of Thomond, until 6th Earl [Barnabas O’Brien (d. 1657)] surrendered it to the Cromwellian forces during the Civil War. A tall, oblong building, it has a square tower at each corner; these are linked, on the north and south sides, by a broad arch just below the topmost storey. The entrance door leads into a large vaulted hall, or guard chamber, above which is the Great Hall, the banqueting hall and audience chamber of the Earls of Thomond, with its lofty timber roof. Whereas the body of the castle is only three storeys – there being another vaulted chamber below the guard chamber – the towers contain many storeys of small rooms, reached up newel stairs and by passages in the thickness of the walls. One of these rooms, opening off the Great Hall, is the chapel, which still has its original plasterwork ceiling of ca 1619, richly adorned with a pattern of vines and grapes. There are also fragment of early C17 plasterwork in some of the window recesses. After the departure of the O’Briens, a C17 brick house was built between the two north towers; Thomas Studdert [1696-1786], who bought Bunratty early in C18, took up residence here in 1720. Later, the Studderts built themselves “a spacious and handsome modern residence in the demesne: and the castle became a constabulary barracks, falling into disrepair so that, towards the end of C19, the ceiling of the Great Hall collapsed. Bunratty was eventually inherited by Lt-Com R.H. Russell, whose mother was a Studdert, and sold by him to 7th Viscount Gort [Standish Robert Gage Prendergast Vereker (1888-1975)] 1956. With the help of Mr Percy Le Clerc and Mr John Hunt, Lord Gort carried out a most sympathetic restoration of the castle, which included removing C17 house, re-roofing the Great Hall in oak and adding battlements to the towers. The restored castle contains Lord Gort’s splendid collection of medieval and C16 furniture, tapestries and works of art, and is open to the public; “medieval banquets” being held here as a tourist attraction. Since the death of Lord Gort, Bunratty and its contents have been held in trust for the Nation.” [4]

Bunratty Castle, County Clare, Photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Bunratty Castle, County Clare, Photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Bunratty Co Clare National Library of Ireland stereo pairs collection STP_1858. (Dublin City Library and Archives) [5]
Bunratty Castle Co Clare National Library of Ireland Lawrence Collection taken between 1880 and 1914, L_CAB_00962 (Dublin City Library and Archives) [5]

3. Craggaunowen Castle, Kilmurray, Sixmilebridge, County Clare

Craggaunowen Pre-Historic Park, County Clare, photo by Stephen Power 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

– history park, maintained by Shannon Heritage, www.craggaunowen.ie

The Irish Homes and Garden website tells us:

“Early medieval 500AD-1500: The most common form of house style during this period was the ringfort –a circular area of earth surrounded by a bank and ditch. In some cases, stone was used in the defensive enclosure and these are known as cashels. Over 45,000 examples still remain today. Also dating from this period were crannogs (from the Irish crann – tree) – an artificial island built in the shallow areas of lakes with the houses surrounded by a timber palisade or fence. These can be spotted in the landscape as small tree covered islands close to the lake shore – both the ringforts and crannogs most commonly contained circular houses. A reconstruction of a crannog dwelling can be found at Craggaunowen, Co. Clare

This was also a time when Christianity was introduced to Ireland and whereas the early churches of the 6th and 7th centuries were of timber, evidence of stone churches appear from the late 8th century. These were simple rectangular buildings of about 5m long with a high steep pitched roof. The only doorway had a flat-topped lintelled opening. The early Irish monasteries of the 9th and 10th centuries, such as Clonmacnoise, had larger churches and monastic buildings also included the drystone beehive hut or clochan, as can be seen at Skellig Michael, and also the Round Tower, built between the 10th and 12th century, which consisted of a narrow tower up to 30m high tapering at the top with a conical roof.” [6]

The Craggaunowen website tells us: “Craggaunowen Castle - built by  John MacSioda MacNamara in 1550 a descendant of Sioda MacNamara who built Knappogue Castle in 1467. After the collapse of the Gaelic Order, in the 17th century, the castle was left roofless and uninhabitable. The Tower House remained a ruin until it and the estate of Cullane House across the road, were inherited in 1821 by ”Honest” Tom Steele, a confederate of Daniel O’Connell, Steele had the castle rebuilt as a summer house in the 1820s. He used it and the turret on the hill opposite for recreation. His initials can be seen on one of the quoin-stones to the right outside. “The Liberator”. By the time of the First Ordnance Survey, in the 1840s, the castle was “in ruins”. After Steele in 1848 the lands were divided, Cullane going to one branch of his family, Craggaunowen to another, his niece Maria Studdert. Eventually the castle and grounds were acquired by the “Irish Land Commission”. Much of the land was given over to forestry and the castle itself was allowed to fall into disrepair. In the mid-19th century, the castle, herd’s house and 96 acres were reported in the possession of a Reverend William Ashworth, who held them from a Caswell (a family from County Clare just north of Limerick). In 1906, a mansion house here was owned by Count James Considine (from a family based at Derk, County Limerick). Craggaunowen Castle was restored by John Hunt in the 1960s – he added an extension to the ground floor, which for a while housed part of his collection of antiquities. The collection now resides in the Hunt Museum in the city of Limerick.” [7]

4. Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, County Clare

Dunguaire Castle, County Clare, July 2021.

Maintained by Shannon Heritage.

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

p. 115. “(Martyn/LGI1912; Gogarty/IFR; Russell, Ampthill, B/PB) An old tower-house with a bawn and a smaller tower, on a creek of Galway Bay; which was for long roofless, though in other respects well maintained by the Martyn family, of Tulira, who owned it C18 and C19, and which was bought in the present century by Oliver St John Gogarty, the surgeon, writer and wit, to save it from threat of demolition. More recently, it was bought by the late Christabel, Lady Ampthill, and restored by her as her home; her architect, being Donal O’Neill Flanagan, who carried out a most successful and sympathetic restoration. The only addition to the castle was an unobtrusive two storey wing joining the main tower to the smaller one. The main tower has two large vaulted rooms, one above the other, in its two lower storeys, which keep their original fireplaces; these were made into the dining room and drawing room. “Medieval” banquets and entertainments are now held here.” 

Dunguaire Castle, County Clare, July 2021.
Dunguaire Castle, County Clare, July 2021.

5. Kilrush House, County ClareVandeleur Gardens

Vandeleur walled Garden, Kilrush, Co Clare, photo by Air Swing Media 2019 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

– ‘lost’, Vandeleur Gardens open 

www.vandeleurwalledgarden.ie 

Timothy William Ferrers writes about it on his website:

KILRUSH HOUSE, County Clare, was an early Georgian house of 1808. 

From 1881 until Kilrush House was burnt in 1897, Hector Stewart Vandeleur lived mainly in London and only spent short periods each year in Kilrush. Indeed during the years 1886-90, which coincided with the period of the greatest number of evictions from the Vandeleur estate, he does not appear to have visited Kilrush. 

In 1889, Hector bought Cahircon House and then it was only a matter of time before the Vandeleurs moved to Cahircon as, in 1896, they were organising shooting parties at Kilrush House and also at the Cahircon demesne.  

Hector Stewart Vandeleur was the last of the Vandeleurs to be buried at Kilrush in the family mausoleum. Cahircon House was sold in 1920, ending the Kilrush Vandeleurs’ direct association with County ClareHector Vandeleur had, by 1908, agreed to sell the Vandeleur estate to the tenants for approximately twenty years’ rent, and the majority of the estate was purchased by these tenants. 

THE VANDELEURS, as landlords, lost lands during the Land Acts and the family moved to Cahircon, near Kildysart. 
 
In 1897, Kilrush House was badly damaged by fire. 

During the Irish Land Commission of the 1920s, the Department of Forestry took over the estate, planted trees in the demesne and under their direction the remains of the house were removed in 1973, following an accident in the ruins.Today the top car park is laid over the site of the house. 

Vandeleur Walled Garden now forms a small part of the former Kilrush demesne. The Kilrush demesne was purchased by the Irish Department of Agriculture as trustee under the Irish Land Acts solely for the purpose of forestry. The Kilrush Committee for Urban Affairs purchased the Fair Green and Market House.” [8]

6. Knappogue or Knoppogue Castle, County Clare

Knappogue is maintained by Shannon Heritage.

From Mark Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses.

Mark Bence-Jones writes about Knoppogue, or Knappogue, Castle in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):

p. 180. “(Butler, Dunboyne, B/PB) A large tower-house with a low C19 castellated range, possibly by James Pain, built onto it. Recently restored and now used for “medieval banquets” similar to those at Bunratty Castle, Co Clare.” 

7. Mount Ievers Court, Sixmilebridge, County Clare  

Mount Ievers, photograph from National Inventory.

mountieverscourt.ie

The website has a terrific history of the house. First, it tells us:

Mount Ievers Court is an 18th c. Irish Georgian country house nestled in the Co. Clare countryside just outside the town of Sixmilebridge.  The house was originally the site of a 16th c.  tower house called Ballyarilla Castle built by Lochlann McNamara.  The tower house was demolished in the early 18th c. to construct the present house, built between 1733-1737 by John & Isaac Rothery, for Col. Henry Ievers.

Mount Ievers Court  has been home to the Ievers family for 281 years and since then generations of Ievers and their families have worked hard to maintain the house in order to ensure that the estate retains a viable place in the local community and Ireland’s heritage long into the future. Mount Ievers is currently owned by Breda Ievers née O’Halloran, a native of Sixmilebridge, and her son Norman. Norman is married to Karen, an American by birth, who has a keen interest in Irish history & the family archives.

A topographical vie of Mount Ievers, County Clare dating from the second quarter of the 18th century, courtesy of exhibition “In Harmony with Nature” curated by Robert O’Byrne in the Irish Georgian Society, July 2022.

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

p. 214. “(Ievers/IFR) The most perfect and also probably the earliest of the tall Irish houses; built ca. 1730-37 by Colonel Henry Ievers to the design of John Rothery, whose son, Isaac, completed the work after his death and who appears to have also been assisted by another member of the Rothery family, Jemmy. The house, which replaced an old castle, is thought to have been inspired by Chevening, in Kent – now the country house of the Prince of Wales – with which Ievers could have been familiar not only through the illustration in Vitruvius Britannicus, but also because he may have been connected with the family which owned Chevening in C17. Mount Ievers, however, differs from Chevening both in detail and proportions; and it is as Irish as Chevening is English. Its two three storey seven bay fronts – which are almost identical except that one is of faded pink brick with a high basement whereas the other is of silvery limestone ashlar with the basement hidden by a grass bank – have that dreamlike, melancholy air which all the best tall C18 Irish houses have. There is a nice balance between window and wall, and a subtle effect is produced by making each storey a few inches narrower than that below it. The high-pitched roof is on a bold cornice; there are quoins, string-courses and shouldered window surrounds; the doorcase on each front has an entablature on console brackets. The interior of the house is fairly simple. Some of the rooms have contemporary panelling; one of them has a delightful primitive overmantel painting showing the house as it was originally, with an elaborate formal layout which has largely disappeared. A staircase of fine joinery with alternate barley-sugar and fluted balusters leads up to a large bedroom landing, with a modillion cornice and a ceiling of geometrical panels. On the top foor is a long gallery, a feature which seems to hark back to the C17 or C16, for it is found in hardly any other C18 Irish country houses; the closest counterpart was the Long Room in Bowen’s Court, County Cork. The present owners, S.Ldr N.L. Ievers, has carried out much restoration work and various improvements, including the placement of original thick glazing bars in some of the windows which had been given thin late-Georgain astragals ca. 1850; and the making of two ponds on the site of those in C18 layout. He and Mrs Ievers have recently opened the home to paying guests in order to meet the cost of upkeep.” 

The website tells of the ancient origins of the family, and goes on to explain:

A parchment found in the sideboard at Mount Ievers in July 2012 maintains that Henry Ivers arrived in Ireland in 1640 from Yorkshire, where the family had been settled since arriving with William the Conqueror nearly six hundred years earlier. It also records that Henry settled in County Clare in 1643 when he was appointed Collector of Revenue for Clare and Galway.

8. Newtown Castle, Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare – section 482

Newtown Castle, photograph fron National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

contact: Mary Hawkes- Greene
Tel: 065-7077200
www.newtowncastle.com , 
Open: Jan 10-May 31, Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon-Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 16 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm
Fee: Free.

The website tells us: “The historic Newtown Castle has occupied a prominent position in Ballyvaughan since the 16th century. Having lain derelict for many years, the castle’s restoration began in 1994, completed in time for the opening of the Burren College of Art in August of that year. 

Newtown Castle is once again a vibrant building in daily use, central to the artistic, cultural and educational life of the Burren. It is open free of charge to the public on week days. Newtown Castle is also available to hire for: wedding ceremonies, small private functions or company events.” 

Maurice Craig and Desmond Fitzgerald the Knight of Glin describe it in their book Ireland Observed. A handbook to the Buildings and Antiquities: “This sixteenth-century tower, nearly round in plan, rises from a square base, on which is the entrance door. Ingeniously places shot-holes protect its four sides.” [9]

Maurice Craig also writes about Newtown in his book The Architecture of Ireland from the Earliest Times to 1880:

There is a small class of cylindrical tower-houses: so small that it is worth attempting to enumerate them all, omitting those which appear to be thirteenth-century (and hence not tower-houses). They are Cloughoughter, County Cavan (which is dubiously claimed for the fourteenth century); Carrigabrack, East of Fermoy County Cork; Knockagh near Templemore County Tipperary; Ballysheeda near Cappawhite County Tipperary; Golden in the same county; Crannagh now attached to an eighteenth century house near Templetuohy in the same county; Balief County Kilkenny; Grantstown near Rathdowney County Leix; Barrow Harbour County Kerry; Newtown near Gort in County Galway; Doonagore County Clare also by the sea; Faunarooska, Burren, County Clare; and Newtown at the North edge of the Burren, also in County Clare.

The last of these is in some ways the most interesting, being in form a cylinder impaled upon a pyramid. Over the door (which is in the pyramid) there is a notch in the elliptical curve traced by the cylinder, and in this notch is a gunhole covering a wide sector of the sloping wall below. At some other castles, for example, Ballynamona on the Awbeg river, there is a feature using the same principle, which is not easy to describe. On each face of the building there is what looks at first site like the “ghost” or creasing of a pitched roof, but is in fact a triangular plane, about a foot deep at the top, decreasing to nothing at the base. In the apex there is a gunhole. Aesthetically the effect is very subtle.” [10]

Newtown Castle, courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [11]

9. O’Dea’s, or Dysert Castle, County Clare

– can visit http://www.dysertcastle.com/castle.htm

The Castle was built in 1480 by Diarmuid O’Dea, Lord of Cineal Fearmaic. The uppermost floors and staircase were badly damaged by the Cromwellians in 1651. Repaired and opened in 1986, the castle houses an extensive museum, an audio visual presentation and various exhibitions. 

Free car/coach parking and toilets 
Tea rooms and bookshop 
Chapel 
Modern History Room 1700AD – 2000AD 
Museum – Local artefacts 1000BC – 1700AD 
Audio – visual presentation – local archaeology 
Medieval masons and carpenters workshop 
Roof wall – walk to view surrounding monuments 

Places to Stay, County Clare 

1. Ballinalacken Castle, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare – hotel €€

Photograph from National Library of Ireland, constant commons, Flickr, Ballinalicken Castle, County Clare.

https://www.ballinalackencastle.com/ 

The website tells us that the property has been in the O’Callaghan family for three generations, and is now run by Declan and Cecilia O’Callaghan. The rooms look luxurious, some with four poster beds, and the hotel has a full restaurant.

The website tells us: “The original house was owned by the famous O’Brien clan – a royal and noble dynasty who were descendants of the High King of Ireland, Brian Ború. The house , castle and 100 acres of land was bought by Declan’s grandfather Daniel O’Callaghan, in 1938 and he and his wife Maisie opened it as a fine hotel. It was later passed to Daniel’s son Dennis and his wife Mary and then to his son, Declan. Declan and Cecilia have three children who also assist in the family business.

Standing tall on a limestone outcrop, our very own Castle, Ballinalacken Castle, is a two-stage tower house which was built in the 15th or early 16th century. It is thought the name comes from the Irish Baile na leachan (which means “town of the flagstones/tombstones/stones”).

10th Century: The original fortress is built by famous Irish clan, the O’Connors – rulers of West Corcomroe.

14th Century: The fortress itself is found and Lochlan MacCon O’Connor is in charge of its rebuilding.

1564: Control of West Corcomroe passes to Donal O’Brien of the O’Brien family.

1582: The lands are formally granted by deed to Turlough O’Brien of Ennistymon. After the Cromwellians triumphed in the area, five of Turlough’s castles are razed to the ground – but Ballinalacken is saved as it was not on the list of “overthrowing and demolishing castles in Connaught and Clare.”

1662: Daniel dies and grandson Donough is listed as rightful holder of the Castle.

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

p. 26. “(O’Brien/LGI1912) A single-storey house with a curved bow, close to an old keep on a rock. The seat of the O’Brien family, of which Lord Chief Justice Peter O’Brien, Lord O’Brien of Kilfenora (known irreverently as “Pether the Packer”) was a younger son.” 

2. Ballyportry Castle, Corofin, County Clare a tower house, € for 4-8 for one week

http://www.ballyportry.ie

Ballyportry, County Clare, photograph from National Inventory.

Rising bluntly out of the craggy landscape, Ballyportry is the finest example in Ireland of a complete medieval Gaelic Tower House. Built in the 15th century it has been beautifully restored with careful attention being paid to retaining all its original features and style, yet with the comforts of the 21st century.”

3. Castle Fergus House, or Ballyhannon, County Clarecoach house accommodation €€€ or € for 15 or castle €€ for 10 – the lodge is for sale so may not be available for rental

There is a private house, a tower house castle and coach house.

Castlefergus House, also known as Ballyhannon Castle: A Blood Smyth property from the late 18th century, sold by the Blood Smyth to the Bloods of Ballykilty in the early 20th century. This house was occupied by Daniel Powell in 1814 but the Blood Smyths were in residence in the 1830s and 1850s. They appear to have held the property from Ralph Westropp. The mansion house of Castlefergus was in the possession of Rev William Blood Smith in 1906.” [12]

The Lodge: https://www.castleferguslodge.com/ €€€ or € for 15

The lodge is for sale (July 2022) so I suspect it is no longer available for rental.

Castle Fergus Lodge, County Clare, photograph from myhome.ie

A 19th century coach house adjacent to Ballyhannon Fortress Castle. Take a step back in time, and enjoy the unique experience of this historic landmark, at our bed and breakfast. We are at the end of a private drive, so no one will be “passing by” to interfere with your peace and tranquility.” 

Castle Fergus Lodge and Ballyhannon Castle, photograph from myhome.ie
Castle Fergus Lodge and Ballyhannon Castle, photograph from myhome.ie

The Tower House: http://rentacastleinireland.com/history.html €€ for 10

The website tells us:

The castle of Ballyhannon, also known in later times as Castlefergus, most likely from its proximity to the River Fergus, is a late fifteenth century towerhouse of untypical internal design within the context of the Co. Clare group of towerhouses. The castle stands in the townland of Castlefergus close to Latoon Creek, which itself feeds into the River Fergus. Ballyhannon townlands (both north and south) lie to the north east of the castle. The older spelling, Ballyhannan, is retained in these townland names. The townland name can be translated as O’Hannan’s or O’Hannon’s home. Although there are many substantial families of Hannon in Munster and Connaught, the name seldom appears in the annals of medieval Ireland. 

The death in 1266 of Maelisa O’Hannen, prior of Roscommon, is one of the few such entries.In the census of 1659 the name was found in considerable numbers in the Barony of Bunratty. The prefix O, was dropped in the submergence of Gaelic Ireland and has not been resumed. Strictly speaking Hannon is the anglicised form of the Gaelic O’ hAnnáin, a name chiefly associated with Co. Limerick. It was common at the end of the sixteenth century in many parts of Connaught and Munster. The Hannons or Ó hAnnáin are a Dalcassian sept of noble Milesian ancestry whose members attained the status of knighthood, and whose patrimonial lands were in this area, south of Quin. Their name is still retained in the townlands of Ballyhannan north and Ballyhannan south. Although the Hannon name is remembered in the name of Ballyhannon Castle, their history is of an earlier period and no references to the family can be found in connection with the history of the castle itself. 

The castle was built about 1490 by Hugh, and possibly Síoda, sons of Donnchadh MacNamara. This period was described by the noted antiquarian, T.J.Westropp, as the “Golden Age of castle-building in Thomond”, because of the high standard of construction which had been achieved by the masons at this period. Although Ballyhannon Castle was the home of the MacNamaras for many centuries, there are some references to the O’Briens, on whose lands it stood, in relation to its history. For example in the year 1560, a grant was made by Queen Elizabeth I to Conor O’Brien, Earl of Thomond, of Ballyhannon Castle, and several other castles, previously held by Donnell O’Brien; “To hold in tail male, by service of one knight’s fee”, meaning that the property would pass onto his male heirs, subject to military service to the Queen. In the lists of the castles of the county for the years 1570 and 1574 Ballyhannon Castle was owned by Covea Riogh MacNamara, son of Mahon. Some transcriptions of these lists record the castle as being owned by William Neylon. This was due to an error in aligning the columns during the transcription of the original manuscript lists

Castlefergus Lodge, photograph from myhome.ie, July 2022.

A fireplace with the inscription “H.T.E. 1576” was recorded by Westropp & Twigge in the 1890’s, as being in the castle. This was one of the earliest dated fireplaces in the county, though it cannot now be located within the castle. In 1586 Queen Elizabeth I issued a pardon to Hugh, son of Covea MacNamara, of Ballyhannon Castle for being in rebellion. He had to provide sureties for his future good behaviour and answer at the local courts as requested. In the 1626 rental of the 5th Earl of Thomond, Henry O’Brien, Ballyhannon Castle was listed as being rented to one Robert Hawksworth, with one quarter of land for the sum of £4.00. It is likely that Hawksworth was one of the many English Protestant settlers brought into the county by the O’Briens and settled on the O’Brien properties in Thomond during this period. The settling of English Protestants on lands of the native Irish Catholics precipitated the 1641 rebellion and many records exist of the Irish despoiling the settlers and turning them out of their newly acquired lands and properties. The MacNamaras of Ballyhannon acted no differently than the other displaced Irish. John Smith of Latoon complained of his losses which, “amounted to £1,354, including his lease for life of Lattoon, and his outlay upon buildings and sea embankments.” He complained that Oliver Delahoyde of Fomerla Castle in Tulla, “with fifty men came, on the night of 15th January 1642, and stripped him of part of his goods. The work of spoilation was subsequently completed by the MacNamaras of Ballyhannon” among others. Most of the Irish landowners who took part in this rebellion were later stripped of their possessions. Among those noted as having forfeited their property after the rebellion was Mahone MacNamara of Ballyhannon. His property was disposed of to Pierce Creagh (a Protestant settler) and to the Earl of Thomond, Barnabas O’Brien, 6th Earl. After the rebellion, the Cromwellian campaign attempted to complete the subjugation of the native Irish, and many of their castles were dismantled by the Commonwealth forces to render them defenceless. Ballyhannon appears to have escaped this destruction and a sketch of the castle in 1675, which survives in the “Edenvale Survey”, shows it to have been roofed and in good condition. The castle appears to be surrounded by a bawn wall with a gate and loophole windows at this time. With the assention to the English throne of the Catholic King James II in 1685, the fate of the native Irish improved somewhat for a time. Ballyhannon Castle was one of the castles noted by Sir Daniel O’Brien, Viscount Clare, as being suitable for the imprisonment of Protestant settlers who were now being dispossessed. A letter written in 1689 describing the events of the time is worth recording. “Take every one of them that are young (Seir or Mr.), and let the common sort lie in the prison, and the rest strictly guarded, or rather put into some strong castle that has a geate to be locked on the outside like Ballyhannon”. Pierce Creagh who had received part of the MacNamara property at Ballyhannon after the rebellion was named as one of those to be imprisoned in the above letter from Sir Daniel O’Brien. The castle is also mentioned in 1690 when Thomas Hickman, who seemed to be living in fear during another upsurge in the conflict, asked Sir Donough O’Brien to collect some of his belongings from Ballyhannon Castle and to keep  other possessions of his in a safe place, as he expected the castle was soon to be garrisoned. The castle appears on Henry Pelham’s “Grand Jury” map of 1787 under the names Ballyhannon and Castlefergus, which is the first time Castlefergus appears as the name of the castle. Hely Dutton, writing in 1808, records the castle as: “Fergus – inhabited and lately white-washed! ”. There are also some references to the Blood family of Castlefergus, though these relate most likely to Castlefergus House which stood south west of the castle and is now demolished. Charlotte Blood, daughter of William Blood, who was murdered at his house at Applevale near Corofin, married her cousin Matthew Henry Blood, M.D. of Castlefergus in 1831. Westropp, writing in 1917 notes some curious traces of settlement in the fields at Castlefergus, most likely the remains of ringforts and other early Bronze Age habitation sites. Samuel Lewis, writing, in 1837, notes Castlefergus as: “The fine modern residence” of William Smith Blood Esq. He adds: “adjoining which are the remains of the ancient edifice”, telling us that by this date the castle was uninhabited, probably for the first time in 350 years. By 1858 the castle was ivy-covered and described as: “a fine old green-mantled tower” on the grounds of Castlefergus House. 

Castlefergus Lodge, photograph from myhome.ie, July 2022.

The American millionaire and oil heiress Elizabeth Phillips (of Phillips Petroleum) and her husband Henry D. Irwin, who chose to call it “Ballyhannan Castle”, (using the older townland spelling), restored the building to its former glory in 1970. It is currently rented out to top-of-the-market tourists as a unique ‘out-of-the-way’ destination. It was also home to rock stars, as well as several American and British film stars during film making in the region. 

Robert Twigge’s description of the castle in the early 1900’s is of interest and is appended here. “The castle stands on a low rock, scarped to the west and had no outworks, (the bawn noted in 1675 having been removed by this time). The very perfect tower, measuring 33’6” x 24’, is in excellent preservation, having been inhabited in the last century. The pointed south door is defended by a shot-hole on the left and a murder hole above. The stair mounts round the s.w. angle, and at the 14th step a long corridor with 2 lights in the w. wall is reached. At the n. end a spiral staircase of 72 steps leads to the top. At the 12th step from the corridor another passage through the n. wall is reached. 5 curved steps at the s. end of the w. corridor lead to a similar passage along the s. wall over the porch and lodge. There is a handsome trefoil headed window of 2 lights in the s.w. angle and a garderobe to the s.e. angle. Mounting the spiral stair still higher other corridors, over the lower ones, in the w. and s. sides, are reached. There are 4 main stories under the stone vault forming the roof. The basement story has very deep recesses under the corridor and the 2 on the n. side have a narrow chamfered screen between them. A fireplace bears the date 1576, but this was of course a later addition to the building”. 

In Quin, County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland is one of the most renowned authentic medieval castles in Ireland to rent, whether as a self catering vacation rental, or in which to have your castle wedding or to mark one of life’s special occasions.  

Dating back to the late 15th century, in recent years it has proven to be the most popular choice of foreign and Irish tourists alike, for both catered events and self catering accommodation.  

Castlefergus Lodge, photograph from myhome.ie, July 2022.

Known locally as Castlefergus, in the Irish Governmental records it is registered as a National Monument and “Listed/Protected” structure, intended to protect its historic, architectural and aesthetic significance. It is indeed fortunate that we, the current owners, take great care of it and are in a position to allow it to continue to be among the few castles in Ireland to rent on an exclusive basis for the likes of weddings, honeymooners, family reunions or other milestone events, or just for those who wish to have the unique experience of having an entire real medieval Irish castle privately to themselves.”  

Castlefergus Lodge, photograph from myhome.ie, July 2022.
Castlefergus Lodge, photograph from myhome.ie, July 2022.
Castlefergus Lodge, photograph from myhome.ie, July 2022.

4. Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare – hotel €€€

www.dromoland.ie 

Dromoland Castle, County Clare, photo care of Dromoland Castle, for Tourism Ireland 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])

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

p. 109. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB) Originally a large early C18 house with a pediment and a high pitched roof; built for Sir Edward O’Brien, 2nd Bt; possibly inspired by Thomas Burgh, MP, Engineer and Surveyor-General for Ireland. Elaborate formal garden. This house was demolished ca 1826 by Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Bt (whose son succeeded his kinsman as 13th Lord Inchiquin and senior descendant of the O’Brien High Kings) and a wide-spreading and dramatic castle by James and George Richard Pain was built in its place. The castle is dominated by a tall round corner tower and a square tower, both of then heavily battlemented and machicolated; there are lesser towers and a turreted porch. The windows in the principal fronts are rectangular, with Gothic tracery. The interior plan is rather similar to that of Mitchelstown Castle, Co Cork, also by the Pains; a square entrance hall opens into a long single-storey inner hall like a gallery, with the staircase at its far end and the principal reception rooms on one side of it. But whereas Mitchelstown rooms had elaborate plaster Gothic vaulting, those at Dromoland had plain flat ceilings with simple Gothic or Tudor-Revival cornices. The dining room has a dado of Gothic panelling. The drawing room was formerly known as the Keightley Room, since it contained many of the magnificent C17 portraits which came to the O’Brien family through the marriage of Lucius O’Brien, MP, to Catherine Keightley, whose maternal grandfather was Edward Hyde, the great Earl of Clarendon. The other Keightley portraits hung in the long gallery, which runs from the head of the staircase, above the inner hall. Part of the C18 garden layout survives, including a gazebo and a Doric rotunda. In the walled garden in a C17 gateway brought from Lemeneagh Castle, which was the principal seat of this branch of the O’Briens until they abandoned it in favour of Dromoland. The Young Irelander leader, William Smith O’Brien, a brother of the 13th Lord Inchiquin, was born in Dromoland in C18 house. Dromolond castle is now a hotel, having been sold 1962 by 16yh Lord Inchiquin, who built himself a modern house in the grounds to the design of Mr Donal O’Neill Flanagan; it is in a pleasantly simple Georgian style.” 

Lucius Henry O’Brien, 3rd Baronet of Dromoland, County Clare (1731-95) also lived in 14 Henrietta St from 1767-1795 – for more about him, see Melanie Hayes, The Best Address in Town: Henrietta Street, Dublin and its First Residents 1720-80, published by Four Courts Press, Dublin 8, 2020. 

5. Falls Hotel, formerly Ennistymon House, Ennistymon, Co. Clare  €€

Falls Hotel, photograph for Failte Ireland, 2021. [see Ireland’s Content Pool]. (see [3])

www.fallshotel.ie 

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

p. 121. “(Macnamara/IFR) :A two storey seven bay gable-ended C18 house with a two bay return prolonged by a single-storey C19 wing ending in a gable. One bay pedimented breakfront with fanlighted tripartite doorway; lunette window in pediment. Some interior plasterwork, including a frieze incorporating an arm embowed brandishing a sword – the O’Brien crest – in the hall. Conservatory with art-nouveau metalwork; garden with flights of steps going down to the river. The home of Francis MacNamara, a well-known bohemian character who was the father-in-law of Dylan Thomas and who married, as his second wife, the sister of Augustus John’s Dorelia; he and John are the Two Flamboyant Fathers in the book of that name by his daughter, Nicolette Shephard.” 

6. Gregan’s Castle Hotel, County Clare €€€

WWW.GREGANS.IE

Gregan’s Castle hotel, County Clare, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us Gregan’s Castle was built in 1750. It tells us Gregan’s Castle is a: “six-bay two-storey house, built c. 1750, with half-octagonal lower projection. Extended c. 1840, with single-bay two-storey gabled projecting bay and single-storey flat-roofed projecting bay to front. Seven-bay two-storey wing with single-storey canted bay windows to ground floor, added c. 1990, to accommodate use as hotel.”

The website tells us:

Welcome to Gregans Castle Hotel. Please take a look around our luxury, eco and gourmet retreat, nestled in the heart of the beautiful Burren on Ireland’s west coast. The house has been welcoming guests since the 1940s and our family have been running it since 1976. Our stunning 18th century manor house is set in its own established and lovingly-attended gardens on the Wild Atlantic Way, and has spectacular views that stretch across the Burren hills to Galway Bay.

Inside, you’ll find welcoming open fires, candlelight and striking decoration ranging from modern art, to antique furniture, to pretty garden flowers adorning the rooms. Gregans Castle has long been a source of inspiration for its visitors. 

Guests have included J.R.R Tolkien, who’s said to have been influenced by the Burren when writing The Lord of the Rings, as well as other revered artists and writers such as Seamus Heaney and Sean Scully.

And for the guests of today: with warm Irish hospitality, stylish accommodation, outstanding service and exceptional fine dining in our award-winning restaurant, we truly are a country house of the 21st century. You can do nothing or everything here. And whatever you choose, we’d like you to join us in celebrating all that is wondrous and beautiful in this truly exceptional place.

Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray

7. Loop Head Lightkeeper’s Cottage, County Clare €€ for 2; € for 4-6

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

Perched proudly on an enclosure at the tip of Loop Head stands the lighthouse station. Surrounded by birds and wild flowers, cliffs and Atlantic surf, Loop Head offers holiday accommodation with all of the spectacular appeal of the rugged west coast.

8. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co Claresee above

contact: Billy Loughnane
Tel: 086-2565012
www.clareecolodge.ie
Open: June 1-August 31, Wed-Sun, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free

The website tells us:

Clare Ecolodge at Loughnane’s, Feakle, in the heart of East Clare, is a unique family-run guest accommodation experience. We also offer group and self-catering accommodation as well as residential courses.
The buildings, which have been in the family for over 100 years, were renovated 10 years ago. Since then we have been welcoming guests from all over the world.
Clare Ecolodge at Loughnane’s offers a wide variety of accommodation to suit the needs of individuals and groups visiting Feakle for a residential courses or using the village as a base to explore the wild and beautiful landscape of County Clare.
Feakle is an ideal location from which to discover the East Clare countryside. Steeped in history and heritage, the area is known for its fine walks, stunning lakes, rugged mountains and of course its vibrant Irish traditional music scene.
Loughnane’s offers a unique blend of tranquillity and fun giving guests a genuine Irish experience.

Clare Ecolodge at Loughnane’s in Feakle has been designated by the Irish State as a building of significant historical, architectural interest and members of the public are invited to view the building (free of charge) at the following times from June 1 to August 31 from Wednesday to Sunday between 2pm and 6pm.

Clare Ecolodge; The Energy Story:

Clare Ecolodge was created in 2018 to signify the changes which we have implemented over  the past two years at Loughnane’s Guesthouse/ Hostel. 

We have converted all our rooms in the main house to large private double and family rooms.

In May 2018 we installed 30 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of the main building. Look up and see for yourself!

Since then we have been producing between 20 to 60kw hours per day.

In May 2018 we also installed an air to water heat pump system. This is a low usage eco-water heating system powered by electricity.

This heats all our water requirements for showers, laundry and kitchen requirements. We have not turned on our oil burner since installation. 

The average yearly energy requirements for an Irish household is approximately 4000kwh. Our energy system has produced this in the past 3 months. In that time we have avoided 2.5 tonnes of CO2.

We use between 5 and 15kwh per day. The surplus is sent back to the grid at the transformer  at the top of the village. We currently receive zero compensation for the excess electricity we generate but the ESB charges the community for the usage of this electricity.

We estimate that we are currently at least 50% off-gird.

Our main hot water and energy requirements are in the summer months. In high season there are more showers used and laundry needed. Our current energy system can handle this with little effort.

For the past decade we have been growing our own vegetables and herbs for use in our kitchen.

Next phase – Winter time

Our Solar PV panels are powered by light rather than heat so will work in winter, albeit not for periods as long in the summer. 

We aim to install a battery storage system so we can manage the energy we generate to be used at the most opportune times.

We aim to install a second heat pump for our central heating requirements. This will effectively reduce our oil consumption to zero.

We aim to install a wind turbine system on our 12 acre farm behind the main house. This will be used as a back up to bridge the energy generation gap between winter and summer.

9. Mount Callan House and Restaurant, Inagh, Co Clare – B&B 

https://www.mountcallanhouse.ie

Culleen, Kilmaley,
County Clare, V95 NV0T

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

p. 212. (Synge/IFR; Tottenham/IFR) A Victorian house of two storys over basement built 1873 by Lt Col G.C. Synge and his wife, Georgiana, who was also his first cousin, being the daughter of Lt-Col Charles Synge, the previous owner of the estate. The estate was afterwards inherited by Georgiana Synge’s nephew, Lt-Col F. St. L. Tottenham, who made a garden in which rhododendrons run riot and many rare and tender species flourish.” 

The website tells us:

Mount Callan House & Restaurant is situated in the beautiful surroundings of West Clare in the heart of Kilmaley village. We are a small, family-run restaurant, led by Chef Daniel Lynch, and guest house with a deep connection to our rural community.

The local landscape is our inspiration and our food is created using the very best seasonal ingredients from award-winning, local suppliers.

We encourage creativity, a good working environment and a community approach for the benefit of all.

10. Mount Cashel Lodge, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare period self-catering accommodation €

https://www.mtcashel.com

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

The website describes it: “Enjoy luxury self-catering accommodation in these beautifully restored 18th Century lakeside lodges. Set in a 38 acre private landscaped estate with private Lake, riverside walk and Victorian cottage garden to explore. Lake boating, kayaking and fishing are available on site to complete this idyllic retreat.

11. Newpark House, Ennis, County Clare €

https://www.newparkhouse.com/rates/

Newpark House, County Clare by Jen on flickr constant commons, 2016.

The website tells us: “Newpark House was built around 1750, and since then it has been the property of three families: the Hickmans, the Mahons and the Barrons.

The Hickmans came into the possession of Cappahard Estate in 1733. On part of this estate, Gortlevane townland, Richard Hickman built a house and landscaped around it. Around this time he re-named the townland Newpark. Several of those trees from the planting of the new park still survive. 
On his marriage in 1768 his father transferred the property to Richard. He died in 1810 and this property transferred to his son Edward Shadwell Hickman. Edward was a Crown Solicitor in Dublin and put the property up for rent. 

The Mahons: Patrick Mahon, a member of the new up and coming Catholic gentry, took up this offer and moved his family into Newpark. The Mahon family were very involved in the campaign for equal rights for Catholics in Ireland. Patrick’s son, James Patrick commonly known as The O’Gorman Mahon, nominated Daniel O’Connell to contest the famous Clare Election of 1828. O’Connell’s victory in this election resulted in the granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829. It is highly likely that Daniel O’Connell stayed at Newpark during his visits to Ennis at this time. O’Gorman Mahon (1802-1891) had a very colourful life which ranged from hunting bears in Finland with a Russian Tzar to becoming a Colonel and Aide-de-Camp to the President of Costa Rica. Back in Ireland he is said to have introduced Parnell to Kitty O’Shea. 

While the Mahon family were living here they totally remodled the house. They added on wings and castlated the house in the Gothic revival style which was fashionable in Ireland at that time. The architect responsible would seem to be either John Nash or one of his former apprentices, the Pain brothers, all three were working in the area at this time.

 Of special historical significance is a pair of crosses on the turrets of the house. These crosses have shamrocks on the ends and were put there to commerate Catholic Emancipation. The Mahon family purchased the estate outright in 1853 and held it until 1904. 

At times when Newpark was owned by the Hickmans and Mahons several other families and individuals lived there. The Ennis poet Thomas Dermody spent time here with his father before he set off from Newpark, in 1785, for Dublin, in search of fame and fortune. Thomas remarked on the comfort he felt at Newpark during his time there. Also to have lived at Newpark were Captain William Cole Hamilton, a Magistrate (1870-1876), William Robert Prickett (1883-1886) and Philip Anthony Dwyer (1888-1904), Captains in the local Clare Division of the British Army. 

The Barrons: In 1904 the property came into ownership of the present family, the Barrons. 
Timothy ‘Thady’ Barron was born on the side of the road, in 1847, during the famine. His father had lost his herdsman job, along with the herdsman’s cottage, due to a change of landlord. After a few tough years his father got another herdsmans job and Thady followed in his fathers footsteps. Thady moved in to Newpark in 1904 with his family and he lived he until his death in 1945. In the 1950s Thady’s son James ‘Amy’ bought the property from his sister Nance. In 1960 Amy’s son Earnan and his new wife Bernie moved into a barely habitable Newpark House. They set about slowly but surely bringing the house back to live. Luckily for them they got an opportunity to furnish the house with antiques, which were at that time considered second-hand furniture. Bernie opened up Newpark House as a B&B in 1966. Her son, Declan, is the present owner and we are looking forward to 50 years in business in 2016.”

12. Smithstown Castle (or Ballynagowan), County Claretower house € for 4-8 for one week

http://smithstowncastle.com 

Ballynagowan Castle County Clare by Neale Adams, 2011 on flickr constant commons.

From the website:

Only few castles in the West of Ireland have survived into our times. Ballynagowan (Smithstown) Castle has played an exciting role in the history of North Clare, taking its name from ‘beal-atha-an-ghobhan’, meaning the ‘mouth of the smith’s ford’. 

It was first mentioned in 1551 when the last King of Munster, Murrough O’Brien, (also known as the Tanist, was created 1st Earl of Thomond and 1st Baron of Inchiquin in 1543), willed the Castle of Ballynagowan to his son Teige before his death. 

Over the years it accommodated many famous characters of Irish history. Records show that in 1600 the legendary Irish rebel “Red” Hugh O’Donnell rested there with his men during his attack on North Clare, spreading ruin everywhere and seeking revenge on the Earl of Thomond for his being in alliance with the English. 

In 1649 Oliver Cromwell’s army came from England with death and destruction. The Castle was attacked with cannons when Cromwell’s General, Ludlow, swept into North Clare striking terror everywhere he went. 

In 1650 Conor O’Brien of Lemeneagh became heir of the castle. His death, however, came shortly afterwards in 1551, as he was fatally wounded in a skirmish with Cromwellian troops commanded by General Ludlow at Inchicronan. With him had fought his wife Maire Rua O’Brien (“The Red Mary”, named after her long red hair), one of the best known characters in Irish tradition. She had lived in the castle as a young woman and it is the ferocity and cruelty attributed to her, which has kept her name alive. Legends tell that to save her children’s heritage after Conor’s death she married several English generals, who were killed in mysterious ways one after the other- she supposedly ended her bloody carrier entombed in a hollow tree. 

During 1652 almost all inhabitable castles in Clare including Smithstown were occupied by Cromwellian garrisons, a time of terrible uncertainty as Clare was under military rule. 

Over the next decades Ballynagowan Castle was the seat of army generals, the High Sheriff of County Clare and Viscount Powerscourt, one of the most powerful aristocrats who had their main residence – a monumental neogothic palace – in Dublin.  

The castle was last inhabited mid 19th century and until its recent restauration served as beloved meeting point for couples -, songs and poems about it finding their way into the local pubs.

13. Spanish Point House, Spanish Point, County Clare €

https://spanishpointhouse.ie

The is a Victorian house, originally called Sea View House.

The website tells us:

In 1884 the local Roman Catholic Bishop, James Ryan, expressed a wish to start a primary and secondary school in Miltown Malbay, a short distance from Spanish Point House, but his vision was unrealised for many years to come.

In 1903 the bishop’s estate donated £900 to the Mercy Sisters to establish a school, but things did not happen until 1928, when three houses owned by the Morony estate were offered for sale to the Mercy Sisters with the intention of establishing a school at Spanish Point. The Moronys were a family of local landlords who had owned a significant number of properties in the Spanish Point and Miltown Malbay area between 1750 and 1929, including Sea View House, Miltown House, and The Atlantic Hotel.

The Moronys were responsible for much of the development of the locality of Spanish Point, which began in 1712 when Thomas Morony took a lease of land, later purchased by his eldest son, Edmund, divided it into two farms and leased it to two local landlords for thirty-one years. Francis Gould Morony willed Sea View House, which he built in 1830, to his wife’s niece, Marianne Harriet Stoney, who married Captain Robert Ellis. The house was inherited by the Ellis family and one of their sons – Thomas Gould Ellis – became the son and heir.

Almost a century later, in January 1928, a successor, Robert Gould Ellis, sold the property to the Mercy Sisters for £2,400 and in 1929 Colonel Burdett Morony sold Woodbine Cottage to the nuns for £300. Colonel Burdett Morony was a son of widow Ellen Burdett Morony of Miltown House, a woman who was quite unpopular amongst her tenants for rack-renting to such an extent that a boycott was operated against her. Woodbine Cottage, now part of the local secondary school building, was a summer residence of the Russell family and part of the Morony estate.

On 19 March 1929 – the feast of St Joseph – a deed of purchase was signed and Sea View House became St Joseph’s Convent. The coach house, stables and harness rooms were fitted out as classrooms and a secondary school was opened on 4 September 1929.

In 1931 the west wing was used as dormitories for boarders for the first time. In 1946 Wooodbine Cottage was converted into three classrooms and Miltown House (the Morony family seat, built in the early 1780s by Thomas J. Morony, who developed the town of Miltown Malbay) was also bought by the nuns and became the convent of the Immaculate Conception and a day school, while St Joseph’s was given over to boarding pupils.

In 1959 a new secondary school was opened in part of Miltown House and in Woodbine Cottage by Dr Patrick Hillery, then Minister for Education. He originally came from Spanish Point and was later to become President of Ireland.

In 1978 the boarding school at St Joseph’s closed, due to falling numbers, following the introduction of free secondary education and free school transport, which allowed pupils a greater choice of schools. The house was then given by the sisters to Clare Social Services as a holiday home for children, and was called McCauley House after the Venerable Catherine McCauley – founder of the Mercy Order.

In September 2015 Clare Social Service sold the former convent to Pat and Aoife O’Malley, who restored it as a luxury guesthouse and re-named it Spanish Point House.”

14. Strasburgh Manor coach houses, Inch, Ennis, County Clare

https://www.strasburghmanor.com/about-strasburgh-manor/

The website tells us:

The buildings that comprise the holiday homes were the coach houses attached to the House.

Once occupied by James Burke, who was killed in the French Revolution in 1790, the House was named after the French town of Strasbourg.

It figured prominently in Irish history up to its demise in 1921, when it was burned down during the Irish War of Independence.

Families associated with it included: Burke, Daxon, Stacpoole, Huxley, Mahon, Talbot, Taylor, Scott & McGann (ref: ‘Houses of Clare’ by Hugh Weir, published by Ballinakella Press, Whitegate, Co. Clare).

Whole House Rental, County Clare

1. Inchiquin House, Corofin, County Clare – whole house rental, €€€ for 2, € for 6-10

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

Inchiquin House, County Clare by Conall, 2021 on flickr constant commons.

The website tells us “Inchiquin House is an elegant period home in County Clare, romantically tucked away in the west of Ireland not far from the Wild Atlantic Way. It is the perfect base from which to explore the unique Burren landscape, historic sites, and the region’s many leisure activities.

2. Mount Vernon lodge, Co Clare – whole house accommodation € for 7-11 people 

https://www.mountvernon.ie

Mount Vernon is a lovely Georgian Villa built in 1788 on the Burren coastline of County Clare with fine views over Galway Bay and the surrounding area. 

Built in 1788 for Colonel William Persse on his return from the American War of Independence, Mount Vernon was named to celebrate his friendship with George Washington. The three remaining cypress trees in the walled garden are thought to have been a gift from the President. 
 
During the nineteenth century Mount Vernon was the summer home of Lady Augusta Gregory of Coole, an accomplished playwright and folklorist and a pivotal figure in the Irish Cultural Renaissance. It was her collaboration with W.B.Yeats and Edward Martyn that created the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1904. Lady Gregory entertained many of the luminaries of the Irish Literary Revival at Mount Vernon including W.B.Yeats, AE (George Russell), O’Casey, Synge and George Bernard Shaw. 
 
In 1907 Lady Gregory gave the house to her son Robert Gregory as a wedding present and it was from here that he produced many of his fine paintings of the Burren landscape. He later joined the Royal Flying Corps and was shot down by ‘friendly fire’ in 1918, an event commemorated by W.B.Yeats in his famous poem, An Irish Airman Foresees his Death. 
 
A feature from this period are the unusual fireplaces designed and built by his close friend the pre-Raphaelite painter Augustus John.

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/20404103/barntick-house-barntick-co-clare

[2] https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/open-season-grand-irish-homes-that-welcome-visitors-and-get-a-tax-break-1.3855641

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

[4] p. 49. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[5] https://repository.dri.ie/catalog?f%5Broot_collection_id_ssi%5D%5B%5D=pk02rr951&mode=objects&search_field=all_fields&view=grid

[6] https://www.irishhomesandgardens.ie/irish-architecture-history-part-1/

[7] https://www.geni.com/projects/Historic-Buildings-of-County-Clare/29203

[8] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com

[9] Craig, Maurice and Knight of Glin [Desmond Fitzgerald] Ireland Observed. A handbook to the Buildings and Antiquities. The Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork, 1970.

[10] p. 103. Craig, Maurice. The Architecture of Ireland from the Earliest Times to 1880, Lambay Books, Portrane, County Dublin, first published 1982, this edition 1997, p. 103.

[11] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/20400502/newtown-art-college-newtown-burren-co-clare

[12] https://www.geni.com/projects/Historic-Buildings-of-County-Clare/29203

Places to stay and visit in County Mayo, Connaught

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

orange: “whole house rental” i.e. those properties that are only for large group accommodations or weddings, e.g. 10 or more people.

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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 (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

For a full listing of accommodation in big houses in Ireland, see my accommodation page: https://irishhistorichouses.com/accommodation/

Mayo:

1. Belleek Castle and Ballina House, originally Belleek Castle, Ballina, Mayo – hotel and gives tours 

2. Brookhill House, Brookhill, Claremorris, Co. Mayo – section 482

3. Enniscoe House & Gardens, Castlehill, Ballina, Co. Mayo – section 482

4. Old Coastguard Station, Rosmoney, Westport, Co. Mayo – section 482

5. Partry House, Mayo

6. Prizon House, Prizon North, Balla, Co. Mayo – section 482

7. Turlough Park, Museum of Country Life, Mayo

8. Westport House, County Mayo

Places to stay, County Mayo:

1. Ashford Castle, Mayo/Galway – hotel €€€

2. Belleek Castle and Ballina House, originally Belleek Castle, Ballina, Mayo –  €€

3. Breaghwy, Castlebar, Co Mayo – hotel

4. Enniscoe House, Castlehill, Ballina, Co Mayo – section 482  – accommodation

5. Knockranny House Hotel, County Mayo 

6.  Mount Falcon, Ballina, County Mayo – hotel €€

7. Newport House, Newport, Co. Mayo, Ireland

8. Owenmore, Garranard, Ballina, Co. Mayo section 482

9. Turin Castle, Turin, Kilmaine, Co. Mayo, Irelandwhole castle rental, €€ for two, € for 10-12

10. Westbrook Country House, Castlebar, County Mayo

Mayo:

1. Belleek Castle and Ballina House, originally Belleek Castle, Ballina, Mayo – hotel and gives tours

 https://www.belleekcastle.com/

Belleek Manor, or Castle, courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us:

Welcome to your authentic Castle Experience in the beautiful West of Ireland in Ballina, County Mayo. An award winning hotel & wedding venue with a gourmet restaurant, cafe and museum on site!

Explore Belleek Castle, an iconic Irish Country Home a restaurant, wedding venue, boutique hotel and spectacular exhibition of the eclectic Marshall Doran Collection of which one of our academically trained guides will be delighted to take you on a tour. 

Belleek Castle has been a member of the prestigious Ireland’s Blue Book since 2016. Ireland’s Blue Book is a romantic collection of Irish Country House Hotels, Manor Houses, Castles and Restaurants. Located throughout the island of Ireland these charming and stylish hideaways are the perfect choice for your holiday vacation in Ireland. They are also ideal for a midweek or weekend break and those seeking a romantic getaway.

The neo-gothic Country House, dating from 1831, has not lost its flavour by over modernisation…This historic Belleek Castle is informal, hassle-free and friendly, rich in decor and antiquities, with many open log fires to warm your steps back through half a millennium.”

Belleek Manor, or Castle, courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Belleek Manor, or Castle, courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

It continues in the history section:

Belleek Castle was built between 1825 and finished in 1831 for the cost of £10,000. The building was commissioned by Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore for the cost of £10,000 and . The manor house was designed by the prolific architect John Benjamin Keane, and the Neo-Gothic architecture met the taste of the time, when Medieval styles became fashionable again.”

John B. Keane began his career as assistant to Richard Morrison in the early 1820s and set up his own practice by 1823, David Hicks tells us in his Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change. The stone for the house was quarried from nearby quarry in Moyne. Francis Arthur Francis Knox-Gore had inherited the estate in 1818 when he was 15, and the manor was built after his marriage to Sarah Nesbit Knox from Castle Lacken, County Mayo. It is thought to have replaced an earlier structure, as the basement area of the castle today appears to be older than the floors above.

The website continues: “The house is thought to have replaced an earlier structure & is named after the original Belleek Castle, a 13th Tower House Castle situated on the banks of the River Moy. Francis lived at Belleek Castle with his wife Sarah and his 9 children until his death in 1873. According to his wishes he was buried in Belleek Demense. A striking Neo-Gothic Monument, designed by James Franklin Fuller, now marks his grave and is situated in the middle of Belleek Woods. It is said that his wife & favourite horse are both buried beside him. His eldest son Charles Knox-Gore inherited & became the 2nd Baronet. Charles died without issue in 1890 & was also buried in Belleek Demense beside the River Moy, and his dog Phizzie was buried beside him. The house was inherited by his sister Matilda who married Major General William Boyd Saunders of Torquay. Their grandson William Arthur Cecil Saunders-Knox-Gore sold the house in 1942. 

The house was later purchased by the Beckett family who intended on converting the Manor House into a stud farm but later sold the house. Mayo County Council purchased the house in the 1950s and used the Manor House as a hospital & military barracks and was later abandoned it. It was at this time that Mayo County Council considered taking the roof of the building to avoid paying rates. Fortunately Marshall Doran, a merchant navy officer and an avid collector of fossils and medieval armour, acquired the run down property in 1961, restored it and opened it as a hotel in 1970. Some of the rooms are in 19th style, whilst most of the interior design has a medieval and nautical touch. Marshall, being quite a craftsman, did a lot of the work himself, assisted by John Mullen, and supervised the restoration expertly. Today, the Castle is managed by Marshall’s son Paul Doran and Ms. Maya Nikolaeva.

And about the tour of the castle:

The Belleek Castle Tour includes an explanation of the origins of the Castle and the history of its former owners, the Knox-Gore family, the Earls of Arran. Learn about the life of Marshall Doran an adventurer, sailor & smuggler who restored Belleek Castle in the 1960’s. Visitors will see private dining rooms, decorated in opulent romantic style, as well as rooms designed by Marshal such as the Medieval Banquet Hall, the Spanish Armada Bar and the Tween Deck. The highlight of the tour is The Marshall Doran Collection, which is one of the finest collections of Jurassic fossils, Medieval Weapons and Medieval armour in Ireland. Visitors will also see the Grace O’Malley “The Pirate Queen’s” bed, the last wolf shot in Connaught and other curiosities.”

Magherameena Castle, Belleek, County Fermanagh, also designed by John Benjamin Keane, no longer standing. National Library of Ireland NLI Ref L_CAB_04725 National Library of Ireland

2. Brookhill House, Brookhill, Claremorris, Co. Mayo – section 482

contact: Patricia and John Noone
Tel: 094-9371348, 087-3690499, 086-2459832
Open: Jan 13-20, Apr 13-20, May 18-24, June 8-14, July 13-19, Aug 1-25, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP/child/student €3, National Heritage Week free.

Brookhill House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [1]

The National Inventory tells us it is a:

Detached three-bay two-storey double-pile over part raised basement country house with attic, built 1845, on a T-shaped plan centred on single-bay full-height gabled frontispiece; three- or five-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation centred on single-bay full-height gabled “bas-relief” breakfront… “Restored”, 1990-1…Tudor-headed central door opening approached by flight of thirteen drag edged tooled cut-limestone steps between wrought iron railings, trefoil leaf-embossed timber doorcase having engaged colonette-detailed moulded rebated reveals with hood moulding on polygonal label stops framing timber panelled door. Pointed-arch flanking window openings with creeper- or ivy-covered sills, timber Y-mullions, and carved timber surrounds framing timber casement windows. Square-headed window openings in tripartite arrangement with drag edged dragged cut-limestone sills, timber cruciform mullions, and rendered flush surrounds having chamfered reveals with hood mouldings framing two-over-two timber sash windows without horns. Hipped square-headed central door opening to rear (south) elevation approached by flight of nine drag edged tooled cut-limestone steps between replacement mild steel railings, tooled cut-limestone surround having chamfered reveals with hood moulding framing glazed timber panelled double doors having sidelights below overlight. Square-headed window openings with rendered flush surrounds having chamfered reveals framing timber casement windows. Interior including (ground floor): central hall on a square plan retaining carved timber lugged surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors, and moulded plasterwork cornice to ceiling; and carved timber surrounds to door openings to remainder framing timber panelled doors with carved timber surrounds to window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers. Set in landscaped grounds.

Appraisal

A country house erected to a design attributed to Frederick Darley Junior (1798-1872) of Dublin representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of the rural environs of Claremorris with the architectural value of the composition, one enveloping a “four square” house annotated as “Brook hill [of] Kirwan Esquire” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 214), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking landscaped grounds; the symmetrical frontage centred on a “medieval” doorcase demonstrating good quality workmanship with the corresponding Garden Front centred on a streamlined doorcase; the diminishing in scale of the multipartite openings on each floor producing a graduated tiered visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by polygonal bay windows; and the robust timber work embellishing the roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1893); a lengthy walled garden (extant 1893); and an abbreviated “Triumphal Column” erected over the burial place of Joseph Lambert JP (1793-1855), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Lambert family including Joseph Lambert (1760-1813), one-time High Sheriff of County Mayo (fl. 1796); Alexander Clendenning Lambert JP DL (1803-92), ‘County Treasurer late of Brookhill County Mayo’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1893, 432); Colonel Joseph Alexander Lambert JP DL (1855-1907), ‘late of Brookhill Claremorris County Mayo and of Bouverie Road West Folkestone Kent’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1908, 297); and Brigadier Alexander Fane Lambert DL (1887-1974), later of Auld Licht Manse, Angus, Scotland; and a succession of tenants including Valentine Joseph Blake JP (1842-1912), ‘Land Agent’ (NA 1901); Major General Reginald Henry Mahon (1859-1929; NA 1911); and Katharine Tynan Hinkson (1859-1931; occupant 1916-21), poet and author of the autobiographical “The Years of the Shadow” (1919) and “The Wandering Years” (1922).

The Landed Estates database tells us:

Brookhill was situated on church land held by the Gonnes, who leased the house to the Kirwans in the late 1770s. Occupied by the Lambert family from the 1790s to the 1940s when it was sold to Gerald Maguire, a solicitor in Claremorris. Now the home of the Noone family.” [2]

3. Enniscoe House & Gardens, Castlehill, Ballina, Co. Mayo – section 482

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/11/25/enniscoe-house-gardens-castlehill-ballina-co-mayo/
contact: Susan Kellett
Tel: 096-31112
www.enniscoe.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April 1-Oct 31
Open: garden, April 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm,
Fee: garden & heritage centre adult €8, OAP €6, child €3 under 4 years free, student €3, family 2 adults and 2 children €15, tour of house €5 per adult, free tour in National Heritage Week

4. Old Coastguard Station, Rosmoney, Westport, Co. Mayo – section 482

contact: James Cahill
Tel: 094-9025500
www.jamescahill.com/coastguardstation.html
Open: July 1-Sept 9 closed Sundays, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 11am-4pm
Fee: €1.

Old Coastguard Station, County Mayo, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is “A coastguard station erected to a design examined (1876) by Enoch Trevor Owen (c.1833-81), Assistant Architect to the Board of Public Works (appointed 1863), representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century maritime architectural heritage of County Mayo. Having been reasonably well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior: the introduction of replacement fittings to the openings, however, has not had a beneficial impact on the character or integrity of the composition. Nevertheless, an adjacent boathouse (extant 1897) continues to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a neat self-contained ensemble making a pleasing visual statement in a low hillside overlooking the islet-studded Westport Bay.

5. Partry House, Mayo

http://www.museumsofmayo.com/partry-house/partry-house.html

The website tells us:

Partry House is a charming historic house in a unique and secluded old estate by the shores of Lough Carra.

Built in 1667 on the site of an old Castle, it is set in just 250 acres of unspoilt woodland, bog, pasture and parkland.

Farm

The farm and gardens are run on ecologically friendly and organic principles. Wildlife abounds on this peaceful sanctuary in scenic South County Mayo.

Now restored in keeping with its age and character, Partry House is open in part to the public during July and August.

Partry House dates from 1667 when it was built on the remains of Cloonlagheen Castle by Arthur Lynch as a dowager house for his mother Lady Ellis, widow of Sir Roebuck Lynch [2nd Baronet, 1621-1667] of Castle Carra.

Sir Roebuck’s lands were seized by the Cromwellians and he was compensated by lands at Castle Carra during the first half of the seventeenth century. The Castle was named after Cloonlagheen (‘the meadow of the little lake’) townland on which it stands.

Evidence of the original castle was discovered during restoration work in 1995 when slit windows opening inwards were found at knee level on the first floor. Old castle walls can be seen incorporated into stable walls.

Knox’s ‘History of Mayo‘ (1910) clearly states that Cloonlagheen castle was owned in 1574 by Abbé MacEnvile who was over Ballintubber Abbey. This was part of the Elizabethan survey called the ‘Divisons of Connaught’.

The Lynchs, of the noted Galway family, occupied Partry House from 1667 until 1991; over 330 years in residence. Many of the ancestors of the present Lynch family are buried in a ring-fort graveyard on the estate, where their achievemements are noted on a large stone obelisk. Military, Exploratory and Humanitarian, their dates and names are written in stone.

The one-time islands Moynish, Creggaun and Leamnahaye are linked to the shore by means of the Famine Walk built between the lake and a bog area. This and the fine limestone shore edging date from famine times when the Lynchs looked after their tenants providing food and work for them. Two old cast iron pots used to cook cornmeal stand in the garden.

The obelisk commemorates George Quested Lynch MD who returned at once to Partry from Euphrates on hearing of the famine and died here of Typhus in 1848, aged only 34. The Lynchs, along with Browns of Westport House and the Moores of Moore Hall chartered the ship the ‘Martha Washington’ to bring corn meal from America for their tenants.”

6. Prizon House, Prizon North, Balla, Co. Mayo – section 482

contact: Tom O’Connor
Tel: 087-9032133

www.prisonehouse.wordpress.com
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €5, student/OAP/child free

The website gives a wonderfully detailed study of the townland and the house, which is a terrific summary of some important historical figures of the area. The website tells us:

Prison House is situated in the townland of Prison North in the parish of Manulla and barony of Carra, Co. Mayo.  The townland of Prison North comprises 340 acres 3 roods and 26 perches. Originally Prison North, West and East were not subdivided but went collectively under the name of Prison townland.  One of the earliest references to Prison townland dates from 1586.  Prison also appears variously as ‘Prizon’, ‘Prisone’ and ‘Preeson’.  The origin of the townland’s name is unknown.  The Ordnance Survey books of 1837 notes the name but does not provide a suggestion for its origin, although the books record two forts and a cave in the townland. [1*]

The 1654 Down Survey and the Browne Rentals indicate that Prison was previously also known as Trineloghan/Trineleghane, and Triskine/Trilkine, names that appear to have no connection to its other alias.

The lands of Prison were successively in the possession of the Bourke family, later Viscounts of Mayo; the Browne family later Viscounts of Sligo; the Nolan family; and the Trench and Domville families.  Prison remained in the hands of the Domville’s until the 20th century.

Prison House:

Prison House is a simple three bay house, two stories high.  To put any definitive date on Prison House has proved to be impossible, but the research to date has been able to prove that a building has stood on the site for over 200 years.  As early as 1814, Prison house was already referred to as the ‘old house’ by the surveyor John Longfield, employed by the local landlord, Frederick Trench.

We have concluded that Prison House probably stands on the site of an older house, parts of which were incorporated into the structure of the house now standing.  Although the external features of the house indicate that the house was built in the early 19th Century, the unusual chimney-stacks suggest that this part of the house at least was probably built in the late 18th Century. This opinion was confirmed by David Griffin, the director of the Irish Architectural Archives, on viewing the survey photographs of Prison House.

The Irish Architectural Archive (IAA) does not hold any photographic records of Prizon House. David Griffin, the director of the IAA was shown photographs of the building but was unable to put a date other than possibly early 19th century on the house.  He did however comment on the unusual chimney-stacks, saying that they had only ever seen two other examples of this, one on an unspecified house in County Wexford, the other Luggala House in County Wicklow.  Luggala House was built by the La Touche family of banking fame, in the 1790s.  A late Victorian photograph does show the same type of chimney-stack but at some date these were replaced and no longer exist in Luggala House. This is helpful to the extent that it dates at least part of the house to the late 18th century.

It is almost certain that Prison House was built in the second half of the 18th Century. In 1764 the landlord Reverend Trench concluded a lease with the Ormsby family for three lives. The lease makes no specific mention of an existing house, and does not require the Trench’s to provide stone or bricks as building materials, or the Ormsbys to build a house as a condition of lease. The size of Prison House, and the apple orchard and many other trees planted around it, indicates that a great deal of initial work was carried out when the house was first built.

Given the circumstantial evidence it is probable that Prison House was laid out by the Ormsby family, although there is a remote chance that the landlord Frederick Trench, a well known amateur architect, may have designed and built the original house. [2*]  …

The Bourke Family:

An early reference to Prison townland appears in an Elizabethan fiant of 1586. This fiant records the pardon of ‘Walter Boorke m’Richard en yeren, of Prisone’ [3*]. [Wikipedia tells us that a “fiant” is a writ issued to the Irish Chancery mandating the issue of letters patent under the Great Seal of Ireland. The name fiant comes from the opening words of the document, Fiant litterae patentes, Latin for “Let letters patent be made”.]

Walter Bourke was the son of Richard Bourke [1532-1583] or as he was more commonly known, ‘Richard-an-Iarainn’ (literally Richard of Iron) the second husband of the infamous Grace O’Malley, ‘Granuaile’ described in 1576 by the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Henry Sidney, as ‘a most famous feminine sea captain. . .a notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’[4*]. Richard Bourke was descended from the sept of the Bourkes of Umhall and Carra, one of the senior Bourke branches. The fact that Walter was recorded as ‘of Prisone’ would suggest that at this date he was the occupier of the townland, and that his residence was there.  However in two subsequent fiants of 1592 and 1598 he was described as ‘of Togher’ and ‘of Mohine’ respectively, so his stay in Prison may well have been brief.

In 1641 the proprietor of Trynylonghan comprising 171 acres, and Treelkin comprising 14 acres, was one David Bourke [b. 1576]. This David may have been the grandson of Richard-an Iarainn and son of the 1st Viscount Mayo, Tibbott-ne-Long [5*], the only child born to Granuaile and her second husband Richard. [6*]  David Bourke inherited the castle and lands of Manulla and acquired further lands in Carra barony.  He married first Mary O’Donnell the sister of Red Hugh O’Donnell, and secondly a daughter of Richard Heword of Dublin.  David Bourke’s date of death is unknown and as he died without legitimate issue the lands reverted to Viscount Mayo.

Patrick Nolan:

While David Bourke was the owner of Prison townland in 1641, part of these lands recorded as ‘arable and pasture’ were subsequently confiscated and granted to a Patrick ‘Nowlan’.  On the 16th of September 1685 Trinelogan and Triskeen and various other townlands were sold by Patrick Nolan of ‘Balenderry’ County Galway to [Colnel] John Browne of Kinturk, County Mayo for £694 [7*].

Colonel John Browne:

This John Browne of Kinturk was more commonly known as Colonel John Browne. A barrister by profession and a colonel in the army of King James II, John Browne had married Maud Bourke in 1669.  Maud was the daughter of the third Viscount Mayo, Theobald Bourke. Following James II’s defeat Browne was heavily in debt. He owed money to his wife’s family for lands purchased from the Estate of Viscount Mayo in the baronies of Carra, Murrisk and Burrishole. He was eventually imprisoned for his debt and the lands sold. Family fortunes improved in 1702 when John Browne’s daughter Mary married her cousin Theobald Bourke [(1681-1731) 6th Viscount Mayo]. The Browne family were later made Viscounts Sligo, with a family seat at Westport House.

Rentals of Colonel Browne’s estate dating 1696 record that Randle McDonnell held a three year lease of the lands of ‘Preeson’ at a year’s rent of £35 for the first two years and £40 for the third year.

In 1704 when the estate was sold ‘Presson & Gallon farme’ was leased by Colonel Manus O’Donnell, although a note states that there was ‘no tenant at present’. It is not clear from this why a farm at Prison should be called Prison and Gallen or if it is in fact referring to two separate farms.  It would appear to be the latter as a further note stated that ‘Coll Manus O’Donnell is to pay out of Gallen farme for one year ending’. [8*]

The Trench Family:

Prison townland and the neighbouring lands were bought by William Trench [1683-1729] of County Laois in the first decade of the 18th Century. William’s grandfather, Frederick Trench, came to Ireland from England in 1631 and settled in Galway. William Trench and his wife, Susanna Segar, heiress of Redcastle, Co. Laois, had nine children and the family established themselves at Ballinakill, Co.Laois. Their second son, Frederick Trench born 21st September 1715, inherited Prison townland and lands in Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Laois on the death of his elder brother.Frederick Trench received a BA degree from Trinity College in 1737 and was ordained in 1740.  He married Mary Moore of Crymorgan, Co. Laois in 1745.  Their only child was Michael Frederick Trench, known as Frederick, a renowned amateur architect.  Michael Frederick married Anna Helena Stewart in 1775.  They had six surviving children including; Frederick William (1775-1859) MP and aide-de-camp to George IV; Stewart-Segar, Chancellor of Christ Church Cathedral and Sarah Helena.

In 1708 in order to preserve official copies (memorials) of land and commercial transactions the Registry of Deeds was established by Act of the Irish Parliament.  Registration of deeds was voluntary, so the majority of early records relate mainly to those properties that were likely to face a legal challenge.  A search of the early indexes for the townland of Prison and the other aliases (Trineloghan and Triskine/Trilkine) was unsuccessful.  The first reference relating to Prison townland in the Registry of Deeds was in the 1739-1810 townland index.  A memorial of a deed of lease dated 6th October 1764 [9*] records that part of Prison townland was held by the Reverend Frederick Trench of Ballynakill, Co. Laois.  The deed stated that part of the lands of Prizon and Drimloughra ‘lately held by Mr Garret Coghlan’ were to be let to Anthony Ormsby of Ballynamore, Co. Mayo, for the lives of Thomas his eldest son, Adam his second son and his third son, Christopher, for the sum of £164 sterling.  There was a clause of surrender at the end of every three years and liberty to carry off sixteen acres of Corn Potatoes or Flax’.  There was no reference to any specific building in the lease, so that we know that Prison House was not yet built at this time.

The Ormsby family seat was at Ballinamore co. Mayo, and it is not known whether any of the family ever lived in Prison townland. The Ormsby family had settled in Ireland in the late 16th century. According to Burke’s Irish Family Records Anthony Ormsby was a High Sheriff and a Captain in Hingham Regiment of Horse. [10*]  He married Sarah, the daughter of Thomas Lindsay of Co. Mayo and the couple had four children, one daughter Anne, and three sons, mentioned in the deed of 1764.

The deeds ledger of the Trench estates, and the Longfield Maps – 1814:

The first definitive reference to a building occupying the site where Prison House now stands is in maps of Prison surveyed by John Longfield in 1814.  This was not the first time that the lands had been mapped, the 1814 deeds ledger of the Trench estate refers to maps of Prison townland surveyed in 1719, 1756 and 1785.  Unfortunately none of these maps appear to have survived.  One of the maps of 1814 however shows a building termed the ‘Old House’ which is clearly situated on the site where Prison House now stands. Longfield drew a rectangular structure with an adjoining rear, an L-shaped structure.  Two buildings stood to the front left and right of the house.  A long avenue ran up to the house and this can be traced in the map accompanying the Land Registry documents seen clearly as a thin strip of land.  A garden stood to the left of the house and Longfield also marked a Haggard (an enclosed space near the farm-house), denoted by the words ‘Hgd’.

At the same time as the map was being surveyed a member of the Trench family, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick William Trench visited Prison and its neighbouring townlands.  In a bound volume he not only recorded his Grand Tour of Europe but also chronicled his tour of his father’s estate which fortunately concentrates on lands in the barony of Carra.  His visit may have been designed to coincide with Longfield’s survey.  In a letter surviving from this time William’s father wrote to his son: I consider it as an Event truly fortunate that you became acquainted with Mr Longfield, a person of so much real knowledge and Exertion, and on whom you seem so justly to have placed so much reliance…’.[14*]  F.W. Trench appears to have been keen to note improvements that could be made to the lands and frequently noted the rentals...

The next substantial information on Prison dates from the mid 1820s. On Monday the 14th November 1825 the Trench estate ‘upwards of 5000 English acres’, the property of Colonel Sir Frederick William Trench including Prison townland was to be auctioned in lots at the Commercial Buildings in Dame Street, Dublin at 12 noon by the vendor’s solicitors Messrs. Robert Hamilton & Co.  Lot No. 3 consisted of Prison townland and the following description was detailed in the auction prospectus:

‘. . .containing 453 acres 2 roods 23 perches situate in the Barony of CARRA, and County of Mayo, let to Thomas[sic] Ormsby, Esq. By Lease, dated in 1764, for 3 Lives, (only one of whom, viz. Christopher Ormsby , Esq. supposed to be now aged about 75 years, is in being), at £164 per Annum, and consists of Arable, Pasture, Meadow, and Bog is most commodiously circumstanced, having a south aspect, and being well sheltered.  The Meadow is of superior quality and the Feeding Land is supposed to be as good as any in the County of Mayo – There are on this Lot 12 good Houses, and the Farm is ornamented with Hedge-rows – The Turbary is both plenty and convenient – These Lands if now to be Let would produce a very large Annual Sum, the excellent quality of the ground being well known, and highly esteemed.’

Improvements must have been made to the townland, the sale notice writes of twelve good houses.  It does not however refer to any new buildings having been built or to any modernisation of Prison House.  The sale notice remarks solely on the Hedge-rows of the Farm and Trench was himself impressed by the hedging and planting of trees.  He made a small pencil sketch of a rectangular building and the various trees planted around, this presumably did not refer to Prison House, as the map outlines a rectangular structure without an adjoining rear and this could refer to the Herd’s house and his own tree planting.

The estate failed to find a buyer in 1825, and in 1833 Sir Frederick William Trench of Moyvannon Castle, Co. Roscommon, sold the estate to Sir Compton Domville of Santry House, Co. Dublin, his brother-in-law, for £60,000 less £18,000 that was loaned from Domville to Sir Frederick [16*]. Frederick William’s sister Sarah Helena had married Sir Compton Pocklington Domville of Templeogue and Santry House, County Dublin in 1815.

With the sale of the lands at Prison the Ormsby’s lease came to an end. An advertisement was placed in the local newspaper, the Mayo Constitution, published in Castlebar…

Once again there is no reference to Prison House itself, suggesting that it was neither new nor modernised.  Presumably J. E. Strickland was the agent acting for the Trench family.  Prison townland was at this time leased by a Michael Barrett recorded in the Tithe Applotment Books, taken for the parish of Manulla in 1837. [18*]  Barrett held the lands in Prison North of Sir Compton Domville, and the only additional observation recorded was that Barrett ‘has no lease’, i.e. he held the lands at the landlord’s will.  (A copy of the TAB for Prison North is enclosed with this report).

It was in this same year (1837) that the Ordnance Survey maps of Ireland were first published. The map of Prison townland shows the farm, an L-plan structure with two outbuildings.  A large grove of trees to the rear right of the building is shown and the long avenue of trees still stands as do the outbuildings (a copy of the 1837 map is enclosed with this report) [19*].

Prison Farm continued to be occupied by the Barrett family into the 1840s. The 1842 Tenement Act provided for a uniform valuation of all property in Ireland based on the productive capacity of land and the potential rent of buildings, for taxation purpose. The Commissioner of Valuation, Richard Griffith, produced and published a nationwide survey between 1847 and 1864. However prior to Griffith’s Valuation, the original valuation surveyors took two nationwide surveys in the 1840s which are recorded in a set of books known variously as the ‘field’, ‘house’, ‘mill’ and ‘tenure books’.

In 1893 the Ordnance Survey published new maps for County Mayo. At some date between the surveying of the townland in 1837 and the publication of new maps in 1893, Prison House was altered.  By 1893 the adjoining rear now stood to the centre of the main building and the large outhouses parallel and to the rear of the house were constructed. It is probable that the alterations to the house were made prior to 1858. The Cancelled Books do not indicate any alternations to the house or outhouses after 1858.  Although amendments and alterations sometimes went unnoticed, it is highly unlikely that the type of large-scale improvements indicated in the 1893 Ordnance Survey map, would not have resulted in a revision of the rates on Prison House.

The changes to Prison House most likely occurred between 1841, the time of the first survey recorded in the House-books, and 1858, the start of the first Cancelled Books for the townland of Prison North.  In the course of research we found a later (1901) lease for the house and lands at Prison North, which cited an earlier, 1853 lease between Sir Compton Domville and Martin Barrett. The Tithe Applotment Books had indicated that as late as 1837 Martin Barrett had no lease, and would have rented the house and lands from year to year.   It seems very probable that the alterations to Prison House were made sometime after the lease was agreed in 1853, and November 1857 when Martin Barrett died.

On 13th September 1901 a lease was recorded between the Very Reverend John Canon Barret of St Mary’s, Headford, Tuam, Co. Galway; John McEllen of Balla, Co. Mayo, Merchant; and Sir Compton Meade Domville of Santry ‘ a person of unsound mind’. [23*]  The Reverend Barrett appears to have sold the time that remained on the 1853 lease, to John McEllen, with the agreement of the trustees of Sir Compton Meade Domville.

In March 1901 the Census recorded that Thomas Connolly, married with four infant children occupied Prison House.

The Connolly family appear to have remained resident in Prison House even after John McEllin bought out the lease to Prison townland.  In 1920, the Congested Districts Board took over the House, offices and lands (19 acres 1 rood 12 perches).  Between 1920 and 1931 possession of Prison North passed to the Irish Land Commission.  The Connolly family remained resident in Prison House despite the change in land title.

In 1931 the house and lands were sold to Ellen Connolly, widow of Thomas Connolly. The house remained in the Connolly family’s possession until 1999 when it was sold to the current owners.

[1*] NLI Pos 4123 Ordnance Survey Office John O’Donovan name books for Co. Mayo, Killala to Turlough.  Unfortunately there is not at present an archaeological inventory for Mayo County.

[2*] See also, Patricia Friel, Frederick Trench 1746-1836, Maynooth Studies in Irish Local History, 2000.

[3*] The Irish Fiants of the Tudor Sovereigns Vol 2 (Dublin,1994)

[4*] Cited in Granuaile: The Life and Times of Grace O’Malley by Anne Chambers, (Dublin, 1998) p3

[5*] Books of Survey and Distribution Co. Mayo

[6*] Ibid

[7*] National Archives of Ireland D. 12,111 Memorial of deed

[8*] National Library of Ireland. Pos. 940

[9*]Registry of Deeds. Book 238 page 239 No. 154263

[10*] A copy of the Ormsby pedigree is enclosed with this report.

[11*] National Library of Ireland, Ms. 9393

[12*] They are not mentioned as among the Trench papers in the Hayes Guide, nor are they listed in the Historical Manuscripts Commission, National Register of Archives which provides coverage of the U.K. and Scotland.  However, after the report was completed the researcher noted that the British Records Association has recently deposited schedules relating to Trench family deeds and lands, including at least one document relating to co. Mayo.

[13*] NLI Ms. 9393

[14*] National Library of Ireland. Ms. 11,348 – Michael Frederick Trench to William Frederick Trench, Heywood, December 27th 1814

[15*] ‘John Mucalini’ is almost certainly a pun based on “mucal”, the Irish word for swine.  The pun was possibly coined as a local nick-name for the herder James Monyahan.

[16*] See Patricia Friel’s Frederick Trench and Heywood, Queen’s County (Dublin, 2000)

[17*] The Mayo Constitution, Thursday May 2nd 1833 page 3 column e

[18*] The Composition Act of 1823 specified that tithes due to the Established Church, the Protestant Church of Ireland, which had hitherto been payable in kind, should now be paid in money.  As a result it was necessary to carry out a valuation of the entire country, civil parish by civil parish, to determine how much would be payable by each landholder.  This was done between 1823 and 1838, at which latter date the tithe system was abolished. The tithe applotment books for the parish of Manulla were assessed in 1837

[19*] NLI Ordnance Survey map 1837, 79/12 microfiche no. 14

[20*] National Archives

[21*] Martin Barrett was granted a lease by Compton Domville dated 19th November 1853.  Reference was made to this lease in a later lease of 1901.  A search was made for the 1853 lease in the Registry of Deeds but no record was found.

[22*] Full government censuses were taken of the entire island of Ireland after 1821.  The census returns recorded between 1821 and 1851 were almost entirely destroyed in the fire in the Public Records Office in 1922, while the census returns between 1861 and 1891 were pulped during WWI by order of the government.  However, the government extracted and published statistical information in the aftermath of each census.

[23*] Book 1901-86-32

[24*] Ellen Connolly, aged 4 years at the time of the 1901 Census appears to have died as a young child.

[25*] National Archives 1901 & 1911 Census 56/D.E.D ‘7’

7. Turlough Park, Museum of Country Life, Mayo

https://www.museum.ie/en-IE/Museums/Country-Life

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.
The name of the village and estate derives from the Irish turlach, signifying a lake that dries up in the summer period.

The website tells us about the house:

Turlough Park was built in 1865, to replace a much older building near the entrance to the park. The name of the village and estate derives from the Irish turlach, signifying a lake that dries up in the summer period.

Turlough Park was the home of the Fitzgerald family, to whom the estate was granted under the Cromwellian land settlements of the mid-seventeenth century.

At its largest, the Turlough estate consisted of almost 8,500 acres requiring many indoor servants and outdoor estate workers to maintain the house and lands. In 1915, the Congested Districts Board – established to initiate economic improvements along the western seaboard – purchased and re-distributed the Fitzgerald estate.

Turlough Park ca. 1880, photograph from National Library of Ireland, on flickr constant commons.
Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.
Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

A notable family member was George Robert [c. 1712-1782], son of George and later known as the ‘Fighting Fitzgerald’. Famous for his brave and reckless horsemanship, and a renowned duellist, George Robert was involved in a number of disputes and family quarrels. He was found guilty of murder and hanged in Castlebar, Co. Mayo in 1786.

His younger brother Charles Lionel would inherit the Turlough Park estate.

The architect Thomas Newenham Deane designed Turlough Park House. Deane was also the designer of the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology in Dublin.

The architectural style of the house has been referred to as ‘Victorian Gothic’. The two-storey house built of limestone rises to a high-pitched roof with dormer windows. It incorporates an open central Gothic porch bearing the house’s 1865 date stone.

A service area adjoining the house, which once accommodated the kitchen and stable block, now incorporates visitor facilities such as the gift shop and café. In such houses, the kitchen was detached from the main house to avoid cooking smells disturbing the family and their guests and to minimise the risk of fire.

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

An imposing stained glass window above the porch incorporates the Fitzgerald family crest and bears the motto Honor Probataque Virtus (Honour, Probity & Virtue)

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

While the library was used mostly for recreation and study, the room was also where tenant farmers paid their quarterly rents to their landlord, the Fitzgerald family. The agent, seated facing the glass doors where the tenants entered, would note the payment in his rent book and issue the tenant with a receipt. It is said that the landlord sometimes sat behind the concealed door to hear what the tenants had to say without being observed.

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.
Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.
Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

The Drawing Room of the Big House

This room is furnished and decorated the way it may have looked around 1900. Most families occupying a house for a long time accumulate a variety of furniture from different eras and in different styles. The furniture here is from the Decorative Arts & History collections of the Museum.

The Drawing Room,Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

Among the items is a Lyrachord Piano, which is the only one of its kind in the world. The left side operates like a piano and the right like a harpsichord.

Lyrachord Piano, Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

There is also a nest of tables with harp and shamrock inlay typical of the Killarney school of furniture, as well as an embroidered armchair from Adare Manor, Co. Limerick dating from 1850.

Becoming part of the National Museum of Ireland

Turlough Park House remained in the same family until 1991 when it was purchased by Mayo County Council. The proposal to open the house as a museum was a local initiative which led eventually to a decision made in 1995 to locate part of the National Museum of Ireland here. The Museum’s Folklife collections had been stored for a long time in Daingean, Co. Offaly, awaiting a suitable venue.

Museum of Country Life, Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

As the house was not suitable as a major exhibition space, a new building was purpose-built alongside it. Housing the Museum galleries, this award winning design was created by the architectural branch of the Office of Public Works. As part of the project, the Office of Public Works also restored the original ‘Big House’. The grounds and gardens were restored by Mayo County Council.

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

8. Westport House, County Mayo

Westport House, Westport, ©Christian McLeod 2016, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [5]

https://www.westporthouse.ie/

The website tells us: “One of the few privately-owned historic houses left in Ireland, Westport House was built by the Browne family whose connections to Mayo date back to the 1500s. Their lineage relates them and the house to the trail-blazing pirate queen and chieftain, Grace O’Malley.

Westport House, Westport, ©Christian McLeod 2016, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [5]

“In 2017, Westport House was bought by another local and historic family, the Hughes family, who hope to ensure its survival into the future.

Built in the 18th century, Westport House was designed by the famous architects, Richard Cassels, James Wyatt and Thomas Ivory. Westport House is located west of the Shannon and is considered to be one of Ireland’s most beautiful historic homes open to visitors – and is today often described as being one of Ireland’s National Treasures. It is situated in a superb parkland setting with lake, terraces, gardens and magnificent views overlooking Clew Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, Clare Island and Ireland’s Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick right in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way. It was built … by the Browne family, who are direct descendants of the famous 16th century Pirate Queen – Grace O’Malley.

After Grace O’Malley’s death, a report stated that for forty years she was the stay of all rebellions in the West. She was chief of the O’Malley Clan and ruled the seas around Mayo. Grace O’Malley had several castles in the West of Ireland and it was on the foundations of one of these that Westport House was actually built. There is still an area of her original castle in the basement of the House (now known as The Dungeons), which is on view to visitors.

The original house which would have been smaller, was built by Colonel John Browne [1631-1712], a Jacobite, who was at the Siege of Limerick and his wife, Maude Burke [or Bourke, (1640-1690)] in 1679-83. Maude Burke was Grace O’Malley’s great-great granddaughter. The house did not have the lake or a dam and the tide rose and fell against the walls.

The east front of the House, as it is today, was built in 1730 by Colonel John Browne’s grandson, also John- 1st Earl of Altamont [1709-1776]. He hired the famous German architect, Richard Cassels. It is built with the finest limestone taken from the quarry south of the estate farmyard and was executed by local craftsmen. Richard Cassels also designed Carton, Haselwood, Russborough and Leinster Houses.

From the plans made in 1773, the ground floor contained:

  • The Waiting Room – now The Library
  • Front Staircase – now the Ante- library
  • Living Room – now The Front Hall
  • Back staircase – now part of the present Drawing Room
  • Dressing Room – now the East end of The Long Gallery.

It was only one room deep, built round an open courtyard.

In 1778, Peter, the 2nd Earl Of Altamont built the south wing to the Thomas Ivory plans his father had commissioned but had not carried out. Ivory’s south façade has a delicacy quite unlike Cassel’s bolder work on the East.  In the 1780’s Peter’s son John Denis, 3rd Earl of Altamont (who later became the 1st Marquess of Sligo), completed the square of the House. He engaged James Wyatt to decorate his new Long Gallery and Large Dining Room (one of the great English architects who is responsible for other significant buildings in the town of Westport and further afield).

John Denis Browne, 1st Marquess of Sligo Date 1806 Engraver William Whiston Barney, British, fl. c. 1805 After John Opie, English, 1761-1807, courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.

In 1816, Howe Peter (2nd Marquess of Sligo) began his alterations to the House. He built on the north wing for men servants and between 1819-1825, he built on the south wing. The south wing was built as a two-tiered library designed by Benjamin Wyatt. This was warmed by hot air and due to defects in the system, it was destroyed by fire almost immediately in 1826.

In the 1830s, the central open courtyard where the Marble Staircase now sits, was covered in and Howe Peter made a new library by running a gallery round the now enclosed wall. In 1858 his son George abolished his father’s Library, moving it to where it is today and replaced it with the Marble Staircase.

On the west side of the house, the highly effective balustraded terraces’above the lake and the landing places were put in by George Ulick (6th Marquess of Sligo). These were designed by the English architect, Romaine Walker, whose main Irish work was the remodelling of Waterford Castle.

Aerial view of Westport House, Co Mayo, ©Tsung Ho Lam 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool [5]

The website continues, telling us about the Browne Family:

The story of the Browne Family is a microcosm for the wider and, at times, turbulent history of Ireland. Each generation has had to contend with and adapt to the prevailing social, political and religious changes encountered along the way. Despite revolution, invasion, plantation, famine and confiscation, the bond uniting Westport House and its family remained right up until 2017.

The Browne Family originally arrived into Mayo from Sussex in the 16th century. Through marriage with daughters of native Irish landowners and by purchase, they built up a small estate near The Neale. As a Catholic family, they were fortunate that their lands were situated in Connaught thereby escaping the notorious confiscations of Cromwell. It was with John Browne III (1638-1711) with whom the connection with Westport House commenced. A successful lawyer, he married Maud Burke, daughter of Viscount Mayo and great-great granddaughter of the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley (Granuaile 1530-1603).

John Browne greatly increased his estate in Mayo and Galway including Cathair-na-mart (Stone-fort of the Beeves), a ruinous O’Malley fortress on the shores of Clew Bay. John’s good fortune was swept away as Ireland was plunged into chaos in the Williamite Wars. A Catholic, John supported the Jacobite cause and was appointed a Colonel in the Jacobite army. From the iron mines on his lands near Westport, he supplied the army with cannon balls and weapons. The defeat of the Jacobite army at Aughrim and Limerick in 1691 brought financial ruin in the confiscations that followed. At his death in 1711, his estate was reduced to Cathair-na-Mart and a few hundred acres.

The Penal Laws which followed left his grandson, John IV, with little option but to conform to the prevailing religion in hope of surviving the confiscations and political upheaval. John IV gradually revived the family fortune. Young and ambitious he set about extending his estate and transforming the old O’Malley castle into modern day Westport House. In 1767, he – along with architect, William Leeson – replaced the old village of Cathair-na-Mart with a new town of Westport where he established a thriving linen industry. An excellent farmer he set about improving the fertility of his lands, which for the most part were of poor quality. He became the 1st Earl of Altamont. In 1752, his son and heir, Peter, 2nd Earl Of Altamont, married the heiress Elizabeth Kelly from Co. Galway whose estates in Jamaica further enhanced the family fortune. It is said that – as part of the dowry – her father insisted that he take the Kelly name and he became known as Peter Browne Kelly.

John, 3rd Earl of Altamont, continued the innovative farming tradition of his grandfather. He created the lake to the West of Westport House and planted trees. He laid out the principal streets of the present town of Westport and many of the streets in Westport today are named after Browne Family members such as Peter Street, James Street, Altamont Street and John’s Row. He also established a theatre at the Octagon and built the town of Louisburgh. In 1787, he married Louisa Catherine, daughter and heiress of the famous English Admiral Earl Howe. During his lifetime, the French inspired 1798 Rebellion occurred. Aided by the arbitrary actions of Denis Browne, his younger brother, against the Irish insurgents (which earned him the reputation of “ black sheep” of the family), the Rebellion was crushed.

In 1800, there was an Act of Union with England. The 3rd Earl voted for it and became the 1st Marquess of Sligo and an Irish representative peer. The reason the title is Sligo when the family home is in Mayo, is that in 1800 there was already an Earl of Mayo, a Viscount Galway to the south and a Lord Roscommon to the East. West was the Atlantic Ocean, so it had to be North – the land of Yeats and black cattle – Sligo.

His only son Howe Peter, 2nd Marquess of Sligo, inherited in 1809 at the age of twenty-one. Extravagant and generous, his early life subscribed to the popular image of a “regency buck”. Friend of Byron, de Quincy and the Prince Regent, he traveled extensively throughout Europe on the “grand tour”. He excavated at Mycenae and discovered the 3,000 year old columns of the Treasury of Atreus. To bring them back to Westport, he took some seamen from a British warship and was subsequently sentenced to 4 months in Newgate prison. He married Hester, the Earl of Conricard’s daughter, with whom he had 14 children and settled down to life in Westport. He bred many famous race horses both at Westport and the Curragh. One of his horses, Waxy, won the Derby. He owned the last two of the original breed of Irish Wolfhound. In 1834, he was appointed Governor of Jamaica with the difficult task of overseeing the “apprenticeship system” a period prior to the full emancipation of the slaves. He met with great opposition from plantation owners and other vested interests. He was first to emancipate the slaves on the family’s Jamaican plantations. The first “free village” in the world, Sligoville, was subsequently named in his honour. A liberal, he was one of the few Irish Peers to vote for Catholic Emancipation. He died in 1845 as the clouds of the Great Famine descended over Mayo.

His son, George, the 3rd Marquess, inherited a terrible legacy. The West of Ireland was worst affected by the famine. Westport House was closed and with no rents forthcoming, George borrowed where he could, spending £50,000 of his own money to alleviate the suffering of the tenants. With the guidance of his mother, Hesther Catherine, he imported cargoes of meal to Westport Quay and sub-vented the local workhouse, then the only shelter available to the destitute. He wrote tirelessly to the British Government demanding that they do more to help the famine victims. He wrote and had published a pamphlet outlining many pioneering reforms of the economic and social conditions that had led to the famine. In 1854, on being offered the Order of St. Patrick, an honour once held by his father and grandfather, disillusioned by England’s Irish policy (a reoccurring sentiment at Westport House!), the 3rd Marquess wrote “ I have no desire for the honour.” An exhibition about the Great Famine is on display in Westport House as told through Hesther Catherine’s letters to the estate’s agent in Westport, Hildebrand.

John succeeded his brother as 4th Marquess. He had to contend with the huge changes that occurred in the ownership of land in Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Above all he was a “professional” farmer whose main contribution was to transform a reduced and almost bankrupt estate into a profitable one solely from agriculture. This work was continued by the 6th Marquess who added a sawmill, a salmon hatchery and planted extensively. The compulsory acquisition of the main entrance to the House for local public housing occurred in the ownership of the 8th Marquess which altered the historic relationship that had existed between the House and the town of Westport.

In 1960, in the midst of a great depression and facing rising death duties, the 10th Marquess, Denis Edward, his wife Jose and son Jeremy (11th Marquess) decided to open Westport House and the grounds to the visiting public. It was a pioneering venture in a place and at a time that was remote and depressed. Over the succeeding decades, the 11th Marquess and his family developed the Estate into a Tourist Attraction.

The Grounds & Gardens

The Brownes of Westport House knew the value of trees in a landscape too, as the stunning woodland in the estate’s grounds attest. Westport Demesne retains 100 acres of historic woods dating back to the 1700s.

Back in the day, these trees provided a number of resources for the Westport House Estate. They created a shelter belt from the harsh Atlantic weather systems, they provided a fuel and timber source for heating and building materials, and they created a lush green back drop for the ‘naturalised parkland’ design landscape.

The lords and ladies loved to interact with the landscape by promenading along a deep networks of track and trails. They would bring their visitors along these paths too, impressing them with the grandeur and beauty of the estate’s stately woodlands. Aptly enough, these design pathways and the areas of woodlands they ventured through were known as ‘the pleasure grounds’.

An elaborate network of serpentine pathways meandered along, softly curving – following the style of landscape design that was popular during the 1800s and remains timeless to this day. The trails led the walker deep into the woodlands and surrounding landscape, where they could discover hidden design elements, such as sculptural pieces of architecture, exotic plant and tree species and new views.

The pyramidal cone of Croagh Patrick was one of the most emphasised views in the Westport House Demesne, and a number of the historic pathways were specifically designed to yield the most captivating vistas. The woodlands even had purposely made gaps to seduce the stroller with sudden framed glimpses of the famous Reek.

Opened to the Public in 1960

By the early 1960s, most historic homes of its nature were either burnt, knocked down or abandoned. Not so for Westport House. Jeremy – 11th Marquess of Sligo (1939 – 2014), took the estate in a whole new direction with inspiration from the “Big Houses” in the UK who had opened their doors to the interested public who were keen to see how the “other half” lived. In 1960, when Jeremy and Jennifer opened the attraction, the admission price was 2/6 for adults and 1/- for children. Admission to the grounds was 6d for both adults and children. In 1960, 2,400 visitors visited Westport House.

Jeremy had a remarkable passion for product development and marketing. He was inspired by other houses that were becoming sustainable and viable by diversifying their offering from not only heritage but including other leisure attractions. He felt strongly that Westport House needed to appeal to a wider audience than those solely interested in antiques and architecture. Over time, he introduced a number of fun attractions. In the 1970s, the Slippery Dip (Cannon Ball run) and the Miniature Railway (Westport House Express) were added discretely on the grounds. A Camping and Caravan Park was developed – as well as Horse Drawn Caravan tours of Connemara – and Gracy’s Restaurant (situated at the Farmyard was created from what was originally a cowshed) and a shop evolved from a similar situation. There were even one armed bandits in the basement at one point in time and the giant pink rabbit called Pinkie was introduced as the estate’s mascot.  The Tennis Courts, Pitch and Putt, a Flume Ride (The Pirates Plunge), Jungle World (The Pirates Den), and of course The Giant Swans on the lake were also phased in. In 2008, the Ships Galleon (The Pirate Queen) was introduced.

It was during this time that Jeremy and Jennifer realised that in order to be able to leave the estate to their daughters, drastic action would need to be taken. Jeremy had signed a family trust aged 21 to leave the estate and title to his son. They went on to have five wonderful daughters (with no sign of a male heir). With the help of Mary Robinson QC (and later, first female president of Ireland) and Michael Egan, solicitor from Castlebar, Jeremy succeeded in bringing the Altamont Act through the senate in 1992 allowing him to leave the estate to his daughters and break the trust. He did not enact the same for the title of Marquess of Sligo and today, the 12th Marquess of Sligo, Sebastian Browne, resides in Sydney, Australia.

In 2003, Jeremy commissioned Michael Cooper, his brother-in-law, to create a sculpture of Grace O’Malley – the original of alabaster stone is situated in the House and a bronze casting is in the garden. This was the beginning of reinstating her back where she belongs – in her home, with her family, and where the re-branding of the estate in 2009 as Westport House and Pirates Adventure Park emanated from.

It was around this time that Sheelyn and Karen Browne – the two eldest of Jeremy’s five daughters – took the reins and added an Adventure Activity Centre, a seasonal Events Programme as well as holding the first large music festivals on the estate while Clare and Alannah ran Gracy’s Bar. Fifth sister, Lucinda, was always happy to lend a hand when home from the U.K. In 2017, the Browne family sold the house and estate to the local Hughes family who own neighbouring Hotel Westport and workwear provider, Portwest. A new chapter in the history of Westport House & Estate has begun. The Hughes family immediately started working on the grounds and gardens of the estate. The adventure park has been upgraded with a variety of new attractions and rides and there are plans to further invest in adventure. In 2021, urgent and necessary restorative works to Westport House will begin. And our new CEO’s main focus – along with the Hughes family – has been to produce a master plan for the entire estate that will ensure the sustainability and viability of the house and estate into the future.

Places to stay, County Mayo:

1. Ashford Castle, Mayo/Galway – hotel €€€

Ashford Castle, photograph Courtesy Aervisions 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).

https://ashfordcastle.com/

The website tells us: “Unrivalled service, warm Irish hospitality and five-star luxury await at Ashford Castle, part of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. Situated in a spectacular 350-acre estate, discover sumptuous rooms and suites, splendid interiors brimming with antique furniture, fine fabrics and unique features at every turn.

It was built originally by the Norman De Burgo family around 1228.

Ashford Castle, photograph by Brian Morrison 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).
Ashford Castle, photograph by Brian Morrison 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).

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

p. 12. “(Browne, Oranmore and Browne, B/PB; Guinness, Bt/PB) A vast and imposing Victorian-Baronial castle of rather harsh rough-hewn grey stone in a superb postion and the head of Lough Corrib…built onto an earlier house consisting of a 2 storey 5 bay Georgian shooting-box enlarged and remodelled in French chateau style. The shooting-box and estate originally belonged to the Oranmore and Browne family; they were sold by the Encumbered Estates Court in 1855 and bought by Benjamin Lee Guinness, afterwards 1st Bt., head of Guinness’s brewery, who transformed the shooting-box into the French chateau. From the 1870s onwards, his son, Arthur, 1st and Last Lord Ardilaun, added the castle, which was designed by James Franklin Fuller and George Ashlin. He also built the tremendous castellated 6 arch bridge across the river, with outworks and an embattled gateway surmounted by a gigantic A and a Baron’s coronet, which is the main approach; from the far side of this bridge the castle looks most impressive. Its interior, however, is a disappointment, like the interiors of so many late-Victorian houses. The rooms are not particularly large, and some of them are rather low; everything is light oak, with timbered ceilings and panelling. The main hall was formed out of 2 or more rooms in the earlier house, and has a somewhat makeshift air; it is surrounded by an oak gallery with thin uprights and a staircase rises straight from one side of it. Another room has an immense carved oak mantel with caryatids and the Guinness motto. Magnificent gardens and grounds; large fountain, vista up the hillside with steps; castellated terrace by the lake. Sold ca 1930, now a hotel.” (see [3])

Ashford Castle, photograph by Brian Morrison 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).
George V Dining Room, Ashford Castle, Co Mayo, Courtesy Jack Hardy 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).
Billiards Room, Ashford Castle, Courtesy Jack Hardy 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).
Afternoon tea, Ashford Castle, Co Mayo Courtesy Kelvin Gillmor 2014. (see [5])
Ashford Castle, photograph by Brian Morrison 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).
Ashford Castle, photograph by unknown, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).
Ashford Castle, photograph by Brian Morrison 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]).

2. Belleek Castle and Ballina House, originally Belleek Castle, Ballina, Mayo – €€ and see above 

3. Breaffy House Resort, Castlebar, Co Mayo (formerly Breaghwy)

https://www.breaffyhouseresort.com/

The website tells us: “Breaffy House Resort is located in the heart of County Mayo and is the perfect destination if you are looking for a well-deserved and relaxing break! Set on 101 acres, the resort consists of 4* Breaffy House Hotel and Self-Catering Apartments, only a 2 minute stroll between House Hotel & Apartments.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 47. “(Browne/IFR) A large Victorian Baronial mansion of rough-hewn grey stone with red sandstone around the windows; unusually long for its height. Entrance front with single-storey battlemented porch. Garden front with stepped gables, polygonal corner turret with battlements and pointed roof, and another battlemented turret set at an obtuse angle to the façade. Sold ca 1960. Now an hotel.” (see [5])

Archiseek describes it: “Dominick Andrew Browne built the present Breaffy House in 1890. The house is a Scottish baronial mansion and is victorian in style and was designed by English architect William M. Fawcett from Cambridge. The house has boldly recessed facades, a polygonal corner turret with battlements and pointed roof, a second turret set at an obtuse angle to the facade and stepped gables. The entrance front has a single story battlement porch. The building has tall slender chimneys and there are dormer windows on the roof.” (see [3])

4. Enniscoe House, Castlehill, Ballina, Co Mayo – section 482

5. Knockranny House Hotel and Spa, County Mayo

https://www.knockrannyhousehotel.ie/

The website tells us: “Owned and run by Adrian & Geraldine Noonan, Knockranny House Hotel & Spa is one of Ireland’s finest 4 star hotels in Westport. 

Set in secluded grounds on a hillside, this luxury hotel stands proudly overlooking the picturesque town of Westport and enjoys breathtaking views of Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay’s islands to the west and the Nephin Mountains to the north, one of the best Westport hotels locations.  

The welcoming atmosphere at Knockranny House Hotel Westport begins with the open log fires in the reception hall, and is carried throughout the property with its antique furniture, excellent spa facilities, superb cuisine and friendly service, creating a genuine sense of relaxed warmth and hospitality. Previously voted as AA Irish hotel of the year. 

6.  Mount Falcon, Ballina, County Mayo – hotel €€

https://www.mountfalcon.com/

Mount Falcon Estate, Co Mayo_by Mount Falcon 2020 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])

The website tells us:

Mount Falcon Estate is a luxury 32 bedroom 4-star deluxe hotel with 45 luxury lodges located on the west bank of the River Moy and is situated perfectly for exploring the 2500km of rugged Irish coastline called The Wild Atlantic Way. Mount Falcon hotel offers 100 acres of magical woodlands, between Foxford and Ballina, in North County Mayo, the most beautiful part of the West of Ireland.  Situated in the heart of the Moy Valley (which encompasses Mayo North and Co. Sligo) this Victorian Gothic manor house (est. 1876) exudes understated elegance from a bygone era. Originally constructed as a wedding gift, Mount Falcon Estate has subsequently become known as the most romantic house in Ireland. 

Mount Falcon’s owners, the Maloney Family fell in love with the Estate and transformed it into one of the top Hotels in Ballina and Mayo. The owners have invested heavily in an ongoing restoration programme, and have ensured that the integrity and charm of the Estate have been completely retained. AA Hotel of the Year 2009/2010 & IGTOA Boutique Hotel of the Year 2011. Best Manor House Hotel in Ireland 2015, Hotel of the year 2017 Manor House Hotel, Traditional Luxury Hotel 2018 Luxury Travel Diary, Irelands Favourite Place to Stay Connaught 2018 Gold Medal Awards People Choice Winner, Top 100 Best Wedding Venues 2018 One Fab Day.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 213. “(Knox/IFR) A Victorian Gothic house of rough-hewn stone, built 1876 for U.A. Knox [Utred Augustus Knox JP DL (1825-1913)], probably to the design of James Franklin Fuller. Of two storeys with a three storey bock to which a tower was added. Plate glass windows. There is a similarity between Mount Falcon and Errew Grange. Mount Falcon is now a hotel.

The National Inventory adds:

A country house erected for Utred Augustus Knox JP DL (1825-1913) to a design signed by James Franklin Fuller (1835-1924) of Great Brunswick Street [Pearse Street], Dublin, representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Mayo with the architectural value of the composition, one evoking strong comparisons with the Fuller-designed Errew House (1872-7), Errew, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds; the compact, albeit multi-faceted plan form; the robust rock faced surface finish offset by sheer limestone dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also compounding a ponderous two-tone palette; the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a feint graduated visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by polygonal bay windows; and the spire-topped tower embellishing a multi-gabled roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; contemporary joinery; restrained chimneypieces carrying the monogram of the proprietor (“UAK”); and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the considerable artistic potential of a country house having subsequent connections with the Aldridge family including Major John Beauclerk Aldridge RA (1900-76), previously of Glenmore: meanwhile, a discreet benchmark remains of additional interest for the connections with cartography and the preparation of maps by the Ordnance Survey (established 1824).” [7]

7. Newport House, Newport, Co. Mayo, Ireland

http://www.newporthouse.ie

Newport provides guests with a unique opportunity to experience the elegance and hospitality of an historic Irish Country House Hotel, with luxury guest accommodation ideal for an overnight stay or longer sejourn.

Newport overlooks the tidal river and quay, it rests between Achill Island and the mountains of Mayo close to the wild and unspoilt splendours of Erris and Connemara.

The superb menu offered at Newport House reflects the hospitable character of the house, using fresh produce from the fishery, garden and farm, including home-smoked salmon. The cellar, with wines of character and value, is internationally renowned and compliments the cuisine.

All the reception rooms are spacious and appropriately furnished. The bedrooms have individuality as well as comfort. Twelve are in the main house. The others are in two smaller houses near the courtyard, one of which was previously the holiday residence of the late Sean Lemass, Prime Minister of Ireland. Some bedrooms are well suited for families, as they are in self-contained sections.”

The National Inventory tells us it is : “A country house erected by Hugh O’Donel (d. 1762) representing an important component of the mid eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of Newport with the architectural value of the composition, one subsequently annotated as “Seamount [of the] Honourable J. Browne” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 79), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking an inlet of Newport Bay; the neo-Palladian-esque plan form centred on a polygonal breakfront showing a provincial Gibbsian doorcase ‘omitting architrave [sic] and frieze’ (Craig 1976, 40); the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the high pitched roofline. Having been reasonably well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition: however, the introduction of replacement fittings to most of the openings has not had a beneficial impact on the character or integrity of the country house. Furthermore, a lengthy outbuilding (extant 1838); a walled garden (extant 1838); and a nearby gate lodge (extant 1897), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a self-contained estate having historic connections with the O’Donel family including Sir Neal O’Donel (d. 1811); Lieutenant Connell O’Donel (1775-1840; Lewis 1837 I, 233); Sir George Clendenning O’Donel (1832-89), fifth Baronet (Bence-Jones 1978, 204); and Edwin Thomas O’Donel JP DL (né Thomas) (1853-1932; NA 1911); and Sir Anthony Beaver KCVO CBE (1895-1977), one-time Private Secretary to Prime Minister Clement Attlee (1883-1967). 

8. Owenmore, Garranard, Ballina, Co. Mayo – section 482

contact: Jerry O’ Mara
Tel: 087-2446744 

(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: March-Oct and Dec

Originally called Millbrook, Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 229. “(Orme/LGI1912; McCausland/IFR) An early C19 house of two storeys over high basement. Entrance front of 5 bays; single-storey Doric portico with a die up broad flight of steps. Entablatures on console brackets over windows of lower storey. Side elevation of one bay with a curved bow; at the other side is a two storey bowed wing of the same height and style as the main block, set back from it and joined to it by a canted bay. Eaved roof on cornice. Two drawing rooms en suite with decoration of ca 1830; ceilings with plasterwork in compartments; pediment over double-doors. Dining room ceiling  with delicate plasterwork in centre surrounded by rectangular frame with similar decoration.” [3]

www.owenbeg.ie – link doesn’t work.

Timothy William Ferres tells us it was built ca 1847, and when the estate was decimated by the Land Acts, about 1926, it was sold to the Knox family. It was sold again in 1950 to Major Marcus McCausland.” [4]

It seems to have been built for William Orme (1810-76), JP. The National Inventory adds:

the compact plan form centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a blue-grey limestone; and the very slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with those openings showing sleek “stucco” dressings. Having been well maintained, the form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; and ‘splendid ceilings [revealing] the superb skill of the Italian masters introduced for this work’ (Irish Tourist Association Report 1942), all highlight the artistic potential of the composition.”

9. Turin Castle, Turin, Kilmaine, Co. Mayo, Irelandwhole castle rental, €€ for two, € for 10-12

http://turincastle.com

The website tells us:

Turin Castle in County Mayo is a luxury self catering venue near Ballinrobe in County Mayo Ireland. It is a unique medieval castle set against the backdrop of picturesque countryside. This exclusive and intimate venue is the perfect location for a  romantic, castle wedding or family gathering.  Unfortuntately It is not suitable for stag or hen parties. It is the only privately owned castle in Ireland with en-suite facilities. The castle sleeps a maximum of 12 people and is hired on a self catering basis but catering can be arranged if required. Please ask for details.

If you are looking for a truly exceptional medieval experience, Turin Castle in County Mayo will not disappoint. The castle is ideal for a family holiday with a difference or a special intimate wedding affording total privacy. 

Turin Castle is situated in the ancient barony of Kilmaine, the castle is surrounded by 16 acres of rich walled pasture land and is an ideal choice for couples searching for an idyllic but small wedding venue. The nearest town is Ballinrobe which is 8 km away offering a good selection of pubs and eateries. The picturesque village of Cong famous for the John Ford film ” The Quiet Man” and Ashford castle are also close by. The castle is conveniently located close to excellent golf courses.

The website includes a good description of its history:

1238 was a most auspicious year  in the long and turbulent  history of County Mayo. For we are told in the annals of the four Masters that the foreigners erected Castles In Conmacnaine Cuile(Kilmaine) and Muinter Murchadha.(Robeen).

The Foreigners were Anglo-Normans led by Richard de Burgo, son of William de Burgo. One of the most powerful Lords in England. In 1228 Richard had received the Overlordship  of the whole of Connacht from the English King, Henry II, making him the “ red Earl “ the most powerful man in Ireland.

The de Burgo dynasty survived and flourished up until Elizabethan times when the two hereditary titles of upper and lower Mac William (From William de Burgo, known as the conqueror) were finally abolished. During this time the de Burgos had become completely integrated into Gaelic society adopting Gaelic customs, laws and language becoming “ Hiberniores  Hibernis  ipis”.  More Irish than the Irish themselves .However this was the beginning of the end of the old Gaelic order in Ireland and opened the way for the final conquest and plantation of Ireland.

The origins and history of Turin Castle Ireland and neighbouring castles are sadly mostly lost in the mists of time. According to the chronicler O’Donovan “ In the parish of Kilmaine there are several square Castles said to have been built by the Burkes ( de Burgos) There is one in Kilmaine, one in Cregduff, one in Elistron and one in Killernan”. Turin would appear to derive from the old Irish meaning ‘small bleaching field’. Which may suggest that Turin Castle Ireland was involved in the very lucrative trade of sheep farming.  There was a growing market for hides, meat and wool in continental Europe and by the mid 16th Century Kilmaine, politically and economically was the most important barony in the county. In 1574 there were 41 castles in an area of just 10 miles long by eight broad, by far the highest concentration of castles in Connacht, an indication that agriculture was on an industrial scale. The producers were the owners or tenants of  the  estates  who  would have enjoyed the protection of the upper and lower  Mac William and in turn the Mac Williams would profit from the duty imposed which would probably directly affect the commodity market price in Galway. Keeping the lines of communication open was essential hence the need for a line of Castles protecting the trade route from Lough Corrib to Galway. Apart from this liberal studding of castles in Kilmaine another possible indication of the profitability and importance of this trade was the presence of a large mercenary army loyal to the Mac Williams.

In the division of Connacht 1570-1574 one Walter Mac Remon is listed as being resident of Turin Castle Ireland.The Mac Remons was a cadet branch of the clann Seonin who were one of the chief de Burgo clans of Ireland.

Following the death of the Mac William Sir Richard Bourke, in September of 1586. The de Burgo clans and the Mac Donnells along with the O’Malleys  and the Joys(Joyces) rose up against the English oppressors in an attempt to reinstate the Mac Williamship and other lordships which the English had abolished. One of the signatories to a document presented to the council of Connaught was Walter Mac Jonyn ( Seonin) of Towrin (Turin). This document attested that the principle reason for the rebellion was the abolition of the Mac Williamship and other titles.

In 1589 the de Burgo clans along with the O’ Flaherties,Joys  and  Clandonnel rose up against the English forces and plundered the baronies of Clare,Kilmaine and Clanmorris.

Sir Murrough O’Flaherty [(1540-1626)I believe he was a son of Grace O’Malley and Donal O’Flaherty] stayed with a few men at Keltyprichnane in Kilmaine and sent the rest under his son Teige to plunder the baronies of Clare and Dunmore where they burned 16 towns and gathered 3000 head of cattle and horses. The” rebel forces” gathered at the Carre in Kilmainham and engaged the English. Edward Bermingham of MilltownCastle and former Sherrif of Mayo joined the battle after being attacked by Teig O’ Flaherty. He described the battle in a letter written from Athlone on the 31st March:-

“The soldiers not neglecting their time went against them; there was a volley of shot on both sides.They came to the push of the pike with great courage, when the said Teig O’ Flaherty was slain with eight of his company. They were then disordered and I with six horsemen of mine and eight footmen, being beside our battle as a wing ready to charge upon the breach, did charge,

When I struck their Guidion (standard bearer) under his morion (helmet) with my staff and ran him through in the face of battle. I followed another and had him down, and so did my horseman Kill 5 more at that charge. We had not six score of ground to deal with them when they recovered a main bog. Three of my horsemen and eight footmen did kill of them in the bog 16.

Her majesties attorney in that province (Mr Comerford)understanding of their disordering, issued forth when he met of them and did slay 16.Divers others in the fight did kill of them, so that I account there is slain of them 80 and upwards. The attorney and I brought the head of Teige O’Flaherty to Sir Richard yester night that was wonderful glad, for this Teige was the stoutest man in the province and could do most.”

According to a letter written by Comerford at Turin Castle Ireland dated 29th March Comerford rode two miles to the battle field and sallied forth on the fugitives with six shot, seven footmen and four horsemen killing 24.

Following the subjugation and pacification of the Gaelic lords and subsequent plantation of Mayo. Many of the Castles were abandoned by their new English owners preferring the comfort of Manor houses. In some cases, incorporating the existing building or cannibalising materials from it. From records we know that Turin Castle Ireland had been abandoned for at least two hundred and fifty years up until its restoration in 1997.

10. Westbrook Country House, Castlebar, County Mayo

https://www.westbrookhousemayo.com

The website tells us:

A New Boutique Georgian Country House, Westbrook epitomises elegance & splendour. Located between the tourist meccas’ Westport & Castlebar, Westbrook Country House is the ideal base from which to explore the stunning West of Ireland Wild Atlantic Way, cycle the Greenway, sail on Clew Bay, climb Croagh Patrick, visit Knock Shrine or the National Museum of Country Life, or catch a show in the Castlebar Theatre Royal.

As restful or as adventurous as you prefer your break to be, Westbrook Country House is the perfect place to base yourself; with world-class home cooked breakfasts, and stylish, spacious, immaculate five star hotel-grade guest rooms & suites complimented by a relaxed, friendly family atmosphere.

Curl up on a leather armchair in front of a roaring fire with a first edition or your favourite novel in our library, climb in under crisp white linen sheets on one of our sumptuous beds or sink into a bubbling Jacuzzi bath with your favourite music & a lovely glass of Sauvingon Blanc, our vibe is opulent and fabulous but down to earth, and homely. We pride ourselves on guest consideration that is second to none.

Arrive as a Guest, leave as a friend. We look forward to welcoming you to Westbrook.”

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/31310114/brookhill-brookhill-co-mayo

[2] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie:8080/LandedEstates/jsp/estate-show.jsp?id=638

[3] 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.

[4] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/2014/07/owenmore-house.html

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

[6] https://archiseek.com/2009/breaffy-house-co-mayo-ireland/

[7] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/31303909/mount-falcon-drumrevagh-co-mayo

Places to visit and stay in County Wexford, Leinster

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

orange: “whole house rental” i.e. those properties that are only for large group accommodations or weddings, e.g. 10 or more people.

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

As well as places to visit, I have listed separately places to stay, because some of them are worth visiting – you may be able to visit for afternoon tea or a meal.

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 (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

For a full listing of accommodation in big houses in Ireland, see my accommodation page: https://irishhistorichouses.com/accommodation/

Wexford:

1. Ballyhack Castle, Co. Wexford – open to public OPW

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum 

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford

4. Clougheast Cottage, Carne, Co. Wexford – section 482

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford

6. Ferns Castle, Wexford – open to public, OPW

7. Johnstown Castle, County Wexford maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust

8. Kilcarbry Mill Engine House, Sweetfarm, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – section 482

9. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

10. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

11. Newtownbarry House, Wexford

12. Tintern Abbey, Ballycullane, County Wexford – concessionary entrance to IGS members, OPW

13. Wells House, County Wexford

14. Woodville House, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

Places to Stay, County Wexford

1. Artramont House, Castlebridge, Co Wexford – B&B 

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

4. Berkeley Forest, New Ross, Co Wexford – B&B? 

5. Butlerstown Castle, Tomhaggard, Co Wexford – A ruin, coach house accommodation  

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation 

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation

8. Fruit Hill Cottages, Fruit Hill House, Campile, New Ross, County Wexford  

9. Hyde Park House (or Tara House),Gorey, co wexford- accommodation 

10. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford  – accommodation 

11. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

12. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

13. Monart, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – 5* hotel 

14. Rathaspeck Manor “doll’s house” gate lodge, County Wexford and the Manor B&B

15. Riverbank House Hotel, The Bridge, Wexford, Ireland Y35 AH33

16. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – accommodation 

17. Wells House, County Wexford – self catering cottages

18. Wilton castle, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

19. Woodbrook, Killane, Co Wexford – accommodation and 482 

20. Woodlands Country House, Killinierin, County Wexford B&B

21. Woodville House, New Ross, Co Wexford – 482 

Whole House rental County Wexford:

1. Ballinkeele, County Wexford – whole house rental (sleeps up to 19 people)

2. Horetown House, County Wexford – whole house rental (wedding venue, up to 24 people in house, plus shepherd’s huts)

Places to visit in County Wexford:

1. Ballyhack Castle, Co. Wexford – open to public OPW

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

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum 

http://www.ballymorehistoricfeatures.com

The website tells us:

Ballymore is an old family property located away from main routes in a particularly scenic part of North Wexford. It retains many features which have survived from past periods of occupation in an attractive setting of mature trees, ordered landscape and views of the surrounding countryside.

A large scale map indicates theroute visitors are requested to follow. This route allows a leisurely ramble around several interesting features including the tea room, the museum, art gallery and display of old farming equipment in part of the farmyard. The residence itself is private and not open to the public.

In the surrounding grounds you will find the church and ancient graveyard, holy well, former site of a 1798 rebel camp and the 14th century Norman castle ruins, which now is a simple labyrinth.

The present church was built in 1869 on the site of a medieval building, of which nothing now survives except a carved wooden door lintel which can be seen at the museum.

The holy well is covered completely by a large boulder. This was done some centuries ago to discourage its continued use for prayer and devotion.

The castle mound is all that remains of the 14th century motte built by Norman settlers. The ruins of the stone-built tower were pulled down in the 19th century.

The large reconstructed greenhouse is the setting for the tea room. 

Its design copies the original greenhouse built around 1820, along with the walled garden behind it.

The museum and display area open out from the small courtyard. The museum itself is in a large converted hayloft in a period farmyard building. The contents of the museum are from the family home and farmyard. They illustrate many different aspects of earlier occupation and activity. Another feature is the old water wheel now on display in the same farm building.

The old dairy room will take you back in time. It adjoins the 1798 Room, containing a display of items from this period and from the house and family records. The further display area includes pieces of older farm equipment and hand tools used when the horse was the only source of motive power.

The art gallery is located below the museum in what was the farm stables. It displays a selection of paintings and drawings of local scenes and activities by the much admired artist Phoebe Donovan.

Take one of our exclusive tours, which encompasses many features including the museum of local and family history spanning over 300 years, dairy and farming display, 1798 memorabilia room and the Phoebe Donovan art gallery.

Venture out into the surrounding grounds and you will find the ruins of a Norman castle dating back to the 14th century, Ballymore Church and graveyard (1869), and a former 1798 rebel camp site. You may even spot a buzzard or some of the other varied wildlife in the area.

Finally, relax and enjoy a beverage in our greenhouse tea room.

Ballymore Historic Features is also part of the Wexford Heritage Trail.”

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford

http://berkeleyforesthouse.com

Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.

This website tells us:

Berkeley Forest is unusual as a period house as it has a bright and uncluttered look with a strong Scandinavian flavour -painted floors, hand stencilled wallpaper and bedcoverings designed by artist Ann Griffin-Bernstorff who lives and works here during part of the year.

The house offers a beguiling experience. With a beautiful faded brick walled garden with a terrace, summer house and an outdoor fireplace, it is a delight throughout the day.

In easy reach of the Wexford beaches to the South and East and the picturesque villages of Inistioge, Thomastown and Graiguenamanagh, the cities of Kilkenny (Medieval) and Waterford (Viking) are also nearby. Just off the N30, less than 2 hours from Dublin Airport, 45 mins from Kilkenny, 20 mins from Wexford or Waterford, the house is perfectly situated to visit a host of interesting historical, cultural or sporting amenities, or to hide away in complete peace and quiet.

The house was once the home of the family of 18th century philosopher George Berkeley.
It also houses a 19th Costume museum which was created by Ann Griffin-Bernstorff and is available to costume and fashion students on request (her original 18th century Costume Collection is now to be seen at Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin) She is also the designer of the internationally acclaimed Ros Tapestry.

Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.
Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.

The property consists of the main house, lawns and gardens; beyond that are pasture and woodland, some mature, some more recently planted; as well as original farm buildings. All of which ideal for exploring and wandering. There is a beautifully proportioned upper drawing room (28ftx18ft) which is suitable for music rehearsal, fine dining and specialist conferences.”

Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.

4. Clougheast Cottage, Carne, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Jacinta Denieffe
Tel: 086-1234322
Open: Jan 10-31, May 1-31, August 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €5

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford

http://enniscorthycastle.ie

Enniscorthy castle, Co Wexford_Courtesy Patrick Brown 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

The website tells us:

Enniscorthy Castle, in the heart of Enniscorthy town, was originally built in the 13th century, and has been ‘home’ to Norman knights, English armies, Irish rebels and prisoners, and local  merchant families.  Why not visit our dungeon to see the rare medieval wall art –The Swordsman, or our battlements at the top of the castle to marvel at the amazing views of Vinegar Hill Battlefield, Enniscorthy town, and the sights, flora and  fauna of the  surrounding countryside. Enniscorthy Castle explores the development of the Castle and town from its earliest Anglo-Norman origins, with a special focus on the Castle as a family home. Visitors can also view the ‘Enniscorthy Industries ‘exhibition on the ground floor from the early 1600’s onwards when Enniscorthy began to grow and prosper as a market town. Visitors can explore the work of the renowned Irish furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray (born in 1878 just outside the town). The roof of the castle is also accessible, with spectacular views of the surrounding buildings, Vinegar Hill, and countryside. Note that access to the roof is only possible when accompanied by a staff member. Tours of the Castle are self guided. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing. Our facilities include: craft and gift shop, toilets and baby changing area, wheelchair access to all floors (including roof) , and visitor information point (tourist office for town). We look forward to welcoming you to our town’s most public ‘home’.

Enniscorthy castle, Co Wexford_Courtesy Patrick Brown 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

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

p. 121. “(Wallop, Portsmouth, E/IFR) A C13 four-towered keep, like the ruined castles at Carlow and Ferns, restored at various dates and rising above the surrounding rooftops of the town of Enniscorthy like a French chateau-fort, with its near row of tourelles. Once the home of Edmund Spenser, the poet. Now a museum.” [2]

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it is a two-bay three-stage over basement castle, built 1588, on a rectangular plan with single-bay full-height engaged drum towers to corners on circular plans. [3]

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

The website tells us more about the history of the castle:

Maud de Quency (granddaughter of the famous Strongbow) marries Philip de Prendergast (son of Anglo-Norman Knight Maurice de Prendergast) and they reside at Enniscorthy Castle from 1190 to his death in 1229. From then until the 1370’s, their descendants, and other Anglo-Norman families rule the Duffry and reside in Enniscorthy Castle.

In 1375: The fief (a defined area of land or territory) of the Duffry  and Enniscorthy Castle are forcefully retaken by Art MacMurrough Kavanagh who regains his ancestral lands. This marks a time of Gaelic Irish revival. The MacMurrough Kavanagh dynasty rule until they eventually surrender the Castle and lands to Lord Leonard Grey in 1536. At this time Enniscorthy Castle is reported be in a ruined condition.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

In 1569, The Butlers of Kilkenny and the Earl of Kildare lead a raid on Enniscorthy town on a fair day, killing numerous civilians and burning the castle. In 1581, The poet Edmund Spenser leases the Castle but never lives in it. Historians speculate that this was because Spenser feared the MacMurrough Kavanaghs.

In 1585, Henry Wallop receives ownership of the Duffry by Royal Appointment. He exploits the dense forests (the Duffry, An Dubh Tír in Irish, meaning “The Black Country”) surrounding Enniscorthy which brings considerable wealth to the town, and funds the rebuilding of Enniscorthy Castle which we see standing today. Enniscorthy begins to rapidly develop as a plantation town.

1649: Oliver Cromwell arrives in Co. Wexford. Enniscorthy Castle is beseiged by his forces; its defenders surrender, leaving it intact. In December of the same year the Castle once again fell to the Irish (under Captain Daniel Farrell), but two months later Colonel Cooke, the Governor of Wexford, reoccupied the castle.

1898: The Castle is leased by Patrick J. Roche from the Earl of Portsmouth. P.J. Roche restores and extends the Castle making it into a residence for his son Henry J. Roche.

1951: Roche family leaves.

1962: Castle opens as Wexford County Museum.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

6. Ferns Castle, Wexford – open to public, 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/ 

8. Johnstown Castle, County Wexford maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust

Johnstown Castle, County Wexford. The house was designed by Daniel Robertson (d. 1849). It envelops a seventeenth-century house (perhaps by Thomas Hopper) [4] remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick.
Garden front, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford: The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows.
Front of Johnstown Castle, with porte-cochere projection at the end of an entrance corridor.
The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.

An information board in the museum tells us that Geoffrey and Maurice Esmonde were the estate’s first owners, who arrived as part of the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169. Geoffrey Esmonde built the original Johnstown Castle, which was a plain and modest tower house. His son Maurice built a second tower house at Rathlannon Castle, the remains of which are on the grounds to this day.

The Esmondes lost their lands during the invasion of Oliver Cromwell, as they were Catholics. Lieutenant Colonel John Overstreet was granted Johnstown Castle estate. The land passed through several hands until acquired by John Grogan in 1692. The Grogan family and their descendants lived at Johnstown Castle until 1945 when it was handed over to the state.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us about Johnstown Castle (1988):

p. 161. “(Esmonde, bt/PB; Grogan-Morgan; LG1863; Forbes, Grandard, E/PB; FitzGerald, sub Leinster, D/PB) An old tower house of the Esmondes, engulfed in an impressively turreted, battlmented and machicolated castle of gleaming silver-grey ashlar built ca 1840 for Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan [1808-54], MP, to the design of Daniel Robertson [d. 1849], of Kilkenny. The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end. The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows. Lower wing with polygonal tower. The castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side. Impressive castellated entrance archways facing each other on either side of the road. After the death of H.K. Grogan-Morgan, Johnstown passed to his widow, who married as her second husband, Rt Hon Sir Thomas Esmonde, 9th Bt, a descendent of the original owners of the old tower house. The estate afterwards went to H.K. Grogan-Morgan’s daughter, Jane, Countess of Granard [she married George Arthur Forbes (1833-1889) 7th Earl of Granard], and eventually to Lady Granard’s daughter, Lady Maurice Fitzgerald [born Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, she married Maurice Fitzgerald son of the 4th Duke of Leinster]. It is now an agricultural institute, and the grounds are maintained as a show place. The old tower house was the home of Cornelius Grogan [1738-1798], who was unjustly executed for treason after 1798 Rebellion.” 

The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.
Inside the front arch of Johnstown Castle.
The Gothic conservatory in the middle.
Johnstown Castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side.
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan (1807-1854) and his family. [5]

The National Inventory describes it:

Detached three-bay three-storey over basement country house, built 1836-72, on an asymmetrical plan centred on single-bay full-height breakfront with single-bay (four-bay deep) single-storey projecting porch-cum-“porte cochère” to ground floor; five-bay three-storey Garden Front (south) with single-bay four-stage turrets on circular plans centred on single-bay full-height bow on an engaged half-octagonal plan…A country house … enveloping a seventeenth-century house remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the asymmetrical plan form centred on ‘a splendid porch…formed by beautiful Gothic arches with neat light groinings’ (Lacy 1852, 259); the construction in a blue-green rubble stone offset by glimmering Mount Leinster granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a sober two-tone palette; the diminishing in scale of the multipartite openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with the principal “apartments” defined by a polygonal bow; and the battlemented turrets producing an eye-catching silhouette: meanwhile, aspects of the composition clearly illustrate the continued development or “improvement” of the country house ‘under the munificent and highly-gifted Lady Esmonde who never tires of affording employment to the skilful artisans whom she herself has trained’.”

You can see the basement on the garden front.
The clock tower side of Johnstown Castle.
Spectacular doorway arch to one side of Johnstown Castle.
The doorway arch at Johnstown Castle features a border of carved stone heads.
Carved stone heads at Johnstown Castle.
Window surround detail and tracery at Johnstown Castle.
A workman at Johnstown Castle.

We did not get to see the inside of Johnstown Castle when we visited as it was closed that day, but the National Inventory gives us pictures – and I can’t wait to visit again!

I think this is the portico corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “corridor on a rectangular plan retaining encaustic tiled floor, Gothic-style timber panelled wainscoting supporting carved timber dado rail, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, and groin vaulted ceiling with carved timber ribs on portrait-detailed oak leaf corbels.” [5]
Tile floor of the corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues:

A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; the so-called “Apostles Hall” with ‘oak panelling and carving of the most costly description’ (Lacy 1852, 268); contemporary joinery ‘by poor Mooney who may be said to have lived and died in the employment of the munificent proprietor [and who was] succeeded by another native genius [named] Sinnott’ (ibid., 269); restrained chimneypieces in contrasting neo-Classical or Egyptian Revival styles; and geometric ceilings recalling the Robertson-designed Wells House (1836-45), all highlight the considerable artistic significance of the composition.

Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “top-lit triple-height “Grand Hall” on a square plan retaining tessellated “Asphaltum” tiled floor, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to door openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled doors, arcaded galleries (upper floors) with carved timber hand rails, and fan vaulted plasterwork ceiling centred on replacement glass block-filled mass concrete dome.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “bow-ended dining room (south) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, coat-of-arms-detailed cut-veined green marble Gothic-style chimneypiece in Gothic-style timber surround, and picture railing below grape-and-vine-detailed cornice to quatrefoil-detailed compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “library (south-east) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to opposing window opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, Gothic-style timber bookcases centred on cut-black marble Egyptian-style chimneypiece, and picture railing below compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.”[5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues: “Furthermore, a “Terrace Garden”; a stable complex; folly-like towers and turrets overlooking an artificial lake ; a walled garden; and nearby gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a largely intact estate having subsequent connections with the Right Honourable Sir Thomas Esmonde (1786-1868) [9th Baronet] and Dame Sophia Maria Esmonde (née Rowe) (1805-67) [she was first the wife of Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan]; and Lord Maurice FitzGerald (1852-1901) and Lady Adelaide Jane Frances FitzGerald (née Forbes) (1860-1942). NOTE: Armorial panels over the glazed-in carriageway and on the dining room chimneypiece show a coat of arms combining three bears heads couped and muzzled [Forbes] centred on a griffin sergeant [Morgan] representing the marriage of George Arthur Hastings Forbes (1833-89), seventh Earl of Granard, and Jane Colclough Morgan (1840-72) with Order of Saint Patrick motto (“QUIS SEPARABIT MDCCLXXXIII [Who Will Separate Us 1783]”) recognising the earl’s investment as a Knight of the Order of Saint Patrick (K.P.) in 1857.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Kathleen, married Michael Lawrence Lakin and they had two sons: Gerald Michael Lakin and Maurice Victor Lakin, the latter pictured below, the last man to privately own the castle and estate before handing it over to the state.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Geraldine, married Gerald More O’Ferrall.
Walled garden, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.
Entrance to Johnstown Castle estate, County Wexford.
The National Inventory describes this: “A tower-like gate lodge contributing positively to the group and setting values of the Johnstown Castle estate with the architectural value of the composition, one erected to a design signed (1846) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the compact square plan form; the construction in ‘[a] fine bluish stone raised from the quarries on the demesne’ (Lacy 1852, 265-6) offset by silver-grey granite dressings demonstrating good quality workmanship; the definition of the principal “apartment” by a jettied oriel window recalling the Daniel Robertson (d.1849)-designed gate lodge at Shankill Castle, County Kilkenny; and the corbelled battlements embellishing the roofline.”
I think this is Rathlannon Castle, built by Maurice Esmonde in the 1200s.
Stable Complex, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.

9. Kilcarbry Mill Engine House, Sweetfarm, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – section 482

Contact: Stephen Hegarty
Tel: 087-2854143
Open: Apr 30, May 1-13, July 25-31, Aug 1-30, Dec 12-24, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, student/OAP €5

10. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

The main lawn at the rear of the house at Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders – and some fine topiary, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

contact: Mark Hewlett
Tel: 086-0227799
www.kilmokea.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April – Oct
Gardens:

Open Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Wed-Sun, June, July, Aug, daily, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family €20

The website tells us:

Kilmokea, on Great Island in south County Wexford, was built in 1794, on the site of an ancient monastery as the glebe house for a Church of Ireland rector. The house is a simple, neo-classical late Georgian building of two stories, roughly square in plan with a three-bay facade protected by a later porch. The garden front is of four bays and the rooms at the rear are set high above the lawn and treated as a piano nobile. While there is no cornice, the roof is hipped and elegantly sprocketed, and the flues are all diverted into a single elongated central chimney stack.   

Great Island is not actually an island, although it is largely surrounded by water. The River Barrow, which converged with the River Nore just upstream from New Ross, forms its western boundary and joins the River Suir at the inner reaches of Waterford Harbour, which borders Great Island to the South. The Campile River, to the east, also flows into Waterford Harbour, while the connecting isthmus to the ‘mainland’ of County Wexford is largely low-lying and prone to floods, hence the name Great Island.  

Kilmokea stands on the highest point of the isthmus, north-west of the small town of Campile. Just a few miles beyond, the Hook peninsula stretches southwards like a rocky finger pointing out into the Celtic Sea. In the twelfth century the first Normans settlers landed near Hook Head and put their stamp upon the entire region. The great ruined Cistercian abbey of Dunbrody, standing in splendid isolation on the banks of the Campile River, is perhaps their finest legacy. 

In the 1950s Kilmokea was in a dilapidated state when purchased by David and Joan Price, prime movers behind the Wexford Opera Festival. They restored and extended the house in the fashion of the times, removing the external rendering and stripping and waxing the internal joinery by hand. But their principal focus was the garden, where the subtropical microclimate allows many rare and tender plants to flourish. They surrounded the house with a series of interconnecting garden ‘rooms’ of varying size, while a reconstructed millpond, on the opposite side of an adjoining by-road, feeds a small stream that winds its way through a magical woodland garden to the River Barrow. 

In the 1990s Kilmokea was purchased by Mark and Emma Hewlett as their family home. Together they have extended and enhanced both house and garden, which they maintain to an exemplary standard, and have built a magnificent new conservatory.”

The main lawn at the rear of Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland (see [1]).
Kilmokea House, conservatory on right, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

11. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

https://www.discoverireland.ie/wexford/loftus-hall

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Loftus Hall (1988):

p. 189. “(Redmond/LG1863; Loftus, Ely, M/PB) A gaunt, three-storey mansion of 1871, with rows of plate-glass windows and a balustraded parapet, incorporating parts of a previous house here, which was late 17th century or early C18, gable-ended and of two storeys and nine bays, with a domered roof and a steep pedimented gable; it was fronted by a forecourt with tall piers surmounded by ball finials and had a haunted tapestry room. The house stands near the tip of Hook Head, and must have been one of the most wing-swept noblemen’s seats in the British Isles; “No tree will grow above the shelter of the walls,” Bishop Pococke observed of Loftus Hall in C18, and the same is true of the place today. The site was originally occupied by an old castle of the Redmonds, which was known in their day as The Hall; and of which a square turret remained near the old house, but was demolished when the present house was built. The present house, which was built soon after his coming-of-age by the 4th Marquess of Ely [John Henry Willington Graham Loftus (1849-1889), built in 1870-71] – who also planned to rebuild his other seat, Ely Lodge – contains an impressive staircase hall, with an oak stair in Jacobean style, richly decorated with carving and marquetry; the gallery being carried on fluted Corinthian columns of wood. The house is now a convent.” 

For more on Loftus Hall and on Nicholas Loftus (c, 1714-1766), 1st Earl of Ely, who also lived in 13 Henrietta St from 1752-66, see Melanie Hayes, The Best Address in Town: Henrietta Street, Dublin and its First Residents 1720-80, published by Four Courts Press, Dublin 8, 2020. 

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is a nine-bay three-storey country house, built 1870-1, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor; seven-bay three-storey side (south) elevation centred on three-bay three-storey breakfront on a bowed plan…”A country house erected for John Henry Wellington Graham Loftus (1849-89), fourth Marquess of Ely, representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of a house (1680-4) illustrated in Volume IV of Philip Herbert Hore’s (1841-1931) “History of the Town and County of Wexford” (1901), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking windswept grounds with Saint George’s Channel and Waterford Harbour as backdrops; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared porch demonstrating good quality workmanship; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with those openings showing “stucco” refinements ‘designed to resemble a grand hotel’ (Williams 1994, 186); the definition of the principal “apartments” by Osborne House (1845-51)-like bows; and the balustraded roofline repurposing eagle finials shown in a sketch (1835-6) by Charles Newport Bolton (1816-84) of County Waterford (Hore 1901 IV, 381). A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; contemporary joinery; robust chimneypieces; plasterwork by James Hogan and Sons of Great Brunswick Street [Pearse Street], Dublin (The Irish Builder 15th May 1874, 148; Freeman’s Journal 6th November 1875); and ‘an impressive oak stair in the Jacobean style…richly decorated with carving and marquetry’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 189-90), all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent coach house-cum-stable outbuilding; a walled garden; and a nearby gate lodge, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having subsequent connections with John Henry Loftus (1851-1925), fifth Marquess of Ely. NOTE: Loftus Hall is the subject of two apocryphal legends with the first being the famous “Legend of Loftus Hall” (1765) and the second being that the country house was erected in anticipation of a royal visit from Queen Victoria (1819-1901; r. 1837-1901) by whom Jane Loftus (née Hope-Vere) (1821-90), Dowager Marchioness of Ely, was appointed to the office of Lady of the Bedchamber (1851).”

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: the Naional Inventory describes: “top-lit double-height staircase hall (west) retaining inlaid timber parquet floor, timber panelled staircase on an Imperial plan with fluted timber balusters supporting carved timber banisters terminating in timber panelled newels, round-headed niche to half-landing with moulded plasterwork frame, carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings to landing framing timber panelled doors, and decorative plasterwork cornice to compartmentalised ceiling centred on stained glass lantern with “Acanthus” ceiling rose.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory describes: “hall retaining encaustic tiled floor carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors centred on cut-veined marble Classical-style chimneypiece with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: “bow-ended reception room (south) retaining carved timber Classical-style surround to door opening framing timber panelled double doors with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

12. Newtownbarry House, Wexford – gardens open to the public

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/52/

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Contact: Clody and Alice Norton 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 937 6383 

Email: clodynorton@gmail.com 

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 225. “(Barry/IFR; Maxwell, Farnham, B/PB; Hall-Dare;IFR) The estate of Newtownbarry originally belonged to a branch of the Barrys; passed to the Farnhams with the marriage of Judith Barry to John Maxwell, afterwards 1st Lord Farnham, 1719. Subsequently acquired by the Hall-Dare family, who built the present house 1860s, to the design of Sir Charles Lanyon. It is in a rather restrained Classical style, of rough ashlar; the windows have surrounds of smooth ashlar, with blocking. Two storey; asymmetrical entrance front, with two bays projecting at one end; against this projection is set a balustraded open porch. Lower two storey service wing. Eaved roof on plain cornice. Impressive staircase.”

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us that it is a five-bay (five-bay deep) two-storey country house, built 1863-9, on an L-shaped plan off-centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor abutting two-bay two-storey projecting end bay; eight-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation. It continues:

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

A country house erected for Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1840-76) to a design by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon (formed 1860) of Belfast and Dublin (Dublin Builder 1864, 66) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding the eighteenth-century ‘Woodfield…[a] mansion of long standing and of cottage-like character in the Grecian style of architecture’ (Lacy 1863, 485), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking the meandering River Slaney with its mountainous backdrop in the near distance; the asymmetrical footprint off-centred on an Italianate porch; the construction in a rough cut granite offset by silver-grey dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also providing an interplay of light and shade in an otherwise monochrome palette; and the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a feint graduated visual impression. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior arranged around a top-lit staircase hall recalling the Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon-designed Stradbally Hall (1866-7), County Laois, where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings; walled gardens; all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Hall-Dare family including Captain Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1866-1939), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1891); and Robert Westley Hall-Dare (1899-1972).”

13. Tintern Abbey, Ballycullane, County Wexford – concessionary entrance to IGS members, OPW

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

14. Wells House, County Wexford – open for tours

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 283. “(Doyne/IFR) A Tudor-Gothic house of ca 1840 by Daniel Robertson of Kilkenny; built for Robert Doyne [1816-1870], replacing an earlier house which, for nearly three years after the Rebellion of 1798, was used as a military barracks. Gabled front, symmetrical except that there is a three sided oriel at one end of the façade and not at the other, facing along straight avenue of trees to entrance gate. Sold ca 1964.” 

Wells House and Gardens, Ballyedmond, Gorey, Co Wexford_Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Contact: Sabine Rosler 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 918 6737 

Mobile: +353 (0) 87 997 4323 

Email: info@wellshouse.ie 

Web: www.wellshouse.ie 

Wells House has a stunning Victorian Terrace garden, parterre garden and arboretum designed by the renowned architect and landscape designer, Daniel Robertson. 

The terraced gardens which have been restored to their former glory sit beautifully into the large setting of his vast parkland design which spans for acres in the stunning Co. Wexford landscape. 

With two woodland walks, a craft courtyard, adventure playground, restaurant and a busy calendar of events this is a perfect day out for all the family. 

and “Discover the 400-year-old history of Wells House & Gardens by taking a guided exploration of the house. Our living house tour and expert guide in Victorian dress will bring you back to a time. To a time when the magnificent ground floor and bedrooms witnessed the stories of Cromwell, Rebellions and the Famine. Uncover the everyday lives of the wealthy, powerful families who lived in the estate and their famed architect Daniel Robertson. All giving you a unique insight into the life of previous generations all the way up until the current owners of Wells House.

It was for sale in 2019.

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

15. Woodville House, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Gerald Roche
Tel: 087-9709828

Email: woodville05@eircom.net

www.woodvillegardens.ie
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child €5

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it was allegedly erected for Edward William Tottenham (d. 1860) on the occasion of his marriage (1807) to Henrietta Alcock (d. 1861).

Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.

The website tells us:

Woodville House and Gardens are situated on a working farm just two miles from New Ross, County Wexford. The Georgian house belongs to the Roche Family who have lived here since 1876.  The current owner Gerald Roche and his mother maintain the enchanting gardens, mature grounds and water garden which make this a truly delightful place to visit. 

Woodville House is a fine five bay, two storey over basement Georgian house dating from about 1800 situated above the river Barrow. The property was acquired by P J Roche, great grandfather of the present owner in 1876 and is now occupied by the 5th generation of Roches to live there. It is thought to have been built by the Tottenhams, the first mention of it being the home of Edward Tottenham and subsequently was lived in by a Reverend Minchen. The house has two gate lodges, one a gothic lodge opposite the river Barrow and the other a 19th century Italianate gate lodge with gates at the southern end of the property. This entrance way and avenue were built after the construction of the now disused railway.

The house, recently renovated, maintains its period charm with period interior decoration and antique furniture. Visitors to the house can view the reception rooms, the former billiard room with faithfully copied and reprinted original wallpaper and Victorian conservatory by the Messenger Company.

Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.

Woodville Garden and Parkland

The house is set in the centre of a working farm and is approached by long avenues through parkland planted with specimen trees including Sequoia, cedar, pines, cypress and a recent addition the Wollemi pine. The resident flock of sheep grazes the pasture land, a scene unchanged for two hundred years.

A laurel shrubbery to the front of the house is also planted with colourful flowering cherry, Paulownia, Crinodendron, and Catalpa, and leads down to the double tennis courts which in turn leads to the water garden. Started in 1963 by Peter and Irene Roche and planted under the embankment of the old New Ross to Macmine Junction Railway, the water garden is a tranquil haven of shade and water-loving plants: ferns, hostas, Arisarum proboscideum (the fetching mouse plant), Clematis, Astilbe and trilliums, as well as Cornus controversa and others. A series of dropping pools are shaded by majestic oaks and a Metasequoia glyptostroboides (the dawn redwood). 

The Victorian walled garden at the rear of the house is 0.5 hectares in size with conservatories, vegetable garden, fruit trees, herbaceous borders and lawn. A striking feature of the garden is the original box hedging proudly maintained by the present owner and enclosing different plantings. First to feature in spring is a Magnolia soulangeana followed by a spring border of snowdrops, crocus & narcissi. 

In May the iris border comes into full bloom, a nearby bed is devoted to blue flowering plants including Chatham Island forget-me-not (Myositidium hortensia). Later the roses present a striking and colourful display contrasting with the box hedging while the reds, yellows and oranges of later summer put in an appearance. Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ flowers in the contemplative garden, a sunny corner and vantage point. 

This is a plantsman’s garden and also a most productive vegetable patch providing an abundant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the household. The greenhouses designed by Messenger and built by P J Roche in the 1880’s house grapevines, peaches and nectarines as well as exotic and tender flowers plumbago, red and white nerines, vines and an old asparagus fern. A large bed of Crambe maritima (seakale) beloved of the Victorians is maintained as are beds of globe artichoke and asparagus. 

The garden was extensively planted with several varieties of apple, pear and cherry, which carefully pruned and espaliered on frames and against the walls of this sunny garden, provide visual structure and a rich harvest.

The dairy walk, so called because in the past it was the route taken from farmyard to the dairy in the basement of the house, features a blaze of Embothrium coccineum flowering vigorously in May following on witch hazel (Hamamalis mollis), rhododendrons, camellias and azaelias producing spectactular and colourful effects in early summer.

Places to Stay, County Wexford

1. Artramont House, Castlebridge, Co Wexford – B&B 

Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from Artramon website.

https://www.artramon-farm.com/english/welcome

Mark Bence-Jones writes: p. 12. “(Le Hunte/LGI 1912; Neave, Bt/Pb) A late C18 house, remodelled after being burnt 1923. 2 storey; entrance front with pediment of which the peak is level with the coping of the parapet, and the base is well below the level of the main cornice. In the breakfront central feature below the pediment are two windows and a tripartite Venetian doorway; two bays on either side of the central feature.” 

Artramon – bei Ulrike von Walderdorff in Wexford / Irland

The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt 1928-32, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay two-storey pedimented breakfront; seven-bay two-storey side (west) elevation… “A country house erected for Richard “Dick” Richards (Wexford County Council 17th June 1927) to a design by Patrick Joseph Brady (d. 1936) of Ballyhaise, County Cavan (Irish Builder 1928, 602), representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of an eighteenth-century house destroyed (1923) during “The Troubles” (1919-23), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with ‘fine views of the estuary, harbour and town of Wexford’ as a backdrop (Fraser 1844, 118); the symmetrical frontage centred on a curiously compressed breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic parapeted roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; reclaimed Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); and a substantial walled garden (extant 1840), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Le Hunte family including Captain George Le Hunte (d. 1799); William Augustus Le Hunte (1774-1820), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1817); George Le Hunte (1814-91), ‘late of Artramont [sic] County Waterford [sic]’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations (1892, 481); and the largely absentee Sir George Ruthven Le Hunte KCMG (1852-1925), one-time Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Trinidad and Tobago (fl. 1908-15); and Major Sir Arundell Thomas Clifton Neave (1916-92), sixth Baronet.

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford – one wing rental.

http://ballytrenthouse.com 

Ballytrent House, courtesy of their website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Ballytrent (1988):

p. 28. “Redmond/Hughes. A two storey Georgian house, 5 bays, projecting ends, each with a Wyatt window in both storeys. Adamesque plasterwork. Home of John Redmond MP, leader of Irish Parliamentary Party.” 

The website tells us:

Welcome to the Ballytrent website. Visitors to Wexford seeking a quiet, secluded location,could not choose a better location than Ballytrent. Ballytrent is a magnificent 18th century heritage house set in extensive grounds overlooking the sea towards Tuskar Rock Lighthouse. 

In the grounds of the house is located a Ráth or earthen mound dating back to prechristian times and, measuring 650 yards in circumference, is reputed to be the largest in Europe. The grounds also contain a large flag pole that was once the tallest mast in the British Isles. The Rath garden is a haven for songbirds & a visit, either early morning or late evening, is pure magic! 

Ballytrent is tranquil and secluded. The garden & lawns cover three acres and include some rare plants. Our farm is a mix of cattle, cereals and root crops. We extend a warm welcome to those interested in visiting the farm. We are fortunate in having the best weather in Ireland – the annual rainfall is approximately 35 inches and each year the Weather Station at Rosslare records the highest mean sunshine hours. We are indeed the Sunny South East ! 

Ballytrent House, 
Ballytrent, 
Rosslare Harbour, 
Co. Wexford, 
Ireland. 

Telephone/Fax: 053 91 31147 
Email: jepryan@eircom.net 

Situated in St Helen’s E.D., Ballytrent, with its double ringed ráth, is an 18th century  home set in extensive ground. The history of Ballytrent is a collection of works and illustrations put together after several years  of research by Mary Stratton Ryan, wife of the present owner, James Power Ryan. 

A brief look at this work could keep the most avid historian content for quite a while. It is from this book that the following list of names and facts are taken,  all having connections to Ballytrent. 

  • Aymer De Valance; Earl of Pembroke, buried in Westminster Abbey, London. 
  • Robert Fitzstephens; Ballytrent bestowed on him by Strongbow. 
  • John le Boteller (Butler); Constable of the Kings Castle at Ballytrent. 
  • John Sinnot; Listed as a Juror of the Inquisition at Wexford (c1420). 
  • Patrick Synnot; In a 1656 Curl Survey of Ireland shown as owner of 96 acres 24 perches at Ballytrent. 
  • Abraham Deane; Given Ballytrent by Cromwell. 
  • Sarah Hughes; Daughter of Abraham Deane. 
  • Walter Redmond; Purchased Ballytrent from Henry Hughes. 
  • William Archer Redmond MP; Father of John and William – both also MP’s. 
  • John Edward Redmond MP; Represented North Wexford, succeeded Parnell as leader of the Nationalist Party. 
  • William Hoey Kearney Redmond MP; MP for Wexford and Fermanagh. 
  • John H. Talbot (the younger);  Inherited Ballytrent from his sister Matilda Seagrave. 
  • William Ryan; Grandson of Sir James Power. Purchased Ballytrent from Emily Talbot (nee Considine). 
  • James Edward Power Ryan; Present owner and grandson of William Ryan. 

This clearly illustrates the influence and power that is part of the documented history of Ballytrent, without even considering the possibilities of the time when the ráth was in its prime.”

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

http://oldboleywexford.com

4. Berkeley Forest, New Ross, Co Wexford – B&B

http://berkeleyforesthouse.com 

5. Butlerstown Castle, Tomhaggard, Co Wexford – A ruin, coach house accommodation  

http://www.butlerstowncastle.com/  

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation 

https://clonganny.com/

The website tells us: “Clonganny House is a fine country Georgian residence originally erected for Hawtry White (1758-1837) and sympathetically restored in the late twentieth century. Retaining many original features, Clonganny is a fine example of late Georgian architecture. Set in eight acres embracing gently rolling lawns, serene woodland, and a stunning walled garden, Clonganny House is only a short drive to a beautiful, award winning coastline and miles of golden sandy beaches.

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation €€

WWW.DUNBRODYHOUSE.COM 

Dunbrody House, courtesy of their website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 114. “(Chichester, Templemore, B/PB; and Donegall, M/PB) A pleasant, comfortable unassuming house of ca 1860 which from its appearance might be a C20 house of vaguely Queen Anne flavour. Two storey, five bay centre, with middle bay breaking forward and three-sided single-storey central bow; two bay projecting ends. Moderately high roof on bracket cornice; windows with cambered heads and astragals. Wyatt windows in side elevation.” 

Dunbrody House, courtesy of their website.
Dunbrody House, courtesy of their website.

The National Inventory tells us:

nine-bay two-storey country house with dormer attic, extant 1819, on an E-shaped plan with two-bay two-storey advanced end bays centred on single-bay two-storey breakfront originally single-bay three-storey on a rectangular plan. “Improved”, 1909-10, producing present composition…A country house erected by Lord Spencer Stanley Chichester (1775-1819) representing an integral component of the domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one sometimes known as “Dunbrody Park” (Lacy 1863, 516) or “Harriet’s Lodge” after Lady Anne Harriet Chichester (née Stewart) (c.1770-1850), suggested by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with Waterford Harbour as a backdrop; the near-symmetrical frontage centred on a truncated breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the decorative timber work embellishing the roofline: meanwhile, a photograph (30th August 1910) by A.H. Poole of Waterford captures recent “improvements” to the country house with those works ‘[presenting the] appearance [of] a twentieth-century house of vaguely “Queen Anne” flavour’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 114). Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original or sympathetically replicated fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); a private burial ground; and distant gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Barons Templemore including Henry “Harry” Spencer Chichester (1821-1906), second Baron Templemore ‘late of Great Cumberland-place Middlesex’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1907, 508); Arthur Henry Chichester (1854-1924), third Baron Templemore; Arthur Claud Spencer Chichester (1880-1953), fourth Baron Templemore; and Dermot Richard Claud Chichester (1916-2007), fifth Baron Templemore.

8. Fruit Hill Cottages, Fruit Hill House, Campile, New Ross, County Wexford €

https://www.fruithillcottages.com/

Set in the landscaped grounds of 18th Century Fruit Hill House, these traditional self-catering farm cottages make an ideal base for touring South-East Ireland.

9. Hyde Park House (or Tara House),Gorey, Co Wexford- accommodation 

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

The Hidden Ireland description tells us:

Designed by Sir Richard Morrison and built in 1807, the house is a listed building, featuring fine plasterwork and a magnificent cantilevered stairs. Having been lovingly restored over five years the house now boasts beautiful large comfortable bedrooms with well appointed en-suite bathrooms and immaculate bed linen and towels. Guests can relax in the drawing room and sit under the great Holm oaks.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 271. “(Beauman/LG1886; Kelly/LGI1958) A compact two storey villa by Richard Morrison, built ca 1807 for J.C. Beauman. Three bay front, with slightly recessed centre; single storey Doric portico, Wyatt window under relieving arch on either side. Wide-eaved roof. Very good interior plasterwork by James Talbot. Impressive domed staircase hall with oval oculus; the dome beign without pendentives, but restign directly on the cornice. Keyhole pattern in plasterwork on soffit of stairs. For some years the home of Sir David Kelly, former British Ambassador to Russia, and his wife, the writer on travel, architecture and gardens, Marie-Noele Kelly.” 

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

Detached three-bay (three-bay deep) two-storey over basement country house, designed 1803; built 1807, on a square plan centred on (single-storey) prostyle tetrastyle Doric portico to ground floor; six-bay full-height rear (north) elevation….A country house erected to a design (1803) by Sir Richard Morrison (1767-1844) of Clonmel and Dublin representing an important component of the early nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of north County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one recalling the Morrison-designed Bearforest (1807-8) in County Cork; and Kilpeacon House (1810) in County Limerick, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas ‘commanding a fine view of the sea [and] of the escarpment of Tara Hill’ (Lewis 1837 II, 99); the compact near-square plan form centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the dramatic diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated tiered visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by Wyatt-style tripartite glazing patterns; and the timber work embellishing a slightly oversailing roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork attributed to James Talbot (fl. 1801-18) of Dublin (DIA), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent farmyard complex; and a walled garden, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Beauman family including John Christopher Beauman Senior (1764-1836), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1821); John Christopher Beauman Junior (1800-72); Matthew Forde Beauman (1805-72) ‘late of Hyde Park [sic] near Gorey County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1873, 32); and Jane Emily Beauman (1844-1920), ‘Landowner’ (NA 1901; NA 1911; Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1920, n.p.); and Sir David Victor Kelly GCMG MC (1891-1959), one-time British Ambassador to Argentina (fl. 1942-6) and the Soviet Union (fl. 1949-51).”

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie: central hall on a square plan retaining tessellated flagged floor, and dentilated plasterwork cornice to coved ceiling.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie. Top-lit double-height staircase hall (north) on a rectangular plan retaining carved timber surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors, “Greek Key”-detailed cantilevered staircase on a dog leg plan with fluted balusters supporting carved timber banister terminating in volute.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

10. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford  – accommodation, see above

11. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.

https://killianecastle.com/

The website tells us: “The castle history is a remarkable tale of survival. Killiane Castle, a landmark in this cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East, has been in the Mernagh family for over one hundred years. However, its origins date back to medieval times to the Norman conquests and possibly even further to the early Irish settlers 500 years ago. 

The name ‘Killiane’ derives from ‘Cill Liadhaine’ in Gaelic, meaning the church of St Leonard which lies within the grounds of the Castle. 

Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.

Medieval Times 

Pre-dating the castle history, it is likely that there was some form of native Irish settlement here before the Normans. However, the first recorded owner of the lands was Richard de Hay in the 13th century. Richard de Hay came over with Fitzstephen in the first Norman invasion. 

The Norman tower house is approximately 50ft high and measures 39ft x 27ft externally. The walls are between 4ft and 9ft in thick.  The Normans built the tower around 1470. It is most likely one of the “£10 castles”.  King Henry VIII awarded a grant of £10 for the building of fortresses in his kingdom that became known as the “£10 castles”.  In recent years, an Australian visitor brought us a photo of the original deeds for Killiane Castle signed by King Henry VIII no less! 

Thomas Hay, a descendant of Richard, probably built the tower in the late 15th century c.1470. The present castle and surrounding walls bear testimony to the building genius of the Normans, over 500 years old and quite sound!  Built in a prominent position, the tower most likely overlooked a harbour. However, in the intervening years, reclaimed land replaced the harbour.  The surrounding lands feature a canal, slob lands and slightly further down the coast, Rosslare strand. 

Local Legend… 

Legend has it that below the ground floor underneath the stair way is a dungeon leading to a passageway to a doorway that no longer exists. 

In the early 16th century c.1520, Killiane passed to the Cheevers family by marriage. They continued to fortify the site. By 1543 one Howard Cheevers held Killiane, 2000 acres of land and the office of Mayor of Wexford. The ‘Laughing Cheevers’, as they were then known, held prominence in Wexford for another 100 years until the great rebellion. They built the house sometime in the early 17th century. 

The 17th century was a tumultuous part of the castle history. George Cheevers took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. He played a role in both the Siege of Duncannon, and the Confederation of Kilkenny. Following the Sacking of Wexford, Cromwell dispossessed him for his part in these rebellions. Georges son, Didicus, was a blind Franciscan monk. Infamously, several clergy were murdered in Wexford town’s Bullring at this time. Didicus was one of them. Sent to Connaught by Cromwell, the Cheevers family left Killiane. Just a few remained as tenants. The last of the them, an old man, who died in 1849. 

Nearby stands the ruins of the small medieval church of Saint Helen which was in ruins by 1835. Enclosed by a wall is the adjoining cemetery. It is reputed to be the burial place of the Cheevers family. 

Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.
Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.

Cromwell’s Rule 

In 1656 the property, along with 1500 acres, was granted to one of Cromwell’s soldiers, a Colonel Bunbury.  He sold it on to his friends, the Harveys of Lyme Regis. The first of these, Francis Harvey, became MP for Clonmines and Mayor of Wexford, positions his son John also held.  A famous beauty known as the Rose of Killiane, a daughter of the Harveys, married the Dean of Dublin in 1809. 

Victorian Times 

As time went by, the Harveys increasingly became absentee landlords. They leased the land to their tenants. Both the condition of the castle and the size of the estate materially diminished during this dark time in the castle hsitory. 

Throughout the 19th century there are references to tenants ‘Aylward’, ‘Elard’ and ‘Ellard’, possibly all the one family. By this time, the Harveys overwintered in their townhouse in Wexford at 38 Selskar Street. The family considered Killiane Castle too damp to stay at in winter. 

In 1908 Crown Solicitor, Kennan Cooper, bought the property for £1515. Cooper, a renowned character, kept racehorses and the 1911 census shows Killiane occupied by his tenant, George Grant and family. The census records Grant’s occupation as a ‘Horse trainer/jockey’. 

In 1920 John Mernagh, father of Jack the present owner, bought Killiane with 230 acres for £2000. At that time there was no roof on the tower-house. Ivy covered it. John re-roofed it and used it to store grain and potatoes.  Today the castle is home to Jack & Kathleen Mernagh who run the property along with their son Paul & his wife Patrycja and their family. 

The Structure of the Building  

Original Norman Features  

The castle still contains one original window that dates from the 15th century.  The original window is an ogee style window featuring two lights. Over the years, incumbents replaced the other windows. The main entrance to the castle was originally on the east side. It provided an adjoining door to the house at one time. The original door is bricked-up. On the south side of the tower a new door has been opened. 

Murder Holes! 

Looking at the front of the castle. There are murder holes over each of the doors on the ground floor. Perfectly located to pour hot tar over any unwelcome visitors!  This practice, we assure you, is not in place today! 

The third floor contains a fine granite fireplace. Small smooth stones from the beach line the chimney rising on the outer wall. Also in evidence on this floor, is a cupboard recess. 

Corrugated iron replaced the original slate roof. The parapet consists of large sloping slabs. The battlements are of the steeply stepped type. There is a square turret on each corner. On the outside of the southern turret is a carved head. 

The large bawn has a round tower on the south east corner and a square tower on the south west corner, castle occupying the north west corner. The north east tower has been removed. In order to accommodate the facade of the house, the northern apron wall was taken down. 

Original 17th Century House 

The original 17th century house consisted of two storeys with a garret on top. The incumbents raised the roof at a date unknown to us.  This action incorporated the original dormer windows of the garrets,

converting it into a third storey. Furthermore, they also reduced the great slant on the original 17th-century roof. 

The staircase of the house is of a simple very wide design, typical of the 17th century. 

12. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

WWW.MARLFIELDHOUSE.COM 

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

The website tells us:

Marlfield House is renowned for its hospitality and service, welcoming guests for over 40 years, and is recognised as one of the most luxurious boutique hotels in Wexford, Ireland with the focus on environmentally sustainable practices. All rooms and suites at Marlfield House luxury hotel in County Wexford, Ireland are styled to provide you with elegant, comfortable interiors, furnished with antiques and paintings. Set in 36 acres of woodland, ornamental lake, rose, vegetable and herb gardens, it is a haven of tranquillity, with peacocks, hens, dogs and ponies waiting to greet you on your garden walk.

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

The house is set in 40 acres of manicured gardens, encompassing a large kitchen garden, woodland walks, lake and fowl reserve, lawns and herbaceous borders. The interior bears all the signs of a much loved house filled with fresh flowers, gleaming antiques and mirrors, blazing fires and period paintings.

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Marlfield (1988):

Supplement 

P. 299. (Stopford, Courtown, E/PB) “A three storey Regency house of random stone with brick facings; four bay front with two bay breakfront centre, eaved roof on bracket cornice, massive chimneystacks. Originally the dower house of the [Stopford] Earls of Courtown, it eventually replaced Courtown House as their Irish seat. Sold in 1979 to Mary Bowe, who has opened it as an hotel. As an extension to the dining room, a veranda and an elegant curvilinear conservatory were added to the front of the house 1983; the architects of this addition being Messrs Cochrane, Flynn-Rogers and Williams.” 

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

The National Inventory tells us it is a four-bay (two-bay deep) three-storey land agent’s house, built 1852, on a T-shaped plan; four-bay three-storey rear (south) elevation centred on two-bay full-height breakfront. Occupied, 1901; 1911. In occasional use, 1916-75. Vacated, 1975. Sold, 1977. Modified, 1989, producing present composition to accommodate continued alternative use… “A land agent’s house erected by James Thomas Stopford (1794-1858), fourth Earl of Courtown (Walsh 1996, 68), representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of the outskirts of Gorey with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding an adjacent house occupied by Reverend James Bentley Gordon (1750-1819), author of “History of the Rebellion in Ireland in the Year 1798” (1803), confirmed by such attributes as the compact plan form centred on a much-modified doorcase; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by vibrant red brick dressings producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic timber work embellishing the roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including some crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and the decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1904); a walled garden (extant 1904); and a nearby gate lodge (see 15700718), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a self-contained estate having historic connections with Colonel Robert Owen (1784-1867) and Charlotte Owen (1796-1853) ‘late of Marlfield County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1870, 447); and the Stopford family following the sale (1947) and demolition (1948-9) of Courtown House (see 15701216) including James Walter Milles Stopford (1853-1933), sixth Earl of Courtown; Major James Richard Neville Stopford DL OBE (1877-1957), seventh Earl of Courtown; and Brevet Colonel James Montagu Burgoyne Stopford OBE (1908-75), eighth Earl of Courtown.

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

13. Monart, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – 5* hotel 

https://www.monart.ie/

Monart Spa Wexford Annica Jansson 2016, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

Nestled in over 100 acres of lush countryside in County Wexford, Monart offers two types of accommodation, 68 deluxe bedrooms with lake or woodland views and two luxurious suites located in the 18th century Monart House.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 208. “Cookman/IFR) A three storey mid-C18 house of sandstone and limestone dressings Five bay front with breakfront centre; Venetian windows in centre of middle storey, with Diocletian windows over it; modified Gibbsian doorcase. Later additions.”

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Edward Cookman JP (d. 1774), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1763), representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, ‘a handsome mansion pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence above the Urrin [River] in a highly improved and richly wooded demesne’ (Lewis 1837 II, 385), confirmed by such attributes as the neo-Palladian plan form centred on a Classically-detailed breakfront; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by silver-grey granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. Having been sympathetically restored following a prolonged period of unoccupancy in the later twentieth century, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and “bas-relief” plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of a country house having historic connections with the Cookman family including Nathaniel Cookman (—-); Edward Rogers Cookman JP (1788-1865) ‘late of Monart House in the County of Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1865, 70); Nathaniel Narcissus Cookman JP DL (1827-1908), ‘Country Gentleman late of Monart House Enniscorthy County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1908, 96; cf. 15701922); and Captain Nathaniel Edward Rogers Cookman JP DL (1894-1983); and a succession of tenants including Lowry Cliffe Tottenham (1858-1937), ‘Gentleman [and] District Inspector of Royal Irish Constabulary’ (NA 1911).” 

14. Rathaspeck Manor “doll’s house” gate lodge, County Wexford and the Manor B&B

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/18288598?source_impression_id=p3_1646906004_9dSSY0tDTw%2FmQ8TE

The delightful Rathaspeck gate lodge, County Wexford, available for accommodatino on airbnb.

and Manor https://www.rathaspeckmanor.ie

The website tells us:

Rathaspeck Manor Georgian House Wexford was built between 1680-1720 by the Codd Family who came to Ireland circa 1169. William Codd’s son Sir Osborne Codd settled at Rathaspeck and erected a castle there in 1351. 

A descendant Loftus Codd was succeeded by daughters, one of whom, Jane Codd, married Thomas Richards. The Richards Family came to Ireland in 1570 approx. It was this marriage which placed Rathaspeck in the Richards Family. 

Jane and Thomas had 6 sons and 2 daughters. The eldest son Thomas, born 1722 had a Family of two daughters, the oldest Martha married Count Willimsdorf from the Kingdom of Hannover in 1802. This couple had one son , Thomas William Fredrick Von Preberton Willimsdorf who died in 1834 unmarried. There were also three daughters, one of whom Elizabeth , born in 1778 , died in 1863 in Holland. 

Elizabeth married Count Von Leinburg Slirrin on April 15th 1802 and they proceeded to have a Family of ten children born between 1803 and 1820 . It is believed that sometime after this the family moved to Holland. Rathaspeck was in the hands of an English Family called Moody after this until the early 1900’s. The Moody built the present gate lodge – or “Doll’s House” in 1900. 

The Meyler Family came to Rathaspeck in 1911 when it was offered for sale and it was from the Meyler Family that the Manor passed to the Cuddihy Family. 

The site of the original Castle is unknown, but it is considered that the present Rathaspeck Manor Georgian Country Home, Ireland is built on the site. 

“Rath” means Fort , so the name of Rathaspeck stems from the Gaelic Ratheasbuig , meaning “Fort of the Bishop”. 

15. Riverbank House Hotel, The Bridge, Wexford, Ireland Y35 AH33

https://www.riverbankhousehotel.com

16. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – courtyard accommodation

https://rosegarlandestate.ie/

Rosegarland Estate offers visitors a unique opportunity to stay on an extremely old and unspoilt country estate. It allows you to step back in time when you walk along the avenues, woodland paths and old bridle paths which pass through the ancient woodlands and beside the River Corach.

Relax and unwind in one of our luxury self-catering cottages in Rosegarland Estate. Our four cottages are registered with Failte Ireland (the Irish Tourist Board) and have been awarded a 4 star rating.  Old world charm has been combined with modern day luxury in the cottages which are set in a picturesque courtyard. A welcome basket of home baked goodies will greet you when you arrive.

All the cottages have complimentary WiFi and satellite television channels which can be enjoyed in front of a Waterford Stanley wood burning stove.

Photograph from Mark Bence-Jones (1988).
Rosegarland Estate, courtesy of website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 245. “(Synnott/IFR; Leigh/IFR) An early C18 house of two storeys over a high basement was built by Leigh family, close to an old tower house of the Synnotts, the original owners of the estate. Later in C18, a larger two storey gable-ended range was added at right angles to the earlier building, giving the house a new seven bay front, with a very elegant columned and fanlighted doorway, in which the delicately leaded fanlight extends over the door and the sidelights. There is resemblance between this doorway and that of William Morris’s town house in Waterford (now the Chamber of Commerce) which is attributed to the Waterford architect, John  Roberts; the fact is that it is also possible to see a resemblance between the gracefully curving and cantilevered top-lit staircase at Rosegarland – which is separated from the entrance hall by a doorway with an internal fanlight – and the staircase of the Morris house, would suggest that the newer range at Rosegarland and the Morris house are by the same architect. At the back of the house, the two ranges form a corner of a large and impressive office courtyard, one side of which has a pediment and a Venetian window. In another corner of the courtyard stands the old Synnott tower house, which, in C19, was decorated with little battlemented turrets and a tall and slender turret like a folly tower, with battlements and rectangular and pointed openings; this fantasy rises above the front of the house. The early C18 range contains a contemporary stair of good joinery, with panelling curved to reflect the curve of the handrail. The drawing room, in the later range, has a cornice of early C19 plasterowrk and an elaborately carved chimneypiece of white marble. The dining room, also in this range, was redecorated ca 1874, and given a timber ceiling and a carved oak chimneypiece.” 

Rosegarland House, courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Robert Leigh MP (1729-1803) representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one attributable with near certainty to John Roberts (1712-96) of Waterford, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds and the meandering Corock River; the symmetrical footprint centred on a Classically-detailed doorcase not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also showing a pretty fanlight; and the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression. A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior including not only crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames, but also a partial slate hung surface finish widely regarded as an increasingly endangered hallmark of the architectural heritage of County Wexford: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; ‘elaborately carved chimneypieces of white marble’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 246); plasterwork enrichments; and a top-lit staircase recalling the Roberts-designed Morris House [Chamber of Commerce] in neighbouring Waterford (Craig and Garner 1975, 68), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent stable complex (see 15704041); a walled garden (see 15704042); a nearby farmyard complex (extant 1902; coordinates 685132,615236); and a distant gate lodge (extant 1840; coordinates 685381,616928), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having long-standing connections with the Leigh family including Francis Robert Leigh MP (1758-1839); Francis Augustine Leigh (1822-1900), ‘late of Rosegarland County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1900, 277); Francis Robert Leigh DL (1853-1916), ‘late of Rosegarland Wellington Bridge County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1916, 371); Francis Edward Leigh (1907-2003); and Robert Edward Francis Leigh (1937-2005).

17. Wells House, County Wexfordself-catering cottage accommodation, see above

https://wellshouse.ie/self-catering-accommodation-wexford 

18. Wilton Castle, Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Sean Windsor
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Tel: 053-9247738
www.wiltoncastleireland.com
Open: all year

See my write-up: www.irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/04/wilton-castle-bree-enniscorthy-co-wexford-and-a-trip-to-johnstown-castle/

19. Woodbrook House, Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Giles Fitzherbert
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
053-9255114
www.woodbrookhouse.ie
Open April 1-October 31

Woodbrook House, photograph courtesy of Historic Houses of Ireland website.

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

Nestling beneath the Backstairs Mountains near Enniscorthy in County Wexford, Woodbrook, which was first built in the 1770s, was occupied by a group of local rebels during the 1798 rebellion. Allegedly the leader was John Kelly, the ‘giant with the gold curling hair’ in the well known song ‘The Boy from Killanne’. It is said that Kelly made a will leaving Woodbrook to his sons but he was hanged on Wexford bridge, along with many others after the rebels defeat at Vinegar Hill. He was later given an imposing monument in nearby Killanne cemetery. 

Arthur Jacob, who originally came from Enniscorthy and became Archdeacon of Armagh, built Woodbrook for his daughter Susan, who had married Captain William Blacker, a younger son of the family at Carrigblacker near Portadown. The house was badly knocked about by the rebels and substantially rebuilt in about 1820 as a regular three storey Regency pile with overhanging eaves, a correct Ionic porch surmounted by a balcony and three bays of unusually large Wyatt windows on each floor of the facade.

Woodbrook House, photograph courtesy of Woodbrook website.

The drawing room is exceptionally large, with a fine chimneypiece thought to have come from the original house, while the amazing ‘flying’ staircase stands in the centre of a square double-height hall without touching the walls at any point. Each timber tread must have been individually fashioned by an especially skilled craftsman, and the staircase is knitted together by iron balusters which connect the treads. A remarkable tour de force of the joiner’s art, its closest parallel is the staircase at Chevening in Kent. 

The Woodbrook branch of the family inherited Carrickblacker, an important late-seventeenth century house outside Portadown, when the senior line died out in the 1850s and produced a stolid series of soldiers, sailors and clerics. A racier era began in Edwardian times when Woodbrook was home to a younger son, Edward Carew Blacker, a sporting bachelor whose weekly visits to London were necessitated by his close involvement in running the book at his club, Whites.

Edward usually found time to visit his mistress in Brighton before heading home to County Wexford but her presence was quite unsuspected until shortly after his death when his nephew’s family received a heavy parcel in the morning post. The package proved to contain the family jewels, presented piece by piece to his lady friend throughout their long association. She had always realised that they were not his to give away but felt unable to return them during his lifetime for fear of appearing ungrateful and causing him hurt. 

Woodbrook House, photograph courtesy of Woodbrook website.

Woodbrook lay empty for some years after E. C. Blacker’s death in 1932. The house was occupied by the Irish army during the Second World War and was then extensively modernised when his nephew Robert moved back to County Wexford with his wife and family after the sale of Carrickblacker in the 1950s. Eventually sold in the mid 1990s, Woodbrook and the remains of a once substantial estate was bought by Giles and Alexandra FitzHerbert in 1998. They continue to live in the house with their family today.https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Woodbrook

20. Woodlands Country House, Killinierin, County Wexford B&B

https://www.woodlandscountryhouse.com

Relax in comfortable old world charm in the heart of the Wexford Countryside at Woodlands Country House, a magnificently well preserved Georgian House with beautiful antiques. It is a charming and intimate place to relax, where fine food and furnishings are matched by warm and impeccable service that says you are special.

Woodlands Country House Bed & Breakfast is ideally situated near the market town of Gorey and the picturesque seaside resort of Courtown Harbour on the Wexford/Wicklow border in South East Ireland. The Country House B&B is only 1 hour from Dublin off the M11 making it an ideal location for touring the South East of Ireland.

21. Woodville House, New Ross, Co Wexford – 482, see above

Whole House rental County Wexford:

1. Ballinkeele, whole house rental (sleeps up to 19 people)

www.ballinkeele.ie

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.
Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The website says:

Make yourselves comfortable in your grand home from home. This Irish country house was built to entertain and is perfect for gathering family & friends together for a holiday, a special birthday or anniversary. With 7 bedrooms and dining table for 19 guests – there’s space for everyone. You’ll be the hero for booking Ballinkeele!


Built in the 1840s by your host’s family, it’s a the perfect blend of modern and antique with a bespoke modern kitchen, WiFi and (Joy of Joys!) a modern heating system!”

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

In the first quarter of the 19th century the Maher family, who were famous for their hunting and racing exploits in County Tipperary, moved to County Wexford. They purchased Ballinkeele, near Enniscorthy, from the Hay family, one of whose members had been hanged for rebellion on Wexford bridge in 1798. John Maher, MP for County Wexford, began work on a new house in 1840 and Ballinkeele is one of Daniel Robertson’s few houses in the classical taste. The other was Lord Carew’s magnificent Castleboro, on the opposite side of the River Slaney, sadly burnt by the IRA in 1922 and now a spectacular ruin.   

The house is comprised of a ground floor and a single upper storey, with a long, slightly lower, service wing to one side in lieu of a basement. The facades are rendered with cut-granite decoration, including a grandiose central porch, supported by six Tuscan columns and surmounted by an elaborate balustrade, which projects to form a porte cochère.

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The garden front has a central breakfront with a shallow bow, flanked by wide piers of rusticated granite. These are repeated at each corner as coigns.

The interior is classical, with baroque overtones, and is largely unaltered with most of its original contents. The hall runs from left to right and is consequently lit from one side, with a screen of scagliola Corinthian columns at one end and an elaborate cast-iron stove at the other.

The library and drawing room both have splendid chimneypieces of inlaid marble in the manner of Pietro Bossi, while the fine suite of interconnecting rooms on the garden front open onto a raised terrace.  

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The staircase hall has a spectacularly cantilevered stone staircase, with decorative metal balusters. As it approaches the ground floor the swooping mahogany handrail wraps itself around a Tuscan column supporting a bronze statue of Mercury, in a style that anticipates Art Nouveau by more than forty years.

Outside, two avenues approach the house, one which provides a glimpse of a ruined keep reflected in an artificial lake, while both entrances were built to Robertson’s designs.

The present owners are Valentine and Laura Maher who live at Ballinkeele with their children.” [ https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Ballinkeele ]

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.
Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.
Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

2. Horetown House, County Wexford (wedding venue, up to 24 people in house, plus shepherd’s huts)

https://www.horetownhouse.ie/

The website tells us:

Horetown House, photograph courtesy of website.

Horetown House is a private country house wedding venue in County Wexford in the South-East corner of Ireland. Situated among rolling hills in the heart of rural Wexford, Horetown House is the perfect venue for a stylish, laid back wedding. Our charming country house is yours exclusively for the duration of your stay with us.

Family owned and run, we can take care of everything from delicious food, bedrooms and Shepherds huts, to a fully licensed pub in the cellar. Horetown House is perfect for couples looking for something a little bit different, your very own country house to create your dream wedding.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 155. “(Davis-Goff, Bt/PB) A three storey Georgian house. Front with two bays on either side of a recessed centre. Triple windows in centre and pillared portico joining the two projections.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is:

A country house erected to designs signed (1843) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA; NLI) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding a seventeenth-century house (1693) annotated as “Hoarstown [of] Goff Esquire” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 149), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; restrained chimneypieces; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, a nearby quadrangle erected (1846) by ‘S.D. Goff Esq Architect [and] Johnson Builder’ continues to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Goff family including Strangman Davis Goff (né Davis) (1810-83) ‘late of Horetown House County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1883, 318); and Sir William Goff Davis Goff (1838-1918) of Glenville, County Waterford; a succession of tenants including Joseph Russell Morris (NA 1901) and Edward Naim Townsend (NA 1911); and Major Michael Lawrence Lakin DSO (1881-1960) and Kathleen Lakin (née FitzGerald) (1892-30) of Johnstown Castle.”

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

[2] Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15603115/enniscorthy-castle-castle-hill-enniscorthy-enniscorthy-wexford

[4] https://www.archiseek.com/2014/johnstown-castle-county-wexford/

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15704226/johnstown-castle-johnstown-fo-by-wexford

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.

I have written to Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and received a response in June 2022:

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your recent correspondence to Catherine Martin, TD. Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in connection with OPW Sites.

OPW Sites would fall under the remit of Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan and the Department of Office of Public Works. Minister of State O’Donovan’s office can be reached at  ministersoffice@opw.ie and should be able to assist you with your query.

Well, I have another email to write! I’ll keep you posted…

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

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 Garden Front of 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]

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. One of the park chief rangers was Nathaniel Clements (1705-1777), who was also an architect, and it was he who built the original house in 1751 which became the Aras. He was appointed as Ranger and Master of the Game by King George II in 1751. Clements was also an MP in the Irish Parliament.

Photograph from the National Library, from when the building was the Vice Regal Lodge. This is the front which faces Chesterfield Avenue. Photograph is by Robert French, and the photograph is part of the Lawrence Photographic Collection, Date: between circa. 1865-1914, NLI Ref: L_ROY_00335
The Vice-Regal Lodge (Lord Lieutenant’s Residence), Phoenix Park, Dublin After John James Barralet, Irish, 1747-1815, photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.

Clements 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. For more about him, see Melanie Hayes’s wonderful book The Best Address in Town: Henrietta Street, Dublin and its First Residents, 1720-80 published by Four Courts Press in 2020. 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. Desmond Fitzgerald also attributed Colganstown to him, a house we visited in 2019, though this is not certain. [2]

7 Henrietta Street, recently for sale, photograph courtesy of myhome.ie, built for Nathaniel Clements, who also built the house that has become Aras an Uachtarain.
Number 7 Henrietta Street, from myhome.ie. The interior retains an original double-height open-well staircase and early dog-leg closed-string service stair with original plasterwork and joinery throughout. Laid out by Luke Gardiner in the 1720s, Henrietta Street is a short cul-de-sac containing the finest early Georgian houses in the city, and was named after Henrietta Crofts, the third wife of Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton and Lord Lieutenant in 1717-1721.

We attended a few of President Higgins’s summer parties at the Aras. These are open to the public, by booking tickets.

Aras an Uachtarain, July 2012.
Aras an Uachtarain, June 2022.

The Entrance Hall of the Áras dates from 1751 from the time of Nathaniel Clements, and features a magnificent barrel-vaulted ceiling with plaster busts in the ceiling coffers.

The Entrance Hall dates from 1751 and features a magnificent barrel-vaulted ceiling with plaster busts in the ceiling coffers. Photograph taken on our visit to the Aras Garden Party in June 2022.
Bust of President Michael D. Higgins in the Entrance Hall.

The Council of State Room is part of the original 1751 house. The ceiling, installed by Nathaniel Clements in 1757, is by Bartholomew Cramillion and depicts three of Aesop’s Fables – the Fox and the Stork, the Fox and the Crow and the Fox and the Grapes.

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.
Maude Gonne, by Sarah Purser, on the right of us in our Bloomsday outfits, in the Council of State Room. On the left is Constance Markievicz, by Szankowski.
The first meeting of the Council of State, January 1940.

The State Drawing Room is also part of the original house and the its rich gilt ceiling dates from then. The walls are lined with green silk.

Myself and Stephen with the President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina in 2012, in the State Drawing Room.
The State Drawing Room. The Louis XVI couch came from the palace of Versailles during the Presidency of Eamon De Valera.
The ceiling of the State Drawing Room, part of the 1751 house.
The State Drawing Room, June 2022. The chandelier commemorates the 1801 Act of Union with its entwined shamrocks, roses and thistles, and originally hung in Dublin Castle. The wall lights were made from a second similar chandelier. The Louis XIV couch and chairs came from the Palace of Versailles as a gift during Eamon de Valera’s Presidency.
The Pianist at the Bloomsday Celebration at the Aras, June 2022, in the State Drawing Room.

The administration of the British Lord Lieutenant bought the house from Nathaniel Clements’ son Robert 1st Earl of Leitrim in 1781, to be the personal residence for the Lord Lieutenant. In 1781 the Viceroy, or Lord Deputy, was Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle. The building was rebuilt and named the Viceregal Lodge. At first it served as a summer residence, while the Viceroy stayed in Dublin Castle for the winter. The first “Lord Lieutenant” was his successor, William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland.

Wife of the 1st Lord Lieutenant, Dorothy Bentinck Duchess of Portland (1750-1794), nee Cavendish, daughter of the 4th Duke of Devonshire, Vicereine of Ireland 1782, painted by George Romney.

The house was extended when acquired for the Viceroys to reflect its increased ceremonial importance. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that after being bought by the government, the house was altered and enlarged at various times. David Hicks tells us in his Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change that all those who were awarded the position of Lord Lieutenant were from titled backgrounds and accustomed to grand country houses in England, so they found the Viceregal Lodge to be unimpressive. The 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, Philip Yorke, was the first Lord Lieutenant after the Act of Union in 1800, in 1801-1806. Yorke supported Catholic emancipation. In 1802 Yorke employed Robert Woodgate, a Board of Works architect, to make some alterations to the house, adding new wings to the house.

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. Photograph is by Robert French, and the photograph is part of the Lawrence Photographic Collection, Date: between circa. 1865-1914, NLI Ref: L_CAB_02652.