King House, Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Majella Hunt

Tel: 090-6637153 https://www.visitkinghouse.ie/

Open dates listed in 2022: April-Sept, Tue-Sat, Aug 15-23 National Heritage Week, 11am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student /child €3, group discounts apply

It is hard to capture King House in a photograph.

Stephen and I visited King House during Heritage Week 2022. It is open to the public and is not longer a private home.

King House was built in 1720 for Henry King, 3rd Baronet. There was a house previously on the site built for his grandfather, Robert. It was used as a military barracks in later years. Now it is a museum that tells the story of the King family, the history of the military unitt which occupied the building, and it also houses a collection of contemporary art, the Boyle Civic Art Collection and the McAleese Collection. You can take a “virtual tour” on their website.

John King arrived in Ireland from Staffordshire, England, in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Anthony Lawrence King-Harmon tells us in his book, The Kings of King House. His family originally came from Feathercock Hall in Yorkshire.

The land had been previously controlled by the MacDermott clan. A room in King House tells us a few stories about the MacDermott clan. They had a rare victory over Queen Elizabeth I’s forces in the pass in the Curlew Mountains, near Boyle.

John King fought along with Sir Richard Bingham in Connaught during the Nine Years War. [1] In 1603 Robert’s father John King (1560-1636) was given, along with John Bingley, the lease of Boyle Abbey and its surrounding lands, in recognition for services rendered to the Crown. The Abbey had been used as a military barracks since the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII.

Boyle Abbey, County Roscommon, August 2022.
Boyle Abbey, County Roscommon, August 2022.

He married Catherine Drury, grand-niece of Sir William Drury, Lord Deputy of Ireland. They were father of Edward King, who was memorialised in John Milton’s poem, Lycidas, after he drowned in the Irish Sea. The King’s townhouse is now the home of the Society of Irish Pipers, Na Píobairí Uilleann, 15 Henrietta Street. A ceiling in the house features a bust of Milton, commemorating his poem to Edward King.

The King House website tells us that John King’s main residence was in Dublin, in Baggotrath near what is now Baggot Street, but he built a “great castle” in 1607 in Boyle. By 1618 he had obtained an outright grant to the Abbey and and its 4127 acres. King-Harmon tells us that an “apocryphal” story claims that the title “Lay Abbot” gave the right to have more than one wife! He adds that this was not a privilege of which John King availed.

He was made “Muster General” of Ireland responsible for calling up personnel to assist with maintaining law and order in Ireland. At the time that he built his castle in Boyle, the population of Boyle was around 300, of whom thirty were English workmen or traders. Sir John was buried in Boyle Abbey.

As Muster Master, John King was in charge of weapons such as those above: a pike, musket, lance and sword.

Unfortunately we did not have time to visit Boyle Abbey this time, though we stopped to take a few photographs from the road – we will have to visit Boyle again.

King House, August 2022.

Sir John’s daughters married well – Mary married William Caulfeild, 2nd Baron Caulfeild of Charlemont, County Armagh, who became the Master-General of the Ordnance for Ireland. Her sister Dorothy married Arthur Moore, son of Garret, 1st Viscount Moore of Drogheda.

John’s eldest son, Robert (d. 1657) was a supporter of Oliver Cromwell, and offered his services to the Parliamentarians. He fought in battles and has been credited with victory in the battle of Ballintubber. He was MP in the Cromwellian parliament in England, representing Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim. He lived mostly in his home in Baggotrath in Dublin but built a house on the site of the present King House in Boyle. He died the year before Cromwell died, and the Kings immediately switched sides to support King Charles II.

Robert King married twice (although not at the same time, so didn’t avail of the Lay Abbot’s rights!): first to Frances Folliott, daughter of Henry Folliott, 1st Lord Folliott, Baron of Ballyshannon (her sister married Richard Wingfield and was mother of 1st Viscount Powerscourt). Secondly, he married the widow of Edward Cecil, 1st Viscount Wimbledon, Sophia Zouche. Edward Cecil was the grandson of Queen Elizabeth I’s right hand man, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley.

Robert’s eldest son, John (1638-1676) first fought with the Cromwellians but then became a supporter of King Charles II. He married Catherine Fenton of Mitchelstown, County Cork. Her brothers predeceased her and she was heir to vast estates. John was created 1st Baron Kingston, of Kingston, County Dublin, in 1660, when he was also appointed as Privy Counsellor in Dublin.

Mitchelstown, County Cork, photograph courtesy of the National Library of Ireland. An older castle was demolished and it was rebuilt, as we see in this photograph, in the 1770s by Caroline Fitzgerald and her husband Robert King, 2nd Earl of Kingston.
Mitchelstown, County Cork, photograph courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

The land of Mitchelstown in County Cork passed into the hands of Maurice Fitzgibbon, the first White Knight, in the early part of the 14th century. The title of White Knight was an Anglo-Norman hereditary title in Ireland, one of three, the others being the Black Knight, or Knight of Glin, and Green Knight, or Knight of Kerry.

In 1608 Edmond Fitzgibbon the 9th White Knight died, as did his son Maurice, and it is said that they were poisoned. The inheritance of Mitchelstown passed to Edmond’s youngest granddaughter Margaret, who married Sir William Fenton. The castle then passed to Catherine Fenton, who brought the estate into the King family.

It was the descendants of John’s second son, Robert (abt. 1640-1707), who lived in County Roscommon, since descendants of the eldest son John 1st Baron Kingston lived in Mitchelstown Castle. John gave his younger brother Robert considerable lands in what was to become Rockingham, outside Boyle. John predeceased his brother Robert, dying in 1676, leaving two sons, who became 2nd and 3rd Barons Kingston.

Robert held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for Ballyshannon between 1661 and 1666. He built a sumptuous house at Rockingham in 1673, after he married Frances Gore, daughter of Lt.-Col. Henry Gore, around 1670. She had been previously married to Robert Choppyn of Newcastle, County Longford.

Robert was created 1st Baronet King, of Boyle Abbey, Co. Roscommon [Ireland] on 27 September 1682. He held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for County Roscommon between 1692 and 1699. He was also appointed Privy Counsellor in Ireland, and he held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for Boyle between 1703 and 1707.

Inside King House today.

Robert’s brothers’ sons, the 2nd and 3rd Barons Kingston, still owned the property in Boyle. Robert King, 2nd Baron Kingston, and his uncle Robert 1st Baronet King of Boyle Abbey both supported William III, whereas most English families in Counties Sligo and Roscommon supported King James II. Both Robert Kings became heavily involved in military operations. Robert 1st Baronet King played a major role in the Battle of Aughrim. Anthony Lawrence King-Harman tells us that it was during this battle that Robert saved the life of the head of the MacDermot family, the original owner of Rockingham.

To add to complications of the time, Robert 1st Baronet of Boyle Abbey’s son John (1673-1720) supported King James II. He sat in King James’s parliament in Dublin. Fortunately he later escaped retribution from William III when William was made King, and his father must have forgiven him also as he was his father’s heir. John became 2nd Baronet King of Boyle Abbey.

The brother of Robert 2nd Baron Kingston, John (abt. 1664-1727/28), or Jack as he was known, eloped with a servant girl from King House named Peggy O’Cahan (or Kane). They moved to France and married, and he joined court of “The Pretender,” son of James II, also known as James III. Jack converted to Catholicism. His brother did not have children so Jack would have been his brother’s heir. However, due to his Catholicism, his family took legal action to disinherit him. Robert 2nd Baron Kingston instead changed his will so that his uncle Robert, 1st Baronet King of Boyle Abbey, would inherit the Mitchelstown estates and the estate in Boyle. Jack, however, disputed this. King-Harmon tells us in The Kings of King House that Jack, with the support of James II and Catholic circles in London, launched a legal action to show that the actions of his family were in contravention of the marriage settlements of his father, and before that of William Fenton, his mother’s father. He was successful and he obtained possession of Mitchelstown in 1699, but not the estate lands. Jack, who had become 3rd Baron Kingston after his brother’s death, also achieved a Royal pardon from William III for his previous support of King James II and his son.

Jack’s actions threatened the Baronets of Boyle Abbey and their ownership of Rockingham. However, they managed to hold on to their estate and the threat receded somewhat with the accession of William and Mary to the throne. Jack, with an eye to their future, raised his children as Protestants in Mitchelstown.

Robert 1st Baronet of Boyle Abbey’s daughter Mary married Chidley Coote of Cootehall, County Roscommon, son of Richard Coote 1st Lord Coote, Baron of Colloony, County Sligo. His son John, who became 2nd Baronet of Boyle Abbey upon his father’s death, married Elizabeth Sankey, but he had no children. Elizabeth went on to marry secondly, John Moore, 1st Baron Moore of Tullamore and thirdly, Brabazon Ponsonby, 1st Earl of Bessborough. Her mother, Eleanor Morgan, was from Cottlestown, County Sligo, a property added in 2022 to the Section 482 list, which we have yet to visit.

The 2nd Baronet moved from Rockingham back to the house in Boyle, which by this time may have been known as King House. He died in March 1720 and his brother Henry (1681-1739) became 3rd Baronet King of Boyle Abbey. It was Henry who built the King House that we see today. Rockingham burnt down, probably sometime shortly after the death of the 1st Baronet. King House in Boyle was destroyed by fire in 1720, so Henry immediately started to rebuild. King-Harman tells us he hired either Edward Lovett Pearce, or William Halfpenny, an assistant to Edward Lovett Pearce, as architect. The newer house may incorporate walls of the earlier house. A pleasure garden was created across the river, and it is now a public park. It contains a plinth that used to hold a statue of King William III but that statue disappeared!

Henry (1681-1739) 3rd Baronet King of Boyle Abbey, by Robert Hunter.
The museum in King House is less certain as to who designed it, suggesting it could have been Edward Lovett Pearce, Richard Cassel (or Castle), or William Halfpenny.

Mark Bence-Jones points out in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988) that King House is not situated in a demesne but in the centre of a town. It is surrounded by thick walls. He describes it as a large “u” shaped mansion of two storeys over basement with a partly gabled attic. [2]

This overhead shot of King House is taken from the website. As you can see, it’s an unusual house.
The entrance to King House, it is surrounded by these imposing walls.
The round-headed ground floor windows with keystones and blocking.
River-facing facade of King House, courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [3]
Model of King House, which is inside the house: river facing facade.
River facade of King House during repair by Roscommon County Council. Work began in 1989 and took over four years, with renovation works designed and supervised by Dublin architects Shaffrey Associates.

The photograph from the National Inventory, above, shows the eleven bay garden front which faces the river, with its three bay pedimented breakfront and large central Venetian window in the upper storey.

The side facades have three Venetian windows, one on top of another, the top being within a gable.

King House, August 2022: side facade with three Venetian windows, the top one being within a gable.

Bence-Jones points out that: “As at Ballyhaise, County Cavan and King’s Fort, County Meath, there is vaulting in other storeys than just the basement; in fact, all four storeys are vaulted over. This was, according to Rev Daniel Beaufort, a fire precaution, Sir Henry King having naturally been fire-conscious after the fire in the earlier house.

Two wings project from the main centre block of the house, and are each two bays wide. The centre block is three bays wide with a centre triangular gable. Bence-Jones describes the deep cornice over the wings, and the round-headed ground floor windows with keystones and blocking.

The front of King House before repair.

On the front facade Bence-Jones describes a “plain massive doorway.” I find the entire centre front surprisingly plain with few windows, except the large arched ones either side of the doorway and the fanlight over the door, and two dormer windows in the roofline. Inside the museum, in a description of the building it is suggested that the front facade was not completed.

The National Inventory adds that there is “a seven-bay three-storey extension to south-west with pitched slated roof with piecrust cornice and red brick chimneystacks. Single-storey roughcast-rendered outbuildings to front. Site bounded by rubble stone wall with carved stone gate piers and cast-iron gates.

The second side facade, with its Venetian windows one on top of another and gable windows in the roof.
Single-storey roughcast-rendered outbuildings to front.
The side facade and basement.

Inside the front door is a long and narrow hall or gallery with lovely flagstone floor, which is original to the house. You can see also the vaulted ceiling, and wood panelling on the walls.

The long gallery front hall, which has the Venetian windows of the side facades of the house at either end.
Fireplace in front hall. There are two in this hall, one is of Kilkenny marble and the other is a replica.

Sir Henry King, 3rd Baronet of Boyle Abbey, served as MP for either Boyle or County Roscommon for thirty three years. He married Isabella Wingfield, daughter of Edward Wingfield of Powerscourt, County Wicklow (her brother was the 1st Viscount of Powerscourt). Henry died in 1739 and was succeeded by his son Robert (1724-1755), 4th Baronet of Boyle Abbey. Robert became MP for Boyle also and was created Baron Kingsborough in 1748. It was he who bought the house in Henrietta Street in Dublin. He became Grand Master of the Freemasons in Ireland. He died unmarried. On his death, the Barony of Kingsborough became extinct.

Robert (1724-1755), 4th Baronet of Boyle Abbey, by Robert Hunter.
Frances King, by Robert Hunter. The portrait is in King House. Thus could be a portrait of Robert’s sister Frances (1726-1812) who married Hans Widman Wood of Rossmead, County Westmeath.

On his death the entailed parts of the estate went to his younger brother Edward (1726-1797), who became 5th Baronet of Boyle Abbey. He was also a Grand Master for the Freemasons and MP for County Roscommon, and Privy Counsellor in Ireland. He inherited King House and large parts of the Sligo and Roscommon estates. However, a later will of his brother was found after his brother’s death, and all the unentailed land was left to their younger brother Henry. Henry did not marry but the dispute over inheritance led to lawsuits and caused family rifts, King-Harmon’s book The Kings of King House tells us.

Edward King (1726-1797), 5th Baronet of Boyle Abbey and eventually, 1st Earl of Kingston.

Edward the 5th Baronet married Jane Caulfeild, daughter of Thomas Caulfeild of Donamon Castle, County Roscommon (still standing, it now belongs to the Divine Word Missionaries). Edward was ambitious and when his cousin James King 4th Baron Kingston died in 1761 with no sons, he applied for a peerage and was granted it, becoming the 1st Baron Kingston of the second creation. He built a second mansion in Rockingham, which he called Kingston Hall.

He arranged with 4th Baron Kingston that his son would marry the heir to Mitchelstown, Caroline Fitzgerald. The 4th Baron Kingston’s son William predeceased him in 1755, dying childless. The 4th Baron’s daughter Margaret married Richard Fitzgerald, son of the 19th Earl of Kildare. Their only child was a daughter, Caroline (1754-1823). By marrying into the family of the Barons of Kingston, Mitchelstown came into the family of the Baronets of Boyle Abbey. Caroline and Edward’s son Robert were to marry when just 15 and 16 years old.

Meanwhile Edward, after intense lobbying, had become Viscount Kingsborough in 1767 and Earl of Kingston in 1768.

Edward, now Earl of Kingston, and his family moved into Kingston Hall in 1771, and King House was kept as a second residence, but following a fire in 1778, Edward decided to dispose of it. It was bought by the British army in 1795, and became the depot of the Connaught Rangers until taken over by the Irish army in 1922. It was abandoned and in ruins by 1987 when bought by Roscommon County Council, and it was restored and opened to the public in 1995.

Information in King House about Boyle in the 1700s.

Edward Earl of Kingston’s daughter Jane married Laurence Harman Parsons (1749-1807), son of Laurence Parsons, 3rd Baronet, who was later created 1st Earl of Rosse, and Anne Harman.

The 1st Earl of Kingston’s daughter Francis married Thomas Tenison, and their son Lt.-Col Edward King-Tenison lived in Kilronan Castle in County Roscommon and his wife, Lady Louisa Mary Anne Anson, was the origin of the use of the word “loo” for toilet! (according to The Peerage website). I’m not sure why! (Kilronan Castle is now also a hotel, https://www.kilronancastle.ie/

His daughter Eleanor died unmarried in 1822.

Henry’s daughter Eleanor, who never married, and James Stewart, a grandson of Henry.
Eleanor King, died 1822, unmarried, painting by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.

Edward’s heir, Robert (1754-1799) became the 2nd Earl of Kingston and married his cousin Caroline Fitzgerald of Mitchelstown when he was just 15. They had nine children but later separated. When young, they lived in London, and toured the world, until they took up residence at Mitchelstown Castle. Mary Wollstonecraft, who later died after giving birth to Mary Shelley née Godwin who wrote Frankenstein, was tutor to the 2nd Earl of Kingston’s children. Mary Wollstonecraft later became a writer, intellecutal and radical, spending time in Paris during the French Revolution, and wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women, as well as several novels. She remained friendly with King’s daughters, who imbibed Mary’s feminism. Caroline, unhappy in her life with Robert, moved to England, and Robert took a lover, Elinor Hallenan, who bore him two more children.

On 18 May 1798 Robert 2nd Earl of Kingston was tried by his peers in the Irish House of Lords for the murder of Colonel Henry Gerald Fitzgerald, who had seduced the Earl’s daughter. He was acquitted as no witnesses came forward – a benefit of being in the House of Lords was that one was not tried in a general court, but tried in a court consisting of the other members of the House of Lords.

Colonel Henry Gerald Fitzgerald was the illegitimate son of Caroline’s half-brother. Her father had remarried after her mother died. Caroline raised Henry Gerald along with her own family. Caroline brought her daughter Mary with her when she separated her husband and moved to England. It was Mary who was seduced by her cousin, despite him having a wife. As Mary Wollstonecraft later had lovers, perhaps young Mary King was influenced by her governess’s romantic nature. Colonel Fitzgerald regularly visited Caroline and Mary in their new home in London. One day, Mary disappeared, and was found installed in a lodging house, regularly visited by her lover, Colonel Fitzgerald. King-Harman tells the story in The Kings of King House. Her father shot and killed Colonel Fitzgerald.

Another daughter, Margaret, married Stephen Moore, 2nd Earl Mountcashell. Also influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft’s radicalism, she supported the United Irishmen and Anthony Lawrence King-Harman writes that she may have been with Edward Fitzgerald when he was mortally wounded in Dublin. She left her husband for George Tighe (1776-1837) of Rossana, County Wicklow, an Irishman living in Rome, and became close friends with Wollstonecraft’s daughter Mary Shelley. She wrote children’s books and treatises on pre- and post-natal care.

Dining room, King House.

Robert’s son George (1770-1839) became the 3rd Earl of Kingston upon his father’s death in 1797. Robert left the Boyle properties to his second son, Robert Edward (1773-1854), who later became Viscount Lorton, the name chosen from a local place-name.

Brothers George, 3rd Earl of Kingston, Robert, 1st Viscount Lorton, and Admiral James William King, by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.
This large portrait in the dining room is General Robert King (1773-1854), 1st Viscount Lorton, who was the son of Robert King, 2nd Earl of Kingston.

Robert Edward King (1773-1854) inherited Kingston Hall at Rockingham. He joined the military and distinguished himself in the Caribbean. When he inherited in 1797, he returned to Ireland and joined the Roscommon Militia and worked his way up to become a General. With Rockingham, however, came debt. In 1799 he married his first cousin, Frances Parsons Harman, daughter of his aunt Jane who had married Lawrence Parsons Harman (1749-1807), who owned the Newcastle Estate in County Longford. Robert worked hard to reduce the debt, and was a tough landlord, evicting many tenants.

In the centre, Frances née Parsons Harman (1775-1841) who married Robert Edward King (1773-1854). She is flanked by their daughter Jane King, who married Anthony Lefroy, and Frances King, who married Right Reverend Charles Leslie of Corravahan.

Robert Edward was created Baron Erris of Boyle, County Roscommon in 1800 and in 1806, Viscount Lorton of Boyle, County Roscommon. His support of the Act of Union in 1800 would have helped in his rise within the Peerage.

Viscount Lorton decided to build a new house on the Rockingham estate, which is a few kilometers from Boyle. Robert O’Byrne tells us that the previous house, Kingston Hall, remained in use and became known as the Steward’s House. [4] The new house was designed by John Nash and was ready by 1810. Lorton also modernised the estate. Landscaper Humphrey Repton helped with the design of the outbuildings, gate houses and demesne. The house no longer exists, and the demesne is now part of Lough Key Park. An impressive gate lodge remains, and a chapel built by Lord Lorton in 1833 on the site of a 17th century church also built by the Kings. An icehouse, gazebo called the Temple and a tunnel which ran from the mansion to the lake and was used by tradesmen is open for visitors.

Rockingham.
Rockingham.
Rockingham.
Model of Rockingham House created by Leaving Certificate students of Ballinamore Vocational School Fergal Conefrey, Conor Lee and Declan Sammon with construction teacher Mr. Tommy Flynn.
The interior of Rockingham.
The interior of Rockingham.
Looking out from Rockingham.

It was a time of trouble with tenants, as outlined in The Kings of King House. Robert evicted Catholic tenants due to uprisings. In famine years, however, he lowered rents and provided work.

Viscount Lorton’s daughters married well. Jane married Anthony Lefroy of Carriglass Manor, County Longford. Jane Austen had been in love with his father, Thomas Lefroy, and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice may have been based upon him. Caroline married Robert Gore-Booth, 4th Baronet, of Lissadell, County Sligo (another section 482 property). Frances married Right Reverend Charles Leslie, who we came across when we visited Corravahan, another Section 482 property, in County Cavan.

Viscount Lorton’s heir was Robert (1804-1869). He had an unhappy marriage, and his wife, Anne Gore-Booth, daughter of Robert Newcomen Gore-Booth, 3rd Baronet of Lissadell, had an affair which produced a son. Robert and his father sought to make sure that this son would not inherit the King estates.

The Kings of Rockingham were a “cadet branch” of the family of the Kings of Mitchelstown, County Cork. Viscount Lorton’s older brother inherited the Mitchelstown estate and the title of 3rd Earl of Kingston. Let’s make a diversion and look at what was happening at the Mitchelstown estate.

After her husband Robert 2nd Earl of Kingston’s death, Mitchelstown remained in the hands of Caroline (née Fitzgerald), and she returned to run the estate for a further twenty-five years. She kept her son George at arm’s length, King-Harman tells us.

George King (177901839), later 3rd Earl of Kingston, painting by Romney.

George did not inherit Mitchelstown until he was 53 years old. He was godson of King George III and was a friend of the Prince Regent who later became King George IV. He had several illegitimate children with a lover when he was in his twenties, with whom he lived in the Bahamas. He went on to marry Helena Moore, daughter of Stephen, 1st Earl of Mountcashell, County Tipperary. Before his father died, he was titled Viscount Kingsborough between 1797 and 1799, and he held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for County Roscommon between 1797 and 1799. He became Colonel of the local Militia, the Mitchelstown Light Dragoons, part of the North Cork Militia.

When his father died, he succeeded as the 3rd Baron Kingston of Rockingham, Co. Roscommon, the 3rd Viscount Kingston of Kingsborough, Co. Sligo, 3rd Earl of Kingston, and 7th Baronet King, of Boyle Abbey, Co. Roscommon.

George 3rd Earl of Kingston’s eldest son, Edward, predeceased him. Edward, who was Viscount Kingsborough, became interested in Mexico while in Oxford and devoted his life and finances to the production of a monumental work, The Antiquities of Mexico. He fell into debt, partly because his father did not allow him enough to run Mitchelstown, and was imprisoned in Ireland, where he developed typhus and died in 1837. In his lifetime he presented a number of antiquities to Trinity College Dublin.

It was therefore George’s second son, Robert Henry (1796-1857) who became 4th Earl of Kingston in 1839. By 1844 the Mitchelstown estate had been taken over by the Encumbered Estaes Court. Outstanding debts went back to James 4th Baron, King-Harman tells us. Despite this, Robert Henry’s life continued at Mitchelstown in rather high style, also despite the famine. Sadly, parts of the estate were sold off bit by bit and eventually Robert Henry had a mental breakdown and ended up in an asylum in England. [for more about the 4th Earl of Kingston see the Irish Aesthete’s blog. [5]

His younger brother James became the 5th Earl of Kingston, but died two years later without issue, and with him the Barony of Kingston of Mitchelstown became extinct. He married Anna Brinkley from Parstonstown (Birr), who was thirty years his junior, and King-Harman tells us that she “was destined to play a major role in the affairs of Castle [of Mitchelstown] right through to the present century.” They had no children, so the estate would have gone to the Viscounts Lorton of Boyle.

James King (1800-1869), 5th Earl of Kingston, who married Anna Brinkley.
Anna, wife of the 5th Earl of Kingston, who lived in Mitchelstown.

Robert, who was to become 2nd Viscount Lorton, and his wife Anne née Gore-Booth, had a son, Robert (1831-1871), and a daughter, Frances. Anne then had a son, Henry Ernest, with her lover, Vicomte Ernest Satgé St Jean. 1st Viscount Lorton tried to take action to ensure that Henry Ernest would not inherit.

In order to avoid Henry Ernest from inheriting Mitchelstown, they had to break the entail on Mitchelstown and James the 5th Earl of Kingston promised money from the Mitchelstown estate to the 3rd Viscount Lorton, for signing away the entail. Instead, Mitchelstown was left to his wife. The money promised to 3rd Viscount Lorton formed a debt, falling to Anna Brinkley, which gave her much difficulty later.

Before continuing, I must mention the youngest son of 1st Viscount Lorton, Laurence Harman King (1816-1875). He married Mary Cecilia Johnstone of Alva, Scotland. His father drew up a settlement which in the event that the 2nd Viscount’s legitimate son did not have an heir, Rockingham would go to his younger son, Laurence Harman, who in 1838 had legally changed his name to Laurence Harman King-Harman.

Laurence Harman King-Harman also inherited the estate of Newcastle in County Longford. He was chosen for the inheritance in preference to his dissipated brother. Lawrence’s mother, recall, was Frances Parsons, daughter of Laurence Harman Parsons and and Jane King (daughter of 1st Earl of Kingston). Laurence Harman Parsons’s father was Laurence Parsons, 3rd Baronet of Birr Castle, County Offaly, and his mother was Anne Harman, whose family owned Newcastle, County Longford.

The property of Newcastle had belonged to the Chappoyne family. A daughter of that family married Anthony Sheppard, and the property passed into the ownership of the Sheppard family. It then passed via a daughter, Frances Sheppard, who married Wentworth Harman (c. 1635-1714). On Frances’s death in 1766 the property passed to her son Reverend Cutts Harman (1706-1784), Dean of Waterford. He had no children, so he left the property to his nephew, Laurence Parsons, who had married Jane King. In return, Laurence Parsons added the name Harman to his surname in 1792 to become Laurence Harman Parsons-Harman.

Laurence Harman Parsons was created 1st Baron Oxmantown, Co. Wexford in 1792, and 1st Earl of Rosse in 1806.

Laurence and Jane had a daughter, Frances, and no son. Frances married Robert Edward King, 1st Viscount Lorton in 1799. Laurence left all of his property to his wife Jane, which included Newcastle and two houses in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Upon the birth of Frances and Robert Edward’s second son, whom they named Laurence Harman King, Lady Rosse decided to leave Newcastle to him. In 1838 when Lady Rosse died, just a year after Laurence Harman King’s marriage, he inherited Newcastle. At that time he also added Harman to his surname to become Laurence Harman King-Harman. [6]

One can now stay in Newcastle House, see https://www.newcastlehousehotel.ie/

Irish Army Artillery Dress Uniform c.1935: This uniform would have been worn by a Lieutenant Colonel. A military uniform would consist of the following: shako, tunic, slacks, black patent boots and spurs, white doe-skin gloves, cape, sword-belt complete with two scabbard slings and dress sword, sword knot and sword belt.
Dining room of King House.
The Honourable Laurence Harman King-Harman (1816-1875).
Laurence Harman King-Harman (1816-1875). The information tells us that he was the second son of Edward King, 1st Viscount Lorton. He inherited the Newcastle estate in County Longford in 1838 from his grandmother the Countess of Rosse, and lived there until his death. He succeeded to the Rockingham estate after the death of his brother Robert, 6th Earl of Kingston, in 1869.
Mary Cecilia, 6th daughter of Thomas Reymond Johnstone of Alva, Scotland. Married in May 1837 Laurence Harman King-Harman, 2nd son of Robert Edward 1st Viscount Lorton. She lived at Newcastle until her husband’s death in 1875 and then in London when she died in 1904.

Let us go back, however, to his brother Robert, who was upon his father’s death to become 2nd Viscount Lorton. The reason that 1st Viscount Lorton was worried about the second, illegitimate grandson inheriting, is that the first grandson, Robert Edward, had suffered a serious illness and had only one child, a daughter.

The 1st Viscount Lorton died in 1854 and was buried in the family vault in Boyle Abbey.

Obituary for 1st Viscount Lorton.

The 1st Viscount Lorton’s son Robert had been a long time waiting to come into his inheritance and had meanwhile spent his time dissipating the family’s money and by the time of his marriage, according to The Kings of King House, had a reputation for drinking too much alcohol. In the same year that she was proven to have an affair, Robert became semi-paralysed, perhaps after severe attack of delirium tremens from his drinking.

Robert and his wife Anne moved to Frankfurt in 1840 and his health improved somewhat. However it was here that his wife met Vicomte Ernest de Satgé St Jean. He too was married. He and Anne accumulated debts at the gaming tables which Robert had to pay, and when his wife left him, Ernest de Satgé St Jean moved into the home of the Kings in Frankfurt!

When 1st Viscount Lorton heard of the shenanigans, he sent an old friend to bring his son and his son’s wife back to Ireland. He did not succeed, and the story of Robert’s wife’s debts reminds me of “Buck” Whaley’s, with the Vicomte entering in convoluted schemes in order to try to gain money to pay off his debts, as described in The Kings of King House.

When the 1st then 2nd Viscounts Lorton died, the 2nd Viscount’s legitimate son Robert Edward (1731-1771) came into ownership of Rockingham, and became 3rd Viscount Lorton and 7th Earl of Kingston. He died two years later, after felling large quantities of timber at Rockingham to pay off his debts.

In the meantime, the younger son, Henry Ernest Newcomen King (named Ernest after his birth father) had not been legally recognised as illegitimate. Therefore when his brother died, he became 8th Earl of Kingston, although he did not inherit as much land as he could have, since the entail on Mitchelstown had been broken, and his uncle Laurence Harman inherited Newcastle and Rockingham. He joined the Connaught Rangers, which were housed in the old King home, and he gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was a representative Irish peer in the House of Lords. He married Florence, daughter and co-heir of Colonel Edward King-Tenison of Kilronan Castle in County Roscommon. He changed his name to surname King-Tenison in 1883. He held the office of Lord-Lieutenant of County Roscommon between 1888 and 1896.

The Coronation Robe and Crown in the dining room of King House belong to his son the 9th Earl of Kingston’s wife, Ethel Lisette, made to be worn at the coronation of King Edward VIII in 1936, which did not happen since he abdicated the throne.

On the death of the 7th Earl of Kingston, the 1st Viscount Lorton’s youngest son, Harman King-Harman, inherited Rockingham and the Boyle estates as life tenant. He remained living in Newcastle, County Longford. He had six sons and his eldest Edward King-Harman (1838-1888) would inherit Rockingham and Newcastle.

This painting just identifies the sitted as Mrs King-Harman. She is probably Laurence Harman King-Harman’s wife Mary Cecilia née Johnstone, in later life.
Vanity Fair entry and picture, about Edward Robert King-Harman (1838-1888), son of Laurence Harman King-Harman. He inherited Newcastle in County Longford and Rockingham in Roscommon.

To continue with the story of Mitchelstown, in 1873 Anna née Brinkley, wife of James 5th Earl of Kingston, remarried, to William Webber. King-Harman writes that Webber allowed his relationship to the tenants to deteriorate. Meanwhile, the old debts were paid off by selling off tenanted lands under the Wyndham Land Acts. Anna, the Countess of Kingston, expressed a wish that upon her husband’s death, Mitchelstown should revert to the King family, in the person of Lt Colonel Alec King-Harman of Newcastle, great grandson of the 1st Lord Lorton. However, the castle was burnt by the IRA during the Civil War in 1922, and Alec sold off the estate.

The 2nd Earl of Kingston laid out much of the town of Mitchelstown. King Square includes Georgian houses of Kingston College and its Protestant chapel and family vault built by James, 4th Baron Kingston, and the square also includes the building where James founded the first Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Ireland. The 3rd Earl erected a drinking fountain in the square. The inn at Kilworth where Colonel Fitzgerald was shot is now a private residence. [The Kings of King House]

Edward Robert King-Harman (1838-1888), son of Laurence Harman King-Harman, inherited Newcastle in County Longford and Rockingham in Roscommon. He joined the military and fought in the siege of Dehli during the Indian Mutiny, then returned to Ireland in 1859 and became Honorary Colonel of the 5th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers whose depot was now in King House. He developed an interest in politics and the cause of Home Rule and was returned to the House of Commons in Ireland as a Conservative Home Ruler for County Sligo. He moved from Newcastle into Rockingham. He managed to leave Rockingham to his daughter, Fay, although her brothers contested this. She managed to keep Rockingham, however, along with her husband, Dr. Thomas Stafford, who was a Catholic. Fay’s son took the name Edward Stafford King-Harman.

Meanwhile Edward’s younger brother Wentworth (1840-1919) inherited Newcastle from his brother. He joined the military in Britain. When he inherited, he immersed himself in running Newcastle. It was his son Alec who inherited Mitchelstown. Alec also joined the military. He left Newcastle to a cousin Douglas King-Harman, and by that time the estate was reduced to just 50 acres, and he sold it in 1951. Before leaving Newcastle, Douglas set aside most of the family records and took them to England with him and published a book in 1959, Kings Earls of Kingston.

Edward Stafford King-Harman died in WWI. His father was raised to the British peerage as 1st Baronet Stafford in 1914. Edward married Olive Pakenham Mahon from Strokestown in Roscommon – I will be writing about it soon as it is also a Section 482 property.

It was his second son, Cecil Stafford King-Harman, who inherited Rockingham and became 2nd Baronet Stafford. Having taken a degree in Agriculture in New Zealand, Cecil was able to bring the estate back into good working order. Unfortunately, Rockingham was destroyed by fire in 1957 and although most of the furniture and pictures were saved, Cecil decided to sell. The house was demolished, and half the estate became Lough Key Forest Park. On Cecil’s death the baronetcy became extinct.

Part of a set of china rescued from the fire in 1957.
This room in King House describes the fire at Rockingham. Over the fireplace is a picture of Lady Eleanor King, and one of her nephews, brothers George, 3rd Earl of Kingston, Robert, 1st Viscount Lorton, and Admiral James William King.

In an upper storey of the King House there is a step-by-step description of the 1989-94 renovation of the house.

Inside the attic of King House.
Vaulted ceiling of the attic.
Display of builders’ paraphernalia in the attic.

King House is used to host art exhibitions, as well as weddings and events.

The Main Salon on the first floor. This room was used for formal dining and entertaining. It contains two fireplaces and decorative cornicing.

When used as a Barracks, the military erected a mezzanine level in the Main Salon. After Independence, in the 1940s the Irish army used the room for dances every Wednesday.

Henry King b. 1733 by Hunter. He was a son of Henry King who built King House.

King House is now home to the Connaught Rangers museum as well as the Boyle Civic Art Collection, and the house also plays host to musical, dramatic and cultural events. 

The displays about the Connaught Rangers are very moving, and remind of us that horrors of war.
Connaught Rangers dress helmet (1878-1922). Regimental buttons on uniforms had a harp and crown surrounded by a shamrock leaf, and on the collar was a brass Indian elephant.

The barracks in King House served as a recruitment centre. We can see some of the posters that encouraged Irish men to join the British Army during the wars.

As home to the Connaught Rangers, Robert O’Byrne tells us that the house was able to accommodate 12 officers and 260 non-commissioned officers and private foot soldiers, as well as a 30-bed hospital and stabling for horses. [7]

During the War of Independence, the Barracks was strongly garrisoned and the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Black and Tans were stationed outside the barracks near the main gate. Many arrests of Irishmen fighting for Independence were made, and prisoners were held in the barracks. Two prisoners managed to escape, James Molloy and Michael Dockery.

Prison cell in the basement of King House.
A drawing depicting the escape from King House.

Sadly, reflecting the turbulent times in Ireland, Michael Dockery was later killed by anti-Treaty forces during the Irish Civil War that took place after Ireland gained Independence (the Civil War occurred because many did not agree with the Treaty signed to give Ireland independence since the British kept six counties in Ulster, leading to the division of the island of Ireland). When the new Republic of Ireland continued to use King House as a barracks it was called Dockery Barracks after Michael Dockery.

A couple of rooms in King House now contain the gifts which were given to President Mary McAleese, which is a lovely collection of the crafts of various nations.

Based in the courtyard, Úna Bhán Tourism Co-operative runs a traditional craft shop showcasing locally produced crafts as well as operating an accommodation booking service and at weekends there is a farmers market in the courtyard.

[1] Connolly, Paul. The Landed Estates of County Roscommon. Published by Paul Connolly, 2018.

[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/31804023/king-house-military-road-knocknashee-boyle-co-roscommon

[4] https://theirishaesthete.com/2022/08/22/kingston-lodge/

[5] https://theirishaesthete.com/2014/09/01/god-bless-the-kings/

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/13402709/newcastle-house-newcastle-newcastle-demesne-county-longford

[7] https://theirishaesthete.com/tag/king-house/

Places to visit and stay in County Tipperary, 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/

Tipperary:

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

2. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary – OPW

3. Carey’s Castle, Clonmel, County Tipperary

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

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

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

7. Farney Castle, Holycross, County Tipperary

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

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

10. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary

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

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

13. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary

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

15. Swiss Cottage, County Tipperary – OPW

Places to stay, County Tipperary

1. Ashley Park, Nenagh, Co Tipperary – accommodation

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

3. Birdhill House, Clonmel, County Tipperary

4. Cahir House Hotel, Cahir, County Tipperary €

5. Cashel Palace Hotel, County Tipperary €€€

6. Clonacody House, County Tipperary €€

7. Croc an Oir, Mullinahone, County Tipperary € for 4-15

8. Dundrum House, County Tipperary €€

9. Lissanisky House, County Tipperary

10. Hotel Minella, Clonmel, County Tipperary

11. Raheen House Hotel, Clonmel, County Tipperary €€

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

Whole house rental/wedding venue County Tipperary

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

2. Clonacody House, County Tipperary – whole house

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

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

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

6. Kilshane, Tipperary, Co Tipperary – whole house rental

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

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

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

Tipperary:

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

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

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

We visited during Heritage Week 2022 – write up coming soon!

2. Cahir Castle, County Tipperary – OPW

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4

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

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

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

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

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

Fee: adult €6, OAP €4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.fancroft.ie

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

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

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

7. Farney Castle, Holycross, County Tipperary

Farney Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

The website tells us:

Farney Castle Visitor centre

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

The History of Farney Castle

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

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

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

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

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

contact: Philippa Mansergh-Wallace Tel: 062-52484 

www.hfhtours.ie

Open: May 2-7, 9-14, 16-21, 23-28, 30-31, August 27-31, Sept 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-
24, 26-30, Oct 3-5, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €6, group rates available.

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

The National Inventory adds: “three-bay two-storey country house, of at least two phases, front elevation rebuilt c. 1820, with entrance porch. Rear part of east elevation of main block, together with lower two-storey wings, five-bay to north-west and two-bay to north-east, may be early eighteenth century. Additional double-pile three-bay two-storey block having pitched slate roof to north-east…A pleasing middle-sized house of balanced Georgian proportions, existing largely in its early form and retaining much of its original fabric. This house is elevated above other typical early nineteenth century middle-sized country houses by the inclusion of ornate features including the elaborate entrance porch with round-headed openings and the tripartite windows with delicately proportioned engaged clustered timber columns. The house, its yards, walled and terraced gardens, together with its monumental entrance piers, form an attractive and interesting group on a slightly elevated site in the landscape.” [1]

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Killenure website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

10. Nenagh Castle, County Tipperary

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

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

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

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

Redwood Castle by irishfireside on flickr constant commons.

Redwood is off the Birr/Portumna Rd

contact: Coleesa Egan
Tel: 087-7479566 

www.redwoodcastleireland.com

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

Redwood Castle from flickr constant commons Discover Lough Derg.

The website tells us:

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

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

The website tells us more about the castle:

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

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

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

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

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

The website gives us more information about Brehon Law.

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

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

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

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

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

13. Roscrea Castle and Damer House, County Tipperary

Damer House, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, Photographer/Creator: Kerry Kissane – All Around Ireland, 2021, Courtesy Tipperary Tourism.

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

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

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

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

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

15. Swiss Cottage, County Tipperary – OPW

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

Places to stay, County Tipperary

1. Ashley Park, Nenagh, Co Tipperary – accommodation

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

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

The Hidden Ireland website tells us:

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

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

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

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

Ashley Park, County Tipperary, December 2016.

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

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

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

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

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

The website tells us:

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

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

3. Birdhill House, Clonmel, County Tipperary

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

Birdhill House & Gardens offers the ultimate mix of homeliness and grandeur. The perfect place to reflect and re-energize. Enjoy the welcoming warmth of this mid 1700’s Georgian country house. Nestled in the Suir valley with panoramic views of Knockmealdown and Comeragh mountains.

Explore the tranquil and breathtaking beauty of the gardens. Take the time to relax on one of the many terraces. Sip a glass of wine or dine al fresco around the fire pit. If you feel like a little exercise you might stroll along the river bank, be tempted to take out the rowing boat/kayak. Or maybe enjoy an energetic game of tennis. On a chilly day sit by a roaring fire in the drawing room or gather friends and family around the kitchen table to play games. Hide away in the library for a quiet read surrounded by relaxed elegance. Retire to the delightfully decorated bedrooms and snuggle down for sweet dreams, but be warned: the morning chorus here at Birdhill House & Gardens is quite spectacular. Oh! And watch out for Millie and her daughter Hettie, the sweetest of dogs.

Birdhill House and Gardens offers guests luxury accommodation with the option to add breakfast and dinner if you wish.

The west wing of the house also can be exclusively rented where guests can enjoy the freedom of self-catering and is an ideal house for family breaks. Contact the house directly to check availability for the exclusive rental of Birdhill House & Gardens.”

4. Cahir House Hotel, Cahir, County Tipperary

https://www.cahirhousehotel.ie/en/

The website tells us:

Cahir House Hotel is a Historical Town House and the leading hotel in Cahir, County Tipperary. This former manor house offers luxury  hotel accommodation in Cahir and is the ideal base for your hotel break in the South East of Ireland.

Situated centrally in Cahir, Co. Tipperary, with views of Cahir Castle, Cahir Main Square. Cork, Waterford & Shannon Airport and Cities such as Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, a mere 1 hour drive away.

Cahir House Hotel is the perfect location at the crossroads to the south.

The National Inventory tells us that it was built c. 1770: “This impressive townhouse, designed by William Tinsley on a prominent corner site, which became the residence of the Earls of Glengall when the family ceased to live in Cahir Castle [The first Earl of Glengall was the 10th Baron Cahir, Richard Butler (1775-1819). He married Emilia Jefferyes, daughter of James St. John Jefferyes of Blarney Castle]. Although it has undergone many alterations and a change of use, it retains much character and interesting fabric, such as the stone to the window and door dressings.

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

https://www.cashelpalacehotel.ie

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

Cashel Palace hotel, County Tipperary, photograph by Brian Morrison 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [2]

The website tells us of the history:

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

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

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

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

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

Photograph from Mark Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Clonacody House, County Tipperary €€

https://www.clonacodyhouse.com/home

7. Croc an Oir, Mullinahone, County Tipperary € for 4-15

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/6651715?adults=1&children=0&infants=0&check_in=2023-04-18&check_out=2023-04-25&federated_search_id=06207691-0de5-49ec-8323-71f088df9e7c&source_impression_id=p3_1654355901_X6OQQUqoSRlCkOnM

Crocanoir is a home away from home tucked away down a leafy boreen. This beautifully restored house offers a truly relaxing holiday where hospitality and a traditional Irish experience is offered in abundance. It enjoys stunning views of Slievenamon mountain and there are lovely countryside walks only a stroll from the doorstep. Guests are welcome to wander the woodland paths and leave the world behind. The Old House has oodles of character and is ideal for large families or groups of friends.

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

https://www.dundrumhousehotel.com

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

The Inventory tells us it is a Palladian-style seven-bay three-storey country house over half-basement, built c.1730, third storey being possibly an addition requiring removal of pediment c.1890. Three-bay breakfront and single-bay single-storey over half-basement links to similar flat-roof wings and having U-plan perron at ground floor reached by cut limestone curving staircases with cast-iron railings.

An elegant classically-proportioned building, the house retains much of its original character and form, and remains substantially intact within its demesne. The site is historically and socially important as the seat of the O’Dwyer family, who were dispossessed during the era of Cromwellian confiscation, and subsequently the Maude family, who built this house. The Maudes rose to great eminence attaining ranks of Viscounts Hawarden and Earls of Montalt. As principal landowners in the area, they were generous benefactors of Dundrum village in the mid-nineteenth century.

9. Lissanisky House, County Tipperary

https://www.lissaniskyhouse.com/

Lissanisky House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us:

Lissanisky House is a listed Irish Georgian country house just outside Nenagh in Tipperary, Ireland. Built in approx. 1770 on the site of the 12th century O’Meara castle, it boasts a pedimented breakfront, five bays and three storeys over the basement. It is also renowned for its glorious cobweb fanlight above the front door. It was once a huge estate, but this was carved up by the land commission and now retains 10 acres of the original grounds, including the Victorian walled garden. ​The trees planted in the walled garden are still producing the tastiest apples, pears, quinces, plums and hazelnuts. If you’re around at the right time, you’ll get to enjoy one of our scrumptious homemade apple and toffee puddings with fresh cream. Delicious!

The house itself is full of history, with some interesting previous owners, like Dr Barry O’Meara, Napoleon’s doctor in St Helena and author of the definitive book on Napoleon, ‘Napoleon in Exile’; The Hon Otway Fortescue Graham-Toler, son of the second Earl of Norbury and relation of John Toler, the infamous ‘hanging judge’ and R Smithwick who is believed to be of the Kilkenny brewing family. We also recently discovered that former owners, the Cleeve family, were related to a member of the Guinness brewing family via the matriarch Heath Otway Waller of Priory Park.

THE FUTURE

We fell in love with Lissanisky House and made it our joint life goal to ensure that it would be restored to its full potential and secure it for future generations. By staying with us in our bed and breakfast or celebrating your wedding here, you are helping to fund all future restoration work to the house and outbuildings, making a huge contribution to the preservation of such an important building.

10. Hotel Minella, Clonmel, County Tipperary

Hotel Minella, Clonmel Co Tipperary, photograph Courtesy Tipperary County Council 2022.

https://www.hotelminella.com

The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey over basement country house with three-bay entrance breakfront, three-bay side elevations and having bowed end bays to rear, built 1863. Now in use as hotel, with later three-bay flat-roofed porch. Built for the Malcolmson family by J.S Mulvany, this neo-classical house is located on a fine site on the banks of the River Suir. Its form is enhanced by well-crafted decoration such as the window surrounds, balustrade and channelling and by the retention of features such as the timber sash windows and timber panelled door. It forms a group with the similarly executed gate lodge and well-crafted boundary walls and piers.

11. Raheen House Hotel, Clonmel, County Tipperary €€

https://www.raheenhouse.ie/

Raheen House Hotel is one of the leading hotels in the vibrant town of Clonmel, County Tipperary. This captivating hotel, with a history dating back to the 17th century, offers visitors the opportunity to relax and luxuriate in exquisite surroundings.

The Hotel offers 15 elegant bedrooms within the tranquillity of its own 3.5 acre gardens. The refinement extends throughout the whole house; have a drink in front of the open fire in the bar, take afternoon tea in the sumptuous Drawing Room or enjoy a delicious formal dinner in our restaurant.”

The tranquil atmosphere at present day Raheen House Hotel belies a turbulent and violent history that spans over nine centuries.The annals of the area stretches from the early thirteenth century to modern day times whilst the house can be chronicled to the middle of the 17th century.

The earliest grantee of the land was William Fitz Adelm, Lord Lieutenant under King Henry the Second, who was granted the “Golden Vale from Cashel to Limerick and the alluvial districts from Clonmel to Carrick in 1220. His property then passed to his son Baron de Burgh [Richard, died abt. 1243], who is largely responsible for founding the town of Clonmel and whose descendants retained commercial interests in the town for generations.

Political upheaval over the intervening years meant that by 1650 ownership of the land was with the Earl of Ormond. It is in connection with the Earl that we find one of the earliest mentions of the name Raheen, though it was spelled “Rahines” during this time. The name is thought to mean ” Little Fort” a combination of “Rath” being fort and the diminutive “een”.

As Ireland was a subject of Great Britain, any political changes there were reflected here, thus, when the monarchy was overthrown, with the execution of King Charles the First, and Cromwell came to power this had a dramatic affect on the history of Raheen. It is thought that it was during the rule of Cromwell that the original Raheen House was built. It is believed that Col Solomon Richards [1636-1691] was the builder of the first house, which still stands today and shows many architectural features of that era. It is estimated that the house was built between 1652 -1654.

Col Richards was a prominent member in Cromwell’s army and sat on his War Council. He was appointed Commissioner of Revenue at Clonmel on December 25th 1652. By April 1655 he was appointed Governor of Clonmel. He operated out of Raheen House in his role of Revenue Commissioner. A daughter of Colonel Richards, Elizabeth, went on to marry Capt. Samuel Foley who had a registered interest in the property of the Revenue Commissioners. Indeed, one of his own grandchildren, Charles Blount held the office of Revenue Commissioner under the reign of King Charles the Second. The descendants of Colonel Solomon Richards produced branches of the Foley, Oliver and Dominick families. In fact his great, great, granddaughter, Elizabeth Dominick became Lady St. George, a peer of the Realm when her husband, St.George Ussher was named Baron St.George in 1773 by King George the Third. It is this king who purchased present day Buckingham Palace.

The Georgian addition to Raheen House was constructed in the early 1840’s and as was common practise at the time it was built adjoining the original Cromwellian structure. The 19th century owners of the house, the Greer family put the house for sale in 1878 for £55 when the legal owner, William Greer, was declared insane.

Another military element was again associated with Raheen House when Col E George Cobden took ownership of the house. As nobility, the Colonel was part of the ruling class in post-famine Clonmel and he was an Ex-Officio Guardian on the Board of Guardians for the Union (workhouse) as well as a Magistrate.

Trouble came to Raheen House in July 1914 due to Cobden’s connection with the house. His son George E Cobden, Jnr, was one of the officers at the Bachelors Walk massacre in Dublin where three people were killed and 38 injured. It is thought he was the officer who gave the order that resulted in these deaths. Nationwide outrage at the slaughter was mirrored locally and an angry mob descended on Raheen House, still home to Cobden Snr, where a violent riot erupted. Fortunately, there were no deaths as a result of the incident.

In more recent times Raheen House was the home of Clonmel senator, Denis E Burke, a Fine Gael politician who held two terms in the 1960’s. The public park opposite Raheen House was named after the late politician.

The current owners, Elizabeth and John Day, purchased the house in 1988 from the Burke family. After raising their three daughters, Catherine, Lois and Orla, in the house they decided, in 1996, to establish Raheen House as a hotel. The house, including the gate lodge at the entrance, opened its doors as a hotel to the delight of the public. The hotel underwent an extensive re-vamp of both the interior décor and the grounds in 2014, and rightly holds the position of one of the finest manor hotels in Ireland.”

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

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

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

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

Whole house rental County Tipperary

1. Bansha Castle, County Tipperarywhole house rental €€€ for 2; € for 7-16

Bansha Castle, County Tipperary by Kerry Kissane 2021 for Tourism Ireland (see [2]).

https://www.banshacastle.com

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

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

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

It tells us of the history also:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Clonacody House, County Tipperary – whole house

https://www.clonacodyhouse.com/home

Clonacody has six spacious bedrooms, all boasting genuine antique interiors. Expect the good-old fashioned hospitality of the bygone days, curious family history, artwork and photographs to pour over. Curl up on our squishy sofas with a good book while enjoying an open fire on our ground floor, or have a bath beside an open window taking in the glorious surrounding views of Co. Tipperary’s mountains for endless relaxation. All include quality bedlinen, towels and toiletries.

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

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

https://www.cloughjordanhouse.com/accommodation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.inchhouse.ie

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

The website tells us:

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

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

Inch House was built in 1720 by John Ryan [1692-1723] on the site of a previous structure. John, who had inherited extensive lands from his father, Daniel, married Frances Mary Mathew of Thurles in 1723. Frances was daughter of George Mathew, and granddaughter of Lady Thurles (1587-1673), formerly Elizabeth Poyntz.

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

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

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

6. Kilshane, Tipperary, Co Tipperary – whole house rental for weddings.

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

https://www.kilshanehouse.ie

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

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

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

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

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

Lisheen Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

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

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

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

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

9. Lismacue House, Bansha, Co. Tipperary – section 482, whole house rental, up to 10 people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The website tells us more about the history:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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

Russborough House, Blessington, County Wicklow

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

contact: Eric Blachford
Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open in 2022: Jan 1-Dec 24, 10am-5pm,
Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €8, child €6, parking €3 per car

Russborough House, Photograph taken in June 2012 on a visit with my friends Tara and Jeremy and their daughters.
Photo by Jeremy Hylton.

In his A Guide to Irish Country Houses, Mark Bence-Jones calls Russborough House “arguably the most beautiful house in Ireland.” [1] We are lucky that Russborough House is open to the public, thanks to the Beit Foundation. Sir Alfred and Lady Clementine Beit left the property to the state in 1978, to be cared for by a Trust established for the purpose. The Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne tells us about the Beits: “The couple had no immediate connection with Ireland, although Lady Beit’s maternal grandmother had been raised in this country and being a Mitford, she was first cousin of the Hon Desmond Guinness’s mother.” [2]

Russborough House was built for Joseph Leeson in 1741 when he inherited a fortune from his father and purchased land owned by John Graydon, and it was designed by Richard Castle.

Joseph Leeson (1701-1783), painted by Anthony Lee. Portrait from the National Gallery of Ireland. Later he was created 1st Earl of Milltown.
Joseph Leeson later 1st Earl of Milltown, by Pompeo Batona, 1744. While building Russborough House he made the first of two trips to Italy to broaden his education and to acquire art. Batoni depicted him wearing a fur hat and fur-lined surcoat, in front of a cascading curtain and column base.

Leeson went to great expense creating the grounds for the building of his house: “Leeson’s development of the garden terraces was extravagant. The house gained its fine prominence from sitting on an embankment created by the opening of the lakes and ponds, all reputedly costing some £30,000.” [3]

photograph by Jeremy Hylton.

We came across Richard Castle (c.1690-1751) (or Cassels, as his name is sometimes spelled) in Powerscourt in County Wicklow. The Dictionary of Irish Architects tells us that, oddly, he was born David Riccardo, and it is not known when or why he changed his name. [4]

Castle originally trained as an engineer. He worked in London, where he was influenced by Lord Burlington. Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, is credited with bringing the Palladian style of architecture to Britain and Ireland, after Grand Tours to Europe. [5] Palladian architecture is a style derived from the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Palladio’s work was strongly based on the symmetry, perspective, and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Castle came to the attention of Sir Gustavus Hume of County Fermanagh, who invited Castle to Ireland in 1728 to build him a home on the shores of Lough Erne, Castle Hume, which unfortunately no longer exists. [6] Castle was an contemporary of Edward Lovett Pearce, and early in his career in Dublin worked with him on the Houses of Parliament in Dublin. Both Lovett Pearce and Castle favoured the Palladian style, and when Lovett Pearce died at the tragically young age of 34, in 1733, Castle took over all of Lovett Pearce’s commissions.

The Dictionary of Irish Architects gives us a flavour of what Castle was like as a person:

According to the short biography in Anthologia Hibernica for October 1793, Castle was a man of integrity, of amiable though somewhat eccentric manners, kept poor by his improvidence and long afflicted by gout resulting from intemperance and late hours. The same source states that he often pulled down those of his works which were not to his liking, ‘and whenever he came to inspect them … required the attendance of all the artificers who followed him in a long train’.

Castle began work on Powerscourt House in County Wicklow in 1730, finishing in 1741. He also began work on Westport House in County Mayo in 1730. He worked on Carton House, in County Kildare, which is now an upmarket hotel, from 1739-1744. In Dublin City he built Tyrone House (which now houses the Department of Education) for Marcus Beresford, Earl of Tyrone (we came across him at Curraghmore in County Waterford) [7]. He designed and built the hunting lodge called Belvedere in County Westmeath around 1740, and began to work on Russborough House around 1742. He was still working on Russborough House when he died suddenly, while at Carton House, in 1751, while writing a letter to a carpenter employed at Leinster House (begun in 1745 for James FitzGerald, the 20th Earl of Kildare, the house was at initially called Kildare House, and now houses the government in Dublin). Desmond FitzGerald, the Knight of Glin, wrote about Richard Castle and his work, and attributes another section 482 property to him which I have yet to visit, Strokestown House in County Roscommon. FitzGerald attributes many more buildings to Castle. [8]

Joseph Leeson (1711-1783) was the grandson of Hugh Leeson, who came to Ireland from England as a military officer in 1680, and settled in Dublin as a successful brewer. Hugh married Rebecca, daughter of Dublin Alderman Richard Tighe. Joseph inherited the brewing fortune from his father, another Joseph, who had married the daughter, Alice, of a Dublin Alderman and Sheriff, Andrew Brice. Young Joseph Leeson entered politics and from 1743 sat in the House of Commons. By this time, he had already married, been widowed by his first wife, Cecelia Leigh, remarried, to Anne Preston (daughter of Nathaniel Preston, ancestor of the owners of a house we have visited, Swainstown in County Meath – which was built later than the start date of Russborough, in 1750, and which Richard Castle may also have designed), and inherited his fortune from his brewer father, and started building Russborough House. He was raised to the peerage first as Baron Russborough in 1756, and as Earl of Milltown in 1763.

Cecilia Leeson (born Leigh) (d.1737) Date 1735-1737 by Anthony Lee, Irish, fl.1724-1767. First wife of Joseph Leeson. Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland.
photo taken by Jeremy Hylton, showing the extent of the centre block with the curving Doric colonnades and two-storey seven bay wings. Beyond the wings on either side of the central block, one can see the arches with cupolas. The full stretch contains kitchen and stable wings.

The entrance front of Russborough stretches for over 700 feet, reputedly the longest house in Ireland, consisting of a seven bay centre block of two storeys over a basement, joined by curving Doric colonnades to wings of two storeys and seven bays which are themselves linked to further outbuildings by walls with rusticated arches surmounted by cupolas. In this structure, Russborough is rather like Powerscourt nearby in Wicklow, and like Powerscourt, it is approached from the side.

Photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, showing wing to the right of the house.
photograph taken in May 2018 – the weather makes a different to the look of the house! The roofline is topped with urns on the parapet.
The lions at the foot of the entrance steps carry the heraldic shield of the Milltowns, which must have been put in place after 1763 when Joseph Leeson was promoted to be Earl of Milltown. Photo by Jeremy Hylton.

The residential part of the house is quite small, and is entirely housed in the central block. Of seven bays across, it houses three rooms along its front. It is made of local granite from Golden Hill quarry rather than the more expensive Portland stone often imported from Britain. In Sean O’Reilly’s discussion of the house in his Irish Houses and Gardens (from Country Life), he explains the styles used on the facade of the house:

the different functions of the building’s elements are appropriately distinguished though Castle’s frank, if unsubtle, use of the orders: Corinthian for the residence, Doric for the colonnades, Ionic for the advancing wings, and a robust astylar threatment for the ranges beyond.” [9]

the “rusticated” arch that gives entrance to a courtyard, and is topped by a cupola. Rustication – the use of stone blocks with recessed joints and often with rough or specially treated faces; a treatment generally confined to the basement or lower part of a building [10].

The main central block has a pediment on four Corinthian columns, with swags between the capitals of the columns. Above the entrance door is a semi-circular fanlight window.

Photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, of pediment on four Corinthian columns.
photograph by Jeremy Hylton of central block.
Wing in foreground, with Ionic pilasters, and urns on the parapet.
photograph by Jeremy Hylton, wing on left.

The wings have a central breakfront of three bays with Ionic pilasters. Within the colonnades are niches with Classical statues.

colonnade with niches containing Classical statues, photograph by Jeremy Hylton.

The garden front of the centre block has a few urns on the parapet, and a pair of Corinthian columns with an entablature framing a window-style door in the lower storey which opens onto broad balustraded stone steps down to the garden.

Inside, we see Castle’s difference from Edward Lovett Pearce, in his fondness for the Baroque, which is described in wikipedia:

“The Baroque style used contrast, movement, exuberant detail, deep colour, grandeur and surprise to achieve a sense of awe. The style began at the start of the 17th century in Rome, then spread rapidly to France, northern Italy, Spain and Portugal, then to Austria, southern Germany and Russia…excess of ornamentation…The classical repertoire is crowded, dense, overlapping, loaded, in order to provoke shock effects.”

The Baroque effect is most obvious in the wonderful plasterwork. The plasterwork may be by the Francini brothers – it is not definite who carried it out but the Francini brothers certainly seem to have had a hand in some of the beautiful stucco work.

entrance hall of Russborough House.
entrance hall of Russborough House with chimneypiece is of black Kilkenny marble, above it hangs a striking painting by Oudry of Indian Blackbuck with Pointers and Still Life, dated 1745

In his book, Big Irish Houses, Terence Reeves-Smyth describes the entrance hall:

Ascending the broad flight of granite steps guarded by a pair of carved lions, the visitor enters the front hall – a well-proportioned room with a floor of polished oak and an ornate but severe compartmental ceiling with Doric frieze quite similar to the one Castle deigned for Leinster House. The monumental chimneypiece is of black Kilkenny marble, much favoured by Castle for entrance halls, while above it hangs a striking painting by Oudry of Indian Blackbuck with Pointers and Still Life, dated 1745.” [11]

The principal reception rooms lead from one to the other around the central block: the saloon, drawing-room, dining-room, tapestry room and the grand staircase. They retain their original doorcases with carved architraves of West Indian mahogany, marble chimneypieces and floors of inlaid parquetry.

The house took ten years to complete, and development of the house followed Leeson’s trips to Europe, where he bought items to populate his house. In 1744 and in 1751 he travelled to Rome and purchased extensive Roman materials, as well as many artworks. He had his portrait painted by Pompeo Batoni, and was aided in his purchases by dealers including an Irishman named Robert Wood. A book details his collection, as well as later owners of Russborough, Russborough: A Great Irish House, its Families and Collections by William Laffan and Kevin V Mulligan.

Richard Castle died while the house was still being built, and the work was taken over by his associate, Francis Bindon.

The Saloon, Russborough House 2018, Rubens painting over fireplace, large picture on back wall is Cain and Abel.

The Saloon occupies the three central bays of the north front of the house. It has a coved ceiling with rococo plasterwork incorporating flowers, garlands, swags and putti bearing emblems of the Seasons and the Elements, which on stylistic grounds can be attributed to the Francini brothers of Italy. [Rococo is the asymmetrical freely-modelled style of decoration originating in France and popular in Ireland from about 1750 to 1775. Craig, Maurice and Knight of Glin, Ireland Observed, A Handbook to the Buildings and Antiquities. Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork, 1970].  Terence Reeves-Smyth describes the room:

The walls are covered with a crimson cut Genoese velvet dating from around 1840 – an ideal background for paintings which include many pictures from the Beit collection. The room also has Louis XVI furniture in Gobelins tapestry signed by Pluvinet, a pair of Japanese lacquer cabinets from Harewood House and a chimney-piece identical to one at Uppark in Sussex, which must be the work of Thomas Carter (the younger) of London.

“A striking feature of the room is the inlaid sprung mahogany floor with a central star in satinwood. This was covered with a green baize drugget when the house was occupied by rebels during the 1798 rebellion. The potential of the drugget for making four fine flags was considered but rejected, lest “their brogues might ruin his Lordship’s floor.” The rebels, in fact, did virtually no damage to the house during their stay, although the government forces who occupied the building afterwards were considerably less sympathetic. It is said that the troops only left in 1801 after a furious Lord Milltown challenged Lord Tyrawley to a duel “with blunderbusses and slugs in a sawpit.” [11]

Next to the Saloon is the music room with another wonderful rococo ceiling, and then the library, which was formerly the dining room, both have ceilings probably by the Francini brothers. There aren’t records to tell us who created the stucco work of the house, and stylistically different parts of the house have been done by different hands.

Russborough House 2018, the music room. The last portrait to the right on the wall is Lord Conolly of Castletown House. The Russborough House website tells us: “When the Beits’ art collection was stolen, Sir Alfred had many copies of the paintings made. This room showcases the replicas of the oil paintings that were infamously stolen in the 1970s and 1980s. The originals of these paintings were gifted to the National Gallery of Ireland in the 1980s for safekeeping, where they can now be seen.
Visitors can learn more about the robberies at Russborough and how most of the paintings were recovered. The exhibition also includes Sir Alfred in an interview with broadcasting legend Gay Byrne, talking about the pictures and furniture contained in the house.
the ebullient rococo ceiling in the Music Room, probably the work of the Francini brothers.
The Library, Russborough House 2018
Russborough House 2018 Lady Beit’s grandmother, Mabell, Countess of Airlie, by John Lavery.

Reeves-Smyth writes that:

The coffered and richly decorated barrel-vaulted ceiling of the tapestry room, to the south of the music room, is by a less experienced artist, though the room is no less impressive than the others and contains an English state bed made in London in 1795 and two Soho tapestries of Moghul subjects by Vanderbank.

The Tapestry Room, Russborough House 2018
The Tapestry Room, Russborough House 2018

The Russborough website states:

Infused with a restless energy the plasterwork of the adjacent drawing-room spills onto the walls, where fantastic plaster frames surround the four oval marine scenes by Vernet representing morning, noon, evening and night. Although part of the patrimony of the house, these pictures were sold in 1926 and only after a determined search were recovered 43 years later by Sir Alfred Beit. [12]

Stucco specially designed to frame the oval Joseph Vernet paintings. Carrera marble fireplace.
The Drawing Room, 2018, small painting next to the fireplace of the Beits by Derek Hill
unusual timepiece clock from time of Louis XVIth

Reeves-Smyth continues his evocative description:

Beyond lies the boudoir, a charming little panelled apartment with a Bossi chimney-piece dating around 1780. From here visitors pass into the tapestry-hung corridor leading to the pavilion, formerly the bachelor’s quarters. The dining-room, formerly the library, on the opposite side of the hall has a monumental Irish chimney-piece of mottled grey Sicilian marble. The walls are ornamented both by paintings from the Beit collection and two magnificent Louis XIV tapestries.” [11]

The dining room, with a monumental Irish chimneypiece of mottle grey Sicilian marble. The walls are ornamented with two magnificent Louis XIV tapestries.

Reeves-Smyth goes on to say that “No one who visits Russborough is likely to forget the staircase with its extraordinary riot of exuberant plasterwork; there is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the British Isles.

In later years the decorator Mr. Sibthorpe is reported to have remarked that it represented “the ravings of a maniac,” adding that he was “afraid the madman was Irish.”

Nobody knows who did the wonderful stuccowork in the staircase hall. The stairs are of mahogany.

Sean O’Reilly tells us that the Knight of Glin pointed out that Castle “cribbed the idea of the balustraded upper landing lit by a lantern window at Russborough from Pearce’s superb Palladian villa of Bellamont Forest, Co Cavan, built circa 1730 for his uncle Lord Justice Coote (and recently immaculately restored by the designer John Coote from Australia)”. Sadly since this was written, John Coote has died. I did not take a photograph of the upper landing, but you can see it on the Russborough website or better yet, during a visit to the house. The rooms off the this top-lit lobby would have been the bedrooms.

Joseph the 1st Earl of Milltown died in 1783, and his bachelor son Joseph succeeded to the peerages and to Russborough. The first Earl’s third wife and widow, Elizabeth French, lived on to a very great age until 1842.

Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown with his Third Wife Elizabeth, their Daughter Cecilia and his Grandson Joseph, later 3rd Earl of Milltown Date c.1772 after Pompeo Batoni. Photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.
Joseph Leeson, later 2nd Earl of Milltown (1730-1801) Date 1751 by Pompeo Batoni, Italian, 1708-1787, photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland.

When the 2nd Earl of Milltown died in 1801, his brother Brice succeeded to Russborough and to the title to become the 3rd Earl of Milltown. The 1st Earl’s children married very well: Mary, his daughter by his first wife Cecelia Leigh married John Bourke, the 2nd Earl of Mayo; his daughter Frances Arabella by his third wife married Marcus de la Poer Beresford, son of John the 1st Marquess of Waterford (of Curraghmore House, which we visited, another section 482 property); his daughter Cecelia married Colonel David la Touche, son of David La Touche of Marley Park in Dublin.

Russborough remained in the possession of the Earls of Milltown until after the 6th Earl’s decease – the 5th, 6th and 7th Earls of Milltown were all sons of the 4th Earl of Milltown. The 6th Earl’s widow, the former Lady Geraldine Stanhope, lived on at Russborough until 1914. The family collection of pictures in the house was given by Lady Geraldine to the National Gallery of Ireland, in 1902 (the Milltown wing was thus created in the National Gallery). [13] On the death of Lady Milltown in 1914, it passed to a nephew, Sir Edmund Turton (the son of the 4th Earl’s daughter Cecelia), who rarely stayed there, as he lived in Yorkshire and was an MP in the British Parliament. After Turton’s death in 1928, his widow sold the house to Captain Denis Bowes Daly (of the Dalys of Dunsandle, County Galway – now a ruin) in 1931.

Alfred Beit, heir to a fortune made in gold and diamond mining by his uncle in South Africa, saw Russborough in an article in Country Life in 1837.  He was so impressed that he had the dining room chimneypiece copied for a chimney in his library in his home in Kensington Palace Gardens in London. [see 13] In 1952 he bought Russborough from Captain Daly to house his art collection and in 1976 established the Alfred Beit Foundation to manage the property. The foundation opened the historic mansion and its collections to the Irish public in 1978.

Sir Alfred died in 1994 but Lady Beit remained in residence until her death in 2005. [14] The Beits donated their art collection the National Gallery of Ireland in 1986, and a wing was dedicated to the Beits.

Russborough House is now a destination for all the family. Inside, rooms have been filled with information about the Beits, their life and times. They entertained many famous friends, travelled the world, and collected music, photographs and films, all now on display.

various visitors and friends of the Beits.

The Russborough website tells us: “In 1939 Sir Alfred joined the Royal Air Force. In this room, extracts can be heard from some of the many romantic letters that Sir Alfred Beit wrote to his wife during the Second World War.”

Russborough House 2018

“The exhibition includes a short film that starts in 2D and then moves to the third dimension. We display 3D images taken by Sir Alfred on his world travels in the 1920s and 1930s.

“This private auditorium is arguably one of the most interesting rooms in the house, and was created by Sir Alfred himself when he bought Russborough so that he could share his adventures with friends and enjoy movies on the silver screen. 

“Visitors can also sit and watch fascinating footage from around the world in the glamorous 1920s at the touch of a button.”

Outside near the former riding arena, hedges have been shaped into a maze.

photo by Jeremy Hylton, 2012.
photo by Jeremy Hylton, 2012, the former riding arena.
woods at Russborough House 2018
woods at Russborough House 2018
“Thank you for visiting Russborough House. ” Classical gate at the eastern entrance to Russborough, built in 1745 to designs by Richard Castle.

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

[2] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/05/11/of-russborough-and-its-predicament/

[3] p. 85. O’Reilly, Sean. Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of Country Life. Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1998.

[4] https://www.dia.ie/architects/view/347/CASTLE,+RICHARD

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Boyle,_3rd_Earl_of_Burlington

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Cassels

[7] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/50010221/tyrone-house-department-of-education-marlborough-street-dublin-1-dublin-city

[8] https://www.dia.ie/architects/view/347/CASTLE,+RICHARD#tab_works

[9] p. 85. O’Reilly, Sean. Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of Country Life. Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1998.

[10] https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/18/architectural-definitions/

[11] Reeves-Smyth, Terence. Big Irish Houses. Appletree Press Ltd, The Old Potato Station, 14 Howard Street South, Belfast BT7 1AP. 2009

[12] http://www.russborough.ie/

Note that the website has changed since I first wrote the blog and some quotations from the website are no longer on the site.

[13] p. 147. Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh and Christopher Simon Sykes. Great Houses of Ireland. Laurence King Publishing, 1999.

[14] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Wicklow%20Landowners?updated-max=2018-01-05T08:13:00Z&max-results=20&start=8&by-date=false

Altidore Castle, Kilpeddar, Greystones, County Wicklow

contact: Philip Emmet
Tel: 087-7601369
Open in 2022: 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.

Altidore Castle, a seven bay, two storey over basement house.
Beautiful wrought iron gates at the entrance to the farm, and square panelled pillars.

Stephen and I visited Altidore Castle on a grey Saturday, June 1st 2019. I contacted Philip Emmet beforehand and he suggested we come at 3pm for a tour of the house. Philip Emmet is a descendent of the family of the Irish rebel Robert Emmet, who was hung for treason in 1803. We arrived early and Philip’s wife Vicky suggested we look around the gardens until the other couple who were coming for the tour arrived. We had spied a pond to our left on our way up the long driveway, and there were stone steps up from the driveway across from the front of the house to a large rectangle of a lawn, edged by huge rhododendrons, so we headed off to explore.

We only had about fifteen minutes, so after looking at the lawn above, we went down toward the pond and the gardens directly outside the house. We found a lovely sunken garden with two lions guarding it, containing a “wishing well.”

Steps down to the sunken garden.
Lions flank the steps to the sunken garden.
Stephen at the wishing well. I could not make out what was on the top of the well.
The well has Corinthian columns and a crest on top with two heads, and a cast iron embellishment.

We walked around the back, I was conscious that we could look in the windows and not wanting to disturb or pry, I carefully kept my back to the windows and gazed at the impressive view of the wide valley below. What a view!

We headed back to the front of the house then. It is a most odd-looking home. It’s quite small but has imposing castellations. This must be why it is called a “toy fort” (by Mark Bence-Jones) or a “toy castle” (National Inventory of Historic Architecture).

Mark Bence-Jones describes it in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses [1]:

A charming late-Georgian “toy fort,” with four octagonal corner turrets; of two storeys on the entrance side and three on the other sides, where the ground falls away. Despite the battlements on the turrets, the house is more Classical than Gothic; it is symmetrical and has a central Venetian window over a pillared porch.

The Venetian (tripartite) window over a single-storey pillared porch.
The back of the house is three storeys whereas the front is two, due to the slope of the ground. The basement forms the ground floor in the back.

The house was built for General Thomas Pearce around 1730. It may have been designed by his nephew, Edward Lovett Pearce. General Thomas Pearce (ca. 1670-1739) was a British Army officer, a privy councillor and member of Parliament. He was appointed to Ireland in 1715, ultimately becoming General of His Majesty’s Forces in Ireland. He represented Limerick in Parliament from 1727 until his death. He married Mary daughter of William Hewes of Wrexham, and they had three sons and two daughters. His daughter Anne married her first cousin, Edward Lovett Pearce. [2]

Edward Lovett Pearce was a young Irish architect, born in 1699. He favoured the Palladian style of architecture and studied initially under his cousin the English Baroque architect John Vanbrugh. Lovett Pearce is best known for his work on Castletown House and the Irish Houses of Parliament, which later became the Bank of Ireland on College Green in Dublin. In Italy he met the Florentine architect Alessandro Galilei who was making plans for Castletown. Pearce seems to have taken over the work on Castletown based on Galilei’s plans.

Pearce was also commissioned by his uncle-in-law Thomas Coote (Coote married Edward Lovett Pearce’s aunt Anne Lovett – she was Thomas Coote’s third wife) to build Bellamont House in Cootehill, County Cavan (around 1730). He also designed two houses on Henrietta Street in Dublin, including number 9, for his cousin Mrs. Thomas Carter, and he designed Summerhill, County Meath. He died of an abscess at the young age of 34 in his home The Grove in Stillorgan, Dublin, and is buried in St. Mary’s Graveyard, now a closed graveyard in Donnybrook, which I was lucky enough to see in a tour a couple of years ago.

Archway from the sunken garden to the back of the house.

We followed the other couple in through the porch to meet Philip Emmet, who welcomed us. We stepped into a large, high ceilinged hall, hung with impressive tapestries. These, Philip told us, were copies of tapestries which Louis XIV may have had. There was a set of tapestries with an Oriental tone, meant to be from China but with a mish-mash of European features, Indian and Chinese elements, with a pagoda in the background and picturing the Empress and Emperor in separate tapestries, sitting under tented pavilions tended by their servants and courtiers. One of the tapestries is in the drawing room, along with some other intricate mounted tapestries, as it couldn’t fit in the hall.

The inside of the front hall and staircase is odd as the windows don’t look as if they fit the plans, or else the staircase has been moved. Philip does not know a lot about the background of the house. The Irish Historic Houses website states that Altidore was enlarged and modified for a subsequent owner, Major Henry Brownrigg. [3] We did not go upstairs, but Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the staircase is “of stout but elegant joinery with a scrolled end to its balusters.”

By 1773 the house was owned by Reverend William Blachford, Librarian of Marsh’s Library in Dublin. Philip has a portrait of Reverend Blachford’s daughter Mary Tighe, a poet who was famous in her time and was grouped with the Romantic writers Byron and the revolutionary Mary Wollestonecraft. The poet John Keats admired her work. I must borrow her book, Psyche or the Legend of Love from the library!

Mary Tighe (1747-1791), Poet by George Romney, English, 1734-1802, courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.

Mary, nee Blachford, had a severely religious upbringing. William Blachford died in 1773 leaving his wife Theodosia (daughter of William Tighe of Rossana, County Wicklow), a son John and daughter Mary. Theodosia converted to Methodism, founded by John Wesley, [4] and was involved in many charitable works including supporting the Leeson Street Magdalen Asylum for unmarried mothers, and the Female Orphan House on Prussia Street in Dublin. Mary married, at the young age of 21, her cousin Henry Tighe, who served as an MP in the Irish Parliament representing Inistioge, County Kilkenny. She lived her final months as an invalid in her brother-in-law William Tighe’s estate, Woodstock in County Kilkenny (the house is now a ruin but the gardens are open to the public), where she died of tuberculosis at the age of 37. A marble statue of her carved by Tuscan Lorenzo Bartolini, commissioned by her son after her death, stood in the hall of Woodstock before the house was burnt in 1922. However, there is another life-size sculpture of her by English sculptor John Flaxman in her mausoleum in the graveyard attached to the former Augustinian priory in Inistioge, County Kilkenny. [5]

Mary Blachford Tighe (1772-1810) as sculpted by Lorenzo Bartolini ca. 1820, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons. Note that although the original statue was destroyed in the fire at Woodstock House, the plaster orginial of Lorenzo’s statue of Mary Tighe is in the Museo de l’academica in Florence!
Woodstock, County Kilkenny, where Mary Tighe spent her final years.

Reverend Blachford’s son John inherited Altidore and lived there with his wife Mary Anne, daughter of Henry Grattan MP, from nearby Tinnehinch [6].

There was another fascinating portrait in one of the beautifully decorated rooms, this time of an Indian military man, who was a servant of an ancestor of Philip’s wife. This ancestor, named Dennehy, worked in India under Queen Victoria, and introduced Victoria to Indian servants – and through him she met her beloved Indian servant, about whom, and their relationship, there was a movie a few years ago, “Victoria and Abdul”! Philip’s wife was in Osbourne, Victoria’s home on the Isle of Wight, and noticed that there is a series of these pictures, matching her own, of Queen Victoria’s other Indian servants. Stephen and I also loved the tv series about young Victoria.

The most fascinating piece of furniture in the house was Lord Cornwallis’s travelling trunk from his time in the War of Independence in America. When he lost the War of Independence he surrendered the trunk to Washington. It is suitable that the family of someone who would have supported the rebel colonists – i.e. Robert Emmet – ended up with the trunk! It’s like a chest of drawers, and has wonderful compartments – one holds his shaving bowl, another is a board which can be pulled out to be a desk surface, another has cubbies for his toiletries. In a bottom drawer is a discreet commode!

Before the Emmets purchased the house in 1944, the Dopping-Hempenstals owned the house, from 1834 – 1918. They owned extensive lands in County Wicklow. They rarely lived in Altidore and instead, leased it out. At one stage it housed a tuberculosis sanatorium. According to the Irish Historic Houses website, Altidore changed hands many times over the next decades and was owned by two different banks on separate occasions. Finally, in 1945, James Albert Garland Emmet (who went by “Garland”) purchased the house on three hundred acres from Percy Burton, a bachelor. The Emmets carried out extensive restoration and created a large new garden, centred on a pair of canals from the early 18th century garden layout. These are the bodies of water we saw on the way in. The present owners, Philip (grandson of Garland Emmet) and his wife Vicky, have farmed the estate organically for nearly 20 years.

One of the “canals.”

We moved from the drawing rooms to the dining room. The walls are adorned with fine medallions of Classical figures in stucco relief. They were uncovered when the walls were being redone, under layers of paint and wallpaper! The Irish Aesthete writes about them, and has beautiful photographs on his website:

“One of the past year’s most fascinating personal discoveries was the dining room at Altidore Castle, County Wicklow …. Much of the interior decoration dates from that period [ca. 1730], including the dining room’s panelling. In the last quarter of the 18th century, however, additional ornamentation was added with the introduction of oval and circular plaster medallions featuring female classical deities and graces: this would have been around the period that Altidore was owned by Rev William Blachford … During the same period the interiors of nearby Mount Kennedy – designed by James Wyatt in 1772 but only built under the supervision of Thomas Cooley the following decade – was being decorated by the celebrated stuccadore Michael Stapleton. The medallions are not unlike those seen in Lucan House, County Dublin where Stapleton also worked: might he have had a hand in the plasterwork at Altidore?” [7]

Michael Stapleton (1747-1801) was a famous Irish stuccodore, known as the “Dublin Adam,” referring to the Scottish architect and interior designer Robert Adam (1728-1792), who worked in the neo-Classical style of plasterwork characterised by its delicacy and use of motifs copied from recently discovered paintings at Pompeii and Herculaneum, along with James Wyatt. [8] 

Side view of the house

Philip told us that his ancestors, the Emmets, had to leave Ireland after Robert and his brother Thomas Addis Emmet rebelled. Thomas Addis Emmet moved to the United States. Thomas Addis Emmet (1764-1827) was a lawyer and politician, from a wealthy Anglo-Irish Protestant family, and fought to end discrimination against Catholics and Protestant Dissenters such as Presbyterians. He acted as a legal advisor for the Society of United Irishmen. He tried to find a peaceful way of introducting a non-sectarian democracy to Ireland. However, the United Irishmen were declared illegal, so efforts for a peaceful Catholic emancipation were abandoned. Instead, the United Irishmen sought  independence from Britain by armed rebellion. Thomas Addis Emmet advocated waiting until the French had arrived for the rebellion, but Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798) was more impatient and decided to go ahead with the rebellion in 1798. British intelligence infiltrated the United Irishmen and arrested most of the leaders, including Thomas Addis Emmet, on the eve of their rebellion on March 12, 1798. On his release in 1802 he went to Brussels, where he was visited by his brother Robert in October that year, who informed of the preparations for a fresh rising in Ireland in conjunction with French aid. However, at that stage France and Britain were briefly at peace, and the Emmets’ pleas for help were turned down by Napoleon.

Thomas received news of the failure of Robert Emmet’s rising in July 1803 in Paris. Robert was hung for treason in front of St. Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street in Dublin on September 20th 1803. Thomas Addis then emigrated to the United States and joined the New York bar where he had lucrative practice.

DSC_0963
Memorial in front of St. Catherine’s church, Thomas Street, Dublin.
DSC_0964
Plaque in front of St. Catherine’s church, Thomas Street, Dublin.

In the United States the Emmet descendents went into, amongst other occupations, banking, and became wealthy. Philip’s great great grandfather did the European tour and became an art and object collector.

Thomas Addis Emmet’s grandson, also named Thomas Addis Emmet, visited Ireland in 1880. He hoped to move to Ireland but unfortunately he was not allowed by the government to live in Ireland, although he was a gynaecologist by profession, because it was thought that, like his ancestors, he may harbour rebellious tendencies. He requested that he be buried in Ireland so he could “rest in the land from which my family came.” Dr Emmet was interred according to his wishes, in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, in 1922. His grave marker was designed by the father and brother of the revolutionary Padraig  Pearse (they also sculpted the statues adorning St. Augustine and St. John church on Thomas Street).

It was the son of this Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet, James Garland Emmet, who returned to Ireland and purchased Altidore Castle in 1944. He set up his home as the base the Irish branch of the Emmet family and gathered objects for a collection of Emmet memorabilia. Altidore still hosts an Emmet Museum. Fascinated, Stephen lingered in the museum room and traded stories with Philip. There are lovely miniatures of the Emmet family, and a sketch of Emmet done from his time in court, by – oh, who was it? Someone famous! [9] They also have Robert Emmet’s college books, with his sketches of uniforms – he was a good artist! He was thrown out of Trinity for being a revolutionary. The house also has some artifacts from Thomas Addis Emmet, and also Robert Emmet’s final letter from prison – written not to his fiance, Sarah Curran, as Stephen and I had believed, but to a politician, to urge him to excuse himself for not anticipating the rebellion. Robert Emmet was reknown for his secrecy.

A memorial plaque in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, to the Emmet family. It tells us that this plaque is in the place which held the Emmet family vault, and that Thomas Addis Emmet MD of New York and other members of his family placed the plaque in 1908.

We wandered back out to the ponds, which are divided into three, and are part of a canal running down the mountain. We found the old walled garden – not in use currently – and looked around the farm and the beautiful old farm buildings.

Above the arch is a half-circle oculus.

[1] Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses published by Constable and Company Limited, London, 1988, previously published by Burke’s Peerage Ltd as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses, vol. 1 Ireland, 1978.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Pearce_(British_Army_officer)

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

[4] Mary Delany (1700-1788) whose letters are published, was Godmother to a musician in the Wesley family, and explains how the Methodist Wesleys were cousins of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington – who is honoured in the Wellington obelisk in the Phoenix Park.

[5] https://theirishaesthete.com/2013/05/13/of-wonderous-beauty-did-the-vision-seem/

The Irish Aesthete also notes: A new biography of Mary Tighe by Miranda O’Connell has been published by the Somerville Press.

[6] Tinnehinch was presented to Grattan, according to Mark Bence-Jones, in gratitude for  the part he played in obtaining freedom from British control in 1782. The house has been destroyed by fire but one storey of the ruin still stands and has been made into a feature of the garden of the present house, which is in the former stables.

[7] https://theirishaesthete.com/2016/01/02/getting-thoroughly-plastered/

[8] Other work by Michael Stapleton can be seen in Marlay House in Dublin, several houses in North Great George’s Street including Belvedere House, Powerscourt Townhouse, 59 South William Street, Dublin 2 and in Trinity College Dublin, especially in the Exam Hall and the Chapel. Note that Stapleton was the executor of Robert West’s will, and may have trained with Robert West. We came across Robert West’s characteristic stucco work in Colganstown.

DSC_0657 (1)
Examination Hall, Trinity College Dublin.

[9] Perhaps the artist was John Comerford, who sketched Robert Emmet during his trial, and a miniature has been made from the sketch. The miniature is now in the National Gallery.

Covid-19 lockdown, 20km limits, and Places to visit in Dublin

I have a bigger project than this section 482 houses blog. It helps, when writing about big houses, to know what is out there. So I have studied Mark Bence-Jones’s 1988 publication in great detail, A Guide to Irish Country Houses, and have conducted research with the help of the internet.

For my own interest, and I am sure many of my readers will appreciate, I am compiling a list of all of the “big house” accommodation across Ireland – finding out places to stay for when Stephen and I go on holidays, especially when we go to see the section 482 houses!

I am also discovering what other houses are open to the public. There are plenty to see which are not privately owned or part of the section 482 scheme. In fact many of the larger houses are either owned by the state, or have been converted into hotels.

This Monday, 8th June 2020, Ireland moves to the next phase of the government’s Covid-19 prevention plan, and we are allowed to travel 20km from our home, or to places within our county. Big houses won’t be open for visits, but some will be opening their gardens – already my friend Gary has been to the gardens of Ardgillan Castle for a walk. Stephen and I went there before lockdown, meeting Stephen’s cousin Nessa for a walk. The castle was closed, but we were blown away by the amazing view from the garden, and walked down to the sea.

Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, County Dublin, and its view, June 2020.
Nessa at the sea on our visit to Ardgillan Castle, June 2020.


Here is my list of houses/castles to visit in Dublin. Some are on section 482 so are private houses with very limited visting times; others are state-owned and are open most days – though not during Covid-19 restriction lockdown – they might be open from June 29th but check websites. Some have gardens which are open to the public now for a wander.

1. Airfield, Dundrum, Dublin

2. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

3. Ardgillan Castle, Dublin

4. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, DublinOPW

5. Bewley’s, 78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2 – section 482

6. Cabinteely House [formerly Clare Hill, or Marlfield], Cabinteely, Dublin 

7. The Casino at Marino, DublinOPW

8. Charlemount House, Parnell Square, Dublin – Hugh Lane gallery

9. Clonskeagh Castle, 80 Whitebean Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14  section 482

10. Colganstown House, Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublinsection 482

11. Corke Lodge Garden, Shankill, Co. Dublin section 482

12. Dalkey Castle, Dublin – heritage centre 

13. Doheny & Nesbitt, 4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 – section 482 

14. Drimnagh Castle, Dublin

15. Dublin Castle, Dublin – OPW

16. Fahanmura, 2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – section 482

17. Farm Complex, Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin – section 482

18. Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

19. Fern Hill, Stepaside, Dublin – gardens open to public

20. Georgian House Museum, 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 – virtual visit only

21. “Geragh”, Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin – section 482

22. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin

23. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, 23-27 College Green, Dublin 2 – section 482

24. Howth Castle gardens, Howth, County Dublin

25. Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum Howth Martello Tower

26. Knocknagin House, Delvin Bridge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin – section 482

27. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Co. Dublin – section 482

28. Lissen Hall, County Dublin – ihh member, check dates, May and June.

29. Malahide Castle, County Dublin

30. Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, County Dublin

31. Martello Tower, Portrane, Co. Dublin – section 482

32. Meander, Westminister Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – section 482

33. Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 

34. MOLI, Museum of Literature Ireland, Newman House, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin

35. Newbridge House, Donabate, County Dublin

36. 11 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

37. 81 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7 – section 482

38. The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station), 57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2section 482

39. The Old Glebe, Upper Main Street, Newcastle, Co. Dublin – section 482

40. Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, 59 South William Street, Dublin 2 – section 482

41. Primrose Hill, Very Top of Primrose Lane, Lucan, Co. Dublin section 482

42. Rathfarnham Castle, DublinOPW

43. Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) – OPW

44. 10 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2 Section 482

45. St. Enda’s Park and Pearse Museum, Dublin OPW

46. St. George’s, St. George’s Avenue, Killiney, Co. Dublin – section 482

47. Swords Castle, Swords, County Dublin.

48. The Church, Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

49. Tibradden House, Mutton Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16 – section 482

50. Tickknock Gardens, Ticknock Lodge, Ticknock Road, Sandyford, Dublin, Dublin 18

51. Tyrrelstown House Garden, Powerstown Road, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, D15 T6DD – gardens open

1. Airfield, Dundrum, Dublin 

https://www.airfield.ie

Situated:
Overend Way, Dundrum, D14 EE77

Access:
Car
Luas
Bike

Open: Wednesday to Sunday September – June | 9:30 am – 5 pm (last entry 4 pm)
7 days a week July & August | 9:30 am – 6 pm (last entry 5 pm)

Admission:

  • Adult €12
  • Senior/ Student/ Youth (18-25) €9
  • Children (Under 18) €6.50
  • Carers & 3 or under FREE

Guided Tour:
Group bookings five days a week by prior arrangement.

Instagram@airfieldgardens

20190410_123353
Airfield House, Dublin, April 2019.

Original home to the Overend family, today Airfield House is an interactive tour and exhibition which brings visitors closer to this admired Dublin family. Here you’ll view family photographs, letters, original clothing and display cases with information on their prize-winning Jersey herd, vintage cars and their much loved Victorian toys and books.

We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few. 

Every Wednesday through to Sunday at 11.30am and then again at 2.30pm we offer visitors guided house tours.

The name was changed from Bess Mount to Airfield circa 1836. It is a working farm, in the middle of suburban Dundrum! The house was built around 1830. [1] It was built for Thomas Mackey Scully, eldest son of James Scully of Maudlins, Co Kildare. Thomas Mackey Scully was a barrister at Law Grays Inn 1833 and called to the bar in 1847.  He was a supporter of O’Connell and a member of the Loyal National Repeal Association. In 1852 the house went into the Encumbered Estates, and was purchased by Thomas Cranfield.

The Stillorgan History and Genealogy website tells us that Thomas Cranfield married Anne Keys in 1839.   Thomas was a stationer and printer of 23 Westmorland Street. In 1847 he became the first mezzotint printer in Ireland producing copies of a works by Irish artists such as William Brocas.  He received an award from the RDS for his print from a portrait of the Earl of Clarendon.  He moved to 115 Grafton Street and received a Royal Warrant in 1850. The family moved to Airfield in 1854. Thomas was also an agent for the London Stereoscopic company and moved into photography.  He disposed of his business in 1878 to his son and his assistant George Nutter. I recently heard Brian May member of the former rock band Queen discussing his interest in stereoscopic photography, which was fascinating. I wonder has he been to Airfield? It’s a pity there is nothing about it in the house. Thomas moved to England in 1882 after the death of his son Charles. 

Thomas’s father was interesting also: the website tells us: In 1753, Dr Richard Russell published The Use of Sea Water which recommended the use of seawater for healing various diseases. Circa 1790 Richard Cranfield opened sea baths between Sandymount and Irishtown and by 1806 was also offering tepid baths. Originally called the Cranfield baths it was trading as the Tritonville baths by 1806. Richard Cranfield born circa 1731 died in 1809 at Tritonville Lodge outliving his wife by four years to whom he had been married for over 60 years. He was a sculptor and a carver of wood and had a share in the exhibition Hall in William Street which was put up for sale after his death. He was also the treasurer for the Society of Artists in Ireland.  He worked at Carton House and Trinity College. His son Richard took over the baths.

The Stillorgan History and Genealogy website continues. When the Cranfields left Airfield, it was taken over by the Jury family of the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin. William Jury born circa 1805 was a hotel proprietor. He and his second wife went to live at Tolka Park, Cabra and William became proprietor of the Imperial Hotel in Cork and in Belfast and also had an interest  ‘Jurys’ in Derry. In 1865 William, together with Charles Cotton, (brother of his wife Margaret) and Christian Goodman, (manager of the Railway Hotel in Killarney) purchased The Shelbourne from the estate of Martin Burke. They closed The Shelbourne in February 1866, purchased additional ground from the Kildare Society, and proceeded with a rebuild and reopened on 21.02.1867.  John McCurdy was the architect and Samuel Henry Bolton the builder. The four bronze figures of Assyrian muses/mutes installed at the entrance of the Shelbourne Hotel were designed by the Bronze-founders of Gustave Barbezat & CIE of France.

William’s wife Margaret took over the running of the hotel after the death of her husband. She travelled from Airfield each morning bringing fresh vegetables for use in the hotel. She left Airfield circa 1891.

Four of their sons followed into the hotel business. Their fourth son, Charles, took over the running of The Shelbourne and died on 08.08.1946 in Cheshire aged 91 years.

The Overends seem to have taken over Airfield from 1884. Trevor Thomas Letham Overend born 01.01.1847 in Portadown 3rd son of John Overend of 57 Rutland Square married Elizabeth Anne (Lily) Butler 2nd daughter of William Paul Butler and Letitia Gray of Broomville, Co Carlow. Trevor died on 08.04.1919 and Lily died on 21.01.1945, both are buried at Deansgrange.  Their daughters were left well provided for with no necessity to work and instead devoted themselves to volunteer work.

The website continues: “We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few.

Airfield Ornamental Gardens
Airfield gardens came to prominence under the leadership of Jimi Blake in the early 2000’s. Like all progressive gardens the garden in Airfield is an ever-evolving landscape. The gardens were redesigned in 2014 by internationally renowned garden designer Lady Arabella Lenox Boyd and landscape architect Dermot Foley. The colour and life you see in our gardens today are the result of the hard work and imagination of our Head Gardener Colm O’Driscoll and his team who have since put their stamp on the gardens as they continue to evolve. The gardens are managed organically and regeneratively with a focus on arts and craft style of gardening.

Espaliered trees at Airfield, April 2019.

Airfield Food Gardens
Certified organic by the Irish Organic Association this productive 2-acre garden supplies the onsite café and farmers market with fresh seasonal produce. Food production is only one element of this dynamic food garden. Education is at the core of this space. Annual crop trails, experimental crops and forward-thinking growing methods are implemented throughout the garden. Soil is at the heart of the approach to growing and and on top of being certified organic the garden is managed under “no dig” principals. These regenerative approaches result in a thriving food garden that is a hive of activity throughout the growing season.”

Gardens at Airfield, April 2019.
Gardens at Airfield, April 2019.

2. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

3. Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Dublin

https://ardgillancastle.ie

Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, February 2022.

You approach Ardgillan Castle from the back, coming from the car park, facing down to the amazing vista of Dublin bay. See my entry about Ardgillan Castle https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/10/15/places-to-visit-in-dublin-ardgillan-castle-balbriggan-county-dublin/

The Walled Garden was originally a Victorian-styled kitchen garden that used to supply the fruit, vegetables and cut ower requirements to the house. It is 1 hectare (2.27 acres) in size, and is subdivided by free standing walls into five separate compartments. The walled garden was replanted in 1992 and through the 1990’s, with each section given a different theme.

The walled garden at Ardgillan, February 2022.

The Victorian Conservatory was originally built in 1880 at Seamount, Malahide, the home of the Jameson family, who became famous for their whiskey all over the world. It was built by a Scottish glasshouse builder McKenzie & Moncur Engineering, and is reputed to be a replica of a glasshouse built at Balmoral in Scotland, the Scottish home of the British Royal Family. The conservatory was donated to Fingal County Council by the present owner of Seamount, the Treacy family and was re-located to the Ardgillan Rose Garden in the mid-1990s by park staff.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG) approached Fingal County Council in early 2014 to participate in a pilot project to develop and enhance skill sets in built heritage conservation, under the Traditional Building Skills Training Scheme 2014. The glass house/ conservatory at Ardgillan was selected as part of this project. The glass house has been completely dismantled because it had decayed to such an extent that it was structurally unstable. All parts removed as part of this process are in safe storage. This work is the first stage of a major restoration project being undertaken by the Councils own Direct Labour Crew in the Operations Department supervised by David Curley along with Fingal County Council Architects so that the glasshouse can be re-erected in the garden and can again act as a wonderful backdrop to the rose garden. This is a complex and difficult piece of work which is currently on going and we are hopeful to have the glasshouse back to its former glory as a centrepiece of the visitor offering in Ardgillan Demesne in the near future.

4. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

and

http://phoenixpark.ie/what-to-see/

Ashtown Castle, photograph from Phoenix park website.

5. Bewley’s, 78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2 – section 482

Contact: Peter O’ Callaghan
Tel 087-7179367
www.bewleys.com
Open: all year except Christmas Day, 9am-5pm Fee: Free

The Bewleys business began in 1840 as a leading tea and coffee company, started by Samuel Bewley and his son Charles, when they imported tea directly from China. Charles’s brother Joshua established the China Tea Company, the precursor to Bewleys.

The Buildings of Ireland publication on Dublin South City tells us: “Rebuilt in 1926 to designs by Miller and Symes, the playful mosaics framing the ground and mezzanine floors are indebted to the Egyptian style then in vogue following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The interior, originally modelled on the grand cafés of Europe and Oriental tearooms, was restructured in 1995 but retains a suite of six stained glass windows designed (1927) by the celebrated Harry Clarke (1889-1931). Four windows lighting the back wall of the tearoom are particularly fine and represent the four orders of architecture.

The side door of Bewleys.

Recently Paddy Bewley died, the last of the family directly involved with the running of the cafe and coffee business of Bewleys. Paddy was responsible for starting the coffee supplying end of the Bewley business.

Paddy, like those in his family before him, was a Quaker, and he lived by their ethos. The Bewley family migrated from Cumberland in England to County Offaly in 1700. Their association with coffee and tea dates back to the mid nineteenth centry, when they began to import tea from China.

The Georges Street cafe opened in 1894. The business of the cafes was created largely by Joshua Bewley’s son Ernest, with the Grafton Street branch opening in 1927, complete with the Harry Clarke stained glass windows. His three sons Victor, Alfred and Joe took over: Victor ran the business, Alfred backed the bakes and Joe ran Knocksedan farm with its prize-winning Jersey cows. It wase Ernest who imported the first Jersey cows to Ireland. I remember looking forward to the jersey cow milk when we’d visit when I was young.

In 1986 Patrick Campbell acquired the company of Bewleys, forming the Campbell Bewley Group, and Paddy Bewley continued to work for the company.

In 1996, Paddy Bewley signed up the company to purchase Fair Trade coffee only, guaranteeing that producers of coffee and their communities would be paid a good price for their beans, irrespective of market fluctuations. In 2008 the company’s roasteries and headquarters in Dublin became 100% carbon neutral. (notes from Paddy Bewley’s obituary in the Irish Times, Saturday January 8th 2022).

There has been much discussion lately about the beautiful Harry Clarke windows in the Grafton Street Bewleys – are they part of the building, or removeable art? I believe they are not actually the windows but can be removed. It is being discussed because it’s not clear who owns them. Bewleys has changed ownership and the building is not owned by the business now.

6. Cabinteely House [formerly Clare Hill, or Marlfield], Cabinteely, Dublin 

https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/heritage/heritage

There’s a terrific online tour, at https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/heritage/3d-online-tours-–-heritage-home

DSC_1142
Cabinteely House, Dublin.

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

p. 52. [Nugent, Byrne 1863, Ormsby-Hamilton sub Ormsby] A C18 house built round 3 sides of a square; with well-proportioned rooms and good decoration.  Built by what genial Irishman on the C18 English political scene, Robert, 1st and last Earl Nugent, on an estate which belonged to his brother-in-law, George Byrne, and afterwards to his nephew and political protege, Michael Byrne MP. The house was originally known as Clare Hill, Lord Nugent’s 2nd title being Viscount Clare; but it became known as Cabinteely House after being bequeathed by Lord Nugent to the Byrnes, who made it their seat in preference to the original Cabinteely House; which, having been let for a period to John Dwyer – who, confusingly, was secretary to Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon, 1st Earl of Clare – was demolished at end of C18 and a new house, known as Marlfield and afterwards a seat of the Jessop family (1912), built on the site. The new Cabinteely House (formerly Clare Hill), afterwards passed to the Ormsby-Hamilton family. In recent years, it was the home of Mr. Joseph McGrath, founder of the Irish Sweep and a well-known figure on the Turf.” 

Cabinteely House, photograph from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council website.

The National Inventory attributes it to architect Thomas Cooley. It is described as: Detached nine-bay (three-bay deep) two-storey country house, built 1769, on a quadrangular plan originally nine-bay two-storey on a U-shaped plan; six-bay two-storey parallel block (west). Sold, 1883. “Improved” producing present composition” when sold to George Pim (1801-87) of neighbouring Brenanstown House. The Inventory also lists other owners: estate having historic connections with Robert Byrne (d. 1798, a brother to above-mentioned Michael Byrne MP) and his spinster daughters Mary Clare (d. 1810), Clarinda Mary (d. 1850) and Georgina Mary (d. 1864); William Richard O’Byrne (1823-96), one-time High Sheriff of County Wicklow (fl. 1872) [he inherited the house after his cousin Georgiana Mary died]; a succession of tenants of the Pims including Alfred Hamilton Ormsby Hamilton (1852-1935), ‘Barrister – Not Practicing’ (NA 1901); John Hollowey (1858-1928); and Joseph McGrath (1887-1966), one-time Deputy Minister for Labour (fl. 1919-2) and co-founder of the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake (1930). [4]

Cabinteely House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Cabinteely House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Cabinteely House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Cabinteely House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
The gardens in front of Cabinteely House, August 2015.
Cabinteely House, photograph from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council website.
Cabinteely House, photograph from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council website.
Cabinteely House, photograph from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council website.
Cabinteely House, photograph from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council website.
The gardens in front of Cabinteely House, August 2015.

7. The Casino at Marino, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

 http://casinomarino.ie

DSC_1072.JPG
Casino at Marino, Dublin

8. Charlemount House, Parnell Square, Dublin – Hugh Lane gallery

 https://www.hughlane.ie

Charlemount House. Photograph from flickr constant commons, National Library of Ireland.

The architect of Charlemount House was William Chambers, and it was built in 1763. The Archiseek website tells us:

Lord Charlemont [James Caulfeild, 1st Earl, 4th Viscount of Charlemont] had met and befriended Sir William Chambers in Italy while Chambers was studying roman antiquities and Charlemont was on a collecting trip. Years later Charlemont had hired Chambers to design his Casino on his family estate at Marino outside Dublin. When the need arose for a residence in the city Charlemont turned again to Chambers who produced the designs for Charlemont House finished in 1763. The house now the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art consists of a single block of five bays with curved screen walls to either side. The house breaks up the regularity of this side of Parnell Square as it is set back from the other houses…Charlemont house was sold to the government in 1870 becoming the General Register and Census Offices for Ireland and later the Municipal Gallery for Modern Art – a development that Charlemont would undoubtedly would have approved.” [5]

Robert O’Byrne tells us that inside is work by Simon Vierpyl also.

9. Clonskeagh Castle, 80 Whitebean Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14 – section 482

contact: Frank Armstrong
Tel: 089-4091645, 087-9787357 

www.clonskeaghcastle.com

Open: Jan 6-9, Feb 6-9, Mar 6-9, Apr 6-9, May 1-8, June 1-8, July 1-8, August 13-22, Sept 1-8, Nov 6-9, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP €5, child/student €2.50

Clonskeagh Castle, photograph courtesy of myhome.ie

The website tells us it is a castellated dwelling built c. 1789 as a suburban retreat for Henry Jackson, ironfounder, a prominent member of the United Irishmen. It has been granted a determination by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that the house and its attendant grounds are intrinsically of significant architectural and historical interest. The house was converted into flats in the 20C and has been the subject of an ongoing programme of restoration by the present owners, to its original use as a family home.

A wealthy individual of liberal politics, Jackson became a prominent member of the United Irishmen, a movement animated by the French Revolution. Drawn to the writings of Thomas Paine, the author of The Rights of Man, he named the building Fort Paine.

Jackson was involved in preparations for the 1798 Rebellion, and his foundries were engaged to manufacture pikes for combat, and also iron balls of the correct bore to fit French cannons, in anticipation of an expected invasion. His son-in-law Oliver Bond was also heavily implicated in these plans.

In the event, Jackson was arrested before the ill-fated Rebellion, and imprisoned in England. After some time he was released on condition that he went into exile in America. He died in the city of Baltimore, Maryland in 1817.

The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us:

The name Clonskeagh comes from the Irish Cluain Sceach – the meadow of the white thorns.  The house is a detached three storey with ‘a tower’ at each corner of the front and a set back Victorian style porch with limestone columns approached by a flight of six steps.  Three bay between towers above the Doric porch. It  originally had three gatelodges (main gate, west gate and inner gate) and was approached via a long carriage drive from the Clonskeagh Road by way of twin gatelodges and a castellated archway.” [https://www.youwho.ie ]

The Clonskeagh Castle website continues: “In 1811 the Castle was purchased by George Thompson, a landed proprietor, who had a post in the Irish Treasury, and it remained in the ownership of that family until the early twentieth century. It is interesting to note that whereas Henry Jackson was fired by the objective of Irish independence, the last Thompson family member to occupy the house was vehemently insistent on the preservation of the Union.

During the War of Independence (1919-1921) the Castle was occupied by the British military, and was used for some time to incarcerate Irish Republicans.

The original Jackson residence was built on an elevated site, following a fashion for mock castles in the Georgian period. It was initially approached by an avenue that is now Whitethorn Road, with elegant gardens surrounding it (the land for which is now occupied by apartments). This was a more compact construction than now greets the visitor and did not include the two towers at what is now the front of the building. In fact, the Thomson alterations turned the house back to front, as the original entrance had been on the southern side. One result was to render the fine hallway rather dark, and work is now nearing completion to allow light to penetrate from the south.

The recent works have also included restoration of the major portions of the parapet roof in accordance with best conservation practice; withdrawal of earth from the curtilage of the building, which had been piled up over at least a century giving rise to dampness in the walls; and restoration of rooms in what had been the servants’ quarters to create a small apartment.

These works have been executed by Rory McArdle, heritage contractor, under the supervision of award-winning architect Marc Kilkenny, with frequent reference to the conservation experts at Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Fionan de Barra, architect, also provided valuable consultation at the early stages of the project.

The owners have been particularly privileged to have had the benefit of research and guidance of the distinguished architectural historian, Professor Alistair Rowan.”

10. Colganstown House, Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin – section 482

see my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/05/21/colganstown-house-hazelhatch-road-newcastle-county-dublin/
contact: Lynne Savage Jones
Tel: 087-2206222
Open: Apr 11-17, May 5-27, June 9-11, Aug 13-26, Oct 31, Nov 1-12, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free.

IMG_1482
Colganstown, Newcastle, County Dublin

11. Corke Lodge Garden, Shankill, Co. Dublin – section 482

Postal address Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow
contact: Alfred Cochrane
Tel: 087-2447006
www.corkelodge.com
Open: June 21-Sept 8, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €8

The house was built in the 1820’s to designs by William Farrell as an Italianate seaside villa. A Mediterranean grove was planted with a Cork tree as its centrepiece. In the remains of this romantic wilderness, the present owner, architect Alfred Cochrane, designed a garden punctuated by a collection of architectural follies salvaged from the demolition of Glendalough House, an 1830’s Tudor revival mansion, built for the Barton family by Daniel Robertson who designed Powerscourt Gardens.”

“There is more fun at Corke Lodge” writes Jane Powers, The Irish Times, where ” the ‘ancient garden’ of box parterres is punctuated by melancholy gothic follies, and emerges eerily from the dense boskage of evergreen oaks, myrtles, and a writhing cork oak tree with deeply corrugated bark. Avenues of cordyline palms and tree ferns, dense planting of sword-leaved New Zealand flax, and clumps of whispering bamboos lend a magical atmosphere to this rampantly imaginative creation.”

12. Dalkey Castle, Dublin – heritage centre 

https://www.dalkeycastle.com

Believe it or not, I did my Leaving Certificate examinations in this building! I was extremely lucky and I loved it and the great atmosphere helped me to get the points/grades I wanted!

Dalkey Castle in Dalkey in the suburbs of south Dublin, photograph by Brian Morrison, 2014, from Tourism Ireland. (see [2])

The website tells us: “Dalkey Castle is one of the seven fortified town houses/castles of Dalkey. The castles were built to store the goods which were off-loaded in Dalkey during the Middle Ages, when Dalkey acted as the port for Dublin. The castles all had defensive features to protect the goods from being plundered. These are all still visible on the site: Machicolation, Murder Hole, Battlements and arrow-loop windows. In Dalkey Castle, you will see a fine example of barrel-vaulted ceiling and traces of the wicker work that supported it. Niches have been exposed on the walls where precious goods may have been stored. The Castle is an integral entrance to both the Heritage Centre and Dalkey Town Hall.

Dalkey Castle was called the Castle of Dalkey in the Middle Ages. Later, in the mid to late 1600s it was called Goat Castle when the Cheevers family of Monkstown Castle were the owners.

In 1860s the former living quarters, upstairs, became a meeting room for the Dalkey Town Commissioners. It continued as a meeting room until 1998 when it was incorporated into Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre. Today, part of the Living History tour takes place there. There is a re-creation of the stocks that were across the street where the entrance to the church is today.

13. Doheny & Nesbitt, 4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 – section 482

contact: Niall Courtney
Tel: 086-0647083, 01-4925395 

www.dohenyandnesbitts.ie

Open: all year, except Christmas Day, Jan, 9am-8pm, Feb-Dec, Mon-Wed, 10am- 11.30pm, Thurs-Sat, 10am-1.30am, Sun, 11am-11.30pm
Fee: Free

This is a popular pub, and one of the oldest family owned pubs in Dublin.

Located on one of Dublin’s most famous streets – Baggot Street, Doheny and Nesbitt public house is surrounded by renowned landmarks – The Dail (House of Parliament), Grafton Street, Trinity College, Stephen’s Green and Lansdowne Road.

Otherwise known in literary and debating circles as the ‘The Doheny & Nesbitt School of Economics’ is situated a few hundred meters from the old Huguenot cemetery on Merion Row (1693). Probably the most photographed pub in Dublin, Doheny & Nesbitt is considered an institution for convivial gatherings a sanctuary in which to escape the ravages of modern life, and a shrine to everything that is admirable in a public house.

As a Protected Structure and unique example of Victorian pub architecture, the Doheny & Nesbitt public house demonstrates that skilful conversation can rest easily alongside modern commercial demands.

Most of the pub’s original features, both inside and outside remain intact. Its distinct Brass sign ‘Tea and Wine Merchant’, as well as the frieze boasting ‘Doheny & Nesbitt’ have spawned countless posters, postcards and guide books paying homage to this asset of Ireland’s capital city

If Ireland invented the pub, then Dublin’s finest showpiece is that of Doheny & Nesbitt. The main bar retains the original counter, and almost all of the original fittings date from the 19th century.

The pub’s carved timber, aged wooden floors and ornate papier-mâché ceiling, recently restored, are universally admired.

Its snugs and mirrored partitions are perfect for scheduled conversation, and one can easily muse on Ireland’s past Writers (Yeats, Behan, and Shaw) and Politicians debating and plotting in these hallowed surroundings.

Writers and Politicians from the nearby Dail or House of Parliament still frequent this pub, as do journalists, lawyers, architects and actors, along with a myriad of visitors from around the globe.

What attractions contribute to this pub’s character are debated by many; its perfect pint of stout, its array of Irish whiskeys, it’s comforting dark mahogany and glass furnishings, its reverence for the barman – customer relationship. What is in no doubt is that it is hot on the hit – list of tourists’ and locals’ itineraries – a ‘must-visit’ whilst in Dublin.

The building itself dates back hundreds of years, but was born as a public house in the 1840’s under the lease of a William Burke, who ran it as ‘Delahuntys’ for almost 50 years. In 1924, Messrs Philip Lynch and James O’Connor took it over for around 30 years, before passing it onto a Mr Felix Connolly. Ned Doheny & Tom Nesbitt, two Co. Tipperary men took over the reins of the public house at a later date up until its present owners, brothers Tom and Paul Mangan.

Interestingly the embossed lettering on the mirror to the rear of the main bar, originally bore the name O’Connor, but was later altered to Connolly and remains so to this day. Although the owners of this public house have come and gone, good sense has always prevailed that the landmark of Doheny & Nesbitt should remain just so.

Doheny & Nesbitts public house may reflect the characteristics of a bygone age, but this is no museum piece. An increased patronage has secured a Victorian replica bar to the rear, which is complemented by modern conveniences such as large plasma screen TV’s to cater for the pub’s many sports enthusiasts, and lunches to refresh tourists, workers and shoppers alike.”

14. Drimnagh Castle, Dublin

 https://www.drimnaghcastle.org

See the website for opening times. It is also available for hire, and we attended a party there!

DSC_0725
party in Drimnagh Castle

The website describes the Castle: “Drimnagh Castle is the only castle in Ireland to retain a fully flooded moat. Its rectangular shape enclosing the castle, its gardens and courtyard, created a safe haven for people and animals in times of war and disturbance. The moat is fed by a small stream, called the Bluebell. The present bridge, by which you enter the castle, was erected in 1780 and replaced a drawbridge structure.

Above the entrance of the tower, as the visitor comes through the large gateway is a ‘murder hole’. Rocks, stones, boiling water or limestone were poured down upon the head of any enemy attempting to break in. The main castle to the right of the tower was built in the 15th century, and the tower was built in the late 16th. The porch and stairways were built in the 19th century and the other buildings are 20th century. 

The undercroft was built as a storage room for food; it also doubled up as a refuge if the castle was attacked. The fireplace and bread and smoking oven are recreations of the kitchen that was here in the 19th century.  The narrow stairs leading up to the next floor are unique in that they turn to the left, unlike most Norman castles which turn to the right.

The undercroft, Drimnagh Castle.
The Great Hall, Drimnagh Castle.

“The great hall was originally an all-purpose living room/sleeping quarters in the 13th century. During the day tables and benches were placed in the centre of the floor for dining. At night straw or reed matting was laid on the floor and the occupants of the castle slept on this covering.

The tower was built in the late 16th or early 17th century.  The tower is approximately 57 feet high and commands a great view of the surrounding countryside. Most of the castles at Ballymount, Terenure and Rathfarnham could have been seen from the top of the battlements.

Photograph of Dalkey Castle from around 1900, from National Library archives, from flickr constant commons.

The website tells us: “In 1215 the lands of Drymenagh and Tyrenure were granted to a Norman knight, Hugo de Bernivale, who arrived with Strongbow. These lands were given to him in return for his family’s help in the Crusades and the invasion of Ireland. De Bernivale selected a site beside the “Crooked Glen” , the original Cruimghlinn, that gives its name to the townland of Crumlin, and there he built his castle. This “Crooked Glen” is better known today as Landsdowne Valley, through which the river Camac makes its way to the sea. The lands around Drimnagh at this time were rising and falling hills and vast forests stretching to the Dublin mountains. All through the 13th, 14th and 15th century the area around the castle was sparsely populated and a document shows that only around 11 people lived in the area during the 18th century.

In The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy Meath, volume 1, by Art Kavanagh, published in 2005 by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, he tells us that as a result of the foray into Ireland by the Bernevals in 1215 with Prince John, they were granted lands in Dublin in the Drimnagh, Kimmage, Ballyfermot and Terenure areas, where they settled until Cromwellian times. In Cromwell’s time Drimnagh and its lands were granted to Colonel Philip Ferneley, while Drimagh Castle itself was granted to a Major Elliot.

Drimnagh has seen its fair share of raids and attacks by the O’Toole Clans through the years and there is record of two of the Barnewall’s of Drimnagh being killed in a skirmish near Crumlin. There are many undocumented raids and battles. In the 19th century, after these tumultuous times Drimnagh saw the arrival of industries like the paper mill at Landsdowne valley and  other enterprises. Small Inns and lodges were built to house travellers on there way to Tallaght or further afield. Some of these are still in business today, such as the Red Cow and The Halfway House. Buildings of note in the area around the early 19th century were the Drimnagh Lodge, The Halfway House, Drimnagh Castle.

After the 19th century we see more and more expansion out towards the Drimnagh area, but it was in the 20th century were we see housing estates and industrial estates springing up around Drimnagh. For more modern historical info please visit the Drimnagh Residents Associations excellent page on its history.

After many years of activity, history and folklore the castle became uninhabited in the 1960’s, and fell into disuse and only housed countless pigeons, and other fowl. Over the next thirty years or so the Irish weather took its toll on the once great structure and caused untold damage.  One day in 1985, a man named Peter Pearson, swung by a rope over the moat into the castle grounds. Having an interest in restoring old buildings, he set about trying to get the castle repaired to its former glory. He also discovered that the castle was potentially destined for destruction, which thankfully was prevented from happening. Many individuals and organisations were involved in the early stages including An Taisce, FAS, CYTP, and the Drimnagh and Crumlin community.

The restoration work started in June 1986 and over 200 workers were involved in the repair work, including stonemasons, woodcarvers, metal workers, plasterers, tilers and artists.  The restoration of the the roof was inspired by Dunshoughly Castle in Fingal, and was built using Roscommon Oak which is renowned for its great durability and strength. The roof was constructed in the courtyard and was then raised onto the castle at a cost of 50,000 Punts. The floor of the great hall was re-tiled with tiles taken from St Andrews Church, Suffolk Street.

The restoration work was completed in 1991 and was opened to the public by the then President of Ireland Mary Robinson. Since then the castle has hosted banquets, weddings, book launches and many more events. ​The castle is now maintained by a small group of dedicated FAS workers who keep the castle looking great for future generations to come.

The early years of the Barnewalls at Drimnagh Castle

The Barnewalls were an Anglo-Norman family who had great links with royalty of England, one being Alanus de Berneval who fought alongside William the Conquerer at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Another Alanus de Berneval sailed with Richard de Clare (Strongbow) in the conquest of Ireland in 1172, landing at Bannow Bay in Wexford. Alanus and his relations were slaughtered in Bearhaven, bar one Hugh de Berneval who was studying law in London at the time. In 1215 Hugh de Berneval was granted lands in Terenure and Drimnagh and also a sizeable dowry by King John. Hugh de Berneval established a castle in Drimnagh and this is where the Berneval family were in residence for more then 400 years.

The Barnewall’s (anglicised from De Berneval) were not just owners of  land in Drimnagh, but owned land and fortified castles all over Ireland, such as Crickstown and Trimblestown.  They were involved in many events in Irish history and held positions in Irish Parliament  and in military campaigns against the Irish.  Above right, you will see the Barnewall family crest, with its powerful warrior symbols, and its Latin inscription, “I would rather die than dishonour my name”. You can see a reproduction of this crest over the fireplace in the Great Hall in the now restored castle

In 1078 William the Conqueror, having pursued the insurgent Saxons to the Roman wall, returned to York in triumph, and there bestowed upon Roger de Barneville the manor of Newton in Cleveland, and various other lands which his descendants possessed until the 14th century. Roger, together with his brother Hugh, on the declaration of the Holy War at the Council of Clermont in 1095, hastened to receive upon their habits the consecrated cross. In the following year they joined the banner of Duke Robert, wintered in Apulia, and early in 1097 sojourned for some days at Constantinople, where in the Blanchernal palace, De Barneville and the rest of the Duke of Normandy’s retainers did homage to the Emperor Alexius, and received for this acknowledgement the most expensive presents. The subsequent achievements of De Barneville against the Sultan Kilidge Anslan, the Solyman of Tasso, appear in glowing eulogies from Latin historians. Roger ultimately fell before the walls of Antioch. His third son Roger was one of the military retainers of Robert de Bruce, and finally became a monk in the abbey of St. Sauveur le Vicomte. 

In 1170 Jordan de Barneville was one of the knights bound to render military service for his possessions in the Duchy of Normandy, which he lived to see subdued by Philip Augustus, to whom, in 1204, he vowed allegiance. At the close of the 12th century, the family is traced in the records of Essex, Suffolk, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Middlesex, and a highly respectable branch at Hockworthy in Devonshire.

About the same time some of their members came to Ireland, where they won great possessions at Beerhaven, but by conspiracy of the Irish, headed by the O’Sullivans, were all slain, except one young man, who then studied the common laws in England; Hugh alias Ulfran de Barneville. On his return, King John, in 1215, granted the lands of Drymnagh and Tyrenure in the Vale of Dublin to Hugh.

Barnewalls Genealogy

Alanus de Berneval, who left two sons, Hugo and Regenald, was succeeded by the eldest, Hugo, who received two marks as the King’s gift for his expenses on going to Ireland, on 23rd August 1212. The King’s mandate, sent to Geoffry de Marisco, directed that Hugh de Berneval should have seisin of his land at Drumenagh and Terenure in the vale of Dublin, 12 December 1216. He d.s.p. before 24th January 1220 – 1221, when a mandate for seisin of his lands was granted to his brother and heir, Reginald.

Reginald de Berneval, was restored to the lands in Drimnagh and Terenure on January 24th 1228. and had a grant of £20 per year for his maintenance on the King’s service (mandate dated 28th September 1234). He was succeeded by his son, Ulphram. Ulphram (or Wolfram), was constable of Dublin Castle, 12 December 1279 – 1281, sheriff of Dublin 1284 – 1289. He was a witness, in 1289, to a deed between Hugh Tyrell and the Prior and Convent of the All Saints, near Dublin. He married Mary, only daughter and heiress of Sir William Molyneux, Kt of Molagh, co. Meath, and was succeeded by his son, Reginald. Reginald paid five shillings for Drumenagh, as subsidy to the King for the war against the Scots in 1299. He married a daughter of Sir Conway Clifford, Kt. and was succeeded by his son, Reginald.

Reginald de Berneval, of Drumenagh. In 1309 he gave thirty shillings for the army of Loxenedy, and in 1313 he paid his service for the expedition to the Castle Keyvening, under Piers Gaveston. He died in 1331, seised of a water mill, dovecote, and profits of the courts of Drumenagh and Terenure, co. Dublin, when he was succeeded by his son, Ulphram.

Ulphram de Berneval, of Drumenagh, had livery of his estates, 2nd September 1331, (16) Edward III. He married Sarah daughter of Berford of Moynet, and was succeeded by his son, Reginald.

Reginald de Berneval, of Drumenagh, contributed towards the expedition to Mallow, under Walter de Bermingham in 1372, and in 1374 paid royal service to the expedition to Kilkenny under William of Windsor. He married Jannetta, daughter of Cusac of Killeen, and left two sons.

Ulphram (or Wolfram), succeeded to Drumenagh. He was living seised of the Manor of Ballythermot, in 1400. His descendants continued to reside at Drumenagh until the reign of James 1, when his line terminated in an heiress, Elizabeth, daughter of Marcus Barneval of Drumenagh, who married James Barnewall of Bremore, and sold the property, 1st February 1607, to Sir Adam Loftus, Kt. of Rathfarnham.

The castle’s gardens have been developed, with a Parterre:

A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern.  It is not necessary for a parterre to have any flowers at all. French parterres originated in 15th-century Gardens of the French Renaissance. The castle parterre is a simple symmetrical design of four squares, divided into four triangular herb beds. The centre point of the squares feature a clipped yew tree while the centre point of each herb bed features a shaped laurel bay tree.

​One of the most important household duties of a medieval lady was the provisioning and harvesting of herbs and medicinal plants and roots. Plants cultivated in the summer months had to be harvested and stored for the winter. Although grain and vegetables were grown in the castle or village fields, the lady of the house had a direct role in the growth and harvest of household herbs.

Herbs and plants grown in manor and castle gardens basically fell into one of three categories: culinary, medicinal, or household use. Some herbs fell into multiple categories and some were grown for ornamental use.” The website tells of some of these plants.

The gardens also have an alley of hornbeams:

The common English “hornbeam tree” derives its name from the hardness of the wood, and was often used for carving boards, tool handles, shoe lasts, coach wheels, and for other uses where a very tough, hard wood is required. The plant beds either side of the trees, feature snowdrops, bluebells, tulips, daffodils, some ferns and hellebores.

​Hornbeam leaves are popular for their use in external compresses to stop bleeding. Their haemostatic properties also help in the quick healing of wounds, cuts, bruises, burns and other minor injuries. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark.

15. Dublin Castle, Dublin – OPW

 https://www.dublincastle.ie

see my OPW entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

IMG_1897
Dublin Castle: Records Tower and part of Royal Chapel.

16. Fahanmura, 2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – section 482

contact: Paul Harvey
Tel: Paul 086-3694379
www.fahanmura.ie
Open: May 5-15, June 13-19, July 4-12, Aug 13-25, Sept 10-24, Oct 10-14, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free

Fahanmura, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Fahanmura is a Modern Movement House from the 1940 period. The website tells us:

It’s easy to confuse Art Moderne with Art Deco, but they are two distinctly different styles. While both have stripped-down forms and geometric designs, the Art Moderne style will appear sleek and plain, while the slightly earlier Art Deco style can be quite showy. Art Moderne buildings are usually white, while Art Deco buildings may be brightly colored. The Art Deco style is most often used for public buildings like theaters, while the Art Moderne style is most often found in private homes.

The sleek, rounded Art Moderne style originated in the Bauhaus movement, which began in Germany. Bauhaus architects wanted to use the principles of classical architecture in their purest form, designing simple, useful structures without ornamentation or excess. Building shapes were based on curves, triangles, and cones. Bauhaus ideas spread worldwide and led to the Moderne or International Style in the United States. Art Moderne art, architecture, and fashion became popular just as Art Deco was losing appeal.”

Fahanmura, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

17. Farm Complex, Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: David Doran
Tel: 086-3821304
OpenJan 1-10, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, 12 noon 4pm, May 1-8, 14-15, June 4-13, Mon- Fri, 10am-2pm, Sat-Sun, 2pm-6pm, Aug 12-21, 2pm-6pm, Sept 16-25, Mon- Fri, 9.30-1.30pm, Sat-Sun, 2pm-6pm, Oct 22, 29-31, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5

18. Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/21/office-of-public-works-properties-dublin/

 http://farmleigh.ie

Farmleigh
Farmleigh, Phoenix Park.

19. Fern Hill, Stepaside, Dublingardens open to public

https://www.dlrcoco.ie/en/parks/fernhill-park-and-gardens-0

The website tells us: “Fernhill is a former substantial family residence on 34 hectares of land at Stepaside. Fernhill Park and Gardens is Dublin’s newest Public Park, and forms an important component of the historic landscape on the fringe of Dublin City and an impressive example of a small estate dating back to around 1823. The former estate is a unique collection of heritage buildings, gardens, parkland, woodland and agricultural land. The elevated nature of the site, overlooking Dublin Bay on the threshold between the city and the Dublin mountains, lends a particular magic to the place.  Fernhill is also home to a unique plant collection, made up of acid-loving plants such as Rhododendrons, Camelias and Magnolias, among others.

The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us:

The original house was a single-storey (possibly a hunting lodge) built circa 1723. By 1812 it was substantial family residence with additional out buildings surrounded by gardens, woodlands, parkland and farming land on an elevated location overlooking Dublin Bay.  The house itself is a series of rambling interconnecting blocks of one and two stories transcended by a three storey tower which has developed and evolved over the years.

The gardens were planted with exotics such as magnolia and Chilean firetrees but it is also home to an
extensive daffodil collection.  Originally on 110 acres it now now on about 82 acres. The land was owned
by Sir William Verner and part was leased to Joseph Stock. Alderman Frederick Darley purchased the 
lease from Verner in 1812 and his son William purchased the property outright in 1841.
” Another son was the architect Frederick Darley (1798-1872).

20. Georgian House Museum, 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 – virtual visit only

http://www.numbertwentynine.ie

21. “Geragh”, Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Gráinne Casey
Tel: 01-2804884
Open: Jan 4-23, May 3-29, Aug 13-21, Sept 1, 12-14, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €4, child free

Geragh, photograph from Flickr Constant Commons, by William Murphy.

Archiseek website tells us:

Designed by Michael Scott as a home for himself, he had bought the site by the martello tower at Sandycove some years before, and originally intended it as a site to build a home for his father who was a keen fisherman. He refused it so Scott built a house for himself. The house was named after the valley in County Kerry where his father was born. Scott never had much money, but he had, in the parlance of the day “married well” in 1933 and his wife Patricia had inherited a small amount of money. This was around £5-6000 and was used to buy the site and build the house. He became so enthusiastic about the site that he claimed to have designed the house in one day:

“I started one morning at eight o’clock and by 4 o’clock the following morning had finished the initial sketch plans. I was a quick boy in my day. 

This was because the eccentric old lady, Mrs Chisholm Cameron from whom he bought the site had sold it on the condition that construction should start within three years. Due to other commitments Scott forgot about this, but then received a letter in the post reminding him of this clause, and so a design had to be rushed out, hence the claim above. The house is sited in an old quarry next to the Forty Foot bathing place and martello tower and seems to rise out of the rock. A public pathway winds its way around the seaward side of the site and so for privacy and protection from the prevailing wind, the building faces towards Dun Laoghaire rather than out to sea. It was one of the first houses built in this country using mass concrete throughout. The concrete is rendered externally and painted white. Using the maritime imagery of the International style, the house is made up of a series of decks, railings and portholes – indeed one end resembles the stern of an ocean liner with a descending series of circular bays and crescent balconies – a motif which also reflects the nearby martello tower and naval defences at the Forty Foot. 

I thought of the house as a series of descending circles. each one wider than the other. It’s my tribute to the tower and to James Joyce.”

The tower is associated with James Joyce (1882-1941) through the opening passage of Ulysses and now contains the Joyce Museum. This curved bay feature was much used by Scott in this period – being used in his house for Arthur Shields (1934) where the living room is projected out with a curved bay and also at the hospital at Tullamore where a series of curved bays are placed above one another. The flat roof and balconies all command great views over Dublin bay. Original to the aesthetic of its day, it was originally sited on stilts, but over the years the spaces underneath were filled as the family’s needs expanded, but apart from that it remains intact. The house is basically a shallow v-plan embracing the garden with one end rectangular and the other round nosed.

22. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin – tenement museum 

https://14henriettastreet.ie

DSC_0977
from 2013 visit to 14 Henrietta Street
14 Henrietta Street, Dublin City_Courtesy Liana Modonova 2021. (see [2])

14 Henrietta Street is a social history museum of Dublin life, from one building’s Georgian beginnings to its tenement times. We connect the history of urban life over 300 years to the stories of the people who called this place home. The website tells us:

Henrietta Street is the most intact collection of early to mid-18th century houses in Ireland. Work began on the street in the 1720s when houses were built as homes for Dublin’s most wealthy families. By 1911 over 850 people lived on the street, over 100 of those in one house, here at 14 Henrietta Street.

Numbers 13-15 Henrietta Street were built in the late 1740s by Luke Gardiner. Number 14’s first occupant was The Right Honorable Richard, Lord Viscount Molesworth [1670-1758, 3rd Viscount Molesworth of Swords] and his second wife Mary Jenney Usher, who gave birth to their two daughters in the house. Subsequent residents over the late 18th century include The Right Honorable John Bowes, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Sir Lucius O’Brien, John Hotham Bishop of Clogher, and Charles 12th Viscount Dillon [1745-1814].

Number 14, like many of the houses on Henrietta Street, follows a room layout that separated its public, private and domestic functions. The house is built over five floors, with a railed-in basement, brick-vaulted cellars under the street to the front, a garden and mews to the rear, and there was originally a coach house and stable yard beyond.

In the main house, the principal rooms in use were located on the ground and first floors. On these floors, a sequence of three interconnecting rooms are arranged around the grand two-storey entrance hall with its cascading staircase. On the ground floor were the family rooms which consisted of a street parlour to the front, a back eating parlour, a dressing room or bed chamber for the Lord of the house, and a closet.

Henrietta Street, Dublin, photographer Fionn Mc Cann for Failte Ireland (see [2])

On the first floor level, the piano nobile (or noble floor), were the formal public reception rooms. A drawing room to the front is where the Lord or Lady would host visitors, along with the dining room to the back. The dressing room or bed chamber for the lady of the house, and a closet were also on this floor. Family bedrooms were located on the floor above the piano nobile, and the servants quarters were located in the attic. A second back stairs would have provided access to all floor levels for family and servants alike.

These grand rooms began as social spaces to display the material wealth, status and taste of its inhabitants. Dublin’s Georgian elites developed a taste for expensive decoration, fine fabrics, and furniture made from exotic materials, such as ‘walnuttree’ and mahogany.

After the Acts of Union were passed in Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, all power shifted to London and most politically and socially significant residents were drawn from Georgian Dublin to Regency London. Dublin and Ireland entered a period of economic decline, exacerbated by the return of soldiers and sailors at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

This marked a turning point for the street – professionals moved in, and Henrietta Street was occupied by lawyers. Between 1800 and 1850 14 Henrietta Street was occupied by Peter Warren, solicitor, and John Moore, Proctor of the Prerogative Court.

From 1850-1860 the house was the headquarters of the newly established Encumbered Estates’ Court which allowed the State to acquire and sell on insolvent estates after the Great Famine.

In the 19th century the rooms of the house took on a different more utilitarian tone. Fine decoration and furniture gave way to desks, quills and paperwork with the activities of commissioners, barristers, lawyers, and clerks who moved into the house.

Family life returned to the street in the early 1860s when the Dublin Militia occupied the house until 1876, when Dublin became a Garrison town, with their barracks at Linenhall.

Dublin’s population swelled by about 36,000 in the years after the Great Famine, and taking advantage of the rising demand for cheap housing for the poor, landlords and their agents began to carve their Georgian townhouses into multiple dwellings for the city’s new residents.

In 1876 Thomas Vance purchased Number 14 and installed 19 tenement flats of one, three and four rooms. Described in an Irish Times advert from 1877:

‘To be let to respectable families in a large house, Northside, recently papered, painted and filled up with every modern sanitary improvement, gas and wc on landings, Vartry Water, drying yard and a range with oven for each tenant; a large coachhouse, or workshop with apartments, to be let at the rere. Apply to the caretaker, 14 Henrietta St.’

In Dublin, a tenement is typically an 18th or 19th century townhouse adapted, often crudely, to house multiple families. Tenement houses existed throughout the north inner city of Dublin; on the southside around the Liberties, and near the south docklands.

Houses such as 14 Henrietta Street underwent significant change in use – from having been a single-family house with specific areas for masters, mistresses, servants, and children, they were now filled with families – often one family to a room – the room itself divided up into two or three smaller rooms – a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom. Entire families crammed into small living spaces and shared an outside tap and lavatory with dozens of others in the same building.

By 1911 number 14 was filled with 100 people while over 850 lived on the street. The census showed that it was a hive of industry – there were milliners, a dressmaker (tailoress!), French polishers, and bookbinders living and possibly working in the house.

With the establishment of the new state, improvements to housing conditions in Dublin became a priority. In 1931 Dublin Corporation appointed its first city architect Herbert Simms to improve the standard of housing in the city. Simms and his team created new communities outside the city centre, amidst greenery and fresh air, this was the dawn of the suburbs. The development of these new communities signalled the end of tenement life in Dublin.

The last tenement residents of number 14 left in the late 1970s by which time the building was virtually abandoned by its owners after the basement and third floor (attic) had already become uninhabitable. During this period of neglect the processes of decay accelerated, leading to the rotting of structural timbers, loss of decorative plasterwork, and vandalism, leaving the house close to imminent collapse.

Dublin City Council began a process to acquire the house in 2000, and as a result of the Henrietta Street Conservation Plan and embarked on a 10-year long journey to purchase, rescue, stabilise and conserve the house, preserving it for generations to come.

In September 2018 14 Henrietta Street opened to the public.

I am a fan of Mary Wollestonecraft, and am delighted with the connection to the house next to this address, 15 Henrietta Street:

In 1786, on the far side of the wall in number 15, Mary Wollstonecraft was governess to Lord and Lady Kingsborough’s children. As tutor to Margaret King she instilled a wish for equal rights and republican ideals in her charge. She had an aspiration to be treated equally in a society where she was expected to fend for herself as most ladies of the ascendancy had to when suitors were not to be had or dowries were scarce. Governesses to wealthy families held a precarious middle ground between servant and family friend. In 1792 she would publish an important feminist treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Women.

Wollstonecraft gives us a look at a Dublin where women were expected to abide by what she regarded as oppressive social rules: “Dublin has not the advantages which result from residing in London; everyone’s conduct is canvassed, and the least deviation from a ridiculous rule of propriety… would endanger their precarious existence”.”

See also the wonderfully informative book, The Best Address in Town: Henrietta Street, Dublin and its First Residents 1720-80 by Melanie Hayes, published by Four Courts Press, Dublin 8, 2020.

23. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, 23-27 College Green, Dublin 2 – section 482

contact: Dan O’Sullivan
Tel: 01-6755100
www.clarendonproperties.ie
Open: all year, except Dec 25, Wed-Fri, 9.30am-8pm, Sun, 11am-7pm, Sat, Mon, Tue, 9.30-7pm

Fee: Free

Former Hibernian Bank, now H&M store, 2013. Photograph courtesy of Swire Chin, Toronto.

The Dublin South City Buildings of Ireland booklet tells us:

“HIBERNIAN BANK (1864-71; 1873-6) 22-27 College Green 
An idiosyncratic bank designed by William George Murray (1822- 71) with Gothic and Italianate arcades converging on a Châteauesque tower. The original occupants, the short-lived Union Bank, are remembered by the intertwined “UBI” monogram over the first floor windows.”

The original occupants, the short-lived Union Bank, are remembered by the intertwined “UBI” monogram over the first floor windows.

24. Howth Castle gardens, and Transport Museum Dublin

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

p. 155. “Gaisford-St. Lawrence/IF) A rambling and romantic castle on the Hill of Howth, which forms the northern side of Dublin bay; the home of the St. Lawrences for 800 years. Basically a massive medieval keep, with corner towers crenellated in the Irish crow-step fashion, to which additions have been made through the centuries. The keep is joined by a hall range to a tower with similar turrets which probably dates from early C16; in front of this tower stands a C15 gatehouse tower, joined to it by a battlemented wall which forms one side of the entrance court, the other side being an early C19 castellated range added by 3rd Earl of Howth. The hall range, in the centre, now has Georgian sash windows and in front of it runs a handsome balustraded terrace with a broad flight of steps leading up to the entrance door, which has a pedimented and rusticated Doric doorcase. These Classical features date from 1738, when the castle was enlarged and modernized by William St. Lawrence, 14th Lord Howth, who frequently entertained his friend Dean Swift here; the Dean described Lady Howth as a “blue eyed nymph.” On the other side of the hall range, a long two storey wing containing the drawing room extends at right angles to it, ending in another tower similar to the keep, with Irish battlemented corner turrets. This last tower was added 1910 for Cmdr Julian Gaisford-St. Lawrence, who inherited Howth from his maternal uncle, 4th and last Earl of Howth, and assumed the additional surname of St Lawrence; it was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, who also added a corridor with corbelled oriels at the back of the drawing room wing and a loggia at the junction of the wing with the hall range; as well as carrying out some alterations to the interior. The hall has C18 doorcases with shouldered architraves, an early C19 Gothic frieze and a medieval stone fireplace with a surround by Lutyens. The dining room, which Lutyens restored to its original size after it had been partitioned off into several smaller rooms, has a modillion cornice and panelling of C18 style with fluted Corinthian pilasters. The drawing room has a heavily moulded mid-C18 ceiling, probably copied from William Kent’s Works of Inigo Jones; the walls are divided into panels with arched mouldings, a treatment which is repeated in one of the bedrooms. The library, by Lutyens, in his tower, has bookcases and panelling of oak and a ceiling of elm boarding. Lutyens also made a simple and dignified Catholic chapel in early C19 range on one side of the entrance court; it has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and an apse behind the altar. Howth Castle is celebrated for the custom, continuing down to the present day, of laying an extra place at meals for the descendent of the chieftan who, several centuries ago, kidnapped the infant heir of the Lord Howth at the time in retaliation for being refused admittance to the castle because the family was at dinner, only returning him after the family had promised that the gates of the castle should always be kept open at mealtimes and an extra place always set at the table in case the kidnapper’s descendants should wish to avail themselves of it. Famous gardens; formal garden laid out ca 1720, with gigantic beech hedges; early C18 canal; magnificent plantings of rhododendrons.” 

Howth Castle 1940, Dublin City Library and Archives (see [6]). The English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens restyled a 14th century castle built here, overlooking Dublin Bay.
Howth Castle 1966, Dublin City Library and Archives (see [6]).
Marriage plate Howth Castle, Dublin City Library and Archives. (see [6])
Howth Castle, Dublin City Library and Archives (see [6]).
Howth Castle on the day we visited for the sale of its library.
The National Inventory tells us that this part of Howth Castle is “six-bay two-storey over basement late-medieval house, c.1650. Comprising four-bay two-storey central block flanked by single-bay five-storey square plan crenellated turrets. Renovated 1738, with openings remodelled and terrace added. Renovated, 1910, with interior remodelled.”
Reproduction of a painting of Howth Castle and its gardens in the 18th century, courtesy of the “In Harmony with Nature, The Irish Country House Garden 1600-1900” exhibition curated by Robert O’Byrne.
Howth Castle, Dublin City Library and Archives. (see [6])
Howth Castle library, National Library of Ireland, from constant commons on flickr.
The National Inventory tells us about this tower: “Attached single-bay three-storey rubble stone gate tower, c.1450, with round-headed integral carriageway to ground floor. Renovated 1738.”
At the background end of this photograph is what the National Inventory describes: “Attached four-bay three-storey medieval tower house with dormer attic, c.1525, with turret attached to north-east. Renovated c.1650. Renovated and openings remodelled, 1738. Renovated with dormer attic added, 1910.”

25. Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum Howth Martello Tower

https://sites.google.com/site/hurdygurdymuseum/home 

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Pat Herbert, the founder and curator of The Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, sadly he passed away on the 18th of June, 2020.

The museum has been a very special place since it first opened its doors in 2003. Pat had begun collecting radios and all things connected with communications, when he was working in the construction industry in London in the 1950’s. His collection grew over the years and found its rightful home in the Martello Tower which has a long history with the story of radio in Ireland. Pat had an encyclopedic knowledge on the history of radio and was also a great storyteller. He generously allowed the setting up of the amateur station EI0MAR in the Martello Tower and was always fascinated with the contacts made throughout the world over the airwaves.”

26. Knocknagin House, Delvin Bridge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Richard Berney
Tel: 087-2847797
Open: June 23-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/OAP/child/student €5

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes Knocknagin House: “Detached three-bay two-storey house with attic storey, built c.1680, flanked by two and three-bay single-storey wings. Advanced gable-fronted central entrance bay to entrance façade. Single-bay three-storey return with adjoining single-bay two-storey lean-to to rear.” Knocknagin House has a drawing room of impressive length, height, light and elegance, and a couple of orangeries.

The outbuildings form a central square, a courtyard garden where there are roses and climbing plants, wisteria, rosemary and box hedging. Beyond lies a walled garden.

Knocknagin House, photograph from National Inventory.

It was for sale in May 2020 for €1.5 million. French doors from all ground floor reception rooms lead out to the gardens.

Since 1680, owners of Knocknagin have included Robert Echlin of Rush, an agent of the Duke of York; the family of Henry Martin (1721-1799), the King family and, from 1827, the family of William O’Reilly, responsible for adding French windows, a ballroom and more. O’Reillys were a prosperous Catholic family of north County Dublin who owned the house for six decades until 1891. The Wade family bought in 1891 and the 2020 vendors bought it from the Wade family in 1994, when it was quite derelict. They brought it up to scratch with care and attention to detail. [7]

27. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Co. Dublin – section 482

contact: Alexander Baring
Tel: 087-1905236 

www.lambayisland.ie
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: May-October

The website tells us:

The isle of Lambay is the family seat of the Revelstoke branch of the Baring family and home to Lambay Irish Whiskey. It is owned and protected today by the Revelstoke Trust and daily management lies in the hands of Alex Baring (7th Baron Revelstoke), with support from the wider family.

Nestled in the Irish Sea just four miles off the coast of County Dublin, the island is a square mile in extent (630 acres), making it the largest island off the east coast of Ireland and the largest privately owned island in North-West Europe.

​​It is a paradise of fine architecture, birds, flowers, cattle, seals, fallow deer and even a mob of wallabies!  The island is internationally important as a Natura 2000 site designated for its breeding seabirds and as home to the largest breeding colony of North Atlantic Grey Seals on the east coast of Ireland.  It holds a remarkable place in European natural history as the site of a pioneering biological investigation undertaken by the naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger in 1906, as a mutual project with Cecil Baring, during which they found several new species including three earthworms, a bristletail and a mite.

Entirely off-grid and unattached to the mainland by so much as a cable or pipe, the island is partially run on green energy generated by solar panels and a wind turbine that are rigged up to a complex battery system that baffles us at the best of times, but does the job!  The natural spring gives us fresh drinking water year round, which is also used in our very own island whiskey, aged in old cognac casks where they can breathe in the salty sea air.”

In 1181 the island was granted to the Archbishops of Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral.  By 1467 it was described as “a receptacle for the King’s enemies, to the annoyance of the mainland,” and a licence was granted to build a fort to protect against invasions by the Spanish, French and Scots.  Sir John Challoner is thought to have actioned the licence in the early 1500s.  The conditions were that Challoner would within six years build a village, castle and harbour for the benefit of fishermen and as a protection against smugglers.  He was to inhabit Lambay “with a colony of honest men”.  He was a very active man who worked four mines for silver and copper and bred falcons on the island’s many cliffs.

In 1611 the island moved from the Church into the private hands of the Ussher family for 200 years, during which time it was used as a Prisoner of War camp for over 1,000 Irish soldiers during the Williamite war after the Battle of Aughrim.  From 1805 the leasehold passed through several hands, including those of Sir William Wolseley and the Talbot family of Malahide.

In 1903 Cecil Baring (later the 3rd Baron Revelstoke) and his beautiful wife Maude Lorillard saw an advert in The Field for an “island for sale” in the Irish sea.  It caught their eye for several reasons (which you will read about below) and within the year, on the 1st April 1904, Lambay was theirs for the princely sum of £5,250.​

From “In Harmony with Nature, The Irish Country House Garden 1600-1900” in the Irish Georgian Society, July 2022, curated by Robert O’Byrne.

Lambay’s history under the Baring family took a turn for the deeply romantic and, with the arrival of Cecil (Baron Revelstoke III) and his wife Maude in 1904, the island fell under an enchantment that still mesmerises visitors to this day.​

Maude was the younger daughter of the American millionaire tobacco manufacturer, Pierre Lorillard, who owned Tuxedo Park in New York. A lively and active woman, she escaped the constraints of home before her 18th birthday by marrying Tommy Tailer, a wealthy New York socialite, in 1893. Tommy was a partner in the New York branch of Baring Brothers and, through this connection, met one of the family members of the bank – this was Cecil...

By the end of the 1890s, Maude’s marriage to Tommy Tailer fell apart after he was unfaithful to her. Cecil left New York in 1901 and it was then that Maude realised she had loved him all along. A maverick for her time, she secured a divorce from Tailer and in November 1902, was remarried in London to Cecil.

Such was the scandal of Cecil marrying a divorcee (and an American one, at that!), that he was encouraged to step down from his responsibilities at the bank. It was this yearning to escape from the critical public eye, mixed with Cecil’s passion for island ecologies, that led the betrothed couple to seek the peace and solitude of Lambay.

In early 1904, with Maude heavily pregnant, Cecil went to investigate Lambay; he found a small line of cottages occupied by coastguards, a chapel, a walled garden, a dilapidated old fort and a magnificent wealth of wildlife.  It was an intoxicating mixture.

​​The first task facing the Barings was the repair of the castle and they refitted a heavy lugger, the Shamrock, to carry the necessary materials to the island. The Shamrock (version 3.0) is still in use today as Lambay’s main cargo boat and is used to transport the sheep and cattle as well as bulkier materials and equipment for the off-grid energy system.

Lambay Castle, Lambay Island. Photograph from Country Life. The east court of Lambay Castle. (see [8])

A full year elapsed before the castle was habitable and it was not until June 1905 that it was furnished.  Immediately thereafter, Cecil convened a congress to examine the flora and fauna of the island, the findings of which were published in The Irish Naturalist (1907).

He also tried to introduce new species, including mouflon sheep, chamois goats, kinkajous and rheas.  Today, there is a large population of wallabies on Lambay, but these were brought here in the 1980s by Cecil’s son Rupert Revelstoke, who had enjoyed having two pet wallabies in the 1950s.

Now captivated by the island, the Barings determined to undertake more ambitious changes to the castle. They invited Sir Edwin Lutyens, renowned architect of the Arts & Crafts movement, to visit in August 1905.

​Lutyens was utterly delighted by Lambay and the couple, and the visit sparked a warm friendship between the three of them that would last throughout their lives. Lutyens extended the Castle masterfully and by 1910 it was a beautiful refuge for Cecil and Maude, surrounded by an impressive circular wall, which Lutyens nicknamed “The Ramparts Against Uncharity“.

Cecil and Maude had 12 blissful years together with their little family on Lambay but alas, in 1922, a still young Maude died of cancer, leaving Cecil with two daughters, Daphne and Calypso, and their little son Rupert.  Her body was brought back from London to the island for burial. Lutyens, who was then busy with war memorials and the government buildings of New Delhi, designed a large monument for her grave, set in against the rampart walls and facing towards the Castle. The mausoleum is today one of the most pleasant and peaceful spots on the island. Prefacing Cecil’s epitaph, a beautiful poem about his wife, is the word ‘Quiet’, both an imperative to the reader and a description of the monument’s setting.

Lambay Castle, Lambay Island. Photograph from Country Life. The castle and west forecourt of Lambay Castle. (see [8])

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that the castle is “constructed with small doors and small casements so that the inhabitants seem, on rough days, to be sheltering like monks.”  The interior has vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces and a curved stone staircase, while much of the furniture chosen by Lutyens is still arranged just as he intended. 

He also adapted and enlarged a number of other early structures and integrated them into an ingenious  coordinated layout for the whole island, combining the farm, gardens and plantations as a single composition, in collaboration with the horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. 

The walled kitchen garden pierces the Rampart Wall to the South and there is the mausoleum of the Revelstokes, designed by Lutyens in 1930, on the opposite side of the enclosure. He also designed the White House overlooking the harbour on the western shores of the island, as a holiday home for the couple’s two daughters and their families.

From “In Harmony with Nature, The Irish Country House Garden 1600-1900” in the Irish Georgian Society, July 2022, curated by Robert O’Byrne.

28. Lissen Hall, Lissenhall Demesne, Swords, Dublin – open by appointment 

http://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Lissen%20Hall

The Historic Houses of Ireland tells us about Lissen Hall:

Looking over the Meadow Water near the expanding village of Swords, Lissen Hall presents a tranquil mid-Georgian façade that is typical of rural Leinster. In fact country houses have become a rarity in the suburb of Fingal, formerly North County Dublin, which reuses an ancient place name for one of Ireland’s newest administrative regions. A pair of end bows disguise the fact that Lissen Hall is part of a far earlier building, possibly dating from the very end of the 17th century. The newer five-bay front is a typical mid-Georgian concept, with a tripartite door-case surmounted by a Serlian window. 

The arrangement is repeated on the upper storey, where the central window is flanked by a pair of blind sidelights, and the façade continues upwards to form a high parapet, now adorned with a pair of stone eagles. The building’s other main decorative features, a pair of attached two-storey bows with half conical roofs, have many similarities with Mantua, a now-demolished house that faced Lissen Hall across the Meadow Water in former times. At Mantua, which was probably slightly earlier, the silhouettes of the bow roofs prolonged the hip of the main roof in an uninterrupted upward line. It is difficult to imagine how this arrangement could have been achieved at Lissen Hall without compromising the outer windows on the top floor. 

The principal rooms are not over large but the interior of the mid-Georgian range is largely intact and original, with good joinery and chimneypieces. Architectural drawings from 1765 can be seen in the house, which at that time was owned by John Hatch, MP for Swords in the Irish Parliament in Dublin. 

Lissen Hall has only been sold once in 250 years. It passed from John Hatch to the politically influential Hely-Hutchinson family, one of whose seats was Seafield House in nearby Donabate. In 1950 Terence Chadwick purchased the house and park from the Hely-Hutchinsons and the house was subsequently inherited by his daughter Sheelagh, the wife of Sir Robert Goff.”

29. Malahide Castle, Malahide, County Dublin

 https://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie

Maintained by Shannon Heritage.

DSC_0059
Malahide Castle
The Castle from the Pleasure Garden, photograph by George Munday, 2014, Tourism Ireland. (see [2])

The Archiseek website tells us:

The estate began in 1185, when Richard Talbot, a knight who accompanied Henry II to Ireland in 1174, was granted the “lands and harbour of Malahide”. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century and it was home to the Talbot family for 791 years, from 1185 until 1976, the only exception being the period from 1649-1660, when Oliver Cromwell granted it to Miles Corbet [Lord Chief Baron of Ireland] after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland; Corbet was hanged following the demise of Cromwell, and the castle was restored to the Talbots. The building was notably enlarged in the reign of Edward IV [28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483], and the towers added in 1765. 

The estate survived such losses as the Battle of the Boyne, when fourteen members of the owner’s family sat down to breakfast in the Great Hall, and all were dead by evening, and the Penal Laws, even though the family remained Roman Catholic until 1774.

Malahide Castle and Demesne was eventually inherited by the seventh Baron Talbot and on his death in 1973, passed to his sister, Rose. In 1975, Rose sold the castle to the Irish State, partly to fund inheritance taxes. Many of the contents, notably furnishings, of the castle, had been sold in advance, leading to considerable public controversy, but private and governmental parties were able to retrieve some. Rose Talbot, the last surviving member of the Talbot family died at Malahide House, Tasmania in 2009.

Malahide Castle by Brian Morrison, 2015, for Tourism Ireland (see [2])

The Malahide Castle website tells us https://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/castle/a-brief-history/:

The original stronghold built on the lands was a wooden fortress but this was eventually superseded by a stone structure on the site of the current Malahide Castle. Over the centuries, rooms and fortifications were added, modified and strengthened until the castle took on its current form.

The Talbots are reputed to have been a diplomatic family and during the eight centuries between 1185 and the 1970s, their tenure at Malahide Castle was broken for only a brief interlude between 1649 and 1660 when their lands were seized by Cromwellian soldiers and the castle was occupied by Myles Corbet, Lord Chief Baron of Ireland.

The final [seventh] Baron de Malahide, Lord Milo Talbot, lived in the castle until his death in 1973. His sister Rose inherited the estate and subsequently sold it to the Irish State in 1975. Since then, Malahide Castle has continued to play an important part in Ireland’s political and social landscape, hosting international leaders and summits, and welcoming thousands of local and international visitors each year.”

It is described in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as a five bay three storey over basement medieval mansion from 1450, renovated and extended around 1650, and again partly rebuilt and extended in 1770 with single-bay three-storey Geo