Places to stay and visit in Connacht: Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

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

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

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

Leitrim:

1. Lough Rynn Castle gardens, Mohill, Co Leitrim 

2. Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin), Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim – section 482

3. Parke’s Castle, County Leitrim (OPW)

Places to stay, Leitrim

1. Bush Hotel, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim 

2. Lough Rynn Castle, Mohill, County Leitrim €

Mayo:

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

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

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

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

5. Partry House, Mayo

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

7. Turlough Park, Museum of Country Life, Mayo

8. Westport House, County Mayo

Places to stay, County Mayo:

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

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

3. Breaghwy, Castlebar, Co Mayo – hotel

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

5. Knockranny House Hotel, County Mayo 

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

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

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

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

10. Westbrook Country House, Castlebar, County Mayo

Sligo:

1. Ballymote Castle, County Sligo (OPW)

2. Ballynafad Castle (or Ballinafad), Co Sligo – a ruin, OPW

3. Coopershill House, Riverstown, Co. Sligo – section 482

4. Lissadell House & Gardens, Lissadell, Ballinfull, Co. Sligo – section 482

5. Markree Castle, Collooney, Co Sligo – section 482

6. Newpark House and Demesne, Newpark, Ballymote, Co. Sligo – section 482

7. Rathcarrick House, Rathcarrick, Strandhill Road, Co. Sligo – section 482

Places to stay, County Sligo:

1. Annaghmore, Colloony, County Sligo

2. Schoolhouse at Annaghmore, County Sligo € for 3/4

3. Ardtarmon Castle, Ballinfull, Co Sligo – accommodation

4. Castle Dargan Lodges, Ballygawley, Co. Sligo, Ireland 

5. Carrowcullen old Irish Farmhouse, County Sligo

6. Coopershill House, Riverstown, Co. Sligo – section 482

7. Lissadell rental properties, County Sligo

8. Markree Castle, Collooney, Co Sligo – section 482

9. Newpark House and Demesne, Newpark, Ballymote, Co. Sligo – section 482

10. Temple House, Ballymote, Co. Sligo – section 482

Leitrim:

1. Lough Rynn Castle gardens, Mohill, Co Leitrim

https://www.loughrynn.ie/

The website tells us:

Lough Rynn Castle Hotel Estate & Gardens is one of the top luxury castle hotels to stay in. Located in County Leitrim, Lough Rynn Castle exceeds expectations as one of the most preferred hotels in Ireland.

It is the ancestral home of the Clements family and the legendary Lord Leitrim. Our magical Irish castle hotel has been transformed from an incredible ancestral home into a place where old world elegance mixes seamlessly with unimaginable modern hotel luxury.

Staying in a luxurious Castle Hotel in Ireland is a once in a lifetime experience and one that deserves to take place at a location full of history, luxury and charm. Take a step back in time as you approach imposing entrances at Lough Rynn Castle which offers acres of breathtaking scenery, historical sites and walled gardens. Our entire Irish castle hotel’s estate comprises of over 300 acres of land that is idyllic, rich in history and charmed with natural beauty. Take a romantic walk in our walled gardens overlooking our lough and come back to the castle hotel for some exquisite dining in our restaurant or drinks at the Dungeon Bar. Relax and take in the authentic Irish castle atmosphere in the Baronial Hall or in the John McGahern Library.

Mac Raghnaill family (1210 –1621)

The current Lough Rynn estate is built on the ancestral lands of Clan Maelsechlainn-Oge Mac Raghnaill, the pre-Conquest rulers of this part of County Leitrim known as Muintir Eolais. The Annals of Loch Cé and Annals of Connacht refer to “the crannóg of Claenloch” (Lough Rynn) in the High Middle Ages, 1247AD, with the structure marked on some maps as “Crannoge” or “Crane Island”, while the medieval Mac Raghnaill‘s Castle is mentioned in 1474AD.

The ruins of the Mac Raghnaill‘s Castle are located close to the lake and some 500 meters from the existing Lough Rynn Castle. The historian, Fiona Slevin, describes the structure of the Mac Raghnaill castle as “fairly standard for the time, but it did have a few unusual – and clever – features. Although a square shape, the castle had rounded corners that made it more impervious to artillery attacks and it had a straight stairway carved into the hollow of a wall, rather than the more usual spiral stair in one corner.”

The Mac Raghnaill family had played an important role in the Nine Years War on the side of Aodh Mór Ó Néill resisting the English conquest of Ireland.

Crofton family (1621–1750)

In the English Plantation of 1621, the Mac Raghnaill lands in Lough Rynn were confiscated and granted to an English family named Crofton. The Croftons brought British Protestant settlers with them and in the 1620s and 1630s the native Irish were gradually removed from the land.

In 1749, a wealthy landowner named Nathaniel Clements purchased around 10,000 acres in the Mohill area of County Leitrim. Upon doing so, his son Robert became the 1st Earl of Leitrim. On their new estate, the Clements family took up residence in a modest dwelling already on the estate. However, they had their eyes on building a far more impressive residence worthy of their name and their stature – a magnificent castle.

By the start of the 19th century, work had begun on the Clements family’s new home under the watchful eyes of the Earl. Sometime in 1839, Robert Clements died both suddenly and young, which passed the management of the estate to his brother William Sydney Clements. Although Sydney worked with his brother managing the build of Lough Rynn, as a second son, he never expected to inherit the lands or titles. However, in 1854, that’s exactly what he did, taking full ownership of the estate on the death of his father, thus becoming the 3rd Earl of Leitrim or Lord Leitrim as he preferred.

Clements family (1750–1978)

In 1750 the Croftons were replaced by another English family named the Clements. Daniel Clements, an officer in Oliver Cromwell‘s army, had been granted land in County Cavan which had been confiscated from the Irish following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. In 1750 Nathaniel Clements acquired the Lough Rynn estate, while remaining on his lands in Cavan. Nevertheless, the Clements started to become more involved in political life in Leitrim with Robert Clements becoming sheriff for the county in 1759. In 1795 Robert Clements became the first Earl of Leitrim. In 1833, Robert Bermingham [Clements (1805-1839)], Viscount Clements [grandson of the 1st Earl of Leitrim], built a mock Tudor revival house overlooking Lough Rynn. It is this property which is the basis for the current Lough Rynn Castle.

Upon Robert’s death in 1839, management of Lough Rynn estate passed to his brother, William Sydney Clements [(1806-1879) 3rd Earl of Leitrim]. In 1854, when their father Nathaniel Clements, 2nd Earl of Leitrim, died William Sydney Clements became the 3rd Earl of Leitrim. He inherited an estate of a massive 90,000 acres which stretched across four counties. From around this time Sydney Clements asserted his control over the estate in an authoritarian manner which won him many opponents among the tenantry. He was unpopular in the locality and in Ireland, his assassination received widespread publicity in Ireland and abroad, with proponents of land reform using it as evidence of the need to protect tenants from the abuses of tyrannical landlords. His funeral in Dublin was marked by further riots, while none of the three assassins were convicted of his death.

The inheritor of the Lough Rynn estate was Sydney Clements’ English-educated cousin who lived in Cavan, Colonel Henry Theophilus Clements [1820-1904], rather than the heir presumptive to the title who lived in England. This Colonel Clements embarked on an extensive expansion and refurbishment of the castle. He added a new wing, built a Baronial Hall designed by Thomas Drew with heavy plaster cornices, a large ornate Inglenook fireplace, and a fretted ceiling and walls wainscoted in solid English oak. Upon its completion in 1889, the principal floor of the house contained a main hall, Baronial Hall, chapel, reception room, living room and dining room. Two pantries, a kitchen, study, smokehouse and store were accessed by a separate entrance. In the basement there were stores and a wine cellar. There were fourteen bedrooms and four bathrooms upstairs.

By 1952, when Marcus Clements took over the Lough Rynn estate, most of it had been sold off to former tenants under the land acts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Clements lived there until the 1970’s. The estate remained largely empty until 1990 when it was purchased by an Irish-American investor, for a short time it was open to visitors but it was still in need of more investment and care.

Hanly Family (2001- Present)

In 2001 Lough Rynn estate was purchased by the current owners, the Hanly family. They invested substantially in the castle and the grounds. In September 2006 when Lough Rynn Castle finally opened as a hotel, the estate extended to three hundred acres. Local father and son Alan and Albert Hanly purchased the castle and grounds. Over the seven years that followed, they lovingly brought it back to its former glory, so that it’s magic, luxury and history could be embraced.

A secluded location, standard-setting craftsmanship, breathtaking views and the perfect blend of old-world elegance and new-world luxury, has turned Lough Rynn Castle into a truly magical destination.

2. Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin), Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim – section 482

contact: Anthony Daly
Tel: 086-2502593 

www.manorhamilton.ie

Open: Mar 6-31, April 3-Oct 31, Nov 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, Dec 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 9am-4pm
Fee: adult €5, audio €10, child free.

Manorhamilton Castle photo by Keith Ewing flickr creative commons.

3. Parke’s Castle, County Leitrim (OPW)

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

Places to stay, Leitrim

1. Bush Hotel, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim

https://www.bushhotel.com/

“Our charming award-winning boutique heritage hotel is in the centre of Carrick on Shannon, County Leitrim.”

2. Lough Rynn Castle, Mohill, County Leitrim

https://www.loughrynn.ie/

and self-catering cottages https://www.loughrynn.ie/self-catering/

Mayo:

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

 https://www.belleekcastle.com/

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

It continues in the history section:

Belleek Castle was built between 1825 and finished in 1831 for the cost of £10,000. The building was commissioned by Sir Arthur Francis Knox-Gore for the cost of £10,000 and . The manor house was designed by the prolific architect John Benjamin Keane, and the Neo-Gothic architecture met the taste of the time, when Medieval styles became fashionable again. The house is thought to have replaced an earlier structure & is named after the original Belleek Castle, a 13th Tower House Castle situated on the banks of the River Moy. Francis lived at Belleek Castle with his wife Sarah and his 9 children until his death in 1873. According to his wishes he was buried in Belleek Demense. A striking Neo-Gothic Monument, designed by James Franklin Fuller, now marks his grave and is situated in the middle of Belleek Woods. It is said that his wife & favourite horse are both buried beside him. His eldest son Charles Knox-Gore inherited & became the 2nd Baronet. Charles died without issue in 1890 & was also buried in Belleek Demense beside the River Moy, and his dog Phizzie was buried beside him. The house was inherited by his sister Matilda who married Major General William Boyd Saunders of Torquay. Their grandson William Arthur Cecil Saunders-Knox-Gore sold the house in 1942. 

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

And about the tour of the castle:

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

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

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

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

The National Inventory tells us it is a:

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

Appraisal

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

The Landed Estates database tells us:

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

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

See my entry:

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

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

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

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

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

5. Partry House, Mayo

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

The website tells us:

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

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

Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

contact: Tom O’Connor
Tel: 087-9032133

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

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

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

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

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

Prison House:

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

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

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

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

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

The Bourke Family:

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

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

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

Patrick Nolan:

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

Colonel John Browne:

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

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

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

The Trench Family:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[6*] Ibid

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

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

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

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

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

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

[13*] NLI Ms. 9393

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

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

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

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

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

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

[20*] National Archives

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

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

[23*] Book 1901-86-32

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

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

7. Turlough Park, Museum of Country Life, Mayo

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

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

The website tells us about the house:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

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

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

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

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

The Drawing Room of the Big House

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

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

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

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

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

Becoming part of the National Museum of Ireland

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

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

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

Turlough Park, County Mayo, February 2015.

8. Westport House, County Mayo

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

https://www.westporthouse.ie/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The website continues, telling us about the Browne Family:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Grounds & Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

Opened to the Public in 1960

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

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

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

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

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

Places to stay, County Mayo:

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

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

https://ashfordcastle.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.breaffyhouseresort.com/

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

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

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

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

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

5. Knockranny House Hotel and Spa, County Mayo

https://www.knockrannyhousehotel.ie/

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

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

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

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

https://www.mountfalcon.com/

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

The website tells us:

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

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

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

The National Inventory adds:

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

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

http://www.newporthouse.ie

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

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

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

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

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

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

contact: Jerry O’ Mara
Tel: 087-2446744 

(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: March-Oct and Dec

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

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

www.owenbeg.ie – link doesn’t work.

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

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

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

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

http://turincastle.com

The website tells us:

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

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

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

The website includes a good description of its history:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Westbrook Country House, Castlebar, County Mayo

https://www.westbrookhousemayo.com

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

Sligo:

1. Ballymote Castle, County Sligo (OPW)

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

2. Ballynafad Castle (or Ballinafad), Co Sligo – a ruin, OPW

3. Coopershill House, Riverstown, Co. Sligo – section 482

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/11/coopershill-house-riverstown-co-sligo/
contact: Simon O’Hara
Tel: 071-9165108
www.coopershill.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April-Sept, Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm
Fee: adult/child/OAP/student €5.

4. Lissadell House & Gardens, Lissadell, Ballinfull, Co. Sligo – section 482

contact: Edward Walsh
Tel: 087-2550969
www.lissadell.com
Open: June-Aug, 10am-6pm Fee: adult €14, child €7

5. Markree Castle, Collooney, Co Sligo – section 482

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/11/06/markree-castle-collooney-co-sligo/
contact: Nicholas Ryan
Tel: 071-9167800
www.markreecastle.ie
Open: June, July, Aug, 12 noon-4pm 
Fee: Free

6. Newpark House and Demesne, Newpark, Ballymote, Co. Sligo – section 482

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/11/30/newpark-house-and-demesne-newpark-ballymote-co-sligo/
contact: Christopher & Dorothy-Ellen Kitchin
Tel: 087-3706869
Open: Feb 14-18, 28, March 1-4, 28-31, April 1, 25-29, May 3-27, Aug 12-26, 9am- 1pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €5, child free

7. Rathcarrick House, Rathcarrick, Strandhill Road, Co. Sligo – section 482

contact: Michael Sweeney
Tel: 071-9128417
Open: June, July, Aug, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child free

Places to stay, County Sligo:

1. Annaghmore, Colloony, County Sligo €

https://www.annaghmore.ie/history

Annaghmore, County Sligo

We stayed here during Heritage Week in 2021 and will be visiting again in 2022! You can book to stay with the owners on airbnb.

Our lovely bedroom in Annaghmore, County Sligo.

The website tells us:

The O’Hara’s were Chiefs of Luighne, an extensive territory in the County of Sligo, and maintained an independent position down to the time of Oliver Cromwell. The family have always had a residence on the present site, as well as castles at Castlelough, Memlough and other parts of Leyne prior to the modern Annaghmore house being built in the 1790s. The house was dramatically added to in the 1830s and again in the 1870s by architect James Franklin Fuller, to form the unusually restrained classical house it is today.   We are one of the very few original old Gaelic families to still live in the family seat.   Over generations The O’Hara’s have made a profound contribution to Irish history both at home and abroad; holding important roles in politics, the military, religious, cultural and sporting arenas.  Annaghmore is a living testimony to the family’s achievements and steadfast commitment and love for the people of Sligo, well documented through manuscripts, paintings, personal diaries, maps and photographs still very much visible within the house today.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 4. “[O’Hara] A house of ca. 1820, consisting of a 2 storey 3 bay centre with single-storey Ionic portico and single-storey 2 bay wings, greatly enlarged ca. 1860-70 by C. W. O’Hara to the design of James Franklin Fuller; the additions being in the same late-Georgian style as the original house. The wings were raised a storey and extended back so that the house had a side elevation as high as the front and as long, or longer, consisting of 1 bay, curved bow, 3 further bays and a three-sided bow. At the same time, the fenestration of the original centre was altered, paired windows being inserted into the two outer bays instead of the original single window above a Wyatt window. All the ground floor windows except for those in the three sided bow have plain entablatures over them. Parapeted roof. Short area balustrade on either side of centre. Curved staircase behind entrance hall. Doorcases with reeded architraves and rosettes.” 

2. Schoolhouse at Annaghmore, County Sligo € for 3-4

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

The Schoolhouse in Annaghmore was built in the 1860s to educate local children.

The schoolhouse at Annaghmore, County Sligo

3. Ardtarmon Castle, Ballinfull, Co Sligo – accommodation 

https://www.ardtarmoncastle.com

The website tells us: “Spend Your Holidays or your Honeymoon in a Castle at Seaside in Ireland – All Apartments in our Castle are South Facing with view to the Sea – Self Catering Holiday and Honeymoon Apartment in an Irish Castle.

The National Inventory tells us Ardtarmon is multiple-bay two-storey rendered castle built c. 1640. Oblong plan, circular towers to north and south ends of main east elevation and centre of west elevation, seven-bay two-storey extension c.1995 with corner turret to south-west, bawn to west. “This national monument is a transitional early-seventeenth century semi-fortified house. Although extensively renovated for residential use, the castle has retained many of its original features.

Ardtarmon Castle which commanded the sea approaches to Sligo town when first built around 1648. Its founder Sir Francis Gore was a distant ancestor of Constance Gore-Booth and founder of the Gore Booth family. It was the original home of the Gore-Booths before they moved to Lissadell in the early 18th century after a fire burned Ardtarmon to the ground. It is one of the two buildings built in the style of the Cromwell period that survive in the area. The other is Park’s Castle on the Shores of Lough Gill in Co. Leitrim.

Rebuilt in the late 20th century to its former glory by Holger & Erika Schiller the castle now offers state of the art luxury self-catering accommodation, with design and interiors faithful to the original but with modern day comfort including under floor heating and dishwashers in all apartments.” 

4. Castle Dargan Lodges, Ballygawley, Co. Sligo, Ireland

https://www.castledargan.com

The website tells us: “Welcome to Castle Dargan Estate, a magnificent, rambling country estate on 170 rolling acres in W.B. Yeats’ beloved County Sligo. The great poet was inspired to write of its charms in The King of The Great Clock Tower and a hundred years later we invite you to be enchanted by a timeless elegance and unique atmosphere that will stay with you forever.

Accommodation at Castle Dargan Estate offers guests a diverse range of 4-star hotel accommodation including luxury suites in the 18th century Castle Dargan House, one and two bed Walled Garden Suites which are perfect for family breaks, and self-catering lodges available for holiday rentals. With a rich history brought in to 21st century, Castle Dargan Estate offers more to our guests than hospitality and fantastic settings, it offers classic grandeur that remains timeless.

The website also tells us about Castle Dargan’s history:

Castle Dargan: I liked the place for its romance.”  – W.B.Yeats 

Beautifully situated, having delightful views of the surrounding scenery and the mansion house being suitable for the residence of a gentleman of the highest respectability.” – Patrick E. O’Brien 

Such was the description of Castle Dargan prior to public auction in 1875, lands that has been residence to many during five millenia. Extensive archaeological remains bear witness to a continuity; stone age burial sites on the heights of Sliabh Daeane to the north, a possible henge ritual site, bronze age cooking and washing sites, and until recently unknown souterrain – the underground refuge and foodstore of early medieval farmers, and ring forts beside the 5th fairway and on the high ground above the 18th hole. The old castle area, a complex of habitation from the 15 to 18 centuries and built on an earlier cashel or stone-built ring fort, has not yet been interpreted satisfactorily.

By the early 14 century, the MacDonaghs ruled the barony of Tirerrill, that eastern half of Sligo that stretches from the southern shores of Lough Arrow to Castle Dargan. In a dispute of 1422 over the strategic construction of a castle by Conor MacDonagh of Collooney – Castle Dargan was subject to Collooney – the castle was captured by an army of O’Neill and O’Donnell forces, allies of the Castledargan MacDonaghs; which having partaken of overnight hospitality in Castle Dargan, returned north the following day. On a return visit in 1516 another O’Donnell raided Sligo taking several castles, among them and took hostages.

Following the submission of O’Conor Sligo to Queen Elizabeth in 1585, the MacDonaghs found themselves paying fees to the Crown and liable to fines or confiscation. The Collooney family became one of the leading Gaelic families representing Sligo in the early 1600s, a period which ended with the death in rebellion of its leader Brian Óg MacDonagh in 1643.

In the aftermath of the subsequent Cromwellian Wars, the MacDonaghs withdrew into modest circumstances or returned to a tradition of military service in continental armies. Castle Dargan lands were split between three owners, Coote, Crofton and the Strafford & Radcliffe estate which later sold its interest to the Burton family, ancestors of the Cunninghams of Slane. The new ownership provided the opportunity in 1687 for the arrival in Castle Dargan of Stephen Ormsby, great-grandson of an Elizabethan soldier, Thomas Ormsby of Lincolnshire, who had married well in Mayo.

The Castle Dargan Ormsbys leased rather than owned land for several generations. William, Stephen’s grandson, married well during the 1740s, his wife bringing the 408 acres of nearby Knockmullen as a dowry. Having renewed the lease of Drumnamackin ‘called commonly the name of Castle Dargan’ in 1749 he was recorded as paying a chief rent of £3 for it in 1775; during those intervening years Castle Dargan had obviously come into full Ormsby ownership. Subsequently, he took out a lease on three townlands for 400 years in 1781.

Reflecting these improved circumstances, William built the original Castle Dargan House in the second half of the eighteenth century. He also developed the demesne, its farmlands and, probably, the walled and ornamental gardens in the castle area. He died in 1784 ‘deservedly lamented’ and was succeeded in turn by each of his sons, Nicholson and Thomas, both of whom died unmarried, and William who was in turn succeeded by his son, John.

John, the most public person of the Castle Dargan Ormsbys was elected a Burgess of Sligo Borough in 1824, appointed Provost in 1829 and 1839, High Sheriff of the county in 1834 and was regularly a Grand Juror of the Assizes. He was a founder member of and contributed to the first Famine Relief Committee of 1846 and served over many years as a Resident Magistrate. He died in 1870 and was succeeded by his son, Nicholson, who survived him by one year only and by his grandson, John Robert, the last Ormsby of Castle Dargan House.

In John Robert’s time, the young W.B. Yeats visited Castle Dargan House ‘where lived a brawling squireen’, married to one of his Middleton cousins; Mary Middleton was married to John Robert. It was, as he said, “the last household where I could have found the reckless Ireland of a hundred years ago in final degradation. But I liked the place for the romance of its two castles facing one another across a little lake, Castle Dargan and Castle Furey”; the Ormsbys were well-known for their country pursuits.

They had historically taken a dramatic place in Irish folklore when it is recorded that a group of Elizabethan adventurers, arriving by boat on a western shore, were promised a grant of land to the first to set foot on land. Ormsby, a veteran of the continental wars cast his cork-leg ahead of him, wading ashore at his leisure.

Cock-fighting in the Sligo of 1781 was noted in reporting the rivalry of Nicholson Ormsby and Philip Perceval of Templehouse, in which Ormsby lost the princely prize of two hundred guineas. Nicholson’s reputation was such that, Archdeacon O’Rorke, writing his otherwise sober in 1889, made an exception in the case of Nicholson Ormsby, recounting tales of his practical jokes, for which he had some notoriety.

Over many years the Ormsbys had participated in Sligo horse-racing, its gentlemen and young ladies remarked upon among the attendance of the ‘beauty and fashion of the County’ at such gatherings, their racing successes beginning at the first festival of racing at Bowmore in Rosses Point in September 1781. This love of horses continued with the hunt and the hosting of several times a season. Ormsby hospitality was once remarked upon when, following ‘as good a run on so fine a day as any could wish for’, the hunting party ‘came to lunch at Castle Dargan House, where the usual hospitality of the owner was taken every advantage of’.

Inevitably, stories of Castle Dargan and Ormsby exploits made their way into Yeats’s works. Reflecting the folklore of spectral dancers in well-lit ruins; the royal attendant of, more than half a century later, sang –

    O, but I saw a solemn sight;

    Said the rambling, shambling travelling-man;

    Castle Dargan’s ruin all lit,

    Lovely ladies dancing in it.

High over Castle Dargan on Sliabh Daeane – the mountain of the two birds – is the passage tomb of Its name recalls the legend of The Old Woman of Beara – Bird Mountain Clooth-na-BareThe Hosting of the Sidhe

The host is riding from Knocknarea

    And over the grave of Clooth-na-bare;

    Caoilte tossing his burning hair,

    And Niamh calling Away, come away …

An event, not recalled in genealogies, in which an Ormsby daughter is said to have eloped with a groom, married and happily raised a family in nearby Coolaney, is reputedly evoked in; an eventwhich may be reflected when the old man tells his son;

My mother that was your grand-dam owns it, This scenery and this countryside kennel and stables, horse and hound –She had a horse at the Curragh, and there met my father, a groom in a training stable, looked at him and married him.Her mother never spoke to her again,

By March 1875 a series of financial reversals finally forced the sale by the Landed Estates Court of the various Ormsby interests in almost 2000 acres. Castle Dargan was bought for £12,000 by William Middleton, Mary Ormsby’s father, with a five year £10,000 loan from Andrew Hosie, a successful miller of Dromahair.

William Middleton died in 1882, the loan unpaid and John Robert Ormsby having departed unexpectedly and alone for the United States. The 959 acres of Castle Dargan were auctioned in September 1883, Andrew Hosie being the sole bidder and Mary Ormsby and her family of seven children retired to Elsinore, a Middleton property in Rosses Point. A daughter, Amy Frances Vernon, subsequently achieved fame as a County Sligo lady golfer winning Irish and South African Ladies’ Championships; Larry (Arthur) Vernon, her husband, won the inaugural West of Ireland Championship at County Sligo Golf Club in 1923.

Andrew Hosie died in1888, having already vested Castle Dargan in his nephew, John, in December 1883. Following extensive repairs to the house in 1884, the current hall-door entrance and bay-windows were added in 1895. The demesne was farmed by John’s son, James, and grandson, John, until the death of John C. Hosie in November 1997. With the sale of the mountain lands in 1894 to the Coopers of Markree Castle, and of several smaller sections in the intervening years, the remaining 145 acres of Castle Dargan demesne and the nineteen acres of Carrigeenboy near the gate-lodge were sold in 1998 by Mrs Kathleen Hosie to Dermot Fallon of Ballinacarrow, Co. Sligo.

With that, the continuous occupation of three families over almost six centuries was finally drawn to a close.”

5. Carrowcullen old Irish Farmhouse, County Sligo

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/old-irish-farmhouse-carrowcullen/

The website tells us:

Carrowcullen: The Old Irish Farmhouse is an 1880s six room stone traditional farmhouse, with a low hipped slate roof which drew from earlier building traditions of the 1820s/1830s and offers a ‘walk back in time’ experience so that when visitors arrive they enter the farmhouse kitchen, as they would have in the past and find themselves at centre the house as would have happened traditionally.

On the first floor, the Carrowcullen: Old Irish Farmhouse offers a master bedroom, twin bedroom, a small bedroom and a bathroom with Victorian cast-iron bath with overhead shower and cast-iron cistern. On the ground floor is the kitchen, flanked on either side by the parlour and sitting room. The master and twin bedrooms have sinks. On the ground floor the sitting room also has a single bed, sink and toilet, in the event that guests may not be able to manage the narrow and irregular original stairs. The kitchen has a Stanley 8 stove (matching the original), gas cooker, microwave and toaster. An under-stairs cloakroom is off the kitchen provides additional flexibility for guests. An immersion heater provides hot water when the boiler is not being used for heating.

The Old Irish Farmhouse offers a ‘walk back in time’ experience: the fridge, microwave, dishwasher are hidden, so that when visitors arrive they enter the farmhouse kitchen, as they would the centre the house traditionally. Antique furniture, furnishings and sanitary ware are appropriate with the house’s age and some are original to the house.

Situated in Co Sligo, Carrowcullen: The Old Irish Farmhouse is set today on the fourteen acres of rugged farmland along the Wild Atlantic Way and set well back from a quiet country lane, the farmhouse is accessed by a private lane (with public access) which links with a forestry lane, providing for an easy ‘loop’ walk. Two natural springs are in the east and west pastures, and a river, the Ardnaglass runs on two sides of the east pasture; it runs from Loch Acree on Ladies Brae ultimately flowing to Dunmoran Sands. The farmhouse has spectacular views of the Ox Mountain ranges & Knocknarea. Intentionally , the Old Irish Farmhouse is embodied as a living house – as it always had been– not a ‘replica’ which would arbitrarily ‘assign’ ‘a ‘date’ to the house, from which eliminating decisions and associations would cascade. As a living house, it contains artwork associated with my family and with my family’s and my connections with American artists from the 1970 onwards and with the Swedish arts and crafts traditions. (I crochet lace using my Swedish grandmother’s patterns and paint ordinary objects with flowers inspired by those on Carrowcullen’s pastures, in the Swedish tradition; Carrowcullen gifts are available to purchase).

Carrowcullen: The Old Irish Farmhouse meets with the ‘Fáilte Ireland Welcome Standard’ and promotes sustainability and recycling as an integral part of the ‘message’ and ‘dialogue’ of Carrowcullen as re-envisioned since 2016. Biodiversity projects record plant, animal and bird species and precise times of year they appear and guests may contribute to this recording, should they so wish.

Come stay and experience late 19th c objects and farmhouse life at Carrowcullen!

Carrowcullen: The Old Irish Farmhouse is set on an east west axis with its south gabled end facing Ladies Brae, a dramatic steep passage on the Ox Mountains, from which fierce winds and rain sweep. The Sligo walking trails are directly accessible from the house and the quiet country lane. Beaches such as Dunmoran Strand and Aughris Head (with the Beach Bar) are minutes drive away. Nearby, Beltra Country Market on Saturday mornings offers home-produced food and vegetables in addition to crafts and activities. Other activities in the area include Surfing and horseriding. Local shops (Collery’s and Ardabrone) service the area. The anticipated nearby Coolaney National Mountain Bike Centre will soon be opening. The Skreen Dromard guild of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association meets on Wednesday evenings and welcomes guest visitors! With prior arrangement, guests may experience the daily sheep herding and checks. Carrowcullen also offers visitors an opportunity to engage with our roaming hens and quails who provide fresh eggs which are available to purchase and not forgetting the flock of Japanese and Jumbo Italian quails.

6. Coopershill House, Riverstown, Co. Sligo – section 482

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/11/coopershill-house-riverstown-co-sligo/
contact: Simon O’Hara
Tel: 071-9165108
www.coopershill.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April-Sept, Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm

7. Lissadell rental properties, County Sligo

http://lissadellhouse.com/lissadellrentals/

8. Markree Castle, Collooney, Co Sligo – section 482

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/11/06/markree-castle-collooney-co-sligo/
contact: Nicholas Ryan
Tel: 071-9167800
www.markreecastle.ie

9. Newpark House and Demesne, Newpark, Ballymote, Co. Sligo – section 482

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/11/30/newpark-house-and-demesne-newpark-ballymote-co-sligo/
contact: Christopher & Dorothy-Ellen Kitchin
Tel: 087-3706869

10. Temple House, Ballymote, Co. Sligo – section 482

contact: Roderick and Helena Perceval
Tel: 087-9976045

www.templehouse.ie
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

and Gardener’s Cottage, https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/temple-house/the-gardeners-cottage/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Places to visit and stay: Connacht: Galway and Roscommon

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

The five counties of Connacht are Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo.

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

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

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

Galway

1. Ardamullivan Castle, Galway national monument, to be open to public in future – check status 

2. Ardcarrig Garden, Oranswell, Bushypark, County Galway

3. Athenry Castle, County Galway  – open to public 

4. Aughnanure Castle, County Galway (OPW)

5. Castle Ellen House, Athenry, Co. Galway – section 482

6. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482

7. Coole Park, County Galway – house gone but stables visitor site open

8. Gleane Aoibheann, Clifden, Galway  – gardens

9. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

10. The Grammer School, College Road, Galway – section 482

11. Oranmore Castle, Oranmore, Co. Galway – section 482

12. Portumna Castle, County Galway (OPW)

13. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – gardens open 

14. Signal Tower & Lighthouse, Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway – section 482

15. Thoor Ballylee, County Galway

16. Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden, Craughwell, Co. Galway – section 482, garden only

Places to stay, County Galway

1. Abbeyglen Castle, Galway €€

2. Ardilaun House Hotel (formerly Glenarde), Co Galway – hotel €

3. Ashford Castle, Cong, Galway  – hotel €€€ 

4. Ballindooly Castle, Co Galway – accommodation 

5. Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara, Co. Galway – hotel €€€

6. Cashel House, Cashel, Connemara, Co Galway – hotel €€

7. Castle Hacket west wing, County Galway

8. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482 €€

9. Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, Co Galway – Airbnb 

10. Crocnaraw County House, Moyard, County Galway

11. Currarevagh, Oughterard, Co Galway – country house hotel €€

12. Delphi Lodge, Leenane, Co Galway €€€

13. Emlaghmore Cottage, Connemara, County Galway

14. Glenlo Abbey, near Galway, Co Galway – accommodation 

15. Kilcolgan Castle, Clarinbridge, Co Galway  

16. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482, see above

17. Lough Cutra Castle, County Galway, holiday cottages

18. Lough Ina Lodge Hotel, County Galway

19. Oranmore Lodge Hotel (previously Thorn Park), Oranmore, Co Galway

20. The Quay House, Clifden, Co Galway 

21. Renvyle, Letterfrack, Co Galway – hotel

22. Rosleague Manor, Galway – accommodation  

23. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway

24. Ross Lake House Hotel, Oughterard, County Galway 

25. Screebe House, Camus Bay, County Galway €€€

Whole House Accommodation and Weddings, County Galway:

1. Carraigin Castle, County Galway – sleeps 10

2. Cloghan Castle, near Loughrea, County Galwaywhole castle accommodation and weddings, €€€ for two.

Roscommon:

1. Castlecoote House, Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon – section 482

2. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon – section 482

3. King House, Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon – section 482

4. Shannonbridge Fortifications, Shannonbridge, Athlone, Co. Roscommon – section 482

5. Strokestown Park House, Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon – section 482

Places to stay, County Roscommon:

1. Abbey Hotel, Abbeytown, Ballypheasan, Roscommon, Co Roscommon 

2. Castlecoote, County Roscommon (also Section 482) see above

3. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co Roscommon – accommodation and 482 – see above

4. Edmondstown (Bishop’s Palace or St. Nathy’s), Ballaghaderreen Co Roscommon – airbnb 

5.  Kilronan Castle (formerly Castle Tenison), Ballyfarnan, County Roscommon – hotel  

Galway

1. Ardamullivan Castle, Galway – national monument, to be open to public in future – check status 

The castle is a is a restored six storey tower house. Part of the original defensive wall remains. Ardamullivan Castle was built in the 16th century by the O’Shaughnessy family. Although there is no history of the exact date of when the castle was built, it is believed it was built in the 16th century as it was first mentioned in 1567 due to the death of Sir Roger O’Shaughnessey who held the castle at the time.  

Sir Roger was succeeded by his brother Dermot, ‘the Swarthy’, known as ‘the Queen’s O’Shaughnessy’ due to his support shown to the Crown. Dermot became very unpopular among the public and even among his own family after he betrayed Dr Creagh, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, who had sought refuge in the woods on O’Shaughnessy territory.  

Tensions came to a boil in 1579, when John, the nephew of Dermot, fought with Dermot outside the south gate of the castle in dispute over possession of the castle. Both men were killed in the fight. After this period the castle fell into ruin until the last century where it was restored to its former glory.” [1]

2. Ardcarrig Garden, Oranswell, Bushypark, Galway

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/22/ardcarrig/

Ardcarraig is created on a rocky hillside with a natural stream, a hazel woodland, glacial boulders and has acidic soil.

Divided into 17 sections it includes water gardens, Japanese sections, dwarf conifer area and a formal herb garden.

Plants from the Asian, Australasian, American, African and European continents all thrive thanks to our high rainfall and mild winters.

3. Athenry Castle, County Galway  – open to public 

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

4. Aughnanure Castle, County Galway (OPW)

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

5. Castle Ellen House, Athenry, Co. Galway, Eircode: H65 AX27 – section 482

contact: Míceál P. O’Cionnaith and Diarmuid
Tel: 087-2747692, 087-8137058
http://www.castleellen.ie/
Open: June 5-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30, July 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, Aug 7-11, 13- 25, 28-31, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 12 noon-4pm
Fee: Free

Castle Ellen, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [2]

Mark Bence-Jones tells us about Castle Ellen in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988) that it is a two storey five bay early to mid-C19 house with a balustraded Ionic porch and entablatures over the ground floor windows. [3]

The National Inventory adds that it is over a raised basement, built c.1840 [the website says 1810. It was probably built for Walter Peter Lambert (1757-1836)], having flat-roofed tetrasytle in antis porch to front elevation, and half-hexagonal bay to ground floor and basement of middle bay of south elevation, latter with cut limestone cornice and cast-iron parapet. (see [2]) It has “cut-stone parapets with frieze and cornice, and smooth ruled-and-lined render to ground and first floors with render quoins, and chanelled render with vermiculated quoins to basement, with cut-stone plinth course and tooled stone string course between ground floor and basement. Rubble stone walls to rear having remnants of early render, and rubble stone and brick to bow. Square-headed window openings having moulded rendered surrounds to ground and first floors, with cornices to ground, all with stone sills and one-over-one pane timber sliding sash windows. Round-headed niches to inner faces of bow. Six-over-six pane timber sliding sash windows to basement. Round-headed stair window opening to rear elevation having stone sill and fixed timber window. Round-headed openings to short sides of entrance porch having stone sills and fixed timber windows. Carved limestone Ionic columns to front of porch, flanked by square-plan Doric columns and with Doric pilasters behind and to side walls of porch, and having classical entablature, and balustrading. Square-headed door opening with carved limestone surround having timber panelled door. Stone steps leading to front entrance with retaining cut limestone walls. Property set within its own grounds and yard to rear enclosed by rubble stone garden wall. Set within its own grounds containing mediaeval ruin.

The Ionic and Doric portico and classical frieze to the parapets are evidence both of highly skilled craftsmanship in stone carving… The house was built to replace a castle on the site, and was home to the Lambert family for many generations, including Isabella Lambert, the mother of Edward Carson, the latter known as the architect of the Northern Ireland state.” (see [2])

The website tells us:

Castle Ellen was built in 1810, and was home to the Lambert family for many generations. Branches of this family lived throughout the area, and a book, “The Lamberts of Athenry” by Finbarr O’Regan was produced in conjunction with Carnaun National School. More information about this project can be found at the Carnaun School website. [4]

“The most famous member of the Lambert family was undoubtedly Edward Carson [1854-1935]. Known as the architect of Northern Ireland, his mother was Isabella Lambert [1823-1899], and young Edward spent much of his holidays in Castle, playing hurley with the local Cussaun team.

Carson went on to become Solicitor General for Ireland, then England, was knighted as Baron Carson of Duncairn, and become the leader of the Ulster Unionist party.

Before being purchased by Michael Keaney in 1974, the house was unoccupied for a number of years. During this period, it had a brief career as a school house while Carnaun National School was being refurbished in 1961. Many of the then pupils have cherished memories of attending school in Castle Ellen!

Michael is proud of Castle Ellen’s lineage, and during the summer months he runs a small museum in the house. He is conscious of the link between Castle Ellen and northern unionism, and he wrote to Sir Paddy Mayhew about this, when he was the Northern Secretary, outlining the role that Castle Ellen could play in the peace process. Sir Paddy replied, as Gaeilge,acknowledging the importance of the house.

Castle Ellen’s story continues onwards into the future, as the Keaney family, and the many visitors, create their own history with each passing year. Who knows what part Castle Ellen will have to play in the 21st Century.


Architectural Features of Castle Ellen:

  • Swept Limestone Entrance
  • Basement Wine Cellar with Brick-Arched Compartments
  • Decorative Plaster Work
  • Limestone Floor in the Basement Kitchen
  • Wide Variety of Open Fireplaces.
  • Tower Castle with Dry Moat dating to 1679
  • Livestock Tunnel under Main Avenue

Conservation is very important to Michael Keaney, and coal and oil are never used in Castle Ellen. The Irish language is another subject which is close to his heart, and he hopes that Castle Ellen can be a haven for keeping the language alive.

David Hicks tells us that the connection with Edward Carson was through his mother Isabella who met the architect Edward Henry Carson when he came to Castle Ellen to design a stable block for her father. Isabella was the daughter of Peter Fitzwalter Lambert of Castle Ellen and Eleanor Seymour of Ballymore Castle. Peter Fitzwalter died in 1844 and Castle Ellen was inherited by Isabella’s brother Walter. [5]

Hicks continues: “There is an entry in the Dictionary of Irish Architects which indicates that the architect Edward Henry Carson received a commission in 1863 to carry out extensive alterations and additions to Castle Ellen for his brother-in-law Walter Peter Lambert. Edward Henry Carson was quite accomplished in his field having designed the Colonial Building in the center of Galway city (opposite Brown Thomas today) and was also Vice-President of the Royal Institute of Irish Architects.

Despite the time that he spent in Castle Ellen with the Catholic community in his early life, his battle cry in later years was that ‘ Home Rule is Rome Rule’ as Carson wished to retain Ireland’s union with Britain. Today outside the Stormont Parliament Building near Belfast in Northern Ireland, stands a statue of Edward Carson which indicates the long shadow he still casts over Irish politics.  In June 1914, it was reported that despite his efforts in Northern Ireland, it appears that Edward Carson was still fondly thought of in Athenry, as a local Catholic farmer was heard to declare ‘Ned Carson is a decent man. I take no notice of his ranging and ranting among the Orangemen of Ulster. Sure, isn’t every successful lawyer a bit of a play actor!’. Edward Carson obviously had great affection for the maternal side of his family as when his first son was born in 1880, he was named William Henry Lambert Carson, and thus ensuring the Lambert name would be carried in to the next generation of his family.” [5]

“…Oscar Wilde and Edward Carson’s paths often appeared to have crossed many times throughout their lives. As children in Dublin their homes were located near each other, when in Galway Carson and Wilde were said to have met at Castle Ellen and then they were contemporaries in Trinity College, Dublin. However it was their most infamous encounter that has gone down in history.  In 1895, Oscar Wilde took a libel case against the Marquis of Queensbury, the Marquis was appalled at the nature of Wilde’s relationship with his son and had used a public forum to express his opinion. Wilde sued the Marquis who had chosen to be represented by Edward Carson in the trial of the century, whose every detail was picked over in the press. Caron’s skillful cross examination of Wilde, extracted all the lurid detail necessary to ensure Wilde’s case against the Marquis collapsed. Wilde was subsequently arrested and tried for gross indecency which resulted in his imprisonment and ruin. For two men who started life in similar circumstances, upon their death, one was celebrated with a state funeral and the other passed away in penury.  Wilde was released from jail in 1897 and immediately left for France where he died 3 years later, Carson’scareer flourished, he became a key figure in the politics of Northern Ireland, dying in 1935 and received a state funeral.” [5]

The Lamberts sold Castle Ellen after 1921, probably due to agrarian unrest. Hicks tells us that a friend of the family, Frank Shawe-Taylor of Castle Taylor in Ardrahan was shot in March 1920 while travelling to the fair in Galway which probably heightened the fears of the family.

Hicks writes: “In November 1921, an advertisement appeared in the national press offering Castle Ellen and 600 acres for sale by auction on the 1st December 1921 in a Dublin auction room. The house is described as having an entrance hall with double staircase, two drawing rooms with folding doors and marble chimney pieces, morning room and dining room. Also on the entry level was a butler’s pantry, gun room and store room. On the first floor were six family bedrooms, two dressing rooms, a bathroom, two lavatories and linen press.  Servant’s quarters in the basement extended to a tiled kitchen, scullery, pantries, dairy and maid’s rooms. The enclosed yard consisted of out offices, garage, chauffeurs living quarters, stables, two stalls and nine loose boxes together with a large coach house, lofts, kennels, cart sheds, haggard, large hay shed and cattle sheds. Also included was the large walled garden, the ruins of a castle and tennis courts.

Castle Ellen changed hands several times before it was purchased by the current owner. Hicks tells us:

By 1974, Castle Ellen and 11 acres are offered for sale by public auction by the Irish Land Commission however the house is now described as derelict. Michael Keaney spotted this advertisement and fortunately purchased the house for sum of £6,800. The house he now owned was badly vandalised over the previous years that it had remained empty. Windows had been broken and lead had been removed from the roof which allowed water to destroy the interior, rot floors and destroy ceilings. Any fixtures such as fireplaces had been stolen and the only way to enter the house was through a window. Over a number of years, before Michael made the house his full time residence, he secured the external fabric which meant reinstating the roof and windows in an effort to make the building water tight. During his restoration, any element of architectural merit was saved and stored until the time came that it could be reinstated. A lot of decorative plasterwork survives in the reception rooms of the house, however the entrance hall and staircase ceiling had collapsed before Michael’s tenure. Large sections of this ceiling survive and give tantalising glimpses of what this area of the house once looked like. Decorative capitals of pillars remain on the half landing of the stairs around which cling elements of the polychromatic plasterwork with its daring red, green and gold colour scheme.” [5]

8. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482

contact: Eamonn O’ Donoghue
Tel: 091-799666
www.claregalwaycastle.com
Open: June-Sept, Sunday-Wednesday, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 12 noon- 4pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €4

The website tells us:

Claregalway Castle is a fully restored 15th century Anglo-Norman tower house. Situated on the banks of the River Clare, in Claregalway village, on the N17 road, the castle is just under 10 km from Galway City. The castle is open to the public daily from June to September, 12 noon to 4 pm, Thursday – Sunday inclusive.

Claregalway castle was the chief fortress of the powerful Clanricard de Burgo or Burke family from the early 1400s to the mid-1600s. The Clanricard Burkes were descended from William de Burgh, an English knight of Norman ancestry who led the colonial expansion into Connacht in the early 1200s.   His brother Hubert was Justiciar of England.  William became the progenitor of one of the most illustrious families in Ireland.

Exploring Claregalway castle and its environs through a guided tour, visitors can find out about its fascinating, often bloody, six-hundred-year history. Visitors can also discover some of the castle’s secrets, learn what everyday life in a medieval Irish castle was like, and hear about the colourful characters who once lived there, such as the 1st Earl of Clanricard, Ulick Burke, in Irish Uileag na gCeann (‘Ulick of the heads/the beheader’), Ladies Eustacia Fitzgerald and Honora de Burgo, the notorious Cromwellian commander Sir Charles Coote, the great Hollywood actor Orson Welles and many more.

The visit Galway website tells us: “Claregalway Castle was believed to have been built in the 1440’s as a stronghold to the De Burgo (Burke) family. The castle was strategically placed on a low crossing point of the Clare River, allowing the De Burgo family to control the water and land trade routes. 

In the past, the castle would have featured a high bawn/defensive wall, an imposing gate-house and a moat. The Battle of Knockdoe in 1504, was one of the largest pitched battles in Medieval Irish history, involving an estimated 10,000 combatants. On the eve of the battle, Ulick Finn Burke stayed at the Castle (which was 5km’s from the battle ground), drinking and playing cards with his troops. The Burke family lost the battle and the castle was later captured by the opponents, the Fitzgerald family. 

In the 1600’s, Ulick Burke, 5th Earl of Clanricarde [1st Marquess Clanricarde], held the castle however it was captured by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 who made the castle his headquarters. English military garrison occupied the castle in the early 1700’s and by the end of the 1700’s, the castle was described as going into decline and disrepair. During the War of Independence in 1919-21, the British once again used the castle as a garrison and a prison for I.R.A soldiers. In the later 1900’s, the famous actor Orson Welles is believed to have stayed at the castle as a 16 year old boy. 

Today, the castle has been fully restored to its former glory.” [6]

9. Coole Park, County Galway – house gone but stables visitor site open

https://www.coolepark.ie/

The website tells us:

Coole Park, in the early 20th century, was the centre of the Irish Literary Revival. William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge and Sean O’ Casey all came to experience its magic. They and many others carved their initials on the Autograph Tree, an old Copper beech still standing in the walled garden today.

At that time it was home to Lady Gregory, dramatist and folklorist. She is perhaps best known as a co-founder of the Abbey Theatre with Edward Martyn of nearby Tullira Castle and Nobel prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats. The seven woods celebrated by W.B. Yeats are part of the many kilometres of nature trails taking in woods, river, turlough, bare limestone and Coole lake.

At Coole, we invite you to investigate for yourself the magic and serenity of this unique landscape. Although the house no longer stands, you can still appreciate the environment that drew so many here. You will experience the natural world that Yeats captured in his poetry. Through this website, you can learn about this special place and its wildlife, as well as Gregory family history and literary connections.

10. Gleane Aoibheann, Clifden, Galway  – gardens

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/23/gleann+aoibheann/

The website tells us there are almost two hectares of seaside gardens dating back to the 1820s. One can also have tours of the house.

11. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

https://www.kylemoreabbey.com/

Kylemore Abbey, Co Galway photograph Courtesy of Finn Richards 2019 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [7]
Kylemore Abbey, photograph by ©Chris Hill Photographic 2011 +44(0) 2890 245038 for Tourism Ireland, 2014. (see [7])

The website tells us: “Nestled in the heart of Connemara, on the Wild Atlantic Way, Kylemore Abbey is a haven of history, beauty and serenity. Home to a Benedictine order of Nuns for the past 100 years, Kylemore Abbey welcomes visitors from all over the world each year to embrace the magic of the magnificent 1,000-acre estate.

Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry MP, a wealthy businessman, and liberal politician. Inspired by his love for his wife Margaret, and his hopes for his beloved Ireland, Henry created an estate boasting ‘all the innovations of the modern age’. An enlightened landlord and vocal advocate of the Irish people, Henry poured his life’s energy into creating an estate that would showcase what could be achieved in the remote wilds of Connemara. Today Kylemore Abbey is owned and run by the Benedictine community who have been in residence here since 1920.

Come to Kylemore and enjoy the new visitor experience in the Abbey, From Generation to Generation…..the story of Kylemore Abbey. Experience woodland and lakeshore walks, magnificent buildings and Ireland’s largest Walled Garden. Enjoy wholesome food and delicious home-baking in our Café or Garden Tea House. History talks take place three times a day in the Abbey and tours of the Walled Garden take place throughout the summer. Browse our Craft and Design Shop for unique gifts including Kylemore Abbey Pottery and award-winning chocolates handmade by the Benedictine nuns. Discover the beauty, history, and romance of Ireland’s most intriguing estate in the heart of the Connemara countryside.

Kylemore Abbey, photograph by ©Chris Hill Photographic 2011 +44(0) 2890 245038 for Tourism Ireland, 2014. (see [7])

Although Mitchell Henry was born in Manchester he proudly proclaimed that every drop of blood that ran in his veins was Irish. The son of a wealthy Manchester cotton merchant of Irish origin, Mitchell was a skilled pathologist and eye surgeon. In fact, before he was thirty years of age, he had a successful Harley Street practise and is known to have been one of the youngest ever speakers at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

On his father’s death, Mitchell inherited a hugely successful family business and became one of the wealthiest young men in Britain at the time. Mitchell lost no time in quitting his medical career and turning instead to liberal politics where he felt he could change the world for the better. His newfound wealth allowed him to buy Kylemore Lodge and construct the castle and enabled him to bring change, employment, and economic growth to the Connemara region which was at the time stricken with hunger, disease, and desperation.

On exiting the castle, turn around and look up, you will notice the beautiful carved angel which guards over it. In the hands of that angel is the coat of arms of Margaret Henry’s birth family, the Vaughan’s of County Down. Margaret’s arms over the front door proudly proclaim this as her castle. Look more closely and you will also see charming carvings of birds which were a favourite motif of the Henry’s. The birds represented the Henry’s hope that Kylemore would become the ‘nesting’ place of their family. Indeed, Kylemore did provide an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of life in London where, even for the very wealthy, life was made difficult by the polluted atmosphere caused by the Industrial Age.

At Kylemore Margaret, Mitchell and their large family revelled in the outdoor life of the ‘Connemara Highlands’. Margaret took on the role of the country lady and became much loved by the local tenants. Her passion for travel and eye for beauty were reflected in the sumptuous interiors where Italian and Irish craftsmen worked side by side to create the ‘family nest’. Sadly the idyllic life did not last long for the Henrys.
In 1874 just a few years after the castle was completed, the Henry family departed Kylemore for a luxurious holiday in Egypt. Margaret was struck ill while travelling and despite all efforts, nothing could be done. After two weeks of suffering Margaret had died. She was 45 years old and her youngest daughter, Violet, was just two years of age. Mitchell was heartbroken. Margaret’s body was beautifully embalmed in Cairo before being returned to Kylemore. According to local lore Margaret lay in a glass coffin which was placed beneath the grand staircase in the front hall, where family and tenants alike could come to pay their respects. In an age when all funerals were held in the home, this is not as unusual as it may first seem. In time Margaret’s remains were placed in a modest red brick mausoleum in the woodlands of her beloved Kylemore.

Although Henry remained on at Kylemore life for him there was never the same again. His older children helped him to manage the estate and care for the younger ones, as he attempted to continue his vision for improvements and hold on to his political career. By now he had become a prominent figure in Irish politics and was a founding member of Isaac Butt’s Home Rule movement. In 1878 work began on the neo-Gothic Church which was built as a beautiful and lasting testament to Henry’s love for his wife. Margaret’s remains were, for some reason, never moved to the vaults beneath the church and to this day she lays alongside Mitchell in the little Mausoleum nestled in the Kylemore woodlands.

The Kylemore Estate, like the rest of Connemara, was made up of mountain, lakes and bog. In keeping with his policy of improvement and advancement, Henry began reclaiming bogland almost immediately and encouraged his tenants to do likewise. Forty years under the guiding hand of Mitchell Henry turned thousands of acres of waste land into the productive Kylemore Estate. He developed the Kylemore Estate as a commercial and political experiment and the result brought material and social benefits to the entire region and left a lasting impression on the landscape and in the memory of the local people. Mitchell Henry introduced many improvements for the locals who were recovering from the Great Irish Famine, providing work, shelter and later a school for his workers children. He represented Galway in the House of Commons for 14 years and put great passion and effort into rallying for a more proactive and compassionate approach to the “Irish problem”. Mitchell Henry gave the tenants at Kylemore a landlord hard to be equalled not just in Connemara but throughout Ireland.

Despite the tragedies that befell the family and Mitchell’s hard work, life at Kylemore was certainly very luxurious. The castle itself was beautifully decorated and provided all that was needed for a family used to a lavish London lifestyle. The Walled Gardens provided a wide range of fruit and vegetables that included luxuries unthinkable to ordinary Irish people such as grapes, nectarines, melons and even bananas. Fruit and vegetable grown at Kylemore were often served at the Henry’s London dinner parties. Salmon caught in Kylemore’s lakes could also be wrapped in cabbage leaves and posted to London where they made a novel addition to the table. As well as a well-equipped kitchen, Kylemore also had several pantries, an ice house, fish and meat larder and a beer and wine cellar. The still room was used for a myriad of ingenious way to preserve and store food stuffs throughout the year.

Guests at Kylemore were presented with a bouquet of violets to be worn at dinner. Violets were a craze in Victorian London as they represented loyalty and friendship. Kylemore castle was well equipped for entertaining and throughout the Salmon season from march to September the Henry’s welcomed many guests from Manchester and London. After dinner, entertainment was provided in the beautiful ballroom with its sprung oak floor for dancing with much of the music and plays being performed by the family themselves.

The older Henry sons enjoyed such pastimes as photography and keeping exotic pets. Alexander Henry is responsible for many of the black and white photographs displayed at Kylemore today. His darkroom was located where Mitchell’s Café stands today. Lorenzo Henry kept a building called the ‘Powder House’ where he experimented with explosives. Indeed, Lorenzo had a brilliant mind like his father’s and went on to develop a number of successful inventions including the Henrite Cartridge for pigeon shooting. All of the family, including the girls enjoyed the outdoor life of fishing, shooting and horse riding. But the family were to suffer heartbreak again when Mitchell’s daughter Geraldine, was to be killed in a tragic carriage accident on the estate while out for a jaunt with her baby daughter and nurse. Both Geraldine’s daughter Elizabeth, and the baby’s nurse survived the accident but Geraldine’s death deeply affected the Henry Family and their connection to Kylemore.

The Henry family eventually left Kylemore in 1902 when the estate was sold to the ninth Duke of Manchester. Mitchell Henry lived to be 84 years old but heartbreak had taken its toll and Mitchel died an aloof individual with a meagre sum of £700 in the bank.”

Kylemore Abbey, photograph for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

In 1903, Mitchell Henry sold Kylemore Castle to the Duke of Manchester (William Angus Drogo Montague) and his Duchess of Manchester, Helena Zimmerman. They lived a lavish lifestyle financed by the Duchess’ wealthy father, the American businessman, Eugene Zimmerman. 

On arrival at Kylemore in Connemara the couple set about a major renovation, removing much of the Henry’s Italian inspired interiors and making the castle more suitable for the lavish entertainments that they hoped to stage in their new home, including an anticipated visit from their friend King Edward VII.

The renovation included the removal of the beautiful German stained-glass window in the staircase hall and ripping out large quantities of Italian and Connemara marble. Local people were unhappy with the developments and felt the changes represented a desecration of the memory of the much-loved Margaret Henry and her beloved Kylemore Castle.

Born in March 1877, William Montagu – the Duke was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and succeeded his father when he was still a minor. The Duke inherited a grand estate which included lavish residences such as Tanderagee Castle in Co. Armagh and Kimbolton Castle in Huntington, England. However, his inheritance, which was administered by trustees was heavily indebted and together with his lavish lifestyle meant that by the age of 23 the Duke was bankrupt. When in 1900 the Duke married the Cincinatti born heiress, Helena Zimmerman, it seemed that his money problems could be forgotten. As Helena’s parents frowned on the relationship the couple eloped to Paris where they were married – a suitably glamorous start to the marriage of this sparkling and often talked about pair. It is thought that Helena’s father hoped the life of a country squire at Kylemore would help the Duke to leave behind his days of gambling and partying but this was not to be. The Duke and Duchess left Kylemore in 1914 following the death of Helena’s father. There were many stories in circulation which claimed that the Duke lost Kylemore in a late-night gambling session in the Castle however it seems more likely that following the death of Eugene Zimmerman there were insufficient funds available to the Duke to maintain the Kylemore estate.

Beginning in Brussels in 1598, following the suppression of religious houses in the British Isles when British Catholics left England and opened religious houses abroad, a number of monasteries originated from one Benedictine house in Brussels, founded by Lady Mary Percy. Houses founded from Lady Mary’s house in Brussels were at Cambray in France (now Stanbrook in England) and at Ghent (now Oulton Abbey) in Staffordshire. Ghent in turn founded several Benedictine Houses, one of which was at Ypres. Kylemore Abbey is the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. The community of nuns, who have resided here since 1920, have a long history stretching back almost three hundred and forty years. Founded in Ypres, Belgium, in 1665, the house was formally made over to the Irish nation in 1682.The purpose of the abbey at Ypres was to provide an education and religious community for Irish women during times of persecution here in Ireland.

Down through the centuries, Ypres Abbey attracted the daughters of the Irish nobility, both as students and postulants, and enjoyed the patronage of many influential Irish families living in exile.

At the request of King James II the nuns moved to Dublin in 1688. However, they returned to Ypres following James’s defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The community finally left Ypres after the Abbey was destroyed in the early days of World War One. The community first took refuge in England, and later in Co Wexford before eventually settling in Kylemore in December 1920.

At Kylemore, the nuns reopened their international boarding school and established a day school for local girls. They also ran a farm and guesthouse; the guesthouse was closed after a devastating fire in 1959. In 2010, the Girl’s Boarding School was closed and the nuns have since been developing new education and retreat activities.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara by George Munday 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

Kylemore Abbey’s Victorian Walled Garden is an oasis of ordered splendour in the wild Connemara Countryside. Developed along with the Castle in the late 1800s it once boasted 21 heated glasshouses and a workforce of 40 gardeners. One of the last walled gardens built during the Victorian period in Ireland it was so advanced for the time that it was compared in magnificence with Kew Gardens in London.

Comprised of roughly 6 acres, the Garden is divided in two by a beautiful mountain stream. The eastern half includes the formal flower garden, glasshouses the head gardener’s house and the garden bothy. The western part of the garden includes the vegetable garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, a rockery and herb garden. Leaving the Garden by the West Gate you can visit the plantation of young oak trees, waiting to be replanted around the estate. The Garden also contains a shaded fernery, an important feature of any Victorian Garden. Follow our self-guiding panels through the garden and learn more about its intriguing history and the extensive restoration work that it took to return the garden to its former glory after falling into disrepair.

Today Kylemore is a Heritage Garden displaying only plant varieties from the Victorian era. The bedding is changed twice a year, for Spring and Summer and its colours change throughout the year.  Be sure to visit us and fall in love with a garden that is surely the jewel in Connemara’s Crown.

12. The Grammer School, College Road, Galway – section 482

contact: Terry Fahy
www.yeatscollege.ie
Tel: 091-533500
Open: May 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, June 11-12, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 9am-5pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 12 free

The Grammer School, Yeats College, County Galway, designed by Richard Morrison. Photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [11]

The National Inventory tells us about it under the heading of Yeats College. I am not sure why the Revenue section 482 spells is “Grammer” rather than “Grammar” but as it is listed as that every year, I defer to their spelling!

Freestanding H-plan five-bay three-storey school with basement, built 1815, having slightly advanced gable-fronted end bays to front, and having recent addition to rear… Round-headed recesses to end bays and to ground floor of middle bays. Tripartite Diocletian windows to top floor of end bays, their recesses encompassing blind square-headed openings to first floor…Square-headed door opening to front within segmental-headed recess, having replacement timber panelled door within tooled limestone doorcase comprising moulded limestone surround surmounted by panelled blocks and moulded cornice framing paned overlight and flanked by paned timber sidelights with chamfered limestone surround.

This large-scale former school retains its original character. Designed by Richard Morrison in 1807, the school was named after Erasmus Smith who founded the original grammar school, located at the courthouse, in 1699. The building displays a host of classical architectural features and a variety of window types. Its impressive scale on the main approach to the city from the east makes it one of the most significant buildings in the city.” [11]

13. Oranmore Castle, Oranmore, Co. Galway – section 482

Leonie Phinn
http://www.oranmorecastle.com/
Tel: 086-6003160
Open: April 14-30, May 10-20, June 10-20, Aug 10-24, Sept 1-6, 11am-3pm Fee: adult €8, child €3

Oranmore Castle, photograph from flickr creative commons Johanna.

The website welcomes us: “Welcome to Oranmore Castle — an exciting experience, which brings the mystery of the old alive and an eccentricity into the new. Oranmore Castle is a wonderful experience for people of all ages. Whether you come just to take a guided tour or whether you would like to create your own special event in the castle this is certainly an experience not to be missed! This enchanting castle sparks the imagination and is perfect for artistic retreats and alternative events, wedding ceremonies, concerts and workshops.

Just imagine getting married in the romantic and atmospheric setting of this charismatic space, certainly a day to be remembered! Run by dynamic husband and wife team Leonie (artist) and Alec Finn (noted musician of De Dannan) with a passion for the arts, the castle provides a unique, creative, welcoming and alternative space for people to reconnect with their artistic selves. Overlooking the magnificent Galway Bay, Oranmore Castle is a natural delight and will leave you feeling nourished, refreshed and inspired. Come and join in the fun and mystery or create your own history at Oranmore Castle, a place steeped in magic, tradition and eccentricity.

Oranmore Castle was built sometime round the fifteenth century possibly on the site of an older castle.

It was a stronghold of the Clanricardes who were a prominent Norman family of Galway. In 1641 Galway was under the overlordship of the Marquess and fifth Earl Clanricarde. In March 1642 the town revolted and joined the Confederates with the Fort (St Augustin’s) still holding out.

Clanricarde placed a strong garrison in Oranmore castle, from which he provisioned the Fort of Galway from the sea until 1643 when Captain Willoughby Governor of Galway surrendered both fort and castle without the Marquess’s consent. In 1651 the castle surrendered to the Parliamentary forces. All the Marquess’s property was of course forfeited but his successor, the 6th Earl [Richard Burke (c. 1610-1666)], got back most of it including the castle. In 1666 he leased the castle to Walter Athy. Mary, Walter’s daughter married secondly Walter Blake [c. 1670-1740] of Drumacrina Co Mayo, and her descendants by that marriage, held Oranmore until 1853, when the estates of Walter Blake were sold to the Encumbered Estates Court.

The Blake family built the house against the south side of the castle. This house was left in ruins when the Blake family left Oranmore and the castle was un-roofed until 1947 when it was bought by Lady Leslie [see my entry about Castle Leslie, County Monaghan], a cousin of Churchill and wife of Sir Shane Leslie the writer.

Lady Leslie re-roofed the castle and gave it to her daughter, Mrs Leslie King who is also well known as a writer under the name of Anita Leslie. Between 1950 and 1960, Mrs Leslie King and her husband, Cmdr Bill King (also a writer who sailed solo around the world in 1970) added a two storey wing joined to the castle by a single storey range. The castle is now occupied by artist Leonie King (daughter of Anita Leslie and Bill King) and her husband Alec Finn of the music band De Danaan.

14. Portumna Castle, County Galway (OPW)

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/14/office-of-public-works-properties-connacht/

15. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – gardens open 

Ross House or Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

www.rosscastle.com 

This was the home of Violet Martin, one half of the Somerville and Ross partnership of writers, with Edith Somerville.

The website tells us of the house, which is open to accommodation:

Ross Castle offers refined elegance for your special occasion or memorable holiday. The distinctive ambience of the Castle’s grand rooms and self catering cottages, accented with beautiful antique furnishings, will captivate you and up to 40 guests. This 120 acre estate is nestled in a picturesque setting of mountains, lake, and parkland.

Constructed in 1539 by The “Ferocious” O’Flahertys, one of the most distinguished tribes of Galway, the property was later acquired by the Martin Family who built the present manor house upon the former castle’s foundation. After two fires and much neglect, the McLaughlin family acquired the property in the 1980s and have spent the past several decades restoring the estate to its present splendour.

Upon entering the estate you are immediately awestruck by the grand front lawn; undulating to the lake and Parkland.

From the Castle’s courtyard cottages and through the carriage entrance, a gothic archway entices you to explore the walled in Gardens.

Stroll along the herbaceous bordered pathways while taking in the beauty and tranquility of your surroundings, shadowed by 6 massive yew trees hundreds of years old. Giant box hedges create unexpected surprises around every turn: stone sculptures, a red-brick pond, greenhouse, urns and statuary.

16. Signal Tower & Lighthouse, Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway – section 482

contact: Michael Mullen
Tel: 087-2470900
www.aranislands.ie
Open: June-Sept, 9am-5pm.
Fee: adult €2.50, child €1.50, family €5, group rates depending on numbers

Inis Oírr ( Inisheer) Lighthouse, Aran Islands, Co Galway, photograph Courtesy of Lukasz Warzecha for Tourism Ireland, 2015, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

17. Thoor Ballylee, County Galway

Thoor Ballylea 1984 Dublin City Library Archives [12]

website: https://yeatsthoorballylee.org/home/

The website tells us:

Thoor Ballylee is a fine and well-preserved fourteenth-century tower but its major significance is due to its close association with his fellow Nobel laureate for Literature, the poet W.B.Yeats. It was here the poet spent summers with his family and was inspired to write some of his finest poetry, making the tower his permanent symbol. Due to serious flood damage in the winter of 2009/10 the tower was closed for some years. A local group the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society has come together and are actively seeking funds to ensure its permanent restoration. Because of an ongoing fundraising effort and extensive repair and restoration work, the tower and associated cottages can be viewed year round, and thanks to our volunteers are open for the summer months, complete with a new Yeats Thoor Ballylee exhibition for visitors to enjoy.

18. Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden – section 482, garden only

Craughwell, Co. Galway
Margarita and Michael Donoghue
Tel: 087-9069191
www.woodvillewalledgarden.com
Open: Jan 28-31, Feb 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, June 1-30, Aug 13-22, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €8, student, €6, child €3 must be accompanied by adult, family €20-2 adults and 2 children.

Woodville House, County Galway, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us Woodville is home to a restored walled kitchen garden along with a museum outlining the fascinating connection to Lady Augusta Gregory at Woodville. “Come for a visit to this romantic secret garden in the West of Ireland and enjoy the sights, scents and colours contained within the original stone walls.

Outbuilding at Woodville House, County Galway, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The D’Arcy family most certainly have been at Woodville in 1750 when Francis D’Arcy left his initials on the keystone in the garden arch. The most famous member of the D’Arcy family to live at Woodville was Robert, who held the position of land agent to the estate of the first Marquis of Clanricarde for over 30 years – including the famine period. He does not seem to have been a popular figure in the local area, carrying out his duties with no small amount of vigour. After Robert’s death the estate passed to Francis Nicholas D’Arcy. He lived quietly at Woodville until his death in 1879.

For the next 25 years little is known about Woodville. From the 1901 census we learn that Catherine Kelly was occupying the house and Lord Clanricarde was the landowner.

On the 1st of May 1904 Henry Persse [1855-1928, brother of Augusta, who married William Henry Gregory of Coole Park] leased Woodville house and farm, which comprised of 460 acres, for a period of 29 years from the Marquise of Clanricarde. Henry Persse was the seventh son of Dudley Persse of Roxborogh, Kilchreest He was born on 14th of October 1855 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He went to India and served in the Indian police for some years, stationed at Madras. Coming into a legacy he returned to Ireland and married Eleanor Ada Beadon in 1888. They had two sons, Lovaine and Dermot, both born in Kilchreest.

The grandparents of the present owners, Pat and Maria Donohue, took over the running of Woodville house and farm, and took a lease out on the farm in 1916 and purchased it outright in 1920. It is from the memories of their oldest daughter. Maureen Donohue, known as Sr. Austin of The Mercy Convent, Loughrea, that it was possible to collect information about what was grown in the walled garden at the time her parents came Maureen was just 3 years of age and her first memory as a child is of visiting the garden with her father and being given a lovely ripe peach picked from a tree by Harry Persse. There was an abundance of fruit trees of all different varieties at Wooville: peaches, pears, plums, greengage, damsons, cherries, quince, meddlers and apples, Cox’s Orange Pippins, Summers Eves, Brambly Seedlings, Beauty of Bath.

Leading from the steps to the centre of the garden was an arch covered with climbing roses and in front of this were two bamboo trees on either side of the entrance. The central paths were lined with iron railings and box hedging. The garden was planted with poppies, lily of the valley, daffodils, snowdrops, and bluebells. It took four men to maintain the garden at Woodville and the head gardeners name was Tap Mannion and the cook in the house was Mary Lamb.Soft fruits included red and green gooseberries, Tay berries, loganberries, red and white currants and raspberries. There was also a fig tree in the south – east corner of the garden – demonstrating just what a microclimate the walls create.”

Places to stay, County Galway

1. Abbeyglen Castle, County Galway €€

www.abbeyglen.ie

The Visit Galway website tells us “Built in 1832 by John d’Arcy, Abbeyglen Castle was shortly after leased to the then parish priest, and was named ‘Glenowen House’.  

The castle was later purchased for use as a Protestant orphanage by the Irish Church Mission Society. Here girls would have been trained for domestic service. In 1953, the orphanage became a mixed orphanage until 1955, where it closed due to financial difficulties.  

The castle fell derelict and was home to livestock for some time. It was then purchased by Padraig Joyce of Clifden and became a hotel. The castle continued to operate as a hotel after the Hughes family took over in 1969 and still remains a prestigious hotel to this day.” [13]

2. Ardilaun House Hotel (formerly Glenarde), Co Galway – hotel

https://www.theardilaunhotel.ie

The Landed Estates database tells us it was the town house of the Persse family, built in the mid 19th century, bought by the Bolands of Bolands biscuits in the 1920s and since the early 1960s has functioned as the Ardilaun House Hotel.

3. Ashford Castle, Cong, Galway/Mayo  – hotel – see County Mayo. €€€

4. Ballindooly Castle, Co Galway – accommodation 

https://www.visitgalway.ie/explore/heritage-and-history/castles/ballindooley-castle/

5. Ballynahinch Castle, Connemara, Co. Galway – hotel €€€

https://www.ballynahinch-castle.com

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, County Galway, 2014 Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

The website tells us:

Welcome to Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, one of Ireland’s finest luxury castle hotels. Voted #6 Resort Hotel in in the UK & Ireland by Travel & Leisure and #3 in Ireland by the readers of Condé Nast magazine. Set in a private 700 acre estate of woodland, rivers and walks in the heart of Connemara, Co. Galway. This authentic and unpretentious Castle Hotel stands proudly overlooking its famous salmon fishery, with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain range. 

During your stay relax in your beautifully appointed bedroom or suite with wonderful views, wake up to the sound of the river meandering past your window before enjoying breakfast in the elegant restaurant, which was voted the best in Ireland in April 2017 by Georgina Campbell.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes:

p. 25. “[Martin/IFR, Berridge/IFR] A long, many-windowed house built in late C18 by Richard Martin [1754-1834], who owned so much of Connemara that he could boast to George IV that he had “an approach from his gatehouse to his hall of thirty miles length” and who earned the nickname “Humanity Dick” for founding the RSPCA.

When Maria Edgeworth came here 1833 the house had a “battlemented front” and “four pepperbox-looking towers stuck on at each corner”; but it seemed to her merely a “whitewashed dilapidated mansion with nothing of a castle about it.” The “pepperbox-looking towers” no longer exist; but both the front entrance and the 8 bay garden front have battlements, stepped gables, curvilinear dormers and hood mouldings; as does the end elevation.

The principal rooms are low for their size. Entrance hall with mid-C19 plasterwork in ceiling. Staircase hall beyond; partly curving stair with balustrade of plain slender uprights. Long drawing room in garden front, oval of C18 plasterowrk foliage in ceiling, rather like the plasterwork at Castle Ffrench. Also reminiscent of Castle Ffrench are the elegant mouldings, with concave corners, in the panelling of the door and window recesses. The principal rooms still have their doors of “magnificently thick well-moulded mahogany” which Maria Edgeworth thought “gave an air at first sight of grandeur” though she complained that “not one of them would shut or keep open a single instant.” The drawing room now has a C19 chimneypiece of Connemara marble. The dining room has an unusually low fireplace, framed by a pair of Ionic half-columns. Humanity Dick was reknowned for his extravagant way of life, and in order to escape his creditors he retired to Bologne, where he died. He left the family estates heavily mortgaged, with  the result that his granddaughter and eventual heiress, Mary Letitia Martin, known as “The Princess of Connemara” was utterly ruined after the Great Famine, when Ballynahinch and the rest of her property was sold by the Emcumbered Estates Court; she and her husband being obliged to emigrate to America, where she died in childbirth soon after her arrival Ballynahinch was bought by Richard Berridge, whose son sold it in 1925; after which it was acquired by the famous cricketer Maharaja Ranhisinhji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar. It is now a hotel.” 

6. Cashel House, Cashel, Connemara, Co Galway – hotel €€

 https://cashelhouse.ie/cms/

The website tells us: “A perfect start on your venture on the Wild Atlantic Way, Cashel House Hotel overlooks the majestic Cashel Bay on the west coast of Ireland. Here a traditional welcome awaits guests in this classic country house retreat. Built in the 19th century this gracious country home was converted to a family run four star hotel in 1968 by the McEvilly family. Situated in the heart of Connemara and nestling in the peaceful surroundings of 50 acres of gardens and woodland walks this little bit of paradise offers an ideal base from which to enjoy walking, beaches, sea and lake fishing, golf and horse riding.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 293. “(Browne-Clayton/IFR) A house of ca 1850, asymmetrical gabled elevations, built by Captain [Thomas] Hazel [or Hazell] for his land agent, Geoffrey Emerson, [a great great grandfather of the current owner] who is said to have designed it. From 1921-52 the home of the O’Meara family who remodelled the interior with chimneypieces salvaged from Dublin and laid out most of the garden. In 1952 it became the house of Lt-Col and Mrs William Patrick Browne-Clayton, formerly of Browne’s Hill, who gave the garden its notable collection of fuschias. Cashels is now owned by Mr and Mrs Dermot McEvilly, who run it as a hotel.” 

The website continues the history:

From 1919 to 1951 Cashel House was the home of Jim O`Mara T.D. and his family. Jim O`Mara was the first official representative of Ireland in the United States and he devoted his life and talents to make Ireland a nation. Jim O`Mara was a keen botanist and found happiness in Cashel House. 

Over the years he carried out a lot of work on the Gardens. The three streams, which flow through the Garden, were a delight to him with their banks clothed with bog plants and Spirea & Osmunda ferns. O`Mara turned the orchard field into a walled garden of rare trees, Azaleas, Heather’s and dwarf Rhododendrons, which his children named ‘the Secret Garden’. 

In 1952 Cashel House became the home of Lt Col and Mrs Brown Clayton, formerly of Brownes Hill in Carlow. During their time at Cashel House the Browne Clayton’s had Harold McMillian, the late British Prime Minister, stay as their guest. The Browne Clayton’s also gave the Garden its notable collection of Fuchisas. 

Dermot and Kay McEvilly purchased Cashel House in 1967. Total refurbishment began immediately, with a fine collection of antiques being added and offering all modern facilities. The house reopened in May 1968 and ‘Cashel House Hotel’ was born.

7. Castlehacket west wing, County Galway

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/21260269?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-08-19&check_out=2022-08-26&federated_search_id=f22d54a7-29f3-47e0-bb8c-4f930cedd2de&source_impression_id=p3_1652359805_Hs62GlGfqNCKPaSf

The entry tells us:

CastleHacket House, steeped in Irish History. Built in 1703 by John Kirwan Mayor of Galway, the house is surrounded by nature and is very quiet and peaceful. Join in one of our “quiet “Yoga Classes, hike Connemara, stroll Knockma Woods, explore the lakes – world Famous for brown Trout fishing, or simply relax in the beautiful Park and Gardens.

We are environmentally friendly and support green living, health and wellbeing.

Ground Floor, West wing Guest Apartment in Historic CastleHacket House. Tastefully decorated, your own private door leads to 2 bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen-dining room. Tea and coffee facilities available and breakfast is included.

Guest access to: Library, Reception/Lounge Room, Dining Room with tea and coffee facilaties, Sun Room, Outdoor Picnic area with bbq/pizza wood fired oven. Extensive gardens and woods. Safe car parking. Undercover area for Motorbikes and bicycles. Yoga classes and therapeutic Baths (extra cost). Wifi. Use of water hose, dry place to hang wet gear.

Castlehacket takes its name from the Hackett family who owned the land prior to the Kirwans.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 70. “[Kirwan, sub Paley; Bernard, sub Bandon; Paley 1969] An early C18 centre block of 3 storeys over a basement, with 2 storey wings added later in C18, and a late C19 wing at the back. Burnt 1923; rebuilt 1928-9, without one of C18 wings and the top storey of the centre block. The seat of the Kirwans, inherited by Mrs. P.B. Bernard (nee Kirwan) 1875. Passed from Lt Gen Sir Denis Barnard 1956 to his nephew Percy Paley, who had a notable genealogical library here.” 

The National Inventory describes it: “two-storey country house over basement, built c.1760 and rebuilt 1929 after being burnt in 1923. Eight-bay entrance front faces north onto large courtyard with gateway, has one-bay projections to each side of entrance bay, flat-roofed porch between projections, and two-bay east side elevation, and with slightly lower four-bay two-storey over basement service wing at west side and stables at east. Seven-bay garden front faces south, with pair of full-height canted bows on either side of central two bays, and is continued by slightly lower three-bay two-storey over basement block terminating in further rounded corner bay, to join with four-bay two-storey over basement service wing on west side of courtyard…Garden front has render frieze to parapet, with medallions separated by fluting…Porch has open arch to exterior, supported on columns with Temple of the Winds-style capitals, and approached by flight of steps. West bow of garden front has round-headed doorway with glazed timber door and fanlight and approached by three limestone steps. Garden to south of house bounded by low hedge, with parkland and sheep grazing beyond

This large country house displays mid-eighteenth-century, nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century work. The modestly presented front elevation is enhanced by the projecting bays and arched entrance. The brick bows to the garden elevation contrast nicely with the plain rendered walls elsewhere, and the decorated frieze and other details add interest and incident. The large lower block and service wing greatly enlarged the house and the fine accompanying stable block and demesne gateways provide a setting of considerable quality and interest.

8. Claregalway Castle, Claregalway, Co. Galway – section 482 €€

https://www.airbnb.ie/users/85042652/listings

“Stay in one of our five beautiful rooms (Old Mill Rooms, Salmon Pool & Abbey Rooms). The River Room is situated beside the Castle on the banks of the River Clare in the village of Claregalway. Just 10km from Galway City Centre and within walking distance of a bus stop, restaurants/bars and the stunning Abbey. This family room is very comfortable with under-floor heating and luxurious bedding. Includes complimentary wine, tea/coffee & a generous continental breakfast.

The space

Claregalway Castle is a fully restored 15th century Anglo-Norman tower house and together with the castle grounds is a fabulous opportunity to savour the history while enjoying the comfort of your beautifully decorated and comfortable room.

9. Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, Co Galway – Airbnb

Tower house of 1648 at centre of Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

We were lucky to discover this wonderful castle for accommodation on airbnb. https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/7479769?source_impression_id=p3_1652358063_y2E%2FxsRMKAae0vkr

The listing tells us that “Cregg Castle is a magical place built in 1648 by the Kirwin Family, one of the 12 tribes of Galway. It is set on 180 acres of pasture and beautiful woodlands. Your host, Artist Alan Murray who currently hosts the Gallery of Angels in the main rooms.

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 94. “A tower house built 1648 by a member of the Kirwan family [I think it was Patrick Kirwan (c. 1625-1679)]. And said to have been the last fortified dwelling to be built west of the Shannon; given sash-windows and otherwise altered in Georgian times, and enlarged with a wing on either side: that to the right being as high as the original building, and with a gable; that to the left being lower, and battlemented.  In C18 it was the home of the great chemist and natural philosopher Richard Kirwan [1733-1812], whose laboratory, now roofless, still stands in the garden. It was acquired ca 1780 by James Blake [c. 1755-1818].

Richard Kirwan married Anne Blake, daughter of Thomas (1701-1749), 7th Baronet Blake of Galway.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The hall, entered through a rusticated round-headed doorway with a perron and double steps, has a black marble chimneypiece with the Blake coat of arms. The dining room has a plasterwork ceiling. Sold 1947 by Mrs Christopher Kerins (nee Blake) to Mr and Mrs Alexander Johnston. Re-sold 1972 to Mr Martin Murray, owner of the Salthill Hotel, near Galway.” 

Alan who now lives in the castle is, I believe, a nephew of Martin Murray of the Salthill Hotel.

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

The National Inventory describes it:

multi-period house, comprising tower house of 1648 at centre, later modified and refenestrated to three-bay two-storey over half-basement, flanked to west by lower two-bay two-storey with attic over half-basement block of c.1780 with two-bay gable elevation, and to east by slightly lower three-bay three-storey over half-basement L-plan block of c. 1870 with gables over eastmost bay of front and rear elevations. Lower four-storey return block at right angles to rear of middle and west blocks, having two-bay elevations. Further two-bay single-storey block to rear of four-storey return, two-bay two-storey block to west of west block and with single-storey block further west again.

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
“Round-headed doorway to middle of middle block, having double-leaf mid-eighteenth-century door with raised and fielded panelling and original brass knocker, doorknob and heart-shaped cover for keyhole,” Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021: “original brass knocker, doorknob and heart-shaped cover for keyhole.”
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, with paintings by Alan Murray, County Galway, July 2021.
The Blake coat of arms on the fireplace, Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, with paintings by Alan Murray, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.
Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

10. Crocnaraw County House, Moyard, County Galway

http://www.crocnaraw.ie/

The website tells us:

Crocnaraw Country House is an Irish Georgian Country Guest House (note we’re not a Hotel as such) by Ballinakill Bay,10 kilometres from Clifden, Connemara-on the Galway-Westport road.Set in 8 hectares of gardens and fields with fine views,Crocnaraw Country House has been winner of the National Guest House Gardens Competition for 4 years. This independently run Country Inn is noted for Irish hospitality and informality but without a sense of casualness.The House is tastefully and cheerfully decorated, each of its bedrooms being distinctively furnished to ensure the personal well-being of Guests. Fully licensed Crocnaraw Country House’s excellent cuisine is based on locally sourced fish and meat as well as eggs,fresh vegetables, salads and fruits from kitchen garden and orchard. Moyard is centrally located for Salmon and Trout fishing, deep-sea Angling, Championship Golf-Courses and many more recreational activities in the Clifden and Letterfrack Region of Connemara in County Galway.”

The National Inventory tells us that the house is a L-plan six-bay two-storey two-pile house, built c.1850, having crenellated full-height canted bay to south-east side elevation. Recent flat-roof two-storey extension to north-east…”Originally named Rockfield House, this building has undergone many alterations over time, the crenellated bay being an interesting addition. The area was leased by Thomas Butler as a Protestant orphanage and was known locally as ‘The Forty Boys’. The retention of timber sash windows enhances the building. The road entrance sets the house off plesantly.

11. Currarevagh, Oughterard, Co Galway – country house hotel €€

https://www.currarevagh.com

The website tells us:

Currarevagh House is a gracious early Victorian Country House, set in 180 acres of private parkland and woodland bordering on Lough Corrib. We offer an oasis of privacy for guests in an idyllic, undisturbed natural environment, providing exceptional personal service with a high standard of accommodation and old fashioned, traditional character. A genuine warm welcome from the owners.

Currarevagh House was built by the present owner’s great, great, great, great grandfather in 1842, however our history can be traced further back. The seat of the Hodgson Family in the 1600s was in Whitehaven, in the North of England, where they owned many mining interests. Towards the end of the 17th Century, Henry William Hodgson moved to Arklow and commenced mining for lead in Co Wicklow.  A keen angler and shot he travelled much of Ireland to fulfil his sport (not too easy in those days), and during the course of a visit to the West of Ireland decided to prospect for copper. This he found along the Hill of Doon Road. At much the same time he discovered lead on the other side of Oughterard. So encouraged was he that he moved to Galway and bought Merlin Park (then a large house on the Eastern outskirts of Galway, now a Hospital) from the Blake family and commenced mining. As Galway was some distance from the mining activities he wanted a house closer to Oughterard. Currarevagh (not the present house, but an early 18th century house about 100m from the present house) was then owned by the O’Flaherties – the largest clan in Connaught – and, though no proof can be found, we believe that he purchased it from the O’Flaherties. However a more romantic story says he won it and 28,000 acres in a game of cards. The estate spread beyond Maam Cross in the heart of Connemara, and to beyond Maam Bridge in the North of Connemara. As the mining developed so the need for transportation of the ore became increasingly difficult until eventually two steamers (“the Lioness” and “the Tigress”) were bought. These, the first on Corrib, delivered the ore to Galway and returned with goods and passengers stopping at the piers of various villages on the way.  All apparently went very well. The present house was built in 1842, suggesting a renewed wealth and success. No sooner however was present Currarevagh completed, then the 1850’s saw disaster. A combination of British export law changes, and vast seems of copper ore discovered in Spain and South America, heralded the end of mining activity in Ireland.  The family, who were fairly substantial land owners at this stage, got involved in various projects, from fish farming to turf production – inventing the briquette in the process. Certainly Currarevagh was been run as a sporting lodge for paying guests by 1890 by my great grandfather; indeed we have a brochure dated 1900 with instructions from London Euston Railway Station. This we believe makes it the oldest in Ireland; certainly the oldest in continuous ownership. After the Irish Civil War of the 1920s the Free State was formed and many of the larger Estates were broken up for distribution amongst tenants. This included Currarevagh, even though they were not absentee landlords and had bought all their land in the first place. Landlords were assured they would be paid 5 shillings (approx 25c) an acre, however this redemption was never honoured, and effectively 10’s of thousands of acres were confiscated by the new state, leaving Currarevagh with no income, apart from the rare intrepid paying guest. At one stage a non local cell of the Free Staters (an early version of the IRA) tried to blow up Currarevagh, planting explosive under what is currently the dining room. However the plan was discovered before hand, and the explosive made safe. From then on a member of the local IRA cell remained at the gates of Currarevagh to warn off any of the marauding out of towners, saying Currarevagh was not to be touched. Evidently they were well integrated into the community, and indeed during the famine years it seems they did as much as they could to help alleviate local suffering. Indeed there is a famine graveyard on our estate; this was because the local people became too week to bring the dead to Oughterard. It is also one of the few burial grounds to contain a Protestant consecrated section. Having got through the 1920s and 30s, Currarevagh again got in financial trouble during the second world war: although paying guests did come to Ireland (mainly as rationing was not so strict here), the original house was put up for sale. It did not sell, and eventually was pulled down in 1946, leaving just Currarevagh House as it stands today. In 1947 it was the first country house to open as a restaurant to no staying guests; still, of course, the situation today.”

12. Delphi Lodge, Leenane, Co Galway €€€

and Boathouse cottages: https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/boathouse-cottages/ €€

and Wren’s Cottage: https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/wrens-cottage/ €€

Delphi Lodge, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

 https://delphilodge.ie

The website tells us: “A delightful 1830s country house, fishing lodge and hotel in one of the most spectacular settings in Connemara Ireland. It offers charming accommodation, glorious scenery, great food and total tranquillity. Located in a wild and unspoilt valley of extraordinary beauty, the 1000-acre Delphi estate is one of Ireland’s hidden treasures…

The Marquis of Sligo (Westport House) builds Delphi Lodge as a hunting/fishing lodge and is reputed to have named it “Delphi” based on the valley’s alleged similarity to the home of the Oracle in Greece.

Delphi Lodge, 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

13. Emlaghmore Cottage, Connemara, County Galway

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/emlaghmore-cottage/

Connemara cottage, four hundred yards off the coast road, 10 km from Roundstone and 4 km from Ballyconneely.

Emlaghmore Cottage was built in stone in about 1905, with just three rooms, and was extended in the 1960s to make a holiday home for a family. It stands on about ¾ acre running down to Maumeen lake, and is about 400 yards off the coast road (The Wild Atlantic Way) in a secluded situation with fine views. It has a shed with a supply of turf for the open fire in the living room, and garden furniture. There is a boat for anglers on the lake.

14. Glenlo Abbey, near Galway, Co Galway – accommodation €€

Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway Kelvin Gillmor Photography 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

 https://www.glenloabbeyhotel.ie

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 138. “(Palmer, sub De Stacpoole/IFR) A long plain two storey house built onto slender tower with pointed openings near the top. The seat of the Palmer family.” 

The estate belonged to the Ffrench family in the 1750s, an Anglo-Norman family. It was originally named Kentfield House, before becoming Glenlow or Glenlo, derived from the Irish Gleann Locha meaning “glen of the lake.” The adjacent abbey was built in the 1790s as a private church for the family but was never consecrated. In 1846 the house was put up for sale. It was purchased by the Blakes.

In 1897 it was purchased by the Palmers. In the 1980s it was sold to the Bourke family, who converted it to a hotel.

In 1990s two carriages from the Orient Express train were purchased and they form a unique restaurant.

Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway Kelvin Gillmor Photography 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, ©Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway Courtesy Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2017, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel 2020 Courtesy Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Co Galway_©Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
Palmer Bar, Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate, Courtesy Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate, Galway 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

15. Kilcolgan Castle, Clarinbridge, Co Galway €€€

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/3828868?adults=2&category_tag=Tag%3A8047&children=0&infants=0&search_mode=flex_destinations_search&check_in=2022-08-03&check_out=2022-08-08&federated_search_id=321dc1f8-3115-4a71-9c5b-00aa67ee2c4a&source_impression_id=p3_1652359008_yrD4CHLmFCj0nNf0

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 165. “(St. George, sub French/IFR; Blyth, B/PB; Ffrench, B/PB) A small early C19 castle, built ca 1801 by Christopher St. George, the builder of the nearby Tyrone House, who retired here with a “chere amie” having handed over Tyrone House to his son [Christopher St George was born Christopher French, adding St George to his surname to comply with his Great-Grandfather, George St George (c. 1658-1735) 1st Baron Saint George of Hatley Saint George in Counties Leitrim and Roscommon]. It consists of three storey square tower with battlements and crockets and a single-storey battlemented and buttressed range. The windows appear to have been subsequently altered. The castle served as a dower house for Tyrone, and was occupied by Miss Matilda St George after Tyrone was abandoned by the family 1905; it was sold after her death, 1925. Subsequent owners included Mr Martin Niland, TD; Mr Arthur Penberthy; Lord Blyth; and Mrs T.A.C.Agnew (sister of 7th and present Lord Ffrench); it is now owned by Mr John Maitland.” 

16. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482, see above – whole house rental and self-catering cottages.

contact: John & Finola Cooke
Tel: 093-31163, John, 086-0529052, Finola, 086-0546565
www.lisdonagh.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: May 1-Nov 1
Fee: Free

Email: cooke@lisdonagh.com

Lisdonagh House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [8]

The house is available as whole house rental, and it also has cottages for accommodation.

The website tells us:

When looking for an authentic Irish country house to hire, the beautiful 18th century early Georgian Heritage home is the perfect choice. Lisdonagh House is large enough to accommodate families, friends and groups for private gatherings. This private manor house is available for exclusive hire when planning your next vacation or special event. Enchantingly elegant, Lisdonagh Manor House in Galway has been lovingly restored and boasts original features as well as an extensive antiques collection. Peacefully set in secluded woodland surrounded by green fields and magnificent private lake, this luxury rental in Galway is full of traditional character and charm. The tasteful decor pays homage to the history of Lisdonagh Manor with rich and warm colours in each room. The private estate in Galway is perfect for family holidays, celebrations and Board of Director strategy meetings. Lisdonagh is an excellent base for touring Galway, Mayo and the Wild Atlantic Way.

The Visit Galway website tells us that Lisdonagh House is an early Georgian country manor built around the 1720’s by the Reddingtons for the St. George family who were prominent landlords in Galway. The house has commanding views over Lough Hackett, a private Lake which forms part of the Estate, and Knochma hill. [9]

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

a 2 storey house, probably of 1790s [the National Inventory says c. 1760], with a front of 2 bays on either side of a curved bow. Rusticated fanlighted doorway in bow; oval hall, walls painted with an Ionic order and figures in grisaille by J. Ryan. Staircase behind hall, partly in 3 sided projection. On one side of the house is a detached pyramidally-roofed Palladian pavilion with a Venetian window on one face and a niche on the other; Dr. Craig is doubtful whether a balancing pavilion was ever built. The seat of the Palmer family.”

The National Inventory tells us that Lisdonagh is a:

Detached country house, built c.1760, having five-bay two-storey over basement front elevation and three-bay three-storey rear elevation, former with round entrance bay and latter with flat-roofed canted middle bay. Two-bay side elevations. Two-bay flat-roofed addition to north end, presenting one-storey over basement to front and two storeys to rear… Round-headed stairs window to rear projecting bay, with cobweb fanlight. Round-headed doorcase with limestone block-and-start surround, moulded transom and leaded cobweb fanlight, keystone in form of massive scroll bracket, further cornice above and limestone bracket above that in form of heraldic bird’s head, beak forming ring for hanging a lantern. Replacement timber panelled door, and approached by flight of five limestone steps with wrought-iron railings. Round-headed doorway to rear entrance bay having double-leaf timber panelled door and fanlight, and flanked by windows, formerly four-over-four bay in sides of bay. Diocletian windows to basement with tooled limestone voussoirs and leaded cobweb fanlights. Quadrant wall projects from north addition and terminates in square-plan pavilion with pyramidal slated roof, niche facing towards house, Venetian window facing out, and basement having two Diocletian windows to basement at north side, with tooled limestone voussoirs and leaded cobweb fanlights. Detached eight-bay two-storey stable block, built c.1760, in yard ancillary to Lisdonagh House. Now in use as domestic accommodation...

Lisdonagh House is an important mid-eighteenth-century country house with the unusual feature of bows at the front and rear. The unusual chimneystack arrangement is identical to that at Bermingham House. The very fine doorcase and most unusual heraldic bird sculpture add considerably interest to the front façade and the retention of many timber sash windows and other historic fabric enhances the structure. The interesting pavilion next to the house, the various outbuildings, gates and the gate lodge add context and incident to the accompanying demesne.

It seems to have various owners as the Landed Estates website tells us that it was:

“An O’Flaherty home, built in the late 18th century, sold to the O’Mahonys in the late 19th century and passed by marriage to the Palmers. Now functions as a guest house run by John and Finola Cook.” [10]

17. Lough Cutra Castle, County Galway, holiday cottages

https://www.loughcutra.com/cormorant.html

info@loughcutra.com

Nestled into the Northern corner of the courtyard, this beautifully appointed self catering cottage can sleep up to six guests – with private entrance and parking. Built during 1846 as part of a programme to provide famine relief during the Great Potato Famine of the time, it originally housed stabling for some of the many horses that were needed to run a large country estate such as Lough Cutra. In the 1920’s the Gough family, who were the then owners of the Estate, closed up the Castle and converted several areas of the courtyard including Cormorant into a large residence for themselves. They brought with them many original features from the Castle, such as wooden panelling and oak floorboards from the main Castle dining room and marble fireplaces from the bedrooms.

We have furnished and decorated the home to provide a luxuriously comfortable and private stay to our guests. Each unique courtyard home combines the history and heritage of the estate and buildings with modern conveniences.

https://www.loughcutra.com/

The website gives us a detailed history of the castle:

Lough Cutra Castle and Estate has a long and varied history, from famine relief to the billeting of soldiers, to a period as a convent and eventually life as a private home. It was designed by John Nash who worked on Buckingham Palace, and has been host to exclusive guests such as Irish President Michael D Higgins, His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, Bob Geldof, Lady Augusta Gregory and WB Yeats. The countryside surrounding Lough Cutra holds many a story, dating back centuries.

The extensive history of the Lough Cutra Castle and Estate can be traced back as far as 866 AD. It is quite likely that Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, passed Lough Cutra on his travels and also Saint Colman MacDuagh as he was a relative of nearby Gort’s King Guaire. The round tower Kilmacduagh built in his honour is an amazing site to visit near Lough Cutra. The countryside surrounding Lough Cutra holds stories for the centuries, all the way back to the Tuatha De Danann.

The immediate grounds of the 600 acre estate are rich in remnants of churches, cells and monasteries due to the introduction of Christianity. A number of the islands on the lake contain the remnants of stone altars.

The hillsides surrounding Lough Cutra contain evidence of the tribal struggle between the Firbolgs and the Tuatha De Danann (the Firbolgs and the Tuatha De Danann were tribes said to have existed in Ireland). These are from around the times of the Danish invasion. The ruined church of nearby Beagh on the North West shore was sacked by the Danes in 866 AD and war raged through the district for nearly 1000 years. In 1601 John O’Shaughnessy and Redmond Burke camped on the shores of the lake while they plundered the district.

In 1678, Sir Roger O’Shaughnessy inherited from Sir Dermot all the O’Shaughnessy’s Irish land – nearly 13,000 acres – and this included Gort and 2,000 acres around Lough Cutra and the lake itself. Following the revolution during which Sir Roger died of ill health, the Gort lands were seized and presented to Thomas Prendergast. This was one of the oldest families in Ireland. Sir Thomas came to Ireland on King William’s death in 1701 and lived in County Monaghan. The title to the lands was confused, but was in the process of being resolved when Sir Thomas was killed during the Spanish Wars in 1709. His widow, Lady Penelope decided to let the lands around the lake and the islands. On these islands, large numbers of apple, pear and cherry trees were planted, and some still survive today. The land struggle continued as the O’Shaughnessy’s tried to lay claim to the lands that had been taken from them by King William. In 1742 the government confirmed the Prendergast title, but it was not until 1753 that Roebuck O’Shaughnessy accepted a sum of money in return for giving up the claim.

Following Sir Thomas’s death, John Prendergast Smyth inherited the Gort Estate. It was John who created the roads and planted trees, particularly around the Punchbowl where the Gort River disappears on its way to Gort and Coole. John lived next to the river bridge in Gort when in the area. This area is now known as the Convent, Bank of Ireland and the old Glynn’s Hotel which is now a local restaurant. When John died in 1797 he was succeeded by his nephew, Colonel Charles Vereker who in 1816 became Viscount Gort. The estate at this time was around 12,000 acres.

When the estate was inherited by Colonel Vereker in 1797 he decided to employ the world renowned architect John Nash to design the Gothic Style building now known as Lough Cutra Castle. Colonel Vereker had visited Nash’s East Cowes Castle on the Isle of Wight and was so taken with it that he commissioned the construction of a similar building on his lands on the shore of Lough Cutra. Nash also designed Mitchelstown Castle, Regents Park Crescent, his own East Cowes Castle, as well as being involved in the construction of Buckingham Palace.

The Castle itself was built during the Gothic revival period and is idyllically situated overlooking the Estate’s 1000 acre lake. The building of the castle was overseen by the Pain brothers, who later designed and built the Gate House at Dromoland. The original building included 25 basement rooms and the cost of the building was estimated at 80,000 pounds. While the exact dates of construction are not known the building commenced around 1809 and went on for a number of years. We know that it had nearly been finished by 1817 due to a reference in a contemporary local paper.

The Viscount Gort was forced to sell the Castle and Estate in the Late 1840s having bankrupted himself as a result of creating famine relief. The Estate was purchased by General Sir William Gough, an eminent British General. The Gough’s set about refurbishing the Castle to their own taste and undertook further construction work adding large extensions to the original building, including a clock tower and servant quarters. Great attention was paid to the planting of trees, location of the deer park, and creation of new avenues. An American garden was created to the south west of the Castle. The entire building operations were completed in 1858 and 1859.

A further extension, known as the Museum Wing, was built at the end of the nineteenth century to house the war spoils of General Sir William Gough by his Grandson. This was subsequently demolished in the 1950s and the cut stone taken to rebuild Bunratty Castle in County Clare.

In the 1920s the family moved out of the Castle as they could not afford the running costs. Some of the stables in the Courtyards were converted into a residence for them. The Castle was effectively closed up for the next forty years, although during WWII the Irish army was billeted within the Castle and on the Estate.

The Estate changed hands several times between the 1930s and the 1960s when it was purchased by descendants of the First Viscount Gort. They took on the task of refurbishing the Castle during the late 1960s. Having completed the project, it was then bought by the present owner’s family.

In more recent years there has begun another refurbishment programme to the Castle and the Estate generally. In 2003 a new roof was completed on the main body of the Castle, with some of the tower roofs also being refurbished. There has been much done also to the internal dressings of the Castle bringing the building up to a modern standard. Around the Estate there has been reconstruction and rebuilding works in the gate lodges and courtyards. There has also begun extensive works to some of the woodlands in order to try and retain the earlier character of the Estate.

It is envisaged that more works will be undertaken over the coming years as the history and legend of Lough Cutra continues to build.

18. Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel, County Galway €

https://www.loughinaghlodgehotel.ie/en/

Lough Inagh Lodge was built on the shores of Lough Inagh in the 1880.  It was part of the Martin Estate (Richard “Humanity Dick” Martin of Ballynahinch Castle) as one of its fishing lodges.  It was later purchased by Richard Berridge, a London brewer who used the building as a fishing lodge in the 1880’s.  It passed through the hands of the Tennent family, and then to Carroll Industries until 1989 it was redeveloped by the O’Connor family back to its’ former glory into a modern bespoke boutique lodge.

19. Oranmore Lodge Hotel (previously Thorn Park), Oranmore, Co Galway  https://www.oranmorelodge.ie

The Oranmore Lodge Hotel is a four-star family-run hotel that has earned the reputation of being a “home away from home”, situated in Oranmore, a popular village bursting with life and character. From the moment you arrive, take in the beautiful surroundings and unique character of the building that will encourage you to relax and leave it all behind. Guests have enjoyed our Irish hospitality for over 150 years.

The National Inventory tells us:

The Oranmore Lodge Hotel was formerly the residence of the Blake Butler family. The house was altered in the late nineteenth century and its name changed from Mount Vernon to Thornpark, and the steep gables, bay windows and crenellations are typical of that era. An interesting symmetrical elevation, enhanced by the family shield with motto. It retains much original fabric notwithstanding its extension on both sides.

20. The Quay House, Clifden, Co Galway €€

https://thequayhouse.com  

The website tells us:

Built for the Harbour Master nearly 200 years ago, The Quay House has been sensitively restored and now offers guest accommodation in fourteen bedrooms (all different) with full bathrooms – all but three overlook the Harbour. Family portraits, period furniture, cosy fires and a warm Irish welcome make for a unique atmosphere of comfort and fun.

The owners, Paddy and Julia Foyle, are always on hand for advice on fishing, golfing, riding, walking, swimming, sailing, dining, etc – all close by.

The Quay House is Clifden’s oldest building, dating from C1820. It was originally the Harbour Master’s house but later became a Franciscan monastery, then a convent and finally a hotel owned by the Pye family. Now providing Town House Accommodation in Clifen, it is run by the Foyle family, whose forebears have been entertaining guests in Connemara for nearly a century.

The Quay House stands right on the harbour, just 7 minutes walk from Clifden town centre. All rooms are individually furnished with some good antiques and original paintings; several have working fireplaces. All have large bathrooms with tubs and showers and there is also one ground floor room for wheelchair users.

The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).
The Quay House hotel, Clifden, County Galway, photograph by James Fennell 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [7]).

21. Renvyle, Letterfrack, Co Galway – hotel

https://www.renvyle.com

The website tells us: “First opened as a hotel in 1883, it is spectacularly located on a 150 acre estate on the shores of the Wild Atlantic Way in Connemara, Co. Galway. The grounds include a private freshwater lake for fishing and boating, a beach, woodlands, gardens and numerous activities on site including tennis, croquet, outdoor heated swimming pool, canoeing and shore angling. For a unique location, an award winning Restaurant, comfortable bedrooms and a truly uplifting break, here, the only stress is on relaxation.

Its often-turbulent history has mirrored the change of circumstances and troubled history of Ireland, but it has been resilient and survived. Renvyle House was once home of the Chieftain and one of the oldest and most powerful Gaelic clans in Connacht; that of Donal O’Flaherty, who had a house on the site since the 12th Century where the hotel stands today.

The Blakes (one of the 14 Tribes of Galway) bought 2,000 acres of confiscated O’Flaherty land in 1689.  They leased it to the senior O’Flaherty family until the Blakes took up residence in 1822. Before then the ‘Big House’ was a thatched cabin 20ft by 60ft and one storey high.  Henry Blake implemented  major improvements to make it more compatible to a man of his means. The timber used in the building of the house extension was said to have been from a shipwreck in the bay.  The thatch was replaced with slate roof and he added another storey.  In 1825 the Blake family published the ‘Letters from the Irish Highlands’ describing the life and conditions in Connemara at that time.  His widow, Caroline Johanna opened it first as a hotel in 1883.  ‘Through Connemara in a Governess Cart’ published in 1893, written by Edith Somerville and Violet Martin. In this beautifully illustrated book, they visit Ballynahinch Castle, Kylemore Abbey and Renvyle House.

The house was sold before the War of Independence In 1917 to surgeon, statesman and poet Oliver St.John Gogarty played host to countless distinguished friends including Augustus John, W.B. Yeats (who came on his honeymoon to Renvyle House and Yeat’s first Noh play was first performed in the Long Lounge).  Indeed in 1928 Gogarty had a flying visit from aviator Lady Mary Heath and her husband which was well documented.  The House was burned to the ground during the Irish Civil War in 1923 by the IRA, as were many other home of government supporters; along with Gogarty’s priceless library.   The house was rebuilt by Gogarty as a hotel in the late 1920’s in the Arts & Crafts design of that era.
“My house..stands on a lake, but it stands also on the sea – waterlilies meet the golden seaweed…at this, the world’s end” Oliver St. John Gogarty.

he war years were difficult times although the hotel stayed open all year round.  Dr. Donny Coyle visited Renvyle house in July 1944 with friends and as fate would have it, he bought it with friends Mr. John Allen and Mr. Michael O’Malley in 1952 from the Gogarty estate and they reopened it on the 4th July that year.

The 1958 brochure announced new facilities in the hotel bedrooms. “Shoe cleaning. Shoe polishing and shining materials are in each room, just lift the lid of the wooden shoe rest.”  Guests were also informed that dinner was served from 7.30pm to 9pm, and that they were not to go hungry through politeness. “Don’t be shy, if you’d like a little more, please ask.” – and that ethos of hospitality remains to this day.

It remains in the Coyle family to this day, owned by Donny’s son John Coyle and his wife Sally.Their eldest daughter Zoë Fitzgerald is also involved with the hotel, is the Marketing Director and Chairman of the Board.

22. Rosleague Manor, Galway – accommodation €€

 https://www.rosleague.com

The website tells us: “Resting on the quiet shores of Ballinakill Bay, and beautifully secluded within 30 acres of its own private woodland, Rosleague Manor in Connemara is one of Ireland’s finest regency hotels.

The National Inventory tells us: “Attached L-plan three-bay two-storey house, built c.1830, facing north-east and having gabled two-storey block to rear and multiple recent additions to rear built 1950-2000, now in use as hotel…This house is notable for its margined timber sash windows and timber porch. The various additions have been built in a sympathetic fashion with many features echoing the historic models present in the original house.”

23. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – see above

www.rosscastle.com 

24. Ross Lake House Hotel, Oughterard, County Galway

http://rosslakehotel.com/

Ross Lake House Hotel in Galway is a splendid 19th Century Georgian House. Built in 1850, this charming Galway hotel is formerly an estate house of the landed gentry, who prized it for its serenity. Set amidst rambling woods and rolling lawns, it is truly a haven of peace and tranquillity. Echoes of gracious living are carried throughout the house from the elegant drawing room to the cosy library bar and intimate dining room.

25. Screebe House, Camus Bay, County Galway €€€

https://www.screebe.com/

Tucked away in the idyllic surrounds of Camus Bay, experience the best of Connemara at one of Ireland’s finest Victorian country homes, Screebe House. 

Built in 1872 as a fishing lodge and lovingly restored by the Burkart family in 2010, Screebe House offers guests an experience of luxury comfort, and effortless charm. With open fireplaces, high ceilings and heritage décor, Screebe’s elegant spaces evoke a sense of grandeur and provide the perfect setting to read a good book or savour a delicious glass of wine while taking in the breathtaking Connemara scenery. 

Screebe, originating from the Irish word ‘scribe’ meaning destination, is ideally located for those who want to explore the stunning scenery of Connemara or partake in a wealth of activities available, from renting bikes to fishing, deer spotting, swimming, hiking, and more. Screebe’s privately owned estate extends 45,000 acres, one of the largest estates in the country.

Whole House Accommodation and Weddings, County Galway:

1. Carraigin Castle, County Galway – sleeps 10

https://www.carraigin.net

The website tells us:

Surrounded by seven acres of lawns, park and woodland, Carraigin Castle is an idyllic holiday home in a beautiful setting on the shores of Lough Corrib, one of Ireland’s biggest lakes, famous for its brown trout and its multitude of picturesque islands. From the Castle one can enjoy boating and fishing on the lake, walking, riding and sightseeing all over Galway and Mayo, or just relax by the open hearth and contemplate the charm and simple grandeur of this ancient dwelling, a rare and beautiful example of a fortified, medieval “hall house”.

Family groups or close friends will love the relaxed atmosphere of this authentic 13th-century manor house, which has been restored by the present owner after languishing for more than two centuries as a crumbling, roofless ruin.  Carraigin’s church-like structure sits on a rise reached by an avenue across the tree-lined Pleasure Ground.

The History:

Despite its massive, castellated walls, Carraigin was never a mere fortress, but rather, an elegant home where a land-owning family could live securely in turbulent times. For some ten generations, the castle housed the descendants of its founder, Adam Gaynard III, grandson of a Norman adventurer who had taken part in the colonisation of the neighbourhood by the great de Burgo conquerors in 1238. 

Towards 1650, another military adventurer, George Staunton, acquired “the castle and lands of Cargin”, which his descendants continued to own until 1946. By, then, the castle had long been
abandoned. Stripped of its roof in the early 18th century, Carraigin’s relatively recent upper storeys and finer stonework were demolished and burned to make lime for the construction of the nearby Georgian mansion which replaced it.

However, the solid masonry core of the original 13th Century building had been constructed with such skill that it weathered centuries of neglect, surviving as a romantic, ivy-covered ruin until, in 1970, the castle was restored to its original form and purpose.

The Interior: “The ancient-looking, nail-studded front door on the ground floor, often mistaken for an authentic antiquity, was actually made by the owner during the building’s restoration in the 1970s.  Round the corner, an imposing stone staircase leads to another grand entrance, into the lofty, oak-beamed Great Hall featuring a wide, stone-arched fireplace that provides a comforting aroma of turf and wood-smoke.

The Great Hall is the central living and dining area of the castle. It features a mix of old oak and comfortable modern furniture surrounding the welcoming hearth. Its white walls are extensively decorated with art including tapestries, brass rubbing portraits of ancient kings and knights and a magnificent triptych featuring a Galway galleon (as on that city’s coat of arms). There is a tiny but well-equipped kitchen next door with a view over the tall trees of the Pleasure Ground.

On the same level as the Hall is an oak-beamed double bedroom with a king-size bed and bathroom.  A stone staircase winds upwards over this master bedroom to a family loft room overlooking the Great Hall. Another winding stairs leads up to a little single bedroom in the corner tower.  From both of these second-floor rooms you can stroll out onto the castle parapets with fabulous views of Lough Corrib and the hills of Connemara and Mayo, and even those of Clare, on the other side of Galway Bay. 

The rest of you sleep in the four cosy ‘Vaults’ on the ground floor below, their walls also lined with tapestries and other artworks. The Vaults have much picturesque charm with their oak-timbered partitions, arches and vaulted ceilings, and they work if you know each other well as the rooms lead one into the other. Vault I, the largest of the four, sleeps two in bunk-beds and features a fair-sized work table and chairs for busy teenagers and a mini-sofa for one or two in the window embrasure. Vault II (off No. 1) has a double bed and a similar window seat. Vault III (also off No.1) has one double and one single bed and a window seat. Vault III in turn gives access to Vault IV, a small single room with a three-light gothic window looking out at the standing stone sundial on the lawn.

2. Cloghan Castle, near Loughrea, County Galway – whole castle accommodation and weddings, €€€ for two.

https://www.cloughancastle.ie/

The website describes it:

An air of historic grandeur and authenticity is the initial impression upon arrival at Cloughan Castle. Follow the long sweeping driveway surrounded with breath-taking countryside views, to the beautifully restored castle with its ornamental stonework & imposing four storey tower. Sitting within several acres of matured woodlands with striking panoramic countryside views, this lovingly restored 13th-century castle holds its historic past with a character that blends effortlessly with elegance and comfort.

Find yourself immersed in unrivalled castle comfort with the ultimate mix of homeliness & grandeur, the most appealing destination for those seeking exclusivity & privacy. A combination of seven magnificently appointed bedrooms, two versatile reception rooms, complete with an idyllic backdrop, ensures a truly memorable occasion to be long remembered. Cloughan Castle offers complete exclusivity for all occasions, from an intimate family getaway to a private party celebration, to a truly magical wedding location.

The Visit Galway website tells us:

Cloghan Castle near Loughrea in Galway, was originally built as an out-post fortification in the 12th century by an Anglo-Norman family. The castle was last inhabited by Hugh de Burgo, a son of Walter de Burgo, Earl of Ulster, in the 15th century. 

In 1973, Cloghan Castle was a derelict ruin and all that remained of the fortified Norman keep, built in 1239, were the walls of the tower house. Its current owner, Michael Burke, always had an interest in history and seeing the ruined castle on a neighbour’s land he thought it would be a nice idea to restore it. 

The aim of the restoration work was to recreate what it was like to live in a medieval castle, but without having to suffer the deprivation of 13th century living. The meticulous and historically accurate restoration programme was completed in the December of 1996 and the castle now plays host and venue to numerous weddings each year.

Roscommon:

1. Castlecoote House, Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Kevin Finnerty
Tel: 087-2587537
www.castlecootehouse.com
Open: July1-31, Aug 1-31
Garden-guided tours, 2pm-6pm
Home of the Percy French Festival, www.percyfrench.ie 

July 20,21,22, 10am-4pm Fee: €5

2. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon – section 482

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/10/16/clonalis-castlerea-county-roscommon/
contact: Pyers O’Conor Nash, Richard O’Connor Nash
Tel: 094-9620014, 087-3371667
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
April 1-September 30
www.clonalishouse.com
Open: Jun 1-Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, guided tours,11am-4pm
Fee: adult €10, child €5, group rates available

3. King House, Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Majella Hunt
Tel: 090-6637100

www.visitkinghouse.ie

Open: April 1-Sept 30, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, Mon-Sat 11am-5pm, Sunday 11am-4pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student /child €5, Family €20

4. Shannonbridge Fortifications, Shannonbridge, Athlone, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Fergal Moran
Tel: 090-9674973 

www.shannonbridgefortifications.ie 

Open: May 1-Sept 30, 10am-6pm

Fee: Free

5. Strokestown Park House, Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon – section 482

contact: Ciarán
Tel: 01-8748030
www.strokestownpark.ie www.irishheritagetrust.ie
Open: Mar 17-Dec 20, Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, 10am-5pm, June, July, Aug, 10am- 6pm, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm

Fee: adult €14, €12.50, €9.25, OAP/student €12.50, child €6, family €29, groups €11.50

Places to stay, County Roscommon:

1. Abbey Hotel, Abbeytown, Ballypheasan, Roscommon, Co Roscommon 

https://www.abbeyhotel.ie

The website tells us: “The 4* Abbey Hotel located in the heart of the Irish Midlands town of Roscommon is considered by many as one of Ireland’s last few remaining authentic family-run hotels.

The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey house, built c. 1800, now in use as a hotel, with advanced two-bay tower with entrance and with recessed two-bay gable-fronted block to south end of façade and modern single-storey extensions to east and south.

This Georgian House was remodelled as a miniature Gothic castle possibly by Richard Richards. Though the form of this building has been altered with many extensions added to facilitate its new function as a hotel, it still maintains many original materials. The elaborate entranceway, turrets and castellated parapet combine to make this a very striking building. The landscaped grounds with castellated turrets offset the ruins of the medieval Abbey located to the south of the hotel.

2. Castlecoote, County Roscommon (also Section 482) – see above

www.castlecootehouse.com

3. Clonalis House, Castlerea, Co Roscommon – accommodation and 482 – see above

4. Edmondstown (Bishop’s Palace or St. Nathy’s), Ballaghaderreen Co Roscommon – airbnb

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/27927866?source_impression_id=p3_1580207144_IGlnwq6lh1FFj9pW

The Bishop’s Palace (aka Edmondstown House) was built in 1864 by Captain Arthur Robert Costello. The house was designed by John McCurdy, who also remodelled the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. It is built in the High Victorian Gothic style. 

For 100 years the house was the residence of the Bishop of Achonry.  

A historically interesting building with beautiful grounds (and a full Irish breakfast!) 

The National Inventory tells us:

Edmondstown House, otherwise known as Saint Nathy’s, is a rare example of High Victorian Gothic in County Roscommon. The construction of such an architecturally expressive structure was an ambitious project for the original owner, Captain Arthur Costello. Edmondstown House exhibits many features typical of High Victorian architecture, famously employed by architect such as Deane and Woodward, and J.S. Mulvany. These architectural elements include the octagonal tower and the string courses of red brick framing the pointed-arch window openings, and the decorative cast-iron roof finials.

5.  Kilronan Castle (formerly Castle Tenison), Ballyfarnan, County Roscommon – hotel 

Amazingly, when this was photographed for the National Inventory, it was a ruin! It has now been completely renovated. https://www.kilronancastle.ie

The website tells us:

Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa should be on your list of castles to stay at in Ireland. The luxury 4 star castle hotel is situated in County Roscommon in a secluded corner of the idyllic West of Ireland. Built in the 18th century, the Kilronan Castle resort welcomes its guests through a set of magnificent medieval gates at the top of a meandering driveway through an ancient forest which is surrounded by fifty acres of lush green estate and next to a beautiful lough making the castle look like something straight out of a fairytale.

Kilronan Castle Estate is also a site that is full of history as it was lovingly transformed from the ancestral home of a royal family into a luxurious Irish castle hotel with a spa. The castle hotel seamlessly mixes the elegance, sophistication and tradition of the past with the luxury and comfort of the modern era. This makes Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa one of the most luxurious castle hotels in Ireland to stay in. Kilronan Castle’s location and surroundings include breathtaking views as well as peace and quiet which makes a break at Kilronan Castle feel like time is standing still.

The name Kilronan comes from the Gaelic ‘Cill Ronain’, meaning Ronan’s Abbey. According to tradition, St. Ronan and his daughter St. Lasair established a church here on the banks of Lough Meelagh in the 6th century. However, it is the building of a home for a famous land-owning family, that has made this part of Roscommon famous the world over. That said, it wasn’t always known as Kilronan Castle.

During the era of Edward I in the late 13th century, there was a family known as the Tenisons. Although they originated from Oxfordshire, their descendents eventually settled in the north of Ireland in the mid-17th century. Down through the ages, they would fight with the Irish Brigade in France, Spain and Portugal and then serve as members of The Irish Guards during the Boer Wars. Although valiant soldiers, generation after generation of Tenison heirs would famously squander their inheritances, only to reimburse themselves by marrying wealthy heiresses.

Marrying into majesty

One such advocate of this technique was Thomas Tenison. Initially an MP for Boyle in 1792, he later became a lieutenant colonel in the Roscommon Militia. In 1803, he married the Lady Frances Anne King, daughter of Edward, 1st Earl of Kingston. As a result, this branch of the family became known as the King-Tenisons. At this stage the King-Tenisons held extensive estates, with over 17, 726 acres to their name in Roscommon alone. Within the year, Colonel King-Tenison and his new bride would demolish their humble house and build a residence fit for a family of their great stature – Castle Tenison.

At the end of a short tree-lined avenue, on the banks of the beautiful Lough Meelagh, their new home consisted of a magnificent three storeys, with three bay-symmetrical castellated blocks and slender corner turrets. The well-proportioned rooms and delicate fan-vaulting plaster work on the stairs and landing made it a spacious and costly modern-built edifice and one worthy of their name.

From extension to destruction

In 1876, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward King-Tenison, the 12th Earl of Kingston, and his wife Lady Louisa, extended the castle to five storeys. They also added a magnificent over-basement baronial tower and battlements. The Earl and Countess of Kingston enjoyed the estate immensely and the quality of the shooting available on their grounds drew people from across Ireland to share in their incredible home.

Unfortunately, the political and social change that was happening in Ireland at that time ensured their stays in their home became less and less frequent. Although fully furnished, the castle was seldom occupied and was eventually closed and sold along with many other great country estates in Ireland at that time. While religious orders and, at one time the Free State Military, ensured the castle remained unoccupied, the contents of the castle were sold by auction in 1939 and the roof was even removed in the 1950s in an attempt to mitigate taxation.

A labour of unrivalled love

By 2004, all that remained was the perimeter walls and a huge challenge for the new owners, the Hanly Group. In 2006, Irish Father & Son Albert and Alan Hanly undertook a significant restoration project to rejuvenate Kilronan Castle into the luxury castle estate and spa. Combined with the painstaking sourcing and procurement of many antique fixtures and fittings, original paintings of some of the extended members of the Tenison family were also acquired. What’s more, historians and curators were also commissioned to ensure faithful attention to detail including the sensitive selection of interior design and materials from a bygone era. A secluded location, standard-setting craftsmanship, breathtaking views and the perfect blend of old-world elegance and new-world luxury, has turned Kilronan Castle from a forgotten ruin into a truly magical destination once again.

[1] https://visitgalway.ie/ardamullivan-castle/ 

[2] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/30408401/castle-ellen-castle-ellen-galway

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

[4]To read a fantastic summary of the history of Castle Ellen and more information on the house, read David Hicks blog here.

There has also been some fantastic work carried out by Patricia Boran (and her colleagues) at NUIG where they compiled a Landed Estates Database, which is a searchable, online database of all Landed Estates in Connacht and Munster. This database is maintained by the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway. The Lambers (of Castle Ellen) can be found here.
A detailed genealogical study of the Lambert family can be found at Andy Lambert’s Lambert Family 

Homepage.

[5] http://davidhicksbook.blogspot.com

[6] https://visitgalway.ie/claregalway-castle/

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

[8] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/30404211/lisdonagh-house-lisdonagh-co-galway

[9] https://visitgalway.ie/lisdonagh-house/

[10] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/property-list.jsp?letter=L

[11] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/30315003/yeats-college-college-road-townparksst-nicholas-parish-galway-co-galway

[12] Dublin City Library and Archives. https://repository.dri.ie

[13] https://visitgalway.ie/abbeyglen-castle/

Places to visit and stay in Leinster: Wexford and Wicklow

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

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

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

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

Wexford:

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

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum 

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford

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

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford

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

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

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

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

10. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

11. Newtownbarry House, Wexford

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

13. Wells House, County Wexford

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

Places to Stay, County Wexford

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

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

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

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

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation 

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation

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

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

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

11. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

12. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

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

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

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

16. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – accommodation 

17. Wells House, County Wexford – self catering cottages

18. Wilton castle, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

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

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

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

Whole House rental County Wexford:

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

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

 Wicklow:

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

2. Avondale House, County Wicklow

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

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

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

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

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

8. Festina Lente Gardens, Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, Wicklow

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

10. Huntingbrook, – gardens open to public 

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

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

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

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

15. 1 Martello Terrace, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

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

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

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

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

20. Trudder Grange, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow – gardens open, by appointment only

21. Warbel Bank gardens, Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow 

Places to stay, County Wicklow:

1. Ballyknocken House, Ashford, County Wicklow

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

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

4. Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village, County Wicklow

5. Clone House, Count Wicklow

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

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

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

9. Rathsallagh, co Wicklow – accommodation €€

10. Summerhill House Hotel, County Wicklow €€

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

12. Tulfarris, Blessington, Co Wicklow - hotel 

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

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

Wexford:

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

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

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum 

http://www.ballymorehistoricfeatures.com

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford

http://berkeleyforesthouse.com

This website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford

http://enniscorthycastle.ie

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

The website tells us:

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

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

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

p. 121. “(Wallop, Portsmouth, E/IFR) A C13 four-towered keep, like the ruined castles at Carlow and Ferns, restored at various dates and rising above the surrounding rooftops of the town of Enniscorthy like a French chateau-fort, with its near row of tourelles. Once the home of Edmund Spenser, the poet. Now a museum.” [2]

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it is a two-bay three-stage over basement castle, built 1588, on a rectangular plan with single-bay full-height engaged drum towers to corners on circular plans. [3]

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

The website tells us more about the history of the castle:

Maud de Quency (granddaughter of the famous Strongbow) marries Philip de Prendergast (son of Anglo-Norman Knight Maurice de Prendergast) and they reside at Enniscorthy Castle from 1190 to his death in 1229. From then until the 1370’s, their descendants, and other Anglo-Norman families rule the Duffry and reside in Enniscorthy Castle.

In 1375: The fief (a defined area of land or territory) of the Duffry  and Enniscorthy Castle are forcefully retaken by Art MacMurrough Kavanagh who regains his ancestral lands. This marks a time of Gaelic Irish revival. The MacMurrough Kavanagh dynasty rule until they eventually surrender the Castle and lands to Lord Leonard Grey in 1536. At this time Enniscorthy Castle is reported be in a ruined condition.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

In 1569, The Butlers of Kilkenny and the Earl of Kildare lead a raid on Enniscorthy town on a fair day, killing numerous civilians and burning the castle. In 1581, The poet Edmund Spenser leases the Castle but never lives in it. Historians speculate that this was because Spenser feared the MacMurrough Kavanaghs.

In 1585, Henry Wallop receives ownership of the Duffry by Royal Appointment. He exploits the dense forests (the Duffry, An Dubh Tír in Irish, meaning “The Black Country”) surrounding Enniscorthy which brings considerable wealth to the town, and funds the rebuilding of Enniscorthy Castle which we see standing today. Enniscorthy begins to rapidly develop as a plantation town.

1649: Oliver Cromwell arrives in Co. Wexford. Enniscorthy Castle is beseiged by his forces; its defenders surrender, leaving it intact. In December of the same year the Castle once again fell to the Irish (under Captain Daniel Farrell), but two months later Colonel Cooke, the Governor of Wexford, reoccupied the castle.

1898: The Castle is leased by Patrick J. Roche from the Earl of Portsmouth. P.J. Roche restores and extends the Castle making it into a residence for his son Henry J. Roche.

1951: Roche family leaves.

1962: Castle opens as Wexford County Museum.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

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

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

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

Johnstown Castle, County Wexford. The house was designed by Daniel Robertson (d. 1849). It envelops a seventeenth-century house (perhaps by Thomas Hopper) [4] remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick.
Garden front, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford: The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows.
Front of Johnstown Castle, with porte-cochere projection at the end of an entrance corridor.
The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.

An information board in the museum tells us that Geoffrey and Maurice Esmonde were the estate’s first owners, who arrived as part of the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169. Geoffrey Esmonde built the original Johnstown Castle, which was a plain and modest tower house. His son Maurice built a second tower house at Rathlannon Castle, the remains of which are on the grounds to this day.

The Esmondes lost their lands during the invasion of Oliver Cromwell, as they were Catholics. Lieutenant Colonel John Overstreet was granted Johnstown Castle estate. The land passed through several hands until acquired by John Grogan in 1692. The Grogan family and their descendants lived at Johnstown Castle until 1945 when it was handed over to the state.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us about Johnstown Castle (1988):

p. 161. “(Esmonde, bt/PB; Grogan-Morgan; LG1863; Forbes, Grandard, E/PB; FitzGerald, sub Leinster, D/PB) An old tower house of the Esmondes, engulfed in an impressively turreted, battlmented and machicolated castle of gleaming silver-grey ashlar built ca 1840 for Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan [1808-54], MP, to the design of Daniel Robertson [d. 1849], of Kilkenny. The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end. The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows. Lower wing with polygonal tower. The castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side. Impressive castellated entrance archways facing each other on either side of the road. After the death of H.K. Grogan-Morgan, Johnstown passed to his widow, who married as her second husband, Rt Hon Sir Thomas Esmonde, 9th Bt, a descendent of the original owners of the old tower house. The estate afterwards went to H.K. Grogan-Morgan’s daughter, Jane, Countess of Granard [she married George Arthur Forbes (1833-1889) 7th Earl of Granard], and eventually to Lady Granard’s daughter, Lady Maurice Fitzgerald [born Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, she married Maurice Fitzgerald son of the 4th Duke of Leinster]. It is now an agricultural institute, and the grounds are maintained as a show place. The old tower house was the home of Cornelius Grogan [1738-1798], who was unjustly executed for treason after 1798 Rebellion.” 

The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.
Inside the front arch of Johnstown Castle.
The Gothic conservatory in the middle.
Johnstown Castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side.
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan (1807-1854) and his family. [5]

The National Inventory describes it:

Detached three-bay three-storey over basement country house, built 1836-72, on an asymmetrical plan centred on single-bay full-height breakfront with single-bay (four-bay deep) single-storey projecting porch-cum-“porte cochère” to ground floor; five-bay three-storey Garden Front (south) with single-bay four-stage turrets on circular plans centred on single-bay full-height bow on an engaged half-octagonal plan…A country house … enveloping a seventeenth-century house remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the asymmetrical plan form centred on ‘a splendid porch…formed by beautiful Gothic arches with neat light groinings’ (Lacy 1852, 259); the construction in a blue-green rubble stone offset by glimmering Mount Leinster granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a sober two-tone palette; the diminishing in scale of the multipartite openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with the principal “apartments” defined by a polygonal bow; and the battlemented turrets producing an eye-catching silhouette: meanwhile, aspects of the composition clearly illustrate the continued development or “improvement” of the country house ‘under the munificent and highly-gifted Lady Esmonde who never tires of affording employment to the skilful artisans whom she herself has trained’.”

You can see the basement on the garden front.
The clock tower side of Johnstown Castle.
Spectacular doorway arch to one side of Johnstown Castle.
The doorway arch at Johnstown Castle features a border of carved stone heads.
Carved stone heads at Johnstown Castle.
Window surround detail and tracery at Johnstown Castle.
A workman at Johnstown Castle.

We did not get to see the inside of Johnstown Castle when we visited as it was closed that day, but the National Inventory gives us pictures – and I can’t wait to visit again!

I think this is the portico corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “corridor on a rectangular plan retaining encaustic tiled floor, Gothic-style timber panelled wainscoting supporting carved timber dado rail, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, and groin vaulted ceiling with carved timber ribs on portrait-detailed oak leaf corbels.” [5]
Tile floor of the corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues:

A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; the so-called “Apostles Hall” with ‘oak panelling and carving of the most costly description’ (Lacy 1852, 268); contemporary joinery ‘by poor Mooney who may be said to have lived and died in the employment of the munificent proprietor [and who was] succeeded by another native genius [named] Sinnott’ (ibid., 269); restrained chimneypieces in contrasting neo-Classical or Egyptian Revival styles; and geometric ceilings recalling the Robertson-designed Wells House (1836-45), all highlight the considerable artistic significance of the composition.

Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “top-lit triple-height “Grand Hall” on a square plan retaining tessellated “Asphaltum” tiled floor, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to door openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled doors, arcaded galleries (upper floors) with carved timber hand rails, and fan vaulted plasterwork ceiling centred on replacement glass block-filled mass concrete dome.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “bow-ended dining room (south) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, coat-of-arms-detailed cut-veined green marble Gothic-style chimneypiece in Gothic-style timber surround, and picture railing below grape-and-vine-detailed cornice to quatrefoil-detailed compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “library (south-east) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to opposing window opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, Gothic-style timber bookcases centred on cut-black marble Egyptian-style chimneypiece, and picture railing below compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.”[5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues: “Furthermore, a “Terrace Garden”; a stable complex; folly-like towers and turrets overlooking an artificial lake ; a walled garden; and nearby gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a largely intact estate having subsequent connections with the Right Honourable Sir Thomas Esmonde (1786-1868) [9th Baronet] and Dame Sophia Maria Esmonde (née Rowe) (1805-67) [she was first the wife of Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan]; and Lord Maurice FitzGerald (1852-1901) and Lady Adelaide Jane Frances FitzGerald (née Forbes) (1860-1942). NOTE: Armorial panels over the glazed-in carriageway and on the dining room chimneypiece show a coat of arms combining three bears heads couped and muzzled [Forbes] centred on a griffin sergeant [Morgan] representing the marriage of George Arthur Hastings Forbes (1833-89), seventh Earl of Granard, and Jane Colclough Morgan (1840-72) with Order of Saint Patrick motto (“QUIS SEPARABIT MDCCLXXXIII [Who Will Separate Us 1783]”) recognising the earl’s investment as a Knight of the Order of Saint Patrick (K.P.) in 1857.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Kathleen, married Michael Lawrence Lakin and they had two sons: Gerald Michael Lakin and Maurice Victor Lakin, the latter pictured below, the last man to privately own the castle and estate before handing it over to the state.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Geraldine, married Gerald More O’Ferrall.
Walled garden, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.
Entrance to Johnstown Castle estate, County Wexford.
The National Inventory describes this: “A tower-like gate lodge contributing positively to the group and setting values of the Johnstown Castle estate with the architectural value of the composition, one erected to a design signed (1846) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the compact square plan form; the construction in ‘[a] fine bluish stone raised from the quarries on the demesne’ (Lacy 1852, 265-6) offset by silver-grey granite dressings demonstrating good quality workmanship; the definition of the principal “apartment” by a jettied oriel window recalling the Daniel Robertson (d.1849)-designed gate lodge at Shankill Castle, County Kilkenny; and the corbelled battlements embellishing the roofline.”
I think this is Rathlannon Castle, built by Maurice Esmonde in the 1200s.
Stable Complex, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.

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

Contact: Stephen Hegarty
Tel: 087-2854143
Open: Apr 30, May 1-13, July 25-31, Aug 1-30, Dec 12-24, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, student/OAP €5

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

The main lawn at the rear of the house at Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders – and some fine topiary, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

contact: Mark Hewlett
Tel: 086-0227799
www.kilmokea.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April – Oct
Gardens:

Open Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Wed-Sun, June, July, Aug, daily, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family €20

The website tells us:

Kilmokea, on Great Island in south County Wexford, was built in 1794, on the site of an ancient monastery as the glebe house for a Church of Ireland rector. The house is a simple, neo-classical late Georgian building of two stories, roughly square in plan with a three-bay facade protected by a later porch. The garden front is of four bays and the rooms at the rear are set high above the lawn and treated as a piano nobile. While there is no cornice, the roof is hipped and elegantly sprocketed, and the flues are all diverted into a single elongated central chimney stack.   

Great Island is not actually an island, although it is largely surrounded by water. The River Barrow, which converged with the River Nore just upstream from New Ross, forms its western boundary and joins the River Suir at the inner reaches of Waterford Harbour, which borders Great Island to the South. The Campile River, to the east, also flows into Waterford Harbour, while the connecting isthmus to the ‘mainland’ of County Wexford is largely low-lying and prone to floods, hence the name Great Island.  

Kilmokea stands on the highest point of the isthmus, north-west of the small town of Campile. Just a few miles beyond, the Hook peninsula stretches southwards like a rocky finger pointing out into the Celtic Sea. In the twelfth century the first Normans settlers landed near Hook Head and put their stamp upon the entire region. The great ruined Cistercian abbey of Dunbrody, standing in splendid isolation on the banks of the Campile River, is perhaps their finest legacy. 

In the 1950s Kilmokea was in a dilapidated state when purchased by David and Joan Price, prime movers behind the Wexford Opera Festival. They restored and extended the house in the fashion of the times, removing the external rendering and stripping and waxing the internal joinery by hand. But their principal focus was the garden, where the subtropical microclimate allows many rare and tender plants to flourish. They surrounded the house with a series of interconnecting garden ‘rooms’ of varying size, while a reconstructed millpond, on the opposite side of an adjoining by-road, feeds a small stream that winds its way through a magical woodland garden to the River Barrow. 

In the 1990s Kilmokea was purchased by Mark and Emma Hewlett as their family home. Together they have extended and enhanced both house and garden, which they maintain to an exemplary standard, and have built a magnificent new conservatory.”

The main lawn at the rear of Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland (see [1]).
Kilmokea House, conservatory on right, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

11. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

https://www.discoverireland.ie/wexford/loftus-hall

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Loftus Hall (1988):

p. 189. “(Redmond/LG1863; Loftus, Ely, M/PB) A gaunt, three-storey mansion of 1871, with rows of plate-glass windows and a balustraded parapet, incorporating parts of a previous house here, which was late 17th century or early C18, gable-ended and of two storeys and nine bays, with a domered roof and a steep pedimented gable; it was fronted by a forecourt with tall piers surmounded by ball finials and had a haunted tapestry room. The house stands near the tip of Hook Head, and must have been one of the most wing-swept noblemen’s seats in the British Isles; “No tree will grow above the shelter of the walls,” Bishop Pococke observed of Loftus Hall in C18, and the same is true of the place today. The site was originally occupied by an old castle of the Redmonds, which was known in their day as The Hall; and of which a square turret remained near the old house, but was demolished when the present house was built. The present house, which was built soon after his coming-of-age by the 4th Marquess of Ely [John Henry Willington Graham Loftus (1849-1889), built in 1870-71] – who also planned to rebuild his other seat, Ely Lodge – contains an impressive staircase hall, with an oak stair in Jacobean style, richly decorated with carving and marquetry; the gallery being carried on fluted Corinthian columns of wood. The house is now a convent.” 

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is a nine-bay three-storey country house, built 1870-1, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor; seven-bay three-storey side (south) elevation centred on three-bay three-storey breakfront on a bowed plan…”A country house erected for John Henry Wellington Graham Loftus (1849-89), fourth Marquess of Ely, representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of a house (1680-4) illustrated in Volume IV of Philip Herbert Hore’s (1841-1931) “History of the Town and County of Wexford” (1901), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking windswept grounds with Saint George’s Channel and Waterford Harbour as backdrops; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared porch demonstrating good quality workmanship; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with those openings showing “stucco” refinements ‘designed to resemble a grand hotel’ (Williams 1994, 186); the definition of the principal “apartments” by Osborne House (1845-51)-like bows; and the balustraded roofline repurposing eagle finials shown in a sketch (1835-6) by Charles Newport Bolton (1816-84) of County Waterford (Hore 1901 IV, 381). A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; contemporary joinery; robust chimneypieces; plasterwork by James Hogan and Sons of Great Brunswick Street [Pearse Street], Dublin (The Irish Builder 15th May 1874, 148; Freeman’s Journal 6th November 1875); and ‘an impressive oak stair in the Jacobean style…richly decorated with carving and marquetry’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 189-90), all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent coach house-cum-stable outbuilding; a walled garden; and a nearby gate lodge, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having subsequent connections with John Henry Loftus (1851-1925), fifth Marquess of Ely. NOTE: Loftus Hall is the subject of two apocryphal legends with the first being the famous “Legend of Loftus Hall” (1765) and the second being that the country house was erected in anticipation of a royal visit from Queen Victoria (1819-1901; r. 1837-1901) by whom Jane Loftus (née Hope-Vere) (1821-90), Dowager Marchioness of Ely, was appointed to the office of Lady of the Bedchamber (1851).”

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: the Naional Inventory describes: “top-lit double-height staircase hall (west) retaining inlaid timber parquet floor, timber panelled staircase on an Imperial plan with fluted timber balusters supporting carved timber banisters terminating in timber panelled newels, round-headed niche to half-landing with moulded plasterwork frame, carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings to landing framing timber panelled doors, and decorative plasterwork cornice to compartmentalised ceiling centred on stained glass lantern with “Acanthus” ceiling rose.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory describes: “hall retaining encaustic tiled floor carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors centred on cut-veined marble Classical-style chimneypiece with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: “bow-ended reception room (south) retaining carved timber Classical-style surround to door opening framing timber panelled double doors with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

12. Newtownbarry House, Wexford – gardens open to the public

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/52/

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Contact: Clody and Alice Norton 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 937 6383 

Email: clodynorton@gmail.com 

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 225. “(Barry/IFR; Maxwell, Farnham, B/PB; Hall-Dare;IFR) The estate of Newtownbarry originally belonged to a branch of the Barrys; passed to the Farnhams with the marriage of Judith Barry to John Maxwell, afterwards 1st Lord Farnham, 1719. Subsequently acquired by the Hall-Dare family, who built the present house 1860s, to the design of Sir Charles Lanyon. It is in a rather restrained Classical style, of rough ashlar; the windows have surrounds of smooth ashlar, with blocking. Two storey; asymmetrical entrance front, with two bays projecting at one end; against this projection is set a balustraded open porch. Lower two storey service wing. Eaved roof on plain cornice. Impressive staircase.”

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us that it is a five-bay (five-bay deep) two-storey country house, built 1863-9, on an L-shaped plan off-centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor abutting two-bay two-storey projecting end bay; eight-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation. It continues:

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

A country house erected for Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1840-76) to a design by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon (formed 1860) of Belfast and Dublin (Dublin Builder 1864, 66) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding the eighteenth-century ‘Woodfield…[a] mansion of long standing and of cottage-like character in the Grecian style of architecture’ (Lacy 1863, 485), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking the meandering River Slaney with its mountainous backdrop in the near distance; the asymmetrical footprint off-centred on an Italianate porch; the construction in a rough cut granite offset by silver-grey dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also providing an interplay of light and shade in an otherwise monochrome palette; and the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a feint graduated visual impression. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior arranged around a top-lit staircase hall recalling the Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon-designed Stradbally Hall (1866-7), County Laois, where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings; walled gardens; all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Hall-Dare family including Captain Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1866-1939), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1891); and Robert Westley Hall-Dare (1899-1972).”

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

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

14. Wells House, County Wexford – open for tours

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 283. “(Doyne/IFR) A Tudor-Gothic house of ca 1840 by Daniel Robertson of Kilkenny; built for Robert Doyne [1816-1870], replacing an earlier house which, for nearly three years after the Rebellion of 1798, was used as a military barracks. Gabled front, symmetrical except that there is a three sided oriel at one end of the façade and not at the other, facing along straight avenue of trees to entrance gate. Sold ca 1964.” 

Wells House and Gardens, Ballyedmond, Gorey, Co Wexford_Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Contact: Sabine Rosler 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 918 6737 

Mobile: +353 (0) 87 997 4323 

Email: info@wellshouse.ie 

Web: www.wellshouse.ie 

Wells House has a stunning Victorian Terrace garden, parterre garden and arboretum designed by the renowned architect and landscape designer, Daniel Robertson. 

The terraced gardens which have been restored to their former glory sit beautifully into the large setting of his vast parkland design which spans for acres in the stunning Co. Wexford landscape. 

With two woodland walks, a craft courtyard, adventure playground, restaurant and a busy calendar of events this is a perfect day out for all the family. 

and “Discover the 400-year-old history of Wells House & Gardens by taking a guided exploration of the house. Our living house tour and expert guide in Victorian dress will bring you back to a time. To a time when the magnificent ground floor and bedrooms witnessed the stories of Cromwell, Rebellions and the Famine. Uncover the everyday lives of the wealthy, powerful families who lived in the estate and their famed architect Daniel Robertson. All giving you a unique insight into the life of previous generations all the way up until the current owners of Wells House.

It was for sale in 2019.

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

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

contact: Gerald Roche
Tel: 087-9709828

Email: woodville05@eircom.net

www.woodvillegardens.ie
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child €5

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it was allegedly erected for Edward William Tottenham (d. 1860) on the occasion of his marriage (1807) to Henrietta Alcock (d. 1861).

The website tells us:

Woodville House and Gardens are situated on a working farm just two miles from New Ross, County Wexford. The Georgian house belongs to the Roche Family who have lived here since 1876.  The current owner Gerald Roche and his mother maintain the enchanting gardens, mature grounds and water garden which make this a truly delightful place to visit. 

Woodville House is a fine five bay, two storey over basement Georgian house dating from about 1800 situated above the river Barrow. The property was acquired by P J Roche, great grandfather of the present owner in 1876 and is now occupied by the 5th generation of Roches to live there. It is thought to have been built by the Tottenhams, the first mention of it being the home of Edward Tottenham and subsequently was lived in by a Reverend Minchen. The house has two gate lodges, one a gothic lodge opposite the river Barrow and the other a 19th century Italianate gate lodge with gates at the southern end of the property. This entrance way and avenue were built after the construction of the now disused railway.

The house, recently renovated, maintains its period charm with period interior decoration and antique furniture. Visitors to the house can view the reception rooms, the former billiard room with faithfully copied and reprinted original wallpaper and Victorian conservatory by the Messenger Company.

Woodville Garden and Parkland

The house is set in the centre of a working farm and is approached by long avenues through parkland planted with specimen trees including Sequoia, cedar, pines, cypress and a recent addition the Wollemi pine. The resident flock of sheep grazes the pasture land, a scene unchanged for two hundred years.

A laurel shrubbery to the front of the house is also planted with colourful flowering cherry, Paulownia, Crinodendron, and Catalpa, and leads down to the double tennis courts which in turn leads to the water garden. Started in 1963 by Peter and Irene Roche and planted under the embankment of the old New Ross to Macmine Junction Railway, the water garden is a tranquil haven of shade and water-loving plants: ferns, hostas, Arisarum proboscideum (the fetching mouse plant), Clematis, Astilbe and trilliums, as well as Cornus controversa and others. A series of dropping pools are shaded by majestic oaks and a Metasequoia glyptostroboides (the dawn redwood). 

The Victorian walled garden at the rear of the house is 0.5 hectares in size with conservatories, vegetable garden, fruit trees, herbaceous borders and lawn. A striking feature of the garden is the original box hedging proudly maintained by the present owner and enclosing different plantings. First to feature in spring is a Magnolia soulangeana followed by a spring border of snowdrops, crocus & narcissi. 

In May the iris border comes into full bloom, a nearby bed is devoted to blue flowering plants including Chatham Island forget-me-not (Myositidium hortensia). Later the roses present a striking and colourful display contrasting with the box hedging while the reds, yellows and oranges of later summer put in an appearance. Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ flowers in the contemplative garden, a sunny corner and vantage point. 

This is a plantsman’s garden and also a most productive vegetable patch providing an abundant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the household. The greenhouses designed by Messenger and built by P J Roche in the 1880’s house grapevines, peaches and nectarines as well as exotic and tender flowers plumbago, red and white nerines, vines and an old asparagus fern. A large bed of Crambe maritima (seakale) beloved of the Victorians is maintained as are beds of globe artichoke and asparagus. 

The garden was extensively planted with several varieties of apple, pear and cherry, which carefully pruned and espaliered on frames and against the walls of this sunny garden, provide visual structure and a rich harvest.

The dairy walk, so called because in the past it was the route taken from farmyard to the dairy in the basement of the house, features a blaze of Embothrium coccineum flowering vigorously in May following on witch hazel (Hamamalis mollis), rhododendrons, camellias and azaelias producing spectactular and colourful effects in early summer.

Places to Stay, County Wexford

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

Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.artramon-farm.com/english/welcome

Mark Bence-Jones writes: p. 12. “(Le Hunte/LGI 1912; Neave, Bt/Pb) A late C18 house, remodelled after being burnt 1923. 2 storey; entrance front with pediment of which the peak is level with the coping of the parapet, and the base is well below the level of the main cornice. In the breakfront central feature below the pediment are two windows and a tripartite Venetian doorway; two bays on either side of the central feature.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt 1928-32, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay two-storey pedimented breakfront; seven-bay two-storey side (west) elevation… “A country house erected for Richard “Dick” Richards (Wexford County Council 17th June 1927) to a design by Patrick Joseph Brady (d. 1936) of Ballyhaise, County Cavan (Irish Builder 1928, 602), representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of an eighteenth-century house destroyed (1923) during “The Troubles” (1919-23), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with ‘fine views of the estuary, harbour and town of Wexford’ as a backdrop (Fraser 1844, 118); the symmetrical frontage centred on a curiously compressed breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic parapeted roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; reclaimed Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); and a substantial walled garden (extant 1840), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Le Hunte family including Captain George Le Hunte (d. 1799); William Augustus Le Hunte (1774-1820), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1817); George Le Hunte (1814-91), ‘late of Artramont [sic] County Waterford [sic]’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations (1892, 481); and the largely absentee Sir George Ruthven Le Hunte KCMG (1852-1925), one-time Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Trinidad and Tobago (fl. 1908-15); and Major Sir Arundell Thomas Clifton Neave (1916-92), sixth Baronet.

Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford – one wing rental.

http://ballytrenthouse.com 

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Ballytrent (1988):

p. 28. “Redmond/Hughes. A two storey Georgian house, 5 bays, projecting ends, each with a Wyatt window in both storeys. Adamesque plasterwork. Home of John Redmond MP, leader of Irish Parliamentary Party.” 

The website tells us:

Welcome to the Ballytrent website. Visitors to Wexford seeking a quiet, secluded location,could not choose a better location than Ballytrent. Ballytrent is a magnificent 18th century heritage house set in extensive grounds overlooking the sea towards Tuskar Rock Lighthouse. 

In the grounds of the house is located a Ráth or earthen mound dating back to prechristian times and, measuring 650 yards in circumference, is reputed to be the largest in Europe. The grounds also contain a large flag pole that was once the tallest mast in the British Isles. The Rath garden is a haven for songbirds & a visit, either early morning or late evening, is pure magic! 

Ballytrent is tranquil and secluded. The garden & lawns cover three acres and include some rare plants. Our farm is a mix of cattle, cereals and root crops. We extend a warm welcome to those interested in visiting the farm. We are fortunate in having the best weather in Ireland – the annual rainfall is approximately 35 inches and each year the Weather Station at Rosslare records the highest mean sunshine hours. We are indeed the Sunny South East ! 

Ballytrent House, 
Ballytrent, 
Rosslare Harbour, 
Co. Wexford, 
Ireland. 

Telephone/Fax: 053 91 31147 
Email: jepryan@eircom.net 

Situated in St Helen’s E.D., Ballytrent, with its double ringed ráth, is an 18th century  home set in extensive ground. The history of Ballytrent is a collection of works and illustrations put together after several years  of research by Mary Stratton Ryan, wife of the present owner, James Power Ryan. 

A brief look at this work could keep the most avid historian content for quite a while. It is from this book that the following list of names and facts are taken,  all having connections to Ballytrent. 

  • Aymer De Valance; Earl of Pembroke, buried in Westminster Abbey, London. 
  • Robert Fitzstephens; Ballytrent bestowed on him by Strongbow. 
  • John le Boteller (Butler); Constable of the Kings Castle at Ballytrent. 
  • John Sinnot; Listed as a Juror of the Inquisition at Wexford (c1420). 
  • Patrick Synnot; In a 1656 Curl Survey of Ireland shown as owner of 96 acres 24 perches at Ballytrent. 
  • Abraham Deane; Given Ballytrent by Cromwell. 
  • Sarah Hughes; Daughter of Abraham Deane. 
  • Walter Redmond; Purchased Ballytrent from Henry Hughes. 
  • William Archer Redmond MP; Father of John and William – both also MP’s. 
  • John Edward Redmond MP; Represented North Wexford, succeeded Parnell as leader of the Nationalist Party. 
  • William Hoey Kearney Redmond MP; MP for Wexford and Fermanagh. 
  • John H. Talbot (the younger);  Inherited Ballytrent from his sister Matilda Seagrave. 
  • William Ryan; Grandson of Sir James Power. Purchased Ballytrent from Emily Talbot (nee Considine). 
  • James Edward Power Ryan; Present owner and grandson of William Ryan. 

This clearly illustrates the influence and power that is part of the documented history of Ballytrent, without even considering the possibilities of the time when the ráth was in its prime.”

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

http://oldboleywexford.com

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

http://berkeleyforesthouse.com 

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

http://www.butlerstowncastle.com/  

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation 

https://clonganny.com/

The website tells us: “Clonganny House is a fine country Georgian residence originally erected for Hawtry White (1758-1837) and sympathetically restored in the late twentieth century. Retaining many original features, Clonganny is a fine example of late Georgian architecture. Set in eight acres embracing gently rolling lawns, serene woodland, and a stunning walled garden, Clonganny House is only a short drive to a beautiful, award winning coastline and miles of golden sandy beaches.

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation 

WWW.DUNBRODYHOUSE.COM 

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 114. “(Chichester, Templemore, B/PB; and Donegall, M/PB) A pleasant, comfortable unassuming house of ca 1860 which from its appearance might be a C20 house of vaguely Queen Anne flavour. Two storey, five bay centre, with middle bay breaking forward and three-sided single-storey central bow; two bay projecting ends. Moderately high roof on bracket cornice; windows with cambered heads and astragals. Wyatt windows in side elevation.” 

The National Inventory tells us:

nine-bay two-storey country house with dormer attic, extant 1819, on an E-shaped plan with two-bay two-storey advanced end bays centred on single-bay two-storey breakfront originally single-bay three-storey on a rectangular plan. “Improved”, 1909-10, producing present composition…A country house erected by Lord Spencer Stanley Chichester (1775-1819) representing an integral component of the domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one sometimes known as “Dunbrody Park” (Lacy 1863, 516) or “Harriet’s Lodge” after Lady Anne Harriet Chichester (née Stewart) (c.1770-1850), suggested by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with Waterford Harbour as a backdrop; the near-symmetrical frontage centred on a truncated breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the decorative timber work embellishing the roofline: meanwhile, a photograph (30th August 1910) by A.H. Poole of Waterford captures recent “improvements” to the country house with those works ‘[presenting the] appearance [of] a twentieth-century house of vaguely “Queen Anne” flavour’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 114). Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original or sympathetically replicated fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); a private burial ground; and distant gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Barons Templemore including Henry “Harry” Spencer Chichester (1821-1906), second Baron Templemore ‘late of Great Cumberland-place Middlesex’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1907, 508); Arthur Henry Chichester (1854-1924), third Baron Templemore; Arthur Claud Spencer Chichester (1880-1953), fourth Baron Templemore; and Dermot Richard Claud Chichester (1916-2007), fifth Baron Templemore.

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

https://www.fruithillcottages.com/

Set in the landscaped grounds of 18th Century Fruit Hill House, these traditional self-catering farm cottages make an ideal base for touring South-East Ireland.

9. Hyde Park House (or Tara House),Gorey, Co Wexford- accommodation 

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

The Hidden Ireland description tells us:

Designed by Sir Richard Morrison and built in 1807, the house is a listed building, featuring fine plasterwork and a magnificent cantilevered stairs. Having been lovingly restored over five years the house now boasts beautiful large comfortable bedrooms with well appointed en-suite bathrooms and immaculate bed linen and towels. Guests can relax in the drawing room and sit under the great Holm oaks.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 271. “(Beauman/LG1886; Kelly/LGI1958) A compact two storey villa by Richard Morrison, built ca 1807 for J.C. Beauman. Three bay front, with slightly recessed centre; single storey Doric portico, Wyatt window under relieving arch on either side. Wide-eaved roof. Very good interior plasterwork by James Talbot. Impressive domed staircase hall with oval oculus; the dome beign without pendentives, but restign directly on the cornice. Keyhole pattern in plasterwork on soffit of stairs. For some years the home of Sir David Kelly, former British Ambassador to Russia, and his wife, the writer on travel, architecture and gardens, Marie-Noele Kelly.” 

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

Detached three-bay (three-bay deep) two-storey over basement country house, designed 1803; built 1807, on a square plan centred on (single-storey) prostyle tetrastyle Doric portico to ground floor; six-bay full-height rear (north) elevation….A country house erected to a design (1803) by Sir Richard Morrison (1767-1844) of Clonmel and Dublin representing an important component of the early nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of north County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one recalling the Morrison-designed Bearforest (1807-8) in County Cork; and Kilpeacon House (1810) in County Limerick, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas ‘commanding a fine view of the sea [and] of the escarpment of Tara Hill’ (Lewis 1837 II, 99); the compact near-square plan form centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the dramatic diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated tiered visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by Wyatt-style tripartite glazing patterns; and the timber work embellishing a slightly oversailing roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork attributed to James Talbot (fl. 1801-18) of Dublin (DIA), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent farmyard complex; and a walled garden, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Beauman family including John Christopher Beauman Senior (1764-1836), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1821); John Christopher Beauman Junior (1800-72); Matthew Forde Beauman (1805-72) ‘late of Hyde Park [sic] near Gorey County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1873, 32); and Jane Emily Beauman (1844-1920), ‘Landowner’ (NA 1901; NA 1911; Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1920, n.p.); and Sir David Victor Kelly GCMG MC (1891-1959), one-time British Ambassador to Argentina (fl. 1942-6) and the Soviet Union (fl. 1949-51).”

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie: central hall on a square plan retaining tessellated flagged floor, and dentilated plasterwork cornice to coved ceiling.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie. Top-lit double-height staircase hall (north) on a rectangular plan retaining carved timber surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors, “Greek Key”-detailed cantilevered staircase on a dog leg plan with fluted balusters supporting carved timber banister terminating in volute.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

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

11. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

https://killianecastle.com/

The website tells us: “The castle history is a remarkable tale of survival. Killiane Castle, a landmark in this cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East, has been in the Mernagh family for over one hundred years. However, its origins date back to medieval times to the Norman conquests and possibly even further to the early Irish settlers 500 years ago. 

The name ‘Killiane’ derives from ‘Cill Liadhaine’ in Gaelic, meaning the church of St Leonard which lies within the grounds of the Castle. 

Medieval Times 

Pre-dating the castle history, it is likely that there was some form of native Irish settlement here before the Normans. However, the first recorded owner of the lands was Richard de Hay in the 13th century. Richard de Hay came over with Fitzstephen in the first Norman invasion. 

The Norman tower house is approximately 50ft high and measures 39ft x 27ft externally. The walls are between 4ft and 9ft in thick.  The Normans built the tower around 1470. It is most likely one of the “£10 castles”.  King Henry VIII awarded a grant of £10 for the building of fortresses in his kingdom that became known as the “£10 castles”.  In recent years, an Australian visitor brought us a photo of the original deeds for Killiane Castle signed by King Henry VIII no less! 

Thomas Hay, a descendant of Richard, probably built the tower in the late 15th century c.1470. The present castle and surrounding walls bear testimony to the building genius of the Normans, over 500 years old and quite sound!  Built in a prominent position, the tower most likely overlooked a harbour. However, in the intervening years, reclaimed land replaced the harbour.  The surrounding lands feature a canal, slob lands and slightly further down the coast, Rosslare strand. 

Local Legend… 

Legend has it that below the ground floor underneath the stair way is a dungeon leading to a passageway to a doorway that no longer exists. 

In the early 16th century c.1520, Killiane passed to the Cheevers family by marriage. They continued to fortify the site. By 1543 one Howard Cheevers held Killiane, 2000 acres of land and the office of Mayor of Wexford. The ‘Laughing Cheevers’, as they were then known, held prominence in Wexford for another 100 years until the great rebellion. They built the house sometime in the early 17th century. 

The 17th century was a tumultuous part of the castle history. George Cheevers took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. He played a role in both the Siege of Duncannon, and the Confederation of Kilkenny. Following the Sacking of Wexford, Cromwell dispossessed him for his part in these rebellions. Georges son, Didicus, was a blind Franciscan monk. Infamously, several clergy were murdered in Wexford town’s Bullring at this time. Didicus was one of them. Sent to Connaught by Cromwell, the Cheevers family left Killiane. Just a few remained as tenants. The last of the them, an old man, who died in 1849. 

Nearby stands the ruins of the small medieval church of Saint Helen which was in ruins by 1835. Enclosed by a wall is the adjoining cemetery. It is reputed to be the burial place of the Cheevers family. 

Cromwell’s Rule 

In 1656 the property, along with 1500 acres, was granted to one of Cromwell’s soldiers, a Colonel Bunbury.  He sold it on to his friends, the Harveys of Lyme Regis. The first of these, Francis Harvey, became MP for Clonmines and Mayor of Wexford, positions his son John also held.  A famous beauty known as the Rose of Killiane, a daughter of the Harveys, married the Dean of Dublin in 1809. 

Victorian Times 

As time went by, the Harveys increasingly became absentee landlords. They leased the land to their tenants. Both the condition of the castle and the size of the estate materially diminished during this dark time in the castle hsitory. 

Throughout the 19th century there are references to tenants ‘Aylward’, ‘Elard’ and ‘Ellard’, possibly all the one family. By this time, the Harveys overwintered in their townhouse in Wexford at 38 Selskar Street. The family considered Killiane Castle too damp to stay at in winter. 

In 1908 Crown Solicitor, Kennan Cooper, bought the property for £1515. Cooper, a renowned character, kept racehorses and the 1911 census shows Killiane occupied by his tenant, George Grant and family. The census records Grant’s occupation as a ‘Horse trainer/jockey’. 

In 1920 John Mernagh, father of Jack the present owner, bought Killiane with 230 acres for £2000. At that time there was no roof on the tower-house. Ivy covered it. John re-roofed it and used it to store grain and potatoes.  Today the castle is home to Jack & Kathleen Mernagh who run the property along with their son Paul & his wife Patrycja and their family. 

The Structure of the Building  

Original Norman Features  

The castle still contains one original window that dates from the 15th century.  The original window is an ogee style window featuring two lights. Over the years, incumbents replaced the other windows. The main entrance to the castle was originally on the east side. It provided an adjoining door to the house at one time. The original door is bricked-up. On the south side of the tower a new door has been opened. 

Murder Holes! 

Looking at the front of the castle. There are murder holes over each of the doors on the ground floor. Perfectly located to pour hot tar over any unwelcome visitors!  This practice, we assure you, is not in place today! 

The third floor contains a fine granite fireplace. Small smooth stones from the beach line the chimney rising on the outer wall. Also in evidence on this floor, is a cupboard recess. 

Corrugated iron replaced the original slate roof. The parapet consists of large sloping slabs. The battlements are of the steeply stepped type. There is a square turret on each corner. On the outside of the southern turret is a carved head. 

The large bawn has a round tower on the south east corner and a square tower on the south west corner, castle occupying the north west corner. The north east tower has been removed. In order to accommodate the facade of the house, the northern apron wall was taken down. 

Original 17th Century House 

The original 17th century house consisted of two storeys with a garret on top. The incumbents raised the roof at a date unknown to us.  This action incorporated the original dormer windows of the garrets,

converting it into a third storey. Furthermore, they also reduced the great slant on the original 17th-century roof. 

The staircase of the house is of a simple very wide design, typical of the 17th century. 

12. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

WWW.MARLFIELDHOUSE.COM 

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Marlfield (1988):

Supplement 

P. 299. (Stopford, Courtown, E/PB) “A three storey Regency house of random stone with brick facings; four bay front with two bay breakfront centre, eaved roof on bracket cornice, massive chimneystacks. Originally the dower house of the [Stopford] Earls of Courtown, it eventually replaced Courtown House as their Irish seat. Sold in 1979 to Mary Bowe, who has opened it as an hotel. As an extension to the dining room, a veranda and an elegant curvilinear conservatory were added to the front of the house 1983; the architects of this addition being Messrs Cochrane, Flynn-Rogers and Williams.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is a four-bay (two-bay deep) three-storey land agent’s house, built 1852, on a T-shaped plan; four-bay three-storey rear (south) elevation centred on two-bay full-height breakfront. Occupied, 1901; 1911. In occasional use, 1916-75. Vacated, 1975. Sold, 1977. Modified, 1989, producing present composition to accommodate continued alternative use… “A land agent’s house erected by James Thomas Stopford (1794-1858), fourth Earl of Courtown (Walsh 1996, 68), representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of the outskirts of Gorey with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding an adjacent house occupied by Reverend James Bentley Gordon (1750-1819), author of “History of the Rebellion in Ireland in the Year 1798” (1803), confirmed by such attributes as the compact plan form centred on a much-modified doorcase; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by vibrant red brick dressings producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic timber work embellishing the roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including some crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and the decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1904); a walled garden (extant 1904); and a nearby gate lodge (see 15700718), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a self-contained estate having historic connections with Colonel Robert Owen (1784-1867) and Charlotte Owen (1796-1853) ‘late of Marlfield County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1870, 447); and the Stopford family following the sale (1947) and demolition (1948-9) of Courtown House (see 15701216) including James Walter Milles Stopford (1853-1933), sixth Earl of Courtown; Major James Richard Neville Stopford DL OBE (1877-1957), seventh Earl of Courtown; and Brevet Colonel James Montagu Burgoyne Stopford OBE (1908-75), eighth Earl of Courtown.

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

https://www.monart.ie/

Monart Spa Wexford Annica Jansson 2016, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

Nestled in over 100 acres of lush countryside in County Wexford, Monart offers two types of accommodation, 68 deluxe bedrooms with lake or woodland views and two luxurious suites located in the 18th century Monart House.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 208. “Cookman/IFR) A three storey mid-C18 house of sandstone and limestone dressings Five bay front with breakfront centre; Venetian windows in centre of middle storey, with Diocletian windows over it; modified Gibbsian doorcase. Later additions.”

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Edward Cookman JP (d. 1774), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1763), representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, ‘a handsome mansion pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence above the Urrin [River] in a highly improved and richly wooded demesne’ (Lewis 1837 II, 385), confirmed by such attributes as the neo-Palladian plan form centred on a Classically-detailed breakfront; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by silver-grey granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. Having been sympathetically restored following a prolonged period of unoccupancy in the later twentieth century, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and “bas-relief” plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of a country house having historic connections with the Cookman family including Nathaniel Cookman (—-); Edward Rogers Cookman JP (1788-1865) ‘late of Monart House in the County of Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1865, 70); Nathaniel Narcissus Cookman JP DL (1827-1908), ‘Country Gentleman late of Monart House Enniscorthy County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1908, 96; cf. 15701922); and Captain Nathaniel Edward Rogers Cookman JP DL (1894-1983); and a succession of tenants including Lowry Cliffe Tottenham (1858-1937), ‘Gentleman [and] District Inspector of Royal Irish Constabulary’ (NA 1911).” 

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

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/18288598?source_impression_id=p3_1646906004_9dSSY0tDTw%2FmQ8TE

The delightful Rathaspeck gate lodge, County Wexford, available for accommodatino on airbnb.

and Manor https://www.rathaspeckmanor.ie

The website tells us:

Rathaspeck Manor Georgian House Wexford was built between 1680-1720 by the Codd Family who came to Ireland circa 1169. William Codd’s son Sir Osborne Codd settled at Rathaspeck and erected a castle there in 1351. 

A descendant Loftus Codd was succeeded by daughters, one of whom, Jane Codd, married Thomas Richards. The Richards Family came to Ireland in 1570 approx. It was this marriage which placed Rathaspeck in the Richards Family. 

Jane and Thomas had 6 sons and 2 daughters. The eldest son Thomas, born 1722 had a Family of two daughters, the oldest Martha married Count Willimsdorf from the Kingdom of Hannover in 1802. This couple had one son , Thomas William Fredrick Von Preberton Willimsdorf who died in 1834 unmarried. There were also three daughters, one of whom Elizabeth , born in 1778 , died in 1863 in Holland. 

Elizabeth married Count Von Leinburg Slirrin on April 15th 1802 and they proceeded to have a Family of ten children born between 1803 and 1820 . It is believed that sometime after this the family moved to Holland. Rathaspeck was in the hands of an English Family called Moody after this until the early 1900’s. The Moody built the present gate lodge – or “Doll’s House” in 1900. 

The Meyler Family came to Rathaspeck in 1911 when it was offered for sale and it was from the Meyler Family that the Manor passed to the Cuddihy Family. 

The site of the original Castle is unknown, but it is considered that the present Rathaspeck Manor Georgian Country Home, Ireland is built on the site. 

“Rath” means Fort , so the name of Rathaspeck stems from the Gaelic Ratheasbuig , meaning “Fort of the Bishop”. 

15. Riverbank House Hotel, The Bridge, Wexford, Ireland Y35 AH33 https://www.riverbankhousehotel.com

16. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – accommodation https://rosegarlandestate.ie/

Photograph from Mark Bence-Jones (1988).

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 245. “(Synnott/IFR; Leigh/IFR) An early C18 house of two storeys over a high basement was built by Leigh family, close to an old tower house of the Synnotts, the original owners of the estate. Later in C18, a larger two storey gable-ended range was added at right angles to the earlier building, giving the house a new seven bay front, with a very elegant columned and fanlighted doorway, in which the delicately leaded fanlight extends over the door and the sidelights. There is resemblance between this doorway and that of William Morris’s town house in Waterford (now the Chamber of Commerce) which is attributed to the Waterford architect, John  Roberts; the fact is that it is also possible to see a resemblance between the gracefully curving and cantilevered top-lit staircase at Rosegarland – which is separated from the entrance hall by a doorway with an internal fanlight – and the staircase of the Morris house, would suggest that the newer range at Rosegarland and the Morris house are by the same architect. At the back of the house, the two ranges form a corner of a large and impressive office courtyard, one side of which has a pediment and a Venetian window. In another corner of the courtyard stands the old Synnott tower house, which, in C19, was decorated with little battlemented turrets and a tall and slender turret like a folly tower, with battlements and rectangular and pointed openings; this fantasy rises above the front of the house. The early C18 range contains a contemporary stair of good joinery, with panelling curved to reflect the curve of the handrail. The drawing room, in the later range, has a cornice of early C19 plasterowrk and an elaborately carved chimneypiece of white marble. The dining room, also in this range, was redecorated ca 1874, and given a timber ceiling and a carved oak chimneypiece.” 

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Robert Leigh MP (1729-1803) representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one attributable with near certainty to John Roberts (1712-96) of Waterford, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds and the meandering Corock River; the symmetrical footprint centred on a Classically-detailed doorcase not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also showing a pretty fanlight; and the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression. A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior including not only crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames, but also a partial slate hung surface finish widely regarded as an increasingly endangered hallmark of the architectural heritage of County Wexford: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; ‘elaborately carved chimneypieces of white marble’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 246); plasterwork enrichments; and a top-lit staircase recalling the Roberts-designed Morris House [Chamber of Commerce] in neighbouring Waterford (Craig and Garner 1975, 68), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent stable complex (see 15704041); a walled garden (see 15704042); a nearby farmyard complex (extant 1902; coordinates 685132,615236); and a distant gate lodge (extant 1840; coordinates 685381,616928), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having long-standing connections with the Leigh family including Francis Robert Leigh MP (1758-1839); Francis Augustine Leigh (1822-1900), ‘late of Rosegarland County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1900, 277); Francis Robert Leigh DL (1853-1916), ‘late of Rosegarland Wellington Bridge County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1916, 371); Francis Edward Leigh (1907-2003); and Robert Edward Francis Leigh (1937-2005).

17. Wells House, County Wexfordself-catering cottage accommodation, see above

https://wellshouse.ie/self-catering-accommodation-wexford 

18. Wilton Castle, Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Sean Windsor
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Tel: 053-9247738
www.wiltoncastleireland.com
Open: all year

See my write-up: www.irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/04/wilton-castle-bree-enniscorthy-co-wexford-and-a-trip-to-johnstown-castle/

19. Woodbrook House, Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Giles Fitzherbert
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
053-9255114
www.woodbrookhouse.ie
Open April 1-October 31

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

Nestling beneath the Backstairs Mountains near Enniscorthy in County Wexford, Woodbrook, which was first built in the 1770s, was occupied by a group of local rebels during the 1798 rebellion. Allegedly the leader was John Kelly, the ‘giant with the gold curling hair’ in the well known song ‘The Boy from Killanne’. It is said that Kelly made a will leaving Woodbrook to his sons but he was hanged on Wexford bridge, along with many others after the rebels defeat at Vinegar Hill. He was later given an imposing monument in nearby Killanne cemetery. 

Arthur Jacob, who originally came from Enniscorthy and became Archdeacon of Armagh, built Woodbrook for his daughter Susan, who had married Captain William Blacker, a younger son of the family at Carrigblacker near Portadown. The house was badly knocked about by the rebels and substantially rebuilt in about 1820 as a regular three storey Regency pile with overhanging eaves, a correct Ionic porch surmounted by a balcony and three bays of unusually large Wyatt windows on each floor of the facade.

The drawing room is exceptionally large, with a fine chimneypiece thought to have come from the original house, while the amazing ‘flying’ staircase stands in the centre of a square double-height hall without touching the walls at any point. Each timber tread must have been individually fashioned by an especially skilled craftsman, and the staircase is knitted together by iron balusters which connect the treads. A remarkable tour de force of the joiner’s art, its closest parallel is the staircase at Chevening in Kent. 

The Woodbrook branch of the family inherited Carrickblacker, an important late-seventeenth century house outside Portadown, when the senior line died out in the 1850s and produced a stolid series of soldiers, sailors and clerics. A racier era began in Edwardian times when Woodbrook was home to a younger son, Edward Carew Blacker, a sporting bachelor whose weekly visits to London were necessitated by his close involvement in running the book at his club, Whites.

Edward usually found time to visit his mistress in Brighton before heading home to County Wexford but her presence was quite unsuspected until shortly after his death when his nephew’s family received a heavy parcel in the morning post. The package proved to contain the family jewels, presented piece by piece to his lady friend throughout their long association. She had always realised that they were not his to give away but felt unable to return them during his lifetime for fear of appearing ungrateful and causing him hurt. 

Woodbrook lay empty for some years after E. C. Blacker’s death in 1932. The house was occupied by the Irish army during the Second World War and was then extensively modernised when his nephew Robert moved back to County Wexford with his wife and family after the sale of Carrickblacker in the 1950s. Eventually sold in the mid 1990s, Woodbrook and the remains of a once substantial estate was bought by Giles and Alexandra FitzHerbert in 1998. They continue to live in the house with their family today.https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Woodbrook

20. Woodlands Country House, Killinierin, County Wexford B&B https://www.woodlandscountryhouse.com

Relax in comfortable old world charm in the heart of the Wexford Countryside at Woodlands Country House, a magnificently well preserved Georgian House with beautiful antiques. It is a charming and intimate place to relax, where fine food and furnishings are matched by warm and impeccable service that says you are special.

Woodlands Country House Bed & Breakfast is ideally situated near the market town of Gorey and the picturesque seaside resort of Courtown Harbour on the Wexford/Wicklow border in South East Ireland. The Country House B&B is only 1 hour from Dublin off the M11 making it an ideal location for touring the South East of Ireland.

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

Whole House rental County Wexford:

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

www.ballinkeele.ie

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

In the first quarter of the 19th century the Maher family, who were famous for their hunting and racing exploits in County Tipperary, moved to County Wexford. They purchased Ballinkeele, near Enniscorthy, from the Hay family, one of whose members had been hanged for rebellion on Wexford bridge in 1798. John Maher, MP for County Wexford, began work on a new house in 1840 and Ballinkeele is one of Daniel Robertson’s few houses in the classical taste. The other was Lord Carew’s magnificent Castleboro, on the opposite side of the River Slaney, sadly burnt by the IRA in 1922 and now a spectacular ruin.   

The house is comprised of a ground floor and a single upper storey, with a long, slightly lower, service wing to one side in lieu of a basement. The facades are rendered with cut-granite decoration, including a grandiose central porch, supported by six Tuscan columns and surmounted by an elaborate balustrade, which projects to form a porte cochère.

The garden front has a central breakfront with a shallow bow, flanked by wide piers of rusticated granite. These are repeated at each corner as coigns.

The interior is classical, with baroque overtones, and is largely unaltered with most of its original contents. The hall runs from left to right and is consequently lit from one side, with a screen of scagliola Corinthian columns at one end and an elaborate cast-iron stove at the other.

The library and drawing room both have splendid chimneypieces of inlaid marble in the manner of Pietro Bossi, while the fine suite of interconnecting rooms on the garden front open onto a raised terrace.  

The staircase hall has a spectacularly cantilevered stone staircase, with decorative metal balusters. As it approaches the ground floor the swooping mahogany handrail wraps itself around a Tuscan column supporting a bronze statue of Mercury, in a style that anticipates Art Nouveau by more than forty years.

Outside, two avenues approach the house, one which provides a glimpse of a ruined keep reflected in an artificial lake, while both entrances were built to Robertson’s designs.

The present owners are Valentine and Laura Maher who live at Ballinkeele with their children.” [ https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Ballinkeele ]

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

https://www.horetownhouse.ie/

The website tells us:

Horetown House is a private country house wedding venue in County Wexford in the South-East corner of Ireland. Situated among rolling hills in the heart of rural Wexford, Horetown House is the perfect venue for a stylish, laid back wedding. Our charming country house is yours exclusively for the duration of your stay with us.

Family owned and run, we can take care of everything from delicious food, bedrooms and Shepherds huts, to a fully licensed pub in the cellar. Horetown House is perfect for couples looking for something a little bit different, your very own country house to create your dream wedding.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 155. “(Davis-Goff, Bt/PB) A three storey Georgian house. Front with two bays on either side of a recessed centre. Triple windows in centre and pillared portico joining the two projections.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is:

A country house erected to designs signed (1843) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA; NLI) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding a seventeenth-century house (1693) annotated as “Hoarstown [of] Goff Esquire” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 149), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; restrained chimneypieces; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, a nearby quadrangle erected (1846) by ‘S.D. Goff Esq Architect [and] Johnson Builder’ continues to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Goff family including Strangman Davis Goff (né Davis) (1810-83) ‘late of Horetown House County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1883, 318); and Sir William Goff Davis Goff (1838-1918) of Glenville, County Waterford; a succession of tenants including Joseph Russell Morris (NA 1901) and Edward Naim Townsend (NA 1911); and Major Michael Lawrence Lakin DSO (1881-1960) and Kathleen Lakin (née FitzGerald) (1892-30) of Johnstown Castle.”

Wicklow:

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

Altidore, County Wicklow, June 2019.

see my write-up:

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

2. Avondale House, County Wicklow

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballymurrin, County Wicklow, July 2019.

see my write-up:

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

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

Castle Howard, County Wicklow, September 2019.

See my entry:

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

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

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

Charleville, County Wicklow, August 2020.

See my entry:

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

Fee: house €9, garden €6

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

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

Admission €8.

Open other times by appointment only.

No pets allowed.

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Festina Lente Gardens, Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, Wicklow

Tel: +353 (0) 1 272 0704 

Email: gardens@festinalente.ie 

Web: www.festinalente.ie 

The Festina Lente non-profit Walled Victorian Gardens are one of the largest working Victorian Walled Garden in Ireland and contains many beautiful features and stunning fauna and flora. 

The Ornamental Formal Garden, Pool Garden & Kitchen Garden have been restored all within the original Victorian walls from 1780’s. 

Opening Hours 

All year round. 
Mon – Fri 9 – 5 pm 
Saturday 9.30 – 6 pm 
Sun: 11 – 6 pm 
Closed Christmas Week 

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

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

10. Huntingbrook, County Wicklow – gardens open to public 

https://www.huntingbrookgardens.com

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

Hours
Wednesday – Saturday
11am–4pm

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

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

Killruddery, County Wicklow, April 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. 1 Martello Terrace, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow – section 482

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

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

Fee: Free

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

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

Mount Usher, County Wicklow, June 2021.

See my entry

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

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

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

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

See my entry:

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

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

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

See my entry:

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

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

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

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

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

20. Trudder Grange, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow – gardens open, by appointment only

https://www.dublingardengroup.com/trudder-grange/

Vanessa Hayes
Address
: Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, A63 FD28
Tel
: +353 1 2819422
Mobile: +353 0 87 418 7616

€5.00 per person Tea/coffee and biscuits available by arrangement (€3 per person)

Approached by an avenue of 200 year old beech trees Trudder Grange garden has developed over the last 30 years from a stony field into a garden full of shrubs and herbaceous borders, an organic vegetable garden and with a greenhouse producing many varieties of tomatoes. There is an acre of wild flower meadow in the walled garden which is planted with unusual specimen trees. Close to the sea, many tender plants grow in this very sheltered garden.

21. Warbel Bank gardens, Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow 

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/59/warbel+bank/

Contact: Anne Condel 

Tel: +353 (0) 1 281 9298 

Email: warbelbank@yahoo.ie 

Web: www.warblebankgarden.com 

Places to stay, County Wicklow:

1. Ballyknocken House, Ashford, County Wicklow

www.ballyknocken.ie

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

www.belairhotelequestrian.com 

The website tells us:

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

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

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

4. Brook Lodge and Macreddin Village, County Wicklow

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

The website tells us:

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

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

5. Clone House, Count Wicklow

https://clonehouse.com

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

https://croneybyrne.ie

The website tells us:

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

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

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

https://www.druidsglenresort.com

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

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

The National Inventory tells us:

Detached five-bay three-storey over basement former country house, built in 1770, now in use as a hotel / country club. The original house was probably to designs by Robert West the eminent Irish stuccodore. Two-storey wing additions added in c.1830 to designs by Sir Richard Morrison. There are later additions to the rear elevation. The walls are finished in painted lined render. A short flight of stone steps rises to the front door; it has a four-pane fanlight and is flat-headed. This is set within a projecting portico with Ionic columns. Window openings are flat-headed and have moulded surrounds; those to the piano nobile also have blocking courses and projecting cornice. The hipped roof is finished with natural slate and cast-iron rainwater goods. Chimneystacks are rendered with plain caps and clay pots. Much of the late Georgian interior has been retained; this includes rococo plaster work to the hallway, the original stair and fireplaces to principal rooms. The building is set within a large demesne which is now in use as a golf course.” [6]

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

http://www.juneblake.ie/cms/ 

9. Rathsallagh, County Wicklow – accommodation €€

Rathsallagh, photograph courtesy of Rathsallagh House.

www.rathsallagh.com

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

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

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

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

10. Summerhill House Hotel, County Wicklow €€

https://summerhillhousehotel.com

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

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

https://tinakilly.ie 

The website tells us:

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

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

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

The website gives us the history:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Tulfarris, Blessington, Co Wicklow - hotel 

www.tulfarrishotel.com

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

The website tells us of the history of the house:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15603115/enniscorthy-castle-castle-hill-enniscorthy-enniscorthy-wexford

[4] https://www.archiseek.com/2014/johnstown-castle-county-wexford/

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15704226/johnstown-castle-johnstown-fo-by-wexford

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

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

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.

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

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

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

Kildare:

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

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

3. Castletown House, County Kildare – OPW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare – OPW

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

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

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

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

Places to stay, County Kildare:

1. Balyna, Moyvalley, Co Kildare – Moyvalley Hotel 

2. Barberstown Castle, Kildare – hotel 

3. Batty Langley Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare €€

4. Burtown House holiday cottages

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

6. Castletown Gate Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare: Irish Landmark € for 3

7. Castletown Round House, Celbridge, County Kildare: Irish Landmark € for 3-6 

8. The Cliff at Lyons, County Kildare

9. The K Club, Straffan House, County Kildare

10. Kilkea Castle, Castledermot, Kildare – hotel 

11. Leixlip Manor hotel (formerly St. Catherine’s Park) Leixlip, Co Kildare

12. Martinstown House, Kilcullen, Co Kildare – accommodation  

13. Moone Abbey, County Kildare holiday cottages

Whole house accommodation in County Kildare:

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

2. Firmount, Clane, County Kildare – whole house or weddings.

3. Griesemount House, County Kildare

Kilkenny:

1. Aylwardstown, Glenmore, Co Kilkenny – section 482 

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

3. Creamery House, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny – 482 

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

5. Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny – OPW

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

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

8. Rothe House, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny  

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

10. Tybroughney Castle, Piltown, Co Kilkenny – 482 

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

Places to stay, County Kilkenny

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

2. Blanchville Coachyard, Dunbell, County Kilkenny €

3. Butler House, Kilkenny, co Kilkenny – accommodation 

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

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

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

7.  Mount Juliet, Thomastown, County Kilkenny – hotel 

8. Shankill Castle, Co Kilkenny

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

10. Waterside Guest House, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny

Whole House Rental County Kilkenny:

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

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

3. Castle Blunden, County Kilkenny – whole house accommodation

Laois:

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

2. Ballintubbert House and Gardens, Stradbally, Co Laois – gardens sometimes open to public 

3. Gardens at Castle Durrow, County Laois

4. Clonohill Gardens, Coolrain, Portlaoise, Laois

5. Emo Court, County Laois – OPW

6. Heywood Gardens, County Laois – OPW

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

Places to Stay, County Laois:

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

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

3. Castle Durrow, Co Laois a hotel 

4. Coolanowle Country House, Ballickmoyler, County Laois

5. Roundwood, Mountrath, Co Laois – guest house

and the forge and writer’s cottage at Roundwood

Whole House Rental County Laois:

1. Ballintubbert House, County Laois – whole house and weddings

2. Preston House, Abbeyleix, County Laois – whole house accommodation

Kildare

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

Blackhall Castle, County Kildare.

See my entry:

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

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

Burtown House, County Kildare, June 2021.

contact: James Fennell
Tel: 059-8623148
www.burtownhouse.ie
Open: May 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, June 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, July 6-9, 13-16, 19-23, 27-30, August 3-6, 10-21, 24-27, 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child under €5 free

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

Ballytore, in County Kildare, was a stronghold of the Irish Quakers and the centre of a sizeable Quaker community. One of their members, Robert Power, built Burtown House as the hub of a two thousand acre farming enterprise in the 1720s. His Georgian villa, shown on early maps as “Power’s Grove,” was only one room deep so wings were added later in the century. These were subsequently removed, though their faint outlines can still be identified and Burtown was further extended in the early nineteenth century when a full height bow was added on the garden front. 

The new extension provided a bow ended room on the garden front, a large bedroom above and a grand staircase, lit by a tall round-headed window. Pretty plasterwork in the manner of James Wyatt was also introduced at the time, most notably in an arched alcove in the bow-ended room, which is likely to have been the original dining room. The alcove is filled with a shallow fan, and delightfully cursive sprays of vine leaves, and is flanked by a pair of classical vases on pilasters of foliage with naive Corinthian capitals.

Burtown has never been sold in all its three hundred years. The house passed from the Power family to the Houghtons and thence to the Wakefields, who gave it a new roof with widely projecting eaves in the early nineteenth century. They also lengthened the sash windows, installed a new front door with a fanlight in a deep recess, and carried out a number of other alterations.

When Mr. Wakefield was killed playing cricket Burtown passed to his sister, who had married a fellow Quaker from County Tipperary, William Fennell. Their son, William James was a keen horseman but “was asked to leave the Quaker congregation because of his fondness for driving a carriage with two uniformed flunkeys on the back”.

Today Burtown is in the midst of two hundred acres of parkland, including ten acres of lush flower, vegetable and woodland gardens with many fine walks. The house has now been home to five generations of the Fennell family, and to the acclaimed botanical artist and illustrator, Wendy Walsh. Coincidentally, the leading Irish botanical artist of the early twentieth century, Lydia Shackleton, also came from the same small Quaker community.” [1]

3. Castletown House, County Kildare – OPW

The Print Room, Castletown House, County Kildare.

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

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

Coolcarrigan, County Kildare, September 2019.

See my write-up:

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

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

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

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

The website tells us:

Donadea Forest Park includes Donadea Castle and estate, the former home of the Aylmer family up until 1935. There are many historical features including the remains of the castle and walled gardens, St. Peter’s church, an ice house and boat house. The Lime tree avenue planted in the 19th century formed the original entrance to the estate. Another feature of the park is the 9/11 Memorial, a scaled replica of the twin towers carved in limestone. The small lake is brimming with ducks, waterhens and has a beautiful display of water lilies in the summer. There is a café open throughout the year.

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

In 1581 Gerald Aylmer, (1548-1634), Knight, of Donadea, son of George Aylmer, of Cloncurry, and grandson of Richard Aylmer, of Lyons, built a new tower in Donadea, not fully completed until 1624 and it is now the oldest part of the Castle. [2]

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

In 1626, he repaired the medieval Church in Donadea and built a new extension in which he established his family burial plot. In the extension he also constructed an Altar Tomb monument as a burial memorial for his family. Gerald was titled by the Crown and became the first Baronet of Donadea.  
 
The Aylmers were connected with the various conflicts and rebellions over the next two centuries. During the wars of the 1640s, Sir Andrew, 2nd Baronet (c. 1610-c. 1671), supported the rebels and was imprisoned at the beginning of the war. 
 
Although he was a brother-in-law of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, there were no favours granted to him. The Aylmers rebuilt the castle after it was burned by James Butler’s troops. 

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

In 1689, after the battle of the Boyne, Lady Helen Aylmer, widow of the 3rd Baronet, (born Plunkett, daughter of Luke Plunkett 3rd Earl of Fingall) was in charge of the Castle. She was outlawed due to her support for James II, but she managed to hold on to the Castle and lands under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick. 

In 1736, Sir Gerald, 5th Baronet, died leaving an only son FitzGerald who became the 6th Baronet. 

He was only one year old when his father died and was subsequently raised by his mother (Ellice or Ellen, daughter of Gerald Aylmer, 2nd Baronet of Balrath, County Meath) and her relatives who were members of the established church. FitzGerald subsequently conformed to the established religion. In 1773, he built a new house in front of the Castle and incorporated the Tower in his new residence. 

Donadea Castle, County Kildare, Septemeber 2017.

Gerald, 8th Baronet, held the lands of Donadea between 1816 and 1878 and he is accredited with most of the construction work that is visible in Donadea demesne today. He began his building program in the 1820s by re-routing the roads away from the Castle and the construction of a high wall enclosing the demesne. Gate lodges were then built at all the entrances. 

He also built a new grand entrance known as the Lime Avenue. 

In 1827 he completely remodelled the front of the Castle which gave it an attractive bow shaped appearance. It has been suggested that he employed the renowned architect Richard Morrison to design this new structure. 

The older cabin-type dwellings close to the castle were demolished and new estate houses built at the Range. To the west of the Castle he built an eight acre area of gardens and paddocks, surrounded and sub-divided by walls. In the Castle yard he built dwellings for staff and elaborative farm buildings. He also constructed the artificial lake and the Ice House. Large areas of the demesne were planted and, by the time of his death, Donadea demesne was listed as one of the finest parkland settings in the county. 

Outside the demesne he was involved in numerous construction projects including the famous ‘Aylmer Folly’, viz. the Tower on the summit of the hill of Allen. (see [2]) Sir Gerald’s grandson Justin, 10th Baronet, died unmarried in 1885. His sister Caroline inherited the castle and much of the demesne, while the baronetcy passed to a cousin. Caroline Maria Aylmer, who was the daughter of Sir Gerald George Aylmer, 9th Baronet, was the last Aylmer to live at Donadea. She died in 1935, leaving the estate to the Church of Ireland who, in turn, passed it bequeathed to the Irish state. 

The castle remained unoccupied and its roof was removed in the late 1950s. 

For more on the Aylmer family, see The Landed Gentry & Aristocracy of County Kildare by Turtle Bunbury & Art Kavanagh (published by Irish Family Names, 2004). 

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

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

contact: Patricia Orr
Tel: 086-2552661
Open: May 1-18, Aug 1-22, Dec 1-20, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, (Irish Georgian Society members free)

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

contact: Katharine Bulbulia
Tel: 087-2414556
www.griesemounthouse.ie
Open: April 4-8, 25-29, May 3-17, June 7-10, 13-26, July 4-8, 11-15, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child €3

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

In 1685, the village of Ballitore on the river Griese in the southern corner of County Kildare became the first planned Quaker village in England and Ireland. The Shackleton family from Yorkshire settled here some decades later and besides establishing wool and corn mills, founded the famous village school in 1726. Thanks to an entry by Mary (née Shackleton) Leadbetter in her ‘Annals of Ballitore’, we know that the first stone of Griesemount House (also known as Ballitore Hill House) was laid on Midsummer Day in 1817. While the three-bay side elevation is symmetrical, the two-bay front façade with the front door under the left window is quite modest, as was often the case with Quaker houses. It was built by George Shackleton, who had grown up in Griesebank House beside the now-ruinous Ballitore Mills on the river just below. He married Hannah Fisher and they raised 13 children in the new house, including the noted botanical artist Lydia Shackleton, the first artist-in-residence at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. One of her first recorded sketches is of the house. The family lived here until the early 20th century; the house then changed hands several times. It was briefly owned and restored by the mother of mezzosoprano Frederica von Stade, and has recently come into new ownership.” [3]

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

Harristown House, County Kildare, August 2019.

See my write-up:

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

Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child €5

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

contact: June Stuart
Tel: 01-6271206, 087-6168651
Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-3, May 16-31, June 1-3, Aug 11-31, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3, child under 5 years free, school groups €2 per head

Kildrought, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

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

The assessment states:

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

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

contact: Michael De Las Casas
Tel: 087-2213038
www.larchill.ie
Open: May 1-20, 23-31, June 1-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-30, Aug 13-21, 27-28, 10am- 2pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €4, concession for groups

See my entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/09/02/larchill-kilcock-co-kildare/

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

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare, June 2019.

See my entry:

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

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

12. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare – OPW

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

13. Millbrook House, County Kildare:

House and limited garden access for groups only

Minimum 4, maximum 8 visitors

May to September: 

Monday-Thursday, 11 am to 3 pm

Open during Heritage Week. The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

The forebears of the Greenes of Millbrook House in the far south of County Kildare lived at Kilmanaghan Castle and Moorestown Castle [now a ruin] in County Tipperary. A great grandson of the family patriarch Captain Godfrey Greene moved up to settle near Carlow. William Nassau Greene (1714-1781) was a businessman and magistrate, and built a residence known as Kilkea Lodge (c. 1740) adjacent to the ancient Fitzgerald seat at Kilkea Castle, where his descendants are still resident. A younger son, John (1751-1819), who became High Sheriff of Kildare and Captain of the Castledermot Yeomanry, built a neighbouring house at Millbrook with the help of his father. It was completed in 1776 with its attendant mill and millrace off the River Griese, which had replaced an earlier mill in the nearby Kilkea Castle demesne. The house passed through generations of the family until finally the mill ceased operating under Thomas Greene (1843-1900), a poet and author who was made High Sheriff of Kildare in 1895. The house was left by inheritance to one of the cousins from Kilkea Lodge, father of the present owner. Throughout WWII, he had served as a frontline doctor in the 4th Indian Division in North Africa, Italy and Greece, and returned with his wife in 1950 to an utterly neglected house. Millbrook is still in the process of being restored to its former state.” [5]

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

Moone Abbey House, County Kildare, May 2019.

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

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

contact: Joan Hayden
Tel: 01-8722238
Open: Jan 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 8.30am-12.30pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3

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

contact: Robert C Guinness
Tel: 01-6288412
www.steam-museum.com
Open: June 1-6, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, July 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, Aug 1, 3-7, 10-21, 24-28, 31, 2pm-6pm,
Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/child/student €5, concession by negotiation

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us about Lodge Park:

Lodge Park, overlooking a fine stretch of the River Liffey, was built by Hugh Henry who had married his cousin, Lady Anne Leeson from Russborough [daughter of Joseph Leeson 1st Earl of Milltown]. Completed in about 1776, the centre block forms the core of an unusual composition with curved quadrants leading to a pair of two-storey wings, both attached to two further pavilions by curtain walls to form a unique elongated ensemble of five interconnected buildings, “perhaps the most extreme example of the Irish Palladian style.”

Henry’s father was the merchant banker Hugh Henry, who had purchased the entire Straffan estate with 7,000 acres. Lodge Park was long thought to be the last building by Nathaniel Clements, who died in 1777, but has now been attributed to John Ensor. The hipped roof is surrounded by a granite-topped parapet, and the walls are finished in rough cast, with ashlar block quoins and granite window surrounds with detailing. It is Ireland’s best exampe of concatenation, having curtain walls attached to the main house, leading to two pavilions, attached by two gateways to two further buildings. Hugh’s son Arthur built the Victorian walled garden, now beautifully restored and open to the public, as well as the fine gate lodge. The house was bought by the Guinness family in 1948. 

The walled garden has been beautifully restored while a disused Victorian church has been re-erected in the grounds to house a magnificent Steam Museum with early inventor’s models, scientific engineering models and historic works of mechanical art. The Power Hall displays six huge stationary steam engines, which are run on special occasions.https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Lodge%20Park

Places to stay, County Kildare:

1. Balyna, Moyvalley, Co Kildare – weddings, accommodation 

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

The website tells us:

Balyna House lies to the south of Moyvalley Bridge over the Grand Canal, about half way between Enfield and Kinnegad on the old Dublin — Galway road. The house lies in the centre of the estates 500 acres. Balyna Estate was granted in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I to the O’Moore family because they had lost their land in Laois and were reinstated in Balyna.

Major Ambrose O’Ferrall married Letitia More in 1796. Their  eldest son Richard More O’Ferrall was born in 1797. [ I don’t think this is correct. I believe that Letitia More married Richard O’Ferrall (1729-1790) and that their son was Ambrose More O’Ferrall who married Ann Baggot daughter of John Baggot of Castle Baggot, Rathcoole. Richard More O’Ferrall (1797-1880) was their son]. He is reputed for having been responsible for the erection of the Celtic cross which now stands to the rear of the house. It is said that this Cross, along with another was  transported from Europe, the two being encased in wooden crates and towed behind the ship on a barge. Legend has it that one was lost at sea, but its twin survives to this day.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 30. [More O’Ferrall] “The ancestral home of the O’More family, the land having been granted to them by Eliz I as a small compensation for their forfeited territories in Laois… A new house was built 1815, which was burnt 1878; this was replaced by the present house, built 1880s. It is slightly Italianate, with a Mansard roof carried on a bracket cornice; of 2 storeys with a dormered attic. Entrance front with two 3 sided bows and a single-storey Ionic portico, 5 by garden front with pediment, the windows on either side being larger than those in the centre. Imposing staircase with handrail of decorative ironwork; ceiling of staircase hall has modillion cornice. Chapel in garden. Sold 1960s, subsequently owned by Bewleys Oriental Cafe Ltd” [6]

The website continues: “The first real record of any house dates from 1815 when Ambrose built a large mansion. That Georgian house was burned down and replaced in the 1880’s by the present Italianate mansion.

The estate was a refuge for bishops and priests for centuries and Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests here in the year 1678 — 1680. For this loyalty, the family was granted Papal permission to build a private Chapel on the estate (located to the rear of the house) and up to approximately 1914 Sunday Mass was offered. It was only used intermittently after that, with the last occasion being in the summer of 1959.

The estate remained in the More O’Ferrall family until May 1960 when it was sold to the Bewley family (of Café fame). The wonderful milk and cream in the Cafes came from the pedigree Jersey herd at Balyna. In 1984 the estate was sold to Justin Keating; it was sold again in 1990-1991 to George Grant. Moyvalley was developed into a Hotel & Golf Resort in 2007.

Balyna House consists of 10 luxurious ensuite bedrooms, 3 reception rooms to cater for up to 100 guests, Balyna Bar and Cellar Bar. The house is available exclusively for private events and weddings.

In 2014 the resort was purchased by the late Oliver Brady (well-known horse trainer from Co. Monaghan) with his business partner a well know entrepreneur Rita Shah owner of Shabra Recycling Plastic’s Group, Thai business woman Jane Tripipatkul and her son Mark McCarthy who are based in London.

It is likely that several Irish and European military campaigns were discussed and argued over at Balyna, as apart from the fierce-some O’More’s and the well documented Irish battles in which they took part, several later generations saw service in European armies. All three sons of Richard and Letitia O’Ferrall saw service abroad. The eldest, Ambrose, and his youngest brother, Charles, rose to the rank of Major in the Royal Sardinian Army, while the middle brother, James attained the rank of Major General in the Austrian Hohenzollern Army.

Incidentally, there was a Bagot family of “Castle Baggot” in Rathcoole, and neither son had children so all the Bagot property, which included land around Smithfield in Dublin and extensive property in County Carlow, passed to the daughter, Ann, who married the above-mentioned Ambrose More O’Ferrall.

As a digression, it is worth noting that Rory O’ More’s eldest daughter, Anne, married Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan and famous military leader. His father in law was the man behind the Irish Rebellion of 1641.

King James had adopted the policy of remodelling the Irish army so as to turn it from a Protestant-led force to a Roman Catholic led one, and Sarsfield, whose family were Roman Catholics, was selected to assist in this reorganisation. Colonel Sarsfield went to Ireland with Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell , who was appointed commander-in-chief by the king.

2. Barberstown Castle, Kildare – hotel 

www.barberstowncastle.ie

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 31. “A tower-house with a long plain 2 storey wing attached. In 1814, the residence of Jos Atkinson, in 1837, of Capt Robinson.” 

The website gives a timeline:

“1288: Nicholas Barby built the original Castle towards the end of the 13th Century on the land which was originally owned by the Great Norman family the Fitzgerald’s.

1310: The Castle was built as a fortress to protect the village and people of Barberstown from the attack of the rebellious Ui Faolain tribesmen who tried to burn the town (among others) in 1310. It has traditionally found itself in the middle of political struggle and local wars which generally resulted in change of ownership.

Retaining Ownership: Some of its previous owners have gone to extreme lengths to retain ownership. Just how far some went is illustrated by the story of the body that is said to be interred in the tower of the Castle Keep (the original part of the Castle). His fate can be explained by reading the lease on the Castle at the time in which was written that the lease would expire when he was buried underground (ie. his death). The ending of a lease normally resulted in an increase in rent so after the man’s death he was buried in the tower above the earth which ensured the family continued to hold the lease to the Castle!

The walls of the Castle Keep walls slope inwards so as to prevent an enemy getting out of range by closing up to the building. Ironically however the rooms on the upper floors of the Castle are larger than those on the ground level as their walls are somewhat thinner.

Penal Times: The neighbouring village of Straffan is named after St. Straffan, one of the early sixth century missionaries. Its close linkages with the local town and people were proven when an underground tunnel from the Church in Straffan to the Castle was found in 1996 during renovations. A ‘Priest’s Hole’ can be also found in the Castle which was originally made to protect the priests of the town during Penal Times.

1630: William Sutton of one of the most important families in the area owned the property. The population of Barberstown at the time was 36!

1689: Lord Kingston [I’m not sure who they mean here – Robert King (d. 1693) was the 2nd Baron of Kingston at the time] had his ownership confiscated by Earl of Tyrconnell after the accession to power of James 11 of England. It was around this time that it fell into the less glamorous hands of the Commissioners of the Revenue who let it out to a Roger Kelly for £102 annual rent in the late 1600s.

1703: It was purchased by Bartholomew Van Homreigh in 1703 for £1,033 the sixth owner in six years. At the time the property was 335 acres. Van Homreigh had been mayor of Dublin in 1697 and his greatest ‘claim to fame’ lies in the fact that he was the father of Vanessa of whom Swift wrote so passionately about. He sold it to the Henrys who were prone to excessive spending at the time….

1830: The Henry’s had no option but to sell it to Mr. Hugh Barton [1766-1854] who completed the last wing of the house in the 1830s which added to the present day unique architectural status of Barberstown. He is also famed for constructing Straffan House known today at the K-Club.

1900: As the property became too expensive to retain as a residence, the Huddlestons who owned Barberstown Castle in the 1900s sold it to Mrs. Norah Devlin who converted it into a hotel in 1971. Barberstown was one of the first great Irish country houses to display its splendour to the outside world when it opened as a hotel in 1971. It has maintained the elegance of design over the centuries by sympathetically blending its Victorian and Elizabethan extensions with the original Castle Keep.

1979: The acclaimed Musician, Singer, Songwriter & Record Producer Mr. Eric Clapton CBE purchased the property in 1979 and lived in the property until 1987. Music sessions took place in the Green Room and original Castle Keep during the time Eric lived here with many famous Rockstars from all over the world coming here to stay.

1987 to Present Day: Upon purchasing Barberstown Castle from Eric Clapton in 1987, this beautiful historic house has since been transformed from a 10-bedroom property with three bathrooms to a 55-bedroom Failte Ireland approved 4 Star Hotel. They are a proud member of Ireland’s Blue Book of properties and Historic Hotels of Europe.

Since 1288 Barberstown has had 37 owners all of whom had the foresight to protect its heritage and character. Look out for the names of all the owners of Barberstown Castle painted on the bedroom doors of the hotel!”

3. Batty Langley Lodge, Celbridge, County Kildare €€

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

Batty Langley Lodge, Castletown, County Kildare.

One of the entrances to the Castletown demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley (1696-1751) 1741. Batty Langley was an English garden designer who produced a number of engraved “Gothick” designs for garden buildings and seats. He was named “Batty” after his father’s patron, David Batty. He also published a wide range of architectural books.

4. Burtown House holiday cottages – see above

www.burtownhouse.ie

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

https://www.cartonhouse.com/

The house was built in 1739 to designs by Richard Castle and remodelled in 1815 by Richard Morrison. This is now the front of the building – it was formerly the back, and was changed when Richard Morrison carried out the remodelling.

The website tells us that the name ‘Carton’ comes from the old Irish name ‘Baile an Cairthe’ or Land of the Pillar Stone.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Carton (1988):

p. 60. “(Talbot de Malahide, B/PB; Fitzgerald, Leinster, D/PB; Nall-Cain, sub Brocket, P/BP) The lands of Carton always belonged to the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare, whose chief castle was nearby, at Maynooth; in C17, however, they were leased to a junior branch of the Talbots of Malahide, who built the original house there.”

The Carton website tells us that the lands of Carton first came into the ownership of the FitzGerald family shortly after Maurice FitzGerald (d. 1176) played an active role in the capture of Dublin by the Normans in 1170 and was rewarded by being appointed Lord of Maynooth, an area covering townlands which include what is now Carton. The website goes on to tell us:

His son became Baron Offaly in 1205 [Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, d. 1203] and his descendant John FitzGerald [5th Baron Offaly, d. 1316], became Earl of Kildare in 1315. Under the eighth earl, [Gerald FitzGerald (1455-1513)] the FitzGerald family reached pre-eminence as the virtual rulers of Ireland between 1477 and 1513.

However, the eighth earl’s grandson, the eloquently titled Silken Thomas [the 10th Earl of Kildare] was executed in 1537, with his five uncles, for leading an uprising against the English. Although the FitzGeralds subsequently regained their land and titles, they did not regain their position at the English Court until the 18th century when Robert, the 19th Earl of Kildare, became a noted statesman.

It surprises me that after Silken Thomas’s rebellion that his brother was restored to the title and became the 11th Earl on 23 February 1568/69, restored by Act of Parliament, about thirty years after his brother was executed.

It was William Talbot, Recorder of the city of Dublin, who leased the lands from Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Kildare (1547-1612). William Talbot was created 1st Baronet Talbot, of Carton, Co. Kildare on 4 February 1622/23. He was MP for Kildare in 1613-1615. He built a house at Carton. His son Richard was created 1st Duke of Tyrconnell in 1689 by King James II, after he had been James’s Groom of the Bedchamber. He fought in the Battle of the Boyne and was loyal to the Stuarts, so was stripped of his honours when William of Orange (William III) came to power.

Tyrconnell Tower in grounds of Carton House, photograph 2014 for Tourism Ireland. (see [7])

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “After the attainder of Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, James II’s Lord Deputy of Ireland, Carton was forfeited to the crown and sold 1703 to Major-Gen Richard Ingoldsby, Master-General of the Ordnance and a Lord Justice of Ireland; who added a two storey nine bay pedimented front to the old house, with wings joined to the main block by curved sweeps, in the Palladian manner. In 1739 Thomas Ingoldsby sold the reversion of the lease back to 19th Earl of Kildare [Robert FitzGerald (1675-1744)], who decided to make Carton his principal seat and employed Richard Castle to enlarge and improve the house.

Richard Ingoldsby (c.1664/5–1712) was the son of George, who came to Ireland with the Cromwellian army in 1651 and became a prominent landowner in Limerick. Richard fought in the Williamite army. The Dictionary of Irish Biography tells us that Richard Ingoldsby purchased Carton House and demesne in Co. Kildare for £1,800 in 1703 from the Talbot family. He also owned a town house in Mary St., Dublin. He married Frances, daughter of Col. James Naper of Co. Meath; they had at least one son, Henry Ingoldsby (d. 1731). Henry lived the high life in London and Carton had to be sold to pay his debts in 1738.

Robert FitzGerald the 19th Earl of Kildare married Mary O’Brien, daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin.

Bence-Jones continues: “Castle’s rebuilding obliterated all traces of the earlier house, except for a cornice on what is now the entrance front and the unusually thick interior walls. He added a storey, and lengthened the house by adding a projecting bay at either end; he also refaced it. He gave the entrance front a pediment, like its predecessor; but the general effect of the three storey 11 bay front, which has a Venetian window in the middle storey of each of its end bays, is one of massive plainness. As before, the house was joined to flanking office wings; but instead of simple curved sweeps, there were now curved colonnades.”

Carton House 2014, for Failte Ireland (see [7])
The Garden Front of Carton House, July 2022. It was initially the front of the house.

The Archiseek website tells us:

In 1739, the 19th Earl of Kildare employed Richard Castle to build the existing house replacing an earlier building. Castle (originally Cassels) was responsible for many of the great Irish houses, including Summerhill, Westport, Powerscourt House and in 1745, Leinster House, which he also built for the FitzGeralds.

Leinster House, also built by Richard Castle for the FitzGeralds.
The garden front of Carton House. The house was built in 1739 to designs by Richard Castle and remodelled in 1815 by Richard Morrison.

There is a projecting bay on either side of the garden front facade with a Venetian window in the middle storey of either projecting bay. According to Mark Bence-Jones, these were designed by Richard Castle. The flanking wings were joined initially by curved colonnades, later replaced by straight connecting links.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The work was completed after the death of 19th Earl for his son [James (1722-1773)], 20th Earl, who later became 1st Duke of Leinster and was the husband of the beautiful Emily, Duchess of Leinster [Emily Lennox, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond] and the father of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the United Irish Leader.”

They certainly were a rebellious family! It is said that this saved the house from being burnt by Irish rebels in 1920s, as a portrait of Edward Fitzgerald the United Irishman was shown to the would-be arsonists. Emily Lennox’s sister, Louisa, married Thomas Conolly and lived across the parkland in Castletown House. Stella Tillyard writes of the life and times of the sisters, Emily and Louisa and it was made into a mini series for the BBC, entitled “The Aristocrats” which was filmed on site at Carton House. I’d love to read the book and see the movie! She also wrote about Edward FitzGerald.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “3rd Duke, Lord Edward’s nephew, [Augustus Frederick Fitzgerald (1791-1874)] employed Sir Richard Morrison to enlarge and remodel the house ca 1815, having sold Leinster House in Dublin. Morrison replaced the curved colonnades with straight connecting links containing additional rooms behind colonnades of coupled Doric columns, so as to form a longer enfilade along what was now the garden front; for he moved the entrance to the other front [the north side], which is also of 11 bays with projecting end bays, but has no pediment. The former music room on this side of the house became the hall; it is unassuming for the hall of so important a house, with plain Doric columns at each end. On one side is a staircase hall by Morrison, again very unassuming; indeed, with the exception of the great dining room, Morrison’s interiors at Carton lack his customary neo-Classical opulence.”

Archiseek continues: “Carton remained in the control of the FitzGeralds until the early 1920s when the 7th Duke sold the estate and house to pay off gambling debts of £67,500. In 2000, Carton was redeveloped as a “premier golf resort and hotel”. A hotel was added to the main house, and the estate’s eighteenth-century grounds and landscaping were converted into two golf courses.” [8]

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

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “Beyond the staircase, on the ground floor, is the Chinese bedroom, where Queen Victoria slept when she stayed here; it remains as it was when decorated 1759, with Chinese paper and a Chinese Chippendale giltwood overmantel. The other surviving mid-C18 interior is the saloon, originally the dining room, in the garden front, dating from 1739 and one of the most beautiful rooms in Ireland. It rises through two storeys and has a deeply coved ceiling of Baroque plasterwork by the Francini brothers representing “the Courtship of the Gods”; the plasterwork, like the decoration on the walls, being picked out in gilt. At one end of the room is an organ installed 1857, its elaborate Baroque case designed by Lord Gerald Fitzgerald [1821-1886], a son of the 3rd Duke.

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

The door at this end of the saloon leads, by way of an anteroom, to Morrison’s great dining room, which has a screen of Corinthian columns at each end and a barrel-vaulted ceiling covered in interlocking circles of oak leaves and vine leaves.