Slane Castle, County Meath

Contact: Pamela Ryan. Tel: 041-9884477

Open in 2020: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20

Today (Saturday 27th April 2019) we made our first official blog trip, my husband Stephen and I.  We started in the “ancient east,” going to Slane Castle. 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. [1]

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The view of Slane Castle from just inside the gate, driving in
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coming closer to the Castle
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the view over the beautiful River Boyne

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.

The Building of Slane Castle

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 it was built in 1785 for the second Lord Conyngham, 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. 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, although our guide told us the 2nd Lord Conyngham never married and the castle was inherited by his nephew. It was this nephew, who later became the 1st Marquess Conyngham, who completed the building. 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.

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Stephen in front of the Castle
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the intertwined “C” is the symbol of the Conyngham family

 

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. [2] The Flemings had their land confiscated 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.

Before moving to Slane, the Conynghams came from Donegal, and before that, they came from Scotland. They 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 had been taken from the Flemings before Christopher’s time, in 1641, when William Fleming, the 14th Baron, 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. [3] Many estates that had been confiscated by Cromwell’s parliament were restored when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660.

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!

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the Conyngham coat of arms, with its motto, Over Fork Over

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 [3]). 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 fought first in James II’s army, but then persuaded his regiment to transfer their loyalty to William III. Henry’s son William inherited the Slane estate. William 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 [4]. 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.  It was Francis Conyngham who continued the building of Slane Castle which his uncle William had begun.

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 [5]. 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.’” [6]

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.

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the menu in Browne’s Bar, which gives an explanation of the name, telling of the housekeeper
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the music theme of Browne’s Bar is reflected in the gramophone horn lampshade
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me in Browne’s Bar
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entrance to the bar and Gandon Restaurant
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outer entrance to the bar and Gandon Restaurant

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.

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album covers of musical performers at the Castle, in the bar: Van Morrison, Santana, Bruce Springstein, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, Chris Rea, Bob Dylan, U2 and Bon Jovi
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lovely picture of Phil Lynnott of Thin Lizzy carrying a child at Slane
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memorabilia from music events: I think the guitar was signed by Phil Lynott (it was signed, anyway)

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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.

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newspaper clippings about the fire, in the entry to pub and restaurant

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a bit of history, on the walls going to the dining area

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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 [7].

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.” [8]

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the stables, designed by Capability Brown, now a whiskey distillery
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I noticed this on the wall on the lower level outside the Castle – I don’t know its origin or age

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! [9]

 

[1] https://www.slanecastle.ie/tours/castle-tours/

[2] https://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/1323/the-flemings-barons-of-slane

[3] http://slanehistoryandarchaeologysociety.com/index.php/famous-people/13-the-flemings-and-the-conynghams

[4] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Meath%20Landowners?updated-max=2018-06-15T13:05:00%2B01:00&max-results=20&start=7&by-date=false

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Conyngham,_Marchioness_Conyngham

“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.”

[6] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/10/12/when-royalty-comes-to-call/

[7] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/10/24/vaulting-ambition/

[8] https://theirishaesthete.com/2014/10/27/after-the-horses-have-bolted/

[9] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/03/21/ireland-crossroads-of-art-and-design-vi/

Irish Historic Homes

 

Charleville, County Wicklow

contact: Mark Sinnott

Tel: 087-2987601

Open dates in 2020 but check due to Covid-19 restrictions: Jan 13-15, Feb 3-7, Mar 2-4, 23-25, June 8-13, 20, 22-27, July 6-12, 20-23, Aug 14-23, Sept 7-12, 26, Oct 5-7, 12-14, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

This was the least personal of our tours to date, when we went on Saturday May 18th 2019, as there was no sign of the owners, the Rohan family, living in the grand reception rooms, although apparently it is their family home. Ken and Brenda Rohan purchased the house in 1981. A visit to a house that is no longer owned by descendents of the early occupiers resonates less history, although in this case one must admit the current owners are probably no less invested than if their ancestors had occupied it for centuries, as they have maintained it to a high standard, and have carried out sensitive restoration to both house and garden. Dublin architect John O’Connell oversaw work on the interiors.

We are told in Great Irish Houses that the demesne is intact, with the original estate walls and entrance gates surviving. [1]

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Charleville, made of Wicklow granite, faced in ashlar. According to wikipedia, ashlar is “finely dressed stone, either an individual stone that was worked until squared or the structure built from it. Ashlar is the finest stone masonry unit, generally rectangular cuboid, mentioned by Vitruvius as opus isodomum, or less frequently trapezoidal.” A stone string-course divides upper from lower windows.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage website tells us that Charleville is a detached nine bay two storey Palladian style mansion, built in 1797 to designs by Whitmore Davis, an architect originally from County Antrim, who was then based in Dublin [2]. He also built another Section 482 house, Harristown House in County Kildare [3]. The house has a three-storey pedimented breakfront, the pediment is carried on four Ionic columns at the second and third storey level of the house, the ground floor level of the breakfront being “rusticated” as if it were a basement. [4] The windows on the ground floor level in the breakfront are arched. The Buildings of Ireland website claims that the breakfront facade is inspired by Lucan House in County Dublin, which is indeed very similar. Lucan House was designed by its owner, Agmondisham Vesey, consulting with architect William Chambers, a British architect who also designed the wonderful Casino at Marino in Dublin, as well as Charlemont House in Dublin (now the Hugh Lane Municipal Art Gallery) and the Examination Hall and Chapel in Trinity College Dublin.

Casino at Marino in Dublin, designed by William Chambers who helped to design Lucan House, which has similar breakfront to that of Charleville.

It was hard to find, as we were directed to the back entrance, and the gps gave us directions to a different entrance. However the person to whom I’d spoken, from Rohan Holdings, specified where to go. We found someone waiting to let us in. He was very friendly and when I stated my name, for him to write down along with licence plate of car, for security, he asked was I related to the Baggots of Abbeyleix! Indeed, I am the daughter of a Baggot of Abbeyleix! And are they related to the Clara Baggots, he asked? Yes indeed, they are my cousins! So that was a great welcome! He opened the gates for us and said he would see us on the way out, and he directed us down the driveway, toward visitor parking.

the side with its Wyatt window in the Morning Room overlooking the stretch of lawn.

Our tour guide came outside to meet us and invited us into the house. We entered a large impressive entry room. The guide told us that George IV was due to visit the house, but never came, as he was “inebriated.” After visiting Slane Castle, we knew all about George IV’s visit, and why he did not get to Charleville – he was too busy with his mistress in Slane Castle! The marquentry wooden flooring (applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures) in the front hall was installed at great expense in preparation for his visit to the house. It’s still in excellent condition.

The well-informed guide told us about the previous owners and shared details about the furniture and paintings. The house is perfectly suitably decorated, sumptuous and beautiful. The main reception rooms lead off the entrance hall and run the length of the facade. The house was built for Charles Stanley Monck (1754-1802), after his former house on the property was destroyed by fire in 1792. He succeeded his Uncle Henry Monck to the estate when his uncle died in 1787. Henry Monck had inherited from his father, Charles Monck (1678-1752). Charles Monck, a barrister who lived on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin, came into the property of Charleville through his marriage in 1705 to Agneta Hitchcock, the daughter and heiress of Major Walter Hitchcock. [5]

Although Henry Monck had no son to inherit his estate, he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married George le Poer Beresford, Marquess of Waterford, of Curraghmore. Charles Stanley Monck was the son of Henry’s brother Thomas Monck (1723-1772), and Judith Mason (1733-1814). He married Anne Quin in 1784, daughter of Dr. Henry Quin and Anne Monck (she was a daughter of Charles Monck and Agneta Hitchcock so was a first cousin). He rebuilt the house in the same year that he was raised to the peerage as Baron Monck of Ballytrammon, County Wexford. He was MP for Gorey, County Wexford, 1790-1798. In 1801, as a reward for voting for the Union of Britian and Ireland, he was awarded a Viscountcy.

As well as having Charleville rebuilt, he had a terrace of houses built in Upper Merrion Street in Dublin, according to wikipedia. Number 22 of this terrace was known as “Monck House,” and number 24 was Mornington House (where some say the Duke of Wellington was born) – the terrace is better known today for housing the Merrion Hotel.

side view of Charleville

The large entry hall has fluted Ionic columns, a ceiling with coving and central rosette plasterwork, an impressive fireplace and several doors. It is full of portraits, including, over the fireplace, a painting of the family of Lord Gort. The double-door leading to the staircase hall is topped with a decorative archway, and the passageway between the front hall and the staircase hall is vaulted.

Leading off the hallway were large double doors, “elevator style” (see Salterbridge), the guide pointed out that they are not hinged, and are held in place by the top and bottom instead, swinging on a small bolt from frame into door on top and bottom. They are extremely sturdy, smooth and effective.

The tour is limited to the outer and inner entrance halls, the morning, drawing and dining rooms.

Charles Stanley did not have long to enjoy his house as he died just a few years later in 1802. He was succeeded by his son Henry Stanley Monck (1785-1848), 2nd Viscount Monck, who was also given the title the Earl of Rathdowne. It was this Henry who made the alterations to the house in preparation for the visit of George IV in 1821.

Mark Bence Jones in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses tells us that the Grecian Revival plasterwork is probably designed by Richard Morrison. There are also floor length Wyatt windows to the side of the house, similar to ones added to Carton in Kildare in 1817 by Richard Morrison.

The staircase hall contains a cantilevered Portland stone staircase and a balustrade of brass banisters. Hanging prominently over the stairs is a huge portrait of George IV’s visit to Ireland, picturing the people saying goodbye to him at the quay of Dun Laoghaire. He stands tall and slim in the middle. The painter flatters the King who in reality was overweight. The other faces were all painted by the artist from life, as each went to pose for him in his studio. The scene never took place, our guide told us, as George IV was too drunk to stand on the quays as pictured!

The sitting room has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and the decorative plasterwork features musical instruments, gardening implements and sheaves of corn. Desmond Guinness pointed out that the plasterwork installed at Powerscourt for the royal visit is similar to decoration found at Charleville. [6] The dining room’s centrepiece of shamrock and foliage is probably earlier than 1820 but the acanthus frieze may have been added. The impressive gilt pelmets were purchased in the sale of the contents after fire destroyed the house at neighbouring Powerscourt. The drawing room also has impressive ceilings. It is furnished beautifully and has magnificent curtains framing views. The trellis-pattern rose-pink and red carpet was woven specially for the room, and the wallpaper replicates a found fragment. In their attention to detail, the Rohans had the wallpaper replicated by Cowtan of London.

The Library and Morning Room sit behind the front reception rooms. The regency plasterwork in Greek-Revival style contains laurel and vine leaves.

An Irish Times article sums up the continuation of the Monck family in Charleville:

“As Henry had no living sons (but 11 daughters), when he died in 1848, the Earldom went with him. His brother became 3rd Viscount for a year until his own death in 1849, and his son, Charles, became 4th Viscount for almost the remainder of the century, until 1894. Charles married his cousin—one of Henry’s 11 daughters who had lost out on their inheritance because of their gender. He was Governor General of Canada from 1861 – 1868. The last Monck to live at Charleville was Charles’ son, Henry, 5th Viscount who died in 1927. As he was pre-deceased by his two sons and his only brother, he was the last Viscount Monck. There are extensive files in the National Library for the Monck family.” [7]

Charles the 4th Viscount entertained Prime Minister Gladstone at some point in Charleville and Gladstone planted a tree near the house to mark the occasion. Later Charles fell out with Gladstone over Home Rule in 1886 as Charles maintained the strongly Unionist views of his family.

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I didn’t note which tree Gladstone planted – perhaps it is one of these near the ostrich!

Henry the 5th Viscount’s widow Edith continued to live in Charleville after his death. She died in 1929. The house was then purchased by Donald Davies. He established one of his “shirt dress” manufacturing bases in the stables.

Davies and his family lived in the house for forty years. His only daughter, Lucy, married the Earl of Snowdon, the photographer son of Anne, Countess of Rosse of Birr Castle.

According to the article in the Irish Times:

“before the Rohan family became owners, the place was popular for film settings. An American couple called Hawthorne were the previous owners, and filled it in summertime with orphaned children. Before the Hawthornes, it was owned by Donald Davies, famous for his handwoven, fine wool clothes, who had his workshops in the courtyard to the back of the house.”

The gardens are also beautiful. I believe they are open to the public at certain times of the year. [8]

The article goes on to mention the gardens:

“And then there are the gardens….It was wet and lovely, along the hedged walks and bowers, by the Latinate barbeque terrace where a lime tree was in fruit, in the rose garden, and orchard. Old flowers clustered in bursts of colour – lupins and peony roses, forget-me-not and hydrangea, wisteria covering a wall.

we were lucky to visit when the wisteria was in bloom.

One steps out of the house and goes around one side, by the courtyard and stables, through that courtyard to the tennis courts. One passes along the tennis court to reach the central part of the garden.

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the exit at the side of the house
we passed this beautiful house – I am not sure when it was built, maybe at the time of the conversion of the stables by Donald Davis – on the way to the courtyard.
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walking by the tennis courts, by the beautiful topiary
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the central lawn, with a pond that forms the centre of the Radial Garden

Many elements of the original garden have been conserved, including the fan-shaped walled garden and the walk of yews.

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heading in to the conservatory there are plaques commemorating previous gardeners
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The conservatory, which is in the form of a temple, looking out at the rows of milk-bottle shaped yews.

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Stephen ate a quick lunch in the central garden

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walking around the Radial Garden

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a fountain and pond hidden delightfully amongst the beech hedges in the Radial Garden

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in the radial garden

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the milk-bottle shaped Irish yews, in the Yew Walk

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nobody mentioned the ostrich! (statue)

Beyond the formal gardens is the aboretum with a comprehensive collection of trees.

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I like the way the vine trails along the chain

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We liked the sundial especially, which in itself as a pillar was the dial in a way, though there was a proper sundial on the top also, on the sides of the pillar, on two sides.

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is that the time?

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We also loved the beech walk, with its twisting intertwined branches, some held up by strings or rods to maintain a walkway below.

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[1] Great Irish Houses. Forwards by Desmond FitzGerald, Knight of Glin; The Hon Desmond Guinness; photography by Trevor Hart. Image Publications Ltd, Dublin, 2008.

[2] http://buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=WI&regno=16400713

[3] https://www.dia.ie/architects/view/1412#tab_biography

[4] see Achitectural definitions

[5] Charles Monck married and came into Charleville. Charles’s sister Rebecca married John Foster and had a daugther who married Bishop George Berkeley, the famous philosopher! My husband Stephen is also distantly related to the Monck family as his third great aunt, Jane Alicia Winder, married William Charles Monck Mason.

Jane Winder

Charles’s older brother, George (1675-1752) married Mary Molesworth and had a daughter, Sarah, who married Robert Mason, and they were parents of Henry Monck Mason who was the father of William Charles Monck Mason.

[6] p. 257. Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh and Christopher Simon Sykes. Great Houses of Ireland. Laurence King Publishing, London, 1999.

[7] https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/charleville-estate-is-a-place-apart-1.309616

[8] https://visitwicklow.ie/private-gardens/#

Section 482 properties still open after Heritage Week 2020

Many section 482 properties open for their last week during Heritage Week but do not despair, many others are open for dates after Heritage Week. Below, are the opening dates that were scheduled when the 482 List was published in February 2020. Note that due to Covid 19 restrictions and circumstances, many may no longer be open on the dates originally scheduled – I advise you ring or check websites, and I will update this list when I have time to check openings also.

The owners of Fahanmura in Dublin had kindly agreed to a visit I had scheduled for today, September 12th 2020, but I had to cancel my visit due to a tummy bug. In fact I went for a Covid test since gastrointestinal upset can be a symptom of Covid and my doctor arranged for a test, which I was impressed to have scheduled for me just 24 hours after my referral, and I obtained my result within a further 24 hours – I do not have Covid!

I am sorry not to post a house write-up this week, but you can expect one next week. I have plenty to write up, after visiting Dromana House in County Waterford for a second time, and its near-neighbour Cappoquin House, last month. I will also be telling you soon of my visits during my wonderful holiday in Cork last month to Kilshannig, Drishane House, and Baltimore Castle. We did not get inside Baltimore Castle but I will try to summarise what I can, and will make another visit hopefully next year. We also visited the wonderful Fota House and Doneraile Court, but they are not on Section 482 as they are no longer privately owned.

Now that I am back in fine fettle I look forward to scheduling some more visits. I have a night booked for myself and Stephen in Cabra Castle next month!

Note that places that are listed as tourist accommodation do not need to open to the public for tours, unfortunately. And some places are gardens only. I list them in green.

Places open after Heritage Week, 2020 ie. Sept onward.

Sept

Carlow

Borris House – website tells us house tours are finished for 2020 despite listed dates

Borris, Co. Carlow

Morgan Kavanagh

Tel: 087-2454791

www.borrishouse.com

Open: May 4, 10, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29, June 3, 6-7, 10-11, 17-19, 28, July 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23, 26, 29-31, Aug 2, 5-7, 9, 12-23, 26-28, Sept 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 11.30am-3.30pm 

Fee: adult €10, child €5, OAP/student €8, child free under 12 (accompanied)

Huntington Castle – note no tours on Sat Sept 19th

Clonegal, Co. Carlow

Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Alexander Durdin Robertson

Tel: 053-9377160 

www.huntingtoncastle.com

Open: Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, Apr 11-13, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 11am-5pm 

Fee: house/garden, adult €10, OAP/student €9, child €5; garden, adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3, family and group discounts available

The Old Rectory Lorum (Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

Bobbie Smith

Tel: 059-9775282, 087-2735237 

www.lorum.com

Open: Feb 1-November 30

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Newtown Castle – closed due to Covid.

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

Ashton Grove

Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork

Gerald McGreal

Tel: 087-2400831

Open: Jan 28-29, Feb 4-5, 11-12, 25-26, Mar 3-4, 10-11, 24-25, 31, Apr 21-22, 28-29, May 12-13, 16-17, 19-20, 23-24, 26-27, June 16-17, 20-21, 23-24, 27-28, 30, July 1-2, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-2, 8-9, 12-13, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, Wednesdays 2pm-6pm, Tues, weekends & National Heritage Week 8am-12 noon

Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3

Bantry House & Garden – house not open to public I believe, due to Covid

Bantry, Co. Cork

Julie Shelswell-White

Tel: 027-50047

www.bantryhouse.com

Open: Apr 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €11, OAP/student €8.50, child €3 for house and garden (6-16years) under 6 free, groups over 8 – €8 per person, over 21- €7 per person, 

garden only €6, children under 12 free

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

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Creagh House – (Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork

Michael O’Sullivan 

Tel: 022-24433

www.creaghhouse.com

Open: April-Sept

Public tours of house all year

Drishane Castle & Gardens

Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork

Thomas Duggan

Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008

Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult 

Drishane House

Castleownshend, Co. Cork

Thomas Somerville

Tel: 028-36126, 083-574589

www.drishane.com

Open: May 1-20, Aug 15-23, Sept 15-25, Oct 1-20, 11am -3pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP /student/child €6, children under €6 free

Dún Na Séad Castle – was not open when we were there though in August.

Baltimore, Co. Cork

Bernadette McCarthy

Tel: 028-20735

www.baltimorecastle.ie

Open: March 1-Oct 31, 11am -6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, children under 12 free 

Kilcascan Castle

Ballineen, Co. Cork

Alison Bailey

Tel: 023- 8847200, 087-3638623

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Free

Kilshannig House

Rathcormac, Co. Cork

Hugo Merry

Tel: 087-2513928 

Open: May 1-3, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 2, 4, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30, May & Sept 8.30am-2.30pm, June-Aug 10am-4pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, child €7, student €8 

4 Mulgrave Place,

No 4, Mulgrave Road, Cork City

Trevor Leacy

Tel: 087-2808302

Open: May 1-Sept 30, closed Sundays except National Heritage Week August 15-23, weekdays 11am-4pm, Saturdays 11am-3pm 

Fee: adult €4, OAP/student/child €2, family €7 (2+2) 

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Oakfield Park 

Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, Co. Donegal

David Fisher

Tel: 074-9173068

www.oakfieldpark.com

Open: Mar 28-29, Apr 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, May 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, 12 noon-6pm, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 11am-6pm, Sept 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 12 noon-6pm, Dec 1-23, 4pm-10pm. Open all public holidays

Fee: adult €9, child €6, family and annual passes available 

Portnason House

Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Madge Sharkey

Tel: 086-3846843 

Open: Aug 15-31, Sept 1-23, Nov 16-20, 23-27, 30, Dec 1-4, 7-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student/child €6 

Salthill Garden

Salthill House, Mountcharles, Co. Donegal

Elizabeth Temple

Tel:  087-7988078, 074-9735014

www.donegalgardens.com

Open: May 1, 4-9, 11-16, 18-23, 25-29, June 1-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-27, 29-30, July 1-4, 6-11, 15-18, 20-25, 27-31, Aug 3-8, 10-15, 17-23, 24-29, Sept 1-4, 7-11, 21-25, 28-30, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child €3  

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

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, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

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, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

11 North Great George’s Street

Dublin 1

John Aboud 

Tel: 087-7983099

www.number11dublin.ie

Open: March 9-14, May 11-16, June 8-13, July 6-11, Aug 3-8, 15-23, Sept 7-13, Oct 5-10, Nov 9-13, 16-20, 12 noon-4 pm, Mondays 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

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

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

Colganstown House

Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

Lynne Savage Jones

Tel: 087-2206222

Open: May 5-27, June 3-5, 8-12, Aug 14-23, Oct 27-31, Nov 1-14, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free

Fahanmura

2 Knocksina, Foxrock, Dublin 18

Philip Harvey

Tel: 086-3694379, 087-2463865

www.fahanmura.ie

Open: March 16-29, Apr 6-11, May 7-15, June 15-21, July 6-11, Aug 15-23, Sept 12-20, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free

Farm Complex 

Toberburr Road, Killeek, St Margaret’s, Co. Dublin

David Doran, Tel: 086-3821304

Open: Jan 2-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2, 15-16, 21-23, March 6-8, May 1-4, 8-10, 15-17, 22-24, 29-31, June 1, 5-7, 12-14, Aug 15-23, Sept 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, Jan, Feb, Sept, 12 noon-4pm, Mar-Aug 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €5

“Geragh” 

Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin

Gráinne Casey

Tel: 01-2804884

Open: Jan 14-17, 21-23, 28, Feb 18-20, 26-28, May 6-8, 11-24, 27-29, Aug 11-12, 15-23, 26-27, Sept 7-11, 15-16, Nov 3-6, Dec 3-4, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free 

Martello Tower

Portrane, Co. Dublin

Terry Prone

Tel: 01-6449700

Open: March 7-Sept 27, Sat & Sun and National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, student €4, OAP €1

 Galway

Claregalway Castle

Claregalway, Co. Galway 

Eamonn O’ Donoghue

Tel: 091-799666

www.claregalwaycastle.com

Open: June-Sept, Thursday-Sunday, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €4 

Lisdonagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Caherlistrane, Co. Galway

John & Finola Cooke

Tel: 093-31163

www.lisdonagh.com

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Fee: Free

Oranmore Castle – not opening due to Covid until 2021.

Oranmore, Co. Galway

Leonie Phinn

http://www.oranmorecastle.com/

Tel: 086-6003160

Open: April 1-20, May 13-22, June 8-18, Aug 15-23, Sept 8-17, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult /OAP €7, child €3

Signal Tower & Lighthouse

Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway

Michael Mullen

Tel: 087-2470900

www.aranislands.ie

Open: Mar 1-October 30, 9am-5pm.

Fee: adult €2.50, child €1.50, €5 per family, group rates depending on numbers

Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden – closed due to Covid

Craughwell, Co. Galway

Margarita Donoghue

Tel: 087-9069191 

www.woodvillewalledgarden.com

Open: Feb 1-29, Mar 17-31, Apr 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 11am-5.30pm, Oct 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31,11am-4pm  

Fee: adult/ OAP €6, child €3, student, €4, family €15 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

http://www.derreengarden.com/

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kildare

Blackhall Castle

Calverstown, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare

Jeffrey & Naomi White

Tel: 045-485244

Open: May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-15, Dec 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free

Coolcarrigan House & Gardens

Coolcarrigan, Coill Dubh, Naas, Co. Kildare

Robert Wilson-Wright

Tel: 086-2580439

www.coolcarrigan.ie

Open: Feb 17-22, April 20-21, May 11-15, 23-24, 25-29, Aug 4-7, 14-30, Sept 1-4, 7, 24-30, Oct 1-2, 5-9, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Moone Abbey House & Tower

Moone Abbey, Moone, Co. Kildare

Jennifer Matuschka

Tel: 087-6900138

Open: May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3

Kilkenny

Aylwardstown House

Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny

Nicholas & Mary Gough Kelly

Tel: 051-880464, 087-2567866

Open: Aug & Sept, 9am-5pm 

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €3, child free

Ballybur Castle

Ballybur Upper, Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny

Mhairi Gray

Tel: 086-1919099

www.ballyburcastle.com

Open: May 1-16, June 9-21, Aug 14-24, Sept 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free

Creamery House

Castlecomer Co. Kilkenny

John Comerford

Tel: 087-918444 

www.creameryhouse.com

Open: July 7- Sept 30, Tuesday- Sunday,12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €3, child free

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Shankill Castle

Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny

Geoffrey Cope,

Tel: 087-2437125

www.shankillcastle.com

Open: Apr 2- Nov 1, Thurs -Sunday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23

Fee: house & gardens, adult €10, OAP/student/child

gardens, adult €5 OAP/student /child €4

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

 Stradbally Hall

Stradbally, Co. Laois

Thomas Cosby

Tel: 086-8519272

www.stradballyhall.ie

Open: May 1-31, June 1-9, Aug 15-23, Oct 1-14, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student €5, child free

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

The Station House

Brocagh Lower, Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim

Ann White

Tel: 087-1016063

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Mon- Fri, 6pm-10pm, Sat & Sun and Bank Holidays 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Glebe House

Bruff, Co. Limerick

Colm McCarthy

Tel: 087-6487556

Open: Jan 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, May 5-13, Aug 10-23, Sept 14-30, Mon-Fri, 5.30pm-9.30pm, Sat-Sun, 9am-1pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Louth

Rokeby Hall – closed due to Covid

Grangebellew, Co. Louth

Jean & Jeff Young

Tel: 086-8644228

www.rokeby.ie

Open: May 1-31, Mon-Sat, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, Mon-Sat, 10am-2pm 

Fee: adult/OAP €7, child/student €5

Mayo

Enniscoe House & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castlehill, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Susan Kellett

Tel: 096-31112

www.enniscoe.com

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, tours free in National Heritage Week

Meath

Dardistown Castle

Dardistown, Julianstown, Co. Meath

Lizanne Allen

Tel: 086 -2774271

www.dardistowncastle.ie

Open: Jan 9-11, 13-18, 20-24, 27-31, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26, 10am-2pm 

Fee: adult €6, child €3, student/OAP free, all proceeds to Irish Cancer Society.

Hamwood House

Dunboyne, Co. Meath

Charles Hamilton

Tel: 086-3722701 

www.hamwood.ie

Open: Apr -Sept, Fri-Sun and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 10am-7pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, child under 12 free

Killeen Mill

(Tourists Accommodation Facility)

Clavinstown, Drumree, Co. Meath

Dermot Kealy

Tel: 086-2619979

Open: April- Sept

Loughcrew House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Loughcrew, Old Castle, Co. Meath

Emily Naper

Tel: 049-8541356

Open: April- Sept

www.loughcrew.com

Garden:  Mar 18- Sept 30 daily, 10am-5pm, August & September 11am-4pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €5, child €3.50, group concessions 

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

St. Mary’s Abbey

High Street, Trim, Co. Meath

Peter Higgins 

Tel: 087-2057176

Open: Jan 20-24, Feb 24-28, May 11-15, June 29-30, July 1-3, 13-19, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-13, 21-27, Oct 19-23, Nov 2-6, 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 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Hilton Park House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Clones, Co. Monaghan

Fred Madden

Tel 047-56007

www.hiltonpark.ie

Open: April- Sept

House and garden tours available for groups May-Sept, Monday-Friday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 12 noon-4pm

Fee: adult €10, house & garden €8, OAP/student €6, child free

Mullan Village and Mill

Mullan, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan

Michael Treanor

Tel: 047-81135

www.mullanvillage.com

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6.30pm

Fee: €6

Offaly

Ballybrittan Castle

Ballybrittan, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

Rosemarie

Tel: 087-2469802 

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30-31, June 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 15-23, Sept 5-13, 2pm-6pm. 

Fee: free – except in case of large groups a fee of €6 p.p. 

Corolanty House

Shinrone, Birr, Co. Offaly

Siobhan Webb

Tel: 086-1209984

Open: Jan, Feb, July, Aug, Sept, daily 2pm-6pm 

Fee: Free

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

High Street House

High Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

George Ross

Tel: 086-3832992

www.no6highstreet.com

Open: Jan 3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-30, May 1-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-20, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult/student €5, OAP €4, child under 12 free

Springfield House

Mount Lucas, Daingean, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Muireann Noonan

Tel: 087-2204569

www.springfieldhouse.ie

Open: Feb 16-22, 1 pm-5 pm, Apr 13-19, May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30-31, June 1-7, July 25-26, Aug 1-2, 8-9, 14-30, 2pm-6pm, Dec 26-31, 1pm-5pm  

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Castlecoote House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility) 

Castlecoote, Co. Roscommon

Kevin Finnerty

Tel: 090-6663794

www.castlecootehouse.com

Open: May 1-Sept 30, 10am-5.30pm

Fee: adult €8, child €2, student €5 

King House

Main Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Majella Hunt

Tel: 090-6637153

 www.kinghouse.ie

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

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

Shannonbridge Fortifications

Shannonbridge, Athlone, Co. Roscommon

Fergal Moran

Tel: 090-9674973

www.theoldfortrestaurant.com

Open: May 1-Sept 30, 11am-5pm

Fee: Free

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

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

Sligo

Coopershill House 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Riverstown, Co. Sligo

Simon O’Hara

Tel: 071-9165108

www.coopershill.com

Open: May-Sept, 

Tues-Sat, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €10, child/ National Heritage Week €5

Lissadell House & Gardens

Lissadell, Ballinfull, Co. Sligo

Edward Walsh

Tel: 087-2550969 

www.lissadell.com

Open: May- Sept 10.30am-6pm 

Fee: adult €14, child €7, OAP €12, student €6, concessions family 

Temple House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Ballymote, Co. Sligo

Roderick Perceval

Tel: 087-9976045

www.templehouse.ie

Open: April-Oct

Tipperary

Beechwood House

Ballbrunoge, Cullen, Co. Tipperary

Maura & Patrick McCormack

Tel: 083-1486736

Open: Jan 3-6, 10-13, Feb 28-29, Mar 1-2, 6-9, Apr 24-27, May 8-11, 15-18, June 5-8, July 10-13, 24-27, Aug 15-23, Sept 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 10.15am-2.15pm

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

Clashleigh House

Clogheen, Co. Tipperary

Elizabeth O’Callaghan

Tel: 086-8185334 

Open: April 2-May 30, Tues & Thurs, June 2-30, Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-Oct 27, Tues & Thurs, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4

Cloughjordan House

Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary

Sarah Baker

Tel:  085-2503344

www.cloughjordanhouse.com

Open: May 4-29, Sept 7-30, Oct 4-30 excluding Sundays, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Fancroft Mill 

Fancroft, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary

Marcus & Irene Sweeney

Tel: 0505-31484, 087-9263300

www.fancroft.ie

Open: May 6-28, June 3-25, Aug 15-23, Sept 9-16, 10am-2pm 

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €6, child free under 5 years, adult supervision essential, group rates available 

Lismacue House 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bansha, Co. Tipperary

Katherine Nicholson

Tel: 062-54106

Open: Mar 17-Oct 31

The Rectory

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Josephine Fahey

Tel: 087-2601994, 052-7441406

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Waterford

Ballynatray Estate

Co. Waterford

Postal address: Glendine, Youghal, Co. Cork

Joe Hilton, Tel: 083-3458174 

www.ballynatray.com

Open: April 12-Oct 1, 9am- 4pm

Fee: Free

Cappagh House (Old and New)

Cappagh

Dungarvan

Co Waterford

Charles and Claire Chavasse

Tel: 087-8290860, 086-8387420

Open: April, June, & August, Wednesday & Thursday, May & September Wednesday Thursday & Saturday, National Heritage Week August 15-23, Oct 1, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student/€5, child free

Cappoquin House & Gardens

Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Sir Charles Keane

Tel: 087-6704180

www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com

Open: Apr 18-30, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm  

Gardens open all year closed Sundays 

Fee: house €10, garden €6, combined €15, child free 

Curraghmore House

Portlaw, Co. Waterford

Vanessa Behal

Tel: 051-387101

www.curraghmorehouse.ie

Open: May, June, July, Sept, Wed- Sun, Aug 1-31, 10.30am-4.30pm

Fee: full tour €18, house tour €12, garden & shell house €10, garden only €6 under12 years free

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Tourin House & Gardens

Tourin, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Kristin Jameson

Tel: 058-54405, 086-8113841

www.tourin-house.ie

Open: April 1-Sept 30, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 1pm-5pm

Fee: house/garden: adult €6, OAP/student €3.50, child free. 

Westmeath

St. John’s Church

Loughstown, Drumcree, Collinstown, Co. Westmeath

Billy Standish

Tel: 044-9666570

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €4, child/OAP/student €2

Rockfield Ecological Estate

Rathaspic, Rathowen, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

Sean Daly 

Tel: 086-2487447 

Open: June 1-15, July 1-20, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free 

Tullynally Castle & Gardens

Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

Valerie Packenham

Tel: 087-1301986

 www.tullynallycastle.com

Open: Apr 2-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-30, May 1-4, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-31, June 1, 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, July 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, Aug 1-3, 6-9, 13-23, 27-30, Sept 3-6, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, 11am-5pm 

Fee: adult/OAP/student €7.50, child €3.50 under 5 free, (family 2 adults + 2 children) €19, season ticket for 2 €50, season ticket for family €60

Turbotstown

Coole, Co. Westmeath

Peter Bland

Tel: 086-2475044

Open: July 22-30, Aug 1-31, Dec 1-20, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult/student €8, child/OAP €4 

Wexford

Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford

Mark & Emma Hewlett

Tel: 051-388109

www.kilmokea.com

Open: Apr- Oct 

Gardens:

Open Mar 17-Oct 31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family ticket €20/annual pass for a family of 4 to be agreed at €75

Wilton Castle

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Woodbrook House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Giles Fitzherbert

053-9255114, 087-6402182

www.woodbrookhouse.ie

Open April-October

Wicklow

Castle Howard

Avoca, Co. Wicklow

Mark Sinnott

Tel: 087-2987601

Open: Jan 13-15, Feb 3-7, Mar 2-4, 23-25, June 8-13, 20, 22-27, July 6-12, 20-23, Aug 14-23, Sept 7-12, 26, Oct 5-7, 12-14, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

Killruddery House & Gardens

Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Anthony Meath

Tel: 01-2863405

www.killruddery.com

Open: Apr 4-5, 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-23, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: house & garden adult €15.50, OAP/student €13, child €5.50, garden adult €8.50, OAP/student €7.50 child €3, concession children under  4 years free

Kiltimon House

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow

Michelle O’Connor

Tel: 087-2505205

Open: May 5-25, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student/child €5

Kingston House

Kingston, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

Liam Lynam

Tel: 087-2415795

Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €3, OAP/student/child €2

Knockanree Garden

Avoca, Co Wicklow

Perter Campion & Valerie O’ Connor

Tel: 087-9024861

Open: May 20-July 3 Mon- Sat, August 15-23, Oct 1-14 Mon-Sat, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2

1 Martello Terrace

Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Liz McManus

Tel: 087-2357369

Open: May, June, July, Sept, Mon & Thurs, Aug, Mon, Thurs, & Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 1pm-5pm, Sat 9am-1pm, closed June 1, Aug 3 

Fee: free

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

October

Carlow

Huntington Castle

Clonegal, Co. Carlow

Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Alexander Durdin Robertson

Tel: 053-9377160 

www.huntingtoncastle.com

Open: Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, Apr 11-13, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 11am-5pm 

Fee: house/garden, adult €10, OAP/student €9, child €5 

garden, adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3, family and group discounts available

The Old Rectory Lorum

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

Bobbie Smith

Tel: 059-9775282, 087-2735237 

www.lorum.com

Open: Feb 1-November 30

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Newtown Castle

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

Bantry House & Garden

Bantry, Co. Cork

Julie Shelswell-White

Tel: 027-50047

www.bantryhouse.com

Open: Apr 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €11, OAP/student €8.50, child €3 for house and garden (6-16years) under 6 free, groups over 8 – €8 per person, over 21- €7 per person, 

garden only €6, children under 12 free

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

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Drishane Castle & Gardens

Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork

Thomas Duggan

Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008

Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult 

Drishane House

Castleownshend, Co. Cork

Thomas Somerville

Tel: 028-36126, 083-574589

www.drishane.com

Open: May 1-20, Aug 15-23, Sept 15-25, Oct 1-20, 11am -3pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP /student/child €6, children under €6 free

Dún Na Séad Castle – was not open when we were there though in August.

Baltimore, Co. Cork

Bernadette McCarthy

Tel: 028-20735

www.baltimorecastle.ie

Open: March 1-Oct 31, 11am -6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, children under 12 free 

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Oakfield Park 

Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, Co. Donegal

David Fisher

Tel: 074-9173068

www.oakfieldpark.com

Open: Mar 28-29, Apr 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, May 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, 12 noon-6pm, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 11am-6pm, Sept 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 12 noon-6pm, Dec 1-23, 4pm-10pm. Open all public holidays

Fee: adult €9, child €6, family and annual passes available 

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

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, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

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, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

11 North Great George’s Street

Dublin 1

John Aboud 

Tel: 087-7983099

www.number11dublin.ie

Open: March 9-14, May 11-16, June 8-13, July 6-11, Aug 3-8, 15-23, Sept 7-13, Oct 5-10, Nov 9-13, 16-20, 12 noon-4 pm, Mondays 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

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

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

Colganstown House

Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

Lynne Savage Jones

Tel: 087-2206222

Open: May 5-27, June 3-5, 8-12, Aug 14-23, Oct 27-31, Nov 1-14, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free 

Galway

Lisdonagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Caherlistrane, Co. Galway

John & Finola Cooke

Tel: 093-31163

www.lisdonagh.com

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Fee: Free

Signal Tower & Lighthouse

Eochaill, Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway

Michael Mullen

Tel: 087-2470900

www.aranislands.ie

Open: Mar 1-October 30, 9am-5pm.

Fee: adult €2.50, child €1.50, €5 per family, group rates depending on numbers

Woodville House Dovecote & Walls of Walled Garden – closed due to Covid

Craughwell, Co. Galway

Margarita Donoghue

Tel: 087-9069191 

www.woodvillewalledgarden.com

Open: Feb 1-29, Mar 17-31, Apr 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 11am-5.30pm, Oct 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30-31,11am-4pm  

Fee: adult/ OAP €6, child €3, student, €4, family €15 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

www.derrengarden.com

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kildare

Coolcarrigan House & Gardens

Coolcarrigan, Coill Dubh, Naas, Co. Kildare

Robert Wilson-Wright

Tel: 086-2580439

www.coolcarrigan.ie

Open: Feb 17-22, April 20-21, May 11-15, 23-24, 25-29, Aug 4-7, 14-30, Sept 1-4, 7, 24-30, Oct 1-2, 5-9, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Shankill Castle

Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny

Geoffrey Cope,

Tel: 087-2437125

www.shankillcastle.com

Open: Apr 2- Nov 1, Thurs -Sunday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23

Fee: house & gardens, adult €10, OAP/student/child

gardens, adult €5 OAP/student /child €4

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

Stradbally Hall

Stradbally, Co. Laois

Thomas Cosby

Tel: 086-8519272

www.stradballyhall.ie

Open: May 1-31, June 1-9, Aug 15-23, Oct 1-14, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student €5, child free

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Mayo

Enniscoe House & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castlehill, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Susan Kellett

Tel: 096-31112

www.enniscoe.com

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, tours free in National Heritage Week

Meath

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

St. Mary’s Abbey

High Street, Trim, Co. Meath

Peter Higgins 

Tel: 087-2057176

Open: Jan 20-24, Feb 24-28, May 11-15, June 29-30, July 1-3, 13-19, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-13, 21-27, Oct 19-23, Nov 2-6, 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 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Offaly

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

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

Sligo

Temple House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Ballymote, Co. Sligo

Roderick Perceval

Tel: 087-9976045

www.templehouse.ie

Open: April-Oct

Tipperary

Clashleigh House

Clogheen, Co. Tipperary

Elizabeth O’Callaghan

Tel: 086-8185334 

Open: April 2-May 30, Tues & Thurs, June 2-30, Tue, Thurs, Sat & Sun, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-Oct 27, Tues & Thurs, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4

Cloughjordan House

Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary

Sarah Baker

Tel:  085-2503344

www.cloughjordanhouse.com

Open: May 4-29, Sept 7-30, Oct 4-30 excluding Sundays, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student €5, child free

Lismacue House 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bansha, Co. Tipperary

Katherine Nicholson

Tel: 062-54106

Open: Mar 17-Oct 31

The Rectory

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Cashel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

Josephine Fahey

Tel: 087-2601994, 052-7441406

Open: May 1-Oct 31

Waterford

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Wexford

Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford

Mark & Emma Hewlett

Tel: 051-388109

www.kilmokea.com

Open: Apr- Oct 

Gardens:

Open Mar 17-Oct 31, 10am-5pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family ticket €20/annual pass for a family of 4 to be agreed at €75

Wilton Castle

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Woodbrook House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Giles Fitzherbert

053-9255114, 087-6402182

www.woodbrookhouse.ie

Open April-October

Wicklow

Castle Howard

Avoca, Co. Wicklow

Mark Sinnott

Tel: 087-2987601

Open: Jan 13-15, Feb 3-7, Mar 2-4, 23-25, June 8-13, 20, 22-27, July 6-12, 20-23, Aug 14-23, Sept 7-12, 26, Oct 5-7, 12-14, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8.50, OAP/student €6.50, child €5

Killruddery House & Gardens

Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Anthony Meath

Tel: 01-2863405

www.killruddery.com

Open: Apr 4-5, 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-23, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: house & garden adult €15.50, OAP/student €13, child €5.50, garden adult €8.50, OAP/student €7.50 child €3, concession children under  4 years free

Knockanree Garden

Avoca, Co Wicklow

Perter Campion & Valerie O’ Connor

Tel: 087-9024861

Open: May 20-July 3 Mon- Sat, August 15-23, Oct 1-14 Mon-Sat, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: adult €3, OAP/student €2

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

November

Carlow

The Old Rectory Lorum

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

Bobbie Smith

Tel: 059-9775282, 087-2735237 

www.lorum.com

Open: Feb 1-November 30

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Gregan Castle

Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Brian & Anna Hussey

Tel: 086-3291244

Open: March 1-31, April 1-30, May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Nov 1-30, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €5, child/OAP/student/free

Newtown Castle

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

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

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Creagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork

Michael O’Sullivan 

Tel: 022-24433

www.creaghhouse.ie

Open: April-Sept

Public tours of house all year

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Portnason House

Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Madge Sharkey

Tel: 086-3846843 

Open: Aug 15-31, Sept 1-23, Nov 16-20, 23-27, 30, Dec 1-4, 7-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student/child €6 

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

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, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

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, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

11 North Great George’s Street

Dublin 1

John Aboud 

Tel: 087-7983099

www.number11dublin.ie

Open: March 9-14, May 11-16, June 8-13, July 6-11, Aug 3-8, 15-23, Sept 7-13, Oct 5-10, Nov 9-13, 16-20, 12 noon-4 pm, Mondays 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €7, students/OAP €3, child free

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

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

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

Colganstown House

Hazelhatch Road, Newcastle, Co. Dublin

Lynne Savage Jones

Tel: 087-2206222

Open: May 5-27, June 3-5, 8-12, Aug 14-23, Oct 27-31, Nov 1-14, weekdays 2pm-6pm, weekends 9am-1pm

Fee: adult/OAP €10, student/child free 

“Geragh” 

Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin

Gráinne Casey

Tel: 01-2804884

Open: Jan 14-17, 21-23, 28, Feb 18-20, 26-28, May 6-8, 11-24, 27-29, Aug 11-12, 15-23, 26-27, Sept 7-11, 15-16, Nov 3-6, Dec 3-4, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

http://www.derreengarden.com/

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Shankill Castle

Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny

Geoffrey Cope,

Tel: 087-2437125

www.shankillcastle.com

Open: Apr 2- Nov 1, Thurs -Sunday and National Heritage Week Aug 15-23

Fee: house & gardens, adult €10, OAP/student/child

gardens, adult €5 OAP/student /child €4

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Meath

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

St. Mary’s Abbey

High Street, Trim, Co. Meath

Peter Higgins 

Tel: 087-2057176

Open: Jan 20-24, Feb 24-28, May 11-15, June 29-30, July 1-3, 13-19, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-13, 21-27, Oct 19-23, Nov 2-6, 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 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Offaly

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

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

Waterford

Cappoquin House & Gardens

Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Sir Charles Keane

Tel: 087-6704180

www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com

Open: Apr 18-30, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm  

Gardens open all year closed Sundays 

Fee: house €10, garden €6, combined €15, child free 

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Wexford

Wilton Castle

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Wicklow

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

Dec

Carlow

Huntington Castle

Clonegal, Co. Carlow

Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Alexander Durdin Robertson

Tel: 053-9377160 

www.huntingtoncastle.com

Open: Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, Apr 11-13, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 11am-5pm 

Fee: house/garden, adult €10, OAP/student €9, child €5 

garden, adult €6, OAP/student €5, child €3, family and group discounts available

Cavan

Cabra Castle (Hotel)

Kingscourt, Co. Cavan

Howard Corscadden.

Tel: 042-9667030

www.cabracastle.com

Open: all year, except Dec 24, 25, 26, 11am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Clare

Newtown Castle

Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare

Mary Hawkes- Greene

Tel: 065-7077200

www.newtowncastle.com

Open: Jan 6-May 29 Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon -Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 18 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm

Fee: Free

Cork

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

Brideweir House

Conna, Co. Cork

Ronan Fox

Tel: 087-0523256

Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm 

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, child free

Creagh House

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork

Michael O’Sullivan 

Tel: 022-24433

www.creaghhouse.ie

Open: April-Sept

Public tours of house all year

Drishane Castle & Gardens

Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork

Thomas Duggan

Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008

Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 15-23, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult 

Woodford Bourne Warehouse

Sheares Street, Cork

Edward Nicholson

Tel: 021-4273000

www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm 

Fee: Free

Donegal

Oakfield Park 

Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, Co. Donegal

David Fisher

Tel: 074-9173068

www.oakfieldpark.com

Open: Mar 28-29, Apr 1-5, 8-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29-30, May 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31, 12 noon-6pm, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 11am-6pm, Sept 2-6, 9-13, 16-20, 23-27, 30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 12 noon-6pm, Dec 1-23, 4pm-10pm. Open all public holidays

Fee: adult €9, child €6, family and annual passes available 

Portnason House

Portnason, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Madge Sharkey

Tel: 086-3846843 

Open: Aug 15-31, Sept 1-23, Nov 16-20, 23-27, 30, Dec 1-4, 7-11, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/ student/child €6 

Dublin City

Bewley’s 

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, 8am-8pm

Fee: Free

Doheny & Nesbitt

4/5 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

Niall Courtney

Tel: 01-4925395

Open: all year except Christmas Day, Mon-Tues 9am-12.30am, Wed-Thurs 9am-1am, Fri-Sat 9am-2am, Sunday 10.30-12 midnight

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, 10am-7pm

Fee: Free 

The Odeon (formerly the Old Harcourt Street Railway Station)

57 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2

Mary Lacey, Tel: 01-6727690

www.odeon.ie

Open: all year, 12 noon to midnight, closed Sundays 

Fee: Free

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

59 South William Street, Dublin 2

Mary Larkin

Tel: 01-6717000

www.powerscourtcentre.com

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

Fee: Free

The Church

Junction of Mary’s Street/Jervis Street, Dublin 1

Ann French

Tel: 087-2245726

www.thechurch.ie

Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens Day, 11am-11 pm

Fee: Free

County Dublin 

“Geragh” 

Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin

Gráinne Casey

Tel: 01-2804884

Open: Jan 14-17, 21-23, 28, Feb 18-20, 26-28, May 6-8, 11-24, 27-29, Aug 11-12, 15-23, 26-27, Sept 7-11, 15-16, Nov 3-6, Dec 3-4, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €7, OAP €4, student €2, child free 

Kerry

Ballyseede Castle

Ballyseede, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Marnie Corscadden

Tel: 066-7125799

www.ballyseedecastle.com

Open: Mar 1-Dec 22, 27-31, 8am-12 midnight

Fee: Free

Derreen Gardens

Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry

John Daly

Tel: 087-1325665

http://www.derreengarden.com/

Open: all year, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children under 18 and 2 maps) €20 

Kildare

Blackhall Castle

Calverstown, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare

Jeffrey & Naomi White

Tel: 045-485244

Open: May 1-31, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-15, Dec 1-20, 2pm-6pm

Fee: Free

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Design Centre

Castle Yard, Kilkenny

Joseph O’ Keeffe, Tel: 054-6623331

www.kilkennydesign.com

Open: all year,10am-7pm 

Fee: Free

Tudor Building (Hole in the Wall)

Rere of 17-19 High Street, Kilkenny.

Michael Conway

087-8075650

www.holeinthewall.ie

Open: all year, closed Christmas Day, Jan- Feb & Nov 7pm-11pm, Mar- Sept 1pm-11.30pm, Oct 1pm-11pm, Nov 7pm-11pm, Dec 1-14, 26-31,7pm-11pm, 15 -24, 1pm-11.30pm 

Fee: Free

Laois

Ballaghmore Castle

Borris in Ossory, Co. Laois

Grace Pym

Tel: 0505-21453

www.castleballaghmore.com

Open: all year except Christmas Day, 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €5, student/child/OAP €3, family of 2 adults + 2 children €10

Leitrim

Manorhamilton Castle (Ruin)

Castle St, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Anthony Daly

Tel: 086-2502593

Open: Jan 7-Dec 21, closed Sat & Sun, 9.30am-3.30pm

Fee: adult €5, child free 

Limerick

Ash Hill 

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Kilmallock, Co. Limerick

Simon and Nicole Johnson 

Tel: 063-98035

www.ashhill.com

Open: Jan 15-31, Feb 1-15, Mar 1-May 31, June 1-15, July 1- Sept 20, Oct 1-20, Nov 1-20, Dec 1-15, 9am-4.30pm 

Fee: Free

Kilpeacon House

Crecora, Co. Limerick

Mary Costello

Tel: 087-9852462

Open: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, June 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 29-30, July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, Aug 2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24, Nov 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-14, 10am-2pm

Fee: €8

Meath

Slane Castle

Slane, Co. Meath

Jemma & Pamela 

Tel: 041-9884477

www.slanecastle.ie

Open: Jan 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26Feb 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29, Mar 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 12.15pm-4pm, April 1-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-31, 11.15am-5.15pm, Nov 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 12.15pm-4pm

Fee: adult €12, €14 from Feb, OAP/student €10.80, €11from Feb, child €7.20 

The Former Parochial House

Slane, Co. Meath

Alan Haugh

Tel: 087-2566998

Open: May 1-Dec 22, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult 5, child/ OAP/student €3

Swainstown House

Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Caroline Preston

Tel: 086-2577939 

Open: Mar 2-3, 5-6, April 6-7, 9-10, May 4-10, June 1-7, July 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 14-18, 21-25, Oct 5-6, 8-9, Nov 2-3, 5-6, Dec 7-8,10-11, 11am-3pm

Fee: adult €8, child free, OAP/student €5

Tankardstown House 

Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Open: All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

Monaghan

Castle Leslie

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Glaslough, Co. Monaghan

Samantha Leslie 

Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

Open: all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

Offaly

Crotty Church

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.com

Open: All year, except Dec 25, 9am-5pm 

Fee: Free

Springfield House

Mount Lucas, Daingean, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Muireann Noonan

Tel: 087-2204569

www.springfieldhouse.ie

Open: Feb 16-22, 1 pm-5 pm, Apr 13-19, May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30-31, June 1-7, July 25-26, Aug 1-2, 8-9, 14-30, 2pm-6pm, Dec 26-31, 1pm-5pm  

Fee: Free

Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre

Bury Quay, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Maurice Conway

Tel: 057-9327740

www.tullamorevisitorcentre.com

Open: Jan 2-Dec 24, 28-30, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: adult €17, OAP/student €15, child €13

The Maltings

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Brendan Garry

Tel: 086-8236452

www.themaltingsbirr.ie

Open: all year 

Roscommon

Strokestown Park House

Strokestown Park House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

Ciarán

Tel: 01-8748030

www.strokestownpark.ie

Open: Jan 2-Dec 23, Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec 10.30am-4pm, April-Oct 10.30am-5.30pm, Mar 1-16 10.30am-4pm, Mar 17-31 10.30am-5.30pm

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

Waterford

Cappoquin House & Gardens

Cappoquin, Co. Waterford

Sir Charles Keane

Tel: 087-6704180

www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com

Open: Apr 18-30, Aug 15-31, Sept 1-30, 9am-1pm  

Gardens open all year closed Sundays 

Fee: house €10, garden €6, combined €15, child free 

The Presentation Convent 

Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road,Waterford

Michelle O’ Brien

www.whp.ie

Tel: 051-370057

Open: Jan 2-Dec 31, excluding bank holidays, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm, Sat, 10am-2pm, National Heritage Week Aug 15-23 

Fee: Free

Westmeath

Turbotstown

Coole, Co. Westmeath

Peter Bland

Tel: 086-2475044

Open: July 22-30, Aug 1-31, Dec 1-20, 9am-1pm 

Fee: adult/student €8, child/OAP €4 

Wexford

Wilton Castle

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Sean Windsor

Tel: 053-9247738 

www.wiltoncastleireland.com   

Open: all year

Wicklow

Killruddery House & Gardens

Southern Cross Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Anthony Meath

Tel: 01-2863405

www.killruddery.com

Open: Apr 4-5, 12-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 31, Dec 5-6, 12-13, 19-23, 9.30am-6pm, 

Fee: house & garden adult €15.50, OAP/student €13, child €5.50, garden adult €8.50, OAP/student €7.50 child €3, concession children under  4 years free

Mount Usher Gardens

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Caitriona Mc Weeney

Tel: 0404-49672

www.mountushergardens.ie

Open: all year 10am-6pm

Fee: adult €8, student/OAP €7, child €4, no charge for wheelchair users

Powerscourt House & Gardens

Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow

Sarah Slazenger

Tel: 01-2046000

www.powerscourt.ie

Open: All year, closed Christmas day and St Stephens day, 9.30am-5.30pm, ballroom and garden rooms Sun, 9.30am-1.30pm

Fee: Mar-Oct, adult €11.50, OAP €9, student €8.50, child €5, family ticket €25, Nov-Dec adult €8.50, OAP €7.50, student €7, child €4, family ticket 2 adults + 3 children €18, children under 5 free

Russborough

The Albert Beit Foundation, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Eric Blachford

Tel: 045-865239

enc@russborough.ie

Open: Jan 1-Dec 22, Jan-Feb private visits only, Mar April Oct Nov & Dec, 10am-5pm, May June July & Aug 10am 6pm 

Fee: adult €12, OAP/student €9, child €6, family rate €30

Leixlip Castle, County Kildare: Desmond Guinness’s jewelbox of treasures

contact: Mrs Desmond (Penny) Guinness

Open in 2020 (but check due to Covid-19 restrictions): Feb 10-14, 17-21, Mar 23-27, 30-31, Apr 1-3, May 18-29, June 6-12, Aug 15-23, Sept 7-18, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €4, concessions no charge for school outings

I am publishing my Leixlip Castle blog this week to honour Desmond Guinness who died last month. The Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne published a thoughtful tribute on his website. [1]

It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday June 15th 2019 when we headed to Leixlip Castle. It is just outside of Leixlip, not far from Dublin on the N4, though confusing to find when one drives into Leixlip – don’t get it confused with the Manor! Keep going through the town and you’ll see it on your left as you are heading to veer right – so don’t veer right but turn left instead. You cannot see it in advance so I’m sure one could cause an accident if a car follows close behind!

A note on the gate listed tour times – I think they were every hour at quarter past the hour, on open days. We made it in time for the 11:15 tour. We were early, so had time to walk around the grounds. This is the place so far where I most want to live! It is so beautiful, especially the garden.

We passed a gate lodge on the way in – impressive itself!

the gate lodge
view of an interesting looking building toward the back of the gate lodge

Not sure where to park, I parked outside the gate lodge. We then walked up toward the house, along a cobbled driveway with wildflower meadow alongside and gorgeous sylvan landscape.

We approached the castle: impressive with a rounded tower immediately in view and castellated wall, with gothic mullioned windows, approached by a sweeping lawn:

The oldest part of the castle, the round tower, was built in 1172 – there is a stone noting that date [2] – by Adam de Hereford, an Anglo-Norman knight. A lovely coincidence is that when I looked up Adam de Hereford on Wikipedia, I have discovered that amongst the land bestowed by Strongbow on de Hereford, was “half the vill of Aghaboe.” My Grandfather purchased the house and farm at Aghaboe, which contains the Abbey of Aghaboe in County Laois! Unfortunately the Land Commission placed a compulLsory purchase order on the land when my Grandfather, John Baggot, died in 1977. Our family was left the house and about ten acres. The family sold the remaining land and house in 1985, much to my disappointment.

Aghaboe Abbey, County Laois, 2018, founded by St. Canice in the 6th century.
the house at Aghaboe, also from our 2018 trip. It has been restored by its current owner.
the house at Aghaboe, 1981.

John Colgan has complied a chronology of Leixlip, 1200-1499. [3] According to this, the grant from King John to Adam de Hereford is given in 1202. A website called “Curious Ireland” claims that soon after the castle was built, it was used as a hunting base by King John when he was Lord of Ireland in 1185. [4]

this is the side which Mark Bence-Jones refers to as facing the river, with pointed windows that have Gothic astragals (a term used loosely to denote the glazing bars in the window)

According to Mark Bence-Jones in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses, it later belonged to the Crown [more on this later], and was then granted in 1569 to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the Rolls [again, we shall learn more about these details later]. In 1731, it was sold by John Whyte to Rt Hon William Conolly, nephew and heir of Speaker Conolly, the builder of nearby Castletown. William Conolly left Leixlip for Castletown after his aunt’s death in 1752, but it remained in the Conolly family until 1914, being let to a succession of tenants. Bence-Jones writes that remodelling of the castle appears to date from when William Conolly lived in it, and also perhaps slightly later, during the tenancy of Primate Stone, which was from 1752 onwards. The wing which forms a projection on the entrance front, balancing the old round tower, was more or less rebuilt at this period, and has a regular three storey four bay front towards the river. The windows on this projection are pointed and have Gothic astragals (a term used loosely to denote the glazing bars in the window). Similar windows, Bence-Jones adds, “were pierced in the thick old wall of the entrance front, and were glazed with diamond panes, in a delightful Batty Langley manner.” [5]

Beyond the round tower in the other direction there are steps leading up to a small terrace:

Walking around a little further, we see more of the house, with multiple roof levels, and a squat round ivy-covered one storey crenellated wall:

We can see more little windows, set into the round tower, another gothic arched window, and a round window also.

Walking further around, the back part of the jumble of a building leads to an archway built into the building:

The other side of the cobbled driveway leads to outbuildings with a path down to farmbuildings. Ahead of us, was a doorway in the wall, leading to the gardens.

According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage Buildings of Ireland website, the castle was completed in 1837. I find it hard to correlate the descriptions of the castle with the castle itself: the inventory describes:

Detached four-bay two-storey over part-raised basement rubble stone house, completed 1837, incorporating fabric of earlier castle, dated 1172, and subsequent reconstructions with two-bay two-storey advanced end bay to left (north-east), four-bay three-storey side elevation to north-east and single-bay three-storey corner tower to west on a circular plan having battlemented parapet.Set back from road in own extensive landscaped grounds. [6]

The Castle overlooks the River Liffey:

Leixlip Castle has been owned by Desmond Guinness, the founder of the Irish Georgian Society in 1958. The Georgian Society is dedicated to the conservation and research into eighteenth century Irish art and architecture. His wife Penny joined us in the front hall, before Jenny took us on a tour of the house. The tour guide, Jenny, a young Philipino woman who was hired to take care of Desmond’s parents, and has been with the family for seventeen years and at the time we visited, took care of Desmond. Before entering the house, however, we had to find where to enter!

There’s a front door to the front of the castle but moss growing on the steps indicated to me that that door is not used. We went around to the side, to the terrace. The door is small – the handle very low, so I imagined Sleepy, Doc or Grumpy opening the door! Jenny explained that the floor had to be raised and that they just cut the door to make it fit.

Jenny had us sign the book and started to tell us about the castle, when another couple arrived and joined us for the tour. There is an accompanying brochure written by Desmond Guinness about the house and its contents. Jenny told us we are allowed to take photos! I began eagerly to snap away, as well as to take notes.

History of Leixlip Castle

The pamphlet explains that the Irish name for Leixlip, Leim an Bhradain, means “leap of the salmon,” and that the name derives from the Danish Lax-Hlaup, as the village was first established by the Vikings.

The pamphlet says that the castle was built just after 1192, so this must be the part built on to the earlier 1172 tower. It was built where the Rye Water and the River Liffey meet.

From 1300, a family called Pypard lived in Leixlip. Sources online state that in 1302 Ralph Pypard “surrendered all his castles etc to the Crown, and in consequence Richard de Kakeputz, who was constable of Leixlip, was ordered to deliver it up to the king. [7] “Curious Ireland” adds that in 1316 the castle withstood a four day siege by Edward Bruce’s army. 

According to the leaflet written by Desmond Guinness, the Pypards occupied Leixlip until King Henry VII granted Leixlip to Gerald Fitzgerald 8th Earl of Kildare, upon his marriage to Dame Elizabeth Saint John, between 1485-1509. Known as “Garret the Great” (Gearóid Mór) or “The Great Earl”, he was Ireland’s premier peer. He served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1477 to 1494, and from 1496 onwards. His power was so great that he was called “the uncrowned King of Ireland”. A legend, retold by Nuala O’Faoláin, says that Fitzgerald was skilled in the black arts, and could shapeshift. However, he would never let his wife see him take on other forms, much to her chagrin. After much pleading, he yielded to her, and turned himself into a goldfinchbefore her very eyes. A sparrowhawk flew into the room, seized the “goldfinch”, and he was never seen again. [8]

Due to the rebellion of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald, 10th Earl of Kildare, in 1534, Leixlip Castle was taken back by the Crown. In 1569 the Manor and Castle were granted to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the Rolls, and the house remained in the family for nearly 200 years.

An article in The Journal of County Kildare, based on notes on Leixlip principally taken from a pamphlet called “Leixlip Castle,” written by the late Very Rev. James Canon O’Rourke, in 1885 (when Parish Priest of Maynooth), states: 

In 1538 the Manor and Castle of Leixlip were surrendered by Matthew King, of Dublin, on which John Alen, the Chancellor, obtained a lease of them for twenty-one years; in 1561 they passed to William Vernon, gent., for a like period; and in 1569 they were granted to Sir Nicholas Whyte, Master of the  Rolls, in whose family they remained till about the beginning  of the eighteenth century.” [9]


Reverend O’Rourke continues: “Sir Nicholas Whyte’s successor at Leixlip was his fourth son, Charles, who had served in Spain, and in 1689 was Governor of the County Kildare; he died about the year 1697, was buried at Leixlip, and was succeeded by his son John, from whom, I believe, the Conollys of Castletown purchased Leixlip, which remains at present in the possession of that family.”

William James Conolly (died 1754), nephew, heir and namesake of Speaker (of the Irish House of Commons) William Conolly (1662-1729) of Castletown, County Kildare, purchased Leixlip Castle in 1731 and it remained the property of the family until 1914. It was frequently let during this period. Desmond Guinness purchased Castletown House in 1967 to preserve it from destruction, nearly ten years after purchasing Leixlip Castle!

The oval portrait is of Lady Anne Conolly (born Wentworth, daugher of Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford), who lived in Leixlip Castle until the death of her husband’s aunt, the widow (Katherine Conyngham, daughter of General Sir Albert Conyngham of Mountcharles, County Donegal – ancestors of the Conynghams of Slane Castle) of parliament speaker William Conolly of Castletown House. Lady Anne’s husband, another William Conolly, inherited Castletown in 1752.
Jenny told us that this portrait is of Thomas Conolly. He was the son and heir of William James Conolly (d.1754) of Castletown House, by his wife Lady Anne Wentworth.. Thomas Conolly married Lady Louisa Lennox, a daughter of Charles Lennox, the 2nd Duke of Richmond. Thomas Connolly was an member of Parliament of Ireland.

Mark Bence-Jones mentions two of the tenants of Leixlip Castle during this period: in the eighteenth century, Primate George Stone, Archbishop of Armagh, “the most powerful man in Ireland in his day,” and 4th Viscount (afterwards 1st Marquess) George Townshend (1724-1807), when he was Viceroy.

O’Rourke tells us:

“Lewis, in his “ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland,” speaking of Leixlip Castle, says: — “ This venerable mansion was the favourite retreat of several of the viceroys, of whom Lord Townsend usually spent the summer here; it is at present (1837) the residence of the Hon. George Cavendish, by whom it has been modernized and greatly improved.”… 

George Cavendish (1766-1849), of Waterpark, County Cork, added “unobtrusive” battlements, according to Mark Bence-Jones. O’Rourke continues:

“In the autumn of 1856, John Michael Henry, Baron de Robeck, then a tenant of the Castle, was drowned in the Liffey during a great flood. He was High Sheriff for the County Kildare in 1834, for the County Dublin in 1838, and for the County Wicklow in 1839. His remains were deposited in the vault in the Maynooth Church tower.”… “In 1878 Captain the Honourable Cornwallis Maude, son and heir to the Earl of Montalt, took up his residence in the Castle after his marriage in this year. When the Boer war broke out, he volunteered for service, and was numbered with the dead after the disastrous Majuba Hill affair on the 27th February, 1881. The present resident in the Castle is William Mooney, Esq., j.p., who so kindly admitted the members of the County Kildare Archaeological Society into his demesne to visit the Salmon Leap, and showed them over the old Castle in 1896.”

In 1914, John de La Poer Beresford, 5th Baron Decies, Chief Press Censor, purchased the property and added the kitchen wing. Bence-Jones tells us that he replaced some of the Georgian-Gothic windows with Tudor-style mullions, and panelled one or two rooms in oak. Unable to sell it in 1923, the castle was let to more tenants, and for a while served as residence for the French ambassador. In 1945 the castle was sold to William Kavanagh (see [4], and when I googled him, I found, interestingly, a painting for auction by Whytes in 2004 of the Salmon Weir, Leixlip, and it was owned by William Kavanagh, “Rathgar, a well known specialist in the work of O’Connor in the 1920s to 1940s” ). Finally, Desmond Guinness purchased the castle in 1958. His ancestor Richard Guinness had a brewery in Leixlip in the mid eighteenth century, before Richard’s son, Arthur, founded the Guinness brewery in Dublin!

The pamphlet we obtained in the hallway states that an electric dam was built in1947, completely submerging the salmon leap.

Jenny had us sign the Guest Book and then began to tell us of the contents of the grand hallway in which we stood.

The Castle Interior

Desmond Guinness’s pamplet describes the contents also. The black Kilkenny marble mantel was originally made for Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, County Dublin, in 1744. The coat of arms featured over the fireplace belongs to the Gorges family of Ratoath, County Meath. The tapestry to the right of the fireplace was made in Florence in around 1730 and a manufactory by the name of Bennini, and it has the Medici arms, with the balls. When Stephen and I travelled to Florence for a holiday, we saw these balls on many buildings.

Medici coat of arms, from the Museo Bardini in Florence, my favourite, or second to the Victoria and Albert, museum in the world!

To the right of the side door hangs a mirror from Clonfert Palace, County Galway (palace of the Church of Ireland bishops of Clonfert, unfortunately a ruin since 1950).

The dolls house is believed to have originated in County Cork:

The wooden-headed antlers are probably of German origin and come from Powerscourt, County Wicklow. The tapestry is seventeenth century and depicts Theodotus offering the head of Pompey to Caesar. [10]

The dining room, with Bavarian tapestry.

Desmond Guinness states that the dining room chairs are eighteenth century “Irish Chippendale,” and were purchased at the Malahide Castle sale in 1976, as were the two black side tables.

The tapestries, in the “Chinese taste,” were woven in Bavaria in around 1750. The picture over the fireplace is an early view of Leixlip Castle of unknown origin. The ornate frame came originally from the eighteenth century house that was replaced by the present Dromoland Castle in County Clare. There is also a picture of the Holy Family by Cambiasi, the leaflet tells us.

The picture over the fireplace is an early view of Leixlip Castle of unknown origin. The ornate frame came originally from the eighteenth century house that was replaced by the present Dromoland Castle in County Clare.

As we read the pamphlet we can see Desmond Guinness’s love of antiques and history, which brought us the great treasure that is the Georgian Society. His generosity spills from the house, in the way he let us photograph, and he teaches us patiently through his leaflet.

Our tour guide, Jenny. She has been with the Guinness’s for 17 years. The cook has been with them for 30! They must be good employers. One can see the thickness of the walls by looking at the windows. The model of the obelisk at Stillorgan, County Dublin, on the table behind – a typically Irish hunt table, according to Desmond Guinness. The obelisk is a memorial designed in 1727 by Edward Lovett Pearce for his kinswoman Lady Allen, commissioned by Lord Joshua Allen, 2nd Viscount of Stillorgan (for more on Lovett Pearce, see my entry for Altidore Castle).

We next entered the Library.

The pamphlet states that the plasterwork in the Library dates from the mid 18th Century. An Irish library cabinet stands between the windows. These windows, and the bookcases, are modern and were installed by the present owner, who also devised the print room decoration on the walls. The prints are laid out in a way similar to those of the Print Room in Castletown House, which were done by the Lennox sisters.

Print Room in Castletown House County Kildare. Desmond and his first wife, Mariga, purchased Castletown House in 1967 to preserve it from destruction. On his website in his recent entry about Desmond Guinness, Robert O’Byrne the Irish Aesthete tells us: “Today Castletown is owned by the Irish State and is rightly lauded as a splendid example of Irish design and craftsmanship. But if it had not been for Desmond’s brave initiative, and then the restoration work that he and Mariga oversaw on the house – helped by the many volunteers they inspired – Castletown would now be nothing more than a handful of old black and white photographs.”

The prints in Leixlip Castle were put up by Nicola Windgate-Saul in 1976. The engravings, according to the pamphlet, relate to the decoration in the Galerie des Glaces in Versailles, executed in 1755 by Jean Baptiste Masse, based on the seventeeth century paintings of Charles le Brun (gardener to Louis XIV I believe – see my entry on Curraghmore).

The gilt mirror over the mantel was originally in a bedroom (Lady Kildare’s, Jenny told us) at Castletown, as well as the golden plasterwork, and was made in Dublin by the firm of Francis and John Booker in the mid-18th century.

We could not identify the origin of the death mask:

A card next to the death mask, however, identified the stuffed animal below the table, a mongoose:

There are a lot of mongooses (mongeese?) in Grenada in the West Indies, I remember. They supposedly harbour rabies. One rarely sees one, however. We did have an injured one come into our garden in Grenada, which we discovered due to our dog Minky barking madly from the safety of the patio. The poor mongoose, like the one above, died. Mongoose can kill snakes and snails. I need one for my allotment!

the chandelier is nineteenth century Venetian. It reminds me of the chandeliers in Castletown:

18th-century Murano Venetian coloured and plain glass 24-light chandeliers, decorated with flower heads and moulded finials, one of three in the Long Gallery of Castletown. It is believed that Lady Louisa ordered them from Venice between 1775 and 1778.

A delightful detail in the library are the model cast iron stoves:

model cast iron stoves.

We moved from the library into the Drawing Room.

The painting over the mantelpiece is Carton, County Kildare, by Thomas Roberts. Stephen liked the globes on the mantelpiece.
Carton, County Kildare by Thomas Roberts

The pamphlet tells of of the treat in the Drawing Room: the large 18th century Dolls House that originally came from Newbridge House. It was given to Desmond’s daughter Marina when she was ten years old (his children’s mother is his first wife, Mariga).

a room inside the dolls house
another dolls house room
another room in the dolls’ house

The little plates in the dolls’ house are decorated with the initials “JG” for Desmond’s granddaughter Jasmine Guinness, now a model in London. The building blocks beside the dolls’ house were for the boys.

There are also drawings of the six Mitford sisters by William Acton. These sisters are the mother and aunts of Desmond Guinness.

The one on the top left is Nancy Mitford the writer. Diana Mitford, below her, is Desmond Guinness’s mother: she left his father, Bryan Walter Guinness, in order to be with Robert Mosley, the Nazi, and Hitler was the best man at their wedding, five years after she had married Bryan Guinness. Next to Nancy on top is Unity Mitford, a friend of Hitler, and below her, Deborah, who married Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire, who inherited Lismore Castle in Waterford, a real fairytale-looking castle with gardens which are open to the public.

Another picture by William Acton is of Desmond’s mother in law, Teresa Jungman, Penny’s mother – it seems an amazing coincidence that he drew both of their parents!. Desmond married Penny Cuthbertson in 1984 (thirty years after he had married his first wife, Princess Henriette Marie-Gabrielle von Urach – a member of the royal house of Wurtemburg, Germany – known as Mariga). When Jenny came to the house seventeen years ago, Teresa and her sister lived with the Guinness’s, and the sister was 99 years old!
Beneath the portrait above, under the cabinet with the deer, is a cabinet made in Killarney around 1880, which is inlaid with Irish views of ruined abbeys and round towers, and Irish wolfhounds, harps and shamrocks. Stephen gave me a box very similar for our “wooden” wedding anniversary! These Killarney items were popularised by Queen Victoria when she visited Killarney.

We were lucky to be shown the “secret door”:

Jenny opens the secret door

It led to a surprising outdoor area, which features mosaics on the walls!

and a blocked up arched doorway:

On the way to the grand staircase we passed another painting of Desmond’s mother – one she was not so fond of, as you can imagine, as it’s a bit risque. It highlights the blue of her eyes, however, which are inherited by her son.

a photograph of Desmond Guinness and his children Marina and Patrick

The woodwork of the staircase dates from the early 18th century or late 17th. The window is twentieth century and probably replaces a Venetian window, Guinness tells us in the pamphlet, in an attempt to make the interior look earlier than it is.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the staircase, of wood with pear-shaped balusters, appears to date from the early eighteenth century, and rises “impressively” in a separate hall behind the entrance hall.

This (below) is just something that Desmond saw at a party that tickled his fancy, I believe:

Under the turn of the stairs: the portrait is, I believe, of Desmond’s great great grandfather, the 12th Earl of Buchan, Henry David Erskine (1783-1857).

The carved wooden heads “supporting” the upstairs landing came from a shop front in Dawson Street, Dublin, where they were unrecognisable due to many layers of paint. They may be the work, Guinness tells us, of Edward Smyth who carved the Riverine heads on the facade of the Custom House in Dublin, besides much of the sculptural ornament on public buildings in Dublin.

The tapestry was woven in Brussels in the seventeenth century and depicts Caesar in a green toga, making the crossing to Brindisium, protected on the way by the goddess Fortuna, who hovers aloft. It was a present to Desmond from his mother, who brought it from France (somehow!).

a print of the 17th century tapestry
The painting is a portrait by William Hogarth of the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfield (1728-1799) aged 13, with his mother, Elizabeth Bernard (portrait painted in 1741).
This wonderful chair is not mentioned in Desmond’s notes but Jenny told us is a copy of a Venetian chair. It sits under a French tapestry representing Plenty, Autumnm, Earth or Harvest.

Next we went upstairs. There are 14 bedrooms, all still used when there are enough guests.

This was unusually situated at the top of the stairs. It had been stolen from the lower yard, then repurchased at an auction, and so was brought indoors!
The upstairs hallway.

The first room we entered is the “Yellow room” or the “plate room.” Notice that the plates are complemented with matching candles!

The next room, the Blue Room, is one of the largest:

some sort of odd communication device on the wall
An old picture, above, of Leixlip Castle with the boat house and church – with a bit of artistic license
Jenny’s reaction to this painting was priceless. I asked her if she knows who it is or who it is by (I was thinking of that film, “Big Eyes” about painter Margaret Keane). Jenny exclaimed “What’s that doing there! How did that get there! Someone must have moved it!” She explained that it is normally on the wall in the bed alcove. Stephen suggested that someone must have found it too creepy to sleep beside! Jenny tried to remember who had stayed in the room most recently!

The next room is NOT called the “pink room,” Jenny told us. I think it’s the Chinese or Oriental room.

I believe Marina cut and pasted the prints in this hallway:

The next room is called the Chapel, so named, I believe, for the IHS above the doorway.

Jenny points out a model of the Casino in Marino
I love these curtains

The next bedroom was the grandest, and is called King John’s bedroom as the story is that he slept there. There is a painted Venus on the ceiling.

I love the enormous wardrobe with funny leonine feet with too many toes, and the still used copper bath.

Jenny told us of the time Mick Jagger and his then-wife Jerry Hall stayed in this room, and she had her photograph taken in the bath. The picture somehow got out to magazines, and a copy of the picture was kept behind the shutters, but has disappeared!

Our last room, the Tower Room, is not usually one shown to guests, I think, because it’s not always kept tidy, but Jenny found us such enthusiastic guests, along with the other couple, that we were privileged with a view of the room and even the toilet off it.

I loved these pictures, in the hall on the way to the stairs up to the attic
a framed map on the wall, featuring some structures with which Desmond Guinness was associated, including the Obelisk, also called the Conolly Folly, one of the structures which the Irish Georgian Society campaigned to have protected and restored – as well as the Hindu-Gothic gate at Dromana (see my Dromana entry), and Carton House, which Desmond and his wife Mariga rented when they returned to live in Ireland in 1955.
the Tower Room. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the walls have been decorated with panels of an early nineteenth century paper by Dufour, Vues d’Italie.
an odd figure in the carpet
Stephen in the Tower Room, outside the bathroom, admiring the painting.
the bathroom off the Tower Room. The bath is even smaller than ours, I think!
I loved the decoration on the bathroom walls. I think it was done by Desmond Guinness’s father, if I heard correctly.
I love the way the pipe is incorporated to be a palm tree!
the stairs down from the tower room
This portrait looks familiar – can you identify the subject? Let me know if you can!

We explored outside before we had our indoor tour.

Across the cobbled driveway from the castle, outbuildings with a path down to farmbuildings. 
the gate to the garden. For more on this gate, see the Irish Aesthete’s blog [11]. He tells us that Desmond Guinness says these were originally part of the Dublin city reservoir or basin developed in 1721-22 adjacent to where his family later developed the well-known brewery. When the basin was filled in during the 1970s, Desmond acquired the gates.

This is the vision that met our eyes when we went through the gateway, a living arcadia:

the swimming pool is within the castellated walls in the garden
the swimming pool, covered
I asked Penny about this portico and statue. She said the portico stone was found, and they thought it looked like it came from a temple. I believe it was found in Summerhill, County Wicklow. The statue is a copy of a work by Canova. [12]

By the side of the conservatory, there is another gate, down to the farm buildings and stable, by a cottage, where Jenny and her family live.

According to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, this is “rubble stone outbuilding with half-dormer attic, c.1830.” [13]
According to the National Inventory of Historic Architecture, this is: “Detached single-bay single-storey over raised base gable-fronted rubble stone dovecote, c.1780. [14]
The National Inventory tells us that this is: Attached eight-bay single-storey lean-to rubble stone outbuilding, c.1800, with four-bay single-storey lean-to lower advanced bay to right (south-west) and series of segmental-headed integral carriageways to left. Renovated, c.1950, with some integral carriageways remodelled. [15].
to the side of the castle, beyond the seat, you can see the archway, which we saw from the other side in a photograph in the beginning of this entry.

What an amazing home!

[1] https://theirishaesthete.com/2020/08/24/a-pioneer/

[2] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804045/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[3] http://www.kildare.ie/ehistory/index.php/leixlip-chronology-1200-1499-ad/

[4] http://curiousireland.ie/leixlip-castle-leixlip-co-kildare-1172/

[5] p. 183. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804045/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[7] A “Pipard” also built the castle near Aghaboe, according to Wickipedia, but that castle is now gone. I wonder is this the same family as “Pypard”?

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_FitzGerald,_8th_Earl_of_Kildare

[9] This source continues:

“Sir Nicholas Whyte, Knt., was the son of James Whyte, of King’s Meadows, in the County Waterford. He was in 1564 Recorder of Waterford; in 1569 he was appointed Seneschal of the County of Wexford and Constable of the Castle of Wexford; and in 1572 he was made Master of the Rolls — an office which he held till his death on the 20th March, 1593. In 1569 he was granted the lands of St. Catherine’s, on the opposite bank of the Liffey, in the County Dublin, and in the following year he obtained a grant of the Manor of Leixlip, two castles, a water-mill, a salmon-weir, two fishing-places, called the Salmon Leap, on the river Analiffey, Priortown Meade, and other demesne lands of the manor, 6d. rent for licence to have a right  of way from Confey to Leixlip, the right of pasture on the great  common of Moncronock, and rents out of several townlands, to hold for ever in capite by the service of a fortieth part of a  knight’s fee, at a rent of ^36 13s. 4d.Irish (or 1227 10s.sterling)….”
[10] https://www.discoverireland.ie/kildare/leixlip-castle

[11] https://theirishaesthete.com/2012/10/24/heavens-gate/

[12] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804055/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[13] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804048/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[14] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804058/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[15] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/11804060/leixlip-castle-leixlip-demesne-leixlip-co-kildare

[16] And to finish off, if you have had the mammoth attention-span to get through this all in one go (and even if you have not!), we’ll end with a Ghost Story by Charles Robert Maturin (a favourite writer of Oscar Wilde’s):

http://www.ricorso.net/rx/library/authors/classic/Maturin_CR/Leixlip.htm

Bibliographical note: First published in The Literary Souvenir; or, Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (London: Hurst & Robinson 1825); rep. in The Grimoire and Other Supernatural Stories, collected by Montague Summers (Fortune Press 1936), pp.23-27.
Source: The Literary Souvenir, or Cabinet of Poetry and Romance (1825), at “The Literary Gothic Website” [online] – supplied by Dr. Dick Collins (Inchigeela, Co. Cork, Ireland) [accessed 30.11.2007.]

THE INCIDENTS of the following tale are not merely founded on fact, they are facts themselves, which occurred at no very distant period in my own family. The marriage of the parties, their sudden and mysterious separation, and their total alienation from each other until the last period of their mortal existence, are all facts. I cannot vouch for the truth of the supernatural solution given to all these mysteries; but I must still consider the story as a fine specimen of Gothic horrors, and can never forget the impression it made on me when I heard it related for the first time among many other thrilling traditions of the same description.

C.R.M.

The tranquillity of the Catholics of Ireland during the disturbed periods of 1715 and 1745, was most commendable, and somewhat extraordinary; to enter into an analysis of their probable motives, is not at all the object of the writer of this tale, as it is pleasanter to state the fact of their honour, than at this distance of time to assign dubious and unsatisfactory reasons for it. Many of them, however, showed a kind of secret disgust at the existing state of affairs, by quitting their family residences and wandering about like persons who were uncertain of their homes, or possibly expecting better from some near and fortunate contingency.


Among the rest was a Jacobite Baronet, who, sick of his uncongenial situation in a Whig neighbourhood, in the north – where he heard of nothing but the heroic defence of Londonderry; the barbarities of the French generals; and the resistless exhortations of the godly Mr Walker, a Presbyterian clergyman, to whom the citizens gave the title of ‘Evangelist’; – quitted his paternal residence, and about the year 1720 hired the Castle of Leixlip for three years (it was then the property of the Connollys, who let it to triennial tenants); and removed thither with his family, which consisted of three daughters – their mother having long been dead.


The Castle of Leixlip, at that period, possessed a character of romantic beauty and feudal grandeur, such as few buildings in Ireland can claim, and which is now, alas, totally effaced by the destruction of its noble woods; on the destroyers of which the writer would wish ‘a minstrel’s malison were said’. – Leixlip, though about seven miles from Dublin, has all the sequestered and picturesque character that imagination could ascribe to a landscape a hundred miles from, not only the metropolis but an inhabited town. After driving a dull mile (an Irish mile) [1] in passing from Lucan to Leixlip, the road – hedged up on one side of the high wall that bounds the demesne of the Veseys, and on the other by low enclosures, over whose rugged tops you have no view at all – at once opens on Leixlip Bridge, at almost a right angle, and displays a luxury of landscape on which the eye that has seen it even in childhood dwells with delighted recollection. – Leixlip Bridge, a rude but solid structure, projects from a high bank of the Liffey, and slopes rapidly to the opposite side, which there lies remarkably low. To the right the plantations of the Vesey’s demesne – no longer obscured by walls – almost mingle their dark woods in its stream, with the opposite ones of Marshfield and St Catherine’s. The river is scarcely visible, overshadowed as it is by the deep, rich and bending foliage of the trees. To the left it bursts out in all the brilliancy of light, washes the garden steps of the houses of Leixlip, wanders round the low walls of its churchyard, plays, with the pleasure-boat moored under the arches on which the summer-house of the Castle is raised, and then loses itself among the rich woods that once skirted those grounds to its very brink. The contrast on the other side, with the luxuriant walks, scattered shrubberies, temples seated on pinnacles, and thickets that conceal from you the sight of the river until you are on its banks, that mark the character of the grounds which are now the property of Colonel Marly, is peculiarly striking.


Visible above the highest roofs of the town, though a quarter of a mile distant from them, are the ruins of Confy Castle, a right good old predatory tower of the stirring times when blood was shed like water; and as you pass the bridge you catch a glimpse of the waterfall (or salmon-leap, as it is called) on whose noon-day lustre, or moon-light beauty, probably the rough livers of that age when Confy Castle was ‘a tower of strength’, never glanced an eye or cast a thought, as they clattered in their harness over Leixlip Bridge, or waded through the stream before that convenience was in existence.


Whether the solitude in which he lived contributed to tranquillize Sir Redmond Blaney’s feelings, or whether they had begun to rust from want of collision with those of others, it is impossible to say, but certain it is, that the good Baronet began gradually to lose his tenacity in political matters; and except when a Jacobite friend came to dine with him, and drink with many a significant ‘nod and beck and smile’, the King over the water – or the parish-priest (good man) spoke of the hopes of better times, and the final success of the right cause, and the old religion – or a Jacobite servant was heard in the solitude of the large mansion whistling ‘Charlie is my darling’, to which Sir Redmond involuntarily responded in a deep bass voice, somewhat the worse for wear, and marked with more emphasis than good discretion – except, as I have said, on such occasions, the Baronet’s politics, like his life, seemed passing away without notice or effort. Domestic calamities, too, pressed sorely on the old gentleman: of his three daughters the youngest, Jane, had disappeared in so extraordinary a manner in her childhood, that though it is but a wild, remote family tradition, I cannot help relating it:-


The girl was of uncommon beauty and intelligence, and was suffered to wander about the neighbourhood of the castle with the daughter of a servant, who was also called Jane, as a nom de caresse. One evening Jane Blaney and her young companion went far and deep into the woods; their absence created no uneasiness at the time, as these excursions were by no means unusual, till her playfellow returned home alone and weeping, at a very late hour. Her account was, that, in passing through a lane at some distance from the castle, an old woman, in the Fingallian dress (a red petticoat and a long green jacket), suddenly started out of a thicket, and took Jane Blaney by the arm: she had in her hand two rushes, one of which she threw over her shoulder, and giving the other to the child, motioned to her to do the same. Her young companion, terrified at what she saw, was running away, when Jane Blaney called after her – ‘Good-bye, good-bye, it is a long time before you will see me again.’ The girl said they then disappeared, and she found her way home as she could. An indefatigable search was immediately commenced – woods were traversed, thickets were explored, ponds were drained – all in vain. The pursuit and the hope were at length given up. Ten years afterwards, the housekeeper of Sir Redmond, having remembered that she left the key of a closet where sweetmeats were kept, on the kitchen table, returned to fetch it. As she approached the door, she heard a childish voice murmuring – ‘Cold – cold – cold how long it is since I have felt a fire!’ – She advanced, and saw, to her amazement, Jane Blaney, shrunk to half her usual size, and covered with rags, crouching over the embers of the fire. The housekeeper flew in terror from the spot, and roused the servants, but the vision had fled. The child was reported to have been seen several times afterwards, as diminutive in form, as though she had not grown an inch since she was ten years of age, and always crouching over a fire, whether in the turret-room or kitchen, complaining of cold and hunger, and apparently covered with rags. Her existence is still said to be protracted under these dismal circumstances, so unlike those of Lucy Gray in Wordsworth’s beautiful ballad:

Yet some will say, that to this day
She is a living child –
That they have met sweet Lucy Gray
Upon the lonely wild;
O’er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind;
And hums a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.

The fate of the eldest daughter was more melancholy, though less extraordinary; she was addressed by a gentleman of competent fortune and unexceptionable character: he was a Catholic, moreover; and Sir Redmond Blaney signed the marriage articles, in full satisfaction of the security of his daughter’s soul, as well as of her jointure. The marriage was celebrated at the Castle of Leixlip; and, after the bride and bridegroom had retired, the guests still remained drinking to their future happiness, when suddenly, to the great alarm of Sir Redmond and his friends, loud and piercing cries were heard to issue from the part of the castle in which the bridal chamber was situated.


Some of the more courageous hurried up stairs; it was too late – the wretched bridegroom had burst, on that fatal night, into a sudden and most horrible paroxysm of insanity. The mangled form of the unfortunate and expiring lady bore attestation to the mortal virulence with which the disease had operated on the wretched husband, who died a victim to it himself after the involuntary murder of his bride. The bodies were interred, as soon as decency would permit, and the story hushed up.


Sir Redmond’s hopes of Jane’s recovery were diminishing every day, though he still continued to listen to every wild tale told by the domestics; and all his care was supposed to be now directed towards his only surviving daughter. Anne, living in solitude, and partaking only of the very limited education of Irish females of that period, was left very much to the servants, among whom she increased her taste for superstitious and supernatural horrors, to a degree that had a most disastrous effect on her future life.


Among the numerous menials of the Castle, there was one withered crone, who had been nurse to the late Lady Blaney’s mother, and whose memory was a complete Thesaurus terrorum. The mysterious fate of Jane first encouraged her sister to listen to the wild tales of this hag, who avouched, that at one time she saw the fugitive standing before the portrait of her late mother in one of the apartments of the Castle, and muttering to herself – ‘Woe’s me, woe’s me! how little my mother thought her wee Jane would ever come to be what she is!’ But as Anne grew older she began more ‘seriously to incline’ to the hag’s promises that she could show her her future bridegroom, on the performance of certain ceremonies, which she at first revolted from as horrible and impious; but, finally, at the repeated instigation of the old woman, consented to act a part in. The period fixed upon for the performance of these unhallowed rites, was now approaching – it was near the 31st of October – the eventful night, when such ceremonies were, and still are supposed, in the North of Ireland, to be most potent in their effects. All day long the Crone took care to lower the mind of the young lady to the proper key of submissive and trembling credulity, by every horrible story she could relate; and she told them with frightful and supernatural energy. This woman was called Collogue by the family, a name equivalent to Gossip in England, or Cummer in Scotland (though her real name was Bridget Dease); and she verified the name, by the exercise of an unwearied loquacity, an indefatigable memory, and a rage for communicating, and inflicting terror, that spared no victim in the household, from the groom, whom she sent shivering to his rug, [2] to the Lady of the Castle, over whom she felt she held unbounded sway.
The 31st of October arrived – the Castle was perfectly quiet before eleven o’clock; half an hour afterwards, the Collogue and Anne Blaney were seen gliding along a passage that led to what is called King John’s Tower, where it is said that monarch received the homage of the Irish princes as Lord of Ireland and which was, at all events, the most ancient part of the structure. [3]


The Collogue opened a small door with a key which she had secreted, about her, and urged the young lady to hurry on. Anne advanced to the postern, and stood there irresolute and trembling like a timid swimmer on the bank of an unknown stream. It was a dark autumnal evening; a heavy wind sighed among the woods of the Castle, and bowed the branches of the lower trees almost to the waves of the Liffey, which, swelled by recent rains, struggled and roared amid the stones that obstructed its channel. The steep descent from the Castle lay before her, with its dark avenue of elms; a few lights still burned in the little village of Leixlip – but from the lateness of the hour it was probable they would soon be extinguished.
The lady lingered – ‘And must I go alone?’ said she, foreseeing that the terrors of her fearful journey could be aggravated by her more fearful purpose.
‘Ye must, or al

l will be spoiled,’ said the hag, shading the miserable light, that did not extend its influence above six inches on the path of the victim. ‘Ye must go alone – and I will watch for you here, dear, till you come back, and then see what will come to you at twelve o’clock.
The unfortunate girl paused. ‘Oh! Collogue, Collogue, if you would but come with me. Oh! Collogue, come with me, if it be but to the bottom of the castlehill.’


‘If I went with you, dear, we should never reach the top of it alive again, for there are them near that would tear us both in pieces.’


‘Oh! Collogue, Collogue – let me turn back then, and go to my own room – I have advanced too far, and I have done too much.’


‘And that’s what you have, dear, and so you must go further, and do more still, unless, when you return to your own room, you would see the likeness of some one instead of a handsome young bridegroom.’


The young lady looked about her for a moment, terror and wild hope trembling at her heart – then, with a sudden impulse of supernatural courage, she darted like a bird from the terrace of the Castle, the fluttering of her white garments was seen for a few moments, and then the hag who had been shading the flickering light with her hand, bolted the postern, and, placing the candle before a glazed loophole, sat down on a stone seat in the recess of the tower, to watch the event of the spell. It was an hour before the young lady returned; when her face was as pale, and her eyes as fixed, as those of a dead body, but she held in her grasp a dripping garment, a proof that her errand had been performed. She flung it into her companion’s hands, and then stood, panting and gazing wildly about her as if she knew not where she was. The hag herself grew terrified at the insane and breathless state of her victim, and hurried her to her chamber; but here the preparations for the terrible ceremonies of the night were the first objects that struck her, and, shivering at the sight, she covered her eyes with her hands, and stood immovably fixed in the middle of the room.
It needed all the hag’s persuasions (aided even by mysterious menaces), combined with the returning faculties and reviving curiosity of the poor girl, to prevail on her to go through the remaining business of the night. At length she said, as if in desperation, ‘I will go through with it: but be in the next room; and if what I dread should happen, I will ring my father’s little silver bell which I have secured for the night – and as you have a soul to be saved, Collogue, come to me at its first sound.’


The hag promised, gave her last instructions with eager and jealous minuteness, and then retired to her own room, which was adjacent to that of the young lady. Her candle had burned out, but she stirred up the embers of her turf fire, and sat, nodding over them, and smoothing the pallet from time to time, but resolved not to lie down while there was a chance of a sound from the lady’s room, for which she herself, withered as her feelings were, waited with a mingled feeling of anxiety and terror.


It was now long past midnight, and all was silent as the grave throughout the Castle. The hag dozed over the embers till her head touched her knees, then started up as the sound of the bell seemed to tinkle in her ears, then dozed again, and again started as the bell appeared to tinkle more distinctly – suddenly she was roused, not by the bell, but by the most piercing and horrible cries from the neighbouring chamber. The Cologue, aghast for the first time, at the possible consequences of the mischief she might have occasioned, hastened to the room. Anne was in convulsions, and the hag was compelled reluctantly to call up the housekeeper (removing meanwhile the implements of the ceremony), and assist in applying all the specifics known at that day, burnt feathers, etc., to restore her. When they had at length succeeded, the housekeeper was dismissed, the door was bolted, and the Collogue was left alone with Anne; the subject of their conference might have been guessed at, but was not known until many years afterwards; but Anne that night held in her hand, in the shape of a weapon with the use of which neither of them was acquainted, an evidence that her chamber had been visited by a being of no earthly form.


This evidence the hag importuned her to destroy, or to remove: but she persisted with fatal tenacity in keeping it. She locked it up, however, immediately, and seemed to think she had acquired a right, since she had grappled so fearfully with the mysteries of futurity, to know all the secrets of which that weapon might yet lead to the disclosure. But from that night it was observed that her character, her manner, and even her countenance, became altered. She grew stern and solitary, shrunk at the sight of her former associates, and imperatively forbade the slightest allusion to the circumstances which had occasioned this mysterious change.


It was a few days subsequent to this event that Anne, who after dinner had left the Chaplain reading the life of St Francis Xavier to Sir Redmond, and retired to her own room to work, and, perhaps, to muse, was surprised to hear the bell at the outer gate ring loudy and repeatedly – a sound she had never heard since her first residence in the Castle; for the few guests who resorted there came, and departed as noiselessly as humble visitors at the house of a great man generally do. Straightway there rode up the avenue of elms, which we have already mentioned, a stately gentleman, followed by four servants, all mounted, the two former having pistols in their holsters, and the two latter carrying saddle-bags before them: though it was the first week in November, the dinner hour being one o’clock, Anne had light enough to notice all these circumstances. The arrival of the stranger seemed to cause much, though not unwelcome tumult in the Castle; orders were loudly and hastily given for the accommodation of the servants and horses – steps were heard traversing the numerous passages for a full hour – then all was still; and it was said that Sir Redmond had locked with his own hand the door of the room where he and the stranger sat, and desired that no one should dare to approach it. About two hours afterwards, a female servant came with orders from her master, to have a plentiful supper ready by eight o’clock, at which he desired the presence of his daughter. The family establishment was on a handsome scale for an Irish house, and Anne had only to descend to the kitchen to order the roasted chickens to be well strewed with brown sugar according to the unrefined fashion of the day, to inspect the mixing of the bowl of sago with its allowance of a bottle of port wine and a large handful of the richest spices, and to order particularly that the pease pudding should have a huge lump of cold salt butter stuck in its centre; and then, her household cares being over, to retire to her room and array herself in a robe of white damask for the occasion.


At eight o’clock she was summoned to the supper-room. She came in, according to the fashion of the times, with the first dish; but as she passed through the ante-room, where the servants were holding lights and bearing the dishes, her sleeve was twitched, and the ghastly face of the Collogue pushed close to hers; while she muttered ‘Did not I say he would come for you, dear?’ Anne’s blood ran cold, but she advanced, saluted her father and the stranger with two low and distinct reverences, and then took her place at the table. Her feelings of awe and perhaps terror at the whisper of her associate, were not diminished by the appearance of the stranger; there was a singular and mute solemnity in his manner during the meal. He ate nothing. Sir Redmond appeared constrained, gloomy and thoughtful. At length, starting, he said (without naming the stranger’s name), ‘You will drink my daughter’s health?’ The stranger intimated his willingness to have that honour, but absently filled his glass with water; Anne put a few drops of wine into hers, and bowed towards him. At that moment, for the first time since they had met, she beheld his face – it was pale as that of a corpse. The deadly whiteness of his cheeks and lips, the hollow and distant sound of his voice, and the strange lustre of his large dark moveless eyes, strongly fixed on her, made her pause and even tremble as she raised the glass to her lips; she set it down, and then with another silent reverence retired to her chamber.


There she found Bridget Dease, busy in collecting the turf that burned on the hearth, for there was no grate in the apartment. ‘Why are you here?’ she said, impatiently.


The hag turned on her, with a ghastly grin of congratulation, ‘Did not I tell you that he would come for you?’


‘I believe he has,’ said the unfortunate girl, sinking into the huge wicker chair by her bedside; ‘for never did I see mortal with such a look.’
‘But is not he a fine stately gentleman?’ pursued the hag.


‘He looks as if he were not of this world,’ said Anne.


‘Of this world, or of the next,’ said the hag, raising her bony fore-finger, ‘mark my words – so sure as the – (here she repeated some of the horrible formularies of the 31st of October) – so sure he will be your bridegroom.’
‘Then I shall be the bride of a corpse,’ said Anne; ‘for he I saw tonight is no living man.’


A fortnight elapsed, and whether Anne became reconciled to the features she had thought so ghastly, by the discovery that they were the handsomest she had ever beheld – and that the voice, whose sound at first was so strange and unearthly, was subdued into a tone of plaintive softness when addressing her or whether it is impossible for two young persons with unoccupied hearts to meet in the country, and meet often, to gaze silently on the same stream, wander under the same trees, and listen together to the wind that waves the branches, without experiencing an assimilation of feeling rapidly succeeding an assimilation of taste; – or whether it was from all these causes combined, but in less than a month Anne heard the declaration of the stranger’s passion with many a blush, though without a sigh. He now avowed his name and rank. He stated himself to be a Scottish Baronet, of the name of Sir Richard Maxwell; family misfortunes had driven him from his country, and forever precluded the possibility of his return: he had transferred his property to Ireland, and purposed to fix his residence there for life. Such was his statement. The courtship of those days was brief and simple. Anne became the wife of Sir Richard, and, I believe, they resided with her father till his death, when they removed to their estate in the North. There they remained for several years, in tranquility and happiness, and had a numerous family. Sir Richard’s conduct was marked by but two peculiarities: he not only shunned the intercourse, but the sight of any of his countrymen, and, if he happened to hear that a Scotsman had arrived in the neighbouring town, he shut himself up till assured of the stranger’s departure. The other was his custom of retiring to his own chamber, and remaining invisible to his family on the anniversary of the 31st of October. The lady, who had her own associations connected with that period, only questioned him once on the subject of this seclusion, and was then solemnly and even sternly enjoined never to repeat her inquiry. Matters stood thus, somewhat mysteriously, but not unhappily, when on a sudden, without any cause assigned or assignable, Sir Richard and Lady Maxwell parted, and never more met in this world, nor was she ever permitted to see one of her children to her dying hour. He continued to live at the family mansion and she fixed her residence with a distant relative in a remote part of the country. So total was the disunion, that the name of either was never heard to pass the other’s lips, from the moment of separation until that of dissolution.


Lady Maxwell survived Sir Richard forty years, living to the great age of ninety-six; and, according to a promise, previously given, disclosed to a descendent with whom she had lived, the following extraordinary circumstances.


She said that on the night of the 31st of October, about seventy-five years before, at the instigation of her ill-advising attendant, she had washed one of her garments in a place where four streams met, and peformed other unhallowed ceremonies under the direction of the Collogue, in the expectation that her future husband would appear to her in her chamber at twelve o’clock that night. The critical moment arrived, but with it no lover-like form. A vision of indescribable horror approached her bed, and flinging at her an iron weapon of a shape and construction unknown to her, bade her ‘recognize her future husband by that.’ The terrors of this visit soon deprived her of her senses; but on her recovery, she persisted, as has been said, in keeping the fearful pledge of the reality of the vision, which, on examination, appeared to be incrusted with blood. It remained concealed in the inmost drawer of her cabinet till the morning of the separation. On that morning, Sir Richard Maxwell rose before daylight to join a hunting party – he wanted a knife for some accidental purpose, and, missing his own, called to Lady Maxwell, who was still in bed, to lend him one. The lady, who was half asleep, answered, that in such a drawer of her cabinet he would find one. He went, however, to another, and the next moment she was fully awakened by seeing her husband present the terrible weapon to her throat, and threaten her with instant death unless she disclosed how she came by it. She supplicated for life, and then, in an agony of horror and contrition, told the tale of that eventful night. He gazed at her for a moment with a countenance which rage, hatred, and despair converted, as she avowed, into a living likeness of the demon-visage she had once beheld (so singularly was the fated resemblance fulfilled), and then exclaiming, ‘You won me by the devil’s aid, but you shall not keep me long,’ left her – to meet no more in this world. Her husband’s secret was not unknown to the lady, though the means by which she became possessed of it were wholly unwarrantable. Her curiosity had been strongly excited by her husband’s aversion to his countrymen, and it was so – stimulated by the arrival of a Scottish gentleman in the neighbourhood some time before, who professed himself formerly acquainted with Sir Richard, and spoke mysteriously of the causes that drove him from his country – that she contrived to procure an interview with him under a feigned name, and obtained from him the knowledge of circumstances which embittered her after-life to its latest hour. His story was this:


Sir Richard Maxwell was at deadly feud with a younger brother; a family feast was proposed to reconcile them, and as the use of knives and forks was then unknown in the Highlands, the company met armed with their dirks for the purpose of carving. They drank deeply; the feast, instead of harmonizing, began to inflame their spirits; the topics of old strife were renewed; hands, that at first touched their weapons in defiance, drew them at last in fury, and in the fray, Sir Richard mortally wounded his brother. His life was with difficulty saved from the vengeance of the clan, and he was hurried towards the seacoast, near which the house stood, and concealed there till a vessel could be procured to convey him to Ireland. He embarked on the night of the 31st of October, and while he was traversing the deck in unutterable agony of spirit, his hand accidentally touched the dirk which he had unconsciously worn ever since the fatal night. He drew it, and, praying ‘that the guilt of his brother’s blood might be as far from his soul, as he could fling that weapon from his body,’ sent it with all his strength into the air. This instrument he found secreted in the lady’s cabinet, and whether he really believed her to have become possessed of it by supernatural means, or whether he feared his wife was a secret witness of his crime, has not been ascertained, but the result was what I have stated.


The separation took place on the discovery: – for the rest,

I know not how the truth may be,
I tell the Tale as ’twas told to me.

1. An Irish mile – a distance of undetermined length. In the West of Ireland, any distance up to about sixty kilometres may be expressed as ‘about a mile or so.’
2. His rug – the horse-rug under which he sleeps.
3. King John – king of England 1199-1216. Was Lord of Ireland for a brief period; having mortally insulted the Irish chieftains, he was hastily withdrawn by his father, the great Henry II (1154-1189). This is why he was called ‘John Lackland.’

 

Corravahan House and Gardens, Drung, County Cavan

Contact: Ian Elliott
Tel: 087-9772224
www.corravahan.com
Listed Open dates in 2020 (but check due to Covid-19 restrictions): Jan 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Feb 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, Mar 2-3, 9-10, May 24-31, June 1-18, 2pm-6pm, Aug 15-28, 9am-1pm, Sunday 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €7, OAP/student/child/concessions €5

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This house is a delight! The owners, the Elliotts, who purchased the house in 2003, appreciate the intricacies of the house and its history, and convey this with enthusiasm. Corravahan House has an excellent website which describes the history of the house and its occupants, along with photographs from former days.

Ian Elliott obliged us by opening on a day not normally scheduled. Visits are further curtailed by Covid-19 restrictions and distancing and safety requirements. I appreciate when anyone is willing to accommodate a visit this year.

We drove to the house on our way to Donegal to visit Stephen’s mother. We stopped a night in Monaghan, so had plenty of time for our visit. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t get to see the gardens – we will have to visit another time!

The National Inventory of Historic Architecture tells us that Corravahan House is an Italianate style three-bay three-storey over basement former rectory, built 1841. It has a one-storey projecting entrance porch to the front, containing a four-panelled timber door. The Inventory website also mentions “glazed tripartite loggia” and the bow on the rear elevation.

The bowed bay rises the full height, and the loggia has steps leading down to the garden. There is a stone “platband” separating the basement level. There is also a two storey over basement “return” and a “lean-to” on the north side. The return is the projecting wing extending from the north-west corner of the house, which served to accommodate many of the female servants, as well as housing the kitchen, scullery, laundry and other domestic offices; the lean-to is the shallow, sloped-roof projection extending from the rear wall, which accommodates the principal staircase, and also contains, which you cannot see here in the photograph, a beautiful arched window (“large Adam-style round-headed tripartite stair window to lean-to with small three-over-three Wyatt window above”); an additional timber lean-to structure was added to the rear wall, below the stair-window, in the 1930s, more about which later:

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The Inventory notes the slate roof “with oversailing eaves” and the cornice on the chimneystacks. The garden facing walls are of “random rubble” with large corner stones at the rear elevation, and other walls have been rendered.

On the garden elevation, there is a Wyatt window with plain stone mullions and projecting cornice under red-brick relieving arch, and brick dressings to window openings on upper floors, garden front.

The Inventory mentions the “ruled-and-lined rendered walls.” Ian pointed this out to us inside the timber lean-to. One can see the original wall, and the lines hand-drawn. The lines are to make the rendered wall appear to be made of stone blocks! We can see a clearer, more recent example of this on a new structure built in the yard, but again, more on this later.

The windows in the bow have curved sashes and timber, although the glass in the windows is flat. These windows would be particularly difficult to craft, to fit the curve of the bowed wall.

Ian greeted us, along with a friendly dog. We stepped into the porch, which has four-over-four timber sash windows to the sides. A further door leads into the entrance hall.

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The door facing out to the porch, from the vestibule.
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Again, the door facing out to the front porch. You can see the shutters of the deepset windows. A detail Ian pointed out to us is in the photograph above, behind the door is wooden panelling, and the opened door fits so neatly into a specially made recess. This highlights the amount of detail in this small vestibule.

The house was built for a clergyman, Marcus Gervais Beresford (1801-1885). Before he had this house built, he rented nearby as he was the Vicar for Drung, appointed by his father in 1828. The previous parsonage had been condemned as unfit for use. Reverend Marcus Beresford was the great-grandson of Marcus Beresford, the 1st Earl of Tyrone (1694-1763), whom we came across when we visited Curraghmore in County Waterford (the husband of Catherine, who built the Shell House). The 1st Earl’s son John, an MP for County Waterford, was Marcus Gervais’s grandfather, and John’s son, George (1765-1841), Marcus Gervais’s father, became Bishop for Kilmore, County Cavan. Bishop George Beresford married Frances, a daughter of Gervase Parker Bushe and Mary Grattan (a sister of Henry Grattan (1746-1820), the politician and lawyer who supported Catholic emancipation) [2]. Marcus Gervais followed in his father’s footsteps, and as the third son, joined the Church.

The website for Corravahan tells us that the Beresfords engaged the services of the architect William Farrell, who had recently completed the new See House at Kilmore for Bishop George, to construct Corravahan as the new rectory for the parish. According to Wikipedia, William Farrell was a Dublin-based Irish architect who was the “Board of First Fruits” architect for the Church of Ireland ecclesiastical province of Armagh from 1823-1843. In this time he designed several Church of Ireland churches, as well as houses for the clergy. He built several houses in County Cavan, including Rathkenny [ca. 1820] and Tullyvin [built ca 1812], Shaen House in Laois (now a hospital), Clonearl House in County Offaly, and Clogrennan House in County Carlow.

Due to the family’s connections and status, the house was designed to impress. It is the details that indicate its quality, and visitors who were meant to be impressed would have recognised the signs. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage lists some of the details – for example: “Entrance hall has decorative timber panelled walls set in round headed arch recesses with panelled pilasters having squared Doric entablature. Flooring of decorative black and white tiles mimicking Italian marble.”

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The vestibule is Grecian Classical in style. The arches are of plaster. Ian reckons the floor tiles are Portland stone – a stone of particularly good quality – and a darker limestone, perhaps Kilkenny marble. You can see in the photograph the quality craftsmanship of the wood panelling on the walls. And this is just the front hall! A door to the right leads into what would have been the Vicar’s office where he would meet his parishioners. Guests to be entertained would enter straight ahead into the main part of the house.

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We entered a room that is now the library. It is the second library of the house. The first room, the Bishop’s office, was the first library. A later resident of the house, Charles Robert Leslie, became wheelchair bound and an elevator was installed into the house where the first library had been, so a second room was converted into a library, which had previously been the morning room. A window was covered over with bookcases, which is still visible from the outside of the house.

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Marcus Beresford followed in his father’s footsteps and was appointed Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in 1854. He moved out of Corravahan, and the next Vicar of Drung moved in, the Reverend Charles Leslie.

This Charles Leslie’s father, John, was the son of Charles Powell Leslie I, whom we came across when we visited Castle Leslie in County Monaghan. John was Charles Powell Leslie’s second son, and since he was not to inherit Castle Leslie, he joined the Church. He rose quickly due to his connections, and became Bishop of Dromore in 1812 and Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in 1841. He married the daughter of the Bishop of Ross, Isabella St. Lawrence, from the Howth Castle family of St. Lawrences (her grandfather was the 1st Earl of Howth. The castle was still in private hands, until sold by the Gaisford-St. Lawrence family in 2019. I would love to see it!). He preceded Marcus Beresford as Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. His eldest son, Charles became vicar of Drung in 1855. He moved into Corravahan with his wife and children (or as they liked to call it, “Coravahn.” [3] Their only daughter, Mary, died shortly afterwards, aged just 15.

Charles Leslie married, first, Frances King, daughter of General Robert Edward King, 1st Viscount Lorton of Boyle, County Roscommon, and his wife Frances Parsons (daughter of the 1st Earl of Rosse, the family who own Birr Castle, County Offaly, another section 482 property), in 1834. After she died, childless, he married Louisa Mary King, daughter of Lt-Col Henry King, 1st cousin of his first wife. The Corravahan website tells us that in 1836, Charles went on a tour of Europe with the Viscount and some members of his family, including his late wife’s cousin, Louisa, who he would marry the following year.

Charles Leslie continued to serve as the Vicar of Drung until 1870. He was then appointed, following in the footsteps of his father and of the former resident of Corravahan Reverend Marcus Beresford, Bishop of Kilmore. He died, however, three months after his appointment and so never moved from Corravahan. Following his death, his widow and five sons retained the house as a private residence, while providing a new, more modest rectory for the parish on nearby land. This house is also listed in the National Inventory of Historic Architecture, as Drung Rectory. The entry incorrectly states that it no longer serves as a rectory. It does in fact still serve the parishes of the Drung Group. It was built around 1870, to the east of the walled garden of Corravahan.

Charles Leslie’s second son, Charles Robert Leslie (1841-1904), lived on the estate, running it for his father after retiring from the British army (the oldest son, John Henry Leslie, married and subsequently lived in England). It was he who became disabled and for whom the elevator was installed. Stephen and I were fascinated to learn that he kept diaries, and that the diaries are on the shelves in the library at Corravahan!

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The impressive gold leaf gilded pelmet is original to the house.

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They would be fascinating to read, as he was engaged in Canada as Captain of the 25th King’s Own Borderers, who repelled a Fenian invasion from New York state! The Fenians, an Irish Republican organisation based in the United States, conducted raids on British army forts, custom posts and other targets in Canada in an attempt to pressure the British to withdraw Ireland [4].

Charles never married and when he died, in September 1904, ownership of Corravahan passed to his younger brother, Cecil, third son of Reverend Charles Leslie and Louisa.

The Corravahan website tells us that Cecil Edward St. Lawrence Leslie (1843-1930) was educated at Oxford, returning to live permanently at Corravahan, and served periodically on the judiciary in Cavan, otherwise living off his investments and rental income on lands he owned. The website continues:

“In 1876, he married Emily Louisa Massy-Beresford (1854-1890), a first-cousin-twice-removed of Rt. Rev. Marcus Gervais Beresford, the builder of Corravahan. She was the daughter of Very Rev. John Maunsell Massy, Dean of Kilmore, who had wisely added the name Beresford (by royal licence) subsequent to his equally wise marriage to Emily Sarah Beresford, daughter of Rev. John Isaac Beresford of Macbie Hill, Peebles-shire, who was the grand-niece of George, Bishop of Kilmore and great-great-granddaughter of the Earl of Tyrone. Cecil and “Loo” had two sons, Charles and Cecil George, the last children raised at Corravahan before the present.”

The elder son, Charles, died at the age of 13. The younger, Cecil George, nicknamed “Choppy,” joined the military. He died of tuberculosis in 1919, predeceasing his father.

A fourth son of Reverend Charles and Louisa, Henry King Leslie (1844-1926) married Ruth Hungerford-Eagar. The website tells us that he served as a land agent to numerous estates, and it was while he was living at Kilnahard, Mountnugent, possibly working for the Nugent family of Bobsgrove, or Farren Connell, that Ruth gave birth to their son, Frank King Leslie, in 1885. He died in Gallipoli in 1915. Henry and Ruth also had two daughters, Madge and Joan, who we will return to presently.

The youngest of Reverend Charles’s five sons, Arthur Trevor Leslie (1847-1886), also joined the military, and died in 1886 at Corravahan, probably due to illness contracted in his service.

By 1930, then, all of Rev. Charles Leslie’s five sons had died, the only survivors of the subsequent generation were Henry’s daughters, Margaret Ruth Leslie (1886-1972) and Nancy Joan Leslie (1888-1972). Thus upon Cecil’s death in 1930 it was to his nieces that he left Corravahan, along with the accumulated wealth of the previous generations. The sisters remained unmarried.

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Italian marble fireplace. The sisters, Madge and Joan, had the fireplaces bricked in to make them more efficient for burning coal. Above the fireplace, Ian has framed the text of what was meant to be a memorial in Kilmore Cathedral erected for Bishop John Leslie and his sister Harriet, which never seems to have been built.
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Certificates presented for the deaths in Military service of Captain Frank King Leslie and Major Cecil George Leslie. Current owner of Corravahan, Ian Elliott, has managed to collect many items that once belonged to the house, to reinstate them in the home.

Frank King Leslie’s fiancee, May Haire-Forster, remained close to the family and joined Madge and Joan, to live in Corravahan after 1930. The three women lived together in the house for forty years. They modernised the house, having inherited quite a bit of money from their brothers, so they were able to install electricity and central heating. They were careful to preserve many elements of the house that they may have remembered fondly as children, however, in a way that someone who did not grow up in the house may not have retained. They were popular in the neighbourhood and continued to give employment to people of the area.

The sisters installed electric lights before rural electrification of Ireland, which occurred in 1957. The sisters innovatively used a wind turbine system to create their electricity.

The house passed in 1972 to Madge’s god-daughter, Elizabeth Lucas-Clements, daughter of the Lucas-Clements family of nearby Rathkenny House. Rathkenny, also designed by William Farrell, was built for Theophilus Lucas-Clements in the 1820s [5]. Having sold Corravahan and its contents in 1974, largely to meet various bills for death-duties, Elizabeth Lucas-Clements retained much material that was personal to the Leslie family, and, among other items, gave the diaries of Charles Robert Leslie to the current owner.

The house then stood empty for five years and was occupied only occasionally for a further twenty-five years, until it was purchased by its current owners, the Elliotts. The surrounding farmland and outbuildings, walled garden and orchard no longer belong to the house. The National Inventory tells us: “The walled garden is located to the south-east of the lawns, and once formed part of an extensive landscape of gardens, woods, paths, and ponds more in the style of a country house demesne reflecting the particularly wealthy status of the clergy incumbents of Beresford and following him Rev. Charles Leslie.” The Elliotts are restoring the eight acres they have remaining around the house.

We moved from the former morning room to the drawing room.

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The room has an egg and dart pattern ceiling cornice and a large bay window. This is the “glazed tripartite loggia having steps to the garden” mentioned in the National Inventory [see 1. And we saw a loggia before in the Old Rectory in Killedmond, County Carlow]. It does not look like a door, but the middle panel of the windows slides up into the frame in an ingenious manner to make a door. Ian is not sure if this bay window is original to the house. On the one hand, it is not well-constructed as it does not have a relieving arch over it, which would lend solidity, and as a result, the ceiling has cracked over time. This seems particularly odd as there is a relieving arch over another window. But William Farrell has built similar designs in other places. Ian has seem something similar to the door/window in Castle Ward, County Down, and apparently there is something like it in Abbeville in Dublin, another Beresford residence.

On a purely personal note, the ironwork on the windows reminded me of the protecting grille on our windows and doors in Grenada, though the Grenada one is simpler.

living room, Feb 08
our sitting room in Grenada, West Indies

I admired the built-in shelving unit in the drawing room and asked whether it was original to the house.

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It was not. There were doors here between the drawing room and the former morning room, closed up when the second library was created. You can see Stephen wearing his mask in the photograph, as we were all protecting ourselves from Covid-19!

We entered the dining room next. Ian pointed out that as we followed the typical daily progress of a house resident from room to room: morning room to drawing room to dining room, we followed the path of the sun shining in to the house! It was well designed!

The bow in the house contains the dining room.

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The bow makes the room look grander and larger than it would with straight walls. It necessitates having slightly curved wooden window frame joinery, however, requiring skill and extra expense. The glass in the windows, fortunately, is not curved, as that would be even more expensive and difficult. The room has more beautiful curtain pelmets and decorative plaster coving.

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It also has a decorative ceiling rose. The other architectural novelty in this room is an arched recess for a sideboard.

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Interestingly, it appears that the Beresfords had a smaller sideboard than the Leslies. The Leslies had to have the recess widened! They did not leave their sideboard but the Elliotts were lucky enough to find one that fit perfectly!

The room has the Classical feature of symmetrical details, which includes the doors. There are four doors in the room. Two of them, however, exist merely for balance. One leads to a drinks cabinet and the other appears to have been used as a cupboard for the silverware, as it has a strong lock. The other doors lead from the main house, and to the servants’ area, for serving the food.

I was also delighted to see the old fashioned railing around the top of the walls – a tapestry rail. It is perfect for hanging pictures. In the room there was a picture of Marcus Gervais Beresford, who later became the Archbishop of Armagh, and one of Bishop John Leslie, the father of Charles who moved into the house when Marcus Beresford left.

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The tapestry rail runs all around the room along the ceiling. On the right, above, is Marcus Gervais Beresford. Note that on the top of the portrait frame is the mitre of an Archbishop. The portrait of Bishop John Leslie is on the left hand side, and in the photograph below:

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Next, we went out to the servants’ hall. It has large built-in cupboard along the wall:

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This was specially built to hold extra leaves of the dining room table! I wondered what was the purpose of the little shelf under the cupboard. Ian explained – the board on the wall across from the ledge comes down to form a shelf, on which the dishes coming from the kitchen were placed. There is another shelf that can be lowered behind where I was standing to take the photograph, that is on the other side of the door coming from the dining room, which would have been for the dirty dishes!

Before the cupboard was built for the leaves of the table, the wall had what looked like wooden panelling. Guests would have seen this if they glimpsed out into the hall from the dining table, and they would have been impressed to see that even the serving hall was panelled.

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The inside of the wall cupboard that was to hold the leaves of the dining table.

What looks like carved wood panelling, is actually wallpaper! I couldn’t believe it – the wood looks so real! I had to run my finger over it, and still found it hard to believe! Unfortunately the rest of the wallpaper has been painted over, below the leaf cupboard. The wood appearance wallpaper would have come halfway up the wall to look like wood panelling.

From the hall we entered a kitchen which is inside the timber lean-to. This was added on since the original kitchen was in the basement. A dumbwaiter was built into this lean-to for the sisters Madge and Joan, for the ease of their housemaid.

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Inside the shaft where the dumb waiter goes up and down, Ian pointed out the original wall of the house. It was here that we could see the way the wall had been drawn on, “ruled and lined rendered walls,” to make it look like it was made of stone.

The servants would have lived in the basement and in the outbuildings to the side of the house in the coachyard and stable block. The top of the house was the nursery. I took a photo of the outbuildings from the top floor of the house, the attic storey. In this photograph you can see the arches of the coach house. Servants would have lived above.

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You can just about see the solar panels which have been carefully installed, in such a way as not to damage the roof slates, which have been repaired and replaced by the current owners. The building on the left is new, but has been so well-made that it looks like the older buildings! Here again Ian pointed out how the render has been decorated so that around the new arches, it looks like stonework but is really cement plaster, carefully etched to mimic the original cut stone of the adjacent coach-house doorways.

There are two staircases in the house – the back stairs for the servants, and the main staircase.

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The back stairs lead up to the nursery attic storey.

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The rooms upstairs are airy and bright and surprisingly large. Looking out a window, we had a bird’s eye view of the giant old Lebanon Cedar tree, which must be about 300 years old.

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My family had a Lebanese cedar also nearly as old, at our house in Puckane, County Tipperary:

Ballycraggan, 1998, with 300 year cedar tree

We then used the main staircase to return downstairs. It has a mahogany handrail and carved timber balusters, and is overlooked by a grand arched window.

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This Wyatt window topped with arches is a style favoured by the architect William Farrell. There are similar windows in other houses he built, Rathkenny House and the See House in Kilmore. There is also a window like this in the courthouse in Virginia, County Cavan, but this is not an original – the window was originally an arch and was copied from Farrell’s windows.

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A rather vertiginous view of the stairs, looking down.

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The stairs are ornamented with Vitruvian scrolls, which is a motif from Greek temples. The fact that these were carved in stone in temples lends to the idea that the stairs are made of stone, although they are of wood. The banisters are painted black and can be mistaken at a glance for wrought iron.

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We ended our tour at the bottom of the stairs in another lovely hall space complete with fireplace. We signed the guest book, and look forward to returning to see the garden and to explore more outside!

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[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/40402103/corravahan-house-corravahan-drung-co-cavan

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Beresford_(bishop)

And

http://www.thepeerage.com/p2601.htm#i26005

[3] http://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Corravahan

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenian_raids

[5] https://www.facebook.com/stephenstown66/posts/2211132052539058?tn=K-R

“At this stage the house passed to Elizabeth Lucas-Clements ( Margaret’s god daughter) of the aforementioned neighbouring Rathkenny. Catherine Beresford, daughter of the Rt. Hon John de la Poer Beresford had, years before, married Henry Theophilus Clements of also nearby Ashfield Lodge, a cousin of the Rathkenny Lucas-Clements.”

The blog gives a great image of the way the gentry families intermarried and connected:

“These houses and families can often be like circles looping into each other, not unlike Olympic rings, connecting at a point, distant again perhaps for a period, but uniting again before this “pattern “ frequently continues unabated.”

Rokeby Hall, Grangebellew, County Louth

Rokeby Hall, Grangebellew, Co Louth

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contact: Jean & Jeff Young

Tel: 086-8644228

www.rokeby.ie

Opening dates in 2020 but check due to Covid-19 restrictions: May 1-31, Mon-Sat, Aug 15-23, Sept 1-30, Mon-Sat, 10am-2pm

Fee: adult/OAP €7, child/student €5

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Stephen and I visited Rokeby Hall in County Louth on Saturday September 7th, 2019. I texted ahead to alert Jean to our visit. We were lucky to have another beautifully sunny day!

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We entered the gates and drove up the impressive drive, through lovely fields.

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I paused as we approached the house to take a photograph of the observatory, and of the field near the house with the grazing cattle.

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There is an excellent website for Rokeby Hall which I read in advance so knew a little bit of information. [1]

“Rokeby Hall is a country house in the Neoclassical style built for Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh.

Initially designed by Thomas Cooley and built c. 1785 by renowned Irish architect Francis Johnston, Rokeby is an elegant building with beautiful exterior and interior detailing which remains largely unchanged to this day.

The house is a testament to the architects and the skilled craftsmen of the Georgian era and is today considered to be one of the most significant historic country houses remaining in Co. Louth.”

Francis Johnston (1760-1829) is best known for building the General Post Office in Dublin, and is the son of another architect, William Johnston. Francis is from Armagh and first practised his architecture there, and then lived in Drogheda from 1786 before moving to Dublin about 1793. It was the archbishop of Armagh, Richard Robinson, who sent Johnston to Dublin to train under Thomas Cooley, having already worked with Cooley to design buildings.

 

 

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Thomas Cooley, who worked first as a carpenter then draughtsman in an architectural office, came from England to Ireland in 1768 when he won a competition to design a new Royal Exchange in Dublin, which is now the City Hall on Dame Street. He built several public buildings in Dublin in the neoclassical style. Together with James Gandon (1743–1823), Cooley was part of a small school of architects influenced by Sir William Chambers (1723–1796). Cooley died in 1784. He worked closely with the Archbishop Richard Robinson and designed many buildings in Armagh, including the Archbishop’s Palace (now the Town Hall) and the library. He also designed the Four Courts in Dublin.

Cooley designed Rokeby Hall, and it fell to Francis Johnston to finish the project after Cooley’s death. Johnston continued to work with Archbishop Robinson, for whom he went on to build the Armagh Observatory and Armagh Courthouse, and other buildings in Armagh (I think that the observatory in Rokeby was built for the current owner, but I’m sure the Archbishop would have been delighted had he known, since he had the one in Armagh built in 1790 [2]!). Jean Young, the owner of Rokeby, recommended that we also visit another house in Louth designed and built by Francis Johnston, Townley Hall.

He designed more buildings, including the beautiful Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle, and he converted Parliament House in College Green in Dublin into the Bank of Ireland. He also designed Charleville Forest Castle in Tullamore, County Offaly, and probably designed a house I hope to visit when I get the chance, that is on Section 482, Turbotstown in County Westmeath. He also helped in the 2nd Earl of Longford to convert Tullynally House into Tullynally Castle [see my blog entry], completing that work in 1803.

 

Jean greeted us and invited us inside. We paused in the capacious front hall to look at a portrait while she told us about the man responsible for having the house built, Archbishop Richard Robinson. Robinson named the building after his family home in Yorkshire, England, Rokeby Park.

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The columns reminded me of “scagliola” [3] but are actually painted.
The website tells us about Richard Robinson:

After coming to Ireland as chaplain to the Duke of Dorset in 1751, he eventually rose through the ranks of the church before becoming Archbishop of Armagh in 1765. Prior to Robinson’s appointment, most Archbishops had spent little time in Armagh which in 1759 had been described as ‘an ugly, scattered town’. Primate Robinson is credited with much of Armagh’s transformation to the beautiful Georgian city it is today. His many contributions to the city include the Armagh Robinson Library, the Armagh Observatory, the Gaol, the Armagh Infirmary and the Archbishop’s Palace, Chapel and Palace Stables.

He was created the 1st Baron Rokeby in 1777, choosing the title “Rokeby” as his elder brother Sir Thomas Robinson had by then sold the family estate of Rokeby Park. He purchased land at Marlay in Co. Louth from the Earl of Darby to create a new “Rokeby” estate. On his death, his titles passed to a cousin but he left the Rokeby estate in Louth to the son of his sister Grace. The Reverend John Freind changed his name to his maternal surname “Robinson” and moved from England to Rokeby Hall in 1794.”

Lord Rokeby’s coat of arms on the decorative Neoclassical pediment, which stands on Ionic pilasters.

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I was surprised to hear that an archbishop was made a Baron, but Jean assured me that this was quite common.

Jean has studied the history of her home, completing a Masters degree in Maynooth, so we thoroughly enjoyed our discussion and she was able to explain the history of ownership of the house as well as architectural details. It is the details of the house which are special.

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I also asked why Robinson lived here in Rokeby rather than in Armagh, since he was archbishop of Armagh. Jean explained that archbishops had much work to do in Dublin, including taking their place in Parliament, so it was suitable to live in a premises between Dublin and Armagh. The Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne has a delightful entry that tells us more about this Archbishop of Armagh, who, according to O’Byrne, “behaved more like a continental prince-bishop.” He extravagantly travelled in a carriage with six horses, attended by three footmen behind. [4]

In Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size, Maurice Craig writes (p. 152):

The north (entrance) front of the house built for Richard Robinson, Archbishop of Armagh, in the years following 1785, probably by Thomas Cooley (1740-84) and certainly with the participation of Francis Johnston (1760-1829). Both in elevation and in plan it is related to Lucan House, and in plan also to Mount Kennedy. James Wyatt, Michael Stapleton, Richard Johnston and even Sir William Chambers are involved in a complex tale which may never be fully unravelled. Rokeby is more remarkable for the beauty of its detail than for its overall impression…”

The most noteable feature of the house, for me, is the round hallway upstairs, and the second one above that in what seems to be the nursery and children’s area – which we saw after a tour of the first floor rooms.

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This is the landing at the top of the staircase. It opens into many bedrooms, a bathroom, another small landing, and one door is purely decorative, to keep symmetry. Note the detailing of the windows, over every second door, which let in light to the hall – all original.

Jean and Jeff had to furnish the house entirely, as unfortunately it was empty when they purchased it and needed repairs. They have done so beautifully.

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These bedrooms contain their original chimneypieces. The Irish Aesthete writes that the upstairs chimneypieces are original to the house but that the downstairs ones are not and were installed later, along with some downstairs doors.

The Youngs have also restored the garden to its former splendour:

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they have done much work, such as planting this formal garden.

Above the round hall at the top of the stairs, is another round hallway, you can see why I found it so surprising and delightful.

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One doesn’t expect such detail in an upper level. The rooms leading off on this level were of various sizes, some quite large.

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The room, although in the attic, contains as much attention to detail as the reception rooms, with curving door and window frames. Outside is the parapet of the house, so the windows have to be set back to allow in maximum light. The Youngs still have work to do to restore the cupola roof. You can see the wear and tear of use on the original stone stairs:

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The Irish Aesthete discusses Rokeby in his blog:

 “The house’s severe limestone façade hides a more inviting interior, of three storeys over basement, since Rokeby contains a particularly generous attic concealed behind the parapet, centred on a circular room lit by glazed dome. A similar circular landing on the first floor provides access to the main bedrooms.

“Descendants of the Robinson family remained in possession, although not necessarily in occupation, of Rokeby until the middle of the last century. Thereafter the property passed through a variety of hands often with unfortunate consequences. When the present owners bought the place in 1995, for example, the library had been stripped of its bookcases and divided in two with one half used as a kitchen. Over the past twenty years, a process of reclamation has taken place, driven by the correct balance of enthusiasm, commitment and ongoing research into the house’s history. Most recently the present owners have impeccably restored Rokeby’s mid-19th century conservatory.” [5]

In the article from the Irish Times which originally inspired me to start visiting houses and to write this blog, “Open season: Grand Irish homes that welcome visitors – and get a tax break,” published Sat, Apr 13, 2019, Mary Leland writes that Jean and Jeff worked on the house for ten years, commuting back and forth to California to working in the software industry, before finally moving over in 2006. The tax break enabled them to restore the Richard Turner conservatory. [6]

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The complete restoration of this structure took about two years, 2012-2014. The restored conservatory received 1st prize of the Ellison Award for Meath An Taisce in 2014.  A fascinating full description of the restoration is on the Rokeby Hall website. There’s also discussion of the restoration of the Armorial window and the attics.

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Jean noticed my puzzlement at the crescent dips in the glass at the top of the window, as you can see in the picture above. Her explanation shows just how authentic the restoration work was: in the 1850s, the size of panes of glass was  limited. Therefore glass was laid out in layers. The curved edge ensured that rainwater would move to the middle of the glass before dripping down, thus protecting the window frames.

The archbishop left the house upon his death in 1794 to his sister Grace’s son. Grace Robinson had married the Dean of Canterbury, William Freind. Her son, the Reverend Archdeacon John Friend subsequently changed his surname to Robinson. Reverend John did not stay long in Ireland, however. When his father-in-law, Captain James Spencer of Rathangan House, County Kildare, was killed by rebels during the 1798 rebellion, he fled. Despite no longer living there, Reverend John Robinson was created 1st Baronet of Rokeby Hall in 1819.

The house was subsequently let to tenants, including Viscount Thomas Southwell; Count Jerome de Salis (leased from 29 April 1822 – he had been appointed High Sheriff of Armagh in 1810 – see [7]); and Henry Coddington, Esq (1734-1816). This is the same Henry Coddington whose daughter Elizabeth married Edward Winder (1775-1829), one of my husband Stephen’s ancestors! Henry himself probably did not live in Rokeby, but probably leased the land to farm, as he lived in Oldbridge nearby. The house was left to deteriorate. Robert O’Byrne quotes James Brewer’s The Beauties of Ireland published in 1826, who wrote that the house “is now, we believe, in the hands of a farmer, and the chief apartments are let furnished to casual inmates.”

It was only after the death of John Robinson in 1832 that his son, Richard, returned to Rokeby in 1840. Richard, 2nd Baronet (1787-1847) had married, in 1813, the Lady Eleanor Helena Moore, daughter of Stephen, 2nd Earl Mount Cashell. He died in 1847 and was succeeded by his eldest son Sir John Stephen Robinson. Sir John and his wife were responsible for two significant additions to Rokeby Hall – the Turner conservatory, added in the 1850s, and the armorial window in the main stair hall showing the Robinson family history.

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Sir John, 3rd Baronet (1816-95), JP DL, High Sheriff of County Louth, 1849, married, in 1841, Sarah, only daughter of Anthony Denny, of Barham Wood, Hertfordshire, and granddaughter of Lord Collingwood, Admiral in the Royal Navy who served alongside Lord Nelson in the Napoleonic Wars. Due to his fame, Sarah’s eldest sons took the name Collingwood. [8]

The Rokeby Hall website continues the history of the Rokeby inhabitants:

Sir John died in 1895 and the estate passed to his son Sir Gerald [William Collingwood] Robinson (4th bart.) who died in 1903. The 5th baronet was Sir John’s younger brother Richard Harcourt Robinson. After his death in 1910 the estate eventually passed to Sir Gerald’s sister Maud who had earlier married Richard Montgomery, the owner of Beaulieu House in Co. Louth. 

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With the Robinsons no longer in residence, the estate was gradually broken up. The house and demesne lands were sold to the Clinton family in 1912. The remaining estate lands were also broken up and sold and the Robinson collection of furniture, art and books were eventually auctioned in 1943. The Clinton family remained at Rokeby until about 1950. Since then the ownership of the house has changed a number of times. The current owners purchased the house in 1995.”

After the tour of the house, Stephen and I went out to explore the gardens.

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[1] www.rokeby.ie

[2] https://armagh.space/heritage/

[3] Wikipedia defines scagliola: Scagliola (from the Italian scaglia, meaning “chips”) is a technique for producing stucco columns, sculptures and other architectural elements that resemble inlays in marble and semi-precious stones. The Scagliola technique came into fashion in 17th-century Tuscany as an effective substitute for costly marble inlays, the pietra dura works created for the Medici family in Florence.

Scagliola is a composite substance made from selenite, glue and natural pigments, imitating marble and other hard stones. The material may be veined with colours and applied to a core, or desired pattern may be carved into a previously prepared scagliola matrix. The pattern’s indentations are then filled with the coloured, plaster-like scagliola composite, and then polished with flax oil for brightness, and wax for protection. The combination of materials and technique provides a complex texture, and richness of colour not available in natural veined marbles.

architectural definitions

[4] https://theirishaesthete.com/2013/02/04/building-on-a-prelates-ambition/

[5] https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/09/21/take-three/

[6] https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/open-season-grand-irish-homes-that-welcome-visitors-and-get-a-tax-break-1.3855641

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome,_4th_Count_de_Salis-Soglio

Jerome de Salis was born in Italy and inherited the title, Count de Salis, a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. He lived in England from the 1790s. He married three times – had one child by each of his first two wives, then after the first two wives’ deaths, married in 1810, Henrietta (or Harriet) Foster, daughter of Right Reverend William Foster, who was chaplain to the Irish House of Commons (1780–89), and then at different times, Bishop of Cork and Ross; Kilmore; and of Clogher. They had a further nine children.

[8] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Louth%20Landowners

 

 

 

 

Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan

Contact: Samantha Leslie Tel: 047-88091

www.castleleslie.com

(Tourist Accommodation Facility)

Open in 2020 (but check due to Covid-19 restrictions): all year, National Heritage Week events August 15-23

Fee: Free

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“A brooding pile of rock faced limestone and russet sandstone, the exterior blends the irregular massing and elongated proportions typical of the High Victorian era with details inspired by the Renaissance and Tudor periods.” [1]

As a treat for Stephen’s birthday we booked ourselves in to Castle Leslie for two nights at the end of November. What luxury! I assumed we could not afford it as I only heard of it when Paul McCartney married there in 2002. But it is amazingly reasonable! In Christmas regalia, its beauty and opulence took my breath away, as did the generosity of the owners, allowing us to wander every nook and cranny and to sleep in a bed that was made in the year 1617!

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The Drawing Room: “Among the suite of lavish reception rooms, each one a showcase for the skill of the carpenter and stuccadore, is the Italian Renaissance-style drawing room where polygonal bay windows give unsurpassed views overlooking manicured terraces and the wooded Glaslough Lake.” (see [1])

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Above, our bed from 1617.

DAY 1: Our Castle Tour and the history of the Leslies

We had to make sure we left Dublin in time for the tour at 1pm, which does not run every day but several days a week. Our tour guide, Enda, shared only the tip of the iceberg of his knowledge of the castle and family in a tour that lasted an hour. We were able to mine him for even more tidbits later and still I felt we only scratched the surface!

The castle is a relative youngster at just 130 years old, a “grey stone Victorian pile” as Mark Bence-Jones calls it [2], or in Scottish Baronial style, according to Maurice Curtis and Desmond Fitzgerald [3]. It was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn, built ca. 1870 for John Leslie, MP, incorporating part of an earlier house. William Henry Lynn (1821-71) was a Belfast based architect and the Castle is considered to be his masterpiece. It is set in a 1000 acre estate (much reduced from its original size) overlooking a lake, and the castle is near another residence, the Lodge (formerly the Hunting Lodge), which houses the bar and restaurant. The Lodge was designed by one of the Leslies, Charles Powell Leslie II and was built before the present castle. The hotel includes an excellent Equestrian centre on its grounds – a perfect way to explore the huge estate of lakes, forest, parkland and streams. The Estate has three lakes, Glaslough (Green Lake), Kilvey Lake and Dream Lake. [4] There is more accommodation in the restored Old Stable Mews, or in holiday cottages in the village.

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the Lodge

We drove through the picturesque village of Glaslough to reach the “crow stepped gabled gate lodges” marking the entrance to the Castle Leslie estate. (see [1])

Our tour began in the front hall of the Castle, soon after we arrived, so we left our suitcases at the front desk, to check into our room afterwards. The front hall contained arms from the Leslie family.

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The bust is of Charles Powell Leslie III. The animal heads, which you can barely see at the top of the photograph, were shot by Norman Leslie, whose bedroom we slept in!

Originally Hungarian, the first of the family moved to Ireland in 1633. They have lived at Castle Leslie since 1665. Our guide traced the family back to 1040. Their genealogy reaches even further back to Attila the Hun (he died in the year 453).

According to the Castle Leslie website, Bartholomew Leslie, a Hungarian nobleman, was the chamberlain and protector of Margaret Queen of Scotland, who was wife of King Malcolm III (he lived 1031-1093). One day, fleeing from enemies, Queen Margaret rode behind Bartholomew on his horse. When fording a river, the queen fell off and Bartholomew threw her the end of his belt and told her to “grip fast” the buckle. He saved the Queen’s life and from that day onwards she bestowed the motto “Grip Fast” on the Leslies. [5]

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Our guide told us that King Malcolm’s sister Beatrice married Bartholomew Leslie. They moved to Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

Five hundred or so years later a descendent John Leslie was born in 1571 in Aberdeenshire. He received his Doctorate of Divinity from Cambridge and was Privy Councillor to Kings James I and Charles I. He was promoted to become Bishop of the Scottish Isles, and in 1633 transferred to Donegal to the Bishopric of Raphoe.

When Oliver Cromwell came to Ireland, John Leslie, friend of the monarchy, raised a private army to battle against Cromwell, as so he earned the moniker “The Fighting Bishop.” His troops beat Cromwell in the Battle of Raphoe. When King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, he rewarded the Bishop with £2000 – note that the Bishop was ninety years old by this time! Despite his age, he became Bishop of the Diocese of Clogher in 1661.

With the £2000, in 1665 Bishop Leslie bought the estate at Glaslough with an existing castle which had been built in 1608 by Sir Thomas Ridgeway. Bishop Leslie died at the age of one hundred, and left the estate to his wife, Catherine Cunningham (or Conyngham) of Mount Charles in Donegal (an ancestor of the present Lord Henry Mount Charles of Slane Castle), and children. He had married at the age of 67 the 18 year old Catherine and sired five (according to our guide) or 10 (according to Wikipedia, [6]) children! Only two of his children survived to adulthood and only one has descendants.

Due to the limitation of the tour’s length our guide jumped forward to the 1880s. I am guessing that it was he who wrote the history of the Leslies on the Castle’s website, so I will defer to that to fill in the gaps. We moved from the front hall into the hallway of the grand staircase, where our guide told us about the people in the various portraits. We then moved through a room with a large table, to the drawing room and the dining room, where the guide spoke about more of the family and their portraits.

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the Drawing Room

Below is the throne of Bishop John Leslie, the “fighting Bishop.” He also built the church on the estate, in 1670.

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the Drawing Room, with the throne of Bishop John Leslie, the “fighting Bishop.”

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the Dining Room

The Bishop’s son John, another cleric, the Dean of Dromore, inherited the estate. He never married so when he died, the estate passed to his brother, Charles, at 71 years of age. Charles was a theologian and defended the Catholics, opposing the penal laws which prevented Catholics from participating in political life. King William III had him arrested for high treason, but he escaped to France. The next king, George I, pardoned him, saying “Let the old man go home to Glaslough to die.” (see [5], which provides most of my narrative)

Charles married Jane Griffith, daughter of the Very Reverend Richard Griffith, Dean of Ross [7] had three children: Robert, Henry, and the unusually named “Vinegar” Jane. Robert and Henry were friends with Jonathan Swift, who wrote the following about the family:

“Here I am in Castle Leslie

With rows and rows of books upon the shelves

Written by The Leslies

All about themselves.”

I’m not sure what was written at that stage, but certainly when we stayed, there were plenty of books by the Leslies! I had a good browse through them – more on them later.

Robert wedded, in 1730, Frances, daughter of Stephen Ludlow. Their son Charles Powell Leslie (c. 1738-1800), took over the Estate in 1743. He devoted himself to the improvement of farming methods in the district. He was elected MP for Hillsborough in 1771 and MP for Monaghan in 1776. Like his grandfather, he supported the Catholics. At the time, due to Poynings Law, all Irish legislation had to be approved by the British Privy Council. Henry Grattan and others, including Charles Powell Leslie, sought legislative independence. Once this was achieved, Grattan fought in parliament for Catholic Emancipation from the Penal Laws, so that Catholics could be treated as equal citizens of Ireland. In his election speech of 1783, Charles Powell Leslie stated ”I desire a more equal representation of the people and a tax upon our Absentee Landlords”.

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portrait of Charles Powell Leslie I

In 1765 Charles Powell married Prudence Penelope Hill-Trevor, daughter of Arthur Hill-Trevor, 1st Viscount Dungannon. They had two sons, Charles Powell II and John. After his first wife died, Charles Powell Leslie I married, in 1785, Mary Anne Tench, and had a third son. The heir, Charles Powell II, also represented Monaghan in parliament.

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Charles Powell Leslie II

Arthur Hill-Trevor’s elder daughter, Anne, married Garret Wesley, the 1st Earl of Mornington, of Dangan Castle County Meath, and their son grew up to be the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napolean at Waterloo. According to the website, Charles Powell Leslie gave his impoverished brother-in-law, Lord Mornington, the money to educate his son Arthur, in Eton and then military school in France (Stephen and I found it ironic that the Duke of Wellington, who beat Napoleon, hence France, received his military training in France!). Arthur, the Duke of Wellington, married Kitty Pakenham of Tullynally, County Westmeath.

Charles Powell Leslie II, an amateur architect, designed the present farm buildings and the gate lodge. (see [8] for more about Charles Powell Leslie II). He died in 1831 and his wife Christiana took over the running of the estate. She managed to feed the needy during the great famine of 1845, setting up soup kitchens, and gave employment by having a wall built around the estate. The population of County Monaghan was 208,000 before the Famine. It went down to 51,000 during and after the Famine and is now only 61,000 – still far less than its pre-Famine population. It is said that nobody perished on the Leslie estate. As well as the soup kitchen, Christiana suspended rents.

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Farm buildings: perhaps these are ones designed by Charles Powell Leslie II.

Her son Charles Powell III (1821-71) also enjoyed architecture, and had flamboyant taste. He designed the entrance lodges at the main gates of the estate. He had many other grand building plans but died, choking on a fishbone, and it was his brother John (1822-1916) who built the new castle – to a much more modest design than Charles’s. Charles never married so John succeeded to the estate, in 1871.

John Leslie married Constance Dawson Damer, the daughter of Mary Seymour who was allegedly George IV’s daughter by Mrs. Fitzherbert.

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a portrait of Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert, which Stephen and I discovered upstairs on our way to the cinema room in the castle!

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Maria, born Smythe, was a Catholic. She married a wealthy Catholic landowner when she was just 18 years old. He died tragically, and she married a second time, but her second husband died when she was just 24! Her uncle decided to bring her out into society, and brought her to the opera. There, she met King George IV. He pursued her, and a marriage between them is recognised by the Catholic church, but not by the Monarchy. He moved her to Brighton and the Royal family took care of her, although George was married off to European Royalty, Princess Caroline.

Maria had two children, reputedly, with George IV. The daughter was adopted by a friend of George IV, Hugh Seymour. It was this Mary Seymour who married George Dawson Damer, and her daughter Constance married John Leslie. Constance burned all the evidence of her background, as it was not approved by the Royal Family. It is therefore not a definitive history, just, shall we say, rumour. Her descendant Shane Leslie wrote a biography of Mrs. Fitzherbert.

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a portrait of Lady Constance in later life.

It was the portrait above, of Lady Constance, which a nurse, who had been attending the dying Leonie (wife of Constance and John’s heir, John), recognised as the lady who had visited Leonie’s deathbed – despite Constance having been dead for nearly twenty years!

Before his brother died, John brought Constance to live in the old castle. Constance must have wanted a place of her own so in 1860, they moved into the Hunting Lodge in order to live separately from Charles Powell III and his mother.

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a room inside the Lodge

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front hall and welcoming room of the Lodge

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a small private dining room in the Lodge

However, once they inherited the old castle, not content with her Lodge or the old castle, it was Constance who insisted that John build the new castle. While it was being built she and her husband went on a Grand Tour and collected much of the present furniture in the house including the blue and white Della Robbia chimneypiece in the drawing room, and a mosaic floor in the hall which is a replica of a two thousand year old Roman villa floor. Constance was a connoisseur of fine art and antiques.

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Della Robbia chimneypiece in Drawing Room, purchased by Constance and John Leslie

Their travels influenced the style of the Castle, built by Sir Charles Lanyon and William Henry Lynn. An Italian Renaissance cloister (said to have been copied from Michaelangelo’s cloister at Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome, according to Mark Bence Jones (see [2]) joins the main block of the castle to a single-storey wing containing the library and former billiard-room.

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The Italian Renaissance style Cloister

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Behind the cloister runs a long top-lit gallery divided by many arches, with pre-Raphaelite style frescoes of angels and other figures, including portraits of members of the family, painted by John Leslie, a talented artist. One of his paintings was hung in the Royal Academy in the same year. He later become 1st Baronet of Glaslough.

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Frescoes painted by Sir John Leslie.

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I think it was this painting that hung in the Royal Academy

The next to inherit the estate was the 2nd Baronet, Sir John Leslie (1857–1944). He married Leonie Jerome, one of the three beautiful daughters of Leonard Jerome of New York. Her sister Jenny married Lord Randolph Churchill and was the mother of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Winston did not get on well with his mother but was very close to his aunt Leonie. The young Winston Churchill paid visits here to his uncle and aunt, except when he was temporarily banished by his uncle on account of his espousal of Home Rule! Leonie’s correspondence with Winston is in Blenheim Castle in England, the estate of the Churchills. When his beloved aunt died in August 1943, Winston couldn’t attend the funeral due to the war, but he telephoned Eamon de Valera to request permission for the flyover of an Royal Air Force Spitfire plane. It was her son, Desmond Leslie, who was in the RAF, who flew the Spitfire and dropped a huge wreath from Winston Churchill to the funeral.

I was touched by the presence of Winston Churchill’s christening robe in the drawing room:

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Sir John Leslie died in 1944 and was succeeded by his son Sir Shane Leslie (1885–1971). Shane was one of four brothers: he was christened John, and changed his name to Shane in 1921 when he embraced Irish nationalism; the other brothers were Lionel, Norman and Seymour. Shane grew up to be an ardent nationalist (he joined the Irish Volunteers, a group founded in response to the Ulster Volunteers in Northern Ireland who opposed Home Rule – he thus rejected the support his father gave to the Ulster Volunteers!) and Irish speaker, and converted to Catholicism, under the influence of Cardinal Henry Newman, when he was in Cambridge. He hoped to retreat to a Monastery but instead married another American beauty, Majorie Ide of Vermont. According to the history of the Leslie family recounted on the website, Majorie’s father, Henry Clay Ide, was Chief Justice of Samoa, a tropical paradise where he and his daughters became great friends of fellow islander Robert Louis Stevenson. He was also Governor General of the Philippines. Later in our stay, our guide told us that before she married, Majorie and her sister accompanied U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter on a trade mission to China. The President considered the women to be suitable ambassadors because the current monarch of China was an Empress (the last Empress of China). There are many Chinese objects in Castle Leslie which Majorie brought with her.

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Sir Shane, as a poet and Nationalist, was not fond of running the estate so transferred it to his son John Norman Leslie (1916-2016), who became 4th Baronet. Shane Leslie travelled to London when Michael Collins was negotiating the Treaty granting Ireland its independence from the United Kingdom. Shane’s brother Norman on the other hand fought in the British army, and was killed by a sniper. The bedrooms in the Castle are now named after the family, and Stephen and I stayed in “Norman’s Room”!

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Shane had three children: Anita, John (Jack) and Desmond. Jack transferred the estate over to his sister Anita, owing to ill health after five years in a prisoner of war camp. He had been Captain in the Irish Life Guards in WWII. He moved to Rome where he lived for forty years, finally returning to Castle Leslie in 1994. He died only a few years ago, at 99 years old, inheriting the hardy genes of the Fighting Bishop, and is obviously much missed in the castle which houses many of his mementos and memorabilia.

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“Jack’s bed,” in which he used to sleep, now in pride of place on the upper landing, although the bed would have been a squeeze for his over six foot frame!

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portraits of the family including several of Jack. Jack wrote of his life in Never a Dull Moment.

Later in our stay, Enda the guide told us more about Anita, as we were admiring the paintings of Anita, Jack and Desmond at the bottom of the grand staircase (see the staircase in the photograph below).

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Anita married Pavel Rodzianko, a dashing soldier from Russia, Equerry to Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra. Anita was just 23 years old but bowled over by the 47 year old Pavel. The marriage lasted only three years. This marriage explains the presence of the paintings of Nicholas and Alexandra which Stephen and I had noticed in the bar area.

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Tsar Nicholas and Alexandra

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a poignant picture of Alexandra and her children, all of whom were assassinated only two days before Pavel Rodzianko was able to rescue them.

Pavel tried to rescue the Tsar and his family. He followed with other soldiers loyal to the Tsar, as the Royal family was moved from place to place by those who had overthrown the Tsar. When they caught up with the family Pavel and his companions were too late: the family had been shot in the basement and their bodies burned. Pavel found little Alexi’s dog Joy still alive. Pavel saved the dog and brought her to his home next to Windsor Castle in England, where Pavel lived after leaving Castle Leslie, where Joy lived the rest of her life. Pavel went on to train the Irish show-jumping team, who won the Agha Khan trophy in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Horse Show.

During World War II Anita joined the French army as an ambulance driver and married Bill King, a submarine commander. In the 1960s she moved to Oranmore in Galway (Oranmore Castle is a Section 482 property so I hope to visit it!) and transferred Glaslough to her younger brother Desmond (the Spitfire pilot). In 1991 he handed the Estate over to his five children and Castle Leslie Estate is now run by his daughter Samantha Leslie.

I mentioned earlier that many Leslies have written books. I browsed through books by Shane Leslie and Jack. Anita Leslie wrote about her time in the army in The Train to Nowhere. Desmond’s wife Agnes Bernaur is also a published writer. I copied the family tree from Shane Leslie’s book, and notice that the sister of John Leslie 2nd Baronet, Theodisia, married a Bagot! She married Josceline Fitzroy Bagot, of Levens Hall. I may be distantly related to this Bagot, as we are rumoured to be descended from the Bagots of Staffordshire! I confess I have not found the link.

After our tour, we were shown to our room. We were thrilled with it, and especially with our 1617 four poster oak bed. The bed was so high that it required steps to get up to it:

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We had a table and chair, and a lovely wardrobe and chaise longue! I started writing this entry on the chaise longue.

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According to the website, Sammy started her ambition of bringing the Estate back to life by establishing tea rooms in the old conservatory. This had been a painting studio for John Leslie, as it was created to have lots of light.

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The website continues:

Between 1995 and 1997, Sammy refurbished fourteen of the Castle bedrooms and bathrooms, each in its own unique style, in an effort to maintain the individuality and uniqueness of the property. Dinners were served by candlelight in the original dining room, just as it had been in the old days, with pre-dinner drinks served in the Drawing Room or Fountain Garden. The Castle at Castle Leslie Estate was soon rewarded with The Good Hotel Guide Caesar Award for being ‘utterly enjoyable and mildly eccentric’.” [9]

Perhaps one of the mildly eccentric details referred to are the beautiful old fashioned porcelain toilets such as the one in our en suite:

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After the tour, we still had so much of the castle to explore! The tour had only taken in a few of the rooms! We were tired after the tour and lay on our wonderful bed for a nap before dinner. While we were reading, we heard a knock on our door. The staff had brought us a much appreciated, delicious strong cup of coffee! Perfect!

We emerged for dinner. We chose to eat in the bistro rather than the fancier restaurant. The reception staff offered us a lift over to the Lodge, but we chose to walk the short distance up the drive, as it was a beautiful crisp night.

We did a little exploring back at the castle after dinner. We discovered more beautiful rooms to sit in, and a lovely library, and it was only now that we found the bar and the long painted gallery!

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Many new features have been added to the estate, including a spa, a bar and restaurant, and a cookery school.

A new pavilion, adjacent to the long gallery of the main house, facilitates conferences, weddings and other large events – see the pathway leading to the pavilion in the photograph below.

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The website tells us that five new sub-ground floor bedrooms were added to the castle in 2005: the Desmond Leslie room, the Agnes Bernelle Room, the Helen Strong Room, Sir Jack’s Room and the only room in the castle not named after a family member, The Calm Room.

DAY 2: Horse riding! And exploring the Lodge

Stephen and I only saw the castle in daylight the next day, as we had been too tired to explore outside after the tour. It was only then that we saw the cloisters, and the lake! We wandered outside in the evening. Earlier in the day, we decided to avail of the Equestrian Centre, since Stephen confided that he had never sat on a horse!

We booked a one hour walking session, a gentle wander through woods on the estate, hand-led by a guide. I felt safe enough walking without a guide at the reins, as I endured two years of weekly riding lessons when I was young! I say “endured” as I was scared of the horses and fell often! The horses we rode during my lessons in Australia were a more cantankerous brood than those that bless Castle Leslie!

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Below shows me in Australia at my horse riding lessons with my sister when I was young!

Caballo Stables, Jen and Siobhan riding

Jen and Siobhan ready for riding lesson
me and my sister Siobhan in Perth, Western Australia, ready for our riding lesson

And now:

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Our guide, Chris, told us a bit more about the estate as we relaxed onto the hip swinging gait of our horses, and we passed one of the lodges. I knew Stephen would be imagining himself back in the 1700s, familiarising himself with the atmosphere of the former mode of transportation. We both lost our balance as we slid off our horses, Stephen doing the full topple onto the sand, but we were elated! You can see a map of the estate on the castle website. [10]

After lunch in the Lodge, we explored. I took some photographs inside the lodge.

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Dusk fell by the time I took photographs outside behind the castle.

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Sammy’s most recent project (begun in 2015) is renovating the walled garden. I’m sorry I reached it so late in the day, compromising my photographs. These were built in 1860 by Charles Powell Leslie III.

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According to information posted in the walled garden, they cover about four acres, and contain two forty metre greenhouses heated by individual underground boilers fed by rainwater collected from the glass roofs. The flues were built originally under the paths to chimneys hidden in the surrounding garden wall! Ingenious ancestors! Charles Leslie consulted with Joseph Paxton, the Duke of Devonshire’s head gardener, who created the “Crystal Palace” of the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London for Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Alfred.

Outside the Walled Garden was a third large greenhouse, a Tropical House. Charles Powell Leslie III, according to the information boards in the garden, wooed an opera singer with weekly hampers of bananas, melons and mangoes sent from Castle Leslie to her dressing room in Covent Gardens in London!

The Pump House, built from approximately 1848, was one of the first water systems to be constructed for a village and estate. One can still see the ornate cast iron fountains in the village, along with the statue of Charles Powell Leslie III.

Day Three: A walk to the stables and goodbye to Castle Leslie!

The next day dawned bright, a crisp November day. We followed our map of the estate to see the Stable Mews, for a bit of exercise before we had to depart.

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[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/places-to-visit/monaghan/glaslough-castle-leslie/

[2] 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.]

[3] Curtis, Maurice and Knight of Glin, Ireland Observed. Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork 1970.

[4] http://www.britainirelandcastles.com/Ireland/County-Monaghan/Castle-Leslie.html

[5] https://www.castleleslie.com/life-the-way-its-supposed-to-be-2/historical-castle-ireland/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Leslie_(bishop_of_Clogher)

[7] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Monaghan%20Landowners

Note that this website states that Charles and his wife had only one child whereas the Castle Leslie website claims that they had three children.

[8] see [7]. CHARLES POWELL LESLIE II, JP (c1767-1831), Colonel, County Monaghan Militia, High Sheriff of County Monaghan, 1788, MP for County Monaghan, 1801-26, New Ross, 1830-1, who espoused firstly, Anne, daughter of the Rev Dudley Charles Ryder, and had issue, three daughters.

He married secondly, in 1819, Christiana, daughter of George Fosbery, and had further issue,

Charles Powell (1821-71);
 JOHN, his heir;
 Thomas Slingsby;
 Prudentia Penelope; Christiana; Julia; Emily.

[9] https://zs35w2fzekug05wf2mckg53k-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Regeneration-History.pdf

[10] https://zs35w2fzekug05wf2mckg53k-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/E-Map-Only-2017.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Curraghmore, Portlaw, County Waterford

Contact: Vanessa Behal, 051 387101
Open dates listed in 2020 [check if open or closed due to Covid-19]: May, June, July, Sept, Wed- Sun, Aug 1-31, 10.30am-4.30pm

Fee: full tour €18, house tour €12, garden & shell house €10, garden only €6 under12 years free.

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It was difficult to find Curraghmore House despite obtaining directions when we rang the house. That difficulty is good in a way, as the house is secluded and safer for the owners. We drove two kilometres up a stony track; without the reassuring directions, we would not have believed we were on the right road. When we turned in to the estate, we weren’t sure we had the right entrance, since we went past old buildings and stables. Surely this was not the general entrance for those visiting the gardens, which are open to the public? There was barely any signage, and there was meant to be a cafe open. When we parked and looked around, however, we discovered that we were indeed in the right place! It’s just not very touristy! We found the bathrooms and the cafe in the courtyard.

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entering Curraghmore, via servants’ quarters either side of courtyard. Approaching the courtyard front of the house, where the “original Castle is encased in a spectacular Victorian mansion” with flanking Georgian ranges housing servants, stables, etc. [1]
I didn’t take as many photos as I should have, so here are a few from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, of the range that fronts the house: [2]

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servants’ quarters in the courtyard, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage

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this is the view looking back the way we drove in, with our backs to the house, and the buildings of the courtyard on either side. Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage

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arch through which we went, in order to explore the gardens, and also through which one goes to see the rest of the outside of the house

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photograph from flickr commons, National Library of Ireland.

Mark Bence-Jones describes Curraghmore in A Guide to Irish Country Houses, as a medieval tower with a large three storey house behind it. The house is seven bays wide (see garden front) and seven bays deep. [1]

We explored the buildings flanking the courtyard, and found the entrance to the gardens, through an arch, with an honesty box, in which we duly deposited our fee. We had missed the earlier house tour so had a couple of hours to wait for the next tour. We wandered out into the gardens. The gardens are amazing, in their formal arrangement, for such an empty place.

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when one enters the garden through the arch, one walks along the side of the house to the garden front, which originally held the front door of the house. Originally visitors would drive up to the house through the courtyard and then the horse and carriage would go through the arch to the garden front, to enter through the front door facing the gardens.

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back of the castle, with windows now where there was the original door for guest entrance

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the house is seven bays wide and seven bays deep

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There were horrible scary statues flanking a path – we learned later that they were bought by the fourth Marquis of Waterford in the World Fair in Paris.

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I’ll write more about the gardens later, as we learned more about them on the tour.

We gave ourselves forty-five minutes to get our lunch, and we were hungry after a good stroll. We had home-baked soda bread and salad with smoked salmon, Americano coffee and fresh coffee cake – delicious!

We gathered with others for a tour. The tour guide was excellent – a woman from the nearby town of Portlaw. She told us that the gardens only opened to the public a few years ago, when the more private father of the current (ninth) Marquis died.

I commented to the tour guide before the tour that it was sad to see the place in such a state (of dilapidation). She looked baffled, and once I entered the house, I understood why. The outside may look unkempt and run-down, but once you go inside, all that is forgotten. Splendour!!

As usual, we were not permitted to take photographs inside, unfortunately. You can see some on the website [3]. There is also a new book out, July 2019, it looks terrific! [4] More on the interior later – first I will tell you of the history of the house.

According to the website:

Curraghmore House in Waterford is the historic home of the 9th Marquis of Waterford. His ancestors (the de la Poers) came to Ireland from Normandy after a 100-year stopover in Wales around 1170, or, about 320 years before Columbus ‘discovered’ the New World.

Some 2,500 acres of formal gardens, woodland and grazing fields make this the largest private demesne in Ireland and one of the finest places to visit in Ireland….This tour takes in some of the finest neo-classical rooms in Ireland which feature the magnificent plaster work of James Wyatt and grisaille panels by Peter de Gree.” 
[We came across a link to the De La Poer family, also called Le Poer or Power, in Salterbridge, and will meet them again in Powerscourt in Wicklow and Dublin.]
Curraghmore, meaning great bog, is the last of 4 castles built by the de la Poer family after their arrival in Ireland in 1167. The Castle walls are about 12 feet thick and within one, a tight spiral stairway connects the lower ground floor with the roof above. Of the many curious and interesting features of Curraghmore, the most  striking is the courtyard front of the house, where the original Castle is encased in a spectacular Victorian mansion with flanking Georgian ranges.

Note on spelling of Marquis/Marquess: on the Curraghmore website “Marquis” is used, but in other references, I find “Marquess.” According to google:

marquess is “a member of the British peerage ranking below a duke and above an earl.” … A marquis is the French name for a nobleman whose rank was equivalent to a German margrave. They both referred to a ruler of border or frontier territories; in fact, the oldest sense of the English word mark is “a boundary land.”

I shall therefore use “marquess” and “marquis” interchangeably. If quoting – I’ll use the spelling used by the source. I prefer “marquis”,  as “marquess” sounds female to me, although it refers to a male! Therefore although Marquess is correct, I’ll follow the website and use sometimes use Marquis in this blog entry.

Mark Bence-Jones writes that:

The tower survives from the old castle of the Le Poers or Powers; the house was in existence in 1654, but was rebuilt 1700 and subsequently enlarged and remodelled; it extends round three sides of a small inner court, which is closed on 4th side by the tower. The 1700 rebuilding was carried out by James Power, 3rd and last Earl of Tyrone of first creation, whose daughter and heiress, Lady Catherine Power, married Sir Marcus Beresford…The 1st Beresford Earl of Tyrone remodelled the interior of the old tower and probably had work done on the house as well…The tower and the house were both refaced mid-C19. The house has a pediment in the garden front; and, like the tower, a balustraded roof parapet. The tower has three tiers of pilasters framing the main entrance doorway and the triple windows in the two storeys above it, and is surmounted by St. Hubert’s Stag, the family crest of the Le Poers. [1]

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St. Hubert’s Stag on top. The crown below is the coronet of a Marquess.

POWER AND MONEY AND MARRIAGE: Don’t be put off by the complications of Titles!

I shall intervene here to give a summary of the rank of titles, as I’m learning them through my research on houses. They rank as follows, from lowest to highest:

Baron –  female version: Baroness

Viscount – Viscountess

Earl – ? what’s the female version?

Marquess (Marquis) – Marchioness

Duke – Duchess

The estate was owned by the le Poer family for over 500 years, during which time the family gained the titles Baron la Poer (1535), and Viscount Decies and Earl of Tyrone (1673, “second creation”, which means the line of the first Earls of Tyrone died out or the title was taken from them – in this case the previous Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill, rose up against the British throne during the Nine Years War and fled from Ireland when arrest was imminent, so lost his title). Sir Piers Power (or Le Poer) of Curraghmore, who came into his title in 1483, cemented the family’s influence with a strategic marriage to the House of Fitzgerald. His first wife, Katherine, was a daughter of Sir Gerald Fitzgerald, Lord of the Decies. His second wife was another Fitzgerald of the House of Kildare.

Sir Piers’s son and heir, Richard, further strengthened the power of the family by marrying a daughter of the 8th Earl of Ormond. The rival families of Butler and Fitzgerald, into both of which the Le Poers had married, effectively ran the country at this time when English influence in Ireland had been in decline for several decades. [5]

In 1538 Richard was succeeded by his eldest son, Piers. After Piers’s premature death in 1545, he was succeeded as 3rd Baron by his younger brother, John “Mor” Power. In 1576, Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland and father of the poet Philip Sidney, stayed with John Mor at Curraghmore. He wrote:

“The night after I departed from Waterford I lodged at Curraghmore, the house that the Lord Power is baron of. The Poerne country is one of the best ordered countries in the English Pale, through the suppression of coyne and livery. The people are both willing and able to bear any reasonable subsidy towards the finding and entertaining of soldiers and civil ministers of the laws; and the lord of the country, though possessing far less territory than his neighbour (ie: Sir James Fitzgerald of the Decies, John Mor’s cousin) lives in show far more honourably and plentifully than he or any other in that province.”

Turtle Bunbury writes of the Le Poer family history in his blog. I wonder if I can turn my blog into a way of learning Irish history, through Irish houses? I will continue to quote Mr. Bunbury’s blog here, so I can try to see connections between various house owners as I continue my travels around the country.
WHO TO SUPPORT? CATHOLIC OR PROTESTANT? JAMES II OR WILLIAM III?

It was a common practice at the time for the aristocracy to send their sons to the English Court. It was a way to curry favour and contacts, and for the King to secure the loyalty of the aristocracy and their Protestant faith. 

John Mor died in 1592 and was succeeded by his son Richard, 4th Baron Le Poer. King James I ordered Richard to send his grandson and heir, John, (John’s father had already died) to England for his education, in order to convert John to Protestantism. John lived with a Protestant Archbishop in Lambeth. However, John didn’t maintain his Protestant faith. Furthermore, he later suffered from mental illness.

Julian Walton, in a talk I attended in Dromana House in Waterford (another section 482 house about which I will be writing later), told us about a powerful woman, Kinbrough Pypho. She is named after a Saxon saint, Kinbrough. Her unfortunate  daughter Ruth was married to John Power of the “disordered wits” [the 5th Baron]. In 1642, Kinbrough Pypho wrote for to the Lord Justices of Ireland for protection, explaining that Lord Le Poer had “these past twelve years been visited with impediments” which had “disabled him from intermeddling with his own estate.” As a result, when Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland, he issued a writ on 20th September 1649 decreeing that Lord Power and his family be “taken into his special protection.”

Despite his mental illness, John and Ruth had a son Richard, who succeeded as the 6th Baron. In 1672 King Charles II made Richard the 1st Earl of Tyrone, and elevated Richard’s son John to the peerage as Viscount Decies. Turtle Bunbury writes that Richard the 1st Earl of Tyrone sat on Charles II’s Privy Council from 1667-1679. However, Richard was forced to resign when somebody implicated him in the “Popish Plot.” The “Popish Plot” was caused by fear and panic. There never was a plot, but many people assumed to be sympathetic to Catholicism were accused of treason. In 1681, Richard Power was brought before the House of Commons and charged with high treason. He was imprisoned. He was released in 1684.

James II came to the throne after the death of his brother Charles II, and he installed Richard in the Irish Privy Council.

When William and Mary came to the throne, taking it from Mary’s father James II, Richard was again charged with high treason, this time for supporting James II, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died there, in 1690. He was succeeded by his son 25-year-old son John.

John married his first cousin, the orphaned heiress Catherine Fitzgerald. They were married as children, in order for John to marry Catherine’s wealth. However, Catherine managed to have the marriage declared null and void, so that she could marry her true love, in March 1676, Edward Villiers, son and heir of George, 4th Viscount Grandison [I will write more on this in my entry on Dromana].

John died aged just 28 and was succeeded by his brother James. James, the 3rd Earl of Tyrone, married Anne Rickard, eldest daughter and co-heir of Andrew Rickard of Dangan Spidoge, County Kilkenny. He had fought with the Jacobites (supporters of James II), but when William III came to the throne, the 3rd Earl of Tyrone claimed that he had only supported James II because his father had forced him to (this is the father who died in the Tower of London for supporting James II). In 1697 James Le Poer received a Pardon under the Great Seal and he served as Governor of Waterford from 1697 until his death in 1704.

DEVELOPING THE CASTLE
In 1700 the 3rd Earl, James, commissioned the construction of the present house at Curraghmore on the site of the original castle.

In 1704 the male line of the la Poers became extinct as James had no sons. Catherine de la Poer, the sole child of her parents, could not officially inherit the property at the time. Fortunately, the property was kept for her and she was married at the age of fourteen to Marcus Beresford, in 1717. This ensured that the house stayed in her family, as Marcus joined her to live in Curraghmore.

This marriage was foretold. The guide told us the story:

“One night in 1693 when Nichola, Lady Beresford, was staying in Gill Hall, her schoolday friend, John Power, Earl of Tyrone, with whom she had made a pact that whoever died first should appear to the other to prove that there was an afterlife, appeared by her bedside and told her that he was dead, and that there was indeed an after-life. To convince her that he was a genuine apparition and not just a figment of her dreams, he made various prophecies, all of which came true: noteably that she would have a son who would marry his niece, the heiress of Curraghmore and that she would die on her 47th birthday. He also touched her wrist, which made the flesh and sinews shrink, so that for the rest of her life she wore a black ribbon to hide the place.” [5]

The predictions came true! Lady Nichola did indeed die on her 47th birthday, and her son Marcus married John’s niece, Catherine Power. Sir Marcus Beresford of Coleraine (born 1694) was already a Baron by descent in his family. When he married Catherine, he became Viscount Tyrone. Proud of her De La Poer background, when her husband Baron Beresford died, Catherine, now titled the Dowager Countess of Tyrone, requested the title of Baroness La Poer.

The entry via the servants’ quarters, which I thought odd, has indeed always been the approach to the house. Catherine had the houses in the forecourt built for her servants in 1740s or 50s. She cared for the well-being of her tenants and workers, and by having their houses built flanking the entrance courtyard, perhaps hoped to influence other landlords and employers.

Bence-Jones writes of the forecourt approach to the house:

[The house] stands at the head of a vast forecourt, a feature which seems to belong more to France, or elsewhere on the Continent… having no counterpart in Ireland, and only one or two in Britain… It is by the Waterford architect John Roberts, and is a magnificent piece of architecture; the long stable ranges on either side being dominated by tremendous pedimented archways with blocked columns and pilasters. There are rusticated arches and window surrounds, pedimented niches with statues, doorways with entablatures; all in beautifully crisp stonework. The ends of the two ranges facing the front are pedimented and joined by a long railing with a gate in the centre.


We were lucky to be able to wander around.

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There were some interesting looking machines in sheds. Perhaps some of this machinery is for grain, or some could be for the wool trade. Turtle Bunbury writes of the wool trade in the 18th century and of the involvement by the de la Poer family in Curraghmore. [6]
Other buildings were stables, or had been occupied as accommodation in the past, and some were used for storage.

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amazing vaulted ceilings for stables!

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The buildings above are behind the stables of the courtyard.

There must have been a whiskey distillery at one stage:

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the Butler’s house, the first house in the courtyard nearest the main house. The Butler lived in the main house until he married, when he then was given the house in the courtyard. There was a Butler in the house until just two years ago, and he lived here until he retired.

household staff of Curraghmore House, Portlaw, Co. Waterford, ca.1905, National Library of Ireland
Household staff of Curraghmore, around 1905, courtesy of National Library of Ireland

The Guide told us a wonderful story of the stag on top of the house. It has a cross on its head, and is called a St. Hubert’s Stag. This was the crest of the family of Catherine de la Poer. They were Catholic. To marry Marcus Beresford, she had to convert to Protestantism. She kept the cross of her crest. The Beresford crest is in a sculpture on the front entrance, or back, of the house: a dragon with an arrow through the neck. The broken off part of the spear is in the dragon’s mouth.

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dragon from the Beresford crest

The IRA came to set fire to the house at one point. They came through the courtyard at night. The moon was full, and the stag and cross cast a shadow. Seeing the cross, the rebels believed the occupants were Catholic and decided not to set fire to the house. The story illustrates that the rebels must not have been from the local area, as locals would have known that the family had converted to Protestantism centuries ago. It is lucky the invaders did not approach from the other side of the house!

When I was researching Blackhall Castle in County Kildare, I came across more information about St. Hubert’s Stag. The stag with the crucifix between its antlers that tops Curraghmore is in fact related to Saint Eustachius, a Roman centurion of the first century who converted to Christianity when he saw a miraculous stag with a crucifix between its antlers. This saint, Eustace, was probably the Patron Saint of the Le Poers since their family crest is the St. Eustace (otherwise called St. Hubert’s) stag. I did not realise that St. Eustace is also the patron saint of Newbridge College in Kildare, where my father attended school and where for some time in the 1980s and 90s my family attended mass!

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see the St. Eustace stag in the Newbridge College crest

I read in Irish Houses and Gardens, from the archives of Country Life by Sean O’Reilly, [Aurum Press, London: 1998, paperback edition 2008] that the St. Hubert Stag at Curraghmore was executed by Queen Victoria’s favourite sculptor, Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm. He was also responsible for the “haunting” representation in the family chapel at Clonegam of the first wife, who died in childbirth, of the 5th Marquess.

Someone asked about the sculptures in the niches in the courtyard. They too were purchased at the World Fair Exhibition in Paris. Why are there only some in niches – are the others destroyed or stolen? That in itself was quite a story! A visitor said they could have the sculptures cleaned up, by sending them to England for restoration. The Marquess at the time agreed, but said only take every second one, to leave some in place, and when those are back, we’ll send the remaining ones. Just as well he did this, since the helper scuppered and statues were never returned.

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Since bad weather threatened, as you can see from my photographs, the tour guide took us out to the Shell House in the garden first. This was created by Lady Catherine. A friend of Jonathan Swift, Mrs. Mary Delany, started a trend for grottoes, which progressed to shell houses. Catherine had the house specially built, and she went to the docks nearby to ask the sailors to collect shells for her from all over the world, who obliged since their wages were paid by the Marquess. She then spent two hundred and sixty one days (it says this in a scroll that the marble sculpture holds in her hand) lining the structure with the shells (and some coral). The statue in the house is of Catherine herself, made of marble, by the younger John van Nost (he did many other sculptures and statues in Dublin, following in his father’s footsteps).

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the Shell Grotto

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inside the shell grotto, statue by John van Nost of Catherine Le Poer Beresford.

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Catherine also adorned the interior of Curraghmore with frescoes by the Dutch painter van der Hagen, and laid out the garden with canals, cascades, terraces and statues, which were swept away in the next century in the reaction against formality in the garden. In the nineteenth century, the formal layout was reinstated. [7]

THE INTERIOR OF THE HOUSE

The entrance hall, which is in the old tower, has a barrel vaulted ceiling covered with plasterwork rosettes in circular compartments which dates from 1750, as it was one of the rooms redecorated by Marcus Beresford and his wife Catherine. He also redecorated the room above, now the billiard room, which has a tremendously impressive coved ceiling probably by the Francini brothers, according to Mark Bence-Jones. The ceiling is decorated with foliage, flowers, busts and ribbons in rectangular and curvilinear compartments. The chimneypiece, which has a white decorative  overmantel with a “broken” pediment (i.e. split into two with the top of the triangular pediment lopped off to make room for a decoration in between) and putti cherubs, is probably by John Houghton, German architect Richard Castle’s carver. Bence-Jones describes that the inner end of the room is a recess in the thickness of the old castle wall with a screen of fluted Corinthian columns. There is a similar recess in the hall below, in which a straight flight of stairs leads up to the level of the principal rooms of the house.

According to the Wikipedia article on the Marquesses of Waterford [8], Lord Tyrone ie. Marcus Beresford, was succeeded by his fourth but eldest surviving son, the second Earl, George Beresford (1734-1800), who also inherited the title Baron La Poer from his mother in 1769. [By the way, he married Elizabeth Monck, only daughter and heiress of Henry Monck (1725-1787) of Charleville, another house on the Section 482 list which we will be visiting.]  In 1786 he was created Baron Tyrone. Three years later he was made Marquess of Waterford in the Peerage of Ireland. He was therefore the 1st Marquess of Waterford. The titles descended in the direct line until the death of his grandson, the third Marquess, in 1859.

George had the principal rooms of the house redecorated to the design of James Wyatt in the 1780s. Perhaps this was when the van der Hagen paintings were lost! We will see more of his work later, in a house not on section 482 in 2019, but often on the list, Beaulieu.  At the same time he probably built the present staircase hall, which had been an open inner court, and carried out other structural alterations.

As Bence-Jones describes it, the principle rooms of the house lie on three sides of the great staircase hall, which has Wyatt decoration and a stair with a light and simple balustrade rising in a sweeping curve. Our tour paused here for the guide to point out the various portraits of the generations of Marquesses, and to tell stories about each.

Bence-Jones writes that the finest of the Wyatt interiors are the dining room and the Blue drawing room, two of the most beautiful late eighteenth rooms in Ireland, he claims.

The dining room has delicate plasterwork on the ceiling,  incorporating rondels attributed to Antonio Zucchi (1726-1795, an Italian painter and printmaker of the Neoclassic period) or his wife Angelica Kauffman (a Swiss Neoclassical painter who had a successful career in London and Rome). The walls have grissaille panels by Peter de Gree, which are imitations of bas-reliefs, so are painted to look as if they are sculpture. de Gree was born in Antwerp, Holland [9]. In Antwerp he met David de la Touche of Marlay, Rathfarnham, Dublin, who was on a grand tour. The first works of de Gree in Ireland were for David de la Touche for his house in St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. [10] The Blue Drawing Room has a ceiling incorporating roundels by deGree and semi-circular panels attributed to Zucchi.

A story is told that a woman’s son was hung, and she cursed the magistrate, the Marquess, by walking nine times around the courtyard of Curraghmore and cursing the family, wishing that the Marquess would have a painful death. It seems that her curse had some effect, as tragedy haunted the family. As mentioned previously, it was the fourth son who inherited the property and titles of Marcus Beresford, all other sons having died.

The obituary of the 8th Marquis of Waterford gives more details on the curse, which was described to us by our guide, with the help of the portraits:

The 8th Marquis of Waterford, who has died aged 81, was an Irish peer and a noted player in the Duke of Edinburgh’s polo team.

That Lord Waterford reached the age he did might have surprised the superstitious, for some believed his family to be the object of a particularly malevolent curse. He himself inherited the title at only a year old, when his father, the 7th Marquis, died aged 33 in a shooting accident in the gun room at the family seat, Curraghmore, in Co Waterford.

The 3rd Marquis broke his neck in a fall in the hunting field in 1859; the 5th shot himself in 1895, worn down by years of suffering from injuries caused by a hunting accident which had left him crippled; and the 6th Marquis, having narrowly escaped being killed by a lion while big game hunting in Africa, drowned in a river on his estate in 1911 when he was 36.” [11]

The lion, along with some pals, stand in the front hallway in a museum style diorama!

The obituary gives us an introduction to the stories of the various descendants of the 1st Marquess, George Beresford. Let’s now look at the rest of the line of Marquesses.

MARQUESSES OF WATERFORD

I am aided here by the wonderfully informative website of Timothy Ferres. [12]
George, 1st Marquess of Waterford, was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry, 2nd Marquess (1772-1826), who wedded, in 1805, Susanna, only daughter and heiress of George Carpenter, 2nd Earl of Tyrconnell. Henry, who was a Knight of St Patrick, a Privy Counsellor in Ireland, Governor of County Waterford, and Colonel of the Waterford Militia, was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry, 3rd Marquess.

In an interview with Patrick Freyne, the current Marquess, whom the townspeople call “Tyrone,” explained that it was the third Marquess, Henry who originated the phrase “painting the town red” while on a wild night in Miltown Mowbray in 1837: he literally painted the town red! [13]

I wonder was this the Marquis who, as a boy in Eton, was expelled, and took with him the “whipping bench,” which looks like a pew, from the school. It remains in the house, in the staircase hall! We can only hope that it meant than no more boys in Eton were whipped.

In 1842, the third Marquess of Waterford married Louisa Stuart, daughter of the 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay, and settled in Curraghmore House. It was he who broke his neck in a fall while hunting. His wife Louisa laid out the garden. She had been raised in France and modelled the gardens on those at Versailles.

When Henry died he was succeed by his younger brother, John (1814-1866), who became the 4th Marquess. It was this Marquess who bought the scarey statues in the garden. The tour guide told us that perhaps the choice of statue reflected the Marquis’s personality. She referred back to this on the tour. The Earl became more religious and more forboding as he aged. John married Christiana Leslie, daughter of Charles Powell Leslie II of Castle Leslie (we will learn more about the Leslies in my write ups for Castle Leslie and Corravahan House in County Cavan). John entered the ministry and served as Prebendary of St Patrick’s Cathedral, under his uncle, Lord John. He forbade his wife from horseriding, which she had adored. When he died, the sons were notified. Before they went to visit the body, when they arrived home they went straight to the stables. They took a horse and brought it inside the house, and up the grand staircase, right into their mother’s bedroom, where she was still in bed. It was her favourite horse! They “gave her her freedom.” She got onto the horse and rode it back down the staircase – one can still see a crack in the granite steps where the horse kicked one on the way down – and out the door and off into the countryside!

The oldest of these sons, John Henry de La Poer Beresford (1844-1895), became 5th Marquess, and also a Member of Parliament and Lord Lieutenant of Waterford. Wikipedia tells us that W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan fame refers to John Henry in his opera “Patience” as “reckless and rollicky” in Colonel Calverley’s song “If You Want A Receipt For That Popular Mystery”!

Lord Waterford eloped with Florence Grosvenor Rowley, wife of John Vivian, an English Liberal politician, and married her on 9 August 1872. I don’t know what happened to her, but less than two years later he married secondly, Lady Blanche Somerset, daughter of Henry Somerset, 8th Duke of Beaufort, on 21 July 1874. The second Lady Waterford suffered from a severe illness which left her an invalid. She had a special carriage designed to carry her around the estate at Curraghmore.

Lady Waterford in her specially designed invalid carriage 1896
Lady Blanche Waterford, wife of the 5th Marquess, John Henry, in her specially designed invalid carriage 1896, courtesy of National Library of Ireland

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January 10, 1902, Group shot of guests at a Fancy Dress Ball held at Curraghmore House, Portlaw, Co. Waterford, courtesy of National Library of Ireland

Sadly, John Henry killed himself when he was 51, leaving his son Henry to be 6th Marquess (1875-1911).

Henry the 6th Marquess served in the military. He married Beatrix Frances Petty-Fitzmaurice. He died tragically in a drowning  accident on the estate aged only 36.

His son John Charles became the 7th Marquess (1901-34). He too  died young. He served as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards but died at age 33 in a shooting accident in the gun room at Curraghmore. He married Juliet Mary Lindsay. Their son John Hubert (1933-2015) thus became 8th Marquess at the age of just one year old.

John Hubert served as a lieutenant in the Royal Horse Guards’ Supplementary Reserve and was a skilled horseman. From 1960 to 1985, he was captain of the All-Ireland Polo Club, and he was a member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Windsor Park team. After retiring from the Army, John Hubert, Lord Waterford, returned to Curraghmore and became director of a number of enterprises to provide local employment, among them the Munster Chipboard company, Waterford Properties (a hotel group) and, later, Kenmare Resources, an Irish oil and gas exploration company. He was a founder patron of the Waterford International Festival of Light Opera.

In 1957 he married Lady Caroline Olein Geraldine Wyndham-Quin, daughter of the 6th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, of Adare Manor in County Limerick. The 8th Marquess and his wife Caroline carried out restoration of the Library and Yellow Drawing Room. Lord Waterford devoted much of his time to maintaining and improving the Curraghmore estate, with its 2,500 acres of farmland and 1,000 acres of woodland.

He was succeeded by his son, Henry de La Pore Beresford (b. 1958), the current Marquess. He and his wife now live in the House and have opened it up for visitors. His son is also a polo professional, and is known as Richard Le Poer.

The website tells us, as did the Guide, of the current family:

The present day de la Poer Beresfords are country people by tradition. Farming, hunting, breeding  horses and an active social calendar continues as it did centuries ago. Weekly game-shooting parties are held every season (Nov. through Feb.) and in spring, calves, foals and lambs can be seen in abundance on Curraghmore’s verdant fields. Polo is still played on the estate in summer. Throughout Ireland’s turbulent history, this family have never been ‘absentee landlords’ and they still provide diverse employment for a number of local people. Change comes slowly to Curraghmore – table linen, cutlery and dishes from the early nineteenth century are still in use.

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The Hunt, January 11, 1902, courtesy of National Library of Ireland

Otter Hunt, Curraghmore
According to the National Library, this is an Otter Hunt! At Curraghmore, May 14, 1901

It is not all fun and games at the house, as in the pictures above!  The guide told us a bit about the lives of the servants. In the 1901 census, she told us, not one servant was Irish. This would be because the maidservants were brought by their mistresses, who mostly came from England. The house still doesn’t have central heating, and tradition has it that the fireplace in the front hall can only be lit by the Marquis, and until it is lit, no other fires can be lit. The maids had to work in the cold if he decided to have a lie-in!

THE GARDENS AND OUTBUILDINGS

Behind the houses and stables on one side, were more buildings, probably more accommodation for the workers, as well as more stables, riding areas and workplaces such as a forge. I guessed that one building had been a school but we later learned that the school for the workers’ children was in a different location, behind a the gate lodge by the entrance gate (nearly 2 km away, I think).

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the Forge – see the bellows in the corner of the room.

According to the website:

After Wyatt’s Georgian developments, work at Curraghmore in the  nineteenth century concentrated on the gardens and the Victorian refacing to the front of the house.

Formal parterre, tiered lawns, lake, arboretum and kitchen gardens  were all developed during this time and survive to today. At this time some of Ireland’s most remarkable surviving trees were planted in the estate’s arboretum. Today these trees frame miles of beautiful river walks  (A Sitka Spruce overlooking King John’s Bridge is one of the tallest trees in Ireland).

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The Lake was designed by James Wyatt

And here is a photograph of King John’s Bridge, a 13th-century bridge built in anticipation of a visit from King John (he never came):

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Built in 1205, this stone-arched structure, spanning the Clodagh River, is the oldest bridge in Ireland.

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And last but not least, Curraghmore is now the venue for the latest music festival, Alltogethernow. There’s a stag’s head made by a pair of Native American artists, of wooden boughs that were gathered on the estate. It was constructed for the festival last year but still stands, ready for this year (2019)! Some of my friends will be at the festival. The house will be railed off for the event.

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

[2] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22900816/curraghmore-house-curraghmore-co-waterford

[3] http://curraghmorehouse.ie/

[4] https://theirishaesthete.com/2019/07/03/now-available/

[5] http://www.turtlebunbury.com/history/history_family/hist_family_delapoer.html

Turtle Bunbury on his website writes of the history of the family:

“On his death on 2nd August 1521, Sir Piers was succeeded as head of the family by his eldest son, Sir Richard Power, later 1st Baron le Poer and Coroghmore…. In 1526, five years after his father’s death, Sir Richard married Lady Katherine Butler, a daughter of Piers, 8th Earl of Ormonde, and aunt of ‘Black Tom’ Butler, Queen Elizabeth’s childhood sweetheart. The marriage occurred at a fortuitous time for Power family fortunes. English influence in Ireland had been in decline for several decades and the rival Houses of Butler and Fitzgerald effectively ran the country. The Powers of Curraghmore were intimately connected, by marriage, with both.”

[5] Mark Bence-Jones describes it in his book, 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.

[6] http://www.turtlebunbury.com/history/history_family/hist_family_delapoer.html

[7] Hugh Montgomery Massingberd and Christopher Simon Sykes. Great Houses of Ireland. Laurence King Publishing, London, 1999.

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquess_of_Waterford

[9] https://theirishaesthete.com/2019/11/23/to-a-de-gree/

[10] https://www.libraryireland.com/irishartists/peter-de-gree.php

[11] https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/obituary-the-irish-peer-who-outlived-curse-30998942.html

[12] from http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/search/label/County%20Waterford%20Landowners

[13] https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/oh-lord-next-generation-takes-the-keys-to-waterford-county-1.2191959

The Old Rectory, Killedmond, Borris, Co Carlow

contact: Mary White

Tel: 087-2707189

www.blackstairsecotrails@gmail.com

Open dates in 2020 [check due to Covid 19 restrictions]: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm

Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €6, child free

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five bay two storey Tudor-Gothic Revival house with three dormer windows, and a loggia

 

This is such a pretty house, a “cottage ornée,” a little like a gingerbread house! According to the Irish Historic Houses website, the Old Rectory in Killedmond, near Borris in County Carlow, is:

“a mid-19th century house in a restrained Tudor-Revival style, which looks out over the valley of the River Barrow to the Blackstairs Mountains beyond. Designed by the architect Frederick Darley for the Kavanagh family of nearby Mount Leinster Lodge, the house is an accomplished and dramatic arrangement that uses gables, dormer windows, bargeboards and finials to produce a symmetrical five-bay façade. The three central bays on the ground floor are recessed behind a glazed loggia, flanked by the end bays, which break forward and terminate in wide gables.” [1] [2]

I arranged with Mary White to visit in the first week that the Covid 19 lockdown lifted. Mary and her husband Robert run a business, the Blackstairs Eco Centre, from their home, as can be seen on the lovely wooden sign outside their gates. They have four sweet “shepherds huts” for overnight stays, and hold tree trail walks and wild food courses on the property. [3]

In the article in the Irish Times which first prompted me to embark on the project of visiting Section 482 houses, there was a picture of Mary swimming in her own lake. That to me looked like heaven. We had a few minutes to wander in the gardens around the house before we met Mary so I was delighted to find and photograph the small lake, which is fed by mountain streams. It lies in front of the house.

 

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One can walk all around the lake, and cross the stream on one of the several small granite bridges.

We were greeted warmly by Mary. We walked around the gardens before entering the house.

Mary and her husband moved into the property about forty years ago, and have done massive amounts of work on the garden (and on the house). On the left, when facing the house, through a lovely old arch, is a fruit garden.

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On the right hand side, facing the house, toward the front of the property, is a vegetable growing area complete with a wonderful large polytunnel.

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I envied the White’s long, productive asparagus patch

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the greenhouse, with a herb garden to one side

I have an allotment so Mary and I bonded swapping notes on our vegetable production.  Their production is all organic and they even use a “vegan” manure! I had to think hard to picture what that must be – no animals involved of course!

The trees near the vegetable growing area can be identified by the time they were planted. In forty years, the Whites have built up an interesting tale in their trees. One was a wedding present. One was planted when their daughter was born. Another is the “election tree” when Mary was elected to be a Green TD in government.

Beyond the vegetable garden, the shepherds huts sit dotted carefully around a lawn, each positioned in such a way that their windows don’t look into another hut so each is supremely peaceful and private.

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The website describes the huts:

“The Shepherds Huts are centrally heated and very cozy with a double bed in each – suitable for two. Each Hut has three windows including a half door to look out onto a completely natural wooded area set beneath the Blackstairs Mountains. All you will hear is the soft cooing of wood pigeons!”

We peered into one, which was prepared to receive guests at the weekend, and it looked lovely. You can see photographs of the interior of the huts on the website. [see 3] It is a short distance to the barn, which is also a protected historic structure but which has been fully adapted for use as a kitchen, toilets, sitting room and demonstration area for wild food preparation. It has been carefully refurbished maintaining historic structure, with recycled materials, natural wooden furniture, cedar doors and ecological heating and electricity, which also provide the house.

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wildflower meadow next to barn

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inside the barn: the kitchen and demonstration area, with large tables for gatherings including hen parties, which can be fully catered. The kitchen can be used by those renting the shepherds huts, as well as the relaxation and reading areas.

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inside the barn

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upstairs in the barn, a place for visitors to relax

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The Barn is separated from the house by a cobble courtyard. The guests also have use of an outdoor eating and barbeque area:

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I had to stop to have a go on the swing, hanging from a large beech tree.

We definitely want to return to stay in one of the huts, and to walk the Celtic tree trail. The property has an example of each of the 21 trees native to Ireland. The sculpture of an ogham stone, by sculptor Martin Lyttle [4], has the cut line lettering representing each type of native Irish tree. As part of the Tree Trail we will get to see the sixteen minute film that has been made about the trees on the property.

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Ogham is the earliest form of writing in Ireland and dates to the fourth century A.D. The alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. The letters each relate, also, to a species of tree. The letters were carved on standing stones often as a memorial to a person, using the edge of the stone as a central line. The letters are read from the bottom up. [5]

We noticed the electric car charger near the barn when wandering the gardens:

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I was also thrilled to see a solar panel array in a field:

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Mary and her husband cultivated a rose garden, surrounded by a small canal, forming a “parterre” or patterned garden.

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canal by rose garden. See the granite bridges, and the barn in the background

In the rose garden, we admired the sculpture of Dionysus, sculpted by her friend in college, Alice Greene, and presented to Mary as a birthday gift. [6]

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The property contains wooded area with walking trails, which we didn’t explore as it was rainy and we were heading to my cousin’s house nearby for lunch!

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According to the Irish Historic Houses website:

“Two other fronts are virtually identical, with the exception of a half-octagonal bay window on the Eastern side, while the vertically paired windows, culminating in a series of matching gables, create an illusion of symmetry that is greatly enhanced by a profusion of plants and creepers on the walls. Their openings all have simple chamfered granite dressings while the sash windows retain their heavy mullions and delicate marginal glazing bars.” [note: “chamfered” means an edge between two faces, usually at a 45 degree angle.] [2]

The Whites carried out extensive repairs on the house over the years. The wooden bargeboards and finials were rotting and had to be repaired. The house was completely reroofed with expensive blue Bangor slates. The windows have thirty six panes, and when windows were repaired the original glass was retained. Mary pointed out where someone has scratched their name onto the window pane – there was a tradition of scratching names into glass in the past, and Mary dates this scratch to about 1905. It reads “W. Pennyfeather” and “Nicholas Pennyfeather.” Nicholas was rector of the parish from 1900 and lived in the house. I have come across several occasions of scratching names on window panes in my reading, and saw a short film that refers to the tradition, “Words on a Window Pane,” by Mary McGuckian, made in 1994, an adaptation of a play by W.B. Yeats about Dublin spiritualists visited by the ghosts of Jonathan Swift and the two women associated with him, Vanessa (Esther Vanhomrigh) and Stella (Esther Johnson).

There is a more unusual scratched illustration on the glass in a bedroom upstairs. Someone has used a diamond to carve the profile of a girl into the window, but has written “Sidney is a very ugly girl”! The girl in the portrait is not ugly though! I suspect some sister came along to mar the effect, out of jealousy, or maybe Sidney herself was feeling extremely fed-up and self-deprecating one day.

We walked back around to the front of the house, past the herbaceous border, to have a tour inside.

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the herbaceous border

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the herbaceous border and to the left of the photograph, the “flower tower” or Echium plant

The Irish Historic Houses (IHH) website mentions the “loggia” at the front of the house. This is a conservatory-like structure, a Victorian sort of folly. Wikipedia describes a loggia as a covered exterior gallery or corridor, where the outer wall is open to the elements and is usually supported by a series of columns or arches. This one does not have a wall open to the elements but as described, it is not meant for an entrance but as an out-of-door sitting room. A loggia differs from a veranda in that it is more architectural in form and is part of the main edifice of the house.

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According to the IHH website, the loggia is supported by cast-iron brackets on slender granite columns while the upper level of the central section is treated as an attic storey with tall, gabled dormer windows in the steeply sloping roof. The loggia, Mary told us, is wonderfully warm, and a lovely place to sit.

The house was designed by Frederick Darley (1798-1872), whose father was also an architect and builder. Frederick Darley built many buildings in Trinity College Dublin, as well as many civic and church buildings (including Lorum church, nearby [7]). He built New Square in Trinity, where my husband Stephen lived for a year! His father served as Alderman in Dublin and as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1808-09. His mother Elizabeth Guinness was the eldest daughter of Arthur Guinness (1725-1803), founder of the Guinness brewery, of Beaumont House, Drumcondra (now the Beaumont Convalescent Home behind Beaumont Hospital). In 1843 Frederick Darley Junior was the Ecclesiastical Commission architect for the Church of Ireland diocese of Dublin. He was a pupil of Francis Johnston, and lived on Lower Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin. [8]

The house a hunting lodge for the Kavanagh family who owned nearby Mount Leinster Lodge. I haven’t been able to find out more about James Kavanagh who owned the house. In Victorian times the house became the rectory for nearby Killedmond Church but was sold in the early twentieth century. Subsequently it passed through a succession of different families. Mary told us that a former owner was a Captain Temple Bayliss, who was a Captain in the Royal Navy, with his wife Patricia and daughter, Philippa, both of whom are accomplished artists. [8]

The historic houses website tells us that the interior is largely original, with good joinery, chimneypieces and plasterwork, and stained glass panels in the original front door. I took a photograph of the beautiful stained glass in the door:

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The front hall is floored with beautiful tiles original to the house:

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The rooms are a nice size with high ceilings and the sitting room with a bay window, and plaster ceiling decoration in the form of a border with decorative rondelles. The chimneypieces are indeed lovely and as Mary pointed out, they have the traditional white for the drawing room and black for the dining room. I had never heard of that before!

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The bay window of the Drawing room

The current owners have two lovely studies, with built-in bookcases and a display of books that Stephen and I admired – Mary and her husband are also book-lovers, and I admired a lovely bound set of Virginia Woolf essays.

The flagstones in the back hallway are also original, and had to be lifted to install geothermal heating.

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Mary makes great use of her larder, which was a place formerly used for storing milk and butter, the flagstones keep it cool. Large saucepans hang from original hooks in the ceiling, ready for making jams and chutneys from the garden produce.
I like the style of the kitchen with repurposed cupboards discarded from a local school, and an old Aga cooker. Mary told us that the Aga company contacted her as they keep records of where they installed their cookers, and hers is rather rare. The feature that distinguishes it from less rare versions is, wonderfully, a “full stop” at the end of the warning on its lower door: “Keep tightly closed.”

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We got on so well with Mary and had so much to talk about that our tour lasted for two hours! I look forward to a return visit.

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[1] http://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Killedmond

[2] architectural definitions

[3] https://www.blackstairsecotrails.ie/

[4] https://lithicworks.com/

The fact that Martin Lyttle’s sculpture stands on the property is perfect, as Martin’s family lived in the Old Rectory for seven years before Mary White acquired it!

[5] http://www.megalithicireland.com/Ogham%20Stones%20Page%201.htm

[6] https://www.dralicegreene.com/phdi/p1.nsf/supppages/greene?opendocument&part=7

[7] Record of Protected Structures, County Carlow

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Darley_(architect)

[9] https://philippabayliss.art/

Tankardstown Estate & Demesne, Rathkenny, Slane, Co. Meath

Contact: Manager, Tadhg Carolan, Tel: 087-7512871

www.tankardstown.ie

Opening dates in 2020 (check in advance due to Covid restrictions): All year including National Heritage Week, 9am-1pm

Fee: Free

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Stephen and I went to Tankardstown on the way to Monaghan in 2019, where we were staying a night on our drive to Donegal to visit his Mum.

Tankardstown is now a boutique hotel, although the manager Tadhg who showed us around prefers it not to be called a hotel, as it is more like an opulent modernized seventeenth century home. Unfortunately we were not staying the night!

In his Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988) Mark Bence-Jones describes Tankardstown as a two storey late-Georgian house. According to wickipedia, the Georgian period is 1740-1837.

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He writes that the entrance front consists of three bays and an end bay breaking forward, as you can see in the photograph above. The entrance doorway has a pediment on consoles, not in line with the window above. [1] There are steps up to the front door.