Places to visit and stay in Dublin City and County

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

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

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:

Dublin City and County

See my entry Covid-19 lockdown, 20km limits, and places to visit in Dublin:

1. Airfield, Dundrum, Dublin

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

3. Ardgillan Castle, Dublin

4. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

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, Dublin – OPW

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. Dublin – section 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. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin

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

23. Howth Castle gardens, Dublin

24. Howth Martello Tower Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum

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

26. Malahide Castle, County Dublin

27. Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, County Dublin

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

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

30. Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin

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

32. Newbridge House, Donabate, County Dublin

33. 11 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

34. 39 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

35. 81 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7 – section 482

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

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

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

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

40. Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin – OPW

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

42. 10 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2 – Section 482

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

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

45. Swords Castle, Swords, County Dublin.

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

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

Places to stay, County Dubin:

1. Clontarf Castle, Clontarf, Co Dublin – hotel

2. Finnstown, Lucan, Co Dublin – hotel

3. Harrington Hall, 70 Harcourt St, Saint Peter’s, Dublin 2, D02 HP46

4. Killiney Castle, Killiney, Co Dublin  – Fitzpatrick’s hotel

5. Kilronan Guesthouse, 70 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2

6. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Rush, Dublin 

7. Martello Tower, Sutton, Dublin – whole house rental

8. The Merchant House, Temple Bar

9. Merrion Hotel (formerly Mornington House), Merrion Street, Dublin – €€€

10. Merrion Mews, Merrion Square, Dublin € for 5-6

11. Mooreen House, Newlands Cross, Dublin (built 1936) 

12. Number 31, Leeson Close, Dublin 2, D02 CP70

13. Number 11 North Great Georges Street

14. St. Helen’s, Booterstown, Co Dublin – now Radisson Blu Stillorgan hotel 

15. The Cottage, Kiltiernan, Dublin €

16. Tibradden Farm Cottages, Rathfarmham, Dublin 16 € for 4-8

17. Waterloo House, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4 €€

18. The Wilder Townhouse, Dublin 2

Whole House Rental, Dublin:

1. Dalkey Lodge, Barnhill Road, Dalkey, County Dublin – whole house rental

2. Dartry House, Orwell Woods, Dartry, Rathgar, Dublin 6 – whole house rental

3. Luttrellstown Castle, (known for a period as Woodlands), Clonsilla, Co Dublin – whole house? wedding venue

4. Orlagh House, Dublin – whole house rental


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Dublin City and County

1. Airfield, Dundrum, Dublin

Overend Way, Dundrum, D14 EE77


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)


  • 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.


Airfield House, Dublin, April 2019.

See my entry

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.

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

see my OPW entry

3. Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Dublin

see my entry

4. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry

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

Harry Clarke window, Bewleys Grafton Street.
Open: all year except Christmas Day, 9am-5pm Fee: Free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

There’s a terrific online tour, at–-heritage-home

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

7. The Casino at Marino, Dublin – OPW

see my OPW entry

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

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

Open dates in 2023: Feb 2-6, Mar 6-10, Apr 6-10, May 1-10, June 1-10, July 1-10 August 12-21, Nov 2-5, Dec 2-6, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP €6, child/student €3

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

10. Colganstown House, Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin D22 PK16 – section 482

Colganstown House, central block main house, and wing on the left hand side of the house, with flanking wall in between containing an arch.

See my write-up:

Open dates in 2023: Apr 17-23, May 4-26, June 8-10, Aug 12-25, Oct 30, Nov 1-12, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free

11. Corke Lodge Garden, Shankill, Co. Dublin A98 X264 – section 482, garden only.

Postal address Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Open dates in 2023: June 1-30, Mon-Sat, July 4-28, Tue-Fri, Aug 7-27, 10am-2pm
Fee: €8, paid voluntarily in honesty box to benefit Our Lady’s Hospice

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

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!

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Thurs, 9am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat, 9am-12.30am, Sun, 10am-12 midnight
Fee: Free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

14. Drimnagh Castle, Dublin

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

15. Dublin Castle, Dublin – OPW

Dublin Castle.

see my OPW entry

16. Fahanmura, 2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18, D18 W3F2 – section 482
Open dates in 2023: Apr 3-9, 10-14, May 8-14, 15-21, June 6-10, July 4-8, Aug 12-25, Sept 5-9, Oct 2-6, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

Open dates in 2023Jan 1-8, 13-15, 20-22, Mon-Fri, 9.30pm-1.30pm, Sat-Sun, 12 noon-4pm, May 1-7, 21, 25-28, June 9-18, Mon-Fri, 9.30am-1.30pm, Sat-Sun, 2pm-6pm, Aug 11-20, 2pm-6pm, Sept 15-17, 22-24, 29-30, Mon- Fri, 9.30-1.30pm, Sat-Sun, 2pm-6pm, Oct 21-22, 28-31, 1pm-5pm
Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

18. Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin – OPW

Farmleigh, Dublin.

see my OPW entry.

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. 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin – tenement museum

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

22. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, 23-27 College Green, Dublin 2 – section 482
Open: all year, except Dec 25, Mon-Fri, 9.30am-8pm, Sun, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

23. Howth Castle gardens, Dublin

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

Howth Castle, Dublin City Library and Archives. [2]

24. Howth Martello Tower Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum 

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

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

26. Malahide Castle, County Dublin

Malahide Castle 1976, Dublin City Library and Archives. (see [2])

maintained by Shannon Heritage.

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

27. Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, County Dublin

and online tour–-heritage-home

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

Open in 2023: March 4-Sept 24, Sat & Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 12-20, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €6, student/OAP €2, child free

see my entry

29. Meander, Westminister Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18, D18 E2T9 – section 482

Open in 2023: Jan 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30-31, Feb 1-3, May 2-6, 10-13, 15-18, 27, June 6-10, 12-17, 19-24, Aug 12-20, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student €2

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

30. Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

Rococo stucco work in Museum of Literature of Ireland (MOLI), Newman House, Stephen’s Green, Dublin.

32. Newbridge House, Donabate, County Dublin

Peacock at Newbridge House, Donabate.

which is maintained by Shannon Heritage

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

33. 11 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – section 482

see my write-up:
Open in 2023: April 10-14, 17-21, May 8-13, June 5-10, July 3-8, Aug 1-5, 12-21, Sept 4-10, Oct 2-6, 16-20, 12 noon-4 pm
Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free under 12 years

34. 39 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – section 482
Open in 2023: May 15-28, June 19-25, July 10-23, Aug 7-31, 1pm-5pm
Fee: adult €7, students/ OAP/group €5

35. 81 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7 – section 482

Open in 2023: Apr 1, 3-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-29, June 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-30, July 1, 3-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-29, 31, Aug 1-5, 7-26, 28-31, Mon-Fri, 9am-4.30, Sat, 12.30pm-4.30pm

Fee: Free 

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

The Odeon, Dublin, April 2020.
Open: all year Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 12-20, 12 noon to 12 midnight

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

The Old Glebe, Newcastle Lyons, County Dublin.

See my write-up:

Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Mon-Sat, Aug 12-20, 10am-2pm, 4 tours daily during National Heritage Week, 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm
Fee: Free, voluntary contributions only proceeds to charity

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

Powerscourt townhouse, Dublin.

see my write-up:
Open: all year, except New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Sunday, 12 noon-6pm
Fee: Free

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

Open dates in 2023: Feb 1-28, June 1-30, July 1-5, Aug 12-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP €6, child free

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

40. Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin – OPW

Ceiling at Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin.

see my OPW entry.

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

see my OPW entry.

42. 10 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2, DO2 YT54 – Section 482

contact: Joe Hogan
Tel: 087-2430334
Open: Open: all year, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free

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

see my OPW entry

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

Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

45. Swords Castle, Swords, County Dublin.

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

46. The Church, Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1 – section 482
Open: Jan 1-Dec 23, 27-31, 12 noon-10pm

Fee: Free

See my entry

47. Tibradden House, Mutton Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, D16 XV97 – section 482
Open dates in 2023: Jan 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31, Feb 1, 6-8, Mar 3-7, May 3-4, 6-10, 15-18, June 6-8, 10-14, 19-20, Aug 12-20, Sept 4-6, 11-13, 18-19, 23-24, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP €8 student €5, child free, Members of An Taisce and The Irish Georgian Society €5

see my entry on places to visit in Dublin:

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

Open days 3rd Friday & Sat of months Feb – October 

Tyrrelstown House & Garden is set in 10 hactre of parkland in Fingal, North County Dublin, just minutes from the M50, off the N3 (Navan Road). There are 2 walled gardens, and an arboretum with woodland walks including 2 hectares of wild flower & pictorial meadows. Lots of spring bulbs and cyclamen adorn this lovely sylvan setting.

The walled gardens are over 600 years old and include a wide range of alkaline and acid loving plants and shrubs and include an organic vegetable garden.

The Wilkinson family arrived here in 1895 & have been farming the land ever since.

Places to stay, County Dublin:

1. Clontarf Castle, Clontarf, Co Dublin – hotel

Clontarf Castle (image reversed) 1954, photograph from National LIbrary and Archives. (see [2])

The website tells us that the word “clontarf” means “meadow of the bull” and that the sound of the waves on the shore sounded like the bellowing of a bull. The National Inventory describes the castle:

Detached country house, built 1836-7, comprising square-plan single-bay four-stage pastiche tower house with curved corners to east end with taller tower to rear (north) of this, both with battered bases, and having complex-plan gabled four-bay two and three-storey Tudor Revival house attached to west end, having two-bay porch and two-storey canted-bay windows with crenellations to front elevation, gabled breakfront and canted-bay window with crenellations to west elevation, extensive recent extensions to rear (north) and east elevations. Now in use as hotel.” [3]

The summary appraisal of the castle tells us:

William Vitruvius Morrison was commissioned by J.E.V. Vernon to rehabilitate Clontarf Castle in 1835. The original castle was built by the Knights Templar and added to over several centuries by the Vernon family, who were granted land in Clontarf, having arrived with Cromwell in 1649. The castle was demolished and rebuilt in its entirety in 1836-7. It was designed in the Gothic Revival style and uses the architectural vocabulary of medieval castle architecture to impress the viewer and to refer to the medieval origins of Clontarf Castle. The numerous gables and the two towers create a number of interesting viewing angles, and were purposely designed to imitate a building gradually developed over centuries, with a pastiche medieval tower house contrasting with the more domestically scaled house block to the west. It was notable at the time for its visibility from the surrounding area. The well carved stonework is testament to the craftwork of nineteenth-century stonemasons. It retains richly decorative interior features, including joinery and plasterwork ceilings.”

The National Inventory entry continues the description: “Crenellated parapets with corner turrets and machicolations to tower, with pitched natural slate roofs to house having carved limestone copings and finials to raised barges, carved limestone octagonal-plan chimneystacks, and cast-iron rainwater goods. Snecked cut limestone walls to towers and ashlar limestone walls to house, with carved limestone stringcourses, painted carved shields to gables, carved Portland stone shield and date-stone to porch. Round-headed loops to towers and round-headed window openings to front tower, some paired, having carved limestone surrounds with chevron motif and leaded windows. Tudor-arch window openings to bay windows to house, having carved limestone surrounds, transoms and mullions, and leaded lights. Square-headed and Tudor-arch window openings with carved limestone label-mouldings, and timber cinquefoil and Tudor-arch leaded lights. Round-headed tripartite window openings under shared carved limestone label-moulding to porch, having leaded lights. Pointed arch door opening to porch, having carved limestone roll mouldings to surround, flanked by octagonal-plan piers with richly carved Portland stone capitals, double-leaf timber doors. Tudor-arch door opening to west elevation of house, having chamfered reveals and timber panelled door. Recent square-headed door opening to west elevation, with double-leaf timber doors. Round-headed door opening to west elevation of rear tower, having carved limestone surround. Retains extensive interior features, including plasterwork ceilings, timber wainscoting and joinery, fireplaces and encaustic tiled floors. Set in own grounds with carpark to front, entrance from south from tree-lined approach, from Castle Avenue.”

2. Finnstown, Lucan, Co Dublin – hotel – Closing December 6th 2022.

Finnstown, photograph courtesy of

The website does not tell us about the history. The National Inventory describes the house:

Detached seven-bay two-storey over basement Victorian former country house, c.1865, now in use as a hotel. Timber sash windows in segmental-arched openings with moulded dressings, decorative keystone and bracketed stone sills. Two-storey central breakfront with projecting flat-roofed porch having parapet. Timber panelled door with fanlight and flanking windows, all with round-headed dressed arches with prominent keystones. Smooth rendered walls with raised quoins and moulded string and eaves courses. Three-sided two-storey projecting bay on north-west elevation with doorway leading to ornamental foot bridge over basement access.” [4]

Finnstown, photograph courtesy of
Finnstown, photograph courtesy of
Finnstown, photograph courtesy of
Finnstown, photograph courtesy of

3. Harrington Hall, 70 Harcourt St, Saint Peter’s, Dublin 2, D02 HP46  

Boutique accommodation. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us it is a terraced double-pile three-bay four-storey over basement former townhouse, built c. 1800. It has round-headed door opening with brick voussoirs, engaged Ionic columns and pilasters supporting a fluted frieze with paterae and cornice, spoked fanlight with fluted surround and ribbed coving with raised lettering ‘HARRINGTON HALL’. Inside it has decorative plasterwork cornice and ceiling in the entrance hall.

The National Inventory tells us further:

Though altered for use as a hotel, this former townhouse positively contributes to the historic character of the street, which is dominated by late-Georgian and early-Victorian townhouses. The restrained façade is enriched with balconettes and most notably, a Neo-classical doorcase featuring a decorative fanlight embellished by ribbed coving and further complemented by decorative sidelights. The doorcase glazing allows additional light into the entrance hall, highlighting the delicate plasterwork ceiling. Harcourt Street was opened 1777 by John Hatch, barrister and Seneschal of the Manor of St. Sepulchre. Development was sporadic until the late 1790s when Messrs Hatch, Wade and Whitten obtained approval from the Wide Street Commissioners for the further development of the street.

4. Killiney Castle, Killiney, Co Dublin  – Fitzpatrick’s hotel

Welcome to Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel Dublin. Our 18th century 4 star luxury castle hotel is located near the historic village of Dalkey and the coastal town of Dun Laoghaire & only minutes from Killiney Beach, nestled next to Killiney Hill, with panoramic views over Dublin Bay and beyond. The Family owned & run Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, now in its third generation offers guests tranquility, breathtaking scenery and old world elegance which blends seamlessly with the hotels modern luxury making it the ideal location for business or pleasure.

Archiseek tells us:

This house has been alternatively known as Mount Malpas, Roxborough and Loftus Hill. The first house on the site was built about 1740 for Col. John Mapas or Malpas. The property was owned in turn by a Mr. Maunsell, Henry Loftus, Viscount of Ely, Lord Clonmel and Robert Warren, who in 1840 enlarged the house and called it Killiney Castle. He also restored and added to the monuments on the hill.

The Georgian house was given Gothic decoration and remodelled by Sandham Symes, including castellation, corner turrets, another pair of turrets in the centre, and a Gothic porch. Later the arrangement of the centre was altered to create a canted bow a storey higher than the rest of the front and with a conical roof. Now garishly painted, and forms the centrepiece of a hotel complex dating from the 1970s.”

The Castle website tells us:

The Colonel’s [Colonel Henry Loftus 1st Earl of Ely] stay was a short one; in 1772 he advertised the castle and its 150 acres for sale despite his short tenure. During his time in residence however, Colonel Loftus and his nephew converted the barren stoney soil to meadow and pasture and cut a road around the hill, his successor was Lord Clonmel [John Henry Scott, 1st Earl of Clonmell] who in 1790 improved the estate further spending £3,000 in the process, a handsome sum of money in the early 19th century. 

The name Robert Warren is very much associated with the Castle and it was he who in 1840 enlarged the house and called it Killiney Castle. He also restored and added to the monuments on the hill, repairing the obelisk originally erected by Col. Mapas and donated land and most of the money for the building of Killiney parish church. The land on the hill – once part of the estate – was purchased from his son, Robert Warren Jnr. by Queen Victoria’s jubilee memorial association and subsequently re-named Victoria Hill – as we still know it today. 

Its subsequent owners included a Mrs Chippendale Higgan. The trees and shrubs she planted can still be seen today and provide a decorative setting for the castle. 

In the 20th Century Killiney Castle was used by the Black & Tans, the IRA and the Republicans in the civil war before being burnt by Free State Troops. It was requisitioned by the Government during the 1939-45 period and used as billets for the army 

Killiney Castle exchanged hands again with the late Paddy and Eithne Fitzpatrick taking over the helm in the 1970’s, transforming it into a first class hotel and re-naming it Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel. Today their daughter Eithne Fitzpatrick Scott-Lennon owns the hotel and together with her family continues to guide the way to its continued success, whilst maintaining the original Castle charm and Irish welcome long associated with the Castle.

 5. Kilronan Guesthouse, 70 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2

Built in the 1850’s Kilronan House is one of the last remaining examples of this type of architecture that remains in Dublin City Centre today.

6. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Dublin R36 XH75 -  section 482
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: May-October

In the castle: The Lutyens Guest Wing was added in 1908-1910.  Referred to as one of Lutyens’ finest examples of domestic architecture, the two sections of Lambay Castle complement each other perfectly and are seamlessly, almost invisibly, connected by a long central corridor that runs beneath the East Terrace.

The Whitehouse was completed in 1933 for Rupert Baring’s two sisters Daphne and Calypso (daughters of Cecil and Maude) and their large families.  It was the final Baring-Lutyens architectural addition to the island and Cecil died just one year after its completion. 

The Whitehouse may be booked by private groups subject to the prior approval of Lambay Estate.  As a house of historical value, as well as personal importance to the family, it is not well suited as a party venue or for groups with many young children.  Please email for enquiries.

O’Connell’s Cottage (No.6) is at the end of the row of Coastguard Cottages, which dates back to the 17th Century.  Originally two cottages, it was merged into one large home for the estate manager and his family of eight, and has kept his name ever since. 

7. Martello Tower, Sutton, Dublin

Stephen and I visited the Martello tower at Portrane, which is a section 482 home. See my write-up:

The website for the Sutton Martello tower tells us: “Martello Tower Sutton offers self-catering accommodation with a difference. This unique historic building is available for rental as a holiday home, a short-term letting, or even corporate letting.

Built-in 1804, Martello Tower Sutton is located on the north coastline of Dublin Bay, Ireland, with breathtaking views of the bay and surrounding areas. Set in Red Rock, Sutton, the Tower has been refurbished to a high standard and offers guests a truly unique self-catering holiday option.

Accommodation consists of three levels: two bedrooms and a bathroom on the lower level; living area and balcony overlooking the bay on the middle level; and a modern kitchen/dining room offering breathtaking 360° views from roof level.

The website gives the history:

Fear of an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte reached panic proportions among the authorities in Ireland and England in 1804 and was the reason Martello Towers were built, first in Ireland and then in England. Their purpose was to provide what were, in those days, ‘bombproof’ towers from which fire could be directed at ships of the hourly expected French invasion fleet. Martello Tower Sutton was the first Tower to be built in Dublin and is referred to in the annals as Tower No. 1.

The name “Martello” derived from the name of a tower at Mortella point in the gulf of Fiorenzo. The Royalist French along with the Royal Navy, failed to take the tower after attempting to rebel against the Napoleonic French in 1794. So impressed were the British by the strength of the tower, they suggested that similar towers would be useful in Ireland and England...

The original Towers from the Napoleonic era are circular in shape, with 2-4 meter thick walls, which were made from solid stone that was all sourced locally. The entrance doorway of the towers are three metres from the ground which meant at the time access to the entrance was only made by a ladder.  The ladder then could be removed to protect against an invader.

The Towers never fired a cannon in anger, as Napoleon never invaded Ireland or England. However, it is believed that the Towers acted as a deterrent, as Napoleon had every intention to invade England using Ireland as a “back door” bridgehead.

In total there were 50 Martello Towers built in Ireland, and 103 built in England.  The Military numbered the towers for easy reference. Towers were also built in South Africa, Majorca and the whole Mediterranean area but most are not Martello Towers, but rather defence towers against pirates.

The function and purpose of the Towers in Ireland today differs from one to another. In Dublin while there are 21 Towers that remain standing many are derelict, some demolished, some are owned by government departments, and others are privately owned, some of which are habited and some uninhabited.”

8. The Merchant House, Temple Bar, Dublin

The website tells us that it was built in 1720, then restored in 2005. Each suite has a large, stylish bathroom and soundproofed windows. Archiseek tells us that the Merchant Hall building was built in 1821 by Frederick Darley – I’m not sure if the hotel is located in this building. Merchant Hall was built as a Guild Hall.

9. Merrion Hotel (formerly Mornington House), Merrion Street, Dublin –  €€€

The Merrion Hotel by Tony Pleavin, 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool [5]
The Merrion Hotel, photograph by Jeremy Hylton.

From the website: “The Merrion is one of the most significant restoration projects which has taken place in Dublin over recent years. The Georgian architecture lends itself perfectly to the needs of a hotel: the elegantly simple and dignified exterior of the houses give presence and a wonderful sense of arrival, to The Merrion. Mornington House has transitional interiors of great magnificence which provide an exciting backdrop for the activities of the hotel and its guests. These four important Listed houses have been sympathetically restored and brought back to life to be enjoyed by people from all over the world.” Peter MacCann, General Manager, The Merrion

Front Hall the Merrion Hotel, courtesy of Merrion Hotel, 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [1])

The Main House of the hotel is comprised of four meticulously restored Grade I Listed Georgian townhouses and a specially commissioned contemporary Garden Wing is arranged around two private period gardens. The houses were built in the 1760’s by Lord Monck (Charles Stanley Monck) for wealthy Irish merchants and nobility. He lived in No. 22, which became known as Monck House. The most important of the four houses is, however, No. 24 Upper Merrion Street. This was leased to Garrett Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, in 1769, it has since been known as Mornington House. The house is remembered historically as being the birthplace of Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington. All four houses had been in use as state offices for most of this century. The well-known Irish writer, Flan O’Brien,(also known as Myles na Gopaleen) author of “The Third Policeman,” allegedly worked in the buildings when he worked for the government.

The four houses forming the Main House of The Merrion are typical of domestic Georgian architecture in Ireland. The plain exteriors rely for effect on the carefully worked out classical proportions of the timber sash windows and their relation to the whole façade. The door cases, with their varied treatment and intricate beautiful fanlights, were where the builder could impose some individuality on the building.

The Merrion Hotel drawing room 2018, care of the Merrion Hotel, Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [1])

In most other areas, the normal lease laid down strict requirements. Internally, there were no such restrictions. This explains the wealth of varied plasterwork and woodwork contained in the houses. The architectural detail of the houses clearly indicates the progression of their construction. No. 21 has intricate rococo plasterwork and a particularly heavy staircase. The detail lightens as one progresses along the terrace, although No. 22, the first to be built, is an exception. Here the main stair hall and the principal reception rooms have much lighter detailing, in the neo-classical, Adam style. In the midst of this lighter decoration, there are examples of heavier detail, such as the intricate Corinthian cornice in the stairwell, and the superb third floor room with coved ceilings and dramatic rococo plasterwork. Monck House was “modernised” in the late 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century.

No. 23 was also “modernised” thirty or forty years after completion. The reception rooms in particular changed after 1790 when the windows were enlarged, window boxes and shutters modified and connections made to the front room. The removal of the principal stairs and hall inside the front door may have been done later in order to increase the number of rooms in the house. Since all four houses are Grade 1 Listed, immense care was taken before work began on the site. Planning Permission was granted after two years, with the Architect dealing with all relevant bodies including An Taisce (The Irish National Trust). Work eventually started in October 1995. The Merrion comprises 123 rooms and 19 suites. The interior is designed using Irish fabrics and antiques to reflect the architecture and original interiors of the Main House. Throughout the hotel guests benefit from the latest technology. There is a choice of two restaurants and two bars. A luxurious Spa and swimming pool, six magnificent meeting and private dining rooms, and a private car park.

10. Merrion Mews, Merrion Square, Dublin € for 5-6

11. Mooreen House, Newlands Cross, Dublin (built 1936) 

The website tells us: “In 1932, in America, the present owner’s parents purchased plans for use in building their new home, Mooreen House. The design was already famous and had been awarded the title House of the Year, and a full-scale replica was constructed in Macy’s New York Department Store.

While intended for 20th century living the interior cleverly combines the grandeur of former times with a modern economy of space, all in authentic Art Deco taste. Today this is reflected by the original contents which combine with the building to form a family home of considerable elegance and charm. The house, with a newly built cottage using all the latest insulation techniques for additional guests, is set in 20 acres of beautifully maintained private gardens and woodlands. The owner can justly claim her place in Ireland’s history since her grandfather, The O’Rahilly, was one of the few 1916 leaders killed in the fighting near the GPO.”

12. Number 31, Leeson Close, Dublin 2, D02 CP70 €€

The website describes it:

Number 31 is Dublin’s premier tucked away place to stay, combining a period Georgian townhouse and a light filled modernist mews, once home to famed architect Sam Stephenson and the epicentre of social Dublin in the 1960s and 70s.

The place to stay of choice for artists and design enthusiasts, here light, colour and texture combine to create a mildly eccentric, laid back luxury vibe

The Mews building at Number 31 was a disused stable when it was bought by renowned and controversial architect Sam Stephenson in 1957, allegedly for £1000, which he quickly turned into Dublin’s perfect James Bond baddie pad.

The elegant Georgian town-house on Fitzwilliam Place with ornate stucco ceilings and spacious rooms is decorated as an homage to the Jazz age, featuring stunning period pieces and objet’s d’art from our owners collection.

A secluded garden joins both buildings, a tranquil space for guests to enjoy.

Delia’s renowned breakfast is one of the highlights here and seals our reputation for serving the Best Breakfast in Dublin among those in the know. It’s no surprise Number 31 was awarded Georgina Campbell’s 2017 Guesthouse of the Year.

As a guest at Number 31, lounge in Stephenson’s high style 1970s sunken living room and even stay in Sam’s Room with the latest 21st century technology at your fingertips as you dream about bygone glitterati. 

All this and more is hidden behind a traditional Dublin Georgian façade in a luxury townhouse that also features Jazz themed rooms and its cool sounds and décor of the Jazz Age in New Orleans, Chicago, London, New York, Paris, and even Berlin.

13. Number 11 North Great Georges Street

14. St. Helen’s, Booterstown, Co Dublin – now Radisson Blu Stillorgan hotel €€

The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us that it was built around 1750 for Thomas Cooley – Barrister/MP for Duleek, and was originally named Seamount. St. Helen’s is:

A listed two storey, five bay classical house with a centre pediment carried on coupled Corinthian pilasters, and lower wings, which are single-storey on one side and two-storey on the other. It has a cladding of Portland stone and a glass conservatory with curved roof. The fourth gatelodge was shared with San Souci.  The garden is thought to have been originally designed by Ninian Niven (the Victorian age landscaper). The 1st Viscount Gough [Hugh Gough (1779-1869), 1st Viscount of Goojerat and of Limerick], renamed the House St Helen’s during his tenure and employed John McCurdy to makes extensive alterations and additions so as ‘to add to the ​accommodations and comfort’ in 1862/3. A beech tree planted in the garden had a circular iron seat which was slowly subsumed by the tree. The garden also contained one of the few old Mulberry trees in the locality.

The house was renovated again for Sir John Nutting when he purchased it in 1897 by English architect William Douglas Caroe. It had four gatelodges, one of which ​was opposite St Thomas’s Church and another which as on Booterstown Avenue. By 1903 the house was the location for parties and charity concerts with over 500 people sometimes in attendance to hear Madame Alice Etsy or Melfort D’Alton sing, or a ball with Gottlieb’s band in attendance. The Nuttings were gracious hosts and they opened the gardens of their home for many charitable events.” Sold 1925 to Christian Brothers, who sold 1988, and after a period of uncertainty it was sold for conversion to an hotel in 1996. [6]

15. The Cottage, Kiltiernan, Dublin €

The Cottage has a great history and has stood here for over 200 years looking down over the City boundaries, Dublin Bay and beyond.

This unique Irish Cottage has been tastefully restored to the highest modern standards so as to provide four star comforts within its two foot thick walls.
The Cottage is a great place from which to explore.

16. Tibradden Farm Cottages, Rathfarmham, Dublin 16 € for 4-8

17. Waterloo House, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4 €€

Waterloo House is situated in Ballsbridge Dublin 4, just off the bustling Baggot Street and only a few minutes walk from St. Stephen’s Green, Grafton Street and many of Dublin’s key places of interest. Waterloo House offers free off-street parking – an absolute rarity in downtown Dublin! Yet amazingly, we are on one of the tranquil tree-lined avenues of Ballsbridge – a quiet residential street with gardens on both sides.
Waterloo House has 19 bedrooms, all are en-suite with HD flat screen TVs, direct-dial telephones and tea/coffee making facilities. There is also a lift to all floors. Reception is provided on a 24 hour basis and there is free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. Enjoy the hustle and bustle when you want it and then retreat to Waterloo House for a quiet night’s sleep. Waterloo House has combined two tall 1830’s Georgian townhouses to offer the finest in luxury four star boutique accommodation in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 – an elegant and stylish inner Dublin City Centre suburb. This fashionable address also boasts some of the finest restaurants in Dublin.

18. The Wilder Townhouse, Dublin 2

Whole House Rental, Dublin:

1. Dalkey Lodge, Barnhill Road, Dalkey, County Dublin – whole house rental

Dalkey Lodge, which dates to c. 1660, is the oldest surviving house in the heritage town of Dalkey. The house stands on just over an acre of mature, walled gardens, just a few minutes stroll from Dalkey village.

Accommodation comprises of a drawing room, dining room, well equipped kitchen, eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, games room / library with bar and a fully equipped utility room. The drawing room, dining room, games room and six of the bedrooms have fireplaces.

2. Dartry House, Orwell Woods, Dartry, Rathgar, Dublin 6 – whole house rental

3. Luttrellstown Castle, (known for a period as Woodlands), Clonsilla, Co Dublin – whole house? wedding venue

Luttrellstown Castle Resort, photograph by Colm Kerr 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5]). The National Inventory describes it: “Detached seven-bay two-storey castle, incorporating fabric of earlier castle. Extended and remodelled c.1810, with battlements and turrets. Two wings to rear, with several later additions. Farmyard quadrangle mostly dating to c.1840. Demesne with lake, cascades, ice-house, gate lodges, obelisk, tower, bridges, rustic pavilion, and Doric temple. Now in use as hotel.”

The castle dates from around 1420, according to Timothy William Ferrars. [7] Ferrars tells us that SIR GEOFFREY DE LUTEREL (c1158-1218), who had large estates in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Yorkshire, accompanying KING JOHN to Ireland, and diligent in public affairs, “obtained a grant from the crown of Luttrellstown, on the payment of twenty ounces of gold, to hold by military service, and had livery of these lands” from John Marshal, Lord Marshal of Ireland. 

Thomas Luttrell (1466-1544) was Chief Justice of Ireland and lived in Luttrellstown. He married Anne Aylmer, of Lyons, County Kildare, in 1506. Another Thomas Luttrell of Luttrellstown married Alison St. Lawrence, of Howth Castle, daughter of the 10th Baron Howth (Nicholas St Lawrence, d. 1643).

Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 195. “(Luttrell, Carhampton, E/DEP; White, Annaly, B/PB; Guinness, sub Iveagh, E/PB). An old castle of the Pale, originally the seat of the Irish Luttrells; whose members, during the course of C18, included the notorious Col Henry Luttrell [1655-1717], murdered in his sedan-chair in the streets of Dublin 1717; and two sisters, Anne, who married George III’s brother, the Duke of Cumberland, and Elizabeth, who is said to have committed suicide in Augsburg after being sentence to sweep the streets chained to a wheelbarrow, on a charge of picking pockets.” [8]

Anne Luttrell (1743-1808) Mrs Christopher Horton, later Duchess of Cumberland, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), painted 1766. She was born at Luttrellstown Castle, Dublin, she was a young widow when Gainsborough painted her likeness. Horace Walpole described her as having “the most amourous eyes in the world and eyelashes a yard long. Coquette beyond measure and artful as Cleopatra and complete mistress of all her passions and projects.” In 1771 she caused a storm by marrying Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, the king’s younger brother. Portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland.

This Henry Luttrell had raised and commanded five squadrons of cavalry for King James II. Although a Jacobite (a supporter of King James II) he was pardoned after the Treaty of Limerick (and therefore allowed to keep his lands, which had been confiscated from his brother, Simon [1600-1660]. Simon was married to Mary Preston, daughter of Jenico Preston, 5th Viscount Gormanston and his wife Margaret St Lawrence of Howth. He sat in the Patriot Parliament of King James II and was a representative for Carlow hence would have known Mark Baggot who also sat as representative for Carlow at that time!). In 1702, Henry was appointed a major-general in the Dutch service; but, on the death of King William III, retired to his principal residence at Luttrellstown.

Bence-Jones continues: “The brother of these two ladies, Gen Henry Luttrell, 2nd Earl of Carhampton, sold Luttrellstown ca 1800 to Luke White [1740-1824], MP, self-made millionaire who changed the name of the property to Woodlands, and encased the old castle in romantic early C19 Gothic, with battlements and round and polygonal turrets; he also added to it, and remodelled  and redecorated the interior; creating the octagonal entrance hall, with its ceiling of plaster Gothic vaulting, and giving the ballroom its magnificent and unusual ceiling of plaster vaulting with Adamesque ornamentation. The only major interior surviving from Luttrell’s time is the library, which in their day was the entrance hall; it has an unusual C18 ceiling with a bow and arrow in high relief.

Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The two principal ranges of the castle are at an acute angle to each other, which makes for attractive vistas through the rooms in unexpected directions. An entrance tower and porch, and a Tudor-Revival banqueting hall, were added to the castle later in C19, probably in 1850s by Luke White’s son, who afterwards became 1st Lord Annaly [Henry, 1789-1873]. 3rd Lord Annaly [Luke, 1857-1922], who held various court appointments under Edward VII and George V, went back to calling the castle by its old name of Luttrellstown. For some years, early this century, Luttrellstown was owned by Major E.C. Hamilton; then, ca 1927, it was bought by Hon Ernest Guinness [Arthur Ernest Guinness, (1876-1949) son of the 1st Earl of Iveagh], who gave it to his daughter, Hon Mrs Brinsley Plunket [Aileen], on her wedding [to Brinsley Sheridan Bushe Plunket]. During the years that Luttrellstown was her home, Mrs Plunket decorated and furnished the castle with palatial elegance, and entertained in a grand manner. She replaced C19 Tudor banqueting hall with a splendid dining room in early C20 style, with birds and swags and foliage of stucco in high relief on the walls, and a painted ceiling by de Wit. The room was designed by Mr Felix Harbord, who also designed an Adamesque drawing room decorated with grisaille paintings by Peter de Gree fro Oirel Temple, and transformed the staircase hall with a painted ceiling by Thornhill. The demesne of Luttrellstown is of great extent and beauty, with a large lake spanned by a many-arched bridge, a sham ruin and Doric temple.” 

Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])
Gothic Hall, Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5]) The National inventory describes the interior: “Octagonal entrance hall; Gothic vaulting; ballroom with Adamesque plasterwork.”
Inner Hall, Luttrellstown Castle, Mark Fennell Photography, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])
Inner Hall: the staircase hall with a painted ceiling by Thornhill, Luttrellstown Castle, courtesy of Luttrellstown Castle Resort for Failte Ireland 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, Van Stry Ballroom, photgraph by Mark Fennell Photography 2018, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, Van Stry Ballroom, photograph by Colm Kerr 2018. (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, The Kentian Room: “birds and swags and foliage of stucco in high relief on the walls, and a painted ceiling by de Wit. The room was designed by Mr Felix Harbord, who also designed an Adamesque drawing room decorated with grisaille paintings by Peter de Gree fro Oirel Temple, and transformed the staircase hall with a painted ceiling by Thornhill”, photograph by Colm Kerr, 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [5])
Luttrellstown Castle Resort, The Kentian Room, photograph by Colm Kerr 2018 (see [5])

Robert O’Byrne gives us a wonderful description of life at Luttrellstown Castle and the Guinness family on his website,

4. Orlagh House, Dublin – whole house rental

The Hidden Ireland website tells us:

A Georgian mansion built by Dublin snuff merchant Lundy Foot back in 1790. Frequent visitors to the house included the Great Emancipator Daniel O’Connell, Eoin Mac Neill, Padraig Pearse and William Smith O’Brian, among many other famous figures from Anglo-Irish history.

A truly unique house set on 45 acres in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, with spectacular views over Dublin City and stretching out as far as the Irish Sea. We are only 25 minutes from Dublin Airport and from Dublin city centre. The house has been lovingly and tastefully restored in recent years, with large drawing and reception rooms and open fires. Our beautiful dining room sits 20 people at our regency table. There is a large games room in the basement of the house with table tennis, pool table, and a full-sized snooker table.

There is lots to do in the immediate area including numerous hiking trails both on the estate and in proximity including the Dublin Way and the Wicklow Way. We have an equestrian centre next door with reduced rates for guests and some of Dublin’s most infamous pubs are within 10 minutes of the house, with great local food, traditional music, and Irish dancing.

The house really is one-of-a-kind.


Orlagh house is the perfect location for couples who want something different from the norm, a unique and truly personal day to remember. Exclusively yours for your wedding day with a second day optional, we also have 14 bedrooms to offer your guests.

We have an in-house catering team who can create your perfect menu, from sit down formal dining to a more laid-back BBQ’. Choose from our indoor ballroom or numerous outside garden areas. Our wedding team are there to help you with everything you may need.


[2] Dublin City Library and Archives.






[8] 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.

Places to visit and stay in Counties Armagh, Derry and Down

On September 9th 2023 all Landmark Trust properties in Northern Ireland will be open to visitors, from 10am-4pm. See their website for details, as booking will be required, but booking is not open yet. Subscribe for updates to find out when you need to book to make a visit.

I maintain pages on this website which list the big houses available to visit in each county, as well as big houses in which one can stay. I refer to these pages myself when booking accommodation when Stephen and I travel the country visiting Section 482 properties. There are many wonderful historic properties in which one can stay. Many people are familiar with the “blue book” of accommodation, or Landmark Trust properties, or “Hidden Houses of Ireland” that lists historic houses that have accommodation. With the rise of the popularity of airbnb, I have found many more historic houses that offer accommodation.

Let me know if you have any suggestions of historic houses in which one can stay, which I have not yet discovered to list on my pages!

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

2023 Diary of Irish Historic Houses (section 482 properties)

To purchase an A4 size 2023 Diary of Historic Houses that lists the open dates of properties open to the public to fulfil the Section 482 requirement, send your postal address to along with €25 via this payment button. The calendar of 100 pages includes space for writing your appointments as well as photographs of the historic houses.


The province of Ulster contains counties Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone.

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:


1. Ardress House, County Armagh

2. The Argory, County Armagh 

3. Brownlow House, County Armagh

4. Derrymore House, Bessbrook, County Armagh – National Trust

5. Milford House, Armagh 

Places to Stay, County Armagh

1. Crannagael House, 43 Ardress Road, Portadown Craigavon Armagh BT62 1SE €€

2. Killeavy Castle, County Armagh

3. Newforge House, Magheralin, Craigavon, Co. Armagh, BT67 0QL €€

Whole house rental, County Armagh:

1. Elmfield Estate, Craigavon, County Armagh.


1. Bellaghy Bawn, County Derry 

2. Hezlett House, 107 Sea Road, Castlerock, County Derry, BT51 4TW on Downhill Demesne.

3. Mussenden Temple, Downhill Demesne

4. Springhill House, County Derry

Places to stay, County Derry

1. Ardtara Country House and restaurant, County Derry €€ 

2. Brown Trout Inn, Aghadowey, Nr Coleraine Co. Derry, BT51 4AD

3. Roselick Lodge, County Derry – whole house rental for 8 guests, three nights minuminimum

Whole House Rental, County Derry

1. Beechill House, 32 Ardmore Road, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland BT47 3QP – weddings

2. Drenagh House, County Derrywhole house rental, 22 guests


1. Audley’s Castle, County Down

2. Bangor Castle Park, County Down

3. Castle Ward, County Down 

4. Dundrum Castle, County Down

5. Hillsborough Castle, County Down 

6. Montalto Estate, County Down

7. Mount Stewart, County Down

8. Newry and Mourne Museum, Bagenal’s Castle, County Down

9. Portaferry Castle, County Down

Places to stay, County Down

1. Barr Hall Barns, Portaferry, County Down

2. Castle Ward, Potter’s Cottage in farmyard and Castle Ward bunkhouse

3. Culloden, County Down – hotel €€€

4. Florida Manor, 22 Florida Road, Killinchy, Newtownards, Co Down, BT23 6RT Northern Ireland

5. Helen’s Tower, Bangor, County Down: Irish Landmark property €€

6. Kiltariff Hall, County Down

7. Narrow Water Castle, apartment, Newry Road, Warrenpoint, Down, Northern Ireland, BT34 3LE

8. The Old Inn, Bangor, County Down

9. Slieve Donard hotel and spa, County Down €€

10. St John’s Point Lighthouse Sloop, Killough, County Down: Irish Landmark property € for 3-4

11. Tullymurry House, Tullymurry road, Donaghmore, Newry, County Down sleeps 8, € for 8

12. Tyrella, Downpatrick, County Down, BT30 8SUaccommodation €

Whole house County Down

1. Ballydugan House, County Down (weddings)

2. Drenagh Estate and Gardens, County Down (weddings)


Help me to fund the maintenance and update of this website. It is created purely out of love for the subject and I receive no payment so any donation is appreciated!


Places to Visit in County Armagh

1. Ardress House, County Armagh


Kevin V. Mulligan writes in The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster (p. 83) [1] that Ardress is the best preserved example of a gentleman’s farmhouse in South Ulster, due to its ownership by the National Trust. The discovernorthernireland website tells us:

Ardress is nestled in the apple orchards of County Armagh and offers afternoons of fun and relaxation for everyone. Built in the 17th century as a farmhouse, Ardress was remodelled in Georgian times and has a character and charm all of its own.

Elegant Neo-classical drawing-room with plasterwork by the Dublin plasterer Michael Stapleton 
• Attractive garden with scenic woodland and riverside walks 
• Home to an important collection of farm machinery and tools 
• Rich apple orchards
• On display is the 1799 table made for the speaker of the Irish Parliament upon which King George V signed the Constitution of Northern Ireland on 22nd June 1921

Visitor Facilities:
Historic house, Farm yard, Garden, Shop, Guided tours, Suitable for picnics, Programme of event

Mulligan writes that it is a mid-Georgian house with a two storey facade of seven bays, with a small Tuscan portico in the centre, and it was later enlarged to nine bays by the addition of a slightly lower quoined wings. It began as a smaller five bay house with basement, and Mulligan tells us that it was probably built for Thomas Clarke.

The National Trust website tells us: “Clarke and Ensor families who lived at Ardress from the late 1600s to the mid 20th-century. See how the originally modest farmhouse was enlarged and re-modelled over the years. Some of the furnishings are original while others have made their way back here. Highlights include the drawing room, dining room and a fine collection of paintings on loan from Stuart Hall in County Tyrone.

Past our brand new visitor reception area you’ll find the traditional, cobbled farmyard. Pop into the different outbuildings such as the smithy, byre and threshing barn to get a flavour of old-time rural life. The whole family will love meeting the friendly chickens, goats and donkey, and there’s also a children’s play area.

Bring your walking boots and set off on the Lady’s Mile (really three-quarters-of-a-mile, if you’re counting). This circular, woodland path is a real highlight of any visit, especially in spring when it’s full of wildflowers. There are some great views back to the house and look out for Frizzel’s Cottage, an 18th-century mud-walled house which is now fully refurbished.

Ardress sits in the heart of Armagh’s rich apple-growing country. Visit in May to see the orchards burst into vibrant whites and pinks, truly a memorable sight. During Apple Blossom Sundays (12 and 19 May), there will be orchard tours, local cider, local honey, music, country crafts and family fun. Be sure to come back in October for the Apple Press Days, when you can pick your own apples. Kids can also press their own apple juice.”

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

p. 11. “(Ensor/LG1894) A two storey five bay gable-ended house of ca. 1664 with two slight projections at the back; enlarged and modernized ca. 1770 by the Dublin architect, George Ensor – brother of better-known architect, John Ensor – for his own use. Ensor added a wing at one end of the front, and to balance it he built a screen wall with dummy windows at the other end. These additions were designed to give the effect of a centre block two bays longer than what the front was originally, with two storey one bay wings having Wyatt windows in both storeys. To complete the effect, he raised the façade to conceal the old high-pitched roof; decorating the parapet with curved upstands and a central urn; the parapet of the wings curving downwards on either side to frame other urns. Ensor also added a pedimented Tuscan porch and he altered the garden front, flanking it with curved sweeps. Much of the interior of the hosue was allowed to keep its simple, intimate scale; the oak staircase dates from before Ensor’s time. But he enlarged the drawing room, and decorated the walls and ceiling with Adamesque plasterwork and plaques of such elegance and quality that the work is generally assumed to have been carried out by the leading Irish artist in this style of work, Michael Stapleton. Ardress now belongs to the Northern Ireland National Trust and is open to the public.” [2]

2. The Argory, County Armagh

The Argory was built in the 1820s on a hill and has wonderful views over the gardens and 320 acre wooded riverside estate. This former home of the MacGeough – Bond family has a splendid stable yard with horse carriages, harness room, acetylene gas plant and laundry. Take a stroll around the delightful gardens or for the more energetic along the woodland and riverside way-marked trails. Photo by Brian Morrison 2009 for Tourism Ireland. [3]

The discovernorthernireland website tells us:

The Argory was built in the 1820s and its hillside location has wonderful views over the gardens and 320 acre wooded estate bordering the River Blackwater. This former home of the MacGeough–Bond family has a splendid stable yard with horse carriages, harness room, acetylene gas plant and laundry. Take a stroll around the delightful gardens or for the more energetic along the woodland and riverside way-marked trails. 

Fascinating courtyard displays
Garden, woodland and riverside walks with wonderful sweeping views 
Snowdrop walks and superb spring bulbs
Adventure playground and environmental sculpture trail 
Enjoy afternoon tea and award winning scones in Lady Ada’s tea room

Visitor facilities –
Historic house: Garden: Countryside: Shop: Refreshments: Guided tours: Suitable for picnics

The National Trust website tells us: “The Argory is the home of Mr Bond, the last of four generations of the MacGeough Bond family. Designed by brothers Arthur and John Williamson of Dublin (who also did work for Emo Court in County Laois), the house was built by Mr Bond’s great-grandfather, Walter. The Argory was gifted to the National Trust in 1979. Designed in approximately 1819, started in 1820 and finished about 1824, The Argory came into existence due to a quirky stipulation in a will. Created with Caledon stone in coursed ashlar blocks with Navan limestone window sills, quoins and foundations, the interior of this understated and intimate house remains unchanged since 1900.

The house was largely closed up at the end of the Second World War, with Mr Bond, the last owner, moving into the North Wing. What you see today is a result of four generations of collecting, treasured by Mr Bond, displayed as he remembers it from his childhood.”

Of The Argory, Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 12. “(MacGeough Bond/IFR) Built ca. 1820 by Walter MacGeough (who subsequently assumed the surname of Bond), to the design of two architects, named A. and J. Williamson, one or both of whom worked in the office of Francis Johnston. A house with imposing and restrained Classical elevations, very much in the Johnston manner, of two storeys, and faced with ashlar. Main block has seven bay front, the centre bay breaking forward under a shallow pediment with acroteria; Wyatt window in centre above porch with Doric columns at corners. Unusual fenestration: the middle window in both storeys either side of the centre being taller than those to the left and right of it. Front prolonged by wing of same height as main block, but set back from it; of three bays, ending with a wide three-sided bow which has a chimneystack in its centre. Three bay end to main block; other front of main block also of seven bays, with a porch; prolonged by service wing flush with main block. Dining room has plain cornice with mutules; unusual elliptical overdoors with shells and fruit in plasterwork. Very extensive office ranges and courtyards at one corner of house; building with a pediment on each side and a clock tower with cupola; range with polygonal end pavilions; imposing archway. The interior is noted for a remarkable organ and for the modern art collection of the late owner. Now maintained by the National Trust.” [4]

3. Brownlow House, County Armagh

Brownlow House, Lurgan Castle, Lurgan, Photographer/ Christopher Heaney, 2022 for Tourism Ireland.

Brownlow House or Lurgan Castle, so named presumably after the Rt. Hon. Charles Brownlow, who built it in 1833, was created Baron Lurgan in 1839, was owned by the Brownlow family until the turn of the century. Changing fortunes resulted in property being sold to the Lurgan Real Property Company Ltd. and subsequently the House and surrounding grounds were purchased on behalf of Lurgan Loyal Orange District Lodge. The legal document of conveyance is dated 11 July 1904. In appreciation of the effort of the late Sir William Allen, KBE, DSO, DL, MP in obtaining the House, an illuminated address was presented to him by District Lodge and now hangs in the Dining Room beside the portrait of Sir William painted by Frank McKelvey. He together with Messrs. Hugh Hayes, John Mehaffey, George Lunn Jun. and James Malcolm Jun. were the first Trustees.

Browlow House, built in an age of grandeur and cultured tastes, is an imposing building. It has retained much of the atmosphere of bygone days and one can readily pause and still imagine what life was like when it was occupied as a dwelling.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Brownlow House (1988):

p. 49. (Brownlow, Lurgan, B/PB) A large Elizabethan-revival house by William Playfair, of Edinburgh, built from 1836 onwards for Charles Brownlow, 1st Lord Lurgan, whose son, 2nd Baron, owned the famous greyhound Master McGrath, and whose brother-in-law, Maxwell Close, built Drumbanagher, also to the design of Playfair. Of honey coloured stone, with a romantic silhouette; many gables with tall finials; many tall chimneypots; oriels crowned with strapwork and a tower with a lantern and dome. The walls of three principal reception rooms are decorated with panels painted to resemble verd-antique; while the ceilings are grained to represent various woods. The grand staircase has brushwork decoration in the ceiling panesl, and the windows are filled with heraldic stained glass. Sold 1903 to the Orange Order, its present owners, by whom it is used for seasonal functions. Its grounds have become a public park.”

4. Derrymore House, Bessbrook, County Armagh – National Trust, open to public.

The National Trust website tells us that Derrymore House is a late 18th-century thatched house in gentrified vernacular style.

The name Derrymore is derived from ‘doire’, the Irish for an oak grove and ‘mór’, meaning large.  Derrymore was the home of Isaac Corry (1753-1813), MP for Newry from 1776.  He commissioned John Sutherland (1745-1826), the leading landscape gardener of the day, to carry out improvements to the land. Sutherland enhanced the existing woodland by planting thousands more trees. Oak, chestnut, pine and beech trees now dominate the woodlands, which contain some very fine mature specimens. The picturesque thatched house was built for Corry, in the style of a ‘cottage orné’, which gives it a rather romantic feel. It is surprisingly large inside with reception and bedrooms on the ground floor, and service rooms in the basement. 

Isaac Corry was Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer in 1800, when the Act of Union with Britain was passed. It followed a time of extreme political unrest. The Act removed parliamentary control from Dublin to London, a highly contentious move. Many who supported the union were seen as betraying Ireland in the interests of economics and trade, while others saw it as an economic and political necessity. As MP for Newry and supporter of the linen industry, Corry was keen to ensure solid trade links. The Act was also meant to deliver Catholic Emancipation, but to the dismay of many, including Corry, this part of the Act was not ratified. 

Corry sold Derrymore in 1810 and retired to his Dublin house, where he died in 1813. After passing through several hands, Derrymore was bought by John Grubb Richardson (1815-1890), owner of the Bessbrook linen works and village and a member of the Society of Friends.  

By the mid-19th century the linen industry had become a major part of the Ulster economy.  Industrialisation brought in ever more sophisticated engineering. The Craigmore Viaduct, visible from Derrymore demesne, opened in 1852, creating a major transport link between Dublin and Belfast. The linen business at Bessbrook grew from a small mill, with weaving carried out on looms in people’s own cottages (piece work), into an impressive series of flax, spinning and weaving mills, spear-heading new developments in damask weaving, and established a world-wide reputation for Richardson Linens.

John G. Richardson invested heavily in Bessbrook, creating a model village around the large mill, run on Quaker principles of mutual respect between managers and workers. Good housing, religious tolerance, playing fields and schools helped create a thriving and settled community. No public house ensured that there was no need for a police station, nor for a pawnshop. 

John G. Richardson let Derrymore house to tenants and built The Woodhouse for his own family in the northern part of the demesne. He created informal gardens through the rocky woodland, making use of the granite rock from local quarries, enhanced the walled garden and built entrance lodges.

In 1940, soldiers of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry arrived in Bessbrook as a defence against German invasion of Northern Ireland from across the Irish border. In 1943, the troops were replaced by the US Army Quartermaster Depot Q111-D until August 1944. 

After the war, John S.W. Richardson, a descendant of John G Richardson, offered Derrymore House to the National Trust. In the 1970s the “Troubles” impacted Bessbrook and Derrymore. The mill was turned into a major base for the British Army and was known as the busiest military heliport in Europe. Corry’s association with the Act of Union led to bombs being planted at Derrymore house on several occasions between 1972 and 1979; one firebomb damaged the house. The caretaker, Mr Edmund Baillie and his two sisters lived in the house and luckily were unhurt, but their safety and the survival of the house were largely due to Mr Baillie’s personal courage in moving some of the bombs away from the building. The Trust was forced to close the house and remove the contents for safe keeping; it opened again in the late 1980s. In 1985 John Richardson generously bequeathed the rest of Derrymore demesne to the National Trust, including The Woodhouse, walled garden and various lodges.

The National Trust has worked with a number of partners to enhance access to Derrymore Demesne with a focus on local visitors, providing better footpaths, parking, toilet facilities and a children’s play area to ensure that everyone can enjoy the beauty of Derrymore in harmony with nature and wildlife and its historic past.

Mark Bence-Jones writes:

p. 102. “(Corry/LG1886) A single-storey thatched cottage ornee of Palladian form, consisting of a bow-fronted centre block and two flanking wings, joined to the main block by diminutive canted links. The central blow of the main block is three sided, and glazed down to the ground, with mullions and astragals; it is flanked by two quatrefoil windows, under hood mouldings. There is also a mullioned window in each wing. Built ante 1787 by Isaac Corry, MP for Newry and last Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer. The Act of Union is said to have been drafted in the fine drawing room here. Now owned by the Northern Ireland National Trust and open to the public.

5. Milford House, Armagh

Milford House was the one of its age. The most technologically advanced house in 19th century Ireland – the first in Ireland to be lit with hydro electricity. The creation of Robert Garmany McCrum, self made industrialist, benefactor and inventor who revolutionized the linen industry. His son William invented the penalty kick rule in football (which makes Milford world famous!) and his daughter Harriette was a founding member of the women’s suffragette movement in Ireland. By 1880 Milford House had six bathrooms each with a Jacuzzi and Turkish bath and a waterfall in the dining room. From 1936 to 1965 it was home to the Manor House School.

Today Milford House is one of the top ten listed buildings at most serious risk in Northern Ireland.

Mark Bence-Jones writes:

p. 206. “A two storey vaguely Italianate C19 house. Camber-headed windows; three sided bow; pedimented three bay projection. Elaborate range of glasshouses running out at right angles from the middle of the front. The seat of the McCrums, of the firm of McCrum, Watson & Mercer, damask manufacturers, of Belfast.”

Places to Stay, County Armagh

1. Crannagael House, 43 Ardress Road, Portadown Craigavon Armagh BT62 1SE €€

Mob: +44 (0) 75 9004 7717
Mob: +44 (0) 78 3153 0155

Crannagael House, photograph by Brian Morrison, 2018, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [4]).

The website tells us:

Crannagael House, owned and occupied by Jane and John Nicholson, is nestled in the heart of the County Armagh countryside and is approximately 3 miles from M1 junction 13 and 5 miles from Portadown on the B28, Moy – Portadown Road.

It is a grade 2 listed Georgian house and is still owned by the same family that built it in the mid 18th century. It is surrounded by gardens, parkland and mature woodland, and the accommodation overlooks an apple orchard – a delight when the blossom is out in May!

Nicholsons have lived at Crannagael House since 1760.  Subsequent generations were involved in the linen industry and then in 1884 one Henry Joseph Nicholson, the current owner’s great grandfather, imported the first 60 Bramley Seedling trees to Armagh from Southwell in Nottinghamshire, and the rest as they say is history!

The self contained apartment on the East wing comprises several bedrooms, bathroom and downstairs shower with wc (both with wonderful views of the orchard!)and a fully fitted kitchen, dining area and lounge.”

2. Killeavy Castle, County Armagh

St. Patrick’s day Greening, Killeavy Castle Estate, Co Armagh, 2022 ©Killeavy Castle Estate, for Failte Ireland.

The website tells us:

Killeavy Castle Estate is the perfect antidote to the modern fast paced world. As the centrepiece of 350 acres of mixed farm and woodland in County Armagh’s stunning Slieve Gullion, it’s the ideal place to escape, retreat, relax and unwind. Easily accessible only 10 minutes outside Newry City and one hour from both Belfast and Dublin Airports makes it Northern Irelands premier Hotel and Spa destination. 

At Killeavy Castle Estate we are all about living life more slowly and in the present; cherishing those ahhh moments for when the distractions of the modern world finally ebb away and you get closer to the things that matter most. Whether that’s nature, history, loved ones or even yourself, this secluded country Estate will provide everything you need to emerge fully rejuvenated.

Perfect for a unique getaway, wedding or special celebration, take a closer look at everything the Estate has to offer from a beautifully restored Castle, boutique Hotel accommodation, superb cuisine with ingredients sourced from our local farm, Spa and endless opportunities for walking in a stunning location.”

Killeavy Castle is a Grade A listed historical building originally designed in 1836 by architect George Papworth of Dublin. Formally known as Killeavy Lodge, the Foxall family had their home rebuilt in the style of the pre-Victorian Gosford Castle with towers, Tudor windows and a medieval-style door transforming the modest farmhouse into a home fit for a king.

Situated on the eastern base of Slieve Gullion, the original castle and surrounding grounds brought a new element to the beautiful landscape. The building contained a basement level with a kitchen, store rooms, servant’s quarters and an underground tunnel to allow servants to enter and exit the building unseen. Above was a parlour and wine cellar, with an adjoining drawing room, library and conservatory. On the top level were six bedrooms, four dressing rooms and bathrooms. There was a beautiful walled garden and an ornamental water wheel.

The Bell family took ownership of the property in 1881, but in recent years the building fell into disrepair. Fortunately, the facade remained intact and, surrounded by fir plantations and lush farmland, it has been returned to its former glory.

The Architect

George Papworth (1781-1855) was the younger brother of English architect John Buonarotti Papworth. He established himself in Ireland and designed many notable buildings including Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital and the King’s Bridge in Dublin. His drawings of Killeavy were exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1836.

Killeavy’s Journey From Family Home to Historic Hotel

We are proud to have brought a stunning piece of architectural heritage and Northern Ireland history back from the brink of ruin. When we took ownership of Killeavy Castle Estate, we saw its incredible potential and decided to restore it to its former glory.

Our mission was to fully restore Killeavy Castle Estate so that locals and visitors alike could enjoy it for generations to come. In 2019, we opened the Killeavy Castle to the public as a historic hotel, wedding venue, spa and visitor attraction.

Since then, we have welcomed countless visitors from around the world. Guests flock to our Estate to appreciate our meticulously restored 19th century Castle, manicured gardens, unspoiled woodlands, and authentic working farm.

Killeavy Castle Estate Today

Today, the Killeavy Castle Estate comprises our 19th-century Castle, a four-star boutique-style Hotel with 45 guestrooms in our restored Mill and Coach House, and a three-guestroom luxury self catering Gatelodge. 

Our guests can also enjoy our fine dining restaurant, casual bistro bar and luxury spa facilities. Comfort and class are our guiding principles, bringing the opulence of days gone by to everyone who visits our Estate.

3. Newforge House, Magheralin, Craigavon, Co. Armagh, BT67 0QL €€

From the website: “Welcome to Newforge House, a historic family-run country house offering warm hospitality, luxurious rooms and delicious local seasonal food in tranquil surroundings. Set on the edge of the small village of Magheralin, Newforge is an oasis of calm and the perfect location for your romantic break or a special occasion with friends and family. Our central location, only 30-minute drive from Belfast, makes Newforge an ideal base for touring Northern Ireland.”

Newforge House, County Armagh, photograph by Brian Morrison 2016, for Northern Ireland Tourism, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [4]).

Whole house rental, County Armagh:

1. Elmfield Estate, Craigavon, County Armagh

The website tells us:

Elmfield Estate has been a family home for generations and of the Shaw family for the last 60 years. It has evolved through the years, from a modest dwelling house and stable yard in the 18c to an impressive Victorian Scottish baronial style house with turrets and ziggurat balustrades, built by the wealthy linen barons in the mid-1800s. The estate ran into disrepair after the second world war but was saved by the Shaws who have lovingly restored the house, farm, and gardens room by room lawn by lawn. Elmfield has certainly been a place of transformation and vision over the last 60 years. When Derek and Ann’s three children were little, they enjoyed the freedom and wildness that only a semi-derelict estate can offer. To turn that into what you see today is down to Derek’s vision.

There are more than 300 years of fascinating history to be discovered here, from the history of the founding, design and redesign of the house to the plans for the grounds and courtyards. Over the years more than one family dynasty of linen merchants has called Elmfield their home, and the layers of heritage here offer deep insights into Northern Ireland’s once-dominant linen industry.

During World War II Elmfield was home to a very different cohort of people, housing German and Italian prisoners of war within its grounds. Some years after the war a comprehensive restoration of the Elmfield Estate was completed by the Shaw family and forms the basis of what you can see today, enabling the estate to host rewarding holistic experiences that include mindfulness and meditation walks, self-discovery retreats, corporate wellness and leadership programmes, and transformative deep yoga residencies.”


1. Bellaghy Bawn, County Derry

Built around 1619 by Sir Baptist Jones, Bellaghy Bawn is a fortified house and bawn (the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house). What exists today is a mix of various building styles from different periods with the main house lived in until 1987.” Open on Sundays.

2. Hezlett House, 107 Sea Road, Castlerock, County Derry, BT51 4TW on Downhill Demesne.

Hezlett’s picturesque thatched cottage exterior hides a fascinating early timber frame dating from 1690, making it one of the oldest vernacular domestic buildings in Northern Ireland. The story of the house is told through the experiences of the people who lived there.

The house at Liffock became home to the Hezletts in 1766 and stayed within the family for the next 200 years until the National Trust acquired it in 1976. The National Trust website tells us:

Isaac Hezlett (1720-1790) was the first Hezlett to live in the cottage at Liffock. He acquired the dwelling and some land in 1766. At this point in his life he was married to his second wife Esther and had two sons; Samuel from his first marriage with Margaret Kerr and Jack, half-brother to Samuel. When Samuel’s father died, he inherited the farm at the age of 37 and about five years later he married Esther Steel. She was 22 years his junior and they had eight children. Samuel was intimidated by local insurgents to join the United Irishmen; his half-brother Jack was an ardent supporter. He was threatened to be hanged from the Spanish chestnut tree in his own garden. By 1798 the rebellion was at its height and the two brothers were on opposite sides of the war. 30,000 lives were lost when the rebels were finally defeated. Jack escaped to the recently created United States of America while Samuel remained with his family in their home at Liffock until he died in 1821.

Samuel’s eldest son Isaac (1796-1883) married Jane Swan (1805-1896) in 1823. He built a two-storey extension to form a new self-contained unit for his mother and sisters. This extension could be regarded as forerunner of what we call today a ‘granny-flat’. Isaac also increased the acreage farmed at Liffock. Hugh (1825-1906), Samuel and Jane’s eldest son, increased the acreage of the farm once more. By putting his education to good use he made the farm more productive; more cash crops were grown and the herds of dairy cattle and sheep were increased. The outputs from the farm which generated income included the cash crops of flax, barley, potatoes, oats and turnips, in addition to wool, milk, calves, pigs and eggs. Hugh also oversaw an extensive re-modelling of the farmyard and outbuildings. In 1881 the Gladstone Land Act paved the way for further Acts which enabled tenant farmers to buy the land they had hitherto rented. So by the early 20th century the Hezletts were not tenant farmers but owner-occupiers.

In 1976, with funds provided by Ulster Land fund and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society the National Trust acquired the house from the third Hugh Hezlett (1911-1988).”

3. Mussenden Temple, Downhill Demesne

Mussenden Temple by Matthew Woodhouse 2015 for Tourism Ireland. (see [4])

Downhill Demesne delves into a life and landscape steeped in history and nature. There’s much to explore as you enter this enchanting estate. Wander around the 18th-century demesne and discover dovecotes and gardens as you stumble upon a spectacular temple.”

The house of Downhill is now a ruin.

The National Trust website tells us:

2018 marked the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Frederick Augustus Hervey in the Diocese of Derry. He was consecrated as Bishop in St Columb’s Cathedral in March 1768. Frederick was a man of many parts as well as being a cleric he was a scientist with a deep interest in volcanology; he was a collector of art; he travelled extensively and spoke German, French and Italian fluently; he took a keen interest in Irish politics and music; he was a powerful proponent of religious equality; and he was a builder of churches, bridges and roads.

He is remembered by us for his association with the Giant’s Causeway and the creation of the Downhill Demesne. A keen volcanologist, Frederick ‘discovered’ the Giant’s Causeway in the sense that he publicised what was then an isolated, seldom-visited spot and was the first to study it in a wider scientific context and pass on his findings to his learned friends throughout Europe. He also created Downhill House and the Mussenden Temple, Northern Ireland’s most iconic building, as his country retreat.

The Earl Bishop is largely regarded as being his own architect at Downhill but it was the Cork born Michael Shanahan who drew up most of the building plans and was, for most of the time, his buildings works superintendent. The mason James McBlain executed all the decorative carving and much of the subsequent building for the Earl. Italian stuccadores were also employed, chief among whom was Placido Columbani.

Downhill is characterised by a three storey front, facing south and with two long wings at the back of this. Originally these wings terminated in domes topped with ornamental chimney-pots. The wings were continued in ranges of outbuildings, forming inner and outer yards, and ending towards the sea in two immense curving bastions of basalt.

The main house block was faced with freestone from Dungiven quarries, about 30 miles away. The basement is rusticated and the storeys above decorated with pairs of Corinthian pilasters, topped by Vitruvian scroll course, a cornice and parapet.

Sadly the interior of the house shows little of its original character. The house was almost entirely gutted by a fire which broke out on a Sunday in May 1851. The library was completely destroyed and more than 20 pieces of sculpture had been ruined. Most of the paintings were rescued, but a Raphael, The Boar Hunt, was reported destroyed.

In his later years, the Earl Bishop spent very little time in Ireland. His Irish estates were administered by a distant cousin, Henry Hervey Aston Bruce, who succeeded him following his death in 1803.

In 1804 Henry Hervey Aston Bruce was created a baronet and Downhill remained with the Bruce family until at least 1948, though the family rarely lived there after around 1920.

The only other occupation of the house came about during WWII when the site was requisitioned by the RAF. The house was subsequently dismantled after the war and its roof removed in 1950.”

Frederick Augustus Hervey also built Ballyscullion in Derry and Ickworth in Suffolk, England. He built them not only to indulge his love of architecture, but to house his large collection of paintings, furniture and statues. He first encountered his architect, Michael Shanahan, when he was Bishop of Cloyne in Cork. David Hicks tells us in his Irish Country Houses, a Chronicle of Change that Hervey took Shanahan on a trip to Italy between 1770-1772 in order to make sketches of various items of interest that could be incorporated into his home. Shanahan took up residence in the Hervey estate in Derry and acted as the Earl Bishop’s architect in residence.

The Bishop created Mussenden Temple in memory of Mrs Frideswide Mussenden, a cousin who died in 1785. Shanahan was the architect. It is believed that the Bishop used it as a private library, and permitted local Catholics to use the ground floor for mass. He left Downhill and Ballyscullion to Mrs Mussenden’s brother, Reverend Henry Aston Bruce. In doing so, he disinherited his wife and son, with whom he had quarrelled.

Frideswide Mussenden was born Frideswide Bruce. Her parents were Henrietta Aston and James Bruce. Henrietta Aston was daughter of Rev. Hon. Henry Hervey-Aston, son of John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, who was the brother of Bishop Frederick Augustus’s father. The Bishop’s heir was therefore only distantly related, quite a blow to the disinherited wife and son.

Reverend Bruce who inherited Downhill and Ballyscullion dismantled the latter in 1813, perhaps due to window taxes, and transferred its furniture and art to Downhill. A fire in 1851 destroyed Downhill and much of its contents. The house was rebuilt to some degree to the design of John Lanyon between 1870-74.

Reverend Bruce was created a British Baronet in 1804. His son became 2nd Baronet and grandson, 3rd Baronet of Downhill. It was passed to the 4th, 5th and 6th Baronets. By the 1950s most of the contents of the house has been sold and the house dismantled and surrounding land sold. The estate is now in the care of the National Trust.

4. Springhill House, County Derry

Springhill House and Gardens Courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland 2007 (see [3])

Springhill has a beguiling spirit that captures the heart of every visitor.  Described as ‘one of the prettiest houses in Ulster’, its welcoming charm reveals a family home with portraits, furniture and decorative arts that bring to life the many generations of Lenox-Conynghams who lived here from 1680. The old laundry houses one of Springhill’s most popular attractions, the Costume Collection with some exceptionally fine 18th to 20th century pieces.

New Visitor Reception offering a retail and grab and go catering offer. Celebrated collection of costumes, from the 18th century to 1970s. Visit our second-hand bookshop and pick up a bargain. 

Beautiful walled gardens and way marked paths through the parkland. Children’s adventure trail play park and natural play area. A variety of events throughout the year.  There are three walks available: Beech Walk, Snowdrop Walk, Sawpit Hill Walk.

Visitor Facilities:
Historic house, garden, shop, refreshments, guided tours.
Suitable for picnics and country walks. Programme of events available.
House: admission by guided tour (last admission 1 hour before closing).
Open Bank Holiday Mondays and all other public holidays in Northern Ireland.
Closed 25 and 26 December.
Visitor Centre has café and shop.
See Information tab for full Opening Times and Prices.
Access for visitors with disability and facilities for families.
Dogs welcome on leads in grounds/garden only.
Available for functions.

Caravan Site 


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

p. 263. “(Lenox-Conyngham/IFR) A low, white-washed, high roofed house with a sense of great age and peace; its nucleus late C17, built ca 1680 by “Good Will” Conyngham, who afterwards played a leading part in the defence of Derry during the Siege. Altered and enlarged at various times; the defensive enclosure or bawn with which it was originally surrounded was taken down, and two single storey free-standing office wings of stone with curvilinear end-gables were built early C18 flaking the entrance front, forming a deep forecourt. Col William Conyngham, MP, added two single-storey wings to the house ca 1765, which was when the entrance front assumed its present appearance: of seven bays, the windows on either side of the centre being narrower than the rest, and with a three sided bow in each of the wings. In the high roof, a single central dormer lighting the attic. The hall has C18 panelling; behind the hall is an early C18 staircase of oak and yew with alternate straight and spiral twisted balusters. The Gun Room has bolection moulded oak panelling which could be late C17 or early C18, though it cannot have been put into this room until much later, for there are remains of C18 wallpaper behind it. The large and lofty drawing room in the right-hand wing is a great contrast after the small, low-ceilinged rooms in the centre of the house; it has a modillion cornice and a handsome black marble chimneypiece. Though essentially a Georgian room, it has been given a Victorian character with a grey and green wallpaper of Victorian pattern. Next to the drawing room, in the garden front, is the dining room, added ca 1850 by William Lenox-Conygham; a large simple room of Georgian character, with a red flock paper and a chimneypiece of yellow marble brought from Herculaneum by the Earl of Bristol Bishop of Derry and presented by him to the family. The garden front, which is irregular, going in and out, facing along an old beech venue to a ruined tower which may originally have been a windmill. Transferred to the Northern Ireland Trust by W.L Lenox-Conygham, HML, shortly before his death in 1957. Springhill is featured in his mother, Mina’s book An Old Ulster Home and is open to the public.” 

William Conyngham married Ann Upton, daughter of Arthur Upton of Castle Upton, County Antrim (this still exists and is privately owned), MP for County Antrim. Springhill passed to their daughter Anne who married David Butle, a merchant. Their son George took the name Conyngham and inherited Springhill. Although he had sons, Springhill passed through the line of his daughter, Ann (1724-1777) who married Clotworthy Lenox (1707-1785). Their son took the name George Lenox-Conyngham (1752-1816) when he inherited. George married twice: first to Jane Hamilton, and their son William Lenox-Conyngham (1792-1858) added the dining room to Springhill. George married secondly Olivia Irvine of Castle Irvine (also called Necarne; the park around Necarne Castle can freely be visited during daytime. The ruin of the castle itself is boarded up, so its interior can not be visited), County Fermanagh. One of their descendants was Jack Nicholson who inherited Enniscoe in County Mayo.

Springhill passed then from William Lenox-Conyngham (1792-1858) and his wife Charlotte Mesolina Staples of Lissan, County Tyrone, to their son William Fitzwilliam Lenox-Conyngham, and it was his grandson William Lowry Lenox-Conyngham who left it to the Northern Ireland Trust.

Places to stay, County Derry

1. Ardtara Country House and restaurant, County Derry €€


2. Brown Trout Inn, Aghadowey, Nr Coleraine Co. Derry, BT51 4AD

The website tells us:

Whether it’s for a drink, dinner, a weekend break or a round of golf we want you to enjoy the Brown Trout experience.

At the Brown Trout Inn we know that relaxing means different things to different people. For some, food and drink is all-important. Our menu offers fresh locally sourced produce ranging from ‘taste of Ulster’ favourites like honey-grilled gammon and buttery champ to slow-roasted lamb shanks and not forgetting fresh fish, including grilled trout of course.

For others, putting their feet up is the closest thing to heaven. Our Courtyard accommodation offers space, comfort and quality – the cottages hold NITB four-star status. All our accommodation is easily accessible for wheelchair users and guests with disabilities and all rooms are dog-friendly. Wifi access is free throughtout the hotel.

3. Roselick Lodge, County Derry – whole house rental for 8 guests, three night minimum

Dating back to 1830, this sympathetically restored Georgian property offers a tranquil rural setting midway between Portstewart and Portrush. Whilst retaining many of the original features and charm, the open plan extension has been adapted to suit modern living. The accommodation comprises three main reception areas, a Magnificent Family Kitchen /Living and Dining area, a cosy and tastefully decorated Snug with open fire, access to south facing Orangery and large secluded cottage gardens. Upstairs are four well proportioned bedrooms sleeping up to eight guests and a spacious first floor balcony with sea views. Minimum 3 night stay.

Whole House Rental, County Derry

1. Beechill House, 32 Ardmore Road, Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland BT47 3QPweddings

Beechill Country House Hotel, Courtesy of Tyrone and Sperrins destination, for Tourism Ireland.

2. Drenagh House, County Derry – whole house rental, 22 guests

Nestled in beautiful parkland where you will find our grand Georgian Mansion House which is perfect for weddings, family get togethers, corporate events and much more.

Mark Bence-Jones writes about Drenagh House (formerly Fruit Hill) in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):

p. 107. “(McCausland/IFR) The earliest major country house by Charles Lanyon, built ca 1837 for Marcus McCausland, replacing an early C18 house on a different site. Of significance in the history of C19 Irish domestic architecture in that it is a competent late-Georgian design by an architect whose buildings in the following decade are definitely Victorian. Two storey; o an attractive pinkish sandstone ashlar. Five bay entrance front with the centre bay recessed and a single-storey Ionic portico in which the outer columns aer coupled. Adjoining front of six bays with two bay pedimented breakfront; the duality of the elevation being emphasised rather than resolved by the presence of three giant pilasters, supporting the pediment. Rear elevation of one bay between two three sided bows, with fanlighted tripartite garden door. Lower service wing at side. Balustraded parapet round roof and on portico. Single-storey top-lit central hall with screen of fluted Corinthian columns; graceful double staircase with elegant cast iron balusters rising from behind one of these screens. Rich plasterwork ceilings in hall, over staircase and in drawing room; simpler ceilings in morning room and dining room. At the head of the stairs, a bedroom corridor with a ceiling of plaster vaulting and shallow domes goes round the central court or well, the lower part of which is roofed over to form the hall. Very large and extensive outbuildings. Vista through gap in trees opposite entrance front of house to idyllic landscape far below, the ground falling steeply on this side; straight flight of steps on the axis of this vista leading down to bastion terrace with urns. Chinese garden with circular “moon gate,” laid out by Lady Margaret McCausland 1960s. Gate lodge by Lanyon with pedimented Ionic portico.” 


1. Audley’s Castle, Castle Ward, County Down

Audley’s Castle, Castle Ward by Bernie Brown for Tourism Ireland 2014 (see [3])

The castle is named after its late 16th-century owners, the Audleys, an Anglo-Norman family who held land in the area in the 13th century, It was sold, with the surrounding estate, to the Ward family in 1646 and used in 1738 as an eye-catching focus of the long vista along Castle Ward’s artificial lake, Temple Water.

The site comprises of a number of paths to allow you to get to the Castle.

2. Bangor Castle Park, County Down

This impressive building was built for the Hon Robert Edward Ward and his family in 1852. It is presently the headquarters of Ards and North Down Borough Council who use the mansions spectacular grand salon as the council chamber. The building is situated in the grounds of Castle Park alongside North Down Museum and is just a short walk from Bangor Castle Walled Garden.

CS Lewis visited North Down on many occasions throughout his life and regularly returned to the area. He enjoyed the beautiful view over Belfast Lough from the grounds of Bangor Castle. As Lewis himself once said “Heaven is Oxford lifted and placed in the middle of County Down”.

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

p. 30. “(Ward, sub Bangor, V/PB; Bingham, Clanmorris, B/PB) An Elizabethan-Revival and Baronial mansion by William Burn, built 1847 for Robert Ward, a descendant of 1st Viscount Bangor. Mullioned windows; oriels created with strapwork; rather steep gables with finials. At one end, a battlemented tower with a pyramidal-roofed clock turret. Partly curved quoins, very characteristic of Burn. Inherited by Robert Ward’s daughter and heiress, Matilda Catherine, wife of 5th Lord Clanmorris. Featured in Peers and Plebs by Madeleine Bingham. Now owned by the town of Bangor.” 

3. Castle Ward, County Down

Castle Ward, County Down, 13 August 2006 Picture by David Cordner :Tourism Northern Ireland (see [3]) and

The National Trust website tells us:

The current Castle Ward is a particularly unusual building, famed for having been built with two completely different architectural styles, both inside and out.

One half is built in the classical Palladian style, with the other half which faces out across Strangford lough built in the more elaborate Gothick* style.

The story told for the reason behind this unusual decorative scheme is that the original builder of the house, Bernard Ward, 1st Viscount Bangor, did not agree with his wife Lady Anne on the décor. Bernard was more classical in taste with Lady Anne prefering the fashionable Gothick style, leading them to split the house down the middle. This story is compounded by the fact that they separated not long after the house was finished with Anne leaving Castle Ward for good. This hint of scandal has carried this story through the years, but let us consider instead that Anne and Bernard set out to build the house exactly as it is – not a marriage of compromise, but a triumph of collaboration.

When Bernard and Lady Anne inherited the estate in 1759 they set about building themselves a fine new house, one which would be symbolic of their union and exist as a statement of the Ward family’s bold and forward-thinking place in the world. Castle Ward was completed in 1766 and by 1781 they had been created Viscount and Viscountess Bangor in the Peerage of Ireland.

Lady Anne’s grandfather was the nephew of the Duchess of York – wife of King James II, and a first cousin of Queen Anne. This royal ancestry shows itself in the choice of the Gothick style. The ceiling in the Morning Room is copied from the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey where Anne’s maternal family were permitted to be buried due to their royal blood. Rather than the house becoming known as an architectural monstrosity, the couple aimed for it to be a masterpiece, striving against convention and rooting the Ward family as bold, modern thinkers with an impressive past.

The unusal combination of styles has long been a point of joy or novelty for guests, having a ‘marmite’ appeal. On a visit to Castle Ward, writer and poet John Betjeman referred to the ceiling in the Boudoir as “like sitting under a cow’s udder”, and the comment has stuck. Others comment on the otherworldly feeling created in the exotic grandeur of the Gothick side.

Please check the homepage for opening times of the mansion house before planning your visit, as they may change seasonally. There is no need to book your visit in advance.

The website also tells us more about owner Anne Ward:

Castle Ward – the story of a warring couple, divided in opinion and styles leading to a house with two sides. Perhaps the story is a little more complicated – here we delve deeper into the background of Lady Anne Bligh, co-architect of Castle Ward.

Given that Lady Anne Ward was co-creator of the dichotomous style of Castle Ward, it is surprising how few of her possessions or papers are left in the collection. Hers’ remains a hidden history. Having left Castle Ward and her husband Bernard in 1770 shortly after the completion of the house, she has become a symbol of mystery and speculation, made notorious and unusual because of her independence of mind and spirit.

The public expression of her personal tastes in the Gothick style at Castle Ward, clashed dramatically with her husband’s preferred classical style, and this has resulted in the condemnation of Lady Ann as unusual. History has found it difficult to understand the architectural choice that was reached by Lady Anne and Bernard, seeming as a legacy to their failed marriage. Whilst Bernard is remembered as the maker of the classical side of the house, symbolically representing reason, balance and order, Lady Anne in contrast represents an ‘otherness’ which she expressed in Gothick architecture – seemingly conveying her fantastical, whimsical and unconventional personality.

The Royal blood from her maternal grandparents gave Lady Anne the hauteur and confidence to do as she pleased. Her grandfather, the Earl of Clarendon was the nephew of the Duchess of York, wife of James II, and a first cousin of Queen Anne. Queen Anne was her mother Theodosia’s Godmother, and as such Theodosia was allowed to marry in Westminster Abbey. This was something Lady Ann was keen to highlight in her choice of architecture at Castle Ward, even copying the plasterwork from the Henry VII Chapel and recreating it in the Morning Room as a reminder of her royal connections.

The Earl of Clarendon also prompted perception of the family as “eccentric” by accounts of them acting out their role as Colonial Governor of New York dressed in articles of women’s clothing which challenged social boundaries of the period. Historians have been unable to confirm the accuracy of these accounts nor the motivations behind the Earl’s alleged presentation of gender non-conformity. Whatever the accuracy or reason, contemporaries condemned the Earl and considered it to be a sign of ‘great insanity’, however the Earl remained protected and often handsomely rewarded by their cousin Queen Anne. This connection provided crucial protection from critics.

Elizabeth Hastings, Countess of Moira who knew the family decribed them as having ‘an hereditary malady’. Members were noted as experiencing varied mental health issues. Lady Anne was accused of having ‘a shade of derangement in her intellects’. Her brother, Lord Darnley, was convinced he was a teapot and was reluctant to engage in sexual activity lest ‘his spout would come off in the night’; Lady Anne’s son Nicholas was declared ‘a lunatic’ in 1785 but details about this are scant.

Lady Anne’s relationship with a woman, prior to her two marriages, has also been the source of popular speculation and of academic debate. At 21, Lady Anne embarked on a six year relationship with Letitia Bushe, a woman considered much inferior in status and wealth, but much more experienced in the world with a great intellect and close friend of Mrs Delany. From the surviving correspondence of Letitia Bushe, it is clear that she was besotted with Lady Anne who was some fifteen years her junior, writing in 1740:

‘This Day twelvemonth was the Day I first stay’d with you, the night of which you may remember pass’d very oddly. I cannot forget how I pity’d you and how by that soft road you led me on to love you… that first Sunday at Bray, when you were dressing and I lay down on your Bed – ‘twas then I took first a notion to you’.

Academic research has suggested that this instance of same-sex love and desire provided Lady Anne with ‘an alternative outlet for emotional needs and energies, free of the complex web of economic and social considerations that surrounded relations between men and women of the propertied classes’ at this time.

Sadly none of Lady Anne’s correspondence to Letitia Bushe survives – in true Lady Anne style she remains an enigma, true to herself regardless of tastes or conventions, and a symbol of ‘the three-dimensional complexity of human life’.

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

p.78. Castleward: “Ward, Bangor, V/PB) A grand mid-C18 house of three storeys over basement and seven bays; built 1760/73 by Bernard Ward (afterwards 1st Viscount Bangor), and his wife, Lady Anne, daughter of 1st Earl of Darnley, to replace an earlier house. Probably by an English architect; and faced in Bath stone, brought over from Bristol in Mr Ward’s own ships. It seems that the Wards could not agree on the style of their new house; he wanted it to be Classical; but she was of what Mrs Delany called “whimsical” taste and favoured the fashionable new Strawberry Hill Gothic. The result was a compromise. The entrance front was made Classical, with central feature of a pediment and four engaged Ionic columns rising through the two upper storeys, the bottom storey being rusticated and treated as a basement. The garden front, facing over Strangford Lough, was made Gothic, with a battlemented parapet, pinnacles in the centre, and pointed windows in all its three storeys and seven bays – lancet in the central breakfront, ogee on the other side. All the windows have delightful Strawberry Hill Gothic astragals. This front of Castleward, and Moore Abbey, Co Kildare, are the only two surviving examples of mid-C18 Gothic in major Irish country houses which are not old castles remodelled. The interior of Castleward is remarkable in that the rooms on the Classical side of the house are Classical and those on the Gothic side Gothic; thus the hall – now the music room – has a Doric frieze and a screen of Doric columns; whereas the saloon has a ceiling of fretting and quatrefoils, pointed doors and a Gothic chimneypiece. The dining room, with its grained plaster panelling, is Classical and the sitting room is Gothic with spectacular plaster fan vaulting. Mr Ward, however, managed to be one up on his wife in that the staircase, which is in the middle of the house, is Classical; lit by a Vvenetian window in one of the end bows. If we believe Lady Anne, this was not the only time when he got his own way at her expense, for, having left him, as it turned out, for good, she wrote accusing him of bullying her. In C19, a porch was added to one of the end bows of the house, making a new entrance under the staircase; so that the hall became the music room. In the grounds there is a four storey tower-house, built at the end of C16 by Nicholas Ward; also a temple modelled on Palladio’s Redentore, dating from ante 1755; it stands on a hill, overlooking an early C18 artificial lake, or canal. On the death of 6th Viscount, 1950, Castleward was handed over in part payment of death duties to the Northern Ireland Government, who gave it, with an endowment, to the National Trust. The house and garden are now open to the public, and the Trust has set up various projects in different parts of the estate.” 

4. Dundrum Castle, County Downruins

5. Hillsborough Castle, County Down

Hillsborough Castle & Gardens, Tourism Northern Ireland 2017 (see [3])

Hillsborough Castle has been a grand family home and is now the official home of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and a royal residence. Members of the Royal Family stay at Hillsborough when visiting Northern Ireland.

Viewed by some as a politically neutral venue, Hillsborough has played an important role in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland since the 1980s.

In 2014, Historic Royal Palaces took over the running of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and began an ambitious project to restore the house and gardens to its former glory.

Hillsborough, originally the settlement of Cromlyn (meaning Crooked Glen) in mid-Down, became part of the Hill family estates in the early 1600s. Moyses Hill, the landless second son of an English West Country family, joined the army to seek his fortune in Ireland, where he supported the Earl of Essex, a military leader sent by Elizabeth I. 

At this time, the land was still in the hands of Irish chiefs of the Magennis family. But the defeat of Irish chieftain Hugh O’Neill in 1603 opened the way for men such as Moyses Hill to establish themselves as landowners in Ireland. The Hills bought some 5,000 acres of land, then gradually added to this over the next 20 years until the whole area around the present Hillsborough had passed from the Magennises to the Hills.

Successive generations of this ambitious family began to rise, politically and socially, in Ireland. Within 50 years they were one of the most prominent landowning families in the area; their estates stretched for over 130 miles from Larne, north of Belfast to Dun Laoghaire, south of Dublin, around 115, 000 acres in total.

Wills Hill was the first Marquess of Downshire and his diplomatic skills as a courtier cemented the family’s position in society.

Wills Hill, 1st Earl of Hillsborough, (1718-1793), later 1st Marquess of Downshire, After Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Irish, 1740-1808. Photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.

From 1768-72 he held the post of Secretary of State for the Colonies. He had grown very powerful in government and served the royal family, for which he was awarded his title in 1789. 

Wills Hill famously hosted American founding father Benjamin Franklin, but contrary to popular myth, when they met at Hillsborough in 1771, the two men got along well together. 

Wills Hill built not only this house but also the Courthouse in The Square. He also built the terraces around The Square and other buildings in the town. 

Hillsborough is unusual for an Irish Big House as it is not a country house around which a town grew; rather it was built as a townhouse, forming one side of a neat Georgian square. 

The road to Moira once passed directly below the windows, and opposite the house were a variety of shops, houses and the Quaker Meeting House.

The 3rd and 4th Marquesses, also commissioned a lot of work on the house, giving it the outward appearance it has today.

When the house was being altered in the 1840s, the family decided to expand the gardens and so rebuilt the road, houses and Quaker Meeting House all further away. The old road was absorbed into the landscaping of the gardens, and the south side of the house was opened out to allow views of the ‘picturesque’ gardens.

Successive generations of the Hill family enjoyed the house as a family home, renovating and redecorating in the latest styles and improving the gardens. 

However, by the end of the 19th century they were spending more time on their estate in England, at Easthampstead Park in Berkshire or their seaside home at Murlough House in County Down. The sixth Marquess’ uncle and guardian, Lord Arthur Hill remained at Hillsborough Castle to look after his nephew’s estate. The family first rented out Hillsborough in 1909, then sold it completely in 1925.

It was bought by the British government, for around £24,000 (equivalent to £1.3m today) to be the residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland. 

Following Partition in 1921, Governors were appointed to represent the monarch in Northern Ireland, replacing the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland who had previously lived at Dublin Castle. The house became known as Government House, remaining the official residence of the Governors for over 50 years.”

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

p. 152. “(Hill, Downshire, M/PB; Dixon, Glentoran, B/PB) A large, rambling, two storey late-Georgian mansion of a warm, golden-orange ashlar; its elevations rather long for their height. It appears to incorporate a much smaller house of ca 1760, but was mostly built later in C18, to the design of R.F. Brettingham, by Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire, a prominent member of Lord North’s Cabinet at the time of the American War. The work was not completed until 1797, four years after 1st Marquess’s death. In 1830s and 1840s, the house was enlarged and remodelled, to the design of Thomas Duff, of Newry, and William Sands. The pedimented portico of four giant Ionic columns in the middle of the long seventeen bay garden front – originally the entrance front – which is the principal exterior feature, dates from this period; as does the present appearance of the pedimented front adjoining to the left, with its asymmetrical projecting ends; as well as the treatment of the elevations of the two ranges at right angles to each other which form two sides of the entrance forecourt; one of them having a rather shallow single-storey portico of four pairs of coupled Ionic columns. The forecourt, with its magnificent mid-C18 wrought iron gates and railings, brought here 1936 from Rich Hill, Co Armagh, is on one side of the main square of the charming little town of Hillsborough, which is reminiscent of the Schlossplatz in a small German capital. Although the house backs onto a sizeable demesne, with a lake, the park is on the opposite side of the town. Its chief feature is Hillsborough Fort, a star-shaped fort built by Col Arthur Hill ca 1650. The gatehouse of the fort was rebuilt most delightfully in the Gothic taste ca 1758, perhaps to the design of Sanderson Miller himself. Hillsborough Castle became the official residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland 1925, and consequently became known as Government House; from then, until 1973, when the post of Governor was abolished, it was occupied by successive Governors (all PB); namely, 3rd Duke of Abercorn, 4th Earl Granville, 2nd Lord Wakehurst, Lord Erskine of Rerrick, and Lord Grey of Naunton; during this period, the house was frequently visited by members of the British Royal Family. In 1934 the house was seriously damaged by fire, and in the subsequent rebuilding the principal rooms were done up in a more palatial style, with elaborate plasterwork. The future of the house is now uncertain.” 

Hillsborough Castle & Gardens, Tourism Northern Ireland 2017 (see [3])

6. Montalto Estate, County Down

Montalto House, County Down, © Tourism Ireland created by Lewis McClay 2019 (see [3])

For the first time in its history, this mystical and enchanting estate, set in magnificent natural surroundings, is open to visit.

Nestled in the picturesque County Down countryside, Montalto is a privately-owned demesne steeped in history dating back to the 1600s. It is famously the site of ‘The Battle of Ballynahinch’ which took place during the Irish rebellion in 1798. It is also home to an exotic plant collection initially created by ‘The Father of Irish Gardening’, Sir Arthur Rawdon.

Montalto Estate aims to reconnect visitors with nature through access to a range of captivating gardens and beautiful walks and trails. The visitor experience includes: public access to the estate’s beautiful gardens along with unique and surprising garden features; historic walks and trails; and an exciting play area where children can explore, learn and wonder at their natural surroundings. A purpose built centre, designed in keeping with the look and feel of the estate, includes a welcome area featuring interpretation of the estate’s history; a stylish café offering flavoursome and beautifully presented food; and a shop that offers a mix of estate produce, local craft products and many other unique and exceptionally designed items.

The beautiful gardens include an Alpine Garden, a Winter Garden, a Cutting Garden, a Walled Garden, a Formal Garden and the Orchard situated within a wildflower meadow. Both the Winter Garden and Alpine Garden will always be accessible whilst the other gardens will be accessible whenever possible as they are working gardens. Four champion trees are located around the lake and the pinetum and over the past three years over 30,000 trees have been planted here.

Active families will enjoy the Woodland Trail and low wood. The impressive purpose built tree house, which was handcrafted onsite, features rope bridges, monkey bars and treetop views kids of all ages will enjoy. Mini explorers can enjoy the smaller tree house and natural play area. Everything within this area has been designed to fuel the imagination through exploration and discovery.

For tranquil and picturesque walks you can enjoy the stunning views of The Lake Walk and The Garden Walk. Catch a glimpse of some of the wonderful wildlife that calls Montalto Estate their home or simply take in the beautiful seasonal displays and reconnect with nature.

The website tells us:

Montalto, nestled beautifully in the heart of the picturesque Co. Down countryside, is a privately-owned demesne which dates back to the early 1600s.

In pre-plantation times the estate was originally owned by Patrick McCartan. However, due to his involvement in the 1641 Rebellion, his Ballynahinch lands were confiscated, and in 1657 the townland was purchased by Sir George Rawdon [and Patrick McCartan was executed]. Circa 1765, his descendant Sir John Rawdon – First Earl of Moira – built a mansion property on the estate: this is the house that we now know as Montalto House.

Sir John’s ancestor, Sir Arthur Rawdon – The Father of Irish Gardening – had earlier amassed a large collection of exotic foreign plants at Moira Castle. Many of Sir Arthur’s plants were transferred to Montalto when his grandson Sir John moved onto the estate.

During the Battle of Ballynahinch (part of the 1798 Rebellion), rebels occupying Montalto House are attacked by the militia. The mansion sustains some fire and artillery damage. Francis Rawdon-Hastings – 2nd Earl of Moira and Montalto resident – is a respected British military officer during the American War of Independence. He is a close friend of the Prince Regent, later King George IV. For ten years he is Governor General of India, carrying huge military and political responsibilities. He sells the Montalto Estate soon after the 1798 Rebellion and later becomes 1st Marquess of Hastings in 1816.

In 1803 David Ker of Portavo purchased the estate. In 1910 Richard – the last of the Kers to reside at Montalto – is finally forced to sell the estate. In 1912 Arthur, 5th Earl of Clanwilliam, purchases Montalto for £20,000.

The Earl fights in the Boer War (where he is badly wounded), and with the Guards in France in WW1. His wife Lady Muriel cares for wounded Allied officers during their convalescence at Montalto.

In 1979 the house is purchased by the Hogg Corry Partnership. In 1988 Corry withdraws. In 1995 it is purchased by the Wilson family. Working with local architects Hobart and Heron, as well as John O’Connell – a leading conservation architect from Dublin, specialising in Georgian architecture – they set about a programme of works to restore the house, grounds, and outbuildings to their former glory.

The estate has been almost exclusively, a family home since Lord Moira built the first house here. Nowadays Montalto offers visitors the use of 400 acres of rolling Irish countryside, which includes wonderful trails and gardens and a chance to explore this historic demesne and reconnect with nature.

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

p. 209. “(Rawdon, Moira, E/DEP; Ker/IFR; Meade, Clanwilliam, E/PB) A large and dignified three storey house of late-Georgian aspet; which, in fact, was built mid-C18 as a two storey house by Sir John Rawdon, 1st Earl of Moira, who probably brought the stuccodore who was working for him at Moira House in Dublin to execute the plasterwork here; for the ceiling which survives in the room known as the Lady’s Sitting Room is pre-1765 and of the very highest quality, closely resembling the work of Robert West; with birds, grapes, roses and arabesques in high relief. There is also a triple niche of plasterwork at one end of the room; though the central relief of a fox riding in a curricle drawn by a cock is much less sophisticated than the rest of the plasterwork and was probably  done by a local man. 2nd Earl, afterwards 1st Marquess of Hastings, who distinguished himself as a soldier in the American War of Independence, and was subsequently Governor-General of India, sold Montalto 1802 to David Ker, who enlarged the windows of the house, in accordance with the prevailing fashion. In 1837, D.G. Ker enlarged the house by carrying out what one would imagine to be a most difficult, not to say hazardous operation; he excavated the rock under the house and round the foundations, thus forming a new lower ground floor; the structure being supported by numerous arches and pillars. It was more than just digging out a basement, as has been done at one or two other houses in Ulster; for the new ground floor is much higher than any basement would be; the operation made the house fully three storeyed. Entrance front of two bays on either side of a central three sided bow; the front also having end bows. Shallow Doric porch at foot of centre bow. Ground floor windows round-headed; those above rectangular, with plain entablatures over the windows of the original ground floor, now the piano nobile. Parapeted roof. The right hand side of the house is of ten bays, plus the end bow of the front; with a pilastered triple window immediately to the right of the bow in the piano nobile, balanced by another at the far end of the elevation. The left-hand side of the house is only of three bays and the bow, with a single triple window’ the elevation being prolonged by a two storey wing with round-headed windows. Various additions were built at the back of the house and at the sides during the course of C19; a ballroom being added by D.S. Ker, grandson of the David Ker who bought the estate. In 1837 ground floor there is an imposing entrance hall, with eight paired Doric columns, flanked by a library and a dining room. A double staircase leads up to the piano nobile, where there is a long gallery running the full width of the house, which may have been the original entrance hall. Also on the piano nobile is the sitting room with the splendid C18 plasterwork. Montalto was bought ca 1910 by 5th Earl of Clanwilliam, whose bridge refused to live at Gill Hall, the family seat a few miles to the west, because of the ghosts there. In 1952, the ballroom and a service wing at the back were demolished.” 

7. Mount Stewart, County Down

Mount Stewart, County Down, by Art Ward for Tourism Northern Ireland, 2016. (see [3]) and

The National Trust website tells us:

The Stewarts came from Scotland to Donegal as part of the Jacobean Plantation of Ulster. Alexander Stewart and his wife, Mary Cowan, bought a large area of land in County Down in 1744, part of which became Mount Stewart demesne. Mary had inherited a fortune from her brother, Robert Cowan, who was in the East India Company, and was Governor of Bombay. 

A modest house on the shore of Strangford Lough was extended in the 1780s into a long low 2-storey house by Alexander’s son, Robert. Robert also built a walled garden and farm buildings further inland, and commissioned James ‘Athenian’ Stuart to design the Temple of the Winds, one of the finest small neo-classical buildings in Ireland. Through his political connections and marriage, Robert rose through the political ranks, becoming earl and subsequently marquess of Londonderry.

It was Robert’s son, best known as Viscount Castlereagh, who chose the architect George Dance to design a new wing for Mount Stewart which included a series of fine reception rooms. The west wing was built around 1804–6. 

Castlereagh is best known in Ireland for his involvement in the repression of the 1798 Rebellion and as one of the architects of the Anglo-Irish Union of 1800, for which he was vilified by many. He was however regarded as a consummate statesman and astute negotiator. 

From 1802 to 1822 he was based in London as Secretary of State for War and Foreign Secretary during the wars with America and France under Napoleon. He was one of the chief negotiators at the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) and his greatest legacy was steering the Congress towards a more equitable balance of power. The Congress was the first multinational European congress; many issues were discussed including the abolition of slavery. Castlereagh became a staunch supporter of abolition, as the trade was ‘repugnant to the principles of humanity and universal morality’.

The Peterloo Massacre of 1819 earned him more criticism, for although he was not personally responsible and was appalled by the outcome, as Home Secretary he had to justify the yeomanry’s actions. In 1822 he suffered a breakdown and took his own life, just a year after becoming the 2nd marquess of Londonderry. 

Castlereagh’s half-brother, Charles Stewart fought in the Peninsula War under Wellington and became British ambassador at Berlin and then Vienna during the Congress. In 1819 he married the wealthy Frances Anne Vane Tempest who had inherited coal mines and a grand estate in County Durham. They travelled widely and rebuilt Wynyard, County Durham and Londonderry House in London. Charles also extended Mount Stewart in the 1840s. His grandson, the 6th Marquess, was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the 1880s. The 6th Marquess was strongly opposed to Home Rule for Ireland; he and his wife were instigators and signatories of the Ulster Covenant in 1912.

Charles’s great-grandson, Charles 7th Marquess, served in the First World War, during which his wife Edith founded the Women’s Legion. At the end of the war, Edith began to create the gardens at Mount Stewart and redecorated and furnished the house, processes she thoroughly enjoyed and continued until her death in 1959. Charles served in the new Northern Irish government following the partition of Ireland in 1921. He later became Secretary of State for Air during the early 1930s. The horrors of the First World War and the rise of Communism meant many were anxious to avoid another European war. For Charles, this meant holding a series of meetings with the Nazi leadership, but his actions and intentions were misunderstood and his career and reputation were fatally damaged. 

These historic, sometimes seismic, events are woven into Mount Stewart and there are many objects, books and paintings in the house that connect us to the people who experienced, influenced and formed them.

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

You can see pictures and read more about the treasures in the house on the website.

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

p. 216. “Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Londonderry, M/PB) A long two storey Classical house of 1820s, one end of which is, in fact, a house built 1803-06 by 1st Marquess of Londonderry (father of the stateman, Castlereagh) to the design of George Dance. The seven bay front of 1803-06 house survives as the end elevation of the present house; unchanged, except that its centre bay now breaks forward under a shallow pediment, similar to those on either side of the present entrance front, which are very much of 1820s. The three rooms at this end of the house keep their original ceilings of delicate plasterwork; the centre one, which was formerly the entrance hall, has a ceiling with pendentives, making it an octagon. Behind this former entrance hall is an imperial staircase with a balustrade of elegant ironwork, lit by a dome; this too, is part of the earlier house. 3rd Marquess, Castlereagh’s younger half-brother, who was far richer than either his father or his brother had ever been, having married the wealthy Durham heiress, Frances Anne Vane Tempest, enlarged the house to its present form ca 1825-28, his architect being William Vitruvius Morrison. A new block was built onto what had been the back of the original house, as wide as the original house was long and long enough to make, with the end of the original house, a new entrance front of 11 bays, with a pedimented porte-cochere of four giant Ionic columns as its main central feature; the three outer bays on either side being treated as pavilions, each with a one bay pedimented breakfront similar to that which was put onto the front of the original house. The outer bays have a balustraded roof parapet, which is carried round the end of the house and along the new garden front. The latter is as long as the entrance front, and has a boldly projecting centre with a pediment and a single-storey portico of coupled Ionic columns; and a curved bow at either end. The principal interior feature of the newer building is a vast central hall, consisting of an octagon, top-lit through a balustraded gallery from a dome filled with stained glass, with rectangular extensions so as to form a room much longer than it is wide; with screens of couple painted marble Ionci columns between the octagon and the extensions. Morrison’s reception rooms are spacious and simple; the drawing room has a screen of Ionic colmns at either end. The interior of the house was done up post WWI by 7th Marquess, Secretary of State for Air in 1930s; the central room in the garden front being panelled as a smoking and living room. The 7th Marquess and his wife (the well-known political hostess and friend of Ramsay MacDonald) also laid out an elaborate garden, going down the hillside from the garden front of the house towards Strangford Lough. As well as this noteaable C20 garden. Mount Stewart boasts of one of the finest C18 garden buildings in Irelnad, the Temple of the Winds, an octagonal banqueting house built 1780 to the design of “Athenian” Stuart, who based it on the Tower of the Winds in Athens. It has a porch on two of its faces, each with two columns of the same modified Corinthian order as that of the columns of the Tower of the Winds. Mount Stewart was given to the Norhtern Ireland National Trust by Lady Mairi Bury, daughter of 7th Marquess, ca 1977, and is now open to the public. The Temple of the Winds was given 1962 to the Trust, which has since restored it; the garden was given to the Trust in 1955.” 

Mount Stewart, County Down, by Art Ward for Tourism Northern Ireland, 2016 (see [3])
Mount Stewart, County Down, by Art Ward for Tourism Northern Ireland, 2016 (see [3])

8. Newry and Mourne Museum, Bagenal’s Castle, County Down

Bagenal’s Castle, County Down, Courtesy of Tourism Northern Ireland, 2010. (see [3])

The Discover Northern Ireland website tells us:

Bagenal’s Castle is a sixteenth century fortified house and adjoining nineteenth century warehouse. It houses Newry and Mourne Museum and Newry Visitor Information Centre.

During restoration work on the Castle many original features were uncovered including fireplaces, windows, doorways, gun loops and a bread oven. These have been interpreted for the visitor and drawings were commissioned to illustrate how the various living quarters of the castle would have functioned in the sixteenth century. Highlights include a restored Banqueting Room which is used throughout the year for seasonal and family events.

The Museum’s diverse collections include material relating to prehistory, Newry’s Cistercian foundations, Ulster’s Gaelic order and the relationship with the English Crown; the building of a merchant town and the first summit level canal in the British Isles. You can also discover the history of the ‘Gap of the North’, the historic mountain pass between Ulster and Leinster located to the south of Newry. One of the key main exhibitions, ‘A Border Town’s Experience of the 20th Century’, examines local attitudes to major political and economic events of the 20th century. There are also permanent exhibitions on farming, fishing and folklore in the Mournes and South Armagh.”

9. Portaferry Castle, County Down

The website tells us:

Portaferry Castle is a 16th-century tower-house, built by the Savage family and prominently located on the slope overlooking Portaferry harbour within sight of Strangford and Audley’s Castles across the water. Simpler than the earlier ‘gatehouse’ tower house, it is square in plan with one projecting tower to the south where a turret rises an extra storey and contains the entrance and stair from ground floor to first floor. 

There are three storeys and an attic, and like early tower-houses it has spiral stairs. However, like some later tower houses it lacks a stone vault as all floors were originally made of wood. 


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

p. 232. “(Nugent, sub Douglas-Nugent/IFR) A dignified house of 1821, by William Farrell, who apparently worked on a plan produced by Charles Lilley 1790, the three storey centre of the house being very possibly a three storey block of 1770s. The centre of the entrance front is of five bays, with a central Wyatt window in each of two upper storeys; and a porch with paired Ionic columns and Ionic end piers. On either side of the centre there is a wide, three-sided bow, ofonly two storeys but as high as the rest of the front. Ionic columns in hall and some good plasterwork. The house stands in beautiful parkland overlooking the entrance to Strangford Lough.” 

from Mark Bence-Jones.

Places to stay, County Down

1. Barr Hall Barns, Portaferry, County Down – self catering €

The website tells us:

Barr Hall Barns are 18th Century period cottages in an outstanding tranquil location with panoramic views across Strangford Lough to the Mourne Mountains.

We are based just outside the seaside village of Portaferry, at the very southern tip of the Ards Peninsula, overlooking Barr Hall Bay which is protected by the National Trust.

With idyllic walking routes right at our doorstep, come escape to an area of natural outstanding beauty and enter the truly magical setting of Barr Hall Barns.

2. Castle Ward, Potter’s Cottage in farmyard:

and Castle Ward bunkhouse:

Sleeps 14 people.

3. Culloden, County Down – hotel €€€

Culloden Estate and Spa, photograph courtesy of Hastings Hotel 2017, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [3])

4. Florida Manor, 22 Florida Road, Killinchy, Newtownards, Co Down, BT23 6RT Northern Irelandself-catering, €€

and Florida Manor Gambles Patch, Hollow View and Meadow Green.

The website tells us: “Dating back to 1676, Florida Manor, an original Irish Georgian Estate has undergone sympathetic refurbishment. Within the estates original stone perimeter wall lies 200 acres of extensive landscaped grasslands, private lakes, walkways and bridal paths.

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

p. 297. “(Gordon/IFR) A C18 house consisting of a three storey principal block with a recessed centre, linked to lower wings by curved sweeps with balustrades and pilasters. Projecting enclosed porch, also balustraded and with Ionic columns. quoins. Originally the seat of the Crawfords; passed by marriage to the Gordons C18. The house became ruinous in the present century but has been restored as two dwellings.” 

5. Helen’s Tower, Bangor, County Down €€

A tower with pepper-pot bartizans rising from a hill at the southern end of the demesne, completed 1862 to a design by William Burn. It was built in honour of his mother, Helen, Lady Dufferin, one of three beautiful and lively sisters who were the granddaughters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan; in a room near the top of the tower, lined with delicate Gothic woodwork, the walls are adorned with poems on bronze tablets expressing the love between mother and son; including a poem written specially for Lord Dufferin by Tennyson: 

Helen’s Tower here I stand 

Dominant over sea and land 

Son’s love built me, and I hold 

Mother’s love in lettered gold.” 

And see Robert O’Byrne’s entry about it at

6. Kiltariff Hall, County Down 

The website tells us: “Kiltariff Hall is a Victorian Country House on the outskirts of the small market town of Rathfriland. Built by our great-grandfather William Fegan in 1888, the house is set at the end of a short drive and is surrounded by mature oak, sycamore and pine trees. It is run myself, Catherine and my sister Shelagh who grew up in Kiltariff when it was a working farm. We are both passionate and knowledgeable about the Mourne area and believe that providing good locally produced food is key to ensuring guests enjoy their stay.

7. Narrow Water Castle, apartment, Newry Road, Warrenpoint, Down, Northern Ireland, BT34 3LEself catering

Narrow Water, photograph by Chris Hill 2005 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see[3]).

The website tells us:

Narrow Water Castle is the private home of the Hall family who have lived at Narrow Water since 1670, originally in the Old Narrow Water Keep situated on the shoreline of Carlingford Lough which is now a national monument.

As a private home the castle is not open for public admission. It does however occasionally open its doors for weddings and exclusive events.

In 1816 construction began on the new Castle by Thomas Duff, a well-known Newry architect who also designed the Cathedrals in Newry, Armagh and Dundalk. The Elizabethan revival style castle is made from local granite and built next to the existing house, Mount Hall (1680). It was completed in 1836.

The self catering apartments are located in the original hub of the castle (Mount Hall), dating back to 1680. Mount Hall joins the Elizabethan revival part of the castle to the courtyard.

Number 2: The apartment opens into an elegant open plan, living room and dining room with open fire. We have used several antique pieces of furniture to hint of times gone by. We are happy to provide logs if our guests wish to use the fire.

There are two spacious, beautifully furnished bedrooms, one of which is en-suite.

Number 6: This 2 bedroom luxury apartment is the perfect place to escape and unwind. Both bedrooms are en-suite. There is a grand open plan living /dining area with a unique feature skylight and exposed beams. The living area is adorned with antique furniture has a wood burning stove for cosy nights by the fire. The modern kitchen is fully equipped and the dining area seats six comfortably. A quality sofa bed allows this apartment to accommodate up to six guests. This apartment is on the first floor with access via the original stone staircase dating to the 1680s

8. The Old Inn, Bangor, County Down €€

Established in 1614!

The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, Bangor, photograph Courtesy of Alexandra Barfoot 2022 for Tourism Northern Ireland.

9. Slieve Donard hotel and spa, County Down €€

The website tells us: “Slieve Donard was originally built by the Belfast and County Down Railway as an ‘end of the line’ luxury holiday destination. Construction started in 1896 and was completed and officially opened on 24th June 1898 at the cost of £44,000. It was one of the most majestic hotels of its time and was almost self-sufficient with its own bakery, vegetable gardens, pigs, laundry and innovatively a power plant, which also provided electricity for the railway station.

Slieve Donard typified the idea of Victorian grandeur and luxury with its Drawing Room, Grand Coffee Room, Reading and Writing Room, Smoking Room, Billiard Room and Hairdressing Rooms—you can’t help but conjure up scenes of great style and decadence. ‘One could even partake of seawater baths, douche, spray, needle and Turkish baths all provided by an electric pump straight from the sea.

In 2021, Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners acquired Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, which will become the first Marine & Lawn Hotels & Resorts property in Northern Ireland and the fourth hotel in the collection.

Slieve Donard hotel and spa, courtesy of Hastings Hotel, 2017, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see[3])

9. St John’s Point Lighthouse Sloop, Killough, County Down € for 3-4

St John’s Lighthouse Killough by Bernie Brown 2014 for Tourism Ireland. (see [3])

JP Ketch and JP Sloop. Each sleeps four people, From £328 for 2 nights.

10. Tullymurry House, Tullymurry road, Donaghmore, Newry, County Down – sleeps 8, € for 8

This fabulous period home is a historic Irish country farm house. Set on wonderful gardens including an orchard, Tullymurry House is an ideal base for golf, fishing, hiking, walking, beach, and other outdoor pursuits.

11. Tyrella, Downpatrick, County Down, BT30 8SU – accommodation €

The website tells us:

Tyrella House is a luxury B&B and wedding venue located in the heart of picturesque County Down, with its necklace of pretty fishing villages. A fine 18th century house surrounded by glorious wooded parkland with its own private beach just a short walk from the house, Tyrella offers a tranquil and relaxing getaway.

Tyrella House has been owned by the Corbett family for over 60 years, and was bought by John Corbett after the Second World War to train race horses. 

His son, David Corbett began running B&B in the 1990s, which continues to this day. In 2020, the day to day running of the B&B was taken over by his son, John and his wife Hannah.

Whole house County Down

1. Ballydugan House, County Down (weddings)

At Ballydugan we can provide accommodation and an oasis of relative calm for the Bride’s immediate family.  Also if absolute adherence to tradition is important then we have Ballymote Country House nearby, where we can ensure that the paths of the Bride and Groom will not cross prior to the wedding.

2. Drenagh Estate and Gardens, County Down (wedding venue)

It tells us “Nestled in beautiful parkland and surrounded by our gardens, you will find our grand Georgian Mansion House which is perfect for weddings, family get togethers, corporate events and much more.

The website tells us the history of the McCausland family who own the property:

The family name McCausland goes back more than 900 years to an O’Cahan named Anselan, son of Kyan, King of Ulster. Anselan was forced to leave Ireland in about 1016 on account of his share in a ‘memorable stratagem where he and other young Irishmen dressed in women’s attire surprised and slaughtered their Danish oppressors’ (The Vikings). When Malcolm II of Scotland heard of Anselans feats he invited him to become his Master of Arms and ‘bestowed ample lands upon him in The Lennox’. 

Twelve generations later, in the 1540s, his descendant Baron Alexander McAuslane returned to Ulster with his brother Andrew and settled in the Strabane area. The first McCausland to live at Drenagh (then called Fruithill) was Robert McCausland, Alexander’s grandson.  Robert was bequeathed the Estates when he married the daughter of William Conolly, a wealthy self-made man and speaker of the Irish Parliament.

Robert named his first son Conolly in reverence to his father-in-law; the name is still used in alternate generations to this day. A large painting of Robert and his family now hangs in the dining room at Drenagh. The first Conolly married the heiress Elizabeth Gage from Bellarena (five miles up the coast) and had a son, Conolly, who also formed another lucrative union with Theodosia Mahon from Strokestown House, Co. Roscommon.

It was their son Marcus McCausland (1787-1862) who was responsible for commissioning Sir Charles Lanyon to build the present house. The former house (Fruithill) can be seen through a window painted in the portrait of Robert McCausland and his family. Marcus and his wife, Marianne, nee Tyndall from The Fort at Bristol, produced an heir Conolly Thomas(1828-1902). A delightful portrait of him dressed in his Eton cricketing clothes also hangs in the dining room at Drenagh.

Conolly Thomas’s son Maurice Marcus lived through both the best and worst of times at Drenagh as in 1902, through the Irish Land Acts; the Government compulsorily purchased 75% of the Estate.  Drenagh was lucky; many Irish Estates were taken off their owners in their entirety.  Some say this was no bad thing, as landlords the Irish landed gentry could be brutal in their treatment of their tenantry, indeed some were burnt out before they could be bought out.

Conolly Robert, Maurice’s son, fought in the 2nd World War and was so profoundly affected by what he experienced that he changed his Faith to Catholicism.  This he did despite knowing he had signed a codicil to his fathers will barring him from inheriting should he become a Catholic.  The will was contested but it was found that although the codicil applied to Conolly Robert, it did not do so to any of his direct descendants.  So, on his death in 1968, his son Marcus inherited Drenagh.

Sadly four years later in 1972 Marcus was shot dead by the IRA.

Currently Marcus’s son Conolly Patrick lives at Drenagh.

[1] Mulligan, Kevin V. The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster, Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2013.

[2] p. 11. 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] Ireland’s Content Pool,

[4] p. 12, 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.




[8]  see Timothy William Ferres:

Halfway there!

I didn’t publish yet this week, because I was busy with holidays and also with attending the terrific 21st Annual Historic Irish Houses Conference organised by the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates in Maynooth University.

Stephen and I have visited 93 of the Section 482 properties, so we have passed the halfway mark, as there are 179 listed properties in 2023 (I see that 1 Martello Terrace in Bray has dropped off the list, unfortunately). We are just home from a jaunt to County Wexford where we visited Kilmokea, Woodville House and Gardens, and Sigginstown Castle. We also went to see Johnstown Castle, since on our previous visit the castle itself was closed, and we visited the Office of Public Work site of Tintern Abbey.

There are three types of property that can qualify for the Section 482 Revenue Scheme

The Section 482 Revenue Scheme gives a reduction from income tax for a percentage of the cost of upkeep of a historic property. It took me a long time to understand that there are different types of Section 482 properties. This can make it difficult for property owners as well as for potential visitors.

In general, a property that is included in the Section 482 List, published by Irish Department of Revenue, has to be open to the public for sixty days a year. However, not every property listed under Section 482 has to be open to the public. If a property is listed with the bold type “Tourist Accommodation Facility,” this is another type of listing with different requirements and obligations. A property of this type does not have to open to the general public at all.

Furthmore, I have discovered much to my dismay that a property listed as Tourist Accommodation Facility does not need to facilitate the average tourist. It may be listed as an accommodation facility when it is only available as a whole house rental.

To add to the confusion, several properties are hotels or have accommodationn but are not listed as a Tourist Accommodation Facility under the scheme. They may not qualify under all of the obligations of the scheme, and therefore choose to list as a regular Section 482 property. These, therefore, have to be accessible to the public for visits on the listed sixty days a year.

Many of the properties that are listed officially as Tourist Accommodation Facility are kind enough to have open days, but not all of them! This is purely out of their own generosity. The lack of clarity in the way the list is published means that visitors – like me for a couple of years – think that the property has an obligation to be open to the public, when they actually do not.

It may not be fair that a property qualifies as a “section 482 property” and receives public tax money when it is not open to the public, but this is a matter for legislation. As it stands, these properties do not have to be open to the public at all. So, for example, my excitement at seeing Lambay Castle listed was short-lived, when I realised it is listed as a Tourist Accommodation Facility.

However, Lambay Castle is one of the properties that does open to the public for tours. A visitor has to have deep pockets, since a visit to the island which includes a tour of the house costs at least €790, not the usual €5-10. That can include 6-12 guests and includes the boat over to the island, which makes it somewhat more reasonable, but it is still quite an expensive day out. If you want to take advantage of it being a tourist accommodation facility, you have to book the entire house, unfortunately. So I don’t expect to see Lambay Castle unless I receive a windfall! The same goes for Lisdonagh in County Galway or Lismacue in County Tipperary, which are both “entire house” accommodation and do not open to the public.

The third type of listing is as a garden. Properties that qualify as a garden only have to open the garden to the public. In the Revenue Section 482 list, it does not specify whether a property is listed as a house, or as “garden only.” Therefore at the start of the year I write to the Revenue to ask which properties are garden only. Properties listed as garden only cannot obtain a reduction on income tax from repairs made to a house but only the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the garden.

Many of the properties have gardens, and since it is not specified on the list whether the property is “garden only,” some owners may, I suspect, take advantage of the ambiguity, and seek to direct the visitor toward the garden only – this has certainly happened to me on one occasion! I only found out later that the owner was meant to make the house accessible for a visit.

So, purely for my own sense of achievement, I am going to list the Section 482 properties here, and I will highlight the ones I have visited so far. There are 179 listed properties. However, since there are 21 properties listed as Tourist Accommodation and at least 15 do not have open days for public visits, I actually passed the half-way mark, or the achievement of visiting half of the properties, a while ago! Of the 158 properties that are not listed as Tourist Accommodation Facility, we have visited 83. Of the 179 properties, we have visited 93!

75 remain to visit, that are not tourist accommodation!

1. Borris House, Borris, Co. Carlow

2. Huntington Castle, County Carlow

3. The Old Rectory Killedmond, Borris, Co. Carlow.

The Old Rectory Lorum, Co. Carlow Tourist Accommodation Facility

4. Cabra Castle (Hotel), Co. Cavan

5. Corravahan House & Gardens, Co. Cavan

6. Barntick House, Clarecastle Co. Clare – still to write up and publish

7. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co. Clare

8. Newtown Castle, Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

9. Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork

Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Co. Cork Tourist Accommodation Facility

10. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork

11. Blarney Castle & Rock Close, Blarney, Co. Cork

12. Blarney House & Gardens, Blarney, Co. Cork

13. Burton Park, Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork

14. Brideweir House, Conna, Co. Cork

15. Drishane Castle & Gardens, Co. Cork

16. Drishane House, Castletownshend, Co. Cork

17. Dún Na Séad Castle, Baltimore, Co. Cork

18. Fenns Quay, 4 & 5 Sheares Street, Cork

19. Garrettstown House, Kinsale, Co. Cork

20. Kilcascan Castle, County Cork

21. Kilshannig House, Rathcormac, Co. Cork

22. Riverstown House, Riverstown, Glanmire, Co. Cork

23. Woodford Bourne Warehouse, Sheares Street, Cork

24. Cavanacor House, Ballindrait, Lifford, Co. Donegal

25. Oakfield Park, Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, Co. Donegal (garden)

26. Portnason House, Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

27. Salthill Garden, Mountcharles, Co. Donegal (not listed as Garden Only but when I visited the house was not accessible – perhaps when I visited it was Garden only)

28. Bewley’s, Grafton Street, Dublin 2 – still to write up and publish

29. Doheny & Nesbitt, Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

30. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, Dublin 2

31. 11 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1

32. 39 North Great George’s Street, Dublin 1 – still to write up and publish

33. 81 North King Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7

34. The Odeon, Dublin 2

35. Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin 2

36. 10 South Frederick Street, Dublin 2

37. The Church, Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

38. Clonskeagh Castle, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14

39. Colganstown House, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

40. Corke Lodge Garden, Shankill, Co. Dublin (garden)

41. Fahanmura, 2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 – still to write up and publish

42. Farm Complex, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin

Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, County Dublin Tourist Accommodation Facility

43. The Old Glebe, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

44. Martello Tower, Portrane, Co. Dublin

45. Meander, Foxrock, Dublin 18

46. Primrose Hill, Lucan, Co. Dublin – still to write up and publish, it may have been garden only when we visited – we were not given access to the house.

47. St. George’s, Killiney, Co. Dublin

48. Tibradden House, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

49. Castle Ellen House, Athenry, Co. Galway

Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway Tourist Accommodation Facility

Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway Tourist Accommodation Facility

50. The Grammar School, College Road, Galway

51. Oranmore Castle, Oranmore, Co. Galway

52. Signal Tower & Lighthouse, Co. Galway

53. Woodville House, Co. Galway (garden)

54. Ballyseede Castle, Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry – still to write up and publish

55. Derreen Gardens, Kenmare, Co. Kerry (garden) – still to write up and publish

56. Kells Bay House & Garden, Caherciveen, Co. Kerry (garden) – still to write up and publish

57. Tarbert House, Tarbert, Co. Kerry

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

59. Burtown House and Garden, Athy, Co. Kildare

60. Coolcarrigan House & Gardens, Naas, Co. Kildare

61. Farmersvale House, Badgerhill, Kill, Co. Kildare

62. Griesemount House, Ballitore, Co. Kildare

63. Harristown House, Brannockstown, Co. Kildare

64. Kildrought House, Celbridge Village, Co. Kildare – still to write up and publish

65. Larchill, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

66. Leixlip Castle, Leixlip, Co. Kildare

67. Moone Abbey House & Tower, County Kildare

68. Moyglare Glebe, Maynooth, Co. Kildare

69. Steam Museum Lodge Park Heritage Centre, Kildare

70. Templemills House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

71. Aylwardstown House, Co. Kilkenny

72. Ballysallagh House, Co. Kilkenny

73. Creamery House, Castlecomer Co. Kilkenny

74. Kilfane Glen & Waterfall, Co. Kilkenny (garden)

75. Kilkenny Design Centre, Castle Yard, Kilkenny – still to write up and publish

76. Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny

77. Tybroughney Castle, Piltown, Co. Kilkenny

78. Ballaghmore Castle, Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

79. Stradbally Hall, Stradbally, Co. Laois

80. Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin), Co. Leitrim – still to write up and publish

Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick Tourist Accommodation Facility

81. Glebe House, Bruff, Co. Limerick

82. Glenville House, Glenville, Ardagh, Co. Limerick

83. Kilpeacon House, Crecora, Co. Limerick

84. Odellville House, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick

85. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Co. Limerick

86. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick

87. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick

88. Moorhill House, Castlenugent, Lisryan, Co. Longford

89. Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Drogheda, Co. Louth

90. Killineer House & Garden, Drogheda, Co. Louth

91. Rokeby Hall, Grangebellew, Co. Louth

92. Brookhill House, Brookhill, Claremorris, Co. Mayo

Enniscoe House & Gardens, Ballina, Co. Mayo Tourist Accommodation Facility

93. Old Coastguard Station, Westport, Co. Mayo

Owenmore, Garranard, Ballina, Co. Mayo Tourist Accommodation Facility

94. Beauparc House, Beau Parc, Navan, Co. Meath

95. Boyne House Slane, Co. Meath

96. Dardistown Castle, Co. Meath

97. Dunsany Castle, Dunsany, Co. Meath – request not to publish write-up, unfortunately.

98. Gravelmount House, Navan, Co. Meath

99. Hamwood House, Dunboyne, Co. Meath – still to write up and publish

Killeen Mill, Clavinstown, Drumree, Co. Meath Tourist Accommodation Facility

Loughcrew House, Co. Meath Tourist Accommodation Facility – still to write up and publish, garden open to public, and we stayed in the whole house accommodation for our Hen-Stag in 2010!

100. Moyglare House, Moyglare, Co. Meath

101. Slane Castle, Slane, Co. Meath

102. St. Mary’s Abbey, High Street, Trim, Co. Meath

103. The Former Parochial House, Slane, Co. Meath

104. Swainstown House, Kilmessan, Co. Meath

105. Tankardstown House, Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan Tourist Accommodation Facility

Hilton Park House, Co. Monaghan Tourist Accommodation Facility – still to write up and publish

106. Mullan Village and Mill, Co. Monaghan

107. Birr Castle, Birr, Co. Offaly – still to write up and publish

108. Ballybrittan Castle, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

109. Ballindoolin House, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

110. Corolanty House, Shinrone, Birr, Co. Offaly – still to write up and publish

111. Crotty Church, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

112. Gloster House, Brosna, Birr, Co. Offaly – still to write up and publish

113. High Street House, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

114. Loughton, Moneygall, Birr, Co. Offaly

115. Springfield House, Co. Offaly

The Maltings, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly Tourist Accommodation Facility

116. Castlecoote House, Co. Roscommon – the two times we have been in County Roscommon I have tried to make an appointment but they have been closed due to having guests. They are not listed as Tourist Accommodation Facility so they should be open to visitors.

Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon Tourist Accommodation Facility

117. King House, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

118. Shannonbridge Fortifications, Co. Roscommon

119. Strokestown Park House, Co. Roscommon

120. Castletown Manor, Cottlestown, Co. Sligo

Coopershill House, Riverstown, Co. Sligo Tourist Accommodation Facility

121. Lissadell House & Gardens, Co. Sligo

122. Markree Castle, Collooney, Co. Sligo

123. Newpark House and Demesne, Co. Sligo

124. Rathcarrick House, Co. Sligo

Temple House, Ballymote, Co. Sligo Tourist Accommodation Facility

125. Beechwood House, Co. Tipperary

126. Clashleigh House, Clogheen, Co. Tipperary

127. Fancroft Mill, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

128. Grenane House, Tipperary, Co. Tipperary

129. Killenure Castle, Dundrum, Co. Tipperary

Lismacue House, Bansha, Co. Tipperary Tourist Accommodation Facility

130. Redwood Castle, Co. Tipperary

The Rectory, Cahir, Co. Tipperary Tourist Accommodation Facility

131. Silversprings House, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

132. Ballynatray Estate, Co. Waterford (garden)

133. Cappagh House (Old and New), Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

134. Cappoquin House & Gardens, Co. Waterford

135. Curraghmore House, Portlaw, Co. Waterford

136. Dromana House, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

137. The Presentation Convent, Co. Waterford

138. Tourin House & Gardens, Co. Waterford

139. Lough Park House, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

140. Rockfield Ecological Estate, Co. Westmeath

141. St. John’s Church, Co. Westmeath

142. Tullynally Castle & Gardens, Co. Westmeath

143. Turbotstown, Coole, Co. Westmeath

144. Clougheast Cottage, Carne, Co. Wexford

145. Kilcarbry Mill Engine House, Co. Wexford

Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Co. Wexford Tourist Accommodation Facility – still to write up and publish

146. Sigginstown Castle, Co. Wexford – still to write up and publish

Wilton Castle, Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford Tourist Accommodation Facility

Woodbrook House, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford Tourist Accommodation Facility

147. Woodville House, New Ross, Co. Wexford – still to write up and publish

148. Altidore Castle, Kilpeddar, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

149. Ballymurrin House, Kilbride, Co. Wicklow

150. Castle Howard, Avoca, Co. Wicklow

151. Charleville, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

152. Greenan More, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow

153. Killruddery House & Gardens, Co. Wicklow

154. Kiltimon House, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow

155. Kingston House, Kingston, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

156. Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co. Wicklow (garden)

157. Powerscourt House & Gardens, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

158. Russborough,Blessington, Co. Wicklow

New list published and 2023 Section 482 Calendar Order Form

I’m excited to report that the new Section 482 list has been published, for 2023. No new properties added, but a few have dropped off the list.

Order your calendar now to see at a glance which properties are open on what dates. The calendar costs €20 to cover printing and postage.

The calendar will feature:

1. A list of Section 482 properties, numbered. The number for the property is then used to refer to the property for each listed open date. 

2. A calendar, with every property which is open for a visit per date listed on the date.

3. More complete list of the Section 482 properties spread through the calendar, with the information from the Revenue Section 482 list for each property. Accommodation properties will be included, but they will not be listed as open on individual dates in the body of the calendar as I understand that an accommodation property does not have to be open to the public.

4. A selection of photographs of Section 482 properties.

It will look something like this, A5 size (15cm x 20cm) ie. 6 inches x 8 inches, and is approximately 130 pages, full of pictures of section 482 properties which you can visit.

Happy new year!

Happy new year and best wishes for 2023 to all my readers!

As you may recall if you are a regular visitor, the updated Revenue Section 482 list for the year is not normally published until February. So if you are making some visits to properties in January I recommend using the 2022 list and contacting a property in advance to see if it is open.

I still have to write up many properties that I have visited – all properties from Heritage week onwards. I took a hiatus to work on my calendars for 2023. I am now working on a calendar that will publish the opening dates of all of the properties for 2023, which I will publish once the 2023 Revenue Section 482 list is published.

Each property opens on different dates, so planning routes around the country to visit when neighbouring properties are open takes some work! To help you to plan, I am listing for each date which properties are open on that date. I am listing properties by number, as it would take too much space to list every property open on every day, considering that there were 187 properties in 2022. To make it easier, I am colour-coding the properties by province, so that one can scan and see where neighbouring properties are open.

Each year I try to visit as many properties as possible, taking holidays for the most far-flung counties from Dublin, and during Heritage Week, going on a tour of as many properties as possible all over the country, as all the properties are open on those dates (unless they are listed as Accommodation, in which case, they do not have to be open during Heritage Week).

I will be publishing photographs of properties in the calendar, to create a book. Here is a sample of how the calendar will look:

I hope that some of my readers would like to purchase my calendars! It will give you a go-to hard copy for planning your visits to historic houses in Ireland, full of photographs of places to be discovered. (I will publish details as to how to order a copy, and the price, once the dates have been finalised).

A summary of 2022 and previous years

As 2022 is entering its final dark days, I thought I’d look over our last few years, to see how we are doing on the project of visiting Section 482 properties. I began the project in April 2019 with a visit to Slane Castle, in County Meath. That was an impressive start to our project.

Slane Castle, County Meath, 26th April 2019, formerly owned by the Flemings and then the Conynghams.

I gathered notes on properties I had already visited, during Open House or Heritage weeks in previous years. As you can see, my interest in historic houses predated my discovery of the Section 482 scheme. In fact, in a PhD I started but never finished, about aesthetic experience, I began my thesis by attempting to capture a moment of aesthetic experience: that of looking at a historic house. It’s lovely to see how I was already trying to understand what it is that draws me to such places.

We’ve visited 87 of the properties so far!

Properties we’d visited before I learned of the Section 482 list include:

Loughcrew, County Meath, May 2010 – our combined Hen and Stag weekend, before Stephen and I married!

Lough Crew 22nd May 2010, where Stephen and I had our combined Hen and Stag weekend before our wedding.
Lough Crew 22nd May 2010.

11 North Great Georges Street, Dublin, during Open House 2012;

11 North Great Georges Street, Dublin.

Old Glebe in Newcastle Lyons, County Dublin, during Heritage Week 2012;

“The Old Glebe,” Newcastle, County Dublin, Heritage Week, 17th August 2012.

Primrose Hill, County Dublin, 17th August 2013

Primrose Hill, Lucan, Dublin, which may have been designed by James Gandon, who designed the Custom House in Dublin.

Huntington Castle, County Carlow, in August 2016.

Huntington Castle, Clonegal, County Carlow, August 2016, home of the Esmondes and later, still related by marriage, the Durdin Robertsons.

Russborough House, County Wicklow, April 2018

Russborough House, which I have visited several times, including in April 2018.

I’d like to choose a House of the Year for each year. I should have started in my first year! In 2019 the competition is stiff and it seems a little unfair as my favourite dwarfs the others in size as well as in impressive interior: I have to choose Curraghmore, County Waterford, as my 2019 House of the Year! Although considering that we also visited Birr Castle, Dunsany and Borris House that year, it was a year full of wonderful discoveries. Lady Dunsany, who sadly passed away since, deserves a special mention as a warm, welcoming and delightful host.

In 2019 we set off at an ambitious pace, visiting a house nearly every weekend! We went on holidays to Waterford to see some of the lovely houses, and coincided with the day of lectures in Dromana on the topic of “The Pursuit of the Heiress.” In 2019 we visited:

Salterbridge, County Waterford, 3rd May 2019

Salterbridge, County Waterford. We visited in May 2019.

Tourin, County Waterford, 3rd May 2019

Tourin House, County Waterford, home of the Jamesons, of former whiskey fame.

Dromana, County Waterford, 5th May 2019

Dromana, County Waterford – the estate was the home of the Fitzgerald Lords of the Decies, and is owned by their descendants.

Curraghmore, County Waterford, 5th May 2019, my chosen Home of the Year in 2019.

Curraghmore, County Waterford. The house is very large as it is not only seven bays wide but seven bays deep. It is still in the hands of the Le Poer Beresford family.

Moone Abbey, County Kildare, May 18, 2019

View from Moone Abbey tower, County Kildare. The nearby Abbey has a large Celtic cross. We visited on Saturday May 18, 2019.

Charleville, County Wicklow, 18th May 2019

Charleville, County Wicklow, visited on Saturday May 18th 2019. The surrounding formal gardens, never mind the impressive house, make it worth a visit.

Loughton, County Offaly, 25th May 2019

Loughton, County Offaly, where we enjoyed meeting owners Andrew and Michael during our visit on May 25th, 2019.

Altidore Castle, County Wicklow, 31st May 2019

Altidore Castle, County Wicklow, a seven bay, two storey over basement house, with Venetian (tripartite) window over a single-storey pillared porch, which houses a Robert Emmet museum.

Moyglare House, County Meath, 2nd June 2019

Moyglare House, Maynooth, on the border of Counties Kildare and Meath, once owned by a Hugeuont family, and before the current owners, it was a hotel.

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare, 14th June 2019

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare, home to the late Desmond Guinness, founder of the Irish Georgian Society.

Birr Castle, County Offaly, 21st June 2019

Birr Castle, County Offaly, 21st June 2019, home of the Earl of Rosse.

Dunsany Castle, County Meath, 1st July 2019

Dunsany, County Meath, 1st July 2019, home of the Plunketts, Barons of Dunsany.

Dardistown, County Meath, 13th July 2019

Dardistown, County Meath, July 2019, available for accommodation, where former owners included the powerful Jenet Sarsfield who had four husbands.

Borris House, County Carlow, 23rd July 2019

Borris House, County Carlow, still home of its builders, the Kavanagh family.

Ballymurrin, County Wicklow, 27th July 2019

Ballymurrin, County Wicklow, a former Quaker home which we visited on 27th July 2019.

Clonalis, County Roscommon, 3rd August 2019

Clonalis, County Roscommon, which is still the home of the O Conor family, ancient High Kings of Ireland, with a family museum of historical documents, as well as a beautiful garden. Stephen and I were invited to join friends for a weekend in County Westmeath and took the opportunity to visit Clonalis House in County Roscommon.

Tullynally, County Westmeath, 4th August 2019

Tullynally, County Westmeath, home of the Pakenhams, Lords Longford, now the home of Thomas Pakenham, brother to one of my favourite writers, Antonia Fraser. It has tours of the servants’ quarters all year around, and during Heritage Week, when we went in 2020, it has tours of the house itself.

Tankardstown, County Meath, 9th August 2019

Tankardstown, County Meath, now a plush hotel.

Swainstown House, County Meath, 19th August 2019

Swainstown, County Meath, still home of the Preston family.

Harristown, County Kildare, 22nd August 2019

Harristown, County Kildare, a former La Touche home.

Blackhall Castle, County Kildare, 22nd August 2019

Blackhall Castle, County Kildare, a former Eustace (or Fitzeustace) home.

Rokeby, County Louth, 7th September 2019

Rokeby, County Louth, with its elegant Richard Turner conservatory.

Coolcarrigan, County Kildare, 21st September 2019

Coolcarrigan, County Kildare, visited September 2019. Its gardens are a treat.

Castle Howard, County Wicklow, 28th September 2019

Castle Howard, County Wicklowa mixture of church and castle architecture.

Barmeath Castle, County Louth, 15th October 2019

Barmeath Castle, County Louth, still home of the Bellews.

Colganstown House, County Dublin, 23rd November 2019

Colganstown, County Dublin. Maurice Craig describes the plasterwork dragon by Robert West: “over the staircase window, presides a splendidly animated Chinese dragon, scaly wings outstretched, and his tail piercing the egg-and-dart moulding at the base of the cornice to emerge and recurve again, stabbing the plasterwork.”

Castle Leslie, County Monaghan, 27-29th November 2019

Castle Leslie, County Monaghan, where we slept in a bed carved in 1617. Now a hotel but still owned by the Leslies.

Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin, December 2019

Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin. I visited in order to take photographs in December 2019. Former townhouse of the Wingfields, Viscounts Powerscourt.

In 2020, during Covid restrictions and even after, houses did not have to open to the public. However, some owners were kind and opened to us. We went on holiday down to County Cork during Heritage Week, and at the end of the year treated ourselves to two nights in Cabra Castle in County Cavan. My choice of Favourite House in 2020 is Ian Elliot’s Corravahan in County Cavan. Ian’s research deepened my appreciation of the house and its history. In 2020 we visited:

The Odeon, Dublin, 13th April 2020 (outside – we may have been in a lockdown at that point!)

The Odeon, formerly the Harcourt Street tram station, 13th April 2020.

Old Rectory Killedmond, 1st July 2020

Old Rectory Killedmond, a five bay two storey Tudor-Gothic Revival house with three dormer windows and a loggia. We enjoyed meeting owner Mary White, a former Green politician and Irish representative to the European Union, with whom I bonded over our love of literature.

Corravahan, County Cavan, 24th July 2020: My chosen Home of the Year in 2020.

Former Rectory Corravahan, County Cavan, home of the Beresfords. Owner Ian Elliot has taken great interest in the history of the house and the house is full of quirks.

Kilshannig, County Cork, 14th August 2020

Kilshannig, County Cork, which features stuccowork by Lafranchini brothers.

Cappoquin, County Waterford, 15th August 2020

Cappoquin House, County Waterford, built for and still owned by the Keane family.

Drishane House, County Cork, 20th August 2020

Drishane House, County Cork, former home of Edith Somerville, who wrote novels with her cousin Violet Martin, as “Somerville and Ross” – the latter the name of Violet Martin’s childhood home.

Baltimore Castle, County Cork, 20th August 2020

Baltimore Castle, County Cork – it wasn’t open when we visited but I took a photograph.

Cabra Castle, County Cavan, 23rd December 2020

Cabra Castle, County Cavan, formerly owned by the Pratt family and now a hotel.

In 2021 the house that really blew my socks off and has to be given my Favourite Home of the Year award is Stradbally in County Laois. Again in 2021 houses did not have to be open if owners were concerned about the spread of Covid-19. We managed to visit quite a few, however, and were able to go on holidays during Heritage week, when we travelled to Sligo and Mayo and back home through County Kilkenny. Special award goes to our lovely hosts Nicola and Durcan at Annaghmore, County Sligo, where we stayed during our visits in Mayo and Sligo. Special mention also goes to Wilton Castle in County Wexford, whose owners have done a tremendous job in renovations after it lay a roofless ruin for years. In 2021 we visited:

Killruddery, County Wicklow, 24th April 2021

Killruddery House, May 2013we also visited in July 2020 and 24th April 2021. In June 2015 we were given a tour of the house as part of our membership of the Irish Decorating and Fine Arts Society, but we have yet to take another tour, since I learned about the Section 482 scheme. I look forward to it next year in 2023.

Mount Usher, County Wicklow, 6th June 2021

Mount Usher, County Wicklow, an example of a “Robinsonian” garden, after William Robinson who wrote “The Wild Garden.”

Stradbally Hall, County Laois, 7th June 2021, my Home of the Year 2021.

Stradbally, County Offaly. Built for the Cosby family, who still own it.

Killineer, County Louth, 9th June 2021

Killineer, County Louth. Built for a wealthy merchant of Drogheda.

Burtown, County Kildare, 23rd June 2021

Burtown, County Kildare. We had booked a visit with the Fennells but they were busy preparing to open the restaurant The Green Barn that day, for the first day after a prolonged lockdown, so my visit inside the house has had to be postponed.

Salthill Garden, County Donegal, July 2021

Salthill Garden, County Donegal. The house, not open to the public, was formerly the house for the agent of the Conynghams of The Hall, Mountcharles, who later purchased Slane Castle.

Markree Castle, County Sligo, 16th August 2021

Markree Castle, County Sligo, originaly owned by the Cooper family, it is now a hotel.

Newpark, County Sligo, 16th August 2021

Newpark, County Sligo, home to the Kitchen family, descended from the O’Haras who own Annaghmore house and Coopershill.

Enniscoe, County Mayo, 17th August 2021

Enniscoe, County Mayo, still in the hands of the same family, descended from the Jacksons.

Coopershill, County Sligo, 18th August 2021

Coopershill, County Sligo, home to the O’Haras, descendants of the original Cooper family.

Kilfane, County Kilkenny, 23rd August 2021

Kilfane, County Kilkennyonly the grounds are open, which are developed into a wonderful haven of the Picturesque, with thatched cottage and small waterfall.

Wilton Castle, County Wexford, November 2021

Wilton Castle, County Wexford – the owners have done a marvellous renovation of what was previously a roofless ruin. It is available for accommodation.

And this year, in 2022, we went on holiday in June to County Cork to visit some historic houses. Then we did another tour of the country during Heritage Week. My favourite, to be awarded House of the Year 2022, is Bantry House, although special mention must go to St. Mary’s Abbey House in Trim, which is a real gem. During 2022 we visited:

Springfield House, County Offaly, January 2022

Springfield, County Offaly, where Muirean and her husband kindly gave us a tour.

Ballysallagh, County Kilkenny, 12th February 2022

Ballysallagh, County Kilkenny, awarded a prize in 2020 for its renovation, maintenance, and winter garden.

Bewleys Cafe, Dublin, 6th March 2022

Bewleys Cafe, established by the Quaker Bewley family, home of Harry Clarke stained glass windows.

Beauparc House, County Meath, 15th March 2022

Beauparc, County Meath, passed from Lambart relative to the current Marquess Conyngham of Slane.

Powerscourt Estate, County Wicklow, March 2022

10th December 2009, my Dad and Stephen, when we went to Powerscourt to celebrate my birthday. Stephen and I visited again in March 2022.

Martello Tower Portrane, County Dublin, 23rd April 2022

Martello Tower, Portranea former defensive tower built in the reign of Napoleon of France.

Larchill, County Kildare, 8th May 2022

Larchill, County Kildare, a former Quaker home, complete with Arcadian garden.

St. Mary’s Church, Dublin, May 2022

St. Mary’s Church, now a bar, it was one of the oldest parishes on the north side of the city in Dublin.

St. Mary’s Abbey, Trim, County Meath, May 2022

St. Mary’s abbey house, County Meath – this may have been part of the medieval St. Mary’s Abbey next to Trim Castle.

Kildrought, County Kildare, 28th May 2022

Kildrought, County Kildare, a beautifully restored home and garden on the banks of the Liffey.

Bantry House, Cork, 8th June 2022. My Home of the Year 2022.

Bantry House, County Cork, a treasurehouse of culture.

Blarney House, Cork, 7th June 2022

Blarney House, County Cork, belonging still to the family who lived in Blarney Castle.

Blarney Castle, Cork, 7th June 2022

Blarney Castle, County Cork.

Riverstown House, County Cork, June 2022

Riverstown, County Cork, home of Lafranchini plasterwork.

Former Hibernian Bank, Dublin, 25th June 2022

Former Hibernian Bank, Dublin.

Oakfield Park, County Donegal, 2nd July 2022

Oakfield Park gardens, County Donegal.

Killeen Mill, County Meath, 16th July 2022

Killeen Mill, July 2022. We stopped by to have a look on a day we revisited Dunsany Castle. It is available for accommodation.

St. George’s, Killiney, County Dublin, August 2022

St. George’s, Dublin, an Arts and Crafts house by George Ashlin for his wife Mary Pugin, daughter of the famous church architect.

The Turret, County Limerick, August 2022

The Turret, County Limerick, built in 1683.

Ashill, County Limerick, 12-15th August 2022

Ashill, County Limerick, where we treated ourselves to three nights’ stay.

Beechwood, County Tipperary, 13th August 2022

Beechwood, County Tipperary, August 2022 – I still have to write up about our visit to this lovely former Rectory.

Glenview, County Limerick, 14th August 2022

Glenville, County Limerick, a former home of the Massey family, we enjoyed our visit with the current owners.

Mount Trenchard, County Limerick, 14th August 2022

Mount Trenchard, County Limerick, currently undergoing renovation. We were given a wonderful tour of the house and its grounds, including the walled garden.

Oranmore Castle, County Galway, 15th August 2022

Oranmore Castle, County Galway, the gift from her mother to Anita Leslie from Castle Leslie, County Monaghan.

Claregalway Castle, County Galway, 15th August 2022

Claregalway Castle, County Galway, parts of which can be booked for accommodation.

King House, County Roscommon, 18th August 2022

King House, County Roscommon, once home of the King family, now a beautiful museum.

Strokestown Park, County Roscommon, August 2022

Strokestown, County Roscommon – it was listed as open in Section 482 but opening was delayed due to renovations. We were lucky to get on a Heritage Week tour.

Lissadell, County Sligo, 19th August 2022

Lissadell, County Sligo, the former home of the Countess Markievicz and the Gore-Booth family.

Manorhamilton, County Leitrim, 20th August 2022

Manorhamilton Castle, Leitrim. It was not open on the day we visited despite being listed as an open day during Heritage Week.

Hilton Park, County Monaghan, 21st August 2022

Hilton Park, still in the ownership of the Madden family for whom it was built.

After that big holiday during Heritage Week 2022 I needed a break in September!

Fahanmura, County Dublin, 11th October 2022

Fahanmura, a 1940s home in Dublin.

39 North Great Georges Street, Dublin, 10th November 2022

39 North Great Georges Street, a 1771 home of Georgian splendour.

Hamwood, County Meath, 14th November 2022

Hamwood House, built by and still lived in by the Hamiltons, including artists Letitia and Eva.

Architectural definitions

I will add to this page as I go, when I use a new architectural term in a post. I have taken my definitions from Mark Bence-Jones [1], if not otherwise indicated.

acanthus – decoration based on the leaf of the acanthus plant, which forms part of the Corinthian capital.

acroteria – ornamental blocks of stone resting on an entablature or pediment; a characteristic of Grecian Revival architecture.

Adamesque – Neoclassical interior design like the work of Scottish architect William Adams and his sons, most famous of whom are Robert (1728–1792) and James (1732–1794).

aedicule – the framing of a window or other opening with columns and a pediment or entablature.

architrave: strictly speaking, the lowest member of the Classical entablature; used loosely to denote the moulded frame of a door or window opening. (B-J.) OR (1) A formalized lintel, the lowest memter of the classical entablature; (2) moulded frame of door or window. Also “lugged” or “shouldered architrave” whose top is prolonged into “lugs” ie. ears. [2]

ashlar: squared cut stone in regular courses.

astragal: strictly speaking, a narrow semi-circular moulding; used loosely to denote the glazing bars in a Georgian sash window.

astylar: term used to describe an elevation than has no columns or other distinguishing stylistic features. [2]

banded column: a column of which the shaft is interrupted with stone bands.

bargeboard: a wooden board, often ornamented, along the slope of the gable of an eaved roof, hiding the ends of the roof timbers.

Baroque: “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.” wikipedia.

barrel vault: a curved vault, found in both Medieval and Classical architecture.

bartizan: a turret corbelled out from a wall.

baseless pediment: a pediment in which the base moulding is omitted.

Batty Langley Gothic – the earliest form of Georgian-Gothic, as popularized by the English architectural writer, Batty Langley (1696-1751).

bay: A bay is a vertical division of the exterior of a building marked by a single tier of windows in its centre. Thus the number of bays in a façade is usually the same as the number of windows in each storey. There are, however, facades in which some of the bays contain two or more narrow windows in each storey in place of a single window of whatever width is the norm…

Because of this use of the word bay to denote a division, the word is never used in this book to mean a bay window, which is always described as a bow, curved or three sided as the case may be. For simplicity’s sake, all polygonal bows are described as “three sided” including those which are, strictly speaking, five sides, which are sometimes known as “half-octagons.”

Belvedere – a loggia on the tower of a house.

blind window, arch: a window, arch or other opening which is filled in.

blocked column/pilaster: a column or pilaster of which the shaft is interrupted with square blocks.

blocking: the use of alternating large and small blocks of stone, or of intermittent large blocks, in a doorcase, window surround or similar feature. Also known as rustication. [see Gibbsian doorcase/ surround]

bolection moulding: a broad curved moulding characteristic of late C17 and early C18 interiors; used in chimneypieces and also on panelling. [“convex moulding covering the joint between two different planes and overlapping the higher as well as the lower one, especially on panelling and fireplace surrounds of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.” p. 539. Casey, Christine and Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster. The Counties of Longford, Louth, Meath and Westmeath. Penguin Books, London, 1993.]

Bossi chimneypiece: a late C18 marble chimneypiece by, or in the style of, the Italian craftsman, Pietro Bossi; characterised by delicate inlaid ornament in coloured marbles against white background.

breakfront: a slight projection in the centre of a façade, rising through its full height and usually extending for three bays, but sometimes for more bays or less.

broken pediment: a pediment with a gap in its centre.

Bucrania: sculptured ox-skulls, used as ornaments in the metopes of a Doric frieze.

camber-headed window: a window of which the head is in the form of a shallow convex curve.

cantilevered staircase: a stone staircase in which the treads are monolithic and fixed at only one end.

Caryatid: a sculptured female figure used to support an entablature.

chamfered: an edge between two faces, usually at a 45 degree angle [wikipedia].

channelling: Decoration of the outside of a building with horizontal grooves; a treatment usually confined to the basement or lower part of a building [see rustication].

Claire-voie: a wrought iron screen.

clerestory: a row of windows in the upper part of a hall or other room which rises through several storeys.

Coade stone: an artificial cast stone of fine quality, invented in 1770 by Mrs Eleanor Coade and made by the Coade factory in London; widely used in the late-Georgian period for plaques, reliefs, capitals and other ornamentation.

coffering: recessed panels in a ceiling or dome.

composite order: an Order used originally by the Romans, having a capital which is partly Ionic and partly Corinthian.

console bracket: a scrolled bracket carrying an entablature, window surround or other member.

corbel: a block of stone projecting from a wall, supporting the beam of a roof or any other member; often ornamented.

Corinthian order: the third Order of Classical architecture.

cornice: strictly speaking, the crowning or upper projecting part of the Classical entablature; used to denote any projecting moulding along the top of a building, and in the angle between the walls and the ceiling of a room.

crocket: projecting carved foliage, used to decorate pinnacles and similar features in Gothic or Gothic-Revival architecture.

curved sweeps: the curving walls or corridors joining the centre block of a Palladian house to the wings or pavilions. Also known as quadrant walls.

Dado: the lower part of the walls of a room, when treated differently from the area above.

dentil cornice: a cornice with tooth-like ornamentation.

die: a raised rectangular block in the centre of the roof parapet of a house, or in the centre of the portico or porch.

Diocletian window: a semi-circular window divided vertically into three lights.

Doric Order: the first and simplest Order of Grecian architecture.

eaved roof: a roof of which the eaves overhang the walls of the house.

engaged columns: columns attached to, or partly sunk in, the wall of a building

entablature: a horizontal member, properly consisting of an architrave, frieze and cornice, supported on columns, or on a wall, with or without columns or pilasters.

fenestration: the arrangement of windows in a façade.

festoon: a carved ornament in the form of a garland of fruit and flowers; also known as a swag.

finial: the top of a pinnacle or similar feature.

floating pediment: a pediment which is based neither on a breakfront, nor on columns or pilasters.

fluting: vertical chanelling on the shaft of a column or pilaster.

fretted ceiling: a ceiling divided by criss-cross mouldings, a characteristic of Tudor or Tudor-Revival architecture.

framing bands: projecting bands, vertical or horizontal, framing a façade or certain bays of a façade.

frieze: strictly speaking, the middle part of an entablature in Classical architecture; used also to denote a band of ornament running round a room immediately below the ceiling.

gable: (1) peaked wall or other vertical surface, often triangular, at the end of a double-pitch roof; (2) the same, very often with a chimney at the apex, but also in a wider sense: end wall, of whatever shape. [2]

giant portico/columns/pilasters/order: a portico, columns or pilasters, rising through two or more storeys of a building

Gibbsian doorcase/surround: an eighteenth century treatment of door or window surround seen particularly in the work of the British architect, James Gibbs (1862-1754), characterised by alternating large and small blocks of stone or intermittent large blocks and a head composed of five voussoirs and a pediment or entablature.

herm: see ‘term’

hipped roof: all the sides of the roof slope downwards to the walls, as opposed to a “gabled” roof which is peaked with a vertical surface.

hood moulding: a projecting moulding over the heads of windows and doorways in Gothic, Tudor, Gothic-Revival and Tudor-Revival architecture. [see Borris House] Hood mouldings also occur in some plain late-Georgian Irish country houses.

imperial staircase: a bifurcating staircase – consisting of a single lower ramp, dividing into two upper ramps – on a grand scale.

Ionic Order: the second Order of Classical architecture. [Ionic columns have scrolls on top]

Irish battlements: stepped battlements, characteristic of Irish architecture from 15C onwards. Used also in C19 castellated buildings.

keyhole pattern: a geometrical pattern of vertical and horizontal straight lines, used in Classical decoration.

lancet window: a sharply pointed Gothic window.

lantern: a raised section of a roof, with windows all around, lighting a room below.

loggia: [Wikipedia] a covered exterior gallery or corridor, where the outer wall is open to the elements and is usually supported by a series of columns or arches. It is not meant for an entrance but as an out-of-door sitting room. They differ from a veranda in that they are more architectural in form and are part of the main edifice.

lunette: a semi-circular window, opening or recess.

machicolation: a corbelled gallery on the walls and towers of a castle, from which missiles, boiling oil, etc, could be thrown down. A feature frequently reproduced in C19 castles.

mansard roof: a steep roof with a double slope, named after the French architect Francois Mansart (1598-1666).

metopes: the spaces between the triglyphs in a Doric frieze; often ornamented with Classical reliefs

mezzanine: a low “half” storey between two higher ones.

modillion cornice: a cornice of the Corinthian order, made up of modillions, or ornamented brackets. Frequently used as the cornice of a ceiling.

mullioned window: a window divided into lights by vertical bards of stone or timber; found in Gothic or Tudor architecture. Also common in Gothic-Revival and Tudor-Revival architecture.

mutules: the projecting blocks in a Doric cornice.

oculus: a round window, also known as an oeuil-de-boeuf.

oeuil-de-boeuf – see oculus.

ogee: a window head or arch made up of convex and concave curves; found in Gothic and Gothic-Revival architecture.

oriel: a large projecting window in Gothic, Tudor, Gothic-Revival and Tudor-Revival architecture; sometimes rising through two or more storeys, sometimes in an upper storey only and carried on corbelling.

overlapping wings: wings projecting forward on either side of the centre block of a house, and overlapping it by the thickness of one wall which is common to both centre block and wing.

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.

Parapet: [Wikipedia] a low protective wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony.

pediment: Originally the low-pitched triangular gable of the roof of a Classical temple, and of the roof of a portico; used as an ornamental feature, generally in the centre of a facade, without any structural purpose. A broken pediment has the top of the triangle with a gap, and an open pediment has a gap in the bottom of the triangle.

pendentives: the triangular curving surfaces below the domed ceiling of a rectangular room.

perpendicular window: a large tracery window derived from English Gothic architecture of C15 and C16.

Perron: a platform approached by outside steps in front of the entrance door of a house, when the entrance is raised on a high basement. [in the case of Powerscourt Estate, Bence-Jones refers to the perron at the garden front of the house].

Piano Nobile: [Wikipedia] is Italian for “noble floor” or “noble level”, also sometimes referred to by the corresponding French term, bel étage, and is the principal floor of a large house. This floor contains the principal reception and bedrooms of the house.

[Bence-Jones] The storey in which the principal reception rooms of a house are situated, when it is raised on a high basement or is at first floor level.

pier: a vertical supporting member, other than a column.

pilasters: a flat pillar projecting from a wall, usually with a capital of one of the principal Orders of architecture.

pinnacle: a small turret-like projection in Gothic, Tudor, Gothic-Revival and Tudor-revival architecture. Also the point of a buttress.

polychromy, structural: the use of different coloured stone, or stone and brick, for the various parts of the wall of a house; a favourite device with architects in the High Victorian period.

porch oriel: an oriel above the entrance door of a Tudor or Tudor-Revival house.

portico: an open porch consisting of a pediment or entablature carried on columns.

quadrant walls – see curved sweeps.

Quatrefoil window: a window in the shape of a four leafed clover; found in Gothic and Gothic-Revival architecture.

quoins: the slightly projecting dressed stones at the corners of a building, usually laid so as to have faces that are alternately large and small, and serving as an architectural feature. Used also to give emphasis to certain bays of a façade.

reeding – the decoration of a surface with narrow convex mouldings parallel and close together.

relieving arch – a blind arch above a window.

rendering – the covering of an external face of a building with cement, plaster, etc.

rinceau freize – This is a frieze of leafy scrolls branching alternately to left and right. p. 653. p. 598. Tierney, Andrew. The Buildings of Ireland: Central Leinster. Kildare, Laois and Offaly. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2019.

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

rubble – rough unhewn stones used for building.

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. (B-J) OR “Treatment of joints and/or faces of masonry to give an effect of strength. In the most usual kind the joints are recessed by V-section chamfering or square-section channelling. Banded rustication has only the horizontal joints emphasized in this way. The faces may be flat but there are many other forms, e.g. diamond-faced, like a shallow pyramid; vermiculated, with a stylized texture like worms or worm-holes, or glacial, like icicles or stalactites. Rusticated columns may have their joints and drums treated in any of these ways.” [2]

scagliola – an artificial marble made out of marble chips, cement and plaster.

screen – In Gothic or Tudor architecture, a partition of wood, often elaborately carved, at one end of a hall or chapel. In Classical architecture, two or more columns dividing one end of a room from the rest of it; usually reflected by a pilaster of the same Order on the wall at either side.

scroll pediment – a broken pediment in which the sloping members are shaped like scrolls.

segmental pediment – a pediment in the shape of a segment of circle.

shouldered architrave/doorcase – a door or window surround with projections at the upper and sometimes also the lower corners; characteristic of C18 houses.

Soanian – in the manner of the English architect, John Soane (1753-1837), who is noted for his retrained but highly original neo-Classicism and his spatial effects.

soffit – the underside of an arch or any other member.

spandrels – the triangular spaces on either side of an arch [see Castle Leslie]

sprocketed roof – a roof with a slight concave curve.

strapwork – ornamentation composed of curving interlacing bands, characteristic of Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture. Also common in Elizabethan-Revival and Jacobean-Revival architecture.

string course – a prominent horizontal band of masonry. [see Tourin, County Waterford]

strip pilaster – a plain pilaster, without a capital.

swag – see festoon.

term – a tapering pedestal supporting a bust, or merging into a sculpted figure, used ornamentally, particularly at the sides of chimneypieces. Roughly similar to a herm.

transom – a horizontal mullion in a window.

trefoil window or trefoil-headed window – a Gothic window shaped like, or with a head in the form of, a three leafed clover.

triglyphs – the channelled projections in a Doric frieze.

from Kilshannig: The pilasters suppport an entablature which the National Inventory describes: “with alternating bucrania and fruit and flowers metopes and triglyphs.” The metopes are the squares with the pictures of “bucrania” (cow or ox skulls, commonly used in Classical architecture, they represent ancient Greek and Roman ceremonies of sacrifice) and fruit and flowers, and the triglyphs are the three little pillars between each square picture (wikipedia describes: “In classical architecture, a metope (μετόπη) is a rectangular architectural element that fills the space between two triglyphs in a Doric frieze, which is a decorative band of alternating triglyphs and metopes above the architrave of a building of the Doric order.“)

tripod – a Classical tripod, used as ornament.

Tuscan Order: a simplified Doric Order.

tympanum – the triangular space within the mouldings of a pediment, often ornamented and containing armorial bearings.

Venetian doorway – a doorway based on a Venetian window.

Venetian window: [wikipedia] “the Venetian window consists of an arched central arched light symmetrically flanked by two shorter sidelights. Each sidelight is flanked by two columns or pilasters and topped by a small entablature”

[Bence-Jones]: “a window with three openings, that in the centre being round-headed and wider than those on either side; a very familiar feature of Palladian architecture.”

vermiculation – the treatment of stone blocks to give a worm-like texture.

volute: a scroll derived from the scroll in the Ionic capital.

voussoirs – the wedge-shaped blocks forming an arch; sometimes given prominence by being proud of the surrounding masonry, or by being of a different colour stone or brick.

weather slating – the covering of the external walls of a house with slates; a treatment often met with in the south and south-west of Ireland.

Wyatt window: a rectangular triple window very common in late-Georgian domestic architecture, named after the English architect, James Wyatt (1747-1813).

[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.] pp. xxix-xxxi

[2] Casey, Christine and Alistair Rowan. The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster. The Counties of Longford, Louth, Meath and Westmeath. Editorial Advisor: John Newman. Penguin Books, London, England, 1993.