Open dates in 2021 but check due to Covid restrictions: April 19-29, May 2-20, 23-27, 31, June 1-3, 7-10, Aug 14-22, Sept 29-30, Oct 1-2, 4-7, Sundays 12 noon-5pm, Monday – Saturday 11am-3pm
Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €12.50, child €8.40
Today (Saturday 27th April 2019) my husband Stephen and I made our first official blog trip. We started in the “ancient east,” going to Slane Castle in County Meath. The land around the Boyne River is beautiful, rolling and fertile. It took almost exactly one hour to drive from our home in Dublin, taking the M1 which I find easier than the M2 through the city’s north side, with which I’m less familiar. Our timing was perfect, we arrived at 2:10pm, in time for the 2:15 tour – there are tours every hour on the quarter hour. 
The castle is three storeys over basement, in the Gothic Revival style. There is a bow on the back side of the castle, facing the river, and the basement serves as the ground floor on this side due to the steep slope down to the River Boyne. The bow forms a round tower, but you cannot see it as you approach the castle as the river is behind.
Our tour guide was a young very pleasant man named Matthew, who seemed very knowledgeable about the castle and its history and the history of the Conyngham family, who have owned the castle since 1703. The Conynghams of Slane Castle are descendants of the Conynghams of Mountcharles, County Donegal. The Conynghams lived in Donegal possibly as early as 1660, when Albert Conyngham purchased land there.  The first Conyngham to move to Ireland was Alexander (1610-1660), from Scotland, who joined the clergy and was appointed in 1611 to be the first Protestant minister of Enver and Killymard, County Donegal.  He was appointed to the Deanery of Raphoe in Donegal in 1630. His son Albert lived at Mountcharles. It was Albert’s son Henry (1664-1705), a military man who also served as MP for County Donegal, who moved to Slane Castle.
The Flemings of Slane
The Conynghams bought the land in Slane after it was confiscated from the Flemings. In 1175, Richard Le Fleming built a castle at the western end of Slane hill and, three generations later, Simon Fleming was created Baron of Slane. 
The Conynghams did not acquire Slane directly after it was confiscated from the Flemings – Terry Trench of the Slane History and Archaeology Society writes that the estate changed hands, at least on paper, seven times between 1641 and 1703. The estate was taken from the Flemings in 1641, when William Fleming, the 14th Baron Slane, joined the Catholic Irish forces in rebellion against the British. He remained loyal to the king, but objected to the laws that the British parliament passed to make the Irish parliament subservient to the British parliament. The estate was restored to William’s son Randall under the Act of Settlement and Distribution of Charles II’s reign, by decree dated 27th March 1663.  Many estates that had been confiscated by Cromwell’s parliament were restored when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660.
The Flemings had their land confiscated again as Christopher, 17th Baron Slane (1669-1726), backed James II in his battles against William of Orange. He served in the Irish Parliament of King James II in 1689, and as colonel in James’s army in Ireland 1689-91, fighting in both the Battle of the Boyne and in Aughrim, where he was taken prisoner by William’s forces. Released, he emigrated and fought in the French and Portuguese armies, as did many of James II’s followers who were attainted and lost their estates, as they needed to be able to earn a living. He was later reconciled with Queen Anne of England (daughter of James II) and returned to Ireland, to live in Anticur, County Antrim. In 1703, Henry Conyngham purchased the estate of Slane.
The Building of Slane Castle
In 1785 the castle was remodelled to the design of James Wyatt (1746 – 1813). Wyatt also designed another house on the section 482 list this year, Curraghmore in County Waterford, and a house not on the list, unfortunately, as I would love to see inside, Abbeyleix House (incidentally, my father grew up in Abbeyleix and we used to enjoy the gardens which used to be open and which were reknowned for the bluebells. Also, coincidentally, according to wikipedia, Wyatt spent six years in Italy, 1762–68, in company with Richard Bagot of Staffordshire, who was Secretary to the Earl of Northampton’s embassy to the Venetian Republic. My family is rumoured to be descended from the Staffordshire Bagots, although I have not found the connection!).
Our guide told us that the castle was reconstructed and enlarged by William Burton Conyngham (1733-1796). It was built on the foundations of a medieval castle of the Fleming family, replacing an earlier house. William Burton Conyngham was a classicist and the front hall features Greek columns and key patterns on the walls and many marble Greek sculptures, including a sculpture of King George IV of England, donated by the king himself. William Burton Conyngham argued with his architects, Matthew told us, so ended up having three architects for his castle: James Gandon, James Wyatt and Francis Johnston. According to Mark Bence-Jones in A Guide to Irish Country Houses, Francis Johnston completed the house for the the second Lord Conygham’s son, nephew of William Burton Conyngham, Henry (1766-1832), who later became the 1st Marquess Conyngham. Other architects were consulted at various times, including James Gandon, who most famously designed the Custom House and the Four Courts in Dublin, and Emo Court in County Laois. Francis Johnston designed the General Post Office in Dublin, and Townley Hall, a grand house in County Louth. Another architect consulted was a favourite of King George IV, the English Thomas Hopper.
The Conynghams of Slane
The Conyngham motto, Over Fork Over, recounts the way Duncan hid from Macbeth (familiar to us from Shakespeare). Matthew told us that Duncan hid in straw in a barn, having it forked over him. After that, he managed to defeat Macbeth and to become king. So the Conynghams are descendants of a Scottish king!
Alexander Conyngham moved from Scotland to Ireland when he was appointed in 1611 to be the first Protestant minister to Enver and Killymardin the diocese of Raphoe, County Donegal. He was appointed dean of Raphoe in 1631. He settled at Mount Charles, an estate he leased from John Murray, earl of Annandale, the owner of ‘a vast estate’ in Scotland. Conyngham subsequently acquired the Mount Charles property through his marriage to the earl’s grand-neice, Marian, daughter of John Murray of Broughton, in Scotland (see ). Alexander’s grandson Henry purchased the land in Slane in 1703. Brigadier Henry Conyngham’s father Albert had fought with William III’s troops in the Battle of the Boyne, against Fleming and James II’s troops. Albert married Mary, daughter of the Right Reverend Robert Leslie, Bishop of Raphoe – this Bishop is the ancestor of the Leslie family of Castle Leslie in County Monaghan, another property on the Section 482 list that I will be visiting. Albert was killed by Irish Royalist rebels, and succeeded by his only surviving son, Henry. Henry Conyngham built himself a residence, Conyngham Hall, on the foundations of an older castle formerly belonging to the Flemings.
Henry Conyngham (d. 1705) fought first in James II’s army, but then persuaded his regiment to transfer their loyalty to William III. Henry’s son Henry (1705-1781) inherited the Slane estate. Henry became an Member of the Irish Parliament and was raised to the peerage in 1753 to the title of Baron Conyngham of Mount Charles, and later became Viscount and eventually, Earl. He died without a son so the Barony passed to his nephew, Francis Pierpoint Burton (his sister Mary had married Francis Burton). On inheriting the title and estate, Francis took the name Conyngham [see 3]. He married Elizabeth, the daughter of amateur architect Nathaniel Clements, whose work we will see later in other houses on the section 482 list of heritage properties. For himself, Nathaniel Clements built what is now the Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of our President, Michael D. Higgins, in Phoenix Park in Dublin.
The castle and estate passed to Francis’s son Henry. Henry served as politician and moved quickly up the ranks of the peerage and was Lord Steward of the Royal household between 1821-30.
In 1821 King George IV spent time in the Castle with his lover, the wife of Conyngham, Elizabeth Denison. In return the king made Conyngham a Marquess . One of the rooms of the castle, the Smoking Room, has two cartoons from the period mocking the King and his consort Elizabeth, drawing them as overweight. In one, she aids her son when he has to move from the Castle of Windsor where he was Royal Chamberlain. It was he who announced to Victoria that she was Queen, upon death of the previous monarch. He was let go from his position when he tried to move his lover into his rooms in Windsor. His mother came to fetch him, with several wheelbarrows, the story goes, and she took all the furniture from his rooms. Somehow she brought a grand piano back from Windsor to Slane Castle where it sat in a specially made arbor for music in the Smoking room, until it was destroyed by a fire in Slane Castle in the 1990’s. One of the Punch style cartoons is of Elizabeth with a wheelbarrow fetching her son from Windsor. I can’t quite remember the other – it had King George IV and herself in a carriage. The Irish were very annoyed that when he came to Ireland he spent his entire time at Slane Castle!
The Irish Aesthete writes of the visit:
“Neither the king nor his inamorata were in the first flush of youth, and both were equally corpulent. These circumstances however did nothing to dampen their ardour. As was written of them at the time, ‘Tis pleasant at seasons to see how they sit/ First cracking their nuts, and then cracking their wit/ Then quaffing their claret – then mingling their lips/ Or tickling the fat about each other’s hips.’ And according to one contemporary observer, Lady Conyngham ‘lived exclusively with him during the whole time he was in Ireland at the Phoenix Park. When he went to Slane, she received him dressed out as for a drawing-room; he saluted her, and they then retired alone to her apartments.’” 
Our tour started with a video of Charles Conyngham, now known as Lord Mount Charles, telling of his childhood in the Castle, growing up in a very old-world upper class manner. He did not join his parents at the dining table until he was twelve years old, dining until then in the Nursery. His nurse, Margaret Browne, came to the Castle at 16 years old, and he held her in such regard that he named his bar after her. We had lunch in the bar after the tour. The food was delicious! Stephen had bread with buttery mushrooms and creme fraiche, and I had Thia carrot lentil soup. With good strong Americanos our meal came to €24 with tip, the same price for entry for two adults to the Castle Tour.
But, back to our tour! Lord Mount Charles described how he started out, when he had to take over the Castle, with a restaurant, which is now the Gandon Restaurant. To further fund the Castle maintenance, Lord Mount Charles started concerts at the venue, beginning with Thin Lizzy in 1981. To seal the deal, the next show was the Rolling Stones! With such august imprimateur, the Castle’s concerts became world-famous and featured many top performers including David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Queen.
However, there was a disasterous fire in the castle and roof and one third of the castle was destroyed.The magnificent library with its intricate ceiling and impressive wooden chandelier was saved by two firemen fighting the fire from within the room, battling for nine hours. The smoke was so thick that one couldn’t see the ceiling. I think they deserve a plaque in the room to recognise their effort! Meanwhile the family saved as many priceless historic paintings and antiques as they could, including a huge portrait of King George IV that is now hanging again in the library, by cutting it from its giant gilt frame then taking the frame apart into four pieces in order to get it out through the doors. Lord Mount Charles now suffers with his lungs, probably partially as a result of long exposure to the flames and smoke. It took ten years to reconstruct the castle, but it has been done excellently so traces of the fire barely remain.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, as usual with these properties. There is a picture of the ornate roof in the library on the wonderful blog of the Irish Aesthete .
Mark Bence-Jones describes the room in his 1988 book (published before the fire, but this room remained intact!), A Guide to Irish Country Houses:
“…the great circular ballroom or library which rises through two storeys of the round tower and is undoubtedly the finest Gothic Revival room in Ireland; with a ceiling of Gothic plasterwork so delicate and elaborate that it looks like filigree. Yet this, too, is basically a Classical room; the Gothic ceiling is, in fact, a dome; the deep apses on either side of the fireplace are such as one finds in many of Wyatt’s Classical interiors, except that the arches leading into them are pointed; they are decorated with plasterwork that can be recognised as a very slightly Gothicized version of the familiar Adam and Wyatt fan pattern.”
Of the tales on the tour, I especially enjoyed the story of the funeral of a soldier’s leg. Apparently it was quite the custom to have funerals for body parts – his leg had to be amputated on the field of battle and the soldier brought it back to be buried with a full-scale military funeral. It must have been to do with the fact that a person’s body is to be resurrected on the Last Day, so it’s good to know where all the parts are! Cremation used to be forbidden in the Catholic church, as somehow it would be too difficult for God to put the ashes back together – never mind a disintegrated body!
There is an adjoining distillery in what used to be the stables, and a tour of that can be purchased in combination if desired. Lord Charles’s mother bred horses before the stables were converted. The stables were designed by Capability Brown.
According to the Irish Aesthete:
“Henry Conyngham, grandson of General Henry Conyngham who purchased the property, around 1770 invited Capability Brown around 1770 to produce a design both for the landscaping of the parkland at Slane, and also for a new stable block. In the collection of the Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin a drawing survives of Brown’s proposal for the latter. It is not unlike the finished building, but more elaborate than what we see today.” 
I found a blog by the Irish Aesthete on a portrait now in Slane, of Lady Elizabeth wife of the first Marqess’s daughter, Lady Maria Conyngham. Reportedly Lady Elizabeth looked very like her daughter – which one would not guess from the unflattering cartoons of her! 
“She probably became his [George IV’s] lover in 1819, when he was Prince Regent, but finally supplanted her predecessor, Isabella Seymour-Conway, Marchioness of Hertford, after he became king in 1820. He became besotted with her, constantly “kissing her hand with a look of most devoted submission.” While his wife Caroline of Brunswick was on trial in 1820 as part of efforts to divorce her, the king could not be seen with Lady Conyngham and was consequently “bored and lonely.” During his coronation, George was constantly seen “nodding and winking” at her. “Lady Conyngham’s liaison with the king benefited her family. Her husband was raised to the rank of a marquess in the Peerage of the United Kingdom and sworn to the Privy Council, in the coronation honours of 1821. He was also given several other offices, including Lord Steward of the Household and the lieutenancy of Windsor Castle. Her second son was made Master of the Robes and First Groom of the Chamber.”
Listed Open Dates in 2021 but check in advance: March 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, May 10-16, 24-27, 31, June 1-17, Aug 14-22, Sept 7-8, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student/group €5
We visited Newpark House during Heritage Week, when we went on holidays to Sligo. We were delighted to discover that the owner, Christopher, is a cousin of Durcan O’Hara, with whom we were staying at Annaghmore in nearby Collooney.
Burke’s A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland tells us that Newpark was built for Robert King Duke (1770-1836), Justice of the Peace and Deputy Governor of Sligo, but the Historic Houses of Ireland website points out that he was only a boy of ten in 1780 when the house was built, so it was probably built for his father Robert (1732-1792). The Duke family descends from John Duke, who came to Sligo at the time of Oliver Cromwell and was granted land in Sligo in 1662. One can still see traces of their presence in the decorative plasterwork in the house. 
In 1910, the In 1910, the Duke family left Newpark, and it was purchased by Richard O’Hara, a younger son from nearby Annaghmore and Coopershill.
The house may have been designed by John Roberts of Waterford, who also may have designed Enniscoe in County Mayo, another house we visited during Heritage Week .
The house has a main rectangular block of three bays and two storeys, with a basement and dormer attic, built in 1780. The house was extended in the 1870s and lost some of its original features, but the original staircase remains.
A two-bay two-storey over basement wing was added around 1920.
The house is lime rendered with a tripartite entrance: a round-headed door-case flanked by narrow rectangular sidelights. There is another door in the front in the newer section of the house.
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that architect and writer Jeremy Williams observed of Newtown: “What strikes one is the harmony of the whole ensemble. Entrance gates and lodge, lime avenue, house, carriage-house, farm yard and partly walled demesne are all proportionate to each other and reveal the unpretentious lifestyle of a typical west of Ireland squireen, a rare survival today.”
The gate lodge is available for hired accommodation. 
Robert Duke (1732-1792) of Newtown married Lucinda Parke, daughter of William Parke of Dunally, County Sligo. The Parkes of Dunally were a branch of the Parkes who owned Parkes Castle in County Leitrim, which we also visited during Heritage Week.
Robert King Duke (1770-1836) also married a Parke from Dunally, Anne. Newpark passed down through the family and it must have been his great-grandson, Roger Philip Duke (1874-1944), who sold Newpark.
Richard Edward O’Hara (1863-1948) who purchased Newpark in 1913 was the son of Charles William Cooper (1817-1898) of Coopershill, who took the name O’Hara when he inherited Annaghmore from his uncle, Charles King O’Hara (1784-1860) (the “King” may have been from Charles King O’Hara’s mother’s mother, whose maiden name was King). Charles William Cooper O’Hara married Anne Charlotte Streatfield, a wealthy heiress, and they lived in Annaghmore. They had many children, one of whom, Richard Edward O’Hara (1863-1948), purchased Newpark. He moved to Queensland, Australia, where he farmed, and married Ethel Fisken in 1911. They returned to live in Ireland and he purchased Newpark.
They had a daughter, Sheela, who married Finlay Kitchin, grandfather of the current owner, Christopher. Christopher’s parents moved out of Newpark only a few years ago to a house built on the property, yielding the house to their son and his wife, Dorothy-Ellen. Our week took a serendipitous turn when we learned that Dorothy-Ellen is the daughter of Mary White of The Old Rectory, Killedmond in Carlow, where we were going to be staying later that week! 
Dorothy and Christopher had arranged for a special event for Heritage Week, so Stephen and I purchased tickets for this: a nature talk and walk by Michael Bell of Naturelearn . Christopher told us that the house would be open to visitors during the event.
Christopher greeted us and was kind enough to take time from his busy preparations for the Heritage Week event to give us a tour of the house. He pointed out that the geometrical plan is most unusual, and reminded the architectural historian Maurice Craig of a swastika, with four principal rooms of unequal size arranged around a small central hall. Another Section 482 property, Oakfield Park in County Donegal, also has this arrangement.
The drawing room also has fine stucco work, with garlands and flowers and urns.
Above the fireplace the frieze of plasterwork has a shield with the arms of the Duke family, a chevron between three terns. The frieze also features the crest of the Dukes, a sword plunged in a plume of nine ostrich feathers. Robert O’Byrne points out that there is a cornet with plumes rising from it, and that this may represent the coat of arms of Lucinda Parke, wife of Robert Duke. 
The other main reception room is the dining room.
Dorothy-Ellen took us downstairs to show us the basement, and the room in which she is creating a museum of the old things from the house.
Dorothy and Christopher have converted their barns into a beautiful event space which they call the Juniper Barn.  They run it according to eco-conscious principals very like those of Dorothy-Ellen’s mother, a former Green party TD. We headed over to the barns to attend the nature talk.
I was even impressed by the “decor” of the bathroom in the outbuildings, and especially like the stirrup incorporated into the chain of the cistern.
We then headed back to see the gardens around the house, including the herb garden and walled garden.
Listed open dates in 2022 but check in advance: April 1-Oct 31
Garden, April 1-Oct 31, weekdays 10am-5.30pm, weekends 1.30pm-5.30pm
Fee: garden & heritage centre adult €8, OAP €6, child/student €3, family 2 adults and 2 children €15
We visited Enniscoe House in August, during Heritage Week. I was delighted that the owner, Susan Kellett, had heard of and likes my website! She gave us a lovely tour of her home, which she also runs as an upmarket guest house. One can stay in the beautiful bedrooms in the house where breakfast is provided and dinner is also an option, or in self-catering accommodation in converted stables.
Enniscoe house is a two storey house with a five bay entrance front, with a central window in the upper storey above the pedimented tripartite doorway. The doorway has Doric columns and pilasters, and sidelights. The side elevation has five bays. 
Susan’s father inherited the property from his cousin, Mervyn Pratt (1873-1950). Mervyn’s grandfather, another Mervyn Pratt (1807-1890) married Madeline Eglantine Jackson, heiress, from Enniscoe. We came across Mervyn Pratt before, when we visited Cabra Castle. 
Mervyn and Madeline Eglantine’s daughter Louisa Catherine Hannah Pratt, the sister of Joseph, the second Mervyn’s father, married Thomas Rothwell from Rockfield, County Meath (which is currently for sale for €1.75 million ), and Susan’s father was their descendant. 
An informative booklet about Enniscoe which Susan gave me tells us that in ancient times, there was a castle at “Inniscoe,” one of the chief residences of the Kings of Hy-Fiachrach (who claimed descent from Fiachrae, brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages). The booklet tells us that traces of early earthworks can still be found. “Innis Cua” means the island of the hound. The O’Dowda, a Hy-Fiachrach family, ruled in the area and were famous for their greyhounds, which probably led to the Anglicised name Enniscoe. From the time of the Normans coming to Ireland, the land was fought over by the Bourkes, Barretts, Lynotts and Cusacks, and eventually owned by the Bourkes. At one stage Theobald Bourke, “Tibbot ne Long” (Theobald of the Ships), 1st Viscount of Mayo (1567-1629) owned the land around Enniscoe.
The information booklet tells us that the Patent Rolls of James I state that Enniscoe was possessed by the sons of John McOliverus Bourke in 1603 (this Patent Roll sounds like a great source of information! Copies are available in the National Library, and the information is gathered from 1603-1619). In the Strafford Inquisition of 1625, which gathered information about the landowners of County Mayo for Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford (who had plans for a Plantation), Richard Roe Bourke was recorded as having one third of the castle, town and lands of Enniscoe, and Thomas Roe Bourke had the other two thirds.
By 1641, the Bourkes no longer lived at Enniscoe. Susan’s booklet tells us that a Roger William Palmer owned the lands at one point – perhaps related to Roger Palmer, 1st Earl of Castlemaine (1634-1705), who was married to Barbara Villiers, who later became a favourite of King Charles II.
In the 1660s, a soldier in Cromwell’s army, Francis Jackson, was granted the lands at Enniscoe. This was confirmed by Charles II in 1669. He settled down to live in Ireland and to farm the land.
In the mid-eighteenth century George Jackson (1717-1789), great grandson of Francis, built a large farmhouse, using stones of the old castle of “Inniscoe” and oak trees recovered from nearby bogland. This house was a tall single gabled building of five bays, and it has been incorporated into the current house – Susan pointed out to us where the newer house joins to the old. George married Jane Cuffe, daughter of James Cuffe of Ballinrobe, County Mayo, and sister of James, the 1st and last Baron Tyrawley of County Mayo [of the second creation – the first creation of Baron Tyrawley was for Charles O’Hara in 1706].
George Jackson’s son, George “Two” (as he is called by the family) (1761-1805), became a Member of Parliament for County Mayo in the Irish House of Commons, with the aid of Baron Tyrawley.
George Two expanded the house into what it is today. The old house was three storey but the new front was two storey. He built on two large reception rooms and a grand staircase. The architect Jeremy Williams attributes the design of the enlargement of the house to John Roberts (1712-1796) of Waterford, who also designed Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford, and may have built Moore Hall in County Mayo.  The stucco work in the Stairway Hall is similar to some in Deel Castle done in the 1790s, which is situated across the lake from Enniscoe, for James Cuffe, Baron Tyrawley.
James Cuffe bought the life interest of Deel Castle, which had also originally been a Bourke castle, from his uncle (the brother of his mother, Elizabeth Gore) Arthur Gore, 1st Earl of Arran. James Cuffe built a new house a short distance from the castle. Deel Castle reverted to the Earls of Arran after James Cuffe’s death, but is now a ruin, and the house was burnt in 1921 and not rebuilt. David Hicks has written about Deel Castle and the neighbouring house, Castle Gore, on his website. 
The large entrance hall of Enniscoe has a frieze of foliage, and Adamesque decoration in the centre of the ceiling.
The portrait in the Front Hall of the man in wonderful frilled pantaloons is an ancestor, Sir Audley Mervyn (about 1603-1675), Speaker in the Irish House of Commons. His parents Henry Mervyn and Christian Touchet purchased lands in County County Tyrone from Mervyn Touchet, the 2nd Earl of Castlehaven, which Audley Mervyn (who was named after the Touchet estate in Staffordshire, Audley) inherited.  The heads of Indian deer were shot by the brothers Audley and Mervyn Pratt while fighting with the British army in the early 1900s. The carved hall chairs picture the Bourke family crest of a chained cat; Susan’s mother was a Bourke from Heathfield House, Ballycastle, County Mayo.  The pike was caught in Lough Conn in 1896 and weighs 37 lbs!
The front hall leads into the staircase hall, which is built on the exterior wall of the old house. The staircase hall has a frieze of urns and foliage and a glazed dome surrounded by foliage and oval medallions of classical figures.
One can see the division between older original house and the newer part clearly. Behind the staircase hall is a lobby with a delicate interior fanlight opening onto the staircase of the earlier house.
The Rising of 1798, which had been inspired by the French Revolution, came to Enniscoe, in the form of French soldiers under General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert, who landed at Killala in County Mayo on August 23, 1798. George Jackson was a Colonel in the North Mayo Militia and so would have opposed the 1798 Rebellion and the incoming French troops – although he was stationed further south as militia regiments were never stationed in their own county. The French soldiers stopped at the house at Enniscoe and Susan told us that the troops drank his wine, later declaring that it was “the only good wine in Ireland”! The scaffolding from the enlargement of the house was still lying in front of the house when the troops arrived and they used it for firewood for their campfire. George’s regiment were summoned back from the south, and Colonel Jackson was made Military Governor of the Crossmolina area. He was responsible for killing or imprisoning many of the defeated rebels in the surrounding countryside, and it is said that he lined the road from Crossmolina to Gortnor Abbey with severed heads on pikes. General Humbert and his troops were defeated by the British Army in the Battle of Ballinamuck. 
One result of the 1798 Rebellion was that the Irish Parliament was abolished by the Act of Union in 1800, which was supported by George Jackson. George was promoted to Colonel of the Carabineers, a dragoon in the British Army, and the position was inherited by his son, William.
William married Jane Louise Blair, daughter of Colonel William Blair of Scotland, and moved to England, and died young. He died in 1822 and his wife predeceased him in 1817 so their only daughter, Madeline Eglantine Jackson, was left an orphan at the age of six. She was raised by her aunt at Stephenstown in County Louth. Her mother’s sister was Catherine Eglantine Blair, who married Matthew Fortescue, whose father had built Stephenstown. They arranged a good marriage for Madeline when she turned 18, to a cousin of the family, Mervyn Pratt of Cabra Castle. They married in 1834.
Madeline and Mervyn settled in Enniscoe and Mervyn had the estate surveyed in order to set to work on an enormous scheme of draining land and building roads. The booklet Susan gave me tells us that during the famine, the Pratts did their best for those in the area and they gained a reputation for good management and fairness.
There are two large reception rooms on the ground floor, as well as the dining room.
Madeline and Mervyn had five children. Their only son Joseph joined the army and served in India, and when he came home, took over the running of Enniscoe. He married his cousin Ina Hamilton of Cornacassa, County Monaghan (this house has been partly demolished. It was built around 1800 for Dacre Hamilton). 
Joseph Pratt was one of the first landlords to start selling his land to his tenants under the Wyndham Land Acts of 1903. Joseph and Ina did much to improve their estate, farming and creating the garden within the old walled garden. The Heritage Centre gives us an idea of what life on the farm was like for both the home owners and the many people employed on the estate.
Joseph’s elder son Mervyn was injured in the wars and the younger Audley was killed in the First World War. The Heritage Centre located in the walled garden at Enniscoe displays a hippo skull which Audley brought home from Africa when he fought in the Boer War (1899-1902).
Major Mervyn lived all his life in Enniscoe, and was particularly interested in gardening and fishing. His rock garden and greenhouses were well-known. He never married, and left Enniscoe to his cousin Jack Nicholson, Susan’s father (Jack was a great-grandson of Madeline Jackson). Mervyn did not spend much time in Cabra Castle in County Cavan which he also inherited, and he left it to another cousin, Mervyn Sheppard.
Jack Nicholson married Patita Bourke, daughter of Captain Bertrim Bourke of Heathfield, County Mayo. In his blog, David Hicks tells us that Heathfield was purchased by the Land Commission and the family were allocated a farm at Beauparc, County Meath. He adds that former President of Ireland Mary Robinson was from the Bourke family of Heathfield.
Jack was a Professor of Veterinary Medicine, so I felt a bond with Susan, as my father, Desmond Baggot, was also a Professor of Veterinary Medicine! Jack was head of the Veterinary College of Ireland, so perhaps their paths crossed as my father was studying there at the time of my birth, before we moved to the United States where my father did his PhD in Ohio State University. Jack died in 1972 and Enniscoe house and lands passed to his children. In 1984 Susan Kellett took over the property from her brother.
The house is full of Patita’s creative and sometimes cheeky paintings.
The dining room was originally the library. The side nook was created by Susan’s parents. It has a simple early nineteenth century cornice of reeding and acanthus leaves.
Next we went up to the bedrooms. Susan’s son DJ and his wife Colette help to run the guest house. The main bedrooms open off the oval top-lit landing. They are classically proportioned large rooms with canopy or four poster beds, all with en suite bathrooms.
The bedrooms are on slightly different levels, since the newer part is of two storeys built on to the original three storey.
After our wonderful tour, we headed over to the walled garden and the North Mayo Heritage Centre, which also provides a genealogy service.  It is a member of the Irish Family History Foundation, which provides a country wide service through the website RootsIreland. North Mayo Heritage Centre covers the northern half of County Mayo, and the Centre in Ballinrobe covers the southern half.
There is mature woodland around Enniscoe that supports a diversity of plant, insect and animal species.
The walled garden was restored in 1996-9 under the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme. The head gardener at Enniscoe from 1872 to 1912 was William Gray, who moved to Enniscoe from St. Anne’s in Clontarf, where he had worked on Benjamin Lee Guinness’s estate. Much of the present ornamental garden is much as it was in William’s day.
 p. 151. Great Irish Houses. Forward by Desmond FitzGerald and Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008.
 Guy Beiner’s book entitled Remembering the Year of the French (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007) discusses folk history and how this French incursion and the 1798 Rebellion in Mayo is remembered.
During Heritage Week in 2021, Stephen and I went to County Sligo. We stayed in wonderful B&B accommodation in a historic house, Annaghmore, near Collooney, owned by the O’Haras, who have owned the estate in County Sligo for centuries.
We learned that the O’Haras and the Coopers, who own Coopershill, another section 482 property which we visited during Heritage Week, are related, and Coopers also owned Markree Castle until very recently. In 1989, Charles Cooper, having worked in the hotel business all his life, came back to Markree to renovate the castle and run it as a hotel. In 2015, the Corscadden family purchased the castle and undertook further renovations. This is the same Corscadden family who own Cabra Castle in County Cavan, who so generously upgraded Stephen and me to the honeymoon suite when we stayed! The Corscaddens also own Ballyseede Castle hotel in Tralee, County Kerry (also section 482) and Bellingham Castle in County Louth, which is available as a venue for weddings and events, with accommodation. Unfortunately Markree Castle is too expensive for us to stay in, except perhaps as a very luxurious treat, but I contacted the hotel and we made a date for my visit. When we arrived, however, we were told that they were in the middle of an event and we were asked to return in an hour or two. We took the time to explore the outside, although we were unable to access the gardens, which seem to be only accessible through the castle.
We wandered across the Unsin River to the stable complex, which has also been renovated for rental accommodation. We learned later that this accommodation is not part of Markree Castle hotel. In Mark Bence-Jones’s entry in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (published in 1988), he writes in the supplement that Edward Cooper and his wife moved into a new Georgian style house in the yard. The stables are now called Markree Homefarm Apartments and are available for rental accommodation. 
The castle replaced an earlier residence, which the Landed Estates website of National University of Ireland Galway tells us was called Mercury.  The first Cooper to own the property was Edward Cooper (died 1676), an officer in Lord Collooney Richard Coote’s regiment in Oliver Cromwell’s army. He was given the land at Markree, previously owned by the McDonaghs, as payment for his soldiering. He married the widow of an O’Brien killed by Cromwell’s army. She was called Mary “Rua” (Red Mary), and she probably married Cooper in order to protect her sons from the Cromwellians. According to the history board outside the castle, Red Mary and Edward Cooper lived first in Luimneach Castle (Luimneach is the Irish for Limerick), which one of her sons inherited, while the other inherited Markree. In his online blog, Patrick Comerford identifies Mary Rua’s husband as Conor O’Brien, and writes that it was Dromoland Castle that Mary Rua’s son inherited.  In the family tree on the information boards, Edward Cooper also married Margaret Mahon, from County Roscommon. This accords with The Peerage website, but according to that website, Arthur, Edward’s son who inherited Markree, was Margaret Mahon’s son and not the son of Red Mary. According to The Peerage, Edward’s son Richard lived in Knocklong, County Limerick. 
During the Williamite wars at the end of the 17th century, Markree Castle was occupied by the army of James II. The Coopers returned after William III’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
The Coopers intermarried with other prominent local families, including the Cootes, Wynnes and Synges, and by the 1720s, Joshua Cooper (1694-1757) was one of the largest landowners in Co Sligo, with over 40,000 acres.
Arthur Cooper, who inherited Markree from his father Edward who fought in Cromwell’s army, had a daughter named Anne who married John Perceval (1700-1743) of Temple House in County Sligo, another Section 482 property, which unfortunately we did not get to visit this year. I hope to be able to visit next year! In 1881 Alexander Perceval of Temple House married Charlotte Jane O’Hara of Annaghmore, so the owners of our accommodation are cousins of the owners of Temple House. Furthermore, we visited two other Section 482 properties in Sligo during Heritage Week: Coopershill and Newpark, both of which are also owned by cousins of the O’Haras of Annaghmore!
It was Arthur’s great-great-grandson Joshua Edward Cooper (about 1759-1837) who built the castle in 1802 around an earlier structure. Arthur’s son Joshua (1694-1757) married Mary Bingham from Newbrook, County Mayo. His son, another Joshua (1730-1800), was MP for County Sligo and opposed the Act of Union, which abolished the Irish Parliament, so that Ireland was run by the Parliament in London. He married Alicia Synge, daughter and heiress of Edward Synge, Bishop of Elphin, and she brought him a large fortune. 
His son Joshua Edward Cooper (about 1759-1837) was also MP for County Sligo in the Irish House of Commons, and after the Act of Union he sat in the House of Commons in London until 1806. According to the Dictionary of Irish Biography, he replaced Catholic leaseholders with Protestants to acquire more voting power, which caused considerable resentment and which may have been the reason that his house was sacked in 1798 during the Rebellion. This may be why he commissioned Francis Johnston to enlarge Markree in 1802, to make it into a castle – it may have needed repair. We came across the work of Francis Johnston (1760-1829) when we visited Rokeby in County Louth. Johnston had been a pupil of the architect Thomas Cooley. At the time when he was commissioned by Joshua Edward Cooper, Johnston had been working on Townley Hall in County Louth, which I was lucky enough to visit recently during the annual Adams auction viewing that is held in the house. It has an amazing staircase and domed rotunda.
Johnston also Gothicized Tullynally Castle in County Westmeath, 1801-1806, and enlarged Killeen Castle in County Meath 1802-1813. He also designed Ballynegall House (1808-1816) in County Westmeath, sadly now just a ruin, and Ballycurry House, County Wicklow (1807), along with many ecclesiastical and civic buildings, including the General Post Office on O’Connell Street in Dublin, in 1814.
The castle is a stone twelve-bay, three-storey over raised basement mansion which contains parts of earlier houses.  The bays are easier to count at the back (i.e. the garden front) of the castle. According to Mark Bence-Jones, the original seventeenth century house was rebuilt in the eighteenth century as a three storey block, with a five bay front and a three bay breakfront, and a garden front of one bay on either side of a curved bow. The castle was enlarged in 1802 to a design by Francis Johnston, and then in 1866 enlarged again, to a design by James Maitland Wardrop of Edinburgh. I found it impossible to work out what part of the castle was built when, so I defer to Mark Bence-Jones:
In 1802, Joshua Cooper commissioned Francis Johnston toenlarge this house and transform it into a castle of the early, symmetrical kind. Johnston extended the front of the house to more than twice its original length to form a new garden front with a central curved and Irish battlemented tower; the end bay of the original front and the corresponding bay at the end of Johnston’s addition being raised to give the impression of square corner-towers. The entrance was in the adjoining front, where Johnston added a porch; the garden front, with its bow, was not altered as far as its plan went; but an office wing was built at one side of it, joined to it by a canted link. In 1866, the castle was further enlarged and remodelled by Lt-Col. E.H. Cooper, MP, to the design of Wardrop, of Edinburgh. The garden front bow was replaced by a massive battlemented and machiocolated square tower, increasing the side of the dining room; a new entrance was made at this side of the castle, under a porte-cochere at the end of a 2 storey wing with Gothic windows which was built jutting out from this front. Johnston’s porch was replaced by a 2 storey battlemented oriel, and mullioned windows to match were put in on this and the new entrance front. A Gothic chapel was built where Johnston’s office wing had been. 
One enters through the arched doorway in the battlemented vaulted stone portico. The doorway leads to a straight flight of stone stairs leading up to the main floor, under an impressive vaulted ceiling.
Joshua Edward Cooper (1761-1837) became unwell and his brother Edward Synge Cooper (1762-1830) took over the running of the estate in Sligo and became MP for County Sligo in 1806. Joshua Edward Cooper and his wife Elizabeth Lindsay, daughter of Robert Lindsay, MP, from County Tyrone, had no children, so Edward Synge Cooper’s son, Edward Joshua Cooper (1798-1863), inherited Markree when Joshua Edward Cooper died in 1837. As well as serving in the House of Commons in the UK, Edward Joshua Cooper was an astronomer, who created Markree Observatory. He was influenced by childhood visits to the Armagh Observatory.
Edward Joshua Cooper (1798-1863) had no son, only daughters, so his nephew Edward Henry Cooper (1827-1902), son of his brother Richard Wordsworth Cooper (1801-1850), inherited Markree. When he inherited, he then put his stamp on the castle by having it further enlarged (the Wardrop enlargement).
Wardrop also added the Gothic chapel.
At the top of the vaulted entrance staircase one can go through to the main reception, or to the left, to the chapel.
Edward Henry Cooper (1827-1902) was an Irish officer in the British Army, and a Conservative politician in the House of Commons in the UK. He was defeated in the 1868 election by the Liberal candidate Denis Maurice O’Conor from Clonalis in County Roscommon (another section 482 property still owned by its original family). When he died, Markree was inherited by his grandson Bryan Ricco Cooper (1884-1930), who was born in Simla in India. He was an MP for South Country Dublin (1910) at Westminster, and was involved in the Gallipoli landings during World War I. During the Irish Civil War in the 1920s, Markree Castle was occupied briefly by the Irish Free State army. Bryan Ricco Cooper was elected to Dail Eireann after Independence. He sold much of the estate’s land but continued to live at Markree.
The Castle stood empty and derelict for several years after World War II, and featured on the front cover of The Vanishing Country Houses of Ireland in 1988, illustrating the decay of many great houses at the time. Charles Philip Cooper, a grandson of Bryan Ricco, who had worked in the hotel industry, converted Markree into a hotel in 1989.
The reception hall is surrounded by a carved wooden gallery and contains a Victorian double staircase of oak, lit by a heraldic stained glass window illustrating the family tree with portraits of ancestors and monarchs.
According to Mark Bence-Jones, the great top-lit galleried hall with a timbered roof is located where Johnston’s staircase used to be.
It was hard to capture it all in photographs, there were so many details!
A long library divided by pairs of grey marble Ionic columns has been formed out of Johnston’s entrance.
The large drawing room in Johnston’s round-faced tower in the middle of the garden front, and the ante-room adjoining it, which are now the dining room, were redecorated between 1837 and 1863 by Edward Joshua Cooper, MP, in an ornate Louis Quatorze style, with much gilding and “well-fed” putti in high relief supporting cartouches and trailing swags of flowers and fruits.
Unfortunately nobody could explain the fabric of the building and its stages of renovation and enlargement and the manager was unable to identify the portraits on the walls. However, we asked to see inside a bedroom, and were taken down to the basement to see the honeymoon suite. The basement is the oldest part of the castle.
 p. 201. Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses. Originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978; Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
Listed Open dates in 2021 but check due to Covid restrictions: May 1-31, June 1-9, Aug 15-23, Oct 1-14, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student €5, child free
Thomas Cosby kindly agreed to show us his home, Stradbally Hall, in June, despite ongoing Covid restrictions. This year (2021) Section 482 houses are not required to be open to the public due to the dangers of the Covid virus.
Many people have heard of Stradbally nowadays as it is the venue for Electric Picnic. Being the venue for a festival brings in much-needed finances for some of the big houses in Ireland. Stradbally is owned by the same family for whom it was built, and it is magnificent. I can only imagine how hard it is to maintain. Like many of the owners who inherit their big houses, Thomas farms his land.
Mark Bence-Jones tells us in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses that a house was built at Stradbally in 1699 for Lt-Col Dudley Cosby (1662-1729).  This house, however, was demolished by the grandson of Lt-Col. Dudley, another Dudley (Alexander Sydney) Cosby, 1stand last Lord Sydney of Leix and Baron of Stradbally, in 1768, and a new house was built in 1772, on what was regarded to be a healthier site. It is a nine bay, two storey over basement house. The stone walls of the original house gardens are now the walled garden.
The second (1772) house was enlarged in 1866-69, designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, of Lanyon, Lynn & Lanyon, to form the house which we see today. Lanyon, Lynn & Lanyon also designed Castle Leslie, which we visited – another Section 482 property which is now a hotel. 
Lt-Col. Dudley Cosby was not the first Cosby to live in Ireland. The Cosby, or Cosbie, family, came to Ireland around 1538, during the reign of Queen Mary (i.e. “Bloody Mary,” the eldest daughter of King Henry VIII, called “Bloody” as she used bloody means to defend the Catholic faith). General Francis Cosby (1510-1580) was an active defender of the Pale in Ireland, the area around Dublin controlled by the British crown, and in 1562 he was granted the site of the Abbey of Stradbally.  Francis Cosby married the daughter of the Lord Protector of England, Edward Seymour, the 1st Duke of Somerset. Lord Seymour was the brother of Jane Seymour, wife of Henry VIII. Due to the struggles for power within the court of Henry VIII, Lord Seymour was executed. Francis Cosby came to Ireland at this time. The Abbey, which had been disestablished in Henry VIII’s time (i.e. was taken from the Catholic church and no longer served as an Abbey) became Francis Cosby’s residence, and part of it still exist in the town of Stradbally in a building still called “the Abbey.”
General Francis Cosby died in battle, at the age of seventy, in the battle of Glenmalure in Wicklow, in 1580. He was succeeded by his son, Alexander. Alexander and his son, Francis, continued to fight, engaged in perpetual battle, Major E.A.S. Cosby tells us, with the O’Moores, who had originally controlled the land in the area. In 1596 Anthony O’Moore sent to demand a passage over Stradbally Bridge. Alexander understood this to be a challenge, so he refused passage, and prepared to fight once again, along with his son Francis. That day both Alexander and Francis Cosby were killed, leaving Francis’s nine week old son, William, to inherit. Parts of Stradbally Bridge still exist.
William died at a young age and so his uncle, Richard, inherited the Stradbally estate. Richard challenged the O’Moores to a further fight to avenge his father, and this time he won. Having won one battle each, the fighting seems to have subsided. Richard married Elizabeth Pigott, daughter of the neighbour Robert Pigott of Dysart.
It was Richard’s great-grandson, Lt-Col. Dudley Cosby (1662-1729) who built the house at Stradbally pictured in the 1740 painting. His grandson of the same name, Dudley Alexander Sydney Cosby (1732-1774), served as Ambassador to the Court of Denmark, and for his services, was created Lord Sydney of Leix and Baron of Stradbally, in 1768. When serving as Ambassador to Denmark he helped to arrange the marriage of King George III’s sister to the son of the King of Denmark. It was an unsuccessful marriage and she left her husband for the Prime Minister of Denmark! Despite the lack of success of the marriage he helped to arrange, Dudley Cosby was elevated to the peerage. He married Lady Isabella St Lawrence, daughter of Thomas St Lawrence, 1st Earl of Howth (who lived in Howth Castle – the castle only recently passed out of ownership of the St. Lawrence family).
The overseer for the building of the new house built in 1772 for Dudley Cosby, Lord Sydney was Arthur Roberts (stated on a plaque which reads: “Built by Dudley, Lord Sydney, 1772, Arthur Roberts, overseer.”) The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that Dudley died before the house was finished, and his successor Admiral Phillips had to sell 5000 acres to finance the completion. 
Dudley Lord Sydney died soon after his marriage, and did not have any children. The estate passed to his nephew, son of his brother Alexander, Admiral Phillips Cosby. Phillips’s father, Alexander, was Lieutenant Governor of Annapolis Royal in the United States, and Alexander’s brother William was Governor of New York. William’s daughter Elizabeth Cosby married Lord Augustus Fitzroy and her son, Augustus Henry Fitzroy (the 3rd Duke of Grafton), became Prime Minister of England in 1767.
Phillips was born in the United States and was active in the Navy, in which he continued to serve after inheriting Stradbally Hall. He served on the British side in the American War of Independence. He collected many paintings, as discussed in Stradbally’s webpage.
Admiral Phillips had no children, so the estate passed to Thomas Cosby (d. 1798), to his son Thomas (d. 1832), to his son Thomas Phillips, and on down to his nephew Colonel Robert Cosby (1837-1920), son of Sydney Cosby who had married the daughter and co-heir of Robert Ashworth of Shirley House, Twickenham (his brother Wellesley Pole Cosby had married the other daughter and co-heir).
Colonel Robert Cosby then employed Charles Lanyon (in 1866) to enlarge the house, remodelling it in an Italianate style. He inherited a fortune, and built houses in the nearby village of Stradbally, following in the footsteps of his forebears who had also sought to develop the village.
Stradbally passed to his son, also in the military, Captain Dudley Cosby (1862-1923), and to his son, Major Ashworth Cosby (1898-1984). Major Ashworth married Enid Elizabeth Hamilton from nearby Roundwood, County Laois.
It was Major Ashworth’s grandson, Thomas, who showed us around the house. Thomas’s young son joined us in the Billiard room to look at the old painting of Stradbally, and asked a few intelligent questions, so he is learning the history of his home also!
Mark Bence-Jones tells us that Lanyon added a new entrance front, which was advanced from the old front wall so that the house became three rooms deep instead of two. This front has an impressive single-storey balustraded Doric portico leading up a flight of stone steps to the front door. On either side of the portico are a group of three round-headed windows, and beyond those on either side, a two-bay block projecting forward.
The upper storey windows are what Bence-Jones describes as “camber-headed” (he defines camber-headed windows as a window of which the head is in the form of a shallow convex curve). 
The house was given a high-pitched eaved roof on a bracket cornice.
After our tour of the house, we walked around to the back of the house as I wanted to see what Bence-Jones had described: “On the garden front, Lanyon left the two three sided bows, but filled in the recessed centre with a giant pedimented three arch loggia.” It is impressive! According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, this was originally the front of the house, but when the three arches were added, so was the Doric portico on what is now the entrance front, so this impressive two storey over basement treble arch was never intended, it seems, as an entry to a front door! 
The arches extend into shallow barrel-vaults with well-executed coffering. The door into the garden has an arched pediment over it on brackets. 
The side of the house has a bow in the centre, and rectangular windows with entablatures on console-brackets over them.
The other end of the house is a slightly lower two storey over basement “bachelor’s wing” (this may have been used for visiting single gentlemen.)
Pole Cosby (b. 1703), son of the first Lt-Col Dudley Cosby, wrote an autobiography.  His return from a Grand Tour of Europe is pictured in the 1740 painting in the Billiard Room. He says that his father married and set up house at Stradbally. He built the first big house on the estate, with some help from his wife’s dowry. He created gardens and kept racehorses, which, however, his father-in-law did not like and in fact paid him £100 not to keep them, which Lt-Col Dudley did not strictly observe! His wife, Sarah Pole, Pole Cosby’s mother, was from nearby Ballyfin, now a luxury hotel.
Dudley Cosby overstretched his finances, however, and he had to go into the Army, purchasing a Captain’s Commission in a Regiment. He leased out Stradbally, and his wife returned to Ballyfin while he was fighting abroad. Her father died but she continued to live with her brother in Ballyfin in the winter and in his house in Queens Street, Dublin, in the summer, for five years. The children were sent to board with a family for schooling and to learn French.
After five years, Dudley and his wife Sarah moved to London “for cheapness” and then to York. They returned to Stradbally in 1714 in better financial circumstances and he continued to do up the house and garden. Pole Cosby’s autobiography is very detailed and he writes of the places in which he lived and of his father’s battles in the military, then of his own schooling, listing all of his schoolmates. He also discusses family finances in detail. He writes that his father financed himself at first by marrying Miss Ann Owens daughter of Sir Andrew Owens of the City of Dublin and “with her he got £1500,” then in 1699 he married Sarah Pole and “got with her £2000.” He paid £300 for his Captain Commission and had to pay £100 to for his brother Alexander for not finishing his apprenticeship (this was the Alexander who moved to the U.S. along with his brother William).
Pole Cosby went to university in Leyden in Holland, as did several of his Irish cousins. There he was studious and abstemious, he tells us. He travelled while in Europe and was introduced by Lord Townsend to King George I and his son Frederick Prince of Wales. He visited a monastery of Irish priests in Prague and argued with them about religion – they told him he was a heretic and would be damned, but when not talking of religion he says they got along very well!
Pole’s son was the second Dudley, who built the new (current) house, whose successor was Phillips Cosby his uncle.
But let us go around to the front again. The sides of the Doric portico hold niches.
I love the little doors at either side of the Doric portico.
In the Doric portico is a round-headed door opening and timber panelled double door with overpanel.
The door leads into an entrance hall with a vaulted ceiling and a flight of steps up to the level of the principal storey.
We went first to the billiard room on our right (the newer, Lanyon designed part of the house) to see the large painting of old Stradbally. From the billiard room you have a good view of the beautiful cut-stone farm buildings.
The three reception rooms on the garden front: the dining room, saloon and drawing room remain much as they were before the Lanyon renovation, with late-Georgian plasterwork.
I admired the beautiful lamp shade over the dining table, and the plasterwork ceiling, which the National Inventory describes as “Adamesque” (ie. like the work of William Adams and his sons, most famous of whom are Robert and James). Andrew Tierney in his Buildings of Ireland describes the frieze of swags “framing calyxes and paterae”, and a “guttae cornice.” Patera is a round or oval ornament in shallow relief, and calyxes are the whorls of a plant that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a bud. A guttae is one part of a post-and-lintel structure.
The ceiling centrepiece is of acanthus, anthemion and circles of laurel interweaving around a ribbon-and-reed moulding.
In the dining room are portraits of the Third Earl of Mornington, who was the elder brother of the Duke of Wellington (their grandfather, the 1st Baron of Mornington, was born Richard Colley, and he inherited from his cousin and took the name Wesley, which was later changed to Wellesley. His sister Anne Colley married William Pole, of the Poles of Ballyfin); Captain Thomas Cosby of the Royal Horse Guards; and of Emily and Marie Ashworth by Sir Thomas Laurence (Sydney Cosby, son of Thomas who inherited Stradbally from Phillips Cosby, married Emily Ashworth from Twickenham). Elsewhere in the house, are portraits of Dudley Cosby Lord Sydney; the Prime Minister Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton; and George Earl of Halifax (William Cosby who was the Governor of New York married Grace Montagu, sister of the 1st Earl of Halifax).
From the Dining Room we went into the Saloon.
The stuccowork is carefully coloured with pale blue and salmon red, and there is paintwork on the ceiling:
The next room had a ceiling that took my breath away. It has a delicate band of acanthus fronds and an outer band of husks. Andrew Tierney describes also the gilded rinceau freize, in his Buildings of Ireland: Central Leinster. This is a frieze of leafy scrolls branching alternately to left and right. The walls have a Victorian paper in a gilt diamond pattern.
The ballroom, as Bence-Jones calls it, now the library, one of the additional rooms formed 1866-69, extends into the bow at the end of the house. It has a ceiling decorated with panels of early C19 pictorial paper in grissaille, i.e. painting using a palette of greys, or “gris” in French. There is a pink egg and dart and dentil cornice around the ceiling, and patterning similarly painted in the ceiling rose.
Back to the front of the house, is the study, on the other side of the front hall from the billiards room.
Amazing as the house is so far, the best is yet to come: the front hall leads to the stairwell. The former entrance hall, which keeps its eighteenth century chimneypiece, was made by Lanyon into a central top-lit staircase hall. The staircase is of Victorian oak joinery and leads up to a long picture gallery. This occupies the centre of the house, and is sixty feet in length and twenty in breadth, and is surmounted by an elaborate coffered and ornamented barrel-vaulted ceiling with glass roof of panels set in steel frame.
The gallery is flanked by narrow passages from which open the bedrooms. At the western end is a small lobby separated from the main portion by two pink marble Corinthian pillars, above which is an architrave decorated with a bold design in stucco.
After seeing the house, we went outside to wander around the gardens. The garden front looks on to Italianate gardens, laid out in 1867 by Maurice Armour.
There are also lovely walks around, of which we didn’t properly avail – we must have been tired!
There’s a lake on the property, and tennis court.
The stable complex matches the house, and was also designed by Lanyon, Lynn & Lanyon.
Inside the stable courtyard is a pretty little building, a well house with blind recessed arches and raised ornamental panels:
 p. 265. Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
 p. 598. Tierney, Andrew. The Buildings of Ireland: Central Leinster. Kildare, Laois and Offaly. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2019.
 Autobiography of Pole-Cosby of Stradbally, Queen’s County (1703-1766) originally published in the Journal of the Co Kildare Archæological Society and Surrounding Districts, Vol V, 1906-1908. https://www.ornaverum.org/reference/pdf/183.pdf
Listed Open Dates in 2021: May 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, June 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, July 1-3, 5-9, 12-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-22, 26-28, 30-31, Sept 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-30, 2pm- 6pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 10 years €2, over 10 years €3
In July 2021, Stephen and I dropped in to Salthill Garden on our way up to visit his mum in Donegal. Salthill Garden is just outside Donegal town. The gardens are listed in the Revenue Section 482 list, but the house is not, although the house was built in approximately 1770 and might have been designed by Thomas Ivory (1732 – 1786), who built the beautiful Blackhall Place in Dublin, which now houses the Law Society.
Salthill House was the house for Agent to Conyngham family of The Hall, Mountcharles. The Conynghams of Slane Castle are descendants of the Conynghams of Mountcharles. 
The Conynghams lived in Donegal possibly as early as 1660, when Albert Conyngham purchased land there.  The first Conyngham to move to Ireland was Alexander (1610-1660), who joined the clergy and was appointed in 1611 to be the first Protestant minister of Enver and Killymard, County Donegal.  He was appointed to the deanery of Raphoe in Donegal in 1630. His son Albert lived at Mountcharles. It was Albert’s son Henry (1664-1705), a military man who also served as MP for County Donegal, who moved to Slane Castle in County Meath. I thought the Mountcharles was named after a Charles Conyngham, but since there are no Charles’s in the early Conynghams of Mountcharles, I believe Mountcharles may have been named in honour of King Charles of England.
The gardens are a great achievement, recreating a flourishing walled garden. It is a good example of a walled garden that has been brought back to life to provide fruits and vegetables for the home owners, as well as flowers, and a place of beauty and tranquility for any visitor. There is an information centre but it and the toilet facilities were closed due to the Covid pandemic. There is a cafe nearby at the nearby Salthill Pier, the Salthill Cabin.
Slane Castle was originally owned by the Flemings, who became Lords of Slane. The Fleming estates were forfeited in 1641 (after a rebellious uprising), from William 14th Baron Slane and his son Charles, 15th Baron Slane, but restored to them in 1663 (after the Restoration of Charles II to the throne, who restored land to those who were loyal to the monarchy through the time of Cromwell and the Parliamentarians). The 15th Baron had left Ireland after his land was confiscated and fought in Louis XIVth’s French army, and died in 1661. It was his brother Randall Fleming the 16th Baron Slane who was restored to his estate under the Act of Settlement and Distribution.  However, the Flemings’ land was forfeited again, in 1688, with the coming to the throne of William III. It was in 1703 that Henry Conyngham purchased land in Slane.
Henry Conyngham’s son Henry (1705-1781) was created 1st Earl Conyngham of Mountcharles, County Donegal but he died without issue. His sister Mary married Francis Burton and their son Francis Pierpoint Burton took the name of Conyngham and became 2nd Baron Conyngham of Mountcharles. The Conynghams were one of the largest landowners in Donegal: by 1876 the third Marquess Conyngham (George Henry, 1825-1882; the 3rd Baron became the 1st Marquess) and the wider family owned four separate estates in the county amounting to over 122,300 acres of land, as well as extensive landholdings in Clare (centred around Kilkee) and Meath (centred around Slane), and in Kent in the south-east of England.
The Conyngham’s agent’s house was called Salthill because the area was known in Irish as Tamhnach an tSalainn (‘the Field of Salt’). The anglicization of this is “Tawnyfallon,” as Salthill was also known. The fields along the coast flooded and when they dried, the salt could be collected. This provided an income for the locals and for the Conynghams.
Salthill House was the residence for Hugh Montgomery, Esq. according to the 1777 – 83 Taylor and Skinner map of the area . There is a record of the renewal of a lease on ‘Tawnyfallon, otherwise Salthill’ from Henry Conyngham (1st Marquess) to a Francis Montgomery in 1824 (Conyngham Papers). The National Inventory adds that Salthill was the home of a Leonard Cornwall, Esq., in 1838 (marriage record) and 1846 (Slater’s Directory), and a Robert Russell in 1857 – c. 1881 (latter date in Slater’s Directory). The Hall, belonging to the Conynghams, was sold after World War II by the 6th Marquess.
The walled garden of Salthill House was built around 1800.  The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that the walls are constructed of coursed rubble and random rubble stone masonry, and that the South-east wall abuts main outbuilding to the rear of the house.
More recently, the house was the home of John and Nancy McCaffrey until the early 1980s, when it was purchased by Lynn Temple of Magees, the manufacturers and promoters of Donegal Tweed, and his wife Elizabeth. The Irish Historic Houses website describes the work that the current owner, Elizabeth Temple, has carried out in the garden:
During the last thirty years Elizabeth has re-created the walled garden, which is sheltered by the house and yards, slowly and patiently. She complimented the original gravel paths with hedges and grass paths to provide additional structure, and concentrated on plants that thrive in this northernly environment. The result is an authentic country house walled garden, skilfully planted with a combination of perennials and shrubs, interspersed with vegetables, herbs and fruit trees…the gravel avenue, curved sweep and yards are skilfully raked into swirling curvilinear patterns that recall the abstract la Tène ornamentation that influenced Irish early Christian art. [see 6]
We were greeted at the gate by Elizabeth Temple. I asked her about the curvilinear patterns mentioned in the Historic Houses of Ireland website, but instead she explained that she likes to plant in such a way that there are several layers to see, of graduated heights, in each direction you look. There were several visitors that day so we did not get to chat as much as I may have wished but the day was a little rainy also, so we did not linger for as long as the gardens deserve. We shall have to visit again!
Today an exhibition opened in the City Assemby House in South William Street in Dublin, the home of the Irish Georgian Society, of paintings of walled gardens of Ireland. The exhibition coincides with a television documentary about walled gardens airing this Sunday on RTE. There will also be a conference in May 2022 about the Irish country house garden, along with another exhibition, and a book edited by Finola O’Kane-Crimmins on the same subject.
The exhibition features the work of four artists, all owners of big houses: Lesley Fennell of Burtown, County Kildare; Andrea Jameson of Tourin, County Waterford; Alison Rosse of Birr Castle, County Offaly; and Maria Levinge of Clohamon, County Wexford. All of the houses but the last are on the Section 482 listing this year.
Many walled gardens are pictured, and I was delighted to recognise some.
I will be invigilating the exhibition on Wednesday 29th September 10:00 – 1:30, along with some other dates, and was there today. The launch was last night, and I was delighted that some of the artists dropped in today while I was there.
Robert O’Byrne curated the exhibition and introduced the invigilators to the work. During the year the Georgian Society ran a programme of interviews with the artists, by Robert O’Byrne, and these are available to watch at the exhibition.
My photographs, taken on my phone rather than with my Canon camera, do not do justice to the paintings.
We visited Birr Castle in 2019 and I took the same view as that painted above!
According to the small catalogue, which is available for purchase, there are about 8,000 walled gardens in Ireland! The exhibition features about thirty different walled gardens, some public and some private.
Many Section 482 houses featured in this blog have walled gardens. Most recently, I wrote about Killineer in County Louth, which is not in this exhibition. Barmeath, also in Louth, and Cappoquin in County Waterford, are included, as well as Lodge Park and Larchill in Kildare, both of which are listed in Section 482 and which I have yet to visit.
I think Robert Wilson-Wright was digging the pond featured in Lesley Fennell’s painting of Coolcarrigan, on the day that we visited!
I didn’t realise that the splendid greenhouse at Woodstock, County Kilkenny, which we visited last month, is not the original Turner-built one, but a reproduction of it.
I particularly liked the painting that Andrea Jameson did of herself struggling to paint “en pleine aire” in the wind in her garden in Tourin.
The painters paint their own gardens, and each others’. Gardens featured which are open to the public include Lismore Castle in Waterford, Altamont in Carlow, Kilmacurragh in County Wicklow, Heywood in County Laois (my father remembers seeing the fire which burnt down the house!), Doneraile in County Cork, and Russborough, which I didn’t know has a walled garden.
Some of the gardens are in Northern Ireland, such as at Glenarm and Crom Castle.
Stephen and I have been lucky enough to visit many walled gardens in our explorations of Section 482 properties, and have many more still to visit. We toured rather extensively around Ireland during Heritage Week this year and I have lots to write that I hope to publish soon!
Open dates in 2021 but check due to Covid-19 restrictions: Feb 1-20, May 1-15, June 1-10, Aug 14-28, 9am-1pm
Fee: house: €4, garden €6
Stephen and I visited Killineer on Saturday June 9th, one of our first houses to visit once Covid restrictions eased. I like the drive up along the M1 motorway, over the Mary McAleese bridge. The house has entrance gates.
The house is a Regency house, that is, of the Classical style built shortly after the period in England when George IV was Prince Regent (1811-1820, when King George III was ill). Like many Regency houses, it has a stucco facade and columns framing the front door, with a Doric single-storey portico.
The house was built for a local businessman, George Harpur, who made his fortune in trade, dealing in salt and timber. He would have availed of the nearby port to bring in his salt, and timber from Canada. Salt was used to preserve meats and was a precious commodity. Harper married Louisa Ball in 1835, daughter of George Ball (1755-1842) of Ballsgrove, County Louth, and his wife Sarah Webber.
Killineer house was completed in 1836. The front, of two storeys, has six bays on top and a Doric single-storey portico flanked by two bays on either side. The corners have double-height pilasters. The house has a basement and the back is of three storeys. The sides are of three bays, with entablatures over the ground floor windows.
Harpur surrounded the house with seventeen acres of garden, creating terraces and a lake which on the site of an earlier rough pond. A house already stood on the property, the remains of which are in the walled garden behind the current house.
The earlier house, now located in the walled garden behind the house, may have been built by George Pentland (1770-1834), who owned the property before Harpur, before he moved to Blackhall in 1815, which was begun in approximately 1790 by a fellow solicitor, Philip Pendleton.  Before that, the land was owned by Thomas Taylour of Headfort House, County Meath.
The Harpurs had no children and the house was sold, probably after George Harpur died in 1888. Unfortunately, any record of the plans for the house or garden have been lost, so neither the architect nor the creator of the garden has been identified.
The house passed through several owners until the present family, including Robert Ussher, and the Montgomery family of Beaulieu, County Louth. Richard Thomas Montgomery (1813-1890) of Beaulieu had a son, Richard Johnston Montgomery, who lived in Killineer house when he was High Sheriff of County Louth in 1910. Perhaps he lived at Killineer until he inherited Beaulieu. He married Maud Helena Collingwood Robinson of Rokeby Hall, another Section 482 property in Louth.
James Carroll, ancestor of the current owner, purchased the house in 1938. He was the grandson of Patrick James Carroll, a tobacco manufacturer from Dundalk. James’s daughter Grace lived in Killineer all of her life and never married. She died in 1999, and the house passed to her cousin, the current owner.
According to her obituary in the Irish Times, Grace became involved with the Order of Malta, of which her father had been president. She was the first woman in this country to be appointed Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion, Sovereign Military Hospitaller, Order of Malta. This was in recognition of her work and fundraising for those with disabilities in Drogheda. She was instrumental in helping fund The Village, a training centre for those with special needs, built in the former Presentation Convent. 
She maintained the gardens laid out by George Harpur, and they were featured in Country Life in 1998. We enjoyed a wander in the lovely gardens after the owner Charles Carroll gave us a tour inside.
The house has an impressive octagonal entry hall, with niches and busts on plinths. It has four doors that look as if they lead off the hall, but two are only for symmetry and do not open. The house itself has a classical layout of four rooms plus the hall on the ground floor, a basement, and the bedrooms above. It has an “imperial” staircase – a staircase which bifurcates into two. A lovely stained glass window of browns, blues and yellows, made by Edward Lowe of Dublin who also did the windows in Collon’s Church of Ireland, has the Carroll coat of arms in the middle.  Below the stairs, in a door, is another stained glass window, with a knight with a lion, which might also have been installed by the Carrolls.
The Carrolls are an ancient Irish family that can be traced back to the Carrolls of Oriel. Oriel was an area of Ireland. Donogh O’Carroll, King of Oriel, died in 1168 AD and the Carrolls of Oriel are his descendants. Patrick Carroll of Culcredan, County Louth, was born in 1600. The Carrolls of Killineer branch off from the main line of “the O’Carroll Oriel” after this Patrick Carroll.  
We entered the dining room first and sat down under a portrait of Grace to hear a little about the history of the house. The windows are French doors, and the room is panelled. It originally had a ceiling with a seascape of Neptune, but unfortunately the house was left empty for two years before the Carrolls purchased it and the ceiling was ruined. The ceiling now features a “very attractive bold circle of plasterwork in the centre of the ceiling,” as Mark Bence-Jones describes it. 
The plasterwork in the house is impressive. There are about five layers of cornice patterns around the ceiling in the study, such as ovals and egg-and-dart, and the rooms have wood-like plaster panelled walls. The rooms are decorated in a French empire style of gilt and a deep rose colour. Charles pointed out that some of the plasterwork over the doors may have been added later, as it is a little too ornate and does not quite fit with the rest of the plasterwork.
The fourth room on the ground floor has been divided in two, probably after the house was built. The pattern around the ceiling continues in both rooms, and features griffons and centaurs and is coloured wine red, pale blue and pink. An unusual sculpted ceiling depicts the figure of Justice, doves, and a figure with a lyre.
A summer-house in the garden is designed to mirror the architecture of the house, and was probably also built by George Harpur.
It has windows and French doors on each side, and inside, it has plaster coving and niches.
The reeded doorcases with corner blocks carved with rosettes match the doorcases inside the main house.
The wrought iron bridge onto an island in the man-made lake is also contemporary with the house. 
Stretching from the house, the garden is terraced. It leads down through a canopy to a laurel maze and lawn laid out in an astragal pattern, to the lake, where a swan was guarding a nest. The lakes, created by George Harpur, are lined with a special yellow clay, which is very fine and hard, so it holds in the water particularly well. Yellow clay is impermeable and can be used to prevent damp in houses.
Behind the house lies the walled garden from the original house at Killineer. It is still in active use today producing fruits and vegetables. It has a glasshouse in which apricot, peach and nectarine trees grow, and an apiary that houses bees who pollinate the plants.
The attractive farm buildings are off-limits to visitors due to dangerous farm machinery.
The lush gardens were a treat after months of lockdown in Dublin. They were so peaceful, such an oasis from the everyday bustle. They remind us to stop, linger, and appreciate.
Robert O’Byrne notes that: A century earlier the land here had been granted by the local corporation on a 999-year lease to Sir Thomas Taylor, whose family lived atHeadfort, County Meath. It then passed to the Pentlands whose main residence was to the immediate east at Blackhall. At some date in the 18th century a house was built on the property: it appears on earlymapsbut little now remains other than one room which still retains sections of plaster panelling. Located to the rear of the walled garden, this space now serves as atoolshed.
It’s interesting that George Pentland’s son, George Henry Pentland (1800-1882), married Sophia Mabella Montgomery, of Beaulieu, since after George Harpur died, Killineer was owned by one of the Montgomery family from Beaulieu.
George Henry Pentland (1800-1882) married twice, once to Rebecca Brabazon and secondly to Sophia Mabella Montgomery, daughter of Rev. Alexander and Margaret Johnston. George Henry Pentland lived at Black Hall, Co Louth, as did his father George Pentland (1770-1834).
 Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
I have four hats: my pharmacist/vaccinator “hat,” my blogger hat, my farmer hat (see the photo of my harvest from yesterday) and my landlady hat! I am so busy at the moment, as my tenants left the apartment so I have been doing that up before renting out again (see my first ever tiling work). I only manage a terraced house and a two bedroom flat, but it keeps me so busy, I can only imagine what it is like to have to maintain a Big House! So my blogger hat has taken a back seat for awhile, despite having managed to visit a few Section 482 properties since lockdown lifted. Here is a taster of what is to come, when I finally get the time to write my blogs…the beautiful gardens of Killineer House in County Louth, and the astounding upper gallery of Stradbally Hall in County Laois.
Situated: GPS: N53-00497 W006-06.403 el 18m Ashford village, Exit 15/16 off main Dublin – Rosslare M11. 30km south of Dublin.
Open: Mount Usher Gardens open daily all year: 10am – 5pm (Last admission 4pm) Please check for Winter closing time.
Admission: Adults €8, Senior Citizens €7, Students €7, Children 4 – 16 €4, under 4yrs FREE. Groups (15 or more): Adults €7, Senior Citizens €6, Mixed Group €6.50 Guided Tours: €60.00 (Advance booking required). A Guided Tour takes approximately 90 minutes.
Facilities: Avoca Cafe, Food Hall, Shopping Courtyard, Toilets, Parking, Wheelchair access (limited). No dogs and no picnics.
Guided Tours: €60.00 (Advance booking required).
Best time to Visit: Any time
Before we were allowed to visit Section 482 houses, due to Covid 19 restrictions, we were allowed to visit gardens. Accompanied by our friends Owenroe, Deirdre, Dario and Niamh, Stephen and I headed to Wicklow one sunny Sunday in May. We had wonderful weather for the day, as you can see from my photographs. Before entering the gardens, there are some shops and a cafe.
Mount Usher is open all year to visitors. There is a house, but that is not part of the Section 482 listing, unfortunately! It looks idyllic, set in its lush gardens. Mark Bence-Jones calls it a “simple double bow-fronted house,”  and the National Inventory tells us it was built in 1922, and that there is a long two-storey house built in the 1990s to the rear of the house.  The gardens cover 23 acres, along the Vartry River.
One enters through the gift shop, a branch of Avoca. Inside, there is a small museum which tells the story of the gardens and its creators. Everything looked so beautiful that we could not resist picking up a hand cream for Stephen’s mother.
The area was named after the Ussher family. John Ussher (1646-1745) is mentioned in The Peerage website as living in Mount Ussher, County Wicklow. His father William Ussher is listed as living in Portrane, Dublin and “Castle of Grange, County Wicklow.” John’s son Christopher, born around 1690, was Secretary of the Linen Board – the later occupants of Mount Ussher, or Mount Usher, as it is now spelled, the Walpoles, were also in the Linen trade. Christopher Ussher inherited land in Galway which he passed to his heirs, and in Ussher Memoirs, compiled by Reverend William Ball Wright in 1889, there is no further mention of Mount Ussher. 
The museum tells us that Edward Walpole (1798-1878), a successful Dublin businessman, enjoyed walking in Wicklow, and he stayed in a hotel on weekends to indulge his passion. The Walpole family was involved in linen manufacturing. Thomas Simmons started a linen business in Bride Street in Dublin in 1766, and through mergers and a marriage it grew into Walpole Brothers Limited by 1866. Coincidentally, in 1816 the business moved to Suffolk Street in Dublin and occupied what is now Avoca Shop and Cafe on that street. Mount Usher had originally been a “tuck mill” where local people brought their home spun and woven cloth to be finished. This may be how Edward Walpole came across this location. He took over the lease of Mount Usher in 1868 and began to develop his garden, with the help of his sons. Seven years later he transferred the land to his sons: Thomas, George, William White and Edward. William White and George also continued in the Linen business, and developed their shop into a Gentlemen’s Outfitters. Their younger brother Edward joined the business and expanded to London.
The Walpoles were Quakers. They came originally from the settlement in Mountrath, County Laois – the National Library of Ireland contains documents relating to the Walpoles and their business . The Quakers in Ireland website tells us why Quakers were successful in business:
Why were Friends successful in this way? Modern business has become so competitive, and the profit motive so pervasive, that it is hard to imagine the strong influence their religious convictions exerted on them. They simply believed it was right to offer a good product for a fixed, and reasonable, price. They believed in honesty and integrity in all their dealings. A simple life-style, and not over-extending themselves financially, allowed them to build up their resources. Strict rules governing business methods for members meant that they were increasingly trusted with money, and some became bankers. Various laws, including those related to swearing oaths, prevented Friends from attending university and joining the professions for a couple of centuries, so they put their energies into business instead. Friends were good employers, and this led to a loyal workforce.
Also, and importantly, the structure of The Society of Friends from its earliest days, with a system of representatives from Meetings regularly visiting other Meetings, often in other parts of the country, created a network of relationships between like minded individuals and families. It was natural, therefore, that they would hear about, support, participate in and emulate each other’s ventures. 
The brothers acquired more land to add to their garden, adding weirs and bridges. Edward and George were influenced by William Robinson, who has been called “the father of English gardening.”
William Robinson (1838-1935) was born in Ireland. His first job was in Curraghmore, County Waterford. He progressed to become the foreman gardener in Ballykilcavan, County Laois, employed by Sir Hunt Johnson-Walsh. In 1862 Robinson found employment at the Royal Botanic Society’s garden at Regent’s Park in England. He resigned four years later in order to further his knowledge of gardening, and to write. He travelled in France and later more widely in Europe and the United States, and published books on horticulture. His most important work is The English Flower Garden (1883).  The Robinsonian style of gardening is to work with nature, as opposed to imposing order.
Walks and woods were added to the property as more land was acquired. The family also owned a house called Windsor Lodge in Monkstown in Dublin. Mount Usher passed to Edward Horace Walpole, the son of Edward Walpole (1837-1917) and Elizabeth Harvey Pim [perhaps his parents were fans of the writer, Horace, or Horatio, Walpole (1717-1797), who most famously wrote the Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto and who also embraced the Gothic style in his home, Strawberry Hill in southwest London – or perhaps they were related]. For over fifty years, Edward Horace enlarged and improved the garden, with the help of his head gardener, Charles Fox. Rare varieties of plants from China, Japan, the Himalayas, Chile, New Zealand and North America were added.
Edward Horace Walpole married Alice Dorothy Scanlan from Nottingham in 1912 in the Friends Meeting House (Quaker) in Nottingham.  His son Robert Basil Walpole sold Mount Usher.
In 1980 Madelaine Jay purchased the property, and she continued the garden following organic methods. The garden now covers twenty acres and has over 5000 plant species. It is now leased to Avoca.
What a great discovery it is to find this amazing garden! I can’t wait to return.
In the meantime, we have been able to begin to visit houses again listed for the Revenue 482. We visited another Quaker home, that of the Fennells of Burtown, County Kildare. More on that soon!
 Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988, Constable and Company Ltd, London.
The list of properties for 2021 has finally been published! Here it is – not too different from last year, though there are a few new places, and a few have been removed since last year.
List of approved buildings/gardens open to the public in 2021
Section 482 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997
Due to COVID restrictions properties may not be open as advertised, please check with the property owner before arranging a visit to any of the properties listed.
Borris, Co. Carlow Morgan Kavanagh Tel: 087-2454791 www.borrishouse.com Open: Feb 2-7, 9-14, 16-21, 27-28, June 1-3, 8-10, 15-16, 22-24, 29-30, July 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-21, 27-29, Aug 3-5, 10-12, 14-22, 24-26, 31, Sept 1-2, 12 noon -5pm Fee: adult €10, child €5, OAP/student €8,
Clonegal, Co. Carlow Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford Alexander Durdin Robertson Tel: 053-9377160 www.huntingtoncastle.com
Open: Feb 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Mar 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Apr 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16- 17, 23-24, Nov 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Dec 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 11am-5pm Fee: house/garden, adult/student €9, garden only €6, OAP house/garden €8, garden only €5, child house /garden €6, garden only €3, group and family discounts available
The Old Rectory
Killedmond, Borris, Co. Carlow. Mary White Tel: 087-2707189
Open: Jan 4-May 31, Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon-Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 17 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Fee: Free
Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork Gerald McGreal Tel: 087-2400831 Open: Mar 1-12, May 4-31, June 1-3, 14-25, July 17-18, 31, Aug 14-22, Wednesdays 2pm-6pm, Tues, weekends & National Heritage Week, 8am-12 noon
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3
Bantry House & Garden
Bantry, Co. Cork Julie Shelswell-White Tel: 027-50047 www.bantryhouse.com Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €11, OAP/student €8.50, child €6, groups over 8-20, €8 per person, groups 21+ €7 per person
Blarney Castle & Rock Close
Blarney, Co. Cork C. Colthurst Tel: 021- 4385252 www.blarneycastle.ie Open: all year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan-Mar, Mon-Sat, 9am- sundown, Sun, 9am-6pm, Apr-May, 9am-6pm, June-Aug, Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm, Sun, 9am-6pm, Sept, Mon-Sat, 9am-6.30pm, Sun, 9am-6pm, Oct, Nov, Dec daily 9am-6pm, Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes
Blarney House & Gardens
Blarney, Co. Cork C. Colthurst Tel 021- 4385252 www.blarneycastle.ie Open: June 1- Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 10am-3pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €7, concession joint with castle
Open: May 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, June 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, July 1-3, 5-9, 12-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-22, 26-28, 30-31, Sept 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-30, 2pm- 6pm Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 10 years €2, over 10 years €3
78-79 Grafton Street/234 Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2 Peter O’ Callaghan Tel 087-7179367 www.bewleys.com
Open: all year except Christmas Day, 11am-7pm Fee: Free
Hibernian/National Irish Bank
23-27 College Green, Dublin 2 Dan O’Sullivan Tel: 01-6755100 www.clarendonproperties.ie Open: all year, except Dec 25, Wed-Fri 9.30am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm, Sat, Mon, Tue, 9.30-7pm
11 North Great George’s Street
Dublin 1 John Aboud Tel: 087-7983099 www.number11dublin.ie Open: March 8-13, May 10-15, June 7-12, July 5-10, Aug 2-7, 14-22, Sept 6-12, Oct 4-9, Nov 8-11,15-18, 1pm-5 pm Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free under 12years
81 North King Street
Smithfield, Dublin 7 James Kelly Tel: 086-8597275 Open: Apr 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-30, May 1, June 1-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26, 28- 30, July 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-31, Aug 2-7, 9-28, 30-31, Mon-Fri, 9am- 4.30pm, Sat, 12.30pm-4.30pm
The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)
59 South William Street, Dublin 2 Mary Larkin Tel: 01-6717000 www.powerscourtcentre.ie Open: all year except New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, & Bank Holidays, Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Thurs, 10am-8pm, Sundays, 12 noon-6pm
10 South Frederick Street
Dublin 2 Joe Hogan Tel: 087-2430334 Open: Jan 1-24, May 1, 3-8, 10-15, 17-22, 24-27, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free
Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1 Ann French Tel: 087-2245726 www.thechurch.ie
Open: Feb 6-9, Mar 6-9, Apr 6-9, May 1-8, June 1-8, July 1-8, August 14-22, Sept 1- 8, Nov 6-9, Dec 6-9, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €6, child/OAP/student €3
Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin Lynne Savage Jones Tel: 087-2206222 Open: Apr 12-18, May 6-28, June 10-12, Aug 14-27, Nov 1-13, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free
2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18 Philip Harvey Tel: Philip, 087-2463865, Paul, 086-3694379 www.fahanmura.ie Open: March 15-28, Apr 5-10, May 6-14, June 14-20, July 5-10, Aug 14-22, Sept 11- 19, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free
Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin David Doran Tel: 086-3821304 Open: Feb 13-22, March 20-29, May 1-3, 10-16, June 18-27, Aug 14-23, Sept 18-27, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5
Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin Gráinne Casey Tel: 01-2804884 Open: Jan 28-29, Feb 1-5, 8-12, 15-22, May 4-31, Aug 14-22, Sept 1-3, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free
Delvin Bridge, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin Richard Berney Tel: 087-2847797 Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-29, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP/child/student €5
The Old Glebe
Upper Main Street, Newcastle, Co. Dublin Hugh F. Kerins, Martin Connelly Tel: Frank 087-2588356, Martin 087-6686996 Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Mon- Sat, Aug 14-22, 10am-2pm, 4 tours daily during National Heritage Week, 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, tour approx. 45 minutes
Fee: Free, voluntary contributions only in 2021 due to Covid-19. Proceeds to charity
Portrane, Co. Dublin Terry Prone Tel: 01-6449700 Open: March 6-Sept 26, Sat & Sun, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, student €4, OAP €1
Westminister Road, Foxrock, Dublin 18, Ruth O’Herlihy, Tel: 087-2163623 Open: Jan 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29, May 1, 4-8, 10-11, 17-22, June 8-12, 14-19, 21- 26, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student €2
Very Top of Primrose Lane, Lucan, Co. Dublin Robin Hall Tel: 01-6280373 Open: Feb 1-28, June 1-30, July 1-23, Aug 14-22, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP €6, child free
St. George’s Avenue, Killiney, Co. Dublin
Robert McQuillan Tel: 087-2567718 Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm
Open: Jan 14-17, 23-24, 28-29, Feb 4-7, 11-12, 19-21, 26-28, May 3-13,16, 18-20, 23-27, June 2-4, 8-10, 14-16, 19-20, Aug 14-22, weekdays 2.30pm-6.30pm, weekends 10.30am-2.30pm Fee: adult/OAP €8 student €5, child free, Members of An Taisce the The Irish Georgian Society (with membership card) €5
Open: Feb 1-5, 8-12, Mar 8-12, April 19-23, May 10-14, 17-21, Aug 4-10, 14-29, Sept 4-10, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free
Badgerhill, Kill, Co. Kildare Patricia Orr Tel: 086-2552661 Open: Jan 18-31, Feb 1-6, July 23-31, Aug 1-31, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, (Irish Georgian Society members free)
Ballitore Co Kildare Katharine Bulbulia Tel: 087-2414556 www.griesemounthouse.ie Open: April 19-23, 26-30, May 10-21, 17-21, 24-28, June 16-20, 23-30, July 5-9, 12- 16, 19-23, Aug 14-22, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3
Brannockstown, Co. Kildare Hubert Beaumont Tel: 087-2588775 www.harristownhouse.ie Open: Jan 11-15, 18-22, Feb 8-12, 15-19, May 4-28, June 7-11, Aug 14-22, Sept 6-10, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child €5
Celbridge Village, Co. Kildare June Stuart Tel: 01-6271206, 087-6168651 Open: Jan 1-20, May 18-26, Aug 11-31,10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3, child under 5 years free, school groups €2 per head
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April 1-Oct 31 Open: garden, April 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm, Fee: garden & heritage centre adult €8, OAP €6, child/student €3, family 2 adults and 2 children €15, tour of house €5 per adult, free two days National Heritage Week
Garden: Mar 18-Sept 30 daily, 10am-5pm, Aug & Sept, 11am-4pm Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €5, child €3.50, group concessions
Moyglare, Co. Meath Postal address Maynooth Co. Kildare Angela Alexander Tel: 086-0537291 www.moyglaremanor.ie Open: Jan 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29, May 1-21, 24-28, 31, June 1-3, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child €5
Slane, Co. Meath Alex Conyngham Tel: 041-9884477 www.slanecastle.ie Open: April 19-29, May 2-20, 23-27, 31, June 1-3, 7-10, Aug 14-22, Sept 29-30, Oct 1-2, 4-7, Sundays 12 noon-5pm, Monday – Saturday 11am-3pm
Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €12.50, child €8.40
St. Mary’s Abbey
High Street, Trim, Co. Meath Peter Higgins Tel: 087-2057176 Open: Jan 25-29, Feb 22-26, Mar 8-12, Apr 12-16, May 24-30, June 21-27, July 19- 25, Aug 14-22, Sept 13-17, 20-24, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student/child €2
The Former Parochial House
Slane, Co. Meath Alan Haugh Tel: 087-2566998 Open: May 1-Dec 22, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3
Kilmessan, Co. Meath Caroline Preston Tel: 086-2577939 Open: Mar 1-2, 4-5, April 5-6, 8-9, May 3-9, June 7-13, July 5-11, Aug 14-22, Sept 13-17, 20-24, Oct 4-5, 7-8, Nov 1-2, 4-5, Dec 6-7, 9-10, 11am-3pm
Open: all year including National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, 9am-1pm Fee: Free
Glaslough, Co. Monaghan Samantha Leslie Tel: 047-88091 www.castleleslie.com (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: all year, National Heritage Week, events August 14-22 Fee: Free
Hilton Park House
Clones, Co. Monaghan Fred Madden Tel 047-56007 www.hiltonpark.ie (Tourist Accommodation Facility) Open: April- Sept
House and garden tours available for groups, May, July, Aug, Sept, Monday-Friday, National Heritage Week, Aug 14-22, June 1-4, 10-14, 17-21, 24-29, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €6, child free