Places to Visit and Stay in County Carlow, Leinster

Carlow:

1. Altamont, Kilbride, Co Carlow – gardens open to public, see OPW entry

2. Borris House, Borris, County Carlow – section 482

3. Carlow Castle, Carlow, Co Carlow – a ruin  

4. Duckett’s Grove, Carlow – a ruin 

5. Garryhill House, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow – can visit gardens

6. Hardymount House, Castlemore, Co Carlow – can visit gardens

7. Huntington Castle, Clonegal, Co Carlow – on section 482 

8. Old Rectory Killedmond, Borris, Co Carlow – section 482 

Places to stay, County Carlow

1. Ballykealey, Tullow, Co Carlow  – whole house rental and self-catering accommodation €€€

and lodges: https://ballykealeyhouse.com

2. Huntington Castle, County Carlow

3. Kilgraney House, County Carlow

4. Killedmond Rectory, County Carlow – shepherd’s huts €

5. Lisnavagh, County Carlow, holiday cottages

6. Lorum Old Rectory, Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, County Carlowsection 482 €€

7. Mount Wolseley, Tullow, Co Carlow – hotel €

Whole House rental, County Carlow

1. Sandbrook, Tullow, Co Carlow  – whole house rental and an apartment in house

Carlow:

1. Altamont, Kilbride, Co Carlow – gardens open to public

See my OPW entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/21/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-carlow-kildare-kilkenny/

Altamont Gardens, County Carlow, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

2. Borris House, Borris, County Carlow – section 482

Borris House, County Carlow by Suzanne Clarke, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/10/04/borris-house-county-carlow/
contact: Morgan Kavanagh
Tel: 087-2454791
www.borrishouse.com
Open: Feb 2-7, 9-14, 16-21, 27-28, June 1-3, 8-10, 15-16, 22-24, 29-30, July 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-21, 27-29, Aug 3-5, 10-12, 14-22, 24-26, 31, Sept 1-2, 12 noon -5pm Fee: adult €10, child €5, OAP/student €8.

3. Carlow Castle, Carlow, Co Carlow – a ruin  

Carlow Castle in located in Carlow Town was at one stage one of the finest Norman castles ever built in Ireland. It was built around 1213 by William Marshall and the site was carefully chosen because of its strategic defensive location close to the River Barrow. In 1361 it was strengthened when it became the headquarters of the Exchequer of Ireland when it was moved here from Dublin. Although it was attacked and withstood a number of attempted assaults in 1494 and 1641, it’s great ‘low point’ came not through war but by a physician named Middleton. Middleton attempted to convert the castle into a lunatic asylum in 1814 when he tried to diminish the thickness of the walls by using explosives. He however made a gross miscalculation and ended up blowing most of the castle to pieces. All that remained were the 2 towers and a bit of the original wall.” [2]

Carlow Castle, 1954, Dublin City Library and Archives. [3]

4. Duckett’s Grove, Carlow – a ruin 

Maintained by Carlow County Council. Destroyed by fire in 1933 but there is a walled garden open to visitor and one can see the impressive ruins.

Photograph by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.

The National Inventory tells us of the house:

Remains of detached three-storey over basement country house, c. 1745 now in ruins. Gothic style mantle added, c. 1825. Designed by Thomas Cobden. Extended, c. 1845, with granite ashlar viewing tower on an octagonal plan, turrets and entrance screens added. Designed by J. McDuff Derick. Stable complex to rear.”

Thomas Duckett (1646-1682) purchased the property in 1695. He married Judith Power, granddaughter of 5th Baron of Curraghmore.

The property was once part of a 12,000 acre estate with eight acres of gardens.

The Duckett’s Grove website tells us:

In 1695 Thomas Duckett (1) who is stated, by Sir William Betham, Ulster King of Arms, to have been the son of James Duckett, of Grayrigg, Westmorland, by his third wife Elizabeth, daughter of Christopher Walker, of Workington, Cumberland, purchased five hundred acres of land in Kneestown, Rainestown, and Ardnahue, Palatine, Co. Carlow from British landlord Thomas Crosthwaite from Cockermouth near the Lake District in Scotland. Thomas Crosthwaite owned a vast amount of land in Ireland during that period and had himself acquired this and other lands which comprised of 495 acres of plantation in 1666 under the Acts of Settlement (1666 – 1684) in the reign of King Charles II.  However, Thomas Duckett did not make use of this land until the 1700s when he built a country house in Rainestown, replacing a smaller house on the same site where Duckett’s Grove stands today.”

Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021. The tallest, granite, flag tower was added in 1853 and designed to be seen above the tree line.

The website continues:

In the early years of the Ducketts’ story, intermarriage with some well-connected and wealthy families contributed greatly to their financial standing and allowed for the expansion of the Demesne. Thomas Duckett’s (1) wife Judith de la Poer was the heiress of the wealthy Pierce De La Poer of Killowen in County Waterford, grandson of the Honorary Pierce De la Poer, of Killowen, Brother of Richard, First Earl of Tyrone. Thomas Duckett (1) had one son, Thomas Duckett (2)[1667-1735] who was his successor and heir. The Duckett family extended their estate, and their wealth grew throughout the eighteenth century.

The only son from this marriage Thomas Duckett (2) (a member of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers) lived in Phillipstown Manor, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, situated approximately 3 miles from Kneestown and Rainestown which was a property purchased from the Earl of Ormonde. He married Jane Bunce, daughter of John Bunce, of Berkshire in 1687.  His last will and testament was dated 18th January 1732 and was proved on 13th May 1735. Thomas Duckett (2) had three daughters and one son and heir; John Duckett Esq., (1) of Phillipstown, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow and Newtown, Co. Kildare, whose last will and testament dated 13th April 1733, was proved on 17th May 1738.

A house called Phillipstown Manor built in 1745 according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage still survives – Thomas Duckett (1667-1735) and his wife Jane Bunce must have lived in an earlier version of this.

John Duckett Esq., (1) married Jane Devonsher who was daughter of Thomas Devonsher Esq. from Cork. The first son of John Duckett (1) and Jane Devonsher was Thomas Duckett (3) of Newtown died unmarried.

Jane Devonsher was the sister of Abraham Devonsher who lived at Kilshannig in Cork (see my entry – it is a Section 482 property). My Quaker husband and I laugh that some of the most exuberant plasterwork and the most exuberant architecture was owned by Quakers! But perhaps the Ducketts were no longer Quakers by the time the house was made so ornate. John and his wife Jane lived in Phillipstown Manor. https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/10300308/philipstown-manor-phillipstown-carlow

Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.

John and Jane’s second son William Duckett (1) of Phillipstown, Co. Carlow married Janet Summers, daughter of Samuel Summers, Esq., and they had no children. Their third son, Abraham Duckett (1) of Ardnahue, Co. Carlow married Mary Jessop, daughter of Samuel Jessop, Esq. Abraham Duckett (1) and Mary Jessop had four sons (three sons, who all died without children) and three daughters.”

It was John and Jane’s fourth son, Jonas Duckett Esq. (1720-1797) of Co. Carlow (who Duckett’s Grove is said to have been named after), who passed Duckett’s Grove to the next generation. It may have been he who built a two storey Georgian house on the property later transformed into the current confection.

Jonas married Hannah Alloway, daughter of William Alloway, Esq. of Dublin, a merchant banker, who brought money to the marriage. They had four sons, their eldest son and heir being William Duckett who was born in 1761In 1790 William Duckett (b. 1761) married another daughter of a banker, Elizabeth Dawson Coates, daughter and co-heir of John Dawson-Coates Esq, a banker of Dawson Court, Co. Dublin. The bank was called Coates and Lawless and in 1770 it was located at 36 Thomas Street.

William Duckett (b. 1761) and Elizabeth Dawson-Coates’s son John (1791-1866), added Dawson to his name, to become John Dawson-Duckett. I believe that this is because Elizabeth Dawson-Coates’s father John Dawson-Coates may have been the heir of John Dawson of the bank Wilcox and Dawson. [see 6]

John Dawson-Coates had two daughters who were his co-heirs, Elizabeth and Anne. Their brothers predeceased their father. Elizabeth married William Duckett (b. 1761) and Anne married William Hutchinson of Timoney, County Tipperary. [6] 

The fortunes of the two heiresses, Elizabeth and Anne Dawson-Coates, coalesced when the daughter of Anne Dawson-Coates and William Hutchinson (Sarah Hutchinson Summers) married her cousin (John Dawson-Duckett) the son of Elizabeth Dawson-Coates and William Duckett.

John Dawson-Duckett (1791-1866) hired Thomas A. Cobden to turn his house into a castle.

The Cobden work is rendered in patent cement and includes an oriel window over entrance and a full-height bow on the North East corner, while the later work, which includes a slender viewing tower, entrance to the stables and curtain walls is executed in granite ashlar. [7] 
Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.

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

p. 113. “(Eustace-Duckett/IFR) A square house of two and three storeys, transformed into a spectacular castellated Gothic fantasy by Thomas A. Cobden [1794-1842], of Carlow, for J. D. Duckett 1830 [John Dawson Duckett (1791-1866)]. Numerous towers and turrets, round, square and octagonal; notably a heavily machicolated round tower with a tall octagonal turret growing out of it. The walls enlivened with oriels and many canopied niches sheltering statues; more statues and busts in niches along the battlemented wall joining the house to a massively feudal yard gateway; yet more statues manning the battlements of one of the towers, and disposed around the house on pedestals. At the entrance to the demesne is one of the most stupendous castellated gateways in Ireland: with a formidable array of battlemented and machicolated towers and two great archways giving onto two different drives; the principal archway having a portcullis, and being surmounted by an immense armorial achievement, which was originally coloured. The house was burnt 1933 and is now a ruin.” [4]

John Dawson Duckett was appointed High Sheriff of County Carlow in 1819 and married Sarah Hutchinson Summers [or is it Sarah Summers Hutchinson?], daughter of William Hutchinson Esq. from Timoney Park, Co. Tipperary on 16th March 1819. They had two sons: the eldest, William (Dawson) Duckett (1822 – 1908) was named after his grandfather and he was the last blood heir to Duckett’s Grove. Their second daughter, Anne Duckett married Hardy Eustace of Castlemore, Tullow, Co. Carlow. They went on to live at Hardymount in County Carlow, which has gardens one can visit (see below).

David Hicks tells us in his book Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change, that more work was carried out in the 1840s, designed by architect John MacDuff Derick, who added extra floor space and prominent architectural features, such as a large circular flag tower, which was faced in local granite. A new basement kitchen as added with a billiard room above on the ground floor level. The exterior of the castle was decorated with various niches that contained statues and, on the facade of the building, heads of many mythological creatures. Bust of famous warriors decorated the length of the battlemented wall that joined the castle to one of the courtyards to its rear. Statues around the grounds depicted Greek and Roman figures.

As well as enlarging the castle, MacDuff Derick created the impressive entrance gateway, with an immense coat of arms carved by Kelly and Kinsella, which was gilded and coloured and features birds and animals associated with the lineage of the Duckett family.

Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.
Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021. The tallest, granite, flag tower was added in 1853 and designed to be seen above the tree line.
Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.

The Ducketts were quite happy to allow members of the public to picnic in their gardens until one group disturbed the peace in 1902, peering in their windows, and the family closed the grounds to the public.

The exterior of the castle was decorated with various niches that contained statues and, on the facade of the building, heads of many mythological creatures.

The courtyards of outbuildings are accessed from either side of the castle by impressive gateways with towers and arches.

Entrance to stable yards.
The curtain wall.

William Dawson Duckett (1822 – 1908) married twice. His first wife died without any children. One year later William Dawson Duckett, at the age of 73 years, married 21 year old Maria Georgina Thompson. Maria Georgina Thompson was daughter of Captain Robert Gordon Cummins and widow of Theophilius Thompson of Forde Lodge, Co. Cavan. She had one daughter.

The website tells us:

“William (Dawson) Duckett (2) now had a new wife Maria and a stepdaughter Olive. He didn’t live that long afterwards, as he died on 22nd June, 1908 aged 86. He was the last member of the Duckett family line to live in Duckett’s Grove Gothic Mansion, in Rainestown, Carlow, leaving just his wife Maria and her daughter [Olive, by a previous marriage of Maria to Theophilus Thompson] living there after his death. In his last will and testament dated 29th February, 1904, William (Dawson) Duckett (2) willed his estate to his widow, Maria Georgina Duckett with the exception of a small section of his estate willed to his nephew, John Hardy Rowland Eustace with the instruction that the Duckett family name be affixed to the name Eustace, giving rise to the name ‘Eustace Duckett’ from Castlemore. [William Dawson Duckett’s sister Anne married Hardy Eustace and their son was John Hardy Roland Eustace] Maria’s daughter Olive married Captain Edward Stamer O’Grady circa 1916. 

It was also at this time that Maria decided to leave Duckett’s Grove following alleged threats from seven Carlow businessmen who were disgruntled and had become malicious in their feelings towards her, allegedly wanting to acquire Duckett’s Grove Gothic mansion. She decided to live in ‘De Wyndesore’, a mansion on Raglan Road, Dublin which was purchased for her as a wedding gift by her late husband William (Dawson) Duckett 2. She spent some time moving between her Dublin and London homes and rarely returned to Duckett’s Grove.” She became mentally ill and paranoid and the only heir to Duckett Grove, her daughter Olive, was cut from her will. [see the full story in Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! Published by Jimmy O’Toole, Carlow, Ireland, 1993. Printed by Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, Kildare.]

The information board tells us that the drive was lined by statues, which were unfortunately destroyed by the IRA as target practice, when the IRA occupied Duckett’s Grove in 1923.

Driving to Duckett’s Grove, you first come across the impressive entrance gates:

Duckett’s Grove entrance gates, August 2021.

The National Inventory tells us about these gates:

The double entrance arches and lodges were designed in a gothic-revival style by J.McDuff Derick [1810-1859] about 1840. This structure is difficult to describe but is a mixture of walls, buttresses, towers and crennelations with lancet windows and heavily mullioned windows. This is possibly the most elaborate entrance to any estate in Ireland and is of considerable architectural importance.”  [5]

Duckett’s Grove entrance gates, August 2021.
Duckett’s Grove entrance gates, August 2021. This crest used to be coloured and gilded.
Duckett’s Grove entrance gates, August 2021.
Duckett’s Grove entrance gates, August 2021.

Om 1921 Duckett’s Grove was sold to a consortium of local farmers. After the sale the house was occupied by British soldiers and later by Irish Free State soldiers during the Civil War. The Ducketts were held in high regard by the community so that house was not damaged beyond the soldiers taking pot-shots at the statues. The house was sold again, this timme to Theo Frederick George Thompson of the Hanover Works in Carlow (see David Hicks). While he was deciding what to do with it the disaster of the fire occurred.

After the fire the building was sold to Charles Balding of Rainstown House and in later years, used as a riding school. The gate lodge was converted into a pub in the 1970s. In 2005 Carlow County Council took possession of Duckett’s Grove for use as a public park with the intention of conserving the castle and restoring the gardens.

After wandering around the castle we went back through the stable yard toward the walled garden.

I think there is a cafe in the courtyard, but we were there during lockdown due to Covid so there was no cafe open, August 2021.

The walled garden has also been redeveloped.

Walled garden, Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.

The brick walls of the walled garden retain the sun’s heat better than the granite of surrounding building structures.

Walled garden, Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.
Walled garden, Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.
Walled garden, Duckett’s Grove, County Carlow, August 2021.

5. Garryhill House, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow – can visit gardens

https://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/garryhill-house/77263

It is advised to contact the property directly prior to making arrangements to visit. +353599727240

Garryhill House was built by the Earl of Bessborough (Viscount Duncannon) [Brabazon Ponsonby (1680-1758) 2nd Viscount Duncannon, 1st Earl of Bessborough] around 1740 on the site of the ancient Garryhill castle, originally built by Art Og Kavanagh, King of Leinster . During the last decade of the fourteenth century, Art Oge McMurragh (King of Leinster) lived at Garryhill. His house would have been built of a wooden structure “of clay and wattle made”, the roof would have been thatched and surrounded by a kraal-like compound, housing a sizeable community of friends and followers. In 1394, Richard II lost his patience with Art, who had been a thorn in the side of the English for years, and decided to attack. Richard and his great army crossed the Barrow at Leighlinbridge, Garryhill was captured and went up in flames. 

Art and his wife were caught by surprise but escaped into the woods. In 1394, Richard II said goodbye to Garryhill to return to England. The first Earl of Bessborough, Brabazon Ponsonby, was one of Carlow’s largest land owners with property holdings of 10,578 acres (in addition to approx. 24,000 acres in Kilkenny). The ancient wall of the Garden would suggest a possible bawn. A date stone incorporated into the gateway to the Garden displays an engraving of 1696. Soon after serving as Governor General of Canada between 1931 and 1935 the 9th Earl [Vere Brabazon Ponsonby, 9th Earl of Bessborough] sold the house to end 200 years of association with the Bessborough Family.” [8]

6. Hardymount House, Castlemore, Co Carlow – can visit gardens https://www.carlowgardentrail.com/venue/hardymount-gardens/

Daily 2.00 to 6.00 p.m. May to August inclusive. Open at other times by arrangement. Groups very welcome.

T: 059-9151769, Tullow, Co. Carlow R93 XN24

https://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/the-garden-hardymount-house/70913

The website tells us: “Hardymount Gardens comprise of 1 hectare of lawns and shrubs surrounded by magnificent beech and oak trees. Located near Tullow, County Carlow, the colourful, lively gardens feature many unusual plants and flowers.

One of the largest Spanish chestnut trees in the country greets visitors on arrival to 1 hectare of lawns and shrubs surrounded by magnificent beech and oak trees. Found just outside Tullow, County Carlow, Hardymount Gardens features a wonderful walled garden that sits behind the house and contains many unusual plants and flowers in the herbaceous border: lilac-coloured Erysimum, yellow helianthus, beds of old roses, downy variegated mint, mimosa, blue agapanthus, California tree poppies, Chinese foxgloves and much, much more.

The grass paths take visitors past the pond with lilies and fish, and by espaliered apple trees, lobelia tupa, a pergola clothed with wisteria and under planted with hollyhocks and foxgloves. There is a vegetable garden and a summer house at the end of the garden which provides a quiet area for rest and relaxation. Hardymount is a truly amazing walled garden full of colour and vigour thanks to its owner and her dedication to gardening.

Group lunches and teas are available upon request. Car Parking available (a coach may park on road). No dogs or picnics.”

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

p. 149. “(Eustace-Duckett/IFR; Maude, sub Hawarden, PB). A two storey bow-ended Georigan house with giant pilasters at each end of the entrance front. The recent owner, Mr H.A.C. Maude, introduced some chimneypieces from Belgard. Now the home of Mrs Patrick Reeves-Smith.” 

7. Huntington Castle, Clonegal, Co Carlow – on section 482 

Huntington Castle, County Carlow, June 2019.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/06/28/huntington-castle-county-carlow/
Postal address: Huntington Castle, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford
contact: Alexander Durdin Robertson
Tel: 053-9377160
www.huntingtoncastle.com
Open: Feb 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Mar 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Apr 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 2-3, 9-10, 16- 17, 23-24, Nov 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, Dec 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 11am-5pm
Fee: house/garden, adult/student €9, garden only €6, OAP house/garden €8, garden only €5, child house /garden €6, garden only €3, group and family discounts available.

8. Killedmond, Borris, Co Carlow.(Old Rectory, Killedmond) – section 482 

Old Rectory Killedmond, County Carlow, October 2021.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/07/16/the-old-rectory-killedmond-borris-co-carlow/
contact: Mary White
Tel: 087-2707189
https://www.blackstairsecotrails.ie/
Open: July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €6, child free.

Places to stay, County Carlow

1. Ballykealey, Tullow, Co Carlow  – whole house rental and self-catering accommodation €€ for self-catering

and lodges: https://ballykealeyhouse.com

Ballykealey House, County Carlow, courtesy of Ballykealey House website.

The website tells us

The House is available for private hire for family gatherings, retreats or corporate events. Distinct character and warmth characterise the 12 individually appointed bedrooms in the manor house. All have gracious views of the surrounding countryside and retain all the original features of the 19th century house. All bedrooms have recently been renovated and include the modern comforts you would expect to find.” It has twelve rooms in the house and 15 self-catering lodges.

Ballykealey House, County Carlow, courtesy of Ballykealey House website.

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

p. 23. “(Lecky/LGI1937 supp) A somewhat stylized Tudor-Revival house of stucco with stone facings, built ca 1830 for John James Lecky to the design of Thomas A. Cobden, of Carlow. Symmetrical front of two storeys and high attic, with three unusually steep gables ending in finials; recessed centre with three-light round-headed window edged with stonework in a rope pattern above a stone Gothic porch of three arches. Tall Tudor chimneystacks at either end; slender battlemented pinnacles rising from corbels at the angles of the roof parapet. Battlemented single storey wing at one side, prolonged by battlemented screen walls with Gothic gateway. Irregular wing with steep gables and dormers at back. Sold ca 1953. Now a novitiate of the Patrician Brothers.

Ballykealey House, County Carlow, courtesy of Ballykealey House website.

The Record of Protected Structures describes the house’s porch as a loggia. It adds that the walls are of smooth rendering painted and the windows have late-19th century sashes. There is a single-storey wing on the right-hand side and an arch into the yard. The rear of the house has a two-storey service wing. The interior retains original decoration. The immediate grounds are contained within a ha-ha.

Ballykealey House, County Carlow, courtesy of Ballykealey House website.

Jimmy O’Toole writes in his The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! Published by Jimmy O’Toole, Carlow, Ireland, 1993. Printed by Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, Kildare. 

Chapter: Lecky of Ballykealy 

p. 147. “In 1953, the Lecky name was added to the growing list of departing gentry families from County Carlow. The Ballykealy seat had been in their possession since 1649, but not even three centuries of roots and tradition could hold back the tide of a rapidly changing financial climate that had already accounted for the departure of most of their neighbouring families. The 300 acre estate was bought by the Land Commission, and the house was purchased in the early 1960s for use as a noviciate for the Patrician Brothers, owners of the Wolseley family seat near Tullow since 1925.

The sale of Ballykealy was the first tell-tale sign of looming financial problems for the last owner, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Beauchamp Lecky, who moved to London with his family. Within four years, he had more debts than assets, and bankruptcy proceedings were instituted against him… On 26th Sept 1957, the War Office Colonel said his early morning good-byes to his wife and three children, got on a train for central London, and was never seen again by friends and family. Thirty six years on, the missing persons file on Colonel Lecky still remains open at Scotland Yard. ..

p. 149. The Lecky family were one of several Quaker families in Couty Carlow, the first of them having come to County Donegal from Stirling in Scotland during the reign of Eliz I. In 1873, John J. Lecky had 1,440 acres at Ballykealy; John F. Lecky had 44 acres at Lenham Lodge, and W.E.H. Lecky the historian had 721 acres at Aughanure, Bestfield and Kilcock. This property he inherited from his father John Lecky of Newgardens, and from his mother Maria Hartpole of Shrule Castle, Co Laois, he inherited an additional 1,200 acres.

Ballykealey House, County Carlow, courtesy of Ballykealey House website.
Ballykealey House, County Carlow, courtesy of Ballykealey House website.

2. Huntington Castle, County Carlow – see above €€ B&B in castle or self-catering in wing or gate lodge or cottage.

https://huntingtoncastle.com/all-rooms

Huntington Castle bedroom, photograph courtesy of Huntington Castle website.

3. Kilgraney House, County Carlow

https://kilgraneyhouse.com/

Kilgraney House, Co Carlow, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2022 for Failte Ireland

Kilgraney is a gracious Georgian country house with courtyard suites and cottages overlooking the Barrow valley. The property is less than ninety minutes by car from Dublin and is located halfway between Bagenalstown and Borris village. Kilgraney Courtyard Suites and Cottages are open for B & B packages from May to October 2022.

Surrounded by extensive gardens and granite stone courtyards filled with culinary, aromatic and medicinal plants, the property offers guests a memorable country house experience in a tranquil rural setting on the Carlow Kilkenny border. 

Since 1994 we have been inspired by Kilgraney and captivated by what the surrounding countryside, towns and people have to offer. For the 2020 season we have decided to take a break from the kitchen and close our dining room. We will continue to offer our renowned breakfast and can recommend some very fine local restaurants. 

Through words and images we invite you to our home and we hope that they entice you to come and experience Kilgraney for yourself. 

At Kilgraney House we create a place of peace and tranquility and therefore we close the house at 1.00 am. If you wish to stay out later than this please book one of our courtyard suites, the garden cottage or the lodge.

http://www.igp-web.com/Carlow/Kilgraney.htm

The house is a charming late Georgian house, overlooking the Barrow valley, and is conveniently situated halfway between Kilkenny city and Carlow town. The house takes its name from the Irish ‘cill greine’ which means ‘sunny hill’ or ‘sunny wood’.

Kilgraney (Kilgreaney ) has seen many changes over the centuries.  The house, spelt Kylgrany, appears on Mercator’s Map of Carlow in 1595 and parts of the lower courtyard, reached through the kitchen garden, date to around this time. The main house was built around 1820 although the north wing is part of older dwelling and thought to be mid-18th century. A fire in the 1920’s destroyed the original interiors and the rebuilding left Kilgraney House with a Georgian exterior and a plain early 20th century interior. Now carefully restored, the house has immense character and a simple elegance that is full of irony and amusement. The lush interiors are an eclectic mix of traditional furniture with carefully chosen pieces of fabric, furniture and art from around the world.

Source: Ireland’s Blue Book of Country Houses & Restaurants.

4. Killedmond Rectory, County Carlow – shepherd’s huts €

https://www.blackstairsecotrails.ie/

Shepherd’s Hut, Old Rectory Killedmond, County Carlow, October 2021.

5. Lisnavagh, County Carlow, holiday cottages

www.lisnavagh.com

Lisnavagh, County Carlow, photograph taken October 2019.

The National Inventory tells us that it was designed around 1847 by Daniel Robertson. It was built for William McClintock-Bunbury (1800-1866). Around 1953, it was truncated and reordered, to make it more liveable, and this was designed by Alan Hope.

Lisnavagh is a wedding venue, and there are buildings with accommodation, including the farm house, converted courtyard stables, the groom’s cottage, schoolhouse, farm and blacksmiths cottages and the bothy.

Weddings at Lisnavagh, photograph courtesy of website.
A bedroom at Lisnavagh, photograph courtesy of website.

The website tells us that:

The estate is owned by William & Emily McClintock Bunbury. Lisnavagh House & Gardens is managed by Emily and William along with a hardworking and dedicated team in both the house and the gardens.

William McClintock Bunbury returned to Lisnavagh in 2000 with a view to creating a financially sustainable life and business on the estate. In 2001, The Lisnavagh Timber Project was established and during the following years parts of Lisnavagh Farmyard were refurbished into offices some of which now house the family enterprises.

The Library, Lisnavagh, courtesy of website.

In his book about the Carlow Gentry, Jimmy O’Toole writes:

The Bunbury wealth was considerably enhanced after the marriage of a later generation William Bunbury to Catherine Kane, daughter of Redmond Kane, a wealthy Dublin merchant in 1773. William [who lived at Moyle, County Carlow], who was elected MP for Carlow in 1776, was killed two years later when he was thrown from his horse in Leighlinbridge. It was the marriage of William and Catherine’s only daughter, Jane Bunbury to John McClintock, MP, of Drumcar, Co Louth, in 1797, that linked the Bunbury and McClintock names. It was their son John who was created Lord Rathdonnell on 21st Dec 1868. Their second son, William Bunbury-McClintock-Bunbury, born 1800, in compliance with the will of his maternal uncle Thomas Bunbury, MP, assumed the name of Bunbury in addition to that of McClintock. The McClintocks were an old Scottish family and the first to settle in Ireland was Alexander McClintock, who purchased the Rathdonnel estates in County Donegal in 1597, from where the title originated.” [10]

John McClintock married a second time, to Elizabeth Le Poer Trench, daughter of the 1st Earl Clancarty.

William Bunbury and Catherine Kane had two sons, Thomas and Kane. Jimmy O’Toole writes about these brothers (p. 66):

The election of 1841, when Thomas Bunbury and his Tory colleague Henry Bruen II, defeated Daniel O’Connell Jr and John Ashton Yates,  was one of the bitterest election contests every witnesses in County Carlow…. A bachelor, Thomas’s 6000 acre estate in the parishes of Kellistown, Rathmore and Rathvilly, passed to his brother Kane after his death.”

O’Toole continues:

His seat in Parliament was taken by his nephew William McClintock-Bunbury [1800-1866, son of John McClintock and Jane Bunbury], who was returned unopposed, and held the seat for sixteen years with a brief interruption in 1852. William had served as a Captain with the Royal Navy during the 1820s and 1830s…After inheriting the family’s Carlow estates, he completed the building of Lisnavagh, a large and rambling Tudor-Revival house of granite, in 1847. The architect was John McGurdy. That year, William and his wife Pauline, daughter of Sir James Stronge of Tynan Abbey in Armagh, and their young family, moved from Louth to live at Lisnavagh.” 

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

p. 187. “[Bunbury/LG1863; McClintock-Bunbury, Rathdonnell, B/PB] A large and rambling Tudor-Revival house of grey stone, built 1847 for William McClintock-Bunbury, MP, brother of 1st Lord Rathdonnell, to the design of John McCurdy. Many gables and mullioned windows; some oriels; but all very restrained, with little or no ornament and hardly any Gothic or Baronial touches apart from a porte-cochere on the service wing, which was set back from the main entrance front, and a loggia of segmental-pointed arches at the other side of the house. The port-cochere served the luggage entrance; the hall door having no such protection. Staircase of wood, ascending round large staircase hall. Drawing room with ceiling of ribs and bosses and marble chimneypiece in Louis Quinze style, en suite with library; richly carved oak bookcases. The house was greatly reduced in size ca. 1953 by 4th Lord Rathdonnell [William Robert McClintock-Bunbury (1914-1959) – with much help with his wife Pamela]; that part which contained the principal rooms being demolished, and the service wing being adapted to provide all the required accommodations. The porte-cochere, which comes in the middle of the entrance front of the reduced house, is now the main entrance. Because of the irregular plan of the house as it originally was, the service wing only abutted on the main building at one corner, which has been made good with a gable and oriel from the demolished part; so that the surviving part of the house looks complete in itself; a pleasant Tudor-Revival house of medium size rather than the rump of a larger house. A large library has been formed out of several small rooms; it is lined with the bookcases from the original library, and with oak panelling and Cordova leather of blue-green and dull bronze-gold. Fine baronial gate arch.”

The house remains in the family.

The farmhouse at Lisnavagh, available for accommodation, photograph courtesy of website.
The Grooms Cottage, Lisnavagh, available for accommodation, photograph courtesy of website.

6. Lorum Old Rectory, Kilgreaney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow – section 482 €€

Lorum Old Rectory, County Carlow, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage [9]

contact: Bobbie Smith
Tel: 059-9775282
www.lorum.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: Feb 14-November 30

The Irish Historic Houses Association website tells us:

The valley of the River Barrow is particularly beautiful, especially downstream from Bagenalstown where the river, which forms the boundary between Counties Carlow and Wexford, flows along the western foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains. The Barrow passes through the towns of Borris and Graiguenamanagh and the village of St. Mullins, where the valley sides become increasingly steep. In the late 1850s Denis Pack-Beresford [1818-1881], a local landowner from nearby Fenagh, donated land for a new church and rectory at Lorum near Kilgreaney, a small hamlet overlooking the river under the shadow of Mount Leinster. ” [10]

Denis Pack took the name Beresford from his mother, Elizabeth Louisa Beresford who was a daughter of George De La Poer Beresford, 1st Marquess of Waterford, of Curraghmore.

The Irish Historic Houses continues: “Lorum is a restrained Gothic building of warm, golden Carlow granite and a fine example of a Victorian country rectory. Of two storeys, the principal fronts are all of three bays, with a studied asymmetry that falls just short of becoming symmetrical. There are many gables and the entrance is recessed beneath a wide gothic arch, which acts as a porch and helps to give the building a solid, comfortable appearance that embodies the religious certitudes of the Church of Ireland during the last years of establishment. 

The interior is decorated in a mild and restrained Victorian Gothic; bright and airy, not too large or grand but solid and respectable. While Lorum may well have been built to the designs of Welland and Gillespie, there is little doubt that the dominant influence was the religious architecture of Augustus Welby Pugin.” (see [10])

William Joseph Welland and William Gillespie, the Dictionary of Irish Architects tells us, were appointed joint architects to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in May 1860, following the death of Joseph Welland. According to this dictionary, both men were already in the employment of the Commissioners, and they held the post until the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland on 31 December 1870. During their ten years in office, they developed an increasingly personal and idiosyncratic version of Gothic in the churches which they designed. They designed many churches, all over Ireland.

Lorum Old Rectory, photograph from website.

The Irish Historic Houses website tells us: “The first rector was the Revd. King Smith who was installed at Lorum in 1863 and the house continued in use as a rectory until 1957, when it was offered for sale by the parish and bought by Tennant Young, father of the present owner.” (see [10])

A Carlow county website tells us that:

In the second half of the 20th century the Church of Ireland passed thorough a period of rationalisation. Parishes were amalgamated; churches closed and a number of rectories became redundant and were sold. Among these was Lorum Old Rectory which Mr. Young purchased as a home for his family. Fast forward for another thirty-five years and his daughter Bobbie, on inheriting the house, was forced to make it pay and, together with her late husband Don, decided to provide country house accommodation for visitors to the region.” [11]

The Irish Historic Houses website continues: “To the north is a small, enclosed stable yard with a coach house for the rector’s trap, a stable for his horse, and quarters for his groom and other servants. Today Lorum is unusual because both house and  grounds have been so little altered, a fate shared by few other Irish rectories.” (see [10])

The National Inventory describes is as:

Detached three-bay two-storey Tudor Revival former rectory with half-dormer attic, c. 1864, with mullioned window openings, gables and series of service wings. Now in use as guesthouse. Stable complex to rear with two-storey coach house.

The Record of Protected Structures adds that the roof is high pitched, covered with natural slates, and has Victorian, earthenware chimney-pots and has wide eaves.

The Old Rectory Lorum website tells us:

Lorum is a place known to a few – but in the 19th century, when the protestant church of Ireland enjoyed wealth and state patronage, it was the spiritual hub of a parish which included an exceedingly comfortable and spacious rectory. The clergy have departed and the rectory is now the property of Bobbie Smith, who provides guests with fantastic dinners in a dining room which retains its hint of 19th century opulence. Antique bedrooms with modern comforts provide for rest, to be followed by a most splendid breakfast. The lady of the house, incidentally, is a mine of information on Carlow and the organiser of bicycle tours in the region.


7. Mount Wolseley, Tullow, Co Carlow – hotel

 https://www.mountwolseley.ie

Mount Wolseley County Carlow photograph courtesy of website.

The Record of Protected Structures describes Mount Wolseley:

“A three-bay, two-storey, Italianate house designed by the firm of Sir John Lanyon about 1870. It has painted, lined and rendered walls, a basement, raised coigns, string courses, an enclosed porch with a segmental-headed doorcase and side lights, windows with architraves, wide, bracketed eaves and a hipped roof with a pair of stacks. The sash windows have large panes of glass. On the left-hand side is a service wing. The house is well maintained and in use as a hotel.”

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

p. 218. “(Wolseley, Bt, of Mount WolseleyPB) A two storey slightly Italianate Victorian house. Camber-headed windows; ornate balustraded porch; roof on bracket cornice. Wing with pyramidal roof. Now a school.” 

Jimmy O’Toole tells us:

p. 211. “Richard Wolseley, from Staffordshire, was the first to settle in Tullow, where he inherited the irish estates of his father, also Richard. The elder Richard, who served with King William III in Ireland, was MP for the Borough of Carlow during the reign of Queen Anne (1703-1713). His son, who served as an MP for the Borough from 1727-1768 – a record continuous tenure of parliamentary representation – was created a Baronet in 1744. The family had 2,500 acres in Carlow and 2,600 acres in Co Wicklow. The Wolseleys, according to O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey Letters, were the beneficiaries of land grants after the Cromwellian settlement, but his claim that Mount Arran was included is wrong. Mount Arran, purchased from Charles Butler, Earl of Arran, did not come into their possession until some time after 1725, because on 23 March that year, the second Duke of Ormonde leased the estate to Thomas Green of Rahera, Co Carlow. The original of this lease was presented at a meeting of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland earlier this century, by Fr. James Hughes of Maynooth.” [12]

The house was reconstructed by Sir Thomas Wolseley in 1864 and the estate was sold to the Patrician Order for £4,500 in 1925 by the daughters of Sir John Richard Wolseley. When Sir John died aged forty, he was succeeded in the title by his brother Sir Clement James Wolseley who was probably the last of the family to occupy Mount Wolseley. 

In 1994 Mount Wolseley was purchased by the Morrissey family and has since been developed into a four star, quality hotel and 18-hole championship golf course with a range of activities on its doorstep offering guests plenty of things to do on their stay. [13]

Before it was owned by the Wolseleys, the area was called Mount Arran, and belonged to the Baggot family! It belonged to John Baggot. I have tried to research this history. John was father of Mark, who was a founding member of the Dublin Society, and who also owned much property around St. Michan’s and Smithfield. Their land deeds are in Carlow County Library. In John Ryan’s The History And Antiquities Of The County Of Carlow (1833) there is an abstract of convenyances from the Trustees of the Forfeited Estates in County Carlow in 1688:

“The estate of John Baggott, Esq., attainted; which having been granted 26th Feb., 1697, to Joost, Earl of Albemarle [Arnold Joost van Keppel, 1st Earl of Albemarle (1670-1718) a Dutch military leader who fought for William III], were by him, by deeds of lease and release, dated 27th and 28th February, 1698, for the sum of three hundred pounds conveyed to Charles Balwin, of Dublin, Esq., in trust for Mark Baggott, Esq., to whom, by deeds of lease and release, dated 8th and 9th March, 1698, he conveyed the same in execution of the said trusts ; and the said Baggott, by indenture dated 22nd March, 1702, assigned and made over his interest and right of purchasing the premises from the trustees, for three hundred and five pounds ten shillings to said Ph. Savage. — Inrolled 8th April, 1703.”

There were complications over this transaction, as of course the land was not given up willingly! I believe John Baggot fought at the Seige of Limerick, and was present when the truce and Treaty were drawn up, stating that those holding the castle would stop their fighting if they were promised that their land would not be taken from them. Thus, John Baggot’s land should not have been forfeited, despite him being a Catholic. However, John Baggot died and his son Mark should have inherited the land in Carlow and Dublin. Mark’s Protestant neighbours protested, calling Mark Baggot a “violent Papist.”

Mark Baggot of Mount Arran, Co. Carlow, inquisition of forfeited estate, Baggot produced a deed which settled land on Mark after the father’s death. Jury refused deed and land was granted to Abermarle, from John, but Mark disputed and won. Mark was in the article of Limerick but his father wasn’t. With the passing of the Act of Resumption the estate became vested in the trustees, and Mark accordingly lodged his claim. Before it came up for hearing, his father died, thus the admission of the claim would mean immediate restoration to Mark.

The case was contested, local feeling against Mark amongst Carlow Protestants, as he was called “a violent Papist,” son of John Baggot late of Mount Arran (according to Turtle Bunbury’s website, John Baggot was a Catholic soldier: John Baggot, a Catholic soldier, leased Tobinstown in 1683 from Benjamin Bunbury. Bagot was attainted for serving King James II and his Carlow estates were acquired in 1702 by Philip Savage.). Mark was High Sheriff of Carlow in 1689, “acted with pride against Protestants.

When John Baggot was outlawed and his estate forfeited, Ormond “quite irregularly” gave fresh lease of Mount Arran to Richard Wolsley, the son of Brigadier William Wolsley. Richard Wolsley did not want to give the house up to Mark Baggot.

Mark had an ally in Bishop William King of Derry and later of Dublin, due to common interest in Maths and barometers! There are many of Baggot’s letters in King’s correspondence. Mark writes to him that “the gentleman who lives in my house..uses all his interest and power to hinder and delay.”

Mark Baggot lost his land at Mount Arran but inherited Shangarry, Ballinrush, Portrussian, in Carlow, and they were preserved in the family and descended to James John Bagot Esq. of Castle Bagot, Rathcoole, County Dublin, the last male of his name (from him they passed to his sister and her husband, Ambrose More O’Ferrall).

Whole House rental, County Carlow

1. Sandbrook, Tullow, Co Carlow  – wedding/retreat venue

https://sandbrook.ie

Sandbrook House, County Carlow, courtesy of website

The website tells us that Sandbrook is a handsome period country house, originally built in the early 1700s in Queen Anne style [the National Inventory says 1750], and sits in 25 acres of mature parkland on the Wicklow/Carlow border in the heart of the Irish Countryside with views toward Mount Leinster and the Wicklow Mountains. The National Inventory further describes it:

five-bay two-storey over basement house with dormer attic, c. 1750, with pedimented central breakfront having granite lugged doorcase, granite dressings, two-bay lateral wings, Palladian style quadrant walls and pavilion blocks. Interior retains original features including timber panelled hall and timber staircase.

It belonged to the Echlin family. There are records of an Anne Echlin who died in 1804 owning Sandbrook (see Jimmy O’Toole’s book, [12]). She seems to have leased it to Clement Wolseley when Mount Arran was burned during the 1798 Rebellion.

She left the property, consisting in total of 500 acres, to Robert Marshall of Dublin, and he sold to Brownes of Browne’s Hill for £488 in 1808. William Browne-Clayton moved to live in Sandbrook after his marriage to Caroline Watson-Barton in 1867 and remained there until he inherited Browne’s Hill on the death of his father, Robert Browne-Clayton, in 1888.

O’Toole writes: “Sandbrook was another example of the many Irish country houses that attracted senior British army officers when they retired after the First and Second World Wars. General George Lewis bought the house in 1918 and after his wife’s death in 1938 the property was purchased by Brigadier Arthur George Rolleston who had retired from the army.

In 1959 Sandbrook was purchased by John and Mary Allnatt… In the 1960s, Mrs. Allnatt purchased Rathmore Park for her son from her first marriage, Brendan Foody, but after he had decided not to return to live in Ireland, Rathmore was sold. He inherited Sandbrook following his mother’s death in September.”

The website tells us: “Sandbrook is the perfect venue for a family gathering or wedding celebration. With five interconnecting reception rooms downstairs, a covered terrace, huge lawn space and a separate loft space above converted stables there is a vast array of facilities should you wish to bring a group. Personal attention to detail and impeccable hospitality are evident throughout Sandbrook, with log fires burning in the hearths and fresh flowers in the hallways.

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

[2] https://curiousireland.ie/carlow-castle/

[3] Carlow Castle, 1954, Dublin City Library and Archives. https://repository.dri.ie

[4] p. 113, 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.

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/10300304/ducketts-grove-russellstown-cross-roads-russellstown-carlow

[6] Tenison, C.M. “The Old Dublin Bankers.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. vol. 1, 1895.

[7] http://sites.rootsweb.com/~irlcar2/ducket_grv.htm

[8] http://www.igp-web.com/Carlow/Garryhill_House.htm

[9] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/10301908/kilgraney-rectory-borris-road-kilgraney-forth-by-co-carlow

[10] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Lorum%20Rectory

[11] http://www.igp-web.com/Carlow/Lorum_Old_Rectory.htm

Source: http://www.hiddenireland.com/lorum/index.htm

[12] Jimmy O’Toole, The Carlow Gentry: What will the neighbours say! Published by Jimmy O’Toole, Carlow, Ireland, 1993. Printed by Leinster Leader Ltd, Naas, Kildare. 

[13] http://sites.rootsweb.com/~irlcar2/MOUNT_WOLSELEY.htm

Office of Public Works properties: Leinster: Carlow, Kildare

Just to finish up my entries about Office of Public Works properties: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.

Carlow:

1. Altamont Gardens

Kildare:

2. Castletown House, County Kildare

3. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare

Carlow:

1. Altamont House and Gardens, Bunclody Road, Altamont, Ballon, County Carlow:

Altamont House and Gardens, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

General information: (059) 915 9444

altamontgardens@opw.ie

https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/altamont-gardens/

From the OPW website:

A large and beautiful estate covering 16 hectares in total, Altamont Gardens is laid out in the style of William Robinson, which strives for ‘honest simplicity’. The design situates an excellent plant collection perfectly within the natural landscape.

For example, there are lawns and sculpted yews that slope down to a lake ringed by rare trees and rhododendrons. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen, sheltered by ancient oaks and flanked by huge stone outcrops, leads to the banks of the River Slaney. Visit in summer to experience the glorious perfume of roses and herbaceous plants in the air.

With their sensitive balance of formal and informal, nature and artistry, Altamont Gardens have a unique – and wholly enchanting – character.” [2]

From “In Harmony with Nature, The Irish Country House Garden 1600-1900” in the Irish Georgian Society, July 2022, curated by Robert O’Byrne.
Altamont, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

From Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the care of the OPW, Government Publications, Dublin, 2018:

Altamont House was constructed in the 1720s, incorporating parts of an earlier structure said to have been a medieval nunnery. In the 1850s, a lake was excavated in the grounds of the house, but it was when the Lecky-Watsons, a local Quaker family, acquired Altamont in 1924 that the gardens truly came into their own.

Feilding Lecky-Watson had worked as a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he nurtured his love of exotic plants, and of rhododendrons in particular. Back in Ireland, he became an expert in the species, cultivating plants for the botanical gardnes at Glasnevin, Kew and Edinburgh. So passionate was he about these plants that when his wife, Isobel, gave birth to a daughter in 1922, she was named Corona, after his favourite variety of rhododendron.” [3]

Altamont House and Gardens lake, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Around the lake are mature conifers that were planted in the 1800s, including a giant Wellingtonia which commemorates the Battle of Waterloo. [3] Corona continued in her father’s footsteps, planing rhododendrons, magnolia and Japanese maples. Another feature is the “100 steps” hand-cut in granite, leading down to the River Slaney. There are red squirrels, otters in the lake and river, and peacocks. Before her death, Corona handed Altamont over to the Irish state to ensure its preservation.

The Temple, Altamont House and Gardens, photograph by Sonder Visuals, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

Kildare:

2. Castletown House and Parklands, Celbridge, County Kildare.

Castletown House, County Kildare, Photo by Mark Wesley 2016, Tourism Ireland, from Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

General Information: castletown@opw.ie

https://castletown.ie

From the OPW website:

Castletown is set amongst beautiful eighteenth-century parklands on the banks of the Liffey in Celbridge, County Kildare.

The house was built around 1722 for the speaker of the Irish House of Commons, William Conolly, to designs by several renowned architects. It was intended to reflect Conolly’s power and to serve as a venue for political entertaining on a grand scale. At the time Castletown was built, commentators expected it to be ‘the epitome of the Kingdom, and all the rarities she can afford’.

The estate flourished under William Conolly’s great-nephew Thomas and his wife, Lady Louisa, who devoted much of her life to improving her home.

Today, Castletown is home to a significant collection of paintings, furnishings and objets d’art. Highlights include three eighteenth-century Murano-glass chandeliers and the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in the country.

It is still the most splendid Palladian-style country house in Ireland.

This photo was taken probably by Robert French, chief photographer of William Lawrence Photographic Studios of Dublin, National Library of Ireland flickr constant commons.
Castletown Gates, built in 1783 by Lady Louisa Conolly, by John Coates of Maynooth. They are mounted with sphinxes.

The Conolly family sold Castletown in 1965. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the estate was bought for development and for two years the house stood empty and deteriorating. In 1967, Hon Desmond Guinness courageously bought the house with 120 acres, to be the headquarters of the Irish Georgian Society, and in order to save it for posterity. Since then the house has been restored and it now contains an appropriate collection of furniture, pictures and objects, which has either been bought for the house, presented to it by benefactors, or loaned. It is now maintained by the Office of Public Works and the Castletown Trust.

William Conolly (1662-1729) rose from modest beginnings to be the richest man in Ireland in his day. He was a lawyer from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, who made an enormous fortune out of land transactions in the unsettled period after the Williamite wars.

William Conolly had property on Capel Street in Dublin, before moving to Celbridge. Conolly’s house was on the corner of Capel Street and Little Britain Street and was demolished around 1770. [4] The Kildare Local History webpage gives us an excellent description of William Conolly’s rise to wealth:

In November 1688, William Conolly was one of the Protestants who fled Dublin to join the Williamites in Chester alongside his late Celbridge neighbour Bartholomew Van Homrigh.

On the victory of William III, he acquired a central role dealing in estates forfeited by supporters of James II, commencing his rise to fortune with the forfeited estates of the McDonnells of Antrim.

In 1691 he purchased Rodanstown outside Kilcock, which became his country residence until he purchased Castletown in 1709.

A dowry of £2,300 came his way in 1694 when he married Katherine Conyngham, daughter of Albert Conyngham, a Williamite General who had been killed in the war at Collooney in 1691.

He was appointed Collector and Receiver of Revenue for the towns of Derry and Coleraine on May 2nd 1698.

Conolly was the largest purchaser of forfeited estates in the period 1699–1703, acquiring also 20,000 acres spread over five counties at a cost of just £7,000.” [5]

He rose to become Speaker of the House of Commons in the Irish Parliament. William Conolly married Katherine Conyngham of Mount Charles, County Donegal, whose brother purchased Slane Castle in County Meath (see my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/07/19/slane-castle-county-meath/). As well as earning money himself, his wife brought a large dowry.

William Conolly purchased land in County Kildare which had been owned by Thomas Dongan (1634-1715), 2nd Earl of Limerick, in 1709. Dongan’s estate had been confiscated as he was a Jacobite supporter of James II (he became first governor of the Duke of York’s province of New York! The Earldom ended at his death). Dongan’s mother was the daughter of William Talbot, 1st Baronet of Carton (see my entry about Carton, County Kildare, under Places to stay in County Kildare https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/04/27/places-to-visit-and-to-stay-leinster-kildare-kilkenny-laois/).

William Conolly (1662-1729) in his robes as Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, by Stephen Catterson Smith the Elder (1806-1872), portrait in Hall of Castletown. The portrait was donated by Mr and Mrs Galen Weston. This posthumous portrait was based on Jervas’s portrait of the Speaker in the Green Drawing Room.
Statue taken from the funeral monument of Speaker William Conolly, of him reclining next to his wife, by Thomas Carter.
The Funerary monument with William and Katherine Conolly. The Latin inscription reads: “William Conolly who attained as the reward of his medit the highest honours, was for about twenty years a Commissioner of the revenue in the reign of Queen Anne and George I, was a Privy Councillor in the reign of George II. He was twice unanimously elected Speaker of the House of Commons in the Parliament of this realm and then ten times held the Office of Lord Justice of Ireland, being the first to whom both the Sovereign and the people entrusted at the same time of their privileges with the happiest result. As a subject, he was loyal, as a citizen, patriotic. In perilous times he not once or twice proved that he served his King without forgetting his duty to his country. Firm, resolute, just, wise, formed by nature for the ilfe of a statesman, his administration of affairs was crowned with success to the greater advantage of the Commonwealth. He made a modest, though splendid use of the great riches he had honestly acquired, distinguished as he was alike for the courtesy, integrity and munificence of his disposition. Kind-hearted towards all men, he was loyal to his friends, whom he bound to himself in great numbers – retained their friendship when once he had gained it. Wishing to do good even after his death, he gave directions by his will that a building should be erected on the adjacent lands for the maintenance and education of the children of the poor and he endowed it forever with large revenues. Having lived long enough to satisfy the claims of nature and his fame, he died October 1729 in the 67th year of his life. Cath of the Conyngham family has erected this monument to her worthy husband.”
Katherine Conyngham, wife of William Conolly, also from the funeral monument.
Katherine Conyngham (c. 1662-1752) who married William Conolly, with her great-niece Molly Burton. Portrait by Charles Jervas.
I’m not sure but the top portrait looks like Katherine Conyngham to me.

The Archiseek website tells us about the design of Castletown House:

“Soon after the project got underway Conolly met Alessandro Galilei (1691-1737), an Italian architect, who had been employed in Ireland by Lord Molesworth in 1718 [John Molesworth, 2nd Viscount, who had been British envoy to Florence]. He designed the façade of the main block in the style of a 16th century Italian town palace. He returned to Italy in 1719 and was not associated with the actual construction of the house which began in 1722. Sir Edward Lovett Pearce (died 1733), a young Irish architect, on his Italian grand tour became acquainted with Galilei in Florence and through this connection he was employed by the Speaker to complete Castletown when he returned to Ireland in 1724. Pearce had first hand knowledge of the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and his annotated copy of Palladio’s Quattro libri dell’architettura survives. It was Pearce who added the Palladian colonnades and the terminating pavillions. This layout was the first major Palladian scheme in Ireland and soon had many imitators.” [6]

Alessandro Gallilei (1691-1737).
Castletown House, County Kildare, Photograph from macmillan media for Tourism Ireland 2015, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1] Started in 1722 to the designs of Alessandro Gallilei, it was continued by Edward Lovett Pearce, who was influenced by Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Pearce designed the colonnades and pavilions. In the wings on the left (west wing) are the kitchens and on the right, the stables (east wing).

Mark Bence-Jones describes Castletown in his  A Guide to Irish Country Houses. The centre block is of three storeys over basement, and has two almost identical thirteen bay fronts “reminiscent of the façade of an Italian Renaissance town palazzo; with no pediment or central feature and no ornamentation except for doorcase, entablatures over the ground floor windows, alternate segmental and triangular pediments over the windows of the storey above and a balustraded roof parapet. Despite the many windows and the lack of a central feature, there is no sense of monotony or heaviness; the effect being one of great beauty  and serenity.” [7] The centre block is made of Edenderry limestone, and is topped by cornice and balustrade. On the ground floor the windows have frieze, cornice and lugged architrave, and on the first floor, alternating triangular and segmental pediments.

On the ground floor the windows have frieze, cornice and lugged architrave, and on the first floor, alternating triangular and segmental pediments. The upper floor is half size.
The doorcase is gracefully tall and is framed by Ionic columns, and is reached by a sweeping set of steps. Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013, from flickr constant commons.

Pearce added the curved Ionic colonnades and two two-storey seven bay wings. He also designed the impressive two-storey entrance hall inside.

Back of Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals2022 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Colonnade by Edward Lovett Pearce, October 2022.
The East Wing.
The east side of Castletown, and the back of east wing. The back of the curved colonnade can be seen.
The Sensory Garden and the side and back of the West Wing.
The East side of the house. The West Wing houses the Café.
The Café in the West Wing.
Side of the West Wing, October 2022. Extending the facade of the house are pedimented gateways to the kitchen yard and stable yard.

William died in 1729 aged just 67, so he had only a few years to enjoy his house. His wife Katherine lived on in the house another twenty-three years until her death at the age of 90 in 1752. William and Katherine had no children, so his estate passed to his nephew William James Conolly (1712-1754), son of William’s brother Patrick. We came across William James Conolly before in Leixlip Castle (another Section 482 property), which he also inherited. William James married Lady Anne Wentworth, the daughter of the Earl of Strafford. Her father, Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford is not the more famous Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford who was executed (of whom there is at least one portrait in Castletown) but a later one, of the second creation. William James died just two years after Katherine Conolly, so the estate then passed to his son Thomas Conolly (1738-1803).

Thomas Conolly (1738-1803) by Anton Raphael Mengs, painted 1758. The German painter Mengs captured Conolly as a 19 year old on his Grand Tour. He is shown posting in front of a Roman sarcophagus, the “Relief of the Muses,” now in the Louvre. He is wearing a rich satin suit with gilt braid, portraying a young cultured aristocrat. In reality he displayed little interest in ancient civilisation, and brought back no souvenirs from Rome save for this portrait. Portrait in the National Gallery of Ireland.
Lady Anne Conolly (née Wentworth) (1713-1797) Attributed to Anthony Lee, Irish, fl.1724-1767. Photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.

Thomas married Louisa Lennox in 1758, one of five Lennox sisters, daughters of the Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond. From the age of eight she had lived at nearby Carton with her sister Emily, who was married to James Fitzgerald, the 20th Earl of Kildare (who became the 1st Duke of Leinster). At Carton, Louisa was exposed to the fashionable ideas of the day in architecture, decoration, horticulture and landscaping. [8] Louisa loved Castletown and continually planned improvements, planting trees, designing the lake and building bridges.

Louisa Lennox who married Thomas Conolly.
In the dining room, over the fireplace, half-length portrait of Charles Lennox (1701–1750), 2nd Duke of Richmond and 2nd Duke of Lennox, by Jean-Baptiste Van Loo, wearing armour with the ribbon of the Order of the Garter, in a contemporary frame in the manner of William Kent. 
Carton House, 2022.

Archiseek continues: “The Castletown papers, estate records and account books, together with Lady Louisa’s [i.e. Louisa Lennox, wife of Tom Conolly] diaries and correspondence with her sisters, provide a valuable record of life at Castletown and also of the reorganisation of the house. Lady Louisa’s letters from the 1750s onwards are revealing of the fashions in costume design, fabric patterns and furniture. She played an important part in the alteration and redecoration of Castletown during the 1760s and 1770s. As no single architect was responsible for all of the work carried out, she supervised most of it herself. Much of the redecoration of the house was done to the published designs of the English architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) who never came to Ireland himself. Chambers also worked for Lady Louisa’s brother, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, at Goodwood in Sussex. In a letter, written in July 1759, Lady Louisa mentions instructions given by Chambers to his assistant Simon Vierpyl who supervised the work at Castletown.” (see [6])

Description of the Hall, from Archiseek: “This impressive two-storeyed room with a black and white chequered floor, was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. The Ionic order on the lower storey is similar to that of the colonnades outside and at gallery level there are tapering pilasters with baskets of flowers and fruit carved in wood. The coved ceiling has a central moulding comprising a square Greek key patterned frame and central roundel with shell decoration.” [see 6]

Great Hall, photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
The Gallery of the Great Hall. Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.

The polished limestone floor with its chequered design and the Kilkenny marble fireplace reflect William Conolly’s desire to build the house solely of native Irish materials. Unfortunately when we visited in October 2022, the hall was half hidden with a large two storey curtain, as the windows are all being repaired. As we can see in the photograph, the room has an Ionic colonnade to the rear, and a gallery at first floor level, and the stair hall is through an archway in the east wall.

Hall of Castletown, with picture of Leixlip Castle by Joseph Tudor over the black Kilkenny marble fireplace, and portrait of William Conolly 1662-1729, by Stephen Catterson Smith the Elder.
Picture of Leixlip Castle, which was also owned by William Conolly and by Desmond Guinness.

When the owners were selling off the items in the house, they tried to sell the picture of Leixlip Castle that is in the front hall over the fireplace. It turned out to be painted on to the wall, so had to remain in the house! See my entry about Leixlip Castle https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/09/04/leixlip-castle-county-kildare-desmond-guinnesss-jewelbox-of-treasures/

The Ionic order on the lower storey is similar to that of the colonnades outside and at gallery level there are tapering pilasters with baskets of flowers and fruit carved in wood. The large curtain, in October 2022, is protecting the room from where the windows are being repaired. Instead of capitals, the cloumns in the upper storey are topped with baskets of fruit.
Great Hall, Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2022 for Failte Ireland.
The coved ceiling of the Hall has a central moulding comprising a square Greek key patterned frame, modillion cornice and central roundel with shell decoration. A modillion cornice is a cornice of the Corinthian order, made up of modillions, or ornamented brackets, frequently used as the cornice of a ceiling.
Ceiling of Great Hall, Castletown House, June 2015.
Photograph from the album of Henry Shaw, of the Entrance Hall, in the time of that later Thomas Conolly (1823-1876) and his wife Sarah Eliza.
Photograph from the album of Henry Shaw, of the Entrance Hall, in the time of that later Thomas Conolly (1823-1876) and his wife Sarah Eliza.

From the entrance hall, one enters the magnificent Stair Hall. The Castletown website describes the stair hall:

The Portland stone staircase at Castletown is one of the largest cantilevered staircases in Ireland. It was built in 1759 under the direction of the master builder Simon Vierpyl (c.1725–1811). Prior to this the space was a shell, although a plan attributed to Edward Lovett Pearce suggests that a circular staircase was previously intended.

The solid brass balustrade was installed by Anthony King, later Lord Mayor of Dublin. He signed and dated three of the banisters, ‘A. King Dublin 1760’. The opulent rococo plasterwork was created by the Swiss-Italian stuccadore Filippo Lafranchini, who, with his older brother Paolo, had worked at Carton and Leinster House for Lady Lousia’s brother-in-law, the first Duke of Leinster, as well as at Russborough in Co. Wicklow. Shells, cornucopias, dragons and masks feature in the light-hearted decoration which represents the final development of the Lafranchini style. Family portraits are also included with Tom Conolly at the foot of the stairs and Louisa above to his right. The four seasons are represented on the piers and on either side of the arched screen.

The staircase at Castletown House. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873959  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Country Life Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E.Henson.

 
Photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
Stair Hall, Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2022 for Failte Ireland.
The Portland stone staircase at Castletown is one of the largest cantilevered staircases in Ireland. It was built in 1759 under the direction of the master builder Simon Vierpyl (c.1725–1811). The plasterwork is by Lafranchini brothers. In the stair hall, in the rococo plasterwork, Tom and Louisa Conolly are represented in plaster, along with shells, masks and flowers. 
The solid brass balustrade was installed by Anthony King, later Lord Mayor of Dublin. He signed and dated three of the banisters, ‘A. King Dublin 1760’.
Thomas Conolly, who inherited the estate, in stucco on stairs of Castletown, and his wife Louisa is further up on his right. Her sister Emily, who lived at Carton nearby, is also pictured in the plasterwork.
Thomas Conolly, grand-nephew of William Conolly.
Lady Louisa Conolly, photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.
Ceiling of Stair Hall, Castletown House, June 2015.
Castletown House, a copy of ‘The Bear Hunt’ by 17th century Flemish painter Paul de Vos (1596-1678) is framed by Lafranchini plasterwork. It was cut down at some stage on the right side to fit into the central plaster recess above the cantilevered staircase, which would indicate that the painting was not commissioned for the space. Our guide told us that men would bet on how quickly the dogs would kill the bear. What a dreadful past-time! The Conollys imported a bear, and kept it in the dog kennels but it died, and they had it stuffed and put in the nursery!
In this old photograph of the nursery on the second floor, we see not only the stuffed bear but the skin and head of another. The photograph is one from an album of photographs on display at Castletown, belonging to Chris Shaw. His father Henry was the brother of Sarah Eliza Shaw who married Thomas Conolly (1823-1876), who inherited Castletown.
Castletown House, June 2015.
The staircase in the 1950s, prior to the sale of the house and the auction of two of the three large canvases above the stairs, photograph by Hugh Doran.

Mark Bence-Jones continues:

In the following year, Tom Conolly and Lady Louisa employed the Francini to decorate the walls of the staircase hall with rococo stuccowork; and in 1760 the grand staircase itself – of cantilevered stone, with a noble balustrade of brass columns – was installed; the work beign carried out by Simon Vierpyl, a protégé of Sir William Chambers. The principal reception rooms, which form an enfilade along the garden front and were mostly decorated at this time, are believed to be by Chambers himself; they have ceilings of geometrical plasterwork, very characteristic of him. Also in this style is the dining room, to the left of the entrance hall. It was here that, according to the story, Tom Conolly found himself giving supper to the Devil, whom he had met out hunting and invited back, believing him to be merely a dark stranger; but had realised the truth when his guest’s boots were removed, revealing him to have unusually hairy feet. He therefore sent for the priest, who threw his breviary at the unwelcome guest, which missed him and cracked a mirror. This, however, was enough to scare the Devil, who vanished through the hearthstone. Whatever the truth of this story, the hearthstone in the dining room is shattered, and one of the mirrors is cracked.

In the dining room, the Cranfield Mirror, the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809). There are three of these mirrors, and one is cracked. I took this photograph when our friend Mark was visiting Ireland in 2017.
The cracked Cranfield mirror, cracked by a Bible which the local prelate had thrown at the Devil!

The Dining Room, description from Archiseek:

This room dates from the 1760s redecoration of Castletown undertaken by Lady Louisa Conolly and reflects the mid-eighteenth century fashion for separate dining rooms. Originally, there were two smaller panelled rooms here. It was reconstructed to designs by Sir William Chambers, with a compartmentalised ceiling similar to one by Inigo Jones in the Queen’s House at Greenwich. The chimney-piece and door cases are in the manner of Chambers. Of the four doors, two are false. 

Furniture original to Castletown includes the two eighteenth-century giltwood side tables. Their frieze is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms. The three elaborate pier glasses are original to the Dining Room. The frames are carved fruiting vines, symbols of Bacchus and festivity. These are probably the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809) who, with the firm of Thomas Jackson of Essex Bridge, Dublin, was paid large sums for carving and gilding throughout the house.

My Dad Desmond and Stephen in the Dining Room of Castletown House, June 2015. Note the vase on the side table, one of a pair of large Meissen gilt and white two-handled campana vases with everted rims and entwined scrolling serpent and acanthus handles. This pair of vases is reputed to have been given to Thomas Conolly (1823–1876) as a gift by the future French Emperor, Napoleon III.
The dining room, 2017. The portrait over the fireplace in the dining room is a half-length portrait of Charles Lennox (1701–1750), 2nd Duke of Richmond and 2nd Duke of Lennox, wearing armour with the ribbon of the Order of the Garter, in a contemporary frame in the manner of William Kent. Furniture original to Castletown includes the two eighteenth-century giltwood side tables, which are also attributed to Richard Cranfield. Their frieze is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms.
The frieze on the giltwood side tables in the Dining Room is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms.
The Dining Room, October 2022, with the giltwood side table, Meissen vase, and portrait of Katherine Conyngham with her niece. Portraits over the landscape painting are of Harriet Murray (1742-1822) who married Henry Westenra (1742-1809) and Hester Westenra – this portrait could be of Harriet Murray’s daughter Hester (1775-1858) who married Edward Wingfield (1772-1859).
Harriet Murray (1742-1822) married Henry Westenra (1742-1809) and Hester Westenra – this portrait could be of Harriet Murray’s daughter Hester (1775-1858) who married Edward Wingfield (1772-1859). There are many portraits of the Westenra family currently in Castletown House. I don’t know if there is any connection between the Westenra family and Castletown – perhaps the portraits belong to the Office of Public Works and are used to suitably furnish Castletown.
Anne Murray (1734-1827), sister of Harriet in the photograph above. Anne married Theophilus Jones (1725-1811). Perhaps the man in the portrait is Theophilus Jones. Anne was second wife of Theophilus Jones, who had previously married Catherine Beresford of Curraghmore, daughter of Marcus Beresford 1st Earl of Tyrone.
Josephine Lloyd (1827-1912) who married Henry Robert Westenra, 2nd (UK) and 3rd Baron (Ireland) Rossmore of Monaghan.
One of a pair of large Meissen gilt and white two-handled campana vases with everted rims and entwined scrolling serpent and acanthus handles. This pair of vases is reputed to have been given to Thomas Conolly (1823–1876) as a gift by the future French Emperor, Napoleon III. I don’t know who is featured in this portrait – I’ll have to find out! It’s very beautiful. Tell me if you can identify our lovely lady in white and blue. To me she looks like Anne Hyde (1637-1671), Duchess of York, wife of King James II.

Between the front of the house, with its Entrance Hall, Stair Hall and Dining Room is a corridor, or rather, two corridors, one to the west and one to the east of the Entrance Hall. This corridor is on every storey, including the basement. To the rear (north) of the house on the ground floor is an enfilade of rooms: the Brown Study to the west end, next to another staircase, then the Red Drawing Room, the Green Drawing Room, the Print Room, the State Bedroom, and then small rooms called the Healy Room and the Map Room.

One of the corridors between the front and back of the house on the ground floor, October 2022.
The high ceilinged corridors end in large windows.

The corridors now hold paintings and art works, and one has a cabinet of Meissen porcelain.

Meissen porcelain pieces were created specially for clients, with favourite symbols and objects.
King George III
Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III.
Queen Victoria.

Next to the Dining Room at the front of the house is the Butler’s Pantry, which contains photographs of the servants of Castletown, and a portrait of a housekeeper, Mrs Parnel Moore (1649–1761). It’s unusual to have a portrait of a housekeeper but perhaps someone painted her because she was a beloved member of the household, as she lived to be at least 112 years! This is a very old portrait dating back to the 1700s.

The Castletown website tells us about the Butler’s Pantry: “The Butler’s Pantry dates from the 1760s and connected the newly created Dining Room with the kitchens in the West Wing. Food was carried in from the kitchens through the colonnade passageway and then reheated in the pantry before being served. The great kitchens were on the ground floor of the west wing, with servants’ quarters upstairs. Upwards of 80 servants would have been employed in the house and kitchens in the late eighteenth century under the direction of the Butler and the Housekeeper.”

A house like Castletown relied on an army of servants and this portrait of former housekeeper Mrs Parnel Moore – aged 112 according to the inscription – dates back to the beginnings of Castletown and is one of the oldest original items in the collection.
English servants of Castletown, photograph in Butler’s Pantry of Castletown.
Irish servants of Castletown, photograph in Butler’s Pantry of Castletown.
Enfilade of rooms on the north side, photograph by Swire Chin, Toronto, May 2013 flickr constant commons.

The Red Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:

It is one of a series of State Rooms that form an enfilade and were used on important occasions in the eighteenth century. This room was redesigned in the mid 1760s in the manner of Sir William Chambers. The chimney-piece, ceiling and pier glasses are typical of his designs. 

The walls are covered in red damask which is probably French and dates from the 1820s. Lady Shelburne recorded in her journal seeing a four coloured damask, predominently red, in this room. The Aubusson carpet dates from about 1850 and may have been made for the room. Much of the furniture has always been in the house and Lady Louisa Conolly paid 11/2 guineas for each of the Chinese Chippendale armchairs which she considered very expensive. The chairs and settee were made in Dublin and they are displayed in a formal arrangement against the walls as they would have been in the eighteenth century. The bureau was made for Lady Louisa in the 1760s.

The neoclassical ceiling, which replaced the vaulted original, is based on published designs by the Italian Renaissance architect, Sebastiano Serlio, and is modelled after one in Leinster House (belonging to Lady Louisa’s sister’s husband the Earl of Kildare). The white Carrara chimney-piece came to the house in 1768.

The Red Drawing Room in Castletown House, June 2015.
A Chinese gilt and polychrome lacquer cabinet on Irish stand, with a pair of doors later painted with vignettes of romantic landscapes and birds on floral sprays. The landscapes on this lacquered cabinet are said to have been painted by Katherine Conolly as a gift for her great-niece, Molly Burton, in about 1725. Katherine, who had no children herself, looked after Molly after her father died. [9]
The Red Drawing Room in October 2022.
The Red Drawing Room in October 2022.
The white Carrara chimney-piece came to the house in 1768. Andrew Tierney tells us in Buildings of Ireland: Central Leinster. The Counties of Kildare, Laois and Offaly that it is by John Devall & Son and based on Isaac Ware’s Designs of Inigo Jones (1731).
The neoclassical ceiling, which replaced the vaulted original, is based on published designs by the Italian Renaissance architect, Sebastiano Serlio. There is also a modillion cornice and a Rococo frieze.
The wallpaper has been specially recreated from original material, and the curtains have been made to match.
Chinese Chippendale sofas, Irish, c.1770, photograph from 2015.

The Green Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:

The Conollys formally received important visitors to the house in the Green Drawing Room which was the saloon or principal reception room. The room was redecorated in the 1760s and like the other state rooms reflects the neo-classical taste of the architect Sir William Chambers. The Greek key decoration on the ceiling is repeated on the pier glasses and the chimney-piece. Originally these were pier tables with a Greek key frieze and copies of these may be made in the future. The chimney-piece is similar to one designed by Chambers for Lord Charlemont’s Casino at Marino.”

The Castletown website tells us: “The Green Drawing Room was the main reception room or saloon on the ground floor. Visitors could enter from the Entrance Hall or the garden front. Like the other state rooms it was extensively remodelled between 1764 and 1768. The influence of the published designs of Serlio and the leading British architect Isaac Ware can be seen in the neo-classical ceiling, door cases and chimney-piece...The walls were first lined with a pale green silk damask in the 1760s. Fragments of this silk, which was replaced by a dark green mid-nineteenth century silk, survived and the present silk was woven as a direct colour match in 1985 by Prelle et Cie in Lyon, France.”

The Green Drawing Room, Castletown House, June 2015. Portrait of the woman and child is Mrs Katherine Conolly with Miss Molly Burton, by Charles Jervas. The man on the other side of the door is Speaker William Conolly. The door to the entrance hall is gilded and pedimented and is by Richard Cranfield of Dublin (after that by Ware in the saloon of Leinster House), with “pulvinated” (i.e. having the shape of a cushion) bay-leaf frieze. The chimeypiece replicates the key pattern on the ceilng.
Our guide showed us how the Green Drawing Room opens into the Great Hall.
The Green Drawing Room, October 2022.
Charles Lennox 2nd Duke of Richmond (1701-1750). I’m not sure if this is his wife Sarah Cadogen beside him.
I think this is a portrait of Louisa’s brother Charles, 3rd Duke of Richmond.
King Charles I, and below, a mistress of King Charles II, Louise Renée de Penancoët de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, who was the mother of Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond.
Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641), Lord Deputy of Ireland 1632-1640 for King Charles I.
The website tells us about this Musical Clock by Charles Clay c.1730. “Katherine and William Conolly are credited with bringing this important musical clock to Castletown. It was made by Charles Clay, official clock-maker to His Majesty’s Board of Works in London. It is the only clock of its kind known to be in Ireland and its sweet chime can be heard throughout the enfilade.”

The Brown Study is at one end of this enfilade of rooms. The website describes it:

The Brown Study with its wood-panelled walls, tall oak doors, corner chimney-piece, built-in desk and vaulted ceiling is decorated as it was in the 1720s when the house was first built. This room was used as a bedroom in the late nineteenth century and then as a breakfast parlour in the early twentieth century.

Between the windows is a piece of the ‘Volunteer fabric’. Printed on a mixture of linen and cotton in Harpur’s Mills in nearby Leixlip, it depicts the review of the Leinster Volunteers in the Phoenix Park in 1782. Thomas Conolly was active in the Volunteer leadership in both Counties Derry and Kildare. The Volunteers were a local militia force established during the American War of Independence to defend Ireland from possible French invasion while the regular troops were in America. They were later linked to the Patriot party in the Irish House of Commons led by Henry Grattan and to their campaigns for political reform.

Brown Study, Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, photograph by Sonder Visuals 2022 for Failte Ireland.
The Brown Study. Jonathan Swift portrait, and King William III.
The ‘Volunteer fabric’. Printed on a mixture of linen and cotton in Harpur’s Mills in nearby Leixlip, it depicts the review of the Leinster Volunteers in the Phoenix Park in 1782.
Dublin Volunteers on College Green, 1779, by Francis Wheatley.
Key to the Dublin Volunteers on College Green, 1779 by Francis Wheatley. In the centre facing forward is the Duke of Leinster. I found it odd to see that James Napper Tandy is one of the Volunteers pictured, since I know he is famous for being a rebel, along with Edward FitzGerald. It turns out that James Napper Tandy was expelled from the Irish Volunteers in 1780 because he proposed the expulsion of the Duke of Leinster! Tandy went on to help to form the United Irishmen, along with Theobald Wolf Tone.
Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798). He fought with the British side in the American War of Independence but was injured and as he recuperated with the help of his servant, his sympathies turned to those fighting for Independence from the British. He continued this fight in Ireland, joining the United Irishmen. He was imprisoned and died in prison, his last visitor being his aunt Louisa Conolly.
Our guide showed us a photograph of the Brown study in the time of the Conolly Carew family, when they struggled with the upkeep of the house.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The doing-up of the house was largely supervised by Lady Louisa, and two of the rooms bear her especial stamp: the print room, which she and her sister, Lady Sarah Napier made ca. 1775; and the splendid long gallery on the first floor, which she had decorated with wall paintings in the Pompeian manner by Thomas Riley 1776.

The website tells us about the Print Room, completed in 1769: “More than any other room in Castletown, the Print Room bears the imprint of Lady Louisa, who assiduously collected, cut out, and arranged individual prints, frames and decorations. The prints were glued on panels of off-white painted paper which was later attached to the walls on battens covered with cloth. Lady Louisa thus created an intimate, highly individual room which has survived changing tastes and fashions and is now the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in Ireland.”

The Print Room, Castletown House, June 2015.

Print rooms were fashionable in the 18th century – ladies would collect their favourite prints and paste the walls with them. Prints featured include Le Bas, Rembrandt and Teniers, the actor David Garrick and Sarah Cibber, Louisa’s sister Sarah, Charles I and Charles II as a boy, with whom Louisa shared a bloodline.

The room was later used as a billiards room, and this helped inadvertedly to save the prints, as our guide told us, as the smoke from their pipes helped to protect against silverfish insects which eat wallpaper.

The print room, central picture of Louisa’s sister Sarah Lennox, who married first Thomas Charles Bunbury 6th Baronet, then George Napier.
Sarah Lennox was at first expected to marry King George III. His advisors dissuaded him, and so she married Thomas Charles Bunbury 6th Baronet. However, she left him to elope with a lover, Wililam Gordon with whom she had a daughter. He abandoned her, however, and she was left in disgrace, moving to her brother’s family home. She was finally allowed to divorce, and she married George Napier, and they moved to Celbridge.
Many of the prints reflect fashionable cultural figures at the time that Louisa made the print room. Above the chimneypiece is David Garrick, an English actor, playwright and theatre manager. Louisa loved the theatre. A small temple in the grounds of Castletown is dedicated to actress Sarah Siddons.

Next to the Print Room is the State Bedroom. The website tells us:

In the 1720s, when the house was first laid out, this room, along with the rooms either side, probably formed William Conolly’s bedroom suite. It was intended that he would receive guests in the morning while sitting up in bed or being dressed in the manner of the French court at Versailles. In the nineteenth century, the room was converted into a library and the mock leather Victorian wall paper dates from this time. Sadly, the Castletown library was dispersed in the 1960s and today the furniture reflects the room’s original use.

The library at Castletown House. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873961  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E. Henson.
The State Bedroom, Castletown House, June 2015.
State Bedroom, 2022.
Harriet St. Lawrence (d. 1830), daughter of William 2nd Earl of Howth. She married Arthur French St. George (1780-1844). Olivia Emily Ussher-St. George married William Robert Fitzgerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, the son of Emily, Louisa’s sister.

Next to the State Bedroom is The Healy Room: “This room originally served as a dressing room or closet attached to the adjoining State Bedroom. It was used as a small sitting room and later became Major Edward Conolly’s bedroom in the mid-twentieth century, as it was one of the few rooms that could be kept warm in winter. It is now known as the Healy room after the pictures of the Castletown horses by the Irish artist Robert Healy (d.1771).”

Upstairs has more bedrooms, and the beautiful Long Gallery. A corridor overlooks the Great Hall.

Corridor overlooking the Great Hall, below the railings on the left.
The door on the left enters the Long Gallery.

To one side of the Stair Hall upstairs is Lady Kildare’s Room, named after Lady Louisa’s sister Emily, Countess of Kildare and later Duchess of Leinster, who had raised Louisa and the two younger sisters Sarah and Cecilia at nearby Carton House after their parents’ death. Currently being renovated, in the past the room housed the Berkeley Costume Collection. Made in France, Italy, and England, the dresses on display consist of rich embroidered bodices and full skirts made from silk and gold thread.

Costumes from the Berkeley Costume Collection, in Lady Kildare’s Room, 2017.

Across the upstairs East Corridor from Lady Kildare’s room is the Blue Bedroom. The website tells us that the Blue Bedroom provides a fine example of an early Victorian bedroom. Like the Boudoir, it forms part of an apartment with two adjoining dressing rooms, one of which was upgraded into a bathroom with sink and bathtub. The principal bedrooms, used by the family and honoured guests, were on this floor. Bedrooms on the second floor were also used for guests and for children, while the servants slept in the basement. This room has a lovely pink canopied bed, but we did not see the room when we visited in 2022.

At the front of the house on the other side of the Great Hall upstairs are the Boudoir, and Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, and across the West Corridor upstairs, the Pastel Room. The website tells us:

The Boudoir and the adjoining two rooms formed Lady Louisa’s personal apartment. The Boudoir served as a private sitting room for Louisa and subsequent ladies of the house. The painted ceiling, dado rail and window shutters possibly date from the late eighteenth century and were restored in the 1970s by artist Philippa Garner. The wall panels, or grotesques, after Raphael date from the early nineteenth century and formerly hung in the Long Gallery. Amongst the items inside the built-in glass cabinet are pieces of glass and china featuring the Conolly crest.

In the adjoining room, Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, OPW’s conservation architects have left exposed the walls to offer visitors a glimpse of the different historic layers in the room, from the original brick walls, supported by trusses, to wooden panelling to fragments of whimsical printed wall paper that once embellished the room.

The Boudoir, October 2022.
The Boudoir, Castletown House, July 2017. The website tells us about the writing bureau, Irish-made around 1760: A George III mahogany cabinet with dentilled-scrolled broken pediment carved with rosettes. Throughout her life, Lady Louisa maintained a regular correspondence with her sisters and brothers in Ireland and England, and it is easy to picture her writing her epistles at this bureau and filing the letters she received in the initialled pigeonholes and drawers. A handwritten transcription of her letters to her siblings can be accessed in the OPW-Maynooth University Archive and Research Centre in Castletown. 
The writing bureau has no “J” or “U” as they are not in the Latin alphabet.
The Boudoir, October 2022. In this photograph we can see the false door, with glass panels, which had previously been covered by Lady Louisa’s writing bureau.
The wall panels, or grotesques, after Raphael date from the early nineteenth century and formerly hung in the Long Gallery.
The painted ceiling, dado rail and window shutters possibly date from the late eighteenth century and were restored in the 1970s by artist Philippa Garner.
Castletown House, June 2015.
From the photograph album of Henry Shaw.
Castletown House, June 2015, Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, OPW’s conservation architects have left exposed the walls to offer visitors a glimpse of the different historic layers in the room, from the original brick walls, supported by trusses, to wooden panelling to fragments of whimsical printed wall paper that once embellished the room
Castletown House, July 2017.
In 2022, Louisa’s bedroom now features a tremendous bed.
I have yet to identify this portrait. It looks remarkably similar to Lady Anne Conolly (née Wentworth) (1713-1797) Attributed to Anthony Lee, Irish, fl.1724-1767, and she is even wearing the same dress. Maybe the artist did two portraits.

Across the West Corridor upstairs is the Pastel Room. The Corridor has more portraits.

Charles I and Henrietta Maria.
William Robert FitzGerald (1748-1804), 2nd Duke of Leinster, son of Louisa’s sister Emily.

The Pastel Room, the website tells us, was originally an anteroom to the adjoining Long Gallery. It was used as a school room in the nineteenth century and is now known as the Pastel Room because of the fine collection of pastel portraits. The smaller pastels surrounding the fireplace include a pair of portraits of Thomas and Louisa Conolly by the leading Irish pastel artist of the eighteenth century, Hugh Douglas Hamilton.

The small medallion in the centre is Lady Louisa by Hugh Douglas Hamilton. The one of the two girls on the right is of Louisa Staples and her sister, by Hugh Douglas Hamilton. William James Conolly (1712-1754) was the nephew of William Conolly who built Castletown, and he inherited the estate. He was the father of Thomas Conolly (1734-1803). Thomas’s sister Harriet married John Staples, and their daughter was Louisa Staples. Louisa married Thomas Pakenham (1757-1836). It was their son, Edward Michael (1786-1849) who inherited Castletown, and added Conolly to his surname, to become Pakenham Conolly.
The pastel on the top left is Thomas Conolly (1734-1803), Louisa’s husband.
The parents of Louisa and Emily: Sarah Cadogen (1705-1751) and Charles Lennox (1701-1750) 2nd Duke of Richmond.
Pastel of Lady Louisa Lennox, from the circle of Geoge Knapton, c.1747, it depicts Lady Louisa at the tender age of four. Louisa was the daughter of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, and his wife, Lady Sarah Cadogan. Her parents died when she was eight years old, and both she and her two younger sisters, Sarah and Cecilia, went to live with their older sister Emily, Countess of Kildare, in Ireland.

From the Pastel Room, we enter the Long Gallery. The website tells us about this room:

Originally laid out as a picture gallery with portraits of William Conolly’s patrons on display, its function and layout changed under Lady Louisa. In 1760, she had the original doorways to the upper east and west corridors removed, replacing them with the central doorway above the Entrance Hall. The new doorcases as well as new fireplaces at either end were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. The Pompeian style decoration on the walls dates from the 1770s and was inspired by Montfaucon’s publications on the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and by Raphael’s designs for the Vatican. The murals were the work of an English artist and engraver Charles Ruben Riley (1752–98). The Long Gallery became a space for informal entertaining and was full of life and activity as the following excerpt from one of Louisa’s letters suggests: “Our gallery was in great vogue, and really is a charming room for there is such a variety of occupations in it, that people cannot be formal in it. Lord Harcourt was writing, some of us played at whist, others at billiards, Mrs Gardiner at the harpsichord, others at chess, others at reading and supper at one end. I have seldom seen twenty people in a room so easily disposed of.”

Upstairs, The Long Gallery, Castletown House, June 2015.
The gallery at Castletown House, as decorated for Lady Louisa Conolly circa 1790. Pub Orig Country Life 22/08/1936 
Image Number: 873951  
Publication Date: 22/08/1936  
Volume: LXXX
Page: 196 
Photographer: A.E. Henson.
The Long Gallery in the 1880s, photograph from the album of Henry Shaw.

The Long Gallery, description from Archiseek:

“…measuring almost 80 by 23 feet, with its heavy ceiling compartments and frieze dates from the 1720s. Originally there were four doors in the room and the walls were panelled in stucco similar to the entrance Hall. In 1776 the plaster panels and swags were removed but traces of them were found behind the painted canvas panels when they were taken down for cleaning during recent conservation work.” 

The Long Gallery: its heavy ceiling compartments and frieze dates from the 1720s and is by Edward Lovett Pearce. It was painted and gilded in the 1770s.

Archiseek continues: “In the mid 1770s the room was redecorated in the Pompeian manner by two English artists, Charles Reuben Riley (c.1752-1798) and Thomas Ryder (1746-1810). Tom and Louisa’s portraits are at either end of the room over the chimney-pieces and the end piers are decorated with cyphers of the initals of their families: The portrait of Lady Louisa is after Reynolds (the original is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard) and that of Tom after Anton Raphael Mengs (the original is in the National Gallery of Ireland).

The portrait of Lady Louisa is after Reynolds (the original is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard. The fireplaces installed by Louisa at either end of the room were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. It contains a Wedgewood encaustic centrepiece.
The portrait of Tom is in the style of Anton Raphael Mengs (the original is in the National Gallery of Ireland).
The new doorcases were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. Thomas Conolly imported the statue, a seventeenth century statue of Diana, in the centre, supposedly smuggling it home in a coffin! Above is a lunette of Aurora, the godess of the dawn, derived from a ceiling decoration by Guido Reni, the seventeenth century Bolognese painter. 

Archiseek tells us: “The subjects of the wall paintings were mostly taken from engraving in d’Hancarville’s Antiquites Etrusques, Greques, et Romaines (1766-67) and de Montfaucon’s L’antiquite expliquee et representee en figures (1719). The busts of the poets and philosophers are placed on gilded brackets designed by Chambers. In the central niche stands a seventeenth-century statue of Diana. Above is a lunette of Aurora, the godess of the dawn, derived from a ceiling decoration by Guido Reni, the seventeenth century Bolognese painter. 

The three glass chandeliers were made for the room in Venice and the four large sheets of mirrored glass came from France. In the 1770s the Long Gallery was used as a living room and was filled with exquisite furniture. Originally in the room, there were a pair of side tables attributed to John Linnell, with marble tops attributed to Bossi, a pair of commodes by Pierre Langlois, that were purchased in London for Lady Louisa by Lady Caroline Fox and a pair of bookcases at either end of the room. 

In 1989 major conservation work was carried out on the Long Gallery. The wall paintings that had been flaking for many years were conserved. The original eighteenth-century gilding has been cleaned and the chandeliers restored. The project was funded by the American Ireland Fund, the Irish Georgian Society and by private donations.

A set of three 18th-century Venetian coloured and plain glass 24-light chandeliers, decorated with flower heads and moulded finials. These three Murano glass chandeliers are unique in Ireland and rare even in Italy. It is believed that Lady Louisa ordered them from Venice between 1775 and 1778 for the redecorated Long Gallery. The chandeliers were wired for electricity in the mid-1990s; they were cleaned and restored by a Venetian firm of historic glass-makers in 2009. 

Mark Bence-Jones tells us: “The gallery, and the other rooms on the garden front, face along a two mile vista to the Conolly Folly, an obelisk raised on arches which was built by Speaker Conolly’s widow 1740, probably to the design of Richard Castle. The ground on which it stands did not then belong to the Conollys, but to their neighbour, the Earl of Kildare, whose seat, Carton, is nearby. The folly continued to be a part of the Carton estate until 1968, when it was bought by an American benefactress and presented to Castletown. At the end of another vista, the Speaker’s widow built a remarkable corkscrew-shaped structure for storing grain, known as the Wonderful Barn. One of the entrances to the demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley 1741. The principal entrance gates are from a design by Chambers.

The Obelisk, or Conolly Folly, was reputedly built to give employment during an episode of famine. It was restored by the Irish Georgian Society in 1960.

Obelisk, Castletown, attributed to Richard Castle, March 2022. Desmond Guinness’s wife Mariga, who played a great role in the Irish Georgian Society, is buried below.
Obelisk, Castletown, March 2022.
Obelisk, Castletown, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, Castletown by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection NLI, flickr constant commons.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022, created in 1743.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
The Wonderful Barn, March 2022.
When we went to find the Wonderful Barn, we discovered there is not just one but in fact three Wonderful Barns!
The smaller Wonderful Barn.

As Bence-Jones tells us, Castletown was inherited by Tom Conolly’s nephew, Edward Michael Pakenham, who took the name of Conolly, to become Pakenham Conolly. Thomas and Louisa had no children, and Thomas’s sister Harriet married John Staples, and their daughter was Louisa Staples. Louisa married Thomas Pakenham (1757-1836). It was their son, Edward Michael (1786-1849) who inherited Castletown.

The house then passed to his son, another Thomas Conolly (1823-1876). He was an adventourous character who travelled widely and kept a diary. Stephen and I recently attended a viewing of portraits of Thomas and his wife Sarah Eliza, which are to be sold by Bonhams. His diary of his trip to the United States during the time of the Civil War is being published.

Thomas Conolly (1823-1876), painting by William Osbourne.
Sarah Eliza Conolly, wife of Thomas.

Sarah Eliza was the daughter of a prosperous Celbridge paper mill owner, Joseph Shaw. Her substantial dowry helped to fund her husband’s adventurous lifestyle! A photograph album which belonged to her brother Henry Shaw, of a visit to Castletown, was rescued from the rubble of his home in London when it was destroyed by a German bomb in 1944. Sadly, he died in the bombing. The photograph album is on display in Castletown.

Thomas Conolly (1823-1876) and his wife Sarah Eliza.

Sarah Eliza and Thomas had four children. Thomas, born in 1870, died in the Boer War in 1900. William died at the age of 22. Edward Michael (Ted), born in 1874, lived until his death in Castletown, in 1956. Their daughter Catherine married Gerald Shapland Carew, 5th Baron Carew, the grandson of Robert Carew, 1st Baron Carew of Castleboro House, County Wexford (today an impressive ruin), and son of Shapland Francis Carew and his wife Hester Georgiana Browne, daughter of Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo.

Sarah Eliza sits reading while her daughter Catherine descends the stairs.
Photographs of the Conolly family. Thomas Conolly who died in the Boer War is pictured on the left in the striped cap.
View of Castletown House from the meadow from Henry Shaw’s album.
Sarah Eliza with Catherine and her children seated at the table in the Dining Room. William Francis in foreground.

Catherine’s son, William Francis Conolly-Carew (1905-1994), 6th Baron Carew, inherited Casteltown, and added Conolly to his surname.

Lord William Francis Conolly-Carew relaxing in the Green Drawing Room in the 1950s.
The grounds around Castletown are beautiful and one can walk along the Liffey.
In front is a photograph of William Francis Conolly-Carew, 6th Baron Carew.
The Round House and the Gate Lodge (below) at the gates of Castletown can be rented for accommodation from the Irish Landmark Trust – see my Places to visit and stay in County Kildare page https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/04/27/places-to-visit-and-to-stay-leinster-kildare-kilkenny-laois/.

3. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare:

Maynooth Castle, photograph by Gail Connaughton 2020, for Faitle Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

General information: 01 628 6744, maynoothcastle@opw.ie

From the OPW website https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/maynooth-castle/:

This majestic stone castle was founded in the early thirteenth century. It became the seat of power for the FitzGeralds, the earls of Kildare, as they emerged as one of the most powerful families in Ireland. Garret Mór, known as the Great Earl of Kildare, governed Ireland in the name of the king from 1487 to 1513.

Maynooth Castle was one of the largest and richest Geraldine dwellings. The original keep, begun around 1200, was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. Inside, the great hall was a nerve centre of political power and culture.

Only 30 kilometres from Dublin, Maynooth Castle occupies a deceptively secluded spot in the centre of the town, with well-kept grounds and plenty of greenery. There is a captivating exhibition in the keep on the history of the castle and the family.

[1] https://www.irelandscontentpool.com

[2] https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/altamont-gardens/

[3] p. 8, Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the Care of the OPW. Government Publications, Dublin 2, 2018.

[4] p. xiii, Jennings, Marie-Louise and Gabrielle M. Ashford (eds.), The Letters of Katherine Conolly, 1707-1747. Irish Manuscripts Commission 2018. The editors reference TCD, MS 3974/121-125; Capel Street and environs, draft architectural conservation area (Dublin City Council) and Olwyn James, Capel Street, a study of the past, a vision of the future (Dublin, 2001), pp. 9, 13, 15-17.

[5] http://kildarelocalhistory.ie/celbridge See also my entry on Castletown House in my entry for OPW properties in Kildare, https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/21/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-carlow-kildare-kilkenny/

[6] https://archiseek.com/2011/1770s-castletown-house-celbridge-co-kildare/

[7] p. 75. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[8] p. 129. Great Irish Houses. Forewards by Desmond FitzGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008. 

[9] https://castletown.ie/collection-highlights/

An exhibition in the Irish Georgian Society

High Summer, Burtown House and Gardens, County Kildare, oil on canvas, by Lesley Fennell.

Today an exhibition opened in the City Assemby House in South William Street in Dublin, the home of the Irish Georgian Society, of paintings of walled gardens of Ireland. The exhibition coincides with a television documentary about walled gardens airing this Sunday on RTE. There will also be a conference in May 2022 about the Irish country house garden, along with another exhibition, and a book edited by Finola O’Kane-Crimmins on the same subject.

https://www.igs.ie/updates/article/igs-year-of-the-country-house-garden

Burtown Gardens, which I visited this summer with Stephen and our friend Gary – the house is listed in Section 482 so we’ll be visiting it again at some point. It is the home of the artist Lesley Fennell.

The exhibition features the work of four artists, all owners of big houses: Lesley Fennell of Burtown, County Kildare; Andrea Jameson of Tourin, County Waterford; Alison Rosse of Birr Castle, County Offaly; and Maria Levinge of Clohamon, County Wexford. All of the houses but the last are on the Section 482 listing this year.

Many walled gardens are pictured, and I was delighted to recognise some.

Enniscoe, County Mayo, by Maria Levinge. Oil on board. We visited Enniscoe this year and had a wonderful tour with owner Susan Kellett, who brought history to life as if she had been present, such as when she told us of the 1798 visit of French soldiers to the house.
Maria Levinge’s painting captures the pink Enniscoe House in the background of her painting.
The walled garden of Enniscoe House, which contains a museum. As the house is also on the Section 482 list, I’ll be writing about it soon.

I will be invigilating the exhibition on Wednesday 29th September 10:00 – 1:30, along with some other dates, and was there today. The launch was last night, and I was delighted that some of the artists dropped in today while I was there.

Robert O’Byrne curated the exhibition and introduced the invigilators to the work. During the year the Georgian Society ran a programme of interviews with the artists, by Robert O’Byrne, and these are available to watch at the exhibition.

My photographs, taken on my phone rather than with my Canon camera, do not do justice to the paintings.

The Formal Gardens, Birr Castle, by Alison Rosse.

We visited Birr Castle in 2019 and I took the same view as that painted above!

The Formal Gardens were designed by Anne, Countess of Rosse, on her marriage in 1935, in the form of a monastic cloister, complete with windows, cut into the hornbeam hedge.

According to the small catalogue, which is available for purchase, there are about 8,000 walled gardens in Ireland! The exhibition features about thirty different walled gardens, some public and some private.

Lissadell, County Sligo, by Maria Levinge. Oil on board. We drove right up to the gates of Lissadell last month but unfortunately it is not open to the public this year due to Covid, so we will have to visit another time!

Many Section 482 houses featured in this blog have walled gardens. Most recently, I wrote about Killineer in County Louth, which is not in this exhibition. Barmeath, also in Louth, and Cappoquin in County Waterford, are included, as well as Lodge Park and Larchill in Kildare, both of which are listed in Section 482 and which I have yet to visit.

I like this one by Maria Levinge of the garden at IMMA, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, as it also pictures the relatively newly built apartments in the background, which I often pass on my way to the Memorial Gardens.

I think Robert Wilson-Wright was digging the pond featured in Lesley Fennell’s painting of Coolcarrigan, on the day that we visited!

The Pond at Coolcarrigan, County Kildare, by Lesley Fennell. Oil on canvas.
Coolcarrigan, County Kildare, September 2019.

I didn’t realise that the splendid greenhouse at Woodstock, County Kilkenny, which we visited last month, is not the original Turner-built one, but a reproduction of it.

The greenhouse at Woodstock, County Kilkenny.
The Turner conservatory at Woodstock, County Kilkenny by Lesley Fennell. Oil on canvas.

I particularly liked the painting that Andrea Jameson did of herself struggling to paint “en pleine aire” in the wind in her garden in Tourin.

Andrea Jameson painting in her garden at Tourin, self-portrait. Oil on canvas.

The painters paint their own gardens, and each others’. Gardens featured which are open to the public include Lismore Castle in Waterford, Altamont in Carlow, Kilmacurragh in County Wicklow, Heywood in County Laois (my father remembers seeing the fire which burnt down the house!), Doneraile in County Cork, and Russborough, which I didn’t know has a walled garden.

Adamnan Lodge, Birr, County Offaly by Alison Rosse. Oil on board.
Red Geranium, Greenhouse, Tourin, by Andrea Jameson. Oil on canvas.

Some of the gardens are in Northern Ireland, such as at Glenarm and Crom Castle.

Stephen and I have been lucky enough to visit many walled gardens in our explorations of Section 482 properties, and have many more still to visit. We toured rather extensively around Ireland during Heritage Week this year and I have lots to write that I hope to publish soon!