Today an exhibition opened in the City Assemby House in South William Street in Dublin, the home of the Irish Georgian Society, of paintings of walled gardens of Ireland. The exhibition coincides with a television documentary about walled gardens airing this Sunday on RTE. There will also be a conference in May 2022 about the Irish country house garden, along with another exhibition, and a book edited by Finola O’Kane-Crimmins on the same subject.
The exhibition features the work of four artists, all owners of big houses: Lesley Fennell of Burtown, County Kildare; Andrea Jameson of Tourin, County Waterford; Alison Rosse of Birr Castle, County Offaly; and Maria Levinge of Clohamon, County Wexford. All of the houses but the last are on the Section 482 listing this year.
Many walled gardens are pictured, and I was delighted to recognise some.
I will be invigilating the exhibition on Wednesday 29th September 10:00 – 1:30, along with some other dates, and was there today. The launch was last night, and I was delighted that some of the artists dropped in today while I was there.
Robert O’Byrne curated the exhibition and introduced the invigilators to the work. During the year the Georgian Society ran a programme of interviews with the artists, by Robert O’Byrne, and these are available to watch at the exhibition.
My photographs, taken on my phone rather than with my Canon camera, do not do justice to the paintings.
We visited Birr Castle in 2019 and I took the same view as that painted above!
According to the small catalogue, which is available for purchase, there are about 8,000 walled gardens in Ireland! The exhibition features about thirty different walled gardens, some public and some private.
Many Section 482 houses featured in this blog have walled gardens. Most recently, I wrote about Killineer in County Louth, which is not in this exhibition. Barmeath, also in Louth, and Cappoquin in County Waterford, are included, as well as Lodge Park and Larchill in Kildare, both of which are listed in Section 482 and which I have yet to visit.
I think Robert Wilson-Wright was digging the pond featured in Lesley Fennell’s painting of Coolcarrigan, on the day that we visited!
I didn’t realise that the splendid greenhouse at Woodstock, County Kilkenny, which we visited last month, is not the original Turner-built one, but a reproduction of it.
I particularly liked the painting that Andrea Jameson did of herself struggling to paint “en pleine aire” in the wind in her garden in Tourin.
The painters paint their own gardens, and each others’. Gardens featured which are open to the public include Lismore Castle in Waterford, Altamont in Carlow, Kilmacurragh in County Wicklow, Heywood in County Laois (my father remembers seeing the fire which burnt down the house!), Doneraile in County Cork, and Russborough, which I didn’t know has a walled garden.
Some of the gardens are in Northern Ireland, such as at Glenarm and Crom Castle.
Stephen and I have been lucky enough to visit many walled gardens in our explorations of Section 482 properties, and have many more still to visit. We toured rather extensively around Ireland during Heritage Week this year and I have lots to write that I hope to publish soon!
The list of properties for 2021 has finally been published! Here it is – not too different from last year, though there are a few new places, and a few have been removed since last year.
List of approved buildings/gardens open to the public in 2021
Section 482 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997
Due to COVID restrictions properties may not be open as advertised, please check with the property owner before arranging a visit to any of the properties listed.
Borris, Co. Carlow Morgan Kavanagh Tel: 087-2454791 www.borrishouse.com Open: Feb 2-7, 9-14, 16-21, 27-28, June 1-3, 8-10, 15-16, 22-24, 29-30, July 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-21, 27-29, Aug 3-5, 10-12, 14-22, 24-26, 31, Sept 1-2, 12 noon -5pm Fee: adult €10, child €5, OAP/student €8,
Clonegal, Co. Carlow Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford Alexander Durdin Robertson Tel: 053-9377160 www.huntingtoncastle.com
Open: Feb 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Mar 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Apr 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16- 17, 23-24, Nov 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Dec 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 11am-5pm Fee: house/garden, adult/student €9, garden only €6, OAP house/garden €8, garden only €5, child house /garden €6, garden only €3, group and family discounts available
The Old Rectory
Killedmond, Borris, Co. Carlow. Mary White Tel: 087-2707189
Open: Jan 4-May 31, Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon-Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 17 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Fee: Free
Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork Gerald McGreal Tel: 087-2400831 Open: Mar 1-12, May 4-31, June 1-3, 14-25, July 17-18, 31, Aug 14-22, Wednesdays 2pm-6pm, Tues, weekends & National Heritage Week, 8am-12 noon
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3
Bantry House & Garden
Bantry, Co. Cork Julie Shelswell-White Tel: 027-50047 www.bantryhouse.com Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €11, OAP/student €8.50, child €6, groups over 8-20, €8 per person, groups 21+ €7 per person
Blarney Castle & Rock Close
Blarney, Co. Cork C. Colthurst Tel: 021- 4385252 www.blarneycastle.ie Open: all year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan-Mar, Mon-Sat, 9am- sundown, Sun, 9am-6pm, Apr-May, 9am-6pm, June-Aug, Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm, Sun, 9am-6pm, Sept, Mon-Sat, 9am-6.30pm, Sun, 9am-6pm, Oct, Nov, Dec daily 9am-6pm, Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes
Blarney House & Gardens
Blarney, Co. Cork C. Colthurst Tel 021- 4385252 www.blarneycastle.ie Open: June 1- Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 10am-3pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €7, concession joint with castle
Open: May 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, June 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, July 1-3, 5-9, 12-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-22, 26-28, 30-31, Sept 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-30, 2pm- 6pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 10 years €2, over 10 years €3
78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2 Peter O’ Callaghan Tel 087-7179367 www.bewleys.com
Open: all year except Christmas Day, 11am-7pm Fee: Free
Hibernian/National Irish Bank
23-27 College Green, Dublin 2 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
11 North Great George’s Street
Dublin 1 John Aboud Tel: 087-7983099 www.number11dublin.ie Open: March 8-13, May 10-15, June 7-12, July 5-10, Aug 2-7, 14-22, Sept 6-12, Oct 4-9, Nov 8-11,15-18, 1pm-5 pm Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free under 12years
81 North King Street
Smithfield, Dublin 7 James Kelly Tel: 086-8597275 Open: Apr 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-30, May 1, June 1-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26, 28- 30, July 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-28, 30-31, Mon-Fri, 9am- 4.30pm, Sat, 12.30pm-4.30pm
The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)
59 South William Street, Dublin 2 Mary Larkin Tel: 01-6717000 www.powerscourtcentre.ie Open: all year except New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, & Bank Holidays, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Thurs, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 12 noon-6pm
10 South Frederick Street
Dublin 2 Joe Hogan Tel: 087-2430334 Open: Jan 1-24, May 1, 3-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-27, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free
Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1 Ann French Tel: 087-2245726 www.thechurch.ie
Open: Feb 6-9, Mar 6-9, Apr 6-9, May 1-8, June 1-8, July 1-8, August 14-22, Sept 1- 8, Nov 6-9, Dec 6-9, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €6, child/OAP/student €3
Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin Lynne Savage Jones Tel: 087-2206222 Open: Apr 12-18, May 6-28, June 10-12, Aug 14-27, Nov 1-13, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free
2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 Philip Harvey Tel: Philip, 087-2463865, Paul, 086-3694379 www.fahanmura.ie Open: March 15-28, Apr 5-10, May 6-14, June 14-20, July 5-10, Aug 14-22, Sept 11- 19, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free
Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin David Doran Tel: 086-3821304 Open: Feb 13-22, March 20-29, May 1-3, 10-16, June 18-27, Aug 14-23, Sept 18-27, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5
Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin Gráinne Casey Tel: 01-2804884 Open: Jan 28-29, Feb 1-5, 8-12, 15-22, May 4-31, Aug 14-22, Sept 1-3, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free
Delvin Bridge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin Richard Berney Tel: 087-2847797 Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-29, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP/child/student €5
The Old Glebe
Upper Main Street, Newcastle, Co. Dublin Hugh F. Kerins, Martin Connelly Tel: Frank 087-2588356, Martin 087-6686996 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Mon- Sat, Aug 14-22, 10am-2pm, 4 tours daily during National Heritage Week, 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, tour approx. 45 minutes
Fee: Free, voluntary contributions only in 2021 due to Covid-19. Proceeds to charity
Portrane, Co. Dublin Terry Prone Tel: 01-6449700 Open: March 6-Sept 26, Sat & Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, student €4, OAP €1
Westminister Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18, Ruth O’Herlihy, Tel: 087-2163623 Open: Jan 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29, May 1, 4-8, 10-11, 17-22, June 8-12, 14-19, 21- 26, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student €2
Very Top of Primrose Lane, Lucan, Co. Dublin Robin Hall Tel: 01-6280373 Open: Feb 1-28, June 1-30, July 1-23, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP €6, child free
St. George’s Avenue, Killiney, Co. Dublin
Robert McQuillan Tel: 087-2567718 Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm
Open: Jan 14-17, 23-24, 28-29, Feb 4-7, 11-12, 19-21, 26-28, May 3-13,16, 18-20, 23-27, June 2-4, 8-10, 14-16, 19-20, Aug 14-22, weekdays 2.30pm-6.30pm, weekends 10.30am-2.30pm Fee: adult/OAP €8 student €5, child free, Members of An Taisce the The Irish Georgian Society (with membership card) €5
Open: Feb 1-5, 8-12, Mar 8-12, April 19-23, May 10-14, 17-21, Aug 4-10, 14-29, Sept 4-10, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free
Badgerhill, Kill, Co. Kildare Patricia Orr Tel: 086-2552661 Open: Jan 18-31, Feb 1-6, July 23-31, Aug 1-31, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, (Irish Georgian Society members free)
Ballitore Co Kildare Katharine Bulbulia Tel: 087-2414556 www.griesemounthouse.ie Open: April 19-23, 26-30, May 10-21, 17-21, 24-28, June 16-20, 23-30, July 5-9, 12- 16, 19-23, Aug 14-22, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3
Brannockstown, Co. Kildare Hubert Beaumont Tel: 087-2588775 www.harristownhouse.ie Open: Jan 11-15, 18-22, Feb 8-12, 15-19, May 4-28, June 7-11, Aug 14-22, Sept 6-10, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child €5
Celbridge Village, Co. Kildare June Stuart Tel: 01-6271206, 087-6168651 Open: Jan 1-20, May 18-26, Aug 11-31,10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3, child under 5 years free, school groups €2 per head
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April 1-Oct 31 Open: garden, April 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm, Fee: garden & heritage centre adult €8, OAP €6, child/student €3, family 2 adults and 2 children €15, tour of house €5 per adult, free two days National Heritage Week
Garden: Mar 18-Sept 30 daily, 10am-5pm, Aug & Sept, 11am-4pm Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €5, child €3.50, group concessions
Moyglare, Co. Meath Postal address Maynooth Co. Kildare Angela Alexander Tel: 086-0537291 www.moyglaremanor.ie Open: Jan 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29, May 1-21, 24-28, 31, June 1-3, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child €5
Slane, Co. Meath Alex Conyngham Tel: 041-9884477 www.slanecastle.ie Open: April 19-29, May 2-20, 23-27, 31, June 1-3, 7-10, Aug 14-22, Sept 29-30, Oct 1-2, 4-7, Sundays 12 noon-5pm, Monday – Saturday 11am-3pm
Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €12.50, child €8.40
St. Mary’s Abbey
High Street, Trim, Co. Meath Peter Higgins Tel: 087-2057176 Open: Jan 25-29, Feb 22-26, Mar 8-12, Apr 12-16, May 24-30, June 21-27, July 19- 25, Aug 14-22, Sept 13-17, 20-24, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child €2
The Former Parochial House
Slane, Co. Meath Alan Haugh Tel: 087-2566998 Open: May 1-Dec 22, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3
Kilmessan, Co. Meath Caroline Preston Tel: 086-2577939 Open: Mar 1-2, 4-5, April 5-6, 8-9, May 3-9, June 7-13, July 5-11, Aug 14-22, Sept 13-17, 20-24, Oct 4-5, 7-8, Nov 1-2, 4-5, Dec 6-7, 9-10, 11am-3pm
Open: all year including National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm Fee: Free
Glaslough, Co. Monaghan Samantha Leslie Tel: 047-88091 www.castleleslie.com (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: all year, National Heritage Week, events August 14-22 Fee: Free
Hilton Park House
Clones, Co. Monaghan Fred Madden Tel 047-56007 www.hiltonpark.ie (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April- Sept
House and garden tours available for groups, May, July, Aug, Sept, Monday-Friday, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, June 1-4, 10-14, 17-21, 24-29, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €6, child free
Castlerea, Co. Roscommon Pyers O’Conor Nash Tel: 094-9620014, 087-3371667 (Tourist Accommodation Facility) April 1-October 1 www.clonalis.com Open: Jun 1-Aug 31, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 11am-5pm, last tour 3.45pm, tours by appointment Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €8, child €5, under 7 years free, group rates can be arranged
Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon Eimear Dowd Tel: 090-6637369
Open: June 8-23, 29-30, July 1-16, 19-29, Aug 1-27, 29-31, Sept 1-2, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5
Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary
Richard & Josephine Fahey
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: May 1-Oct 31
Clonmel, Co. Tipperary Jim Gilligan Tel: 086-2539187 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 14-22, 12 noon-4pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €3, child free
Co. Waterford Postal address: Glendine, Youghal, Co. Cork
Katherine Gordon Tel: 086-1701832 www.ballynatray.com Open: April 1-Sept 30, 12 noon- 4pm Fee: adult €6, child OAP/student €3
Cappagh House (Old and New)
Cappagh Dungarvan Co Waterford Charles and Claire Chavasse Tel: 087-8290860, 086-8387420 www.cappaghhouse.ie Open: April, June, & August, Wednesday & Thursday, May & September Wednesday Thursday & Saturday, National Heritage Week, August 14-22, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult/OAP/student/€5, child under 12 free
Cappoquin House & Gardens
Cappoquin, Co. Waterford Sir Charles Keane Tel: 058-54290, July 087-6704180 www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com Open: July 20-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-28, 30, Sept 1-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25, 27-30, 9am-1pm Gardens open all year, 9am-6pm, closed Sundays Fee: house/garden €15, garden only €6
Portlaw, Co. Waterford Vanessa Behal Tel: 051-387101 www.curraghmorehouse.ie Open: May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Thurs-Sun and Bank Holidays, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22,10am-4pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student, house/garden/shell house tour €20, house €15, garden & shell house €12, garden €7, child under12 years free
Cappoquin, Co. Waterford Barbara Grubb Tel: 086-8186305 www.dromanahouse.com Open: May 1-8, 22-31, June 1-30, July 1-10, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP/student, house €10, garden: adult/OAP/student €6, child under 12 free, groups of 10 or more house/garden €12, garden €5, house €9,
Salterbridge House & Garden
Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford Philip Wingfield Tel: 086-8223005 www.salterbridgehouseandgarden.com Open: Mar 22-26, Apr 6-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30, May 3-7, 10-31, Aug 14-22, 9am- 1pm
Fee: adult house/garden €10, house or garden only €5, child/student half price, OAP free
Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 9am-6pm, Fee: adult €8.50, garden and house tour €15.50, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, OAP/student €7.50, garden and house tour €13, child €3 under 4 years free, garden and house tour €5.50
Newcastle, Co. Wicklow Michelle O’Connor Tel: 087-2505205 Open: May 1-31, Aug 14-22, Sept 1-20, 9am-1pm
The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow
contact: Eric Blachford Tel: Tel: 045-865239
Open dates in 2021 but check due to Covid 19 restrictions: Mar 1- Dec 25, 10am-5pm.
Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6.
In his A Guide to Irish Country Houses, Mark Bence-Jones calls Russborough House “arguably the most beautiful house in Ireland.”  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.” 
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.
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.” 
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. 
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.  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.  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 for Marcus Beresford, Earl of Tyrone (we came across him at Curraghmore in County Waterford) (which now houses the Department of Education) . 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. 
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.
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.
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.” 
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.
The wings have a central breakfront of three bays with Ionic pilasters. Within the colonnades are niches with Classical statues.
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.
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.” 
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 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.” 
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.
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 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. 
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.” 
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.”
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. 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).  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.  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.
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.”
“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.
 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.