3. Castle Bellingham, Co. Louth – for weddings, and open to public for visits:
Open to the public between the hours of 1pm and 3pm, Monday to Friday for viewing year-round. Please call in advance to ensure there is somebody at the castle to show you around! (Closed December 24, 25 and 26)
We visited Castle Bellingham in November 2022, and Mr. Corscadden gave us a tour. It’s a beautiful castle venue, for weddings or events, and is sometimes available for accommodation.
It was a rainy November day and the castle is long so I didn’t capture the whole front facade in one shot, so I include to older photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
The Castle is owned by the Corscadden family, who also own Cabra Castle in County Cavan, Markree in County Sligo, and the other we have yet to visit, Ballyseede in County Kerry.
“At Bellingham Castle, the welcome is warm, the facilities luxurious and the memories, eternal. Nestled in the medieval village of Castlebellingham in County Louth along Ireland’s Ancient East, Bellingham Castle is an elegant and spacious 17th Century authentic Irish Castle available for exclusive hire, to allow you become King or Queen of your very own castle for a truly memorable experience. The Castle opens for overnight stays on select dates throughout the year, but is predominantly a venue for spectacular Weddings, conferences or events.
Set at the gateway to the Cooley mountains and on the banks of the glistening River Glyde, Bellingham Castle is the centrepiece of a 17-acre estate that includes a weir and man-made river island where you can create memories that last a lifetime. The opulent 17th Century Irish castle is bursting with rich history, splendour and old-world luxury.
Fully refurbished, yet retaining all of its character and charm, Bellingham Castle prides itself on elegance and sophistication, intimacy and cosiness, luxury and exclusivity – all just 50 minutes from both Dublin and Belfast.
We wanted to create something different at Bellingham Castle, an exquisite combination of a welcoming atmosphere and luxury castle experience. From dreamy and palatial bedrooms, to magnificent reception rooms and meticulously manicured gardens, we ensure each guest enjoys high-quality, bespoke service in an idyllic and inspirational location.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes of Castle Bellingham (1988):
p. 62. “The original castle here, called Gernonstown, which was acquired by Henry Bellingham [1622-1676] mid C17, was burnt by King James’s soldiers before the Battle of the Boyne, when its then owner, Colonel Thomas Bellingham [1645-1721], was fighting for King William. Col Bellingham built a new house 1690/1700 [the National Inventory says 1712] and named it Castle Bellingham; it had a high-pitched roof and is said to have resembled Beaulieu, in the same county. Mrs Delany described it (1745) as “one of the prettiest places I have seen in Ireland.”
The house was remodelled in later C18, when a third storey was added, and again in early C19, when it was given a battlemented parapet, some turrets and a few other mildly medieval touches. The final result was not so much a castle as a castellated house, with plain Georgian sash windows. The nine bay entrance front, which appears to be only of two storeys owing to the higher ground on this side; the entrance, through a Gothic porch not centrally placed, is, in fact, on the first floor, where the principal rooms are situated. The opposite front, which also just misses being symmetrical – with three bays on one side of a shallow, curving bow and two bays and a turret on the other – also has a curved bow. Simple, pleasant rooms; a small staircase in a narrow hall at right angles to the entrance. Garden with terraces overlooking the river Glyde, formerly adorned with statues brought from Dubber Castle, the seat of another branch of the Bellinghams; vista to shrine of the Virgin Mary, erected by Henry Bellingham, a convert to Catholicism during the later years of the Oxford Movement. Straight avenue aligned on the entrance front of the house, terminated at the opposite end by a castellated gatehouse facing the village green. Having been sold by the Bellinghams ca 1956, Castle Bellingham is now an hotel.” 
The website gives a further history of the castle:
“Bellingham Castle served as one of the ancestral homes for the Bellingham family from the 17th Century until the 1950s. The original castle was built around 1660 by Sir Henry Bellingham [1622-1676], who was a cornet in the Army during the Civil War.
He purchased the lands of Gernonstowne, Co. Louth, from a fellow soldier who had been granted them in lieu of arrears of pay. The purchase was confirmed by King Charles II.
There is some variation on the spelling of Gernonstowne. On various maps and other documents, it is spelled Gernonstowne, Gernonstown, Gernon’s-Town, Gormanstown, Germanstown, Garlandstown and Garland.
Irish road signs show the English as Castlebellingham, while the Irish translation still refers to Baile an Ghearlanaigh – or Gernonstown. It was not called Castlebellingham for at least 40 years after the purchase. The name does not appear on any document before the year 1700. Around 1710, it began to appear in journals and other sources as Castlebellingham.
The castle was occupied by troops and burned down in the autumn of 1689 by King James II, in revenge for Colonel Thomas Bellingham [1645-1721] being a guide for William III, prior to the Battle of the Boyne. It is said that King William’s armies camped the night before the Battle of the Boyne in the grounds of the castle.“
Thomas Bellingham had a son, Henry. The estate passed Henry’s son Henry, but he had no children so when he died in 1755 it passed to his brother Alan Bellingham (1709-1796).
Alan’s son O’Bryen Bellingham (d. 1798) set up a brewery on site around 1770. The website tells us:
The website continues: “Over time, Castlebellingham became an important gathering point in the county. Fairs were held there every year and a church was constructed next door to the castle, along with a graveyard that houses the Bellingham family vault. The Bellinghams became one of the most powerful and influential families in the county; for over 100 years, a Bellingham held the seat in Parliament for County Louth.
Records also note Castlebellingham for having ‘the best malt liquor’ in Ireland. A brewery was built on site about 1770 and belonged to an O’Bryen Bellingham [d. 1798, a son of Alan Bellingham]. For a number of years, a brewery partnership ran their liquor business. The brewery is still there but now houses the ‘button factory’ or Smallwares Ltd. The brewery was the main supplier of drink to the Boer War troops.“
Alan’s son William married Hester Frances Cholmondeley, daughter of Reverend Robert Cholmondeley and was created 1st Baronet Bellingham, of Castle Bellingham, Co. Louth. He did not have any children and the title passed to his brother Alan’s son, another Alan (1740-1800), who became 2nd Baronet Bellingham of Castle Bellingham, County Louth.
The website continues: “A history of the parish, dated 1908, states that the impressive Calvary standing at the entrance to Bellingham Castle was erected by Sir [Alan] Henry Bellingham [4th Baronet]as a monument to the memory of his first wife, Lady Constance.
A collection of inset religious panels can be seen on the upper facades of many of the village buildings. These are also a reflection of Sir Henry’s religious sentiments, and they are unique in Ireland. In addition to the many panels, there are biblical quotations cut into the stone window sills of some buildings. North of the castle is a carefully preserved group of ‘widows’ dwellings’, built from charitable motives by Sir Henry.
In 1905, Bellingham Castle was the venue for the romantic wedding celebrations of Augusta Mary Monica Bellingham, daughter of Sir Alan Bellingham [1846-1921], 4th Baronet to the 4th Marquis of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart.
The Marquis, who was one of the wealthiest men in the British Isles at the time, spared no expense and treated his bride and guests to a lavish celebration, including chartering the Princess Maud steamer to take their guests and the Isle of Bute pipe band across the Irish Sea to Bellingham Castle for the wedding. As the society event of the year, the wedding attracted worldwide media attention, from California to New Zealand.
Footage from the wedding celebrations still exists. This remarkable film is believed to be the one of the earliest wedding films in the world. Bellingham Castle is clearly depicted in the footage, together with scenes at nearby Kilsaran Church and the village of Annagassan, from where the wedding party and their guests arrived and departed by steamer.
Castlebellingham was the ancestral home of the Baronetcy until the late 1950s. The last Bellingham to live there was Brigadier General Sir Edward Bellingham [5th Baronet], born in 1879, who was the last Lord Lieutenant and Guardian of the Rolls (Custos Rotulorum).
It was purchased by Dermot Meehan in 1958 from the Irish Land Commission for £3,065.00. Mr Meehan spent several years converting the house into a hotel. The Meehan family sold the hotel and 17 acres in 1967 for £30,636.61 to Mr John Keenan and under the Keenan family stewardship, the castle prospered over the following four decades.
In December 2012, the castle – including the 17 acres – was acquired by the Corscadden family. The family also own Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, Co. Kerry; Cabra Castle, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, and Markree Castle, Co. Sligo.
The next chapter in the history of Bellingham Castle has begun, as an exclusive venue for private weddings, civil ceremonies, conferences, meetings and corporate events.
Bellingham Castle is a building of intrinsic historical and architectural interest and is open to the public between the hours of 1pm and 3pm, Monday to Friday for viewing year-round. Please call in advance to ensure there is somebody at the castle to show you around! (Closed December 24, 25 and 26).“
House & garden tour with tea/coffee & cake… €20 per person
Lunch for larger parties is available as is a more formal 5 course evening dinner, for more information please contact us.
Telephone +353 87 2355645
The website tells us:
“Collon House, steeped in history, is full of character and charm; its gracious rooms are exquisitely furnished with period antiques and paintings, retaining the atmosphere of early Georgian living, making this a rare opportunity to experience less than one hour from Dublin City Centre, thirty minutes from Dublin Airport and just five miles from historic Slane.
Collon House is a perfect location from which to enjoy the wonderful treasures of the Boyne Valley. Bru na Boinne (Newgrange) prehistoric megalithic sites, The Battle of the Boyne visitors centre at Oldbridge, Slane Castle, Old Mellifont Abbey and Monasterboice High Crosses are all less than twenty minutes drive from Collon House.“
The Historic Houses of Ireland (HHI) website tells us:
“Anthony Foster [1705-1778], Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, purchased the Collon estate in 1740 and chose to build in the centre of the County Louth village, now a market town on the road from Dublin to Derry. His early Georgian house was extended in the 1770s to form a substantial L-shaped dwelling, set back from the street at the central crossroads. The original dwelling is long and low but the later building is taller and more generous in scale with more elaborate interiors and a “handsome half-turn stair” that gives access to the upper floors.” 
“Anthony’s son John [1740-1828] was elected to the family borough of Dunleer and became the member for Louth in 1768 at the age of twenty-one. Considered ‘the best informed man in the house’ he was briefly Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer before his election as Speaker of the Irish Commons. He held office from 1785 until 1800, when Parliament was dissolved for ever under the Act of Union, a measure which Foster had strenuously opposed. As Speaker he pronounced the final words at the closing session, choosing to retain his official mace ‘for future contingencies’. Mr. Speaker Foster was returned to Westminster after the Union and was finally rewarded with a UK peerage in 1821 (his wife had previously been granted two Irish titles) after an illustrious political career that spanned more than sixty years.
In ‘A Tour of Ireland‘published in 1780, the agronomist Arthur Young mentions Foster whose improvements on the Collon estate “were of a magnitude that I have never heard of before.” These included Oriel Temple, an elaborate and chastely classical lakeside folly, which was subsequently enlarged to form the principal family seat. Foster’s son Thomas married an heiress, Harriet Skeffington, and the family moved to Antrim Castle when she succeeded as Viscountess Massereene.”
The HHI website continues: “Collon House has been altered over the intervening years but the building retains many fine Georgian interiors, now greatly enhanced by sympathetic restoration, fine furniture, glass, porcelain, pictures and objects. Their rich decoration makes a striking contrast with the plain exterior.
The gardens have also been restored with inspired and authentic planting. The entrance overlooks a sunken garden with an intricate box parterre, while the herbaceous border in the ornamental garden leads to a classical summer house in the Grecian style.” 
The National Inventory tells us it is a: “Corner-sited attached five-bay three-storey house, built c. 1770. Rectangular-plan, extended by two-bays into two-storey terrace to east, three-bay two-storey wing to north, extended former mews buildings surrounding courtyard to north, single-storey flat-roofed entrance porch to west elevation…This imposing house, the principal home of the Foster family, at the heart of Collon, has historical associations with John Foster, the last man to speak in the Irish House of Commons. It contains many details of interest, such as stone window dressings. Its prominence at the heart of the village is of intrinsic importance to the architectural heritage of Collon.” (see )
We treated ourselves to a stay in Ballymascanlon House hotel in November 2022.
The website tells us: “The Ballymascanlon House is set on 130 acres of beautiful parkland, this impressive Victorian House forms the heart of this Hotel. It is one of the most remarkable historical estates in Ireland dating back to 833 A.D. Steeped in history, Ballymascanlon estate is located in Ireland’s North East on the Cooley Peninsula in close proximity to the Irish Sea and Mourne Mountains. Less than 1 hour from Dublin and Belfast, and 20 minutes from the medieval town of Carlingford. We are delighted to welcome you to our beautiful luxurious venue, ideal for both Business and Leisure.”
Ballymascanlon means the town of the son of Scanlan, and was part of the ancient Sept of Scanlan. I noticed that locals call it “Ballymac” and it would seem the “mac” would be correct if it’s “son of” though the name now skips that “c” – it’s not named “Ballymac scanlan” any longer. A document in the front hall tells us of its history. The area is full of ancient archaeological features including the Proleek Dolmen which dates to approximately 4000 BC. The information tells us that a chieftain, MacScanlan, expelled a Danish incursion into the area, before the Anglo-Normans came to Ireland.
When the Anglo-Normans came, Hugh de Lacy gave this area to the Cistercian Mellifont Abbey. After the dissolution of the monastery by King Henry VIII the land was given to Edward Moore (1540-1601), ancestor of the Marquess of Drogheda.
The document also tells us that the Duke of Schomberg camped here before the Battle of the Boyne, and that a field hospital was set up. Later the Irish Volunteer branch, the Ballymascanlon Rangers, were led by Robert MacNeale of Ballymascanlon, father of James Wolf MacNeil, who built the building we see today.
Ballymascanlon House is a multiple-bay two-storey over basement with attic Tudor-Revival house, built in 1863 for James Wolfe MacNeil, incorporating fabric of earlier building which had been built for Frederick Foster, with gables, mullioned windows, hood-mouldings and a recessed doorway.  MacNeil owned the nearby corn mills. There may be been a house previously located on the site, David Hicks tells us in Irish County Houses, A Chronicle of Change. 
Hicks tells us that the house was sold and further improved by architect P.J. Byrne for Frederick Foster. The red brick gate lodge was added at this time. Frederick Foster (1799-1888) married Isabella Vere. He was the son of John William Foster (1745-1809). Frederick had no children. His sister Louisa Jane married Thomas Span Plunkett, 2nd Baron Plunket of Newton.
Further building works were carried out in 1904 and 1919 for Katherine Plunkett, daughter of Louisa Jane and Thomas Span Plunkett, who then owned the house. The house has high pitched gables and projecting bays. The Plunkett coat of arms over the front door depicts and horse and the Plunkett motto, Festina Lente, or Make Haste Slowly.
Hicks continues his description:
“Inside, a spine corridor leads past the various reception rooms that overlook the gardens through mullioned windows. This corridor provided ample space for family portraits and landscapes that once decorated the walls. One of the most interesting features of the interior is the glazed dome that provides light to the inner hall at the centre of the house where the hotel reception is. The various reception rooms of the house are tastefully decorated and have retained much of their old world charm.“
The house was offered for sale in 1943 and purchased by George Noble Plunkett, a Papal court who received his title from Pope Leo XIII for donating money to Catholic charities. He was the father of Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, who was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising.
George Noble Plunkett and his wife Josephine Cranny were children of Pat Plunkett and Pat Cranny, two successful property developers who built many of the red brick Victorian houses in Dublin. Count Plunkett began his professional life as the director of the National Museum. After his son was killed he entered politics. After his wife died, he sold the house to the Quinn family, who turned it into a hotel.
2. Collon House, Ardee Street, Collon, Louth – see above
3. Darver Castle, County Louth
Darver Castle by Barry McGee 2016 courtesy of Flickr constant commons.
“The Castle, dating from the 15th century is situated in a fine parkland setting and surrounded by mature trees. The courtyard, approached through a medieval arched gateway has lofted stone faced buildings while the outer yard has very impressive stone faced buildings with stabling for 20 horses. Also included is an outdoor manège, partly walled garden and orchard. The lands, all in old pasture, have excellent road frontage and are renowned for their fattening qualities.In the early 12th Century a man named Patrick Babe was given 500 acres of land in the parish of Derver by King James II. He built a castle for himself and his family to live in on the grounds formerly owned by the church. The castle was built on the north side of the hill north of the cave and on the edge of the deep slope that led to the banks of two rivers, which provided fish and eels for the family food.The rivers acted as security from the enemy advancing from the north. With a large yard wall to the east 12 feet high and 20 acres of woodland to the west helped keep the enemy out. But a problem arose on the southside of the hill as it sloped to a deep valley and joined the high hill of newtown Darver. As the top of this hill is just 4 feet higher than the level of the top of the castle. So the soldiers were unable to see the enemy approaching from the south. Patrick Babe had a round tower built on the very top of the hill and placed soldiers into this garrison which gave them a clear view for 40 miles away so no enemy ever got near Darver Castle Estate during all the wars.
The church was never reached by Cromwell because of the protection from the hilltower. When the wars were over, Patrick Babe had wings put on the front of the tower and converted it into a windmill, and used it to ground corn for himself and his tenants. This continued for 150 years until large mills were built on the edge of the rivers, powered by the water, so that the use of the towermill ended and it was later demolished and the land around made arable. The hill is still known as windmill hill. 12thC Patrick Babe built the castle. Later he built 14 tenant houses. 1385 John Babe was given the advocasy of the church 1655 The Babes rented the castle to Abraham Ball. He died in 1742. 1740 James Babe sold the castle and 500 acres of land to Richard Fiscall Dublin for $4,000 1777 According to a survey done by Taylor and Skinner. The castle was idle. 1789 John Booth bought the castle. He died in 1840. 1840 Joseph Booth appears. He added the new wing and porch. 1857 John Filgate Booth died there. 1890 Frances Rutherford died there. 1894 Elizabeth Booth died there. 1906 Charles Rutherford died there. 1921 Zane Booth died there. 1980 John Booth died there. 1993 McCormack family took over and shortly afterwards Aidan and his wife Mary took ownership. Through a lot of hard-work and love for the castle, they have transformed it into the castle wedding venue it is today. The Carville family still continue to care for the castle, with improvements happening endlessly.“
The National Inventory tells us: “Built in 1727 by William Stannus, this building, with its unadorned façade and finely-balanced elegant classical proportions, is a handsome representative of architectural developments during the Georgian era. It retains a large amount of original and early fabric, including handsome boundary walls, corner tower and carriage arch.”
Whole House Rental, County Louth:
1. Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Drogheda, Co. Louth – section 482, see above, €€€ for two, € for 6-12
2. Bellingham Castle, Co. Louth – for weddings, and open to public for visits
 Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
6. Glenquin Castle, Newcastle West, Co Limerick– open to visitors
One of the finest tower houses to survive from the 16th century, Gleann an Choim (Glen of the Shelter) is situated a few miles from Ashford at the edge of the road (open to the public during summer).
This castle was a fortified dwelling, for the protection against raids and invaders, more correctly described as a Tower House. 
Robert O’Byrne tells us: “Thought to stand on the site of an older building dating from the 10th century, Glenquin Castle in Killeedy was built by the O’Hallinan family (their name deriving from the Irish Ó hAilgheanáin, meaning mild or noble). When the castle was built seems unclear; both the mid-15th and mid-16th centuries are proposed. Regardless, it is typical of tower houses being constructed at the time right around the country.” 
The website tells us: “Glenstal Abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks in County Limerick, Ireland, and is a place of prayer, work, education and hospitality. The monastery sits alongside a popular guesthouse and a boarding school for boys, housed within a 19th century Normanesque castle amidst five hundred magnificent acres of farmland, forest, lakes and streams.
We are happy to welcome groups who wish to visit the monastery and spend some time getting to know our place, our tradition and our life.”
The castle was built as a home for Joseph Barrington (1764-1846), 1st Baronet of Limerick. Joseph married Mary Baggott – I wonder are we distantly related? She was the daughter of Daniel Baggot (the landed families website tells us that he was a bootseller in Limerick!). Joseph’s son Matthew, 2nd Baronet was also involved with having the home built.
The front door is flanked by figures of Henry II and Queen Eleanor, who were such a warring couple that one wonders if they were chosen in ignorance: the Queen holds a scroll on which is inscribed the Irish welcome, Cead mile failte. 
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 139. “(Barrington, BT/Pb) A massive Norman-Revival castle by William Bardwell, of London, begun in 1837, though not finished till about 1880.
The main building comprises a square, three-storey keep joined to a broad round tower by a lower range.
The entrance front is approached through a gatehouse copied from that of Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire. The stonework is of excellent quality and there is wealth of carving; the entrance door is flanked by the figures of Edward I and Eleanor of Castille; while the look-out tower is manned by a stone soldier. Groined entrance hall; staircase of dark oak carved with animals, foliage and Celtic motifs, hemmed in by Romanesque columns; drawing room with mirror in Norman frame. Octagonal library at the base of the round tower, lit by small windows in very deep recesses; the vaulted ceiling painted with blue and gold stars; central pier panelled in looking-glass with fireplace. Elaborately carved stone Celtic-Romanesque doorway copied from Killaloe Cathedral between two of the reception rooms. Glen with fine trees and shrubs; river and lake, many-arched bridge. Now a Benedictine Abbey and a well-known boys’ public school.”
Sean O’Reilly writes: “the castle remains one of the most magnificent attempts at creating an Irish version of the medieval Anglo-Norman castle. Yet Glenstal’s castle-like form is not due to the need for defence. In a tradition going back to Georgian castles such as Glin, Co Limerick and Charleville forest, Co Offaly, the intention is to evoke some ancient time, but conbined with the needs of a modern country house.” 
“(p. 172)The appearance of antiquity might also give to its patron at least the suggestion of an ancient lineage, and that in itself, in an increasingly disjointed Irish society, was not without significance. The Barringtons settled in Limerick relatively late, at the end of the seventeenth century, and furthered their fame less though marriage than through hard work, innovative industry and successful trading. Pofessional advancement was not accompanied by significant social advance, and though Joseph Barrington was a baronet, the family were in essence business people rather than aristocracy. Although there was no speedier way of securing the impression of title and history than by having one’s own castle, his son Matthew, Crown solicitor for Munster, must have recognized the discomfort of real castles, and so decided to build a more comfortable, modern version.
“The design passed through numerous phases even before building began. Even after construction commenced in 1838, from designs provided by the successful English architect William Bardwell, changes, indecision and economic variables all added further complications. Initially, before the selection of the design, the problem was the choice of site. Not having inherited lands on which to build, Barrington might use any site, and he decided first on property he had leased in 1818 from the increasingly encumbered Limerick estates of the Lord Carberry. Part of these included the district of Glenstal, at one time intended as a site for the house, and although Barrington later turned to various other sites, he took with him the name. Consequently, in a very characteristic Georgian incongruity, the title of this apparently ancient castle bears no relation to the land on which it sits.“
O’Reilly tells us “[William] Bardwell [1795-1890], little known today despite his long life – he died in 1890 aged 95 – was still less familiar when first employed by Barrington, and Glenstal remains his most important work. After training in England he advanced his studies, rather unusually for the date, in France. He gained some celebrity through competing both for the London Houses of Parliament, and for the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. It may well have been the Norman tower proposed by Bardwell as his entrance to Parliament that suggested him to his Limerick patron, though as all periods of architecture were intended to be represented in that building, any prospective client may have found something of interest.
The ultimate inspiration for Bardwell’s Glenstal lay less with the designs of the Paines or O’Hara than with the work of Thomas Hopper, notably his Gosford Castle in Armagh, of 1819. This was the first Normal revival castle in these islands, and the first in a style that Hopper would make his own. Neither Barrington nor Bardwell need have been with Gosford itself, for by the late 1830s the type was not uncommon.
…Bardwell was in Ireland in 1840, reviewing the completed work. It then extended from the largest, southern, tower to the gatehouse in the south-east wall. However, work stopped in the following year, and began again only in 1846 or 1847. Construction paused again in 1849, to recommence in about 1853, with Bardwell finally paid off, and a Cork architect, Joshua Hargrave, appointed to complete the work with restricted funds, and to create something approaching a functioning building…
Most carving was executed by an English firm, W.T. Kelsey of Brompton, which provided fifteen cases of columns, capitals and corbels in 1844. However, the detailing of much of the carved work suggests some familiarity with Irish early Christian sources, and echoes abound of recent work at Adare Manor, itself being slowly built over many years, although using native craftsmen.
If much of the carved detail is evocative rather than accurate, there are also striking and significant copies of Irish early Christian design. The style was then only beginning to receive proper attention as part of Ireland’s heritage. The idea may have been inspired again by Dunraven’s Adare – Barrington is known to have had business dealings with the family – for they used such Hiberno-Romanesque designs in the doorcase of their entrance hall. At Glenstal we find superb copies, notably the doorcase connecting the dining room and drawing room. This is a magnificently carved and surprisingly accurate reconstruction of the doorway in Killaloe Cathedral, Co Clare, today recognized as one of the masterpieces of the Irish Romanesque. A lack of understanding of the importance of such work was prevalent in mid-nineteenth-century Ireland – it might be compared to the recent lack of interest in the heritage of the country house – and its introduction here was an important moment in the history of the revival of interest in Ireland’s Christian and Celtic legacy.“
“…It was part of a wider interest in Ireland’s national character that the future of this important house was put in jeopardy. The tragic accidental shooting of the daughter of the 5th Baronet, Charles Barrington, by the IRA in an ambush on the Black and Tans in May 1921, led to the family’s departure and, eventually, the sale of the estate in 1925.“
Timothy William Ferres quotes “The Origins and Early Days of Glenstal” by Mark Tierney OSB, in Martin Browne OSB and Colmán O Clabaigh (eds), The Irish Benedictines: a history (Dublin, 2005):
“When eventually, in 1925, the time came to leave, Sir Charles made a magnificent gesture. He wrote to the Irish Free State government, offering Glenstal as a gift to the Irish nation, specifically suggesting that it might be a suitable residence for the Governor-General.
Mr W T. Cosgrave, the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, and Mr Tim Healy, the Governor-General, visited Glenstal in July 1925, and ‘were astonished at its magnificence, which far exceeded our expectations’. However, financial restraints forced them to turn down the offer. Mr Cosgrave wrote to Sir Charles, stating that ‘our present economic position would not warrant the Ministry in applying to the Dail to vote the necessary funds for the upkeep of Glenstal’. “
Open dates in 2023: May 1-June 30, Mon-Sat, Aug 12-20, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult/child/OAP €8
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“[Gavin, sub Westropp/IFR] An early C19 villa undoubtedly by Sir Richard Morrison, though it is undocumented; having a strong likeness to Morrison’s “show” villa, Bearforest, Co Cork; while its plan is, in Mr. McPartland’s words, “an ingenious contraction of that of Castlegar,” one of his larger houses in the villa manner, 2 storey; 3 bay front; central breakfront; curved balustraded porch with Ionic columns; Wyatt windows under semi-circular relieving arches on either side in lower storey. Eaved roof. 5 bay side elevation. Oval entrance hall. Small but impressively high central staircase hall lit by lantern and surrounded by arches lighting a barrel-vaulted bedroom corridor. The seat of the Gavin family.“
The landed estates database tells us:
“Lewis writes that the manor was granted to William King in the reign of James I and that “the late proprietor” had erected a handsome mansion which was now the “property and residence of Cripps Villiers”. In his will dated 1704 William King refers to his niece Mary Villiers. The Ordnance Survey Field Name Book states that Kilpeacon House was the property of Edward Villiers, Dublin, and was occupied by Miss Deborah Cripps. Built in 1820 it was a large, commodious building of 2 stories. It was the residence of Edward C. Villiers at the time of Griffith’s Valuation, held in fee and valued at £60. Bought by Major George Gavin in the early 1850s from the Villiers and the residence of his son Montiford W. Gavin in the early 20th century. The Irish Tourist Association surveyor writes in 1942 that this house was completed in 1799. The owner was Mrs O’Kelly, her husband having purchased the house in 1927 from the Gavins. This house is still extant and occupied.” 
9. King John’s Castle, Limerick
Maintained by Shannon Heritage. Archiseek tells us: “King John’s Castle, on the south side of Thomond Bridge head, built in 1210 “to dominate the bridge and watch towards Thomond”, is one of the finest specimens of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland.
The castle is roughly square on plan and its 60 meter frontage along the river is flanked by two massive round towers, each over 15m. in diameter with walls 3 metres thick. The castle gate entrance – a tall, narrow gateway between two tall, round towers is quite imposing. There is another massive round tower at the north east corner of the fortification, but the east wall and the square tower defending the south-east corner of the castle, and on which cannons were mounted, is long demolished.
There was a military barracks erected within the walls in 1751, some of which still remains. Houses were also erected in the castle yard at a very much later date. These have now been removed and a modern visitor centre built on the walls.
The walls and towers still remaining of the castle are in reasonably good state of preservation. The domestic buildings of the courtyard do not survive, except for remnants of a 13th century hall and the site of what could be the castle chapel.” 
“The castle was built around 1197 under the orders of King John following the invasion of the Anglo-Normans. It was built on the site of an original Viking settlement believed to date back to 922 AD.” 
The information board tells us that built between 1210-1212 along part of the line of the 12th century ringwork, the gatehouse was the first of its kind to be constructed in Ireland, with boldly projecting towers placed on either side of the gate. It followed the latest trend in European castle building, moving from rectangular to round towers, as curved walls offered better protection from attack, particularly from mining. Mining is when one digs a series of holes or “mines” under the walls in order to weaken the walls – hence comes our term “to undermine.” The two towers of the gatehouse are “D” shaped in plan, with three floors of circular chambers within and a parapet on top.
By flanking the gate, the two towers allowed the castle’s entrance to be defended in depth, from a number of well-positioned arrow loops in the chambers. The defences also included a portcullis and a murder hole. The castle was also supplied via the river, where there is a more modest watergate in the west curtain wall.
“In 1642 the castle was occupied by people escaping the confederate wars and was badly damaged in the Siege of Limerick. The confederate leader Garret Barry had no artillery so dug under the foundations of the castle’s walls, causing them to collapse. There was also considerable damage caused during the Williamite sieges in the 1690s and so the castle has been repaired and restored on a number of occasions.” 
It is a good place here to review the Siege of Limerick. Near the castle is the Treaty Stone: apparently the Treaty of Limerick, which was signed by, amongst others, John Baggot, was signed on this stone, which was later memorialised on a plinth. A series of plaques on the ground around the stone tells us the story of the Siege of Limerick:
“The War of Two Kings. James II, a Catholic, was king of England. Parliament, unhappy with the power that James II had given to the Catholics, invite William and Mary to take over the throne. William of Orange was married to Mary the Protestant daughter of James. William arrives in England. James, fearing for his life, flees to France and gets support from his cousin Louis XIV, William’s enemy. James lands at Kinsale.
William and Mary are crowned King and Queen of England. A French army of 7000 men arrive in Ireland to help James regain his crown.
King William arrives in Carrickfergus with a large army, aiming to take Dublin. Battle of the Boyne. James’ army had 25,000 poorly equipped Irish and French soldiers. William had 36,000 experienced soldiers from all over Europe. King William is victorious.”
King William sent General Schomberg first, who landed in Carrickfergus on 14th June 1690 with 300 troops.
The plaques continue the story: “July 2nd 1690 James flees to France. By the 2nd July, most of the army had gathered in Limerick with Tyrconnell [Richard Talbot (1630-1691), 1st Duke of Tyrconnell] in charge.Limerick, an important port, was the second largest city in the country, with 1000 inhabitants. The Irish military in Limerick had few weapons. A small force of French cavalry were with the Irish cavalry on the Clare side of the Shannon. Their leader was Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan [1620-1693].
First Siege of Limerick. King William’s army began to set up camp while they waited for their heavy guns and ammunition to arrive from Dublin. Aug 10th 1690, In a daring overnight raid Sarsfield attacked the siege train at Ballyneely.King William continued his siege but massive resistance from the Jacobite army and the people of Limerick, plus bad weather, forced him to call off the siege.“
King William returned to England leaving Baron de Ginkel in charge. Cork and Kinsale surrendered to William’s army. Sarsfield rejects Ginkel’s offer of peace. More French help arrives in Limerick as well as a new French leader, the Marquis St. Ruth. Avoiding Limerick, Ginkel attacked Athlone, which guarded the main route into Connaght. 30th June 1691, Athlone surrendered. St. Ruth withdrew to Aughrim. 12th July 1691 The Battle of Aughrim. The bloodiest battle ever fought on Irish soil. The Jacobites were heading for victory when St. Ruth was killed by a cannonball. Without leadership the resistance collapsed and by nightfall, the Williamites had won, with heavy losses on both sides. Most of the Jacobites withdrew to Limerick.“
There is a John Baggot who fought in the Battle of Aughrim, and lost an eye. He later went to France with the Wild Geese, and served in the court of James II and “James III” (his followers called him James III although he was not the recognised king).
“The city walls had been strengthened since the previous year. Tyrconnell died in mid-August and the promised help from Louis XIV had not yet arrived. The Second Siege of Limerick. Ginkel and the Williamites reached Limerick and took up positions on the Irishtown side. They bombarded the city daily with cannon. They managed to break down a large section of the walls at English town, but could not get into the city. With a large English fleet on the Shannon, the city was cut off and almost completely surrounded. Sept 22nd 1691 Ginkel’s army attacked the Jacobites who were defending Thomond Bridge. The drawbridge was ordered to be raised too soon and about 600 Irish were killed or drowned. This had a profound effect on the morale of the garrison. A council of war was held and the Jacobites decided to call a truce. Leaders from both sides saw that they could gain more by ending the fighting and the discussions were conducted with great courtesy. The Treaty was finally signed on October 3rd 1691, reputedly on the Treaty Stone.
Article Civil and Military, agreed on the 3rd day of October 1691, between the Right Honourable Sir Charles Porter, Knight, and Thomas Coningsby, Esq, Lords Justices of Ireland, and his Excellency the Baron de Ginkel, Lieutenant General, and the Commander in Chief of the English army, of the one part and Sarsfield and his followers on the other.The treaty had civil and military sections. The Civil articles promised freedom to practice their religion to Catholics, but in the years after 1691, harsh laws were passed against Catholics known as the Penal Laws.
The broken treaty embittered relations between the English and Irish for two centuries.
The military parts of the Treaty allowed the Irish Jacobites to join the French army. Most of the Irish (about 14,000 approx.) went to France with Sarsfield. Some of their wives and children also travelled to France. These exiles were known as the Wild Geese. The Wild Geese became part of the French army, which included Irish regimens until the French Revolution. Wine Geese: some of the Wild Geese got into the wine trade, where their names live on today, names such as Michael Lynch, who fought in the battle of the Boyne, Phelan, Barton, and Richard Hennessy of Hennessy cognac.“
John Baggot’s sons (sons of Eleanor Gould), John and Ignatius, became soldiers and one fought for France and one fought for Spain.
“In 1791 the British Army built military barracks suitable for up to 400 soldiers at the castle and remained there until 1922. In 1935 the Limerick Corporation removed some of the castle walls in order to erect 22 houses in the courtyard. These houses were subsequently demolished in 1989 when the castle was restored and opened to the public.” 
The National Inventory tells us it is a detached five-bay two-storey over basement house, built c. 1780, with later two-storey extension to rear (south). It continues: “Odell Ville is typical of the small country houses of rural Ireland, often associated with the gentleman farmers of the eighteenth century. The retention of historic fabric such as sliding sash windows, fine tooled limestone details and modest door with its stepped approach all contribute positively to the building’s character. It was once the house of T. A. O’Dell, Esq. Athough of a modest design, the overall massing of the house makes a strong and positive impact on the surrounding countryside. The associated gate lodge adds further context and character to the site.” 
11. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limerick – section 482
14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick– section 482
contact: John Roche Tel: 087-8269123 Open: May 6-Nov 26, Saturday and Sundays, National Heritage Week, Aug 12-20 10am-2pm
Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €3
Places to stay, County Limerick:
1. Adare Manor, Limerick– hotel €€€
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
“Originally a two storey 7 bay early C18 house with a 3 bay pedimented breakfront and a high-pitched roof on a bracket cornice; probably built ca 1720-1730 by Valentine Quin [1691-1744], grandfather of the first Earl of Dunraven [Valentine Richard Quin (1752-1824)].”
David Hicks tells us in his Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change that Valentine Quin converted to Protestantism to retain the Quinn lands. In the 1780s his son Windham remodelled the Georgian house in a neoclassical manner and made many improvements including the addition of another storey. His son Valentine Richard Quin inherited but due to debt, moved to England to live a more frugal lifestyle. He was created 1st Baronet Quin, of Adare, Co. Limerick in 1781, and 1st Baron Adare, of Adare in 1800 for voting for the Act of Union, and finally 1st Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl in 1822, Dunravan being chosen in honour of his daughter-in-law Caroline Wyndham and her home Dunraven Castle in Wales. His son Windham Henry (1782-1850), 2nd Earl, returned to the heavily indebted Irish estate in 1801 and managed to reduce debts by leasing land. He was elected MP for Limerick in 1806. He was a supporter of the Union but also an advocate of Catholic emancipation. In 1810 he married Caroline Wyndham, heiress to large estates in Wales, and as a result of her large inheritance, the Quin family name was changed to Wyndham-Quin. The Quin and Wyndham heraldic shields decorate the entrance to the manor. An inscription in Gothic lettering on the south front of the manor reads “This goodly house was erected by Windham Henry Earl of Dunraven and Caroline his Countess without borrowing, selling or leaving a debt.”
Bence-Jones continues: “From 1832 onwards the 2nd Earl, whose wife was the wealthy heiress of the Wyndhams of Dunraven, Glamorganshire, and who was prevented by gout from shooting and fishing, began rebuilding the house in the Tudor Revival style as a way of occupying himself; continued to live in the old house while the new buildings went up gradually behind it only moving out of it about ten years later when it was engulfed by the new work and demolished.
To a certain extent Lord and Lady Dunraven acted as their own architects, helped by a master mason named James Conolly; and making as much use as they could of local craftsmen, notably a talented carver. At the same time, however, they employed a professional architect, James Pain; and in 1846, when the house was 3/4 built, they commissioned A.W. Pugin to design some of the interior features of the great hall. Finally, between 1850 and 1862, after the death of the second Earl, his son, the 3rd Earl [Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871)], a distinguished Irish archaeologist, completed the house by building the principal garden front, to the design of P.C. [Philip Charles] Hardwick. The house, as completed, is a picturesque and impressive grey stone pile, composed of various elements that are rather loosely tied together; some of them close copies of Tudor originals in England, thus the turreted entrance tower, which stands rather incongruously at one corner of the front instead of in the middle, is a copy of the entrance to the Cloister Court at Eton.“
Bence-Jones continues: “The detail, however, is of excellent quality; and the whole great building is full of interest, and abounds in those historical allusions which so appealed to early-Victorians of the stamp of the second Earl, his wife and son. As might be expected, Hardwick’s front is more architecturally correct than the earlier parts of the house, but less inspired; a rather heavy three storey asymmetrical composition of oriels and mullioned windows, relieved by a Gothic cloister at one end and dominated by an Irish-battlemented tower with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted by High-Victorian decorative iron cresting.“
The Archiseek website tells us:
The structure is a series of visual allusions to famous Irish and English homes that the Dunravens admired. It is replete with curious eccentricities such as the turreted entrance tower at one corner rather than in the centre, 52 chimneys to commemorate each week of the year, 75 fireplaces and 365 leaded glass windows. The lettered text carved into the front of the south parapet reads: “Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but lost that built it.” The elaborate decoration is a miracle of stonework – arches, gargoyles, chimneys and bay windows. The interior spaces are designed on a grand scale. One of the most renowned interior spaces is the Minstrel’s Gallery: 132 foot long, 26-1/2 foot high expanse inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined on either side with 17th Century Flemish Choir Stalls.
Other architects to have collaborated with the Earl include Lewis [Nockalls] Cottingham, Philip Charles Hardwick, and possibly A.W.N Pugin who designed a staircase and ceiling.” 
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The entrance hall has doorways of grey marble carved in the Irish Romanesque style; the ceiling is timbered, the doors are covered in golden Spanish leather. The great hall beyond, for which Pugin provided designs, is a room of vast size and height, divided down the middle by a screen of giant Gothic arches of stone, and with similar arches in front of the staircase, so that there are Gothic vistas in all directions. A carved oak minstrels’ gallery runs along one side; originally there was also an organ-loft. From the landing of the stairs, a vaulted passage constitutes the next stage in the romantic and devious approach to the grandest room in the house, the long gallery, which was built before the great hall, in 1830s; it is 132 feet long and 26 feet high with a timbered roof; along the walls are carved C17 Flemish choir stalls and there is a great deal of other woodcarving, including C15 carved panelling in the door.
The other principal reception rooms are in Hardwick’s garden front; they have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces; that in the drawingroom having been designed by Pugin.“
Sean O’Reilly writes in his book Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of Country Life.
“Nowhere is the creativity of Adare more apparent than in the Great Hall and its associated spaces. Enclosed by screens of giant and more modest arches, round and pointed, surrounded by corridors, staircases and steps flying in an apparently conflicting succession of directions, and with galleries breaking through walls, not to mention the ubiquitous antlers of the Irish elk, the great hall was one of the most picturesque interiors of its day. Lady Dunraven described the room as being ‘peculiarly adapted to every purpose for which it may be required,’ observing that ‘it has been frequently used with equal appropriateness as a dining room, concert-room, ballroom, for private theatricals, tableaux vivants and other amusements.’ ” 
In 1834 the Dunravens visited Antwerp and purchased the woodcarvings to adorn the gallery. In 1835 they purchased a highly carved and decorative choir stall from St. Paul’s church in Antwerp. Local woodcarvers in Limerick then made an exact copy of the seventeenth century original in order to form a pair.
O’Reilly writes: “If the hall is the most complex space, the most dramatic is the gallery, a huge timber-roofed space rising through two storeys and stretching nearly forty-five metres. With its architectural details, pictures and furnishings, the idea, as Cornforth so well expressed it, was to ‘create 250 years of history overnight.’ The family history from the twelfth century is traced in Willement’s stained glass and portraits – both family heirlooms and acquisitions – which carry the story through in more intimate, if also more vague terms. Seventeenth century Flemish stalls, purchased by the Dunravens during their Continental tour of 1834-36, add to the ambiguous combination of old and new.” 
O’Reilly adds: “It was Pugin’s successor, the English architect P.C. Hardwick, who developed the next and final major phase of work at Adare. This involved the laying out of the surrounding terraces, and the completion of the southern range, that which looks across to the river and occupies the site of the original classical house. Although Hardwick’s work embodies the professional finish of the later nineteenth century, it possesses none of the amateur exuberance of the earlier work. Yet his patron, the 3rd Earl, was to establish himself as one of the foremost authorities of Irish antiquities. He was a friend of the celebrated Irish antiquary George Petrie, and collated the material for the posthumously published Notes on Irish Antiquities, one of the most significant antiquarian publications of the century.” 
The principal reception rooms in Hardwick’s garden front have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces, that in the drawing room was designed by Pugin. The drawing room, library and other reception rooms in the garden front only came into use for the coming of age of the future fourth Earl of Dunraven in 1862. The third Earl married Augusta Charlotte Gould, whose grandmother was Mary Quin, daughter of Valentine Quinn who built the first house at Adare. Augusta’s sister Caroline married Robert Gore-Booth, 4th Baronet of Lissadell, County Sligo, a section 482 property.
The 4th Earl had no sons and he was succeeded by his cousin, Windham Henry Wyndham-Quin (1857-1952), grandson of the 2nd Earl of Dunraven. He lived at Adare for twenty-six years, until his death in 1952. He was married to Eva Constance Aline Bourke, daughter of the 6th Earl of Mayo. It was their son, Richard Southwell Windham Robert Wyndham-Quin, 6th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, who made the difficult decision to sell Adare Manor due to difficult economic climate of the 1980s in Ireland. It took a while to find a suitable buyer. Unable to bear the expense of maintaining Adare Manor, the 7th Earl sold it and its contents in 1984.
Mark Bence-Jones adds: “The house stands close to the River Maigue surrounded by a splendid desmesne in which there is a Desmond castle, and a ruined medieval Franciscan friary; one of three monastic buildings at Adare, the other two having been restored as the Catholic and Protestant churches.”
Among the trees southwest of the Manor House are Ogham Stones, which were brought to Adare Manor from Kerry by Edwin, the 3rd Earl of Dunraven. Ogham Stones date from the early 5th Century to the middle of the 7th Century. They are mainly Christian in context and are usually associated with old churches or early Christian burial sites. Ogham inscriptions are in an early form of Irish, frequently followed by Latin inscriptions and often read from the bottom upwards.
2. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co LimerickV35 W306– section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €
www.ashhill.com Tourist Accommodation Facility As a Tourist Accommodation Facility, Ash Hill doesn’t need to open to the public, but it has listed Open Days in 2023 – contact them in advance to ensure that it is convenient for the owners for a visit: Mar 16-31, Apr 15-30, May 1-31, June 1-30, July 15-31, Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, Oct 1-15, 9.30am-4.30pm
The website tells us: “Ash Hill is a large, comfortable Georgian estate, boasting many fine stucco ceilings and cornices throughout the house. For guests wishing to stay at Ash Hill, we have three beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms, all of which can accommodate one or more cots…Open to the public from January 15th through December 15th. Historical tours with afternoon tea are easily arranged and make for an enjoyable afternoon. We also host small workshops of all kinds, upon request…For discerning guests, Ash Hill can be rented, fully staffed, in its entirety [comfortably sleeps 10 people]. Minimum rental 7 days.”
“It is a vibrant property and the teams behind it are equally passionate and dedicated to the hotel and guests who frequent it. Jim & Mary Long are the proprietors, who purchased the property in 2014 and lovingly restored it and redeveloped it for its opening in December 2017. They are both from West Limerick but reside in London and have always maintained their strong connections to the area and frequent visitors to the hotel and their extended family and friends.”
8. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick € or €€
“Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa, which is a founding member of Original Irish Hotels, began life more than 40 years ago as a four-bedroomed bed and breakfast (B&B) run by Mary and Dick (RIP) Fitzgerald as a way to supplement their farming income. Today, it is an 89-room award-winning four-star hotel employing more than 200 people.”
Whole house rental County Limerick
1. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick– self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10– see above
2. Fanningstown Castle, Adare, County Limerick – sleeps 10
You can see lovely photographs of the castle, inside and out, on the website.
The website tells us: “The castle comprises 5 exquisite reception rooms filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century furniture. The entrance hall with a screen of Corinthian pillars has a superb Neo-classical plaster ceiling and the enfilade of reception rooms are filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century mahogany furniture. Family portraits and Irish pictures line the walls, and the library bookcase has a secret door leading to the hall and the very rare flying staircase.
Upstairs there are 15+ individually decorated bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom. Colourful rugs and chaise longues stand at the end of comforting plump beds. Pictures and blue and white porcelain adorn the walls. The bedrooms at the back of the castle overlook the garden, while those at the front have a view of the river.“
The website tells us of the history:
“The FitzGeralds first settled here in the 1200’s at nearby Shanid Castle following the Norman invasion of Ireland. Their war cry was Shanid Abu! (Shanid forever in Gaelic). In the early 14th century the Earl of Desmond, head of the Geraldines, made hereditary Knights of 3 illegitimate sons he had sired with the wives of various Irish chieftains, creating them the White Knight, the Green Knight of Kerry and the Black Knight of Glin. For seven centuries they defended their lands against the troops of Elizabeth I, and during the Cromwellian plantation and Penal laws.
Coming into the hall with its Corinthian columns and elaborate plaster ceiling in the neo classical style, one can see straight ahead among a series of family portraits, some already mentioned, the picture of Colonel John FitzGerald [(1765-1803)the 23rd Knight of Glin], the builder of the house, wearing the uniform of his volunteer regiment the Royal Glin Artillery. In his portrait, which hangs over the Portland stone chimneypiece, he is proudly pointing at his cannon. In May 1779 Colonel John’s father, Thomas FitzGerald, whose portrait in a blue coat is on the left of the dining room door, wrote to Edmund Sexton Pery the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons to warn him that a French naval invasion was expected off the coast. There were rumours that the American privateer Paul Jones had sailed up the Shannon to Tarbert after he had defeated an English ship in Belfast Lough in the summer of 1779. France and Spain had declared war on England and were supporting the American colonists in the War of Independence. Panic spread among the gentry and nobility of Ireland in case the country should be left unprotected in the face of an invasion, and the Irish Volunteer Regiments were raised between 1778 and 1783-40,000 men having been enrolled by 1779 and 100,000 by 1782. Inspired by the success of the Americans and with the strength of the Volunteers behind them, Henry Grattan and his Patriot Party demanded legislative independence for Ireland from Britain following their achievement of the abolition of trade restrictions in 1778. These stirring optimistic times were the background to the building of Glin.”
The website continues: “The new prosperity of the country was reflected in a great deal of public and private building and the accompanying extensive landscaping and tree planting showed the pride of Ireland’s ruling classes in their newly won but brief national independence-an independence which was shaken by the French Revolution and finally shattered by the Rebellion of 1798 and the ensuing Union with England in 1800. Colonel John supported this Union, though his faith in King and Country had faltered under the influence of his United Irishman brother, Gerald during the 1798 Rebellion, when his kinsman Lord Edward FitzGerald is said to have stayed at Glin. Colonel John had no political influence as all the local boroughs were in the hands of the new English settler families. This meant that unlike so many of them he did not spend money on a large Dublin house and thereby concentrated on cutting a greater dash at home.
Unfortunately, we have no direct information about who designed the house or the identity of the craftsmen who styled the superb woodwork such as the mahogany library bookcase with its concealed secret door, the inlaid stair-rail, the flying staircase, or the intricate plaster ceilings. This is because many of the family papers were burned by the so-called ‘Cracked Knight’ in the 1860s. Tradition tells us that the stone for the house was brought across the hills from a quarry in nearby Athea on horse-drawn sleds by a ‘strongman’ contractor called Sheehy. This is the only name connected with the building of the house that has come down to us.
It seems likely that Colonel John started his house sometime in the 1780s as he obviously used the same masons and carpenters as were used for two houses adjoining each other in Henry Street, Limerick, one built for the Bishop of Limerick, later Lord Glentworth, and the other for his elder brother the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Viscount Pery. These Limerick houses were finished by 1784 and it would seem not unlikely that they are the work of a good local carpenter /builder. Colonel John may well have been his own architect working with the excellent craftsmen that Limerick could obviously produce. The neo-classical plasterwork of the hall is possibly an exception as it is close to the work of two Dublin stuccadores, Charles Thorpe or Michael Stapleton. The motifs on the frieze reminds us of the Volunteer enthusiasm of the house for the military trophies, shields sprouting shamrocks and the full bosomed Irish harp which are to be seen on the hall ceiling all underline Colonel John’s patriotism. The French horn and the music book also reminds us that this hall doubled up as a ballroom; the music undoubtedly being played by the musicians from the artillery band. Colonel John loved music and had been taught the flute by a Gaelic music and dancing master, Seań Bán Aerach Ó Flanagán. The house stands on the banks of the widest part of the river Shannon and the snub nosed dolphins and tridents in· the corners of the main hall ceiling symbolise water, while flower-laden cornucopiae and ears of wheat represent the fruitful grasslands that surround the newly built mansion. Oval plaques with their Pompeian red background portray Roman soldiers depicting war and other figures characterise peace and justice. All this symbolism reminds us of contemporary events in the sea girt island of Ireland. This magnificent ceiling retains much of its original 18th century colouring.
In 1789 Colonel John married his beautiful English wife, the daughter of a rich west country squire, and her coat-of-arms are impaled with his on the hall ceiling. Her portrait hangs above her husbands to the right of the drawing room door in the hall. Her coat-of-arms on the ceiling suggests that the house was still being decorated in 1789 although the money must have been beginning to run out, because work was stopped short on the third floor, and walls remained scored for plaster and pine doors are unpainted to this day. Financial problems must have marred their brief decade together at Glin as in 1791 the Dublin La Touche Bank called in their debts going back as far as 1736 and took a case to Parliament. In June 1801 a private Act of Parliament in Westminster was passed to force part of the Glin estate to be sold in order to pay off the many ‘incumbrances’ which had accrued through the 18th century. This document mentions that Colonel John had expended ‘Six thousand pounds and upward in building a mansion house and offices and making plantations and other valuable and lasting improvements…’. Comparing costs with other roughly contemporary buildings shows us that the cut stone Custom House in Limerick cost £8,000 in 1779 and Mornington House, one of Dublin’s largest houses, was sold for the same sum in 1791, so £6,000 ‘and upwards’ was a substantial sum in those days. Colonel John’s wife Margaretta Maria Fraunceis died at one of her father’s properties, Combe Florey in Somerset a few months after the Act was passed. In 1802, 5,000 acres of Glin were sold, and Colonel John himself died in 1803 leaving an only son, and heir aged 12. In June 1803 the local newspaper the Limerick Chronicle advertised sales of the household furniture, the library, , ‘a superb service of India china’, but no pictures or silver. The hall chairs and amorial sideboard in the hall survived because of their family associations but carriages, farm stock, and ‘the fast-sailing sloop The Farmer, her cabin neatly fitted up’ followed. The FitzGeralds of Glin were almost bankrupt.
It was only because of the long minority of John Fraunceis FitzGerald, the son and heir, and the fact that there were no younger children to provide for, which saw the estate on to 1812 when he attained his majority. Educated at Winchester and Cambridge he regained the family fortunes by successful gambling and though he married an English clergyman’s daughter with no great dower, he built the various Gothic lodges and added the battlements and sugar icing detail to the old Glin House making it into the ‘cardboard castle’ that it is today. This would have been typical of the romantic notions of the 1820s and he obviously thought that the holder of such an ancient title should be living in a castle like his medieval ancestors.
The top floor was never completed and other than further planting, little else was done to Glin for over a hundred years as money was scarce during the Victorian period. Over 5,000 acres were sold by 1837 and for the rest of the century the estate consisted of 5,836 acres and the town of Glin. The rent roll came to between £3,000 and £3,800 a year but with mortgages, windows jointures, and other family charges there was in 1858 a surplus of only £777 16s. 5d. brought in from the estate. Not included in this would have been the income from the salmon weirs on the Shannon. Lack of money may have been a blessing in disguise for there were few Victorian improvements at Glin though the Dublin firm of Sibthorpe redecorated the staircase ceiling and added Celtic revival monograms in two roundels and carried out some stencil work in the library and smoking room. This work would have been done in the 1860s probably at the same time that the Protestant church at the gate was being rebuilt.“
5. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.
The website tells us: “Springfield Castle is situated in the heart of County Limerick on a magical 200 acre wooded estate and is approached along a magnificent three quarter mile long avenue, lined with ancient lime trees. Enjoy an exclusive relaxing stay in a one of a kind castle.
Accommodation for up to 25 people in a unique Irish castle we are the perfect place for your vacation, family gathering or boutique wedding in Ireland. It is the ideal place to stay in an Irish castle, Springfield is centrally located allowing you to explore many of Ireland’s fantastic gems including the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a one of a kind place where you can unwind and relax.
Springfield castle is owned By Robert Fitzmaurice Deane the 9th Baron of Muskerry. Robert and his wife Rita are regular visitors. Robert has funded the ongoing restoration in Springfield since 2006, most recently of the garden cottage where he and Rita stay when visiting Ireland.“
Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):
p. 263. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, sub Lansdowne, M/PB; Deane, Muskerry, B/PB) A three storey C18 house adjoining a large C16 tower house of the FitzGeralds, later bought by the Fitzmaurices, whose heiress married Sir Robert Deane, 6th Bt, afterwards 1st Lord Muskerry, 1775. …A two storey C19 Gothic wing with pinnacle buttresses was added at one end of C18 block, extending along one side of the old castle bawn, a smaller tower at another and outbuildings along two of the remaining sides to form a courtyard. 20C entrance gates and lodge in the New Zealand Maori style. C18 house was burnt 1923 and new house was afterwards made out of C19 Gothic wing, which was extended in the same style.”
The National Inventory tells us it is a “Gothic Revival style country house with courtyard complex, commenced c. 1740, comprising attached eight-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt c. 1925, having single-bay three-stage entrance tower. Earlier two-bay three-storey wing to side (east) having single-bay three-stage gate tower with integral camber-headed carriage arch. Tooled limestone octagonal corner turrets with pinnacles to front (south) elevation of wing gate tower, rendered octagonal turrets and pinnacles to side (west) elevation of main block. Two-bay two-storey double-pile over basement block to rear (north) incorporating possibly earlier three-stage tower to north-west. Additional lean-to stairwell block to side (west) elevation of extension block.
This impressive country house is situated in a picturesque location with extensive panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The house and courtyard complex are the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry and occupies the site of an old bawn associated with the sixteenth-century tower house. The first record of a castle at Springfield is dated to 1280, when the Norman Fitzgeralds arrived. A visible mark to the tower house represents part of the roof line of an earlier eighteenth-century mansion that was built by John Fitzmaurice, a grandson of the 20th Lord of Kerry. Sir Robert Deane [1745-1818] married Ann Fitzmaurice in 1780, the sole heiress of Springfield and was a year later awarded the title Baron Muskerry. This mansion was burnt in 1921 by the IRA who were afraid that the occupying Black and Tans were going to convert the buildings into a garrison. The current house was rebuilt by ‘Bob’ Muskerry, the 5th Baron and follows the Gothic Revival style of the nineteenth century, with characteristic pinnacled turrets to the house and main entrance. The castellated entrance towers with tooled stone forming the main fabric of the turrets and a grand entrance door greatly enliven the façade of the building. The fine Gothic Revival style gate tower provides a glorious entrance to the substantial courtyard. A large variety of outbuildings display great skill and craftsmanship with well executed rubble stone walls and numerous carriage arches helping to maintain the historic character of the site. A curious mechanised clock controlling a mechanical calendar, lunar calendar and a bell constructed by the current owner’s great grand uncle is a mechanical masterpiece of great technical interest. Coupled with the archaeological monuments, this complex has a significant architectural value at a national level.“
The website tells us about the history:
“Steeped in history, it is the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry, whose motto Forti et fideli nihil dificile which means “nothing is difficult to the strong and faithful” underlies over 700 years of family history.
The earliest castle at Gort na Tiobrad, the Irish name for Springfield Castle, is reputed to date from 1280 when one of the Fitzgeralds, a junior member of the Earl of Desmond’s family, married a lady of the O Coilleains, who were the Gaelic Lords of Claonghlais. He took the title Lord of Claonghlais and subsequently built a castle at Springfield. The Tower house and build circa 1480. This was the beginning of a long association of the Fitzgeralds with the area. They were patrons to Irish poets and musicians.As you enter the impressive gateway to Springfield Castle a plaque on the wall commemorates Daithi O’Bruadair, a classical Irish poet of the seventeenth century who lived at the castle with his patrons, the Fitzgerald family, recording their lives (and general events). He described Springfield Castle as “a mansion abounding in poetry, prizes and people”
The Fitzgeralds soon became, as the saying goes “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and had an oft-times difficult relationship with the British monarchy. In 1691 they had their lands confiscated for the third and last time and Sir John Fitzgerald went to France with Sir Patrick Sarsfield to continue fighting the English there, never to return to Ireland. A younger son of the 20th Lord of Kerry, William Fitzmaurice [1670-1710], (cousins to the Fitzgeralds) then bought Springfield castle. His son, John, built a very large 3 story early Georgian mansion attached to the existing buildings. The Fitzmaurices occupied Springfield Castle until Sir Robert Deane married Ann Fitzmaurice, the sole heiress, in 1780. He was awarded the title Baron Muskerry in 1781 and the title Lord Muskerry has stayed at Springfield Castle to this day. The castle was burnt in 1921 during the war of Independence and rebuilt by “Bob” Muskerry the 5th Baron in 1929. The 9th Baron, Robert Fitzmaurice Deane, lives and works in South Africa at present, and started restoring the castle in 2006. Robert’s sister Betty, her husband Jonathan and their children Karen and Daniel run Springfield Castle and look forward to meeting you.“
 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.
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Moyglare House is listed as being in County Meath under section 482 but the postal address is County Kildare – it lies on the border, just outside the town of Maynooth. The house has a long avenue approach, between trees and fields.
Having been a hotel called Moyglare Manor in the 1970s-90s which boasted high profile guests such as Hilary Clinton and Robert Redford, the house is once again a home, restored by Dr. Angela Alexander, the foremost academic on Dublin cabinet makers from the Irish Regency period, and her husband Malcolm.  The construction of the house may have begun as early as the 1750s but was not completed until twenty years or so later.
It is three storeys over a basement and two rooms deep. The entrance front has five bays, with two flanking curtain walls, and the garden front has six bays. It has wings which were added at a later date. The front central three bays form a bow rising the full height of the house. The one-story balustraded portico containing the front door was added in 1990. The doorcase has Ionic columns, which Christine Casey and Alastair Rowan tell us in their book on North Leinster, are “taken exactly from William Pain’s Builder’s Companion (first published in 1758).”  The original doorcase with its fanlight, mirrored in the outer doorcase, is inside the portico. The finishing of the new door and windows matches the original limestone doorframe and protects it from the elements. There is a window on either side of the front door in the porch.
The sloped roof is partly concealed by the parapet. The corners have raised limestone quoins. When it was converted into a hotel it was enlarged on the west side.
Construction began sometime after 1737 when the land was acquired by John Arabin (1703-1757), son of a French Huguenot who fled France when his land was seized after King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685.  The Edict of Nantes, of 1598, signed by King Henry IV of France, granted rights to the French Protestants to practise their religion without persecution from the state. When revoked by the Edict of Fontainebleau, Louis XIV’s dragoons destroyed Protestant schools and churches and the Huguenots were forced to convert or flee. John’s father, Bartelemy, or Bartholomew, joined the army of William III and fought in Ireland in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, as did another Huguenot, Jean Trapaud, whose property in France was also seized. Bartholomew and Jean both settled in Ireland, and Bartholomew was closely connected to the Huguenot community in Portarlington. He died in 1713. 
The area in Dublin where I live was also a Huguenot area. In Dublin they brought their skills in weaving and cloth-making, which brought prosperity and recognition to the Liberties of Dublin. They brought their business acumen also.
Bartholomew’s son John Arabin also served in the military. He married Jeanne Marie Bertin, also of French background: her father was a wealthy merchant from Aquitaine who settled in County Meath. John was made Captain-Lieutenant of the 1st Carabiniers in Ireland in 1733, and became a Freemason, serving as Treasurer. Soon after becoming Treasurer of the Irish Grand Lodge he purchased land at Moyglare.
John’s sister Elizabeth married a cousin, John Adlercron Trapaud, son of Jean Trapaud. John Adlercron purchased some of the Moyglare land from John Arabin in 1737. 
In 1745 John Arabin was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the 8th Dragoons. They were deployed to Scotland as part of the response to the Jacobite rising in 1745 when James II’s grandson tried to regain the British throne.
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that:
“The colonel also had a successful army career with the 8th Dragoons. He took part in the capture of Carlisle and the relief of Blair Castle during the Jacobite rebellion, and subsequently commanded his regiment in Gibraltar, after England declared war on France in 1756. He died there the following year when his fellow officers erected a monument in the King’s Chapel.” [see 3]
The King’s Chapel is in Gibraltar.
Colonel Arabin’s son John (1727-1757) followed him into the army. He died before his father, so it was the Colonel’s grandson Henry (1752-1841) who was Colonel Arabin’s heir.
Both the Arabins and the Adlercron Trapauds owned land at Moyglare.
Turtle Bunbury writes that “Henry [Arabin] was living at Moyglare, the Adlercron home, at the time of his marriage.” [my italics] In 1781 he married Anne Faviere Grant, who was from a Scottish based Huguenot family, but was brought up in Dublin.
In 1756 Colonel John Arabin’s daughter Elizabeth, Henry’s aunt, married Lt-Col Daniel Chenevix (1731-1776), of the family who owned the Corkagh Gunpowder Mills near Clondalkin in Dublin. The Chenevix family was also of French Huguenot extraction, and Daniel’s grandfather Colonel Philip Chenevix also fought in the Battle of the Boyne on William III’s side. Colonel Philip Chenevix married the French Susannah Grueber whose brother Nicholas Grueber (also the son of a French Huguenot) constructed the Corkagh Gunpowder Mills in 1719.
Henry Arabin became a lawyer, studying in Trinity College Dublin and Lincoln’s Inn. However, instead of pursuing law, he assumed responsibility for the running of the Corkagh Gunpower Mills. Turtle Bunbury writes that after their marriage in 1781, Henry and Ann Arabin moved to Corkagh, taking over management of the business which had passed through the Huguenot families by marriage. Unfortunately the house at Corkagh no longer exists. We can see how the Huguenots who escaped France to Protestant Holland or England served in the military under William III of Holland, fought in the Battle of the Boyne and then settled in Ireland, and established business and intermarried. In Ireland we tend to regard the fighting between William III and James II at the Battle of the Boyne as a battle over who would sit on the throne in England. For William III, however, it was part of a larger struggle for the domination of Europe and of Holland’s wars against France. The Corkagh Mills supplied gunpowder to the military in which the Huguenot Arabins, Trapauds and Chenevixes had fought. By joining the Dutch army fighting against the Catholic French, the Huguenots supported Holland’s William III in his ousting of James II of Britain, who was supported by Louis XIV and the French. Continuing in the military, John Arabin fought to prevent James II’s grandson “Bonnie Prince Charlie” from taking the British throne. By this time, 1745, George I (son of the British King James I’s granddaughter Sophie) had already reigned as monarch of Britain and died, and his son George II was on the throne.
I learned about the Corkagh Gunpower Mills first when Stephen and I went on a walk with the “Friends of the Camac” last year – we were eager to see more of the Camac River as we are familiar with the part of it which runs through Inchicore and Kilmainham. The River Camac provided the energy for the mills. We learned about the accidental gunpowder explosion which occurred in 1733, which would have been before Henry Arabin’s time. There was another explosion in Arabin’s time, in 1787. 
In the meantime, the Adlercron family lived at Moyglare. The Landed Families website tells us that John Adlercron Trapaud and Elizabeth Arabin’s son John (b. 1782) added Ladaveze to his surname after inheriting property in Europe, and dropped the name ‘Trapaud.’ This John Ladaveze Adlercron (1738-1782) married and had a son, John Ladaveze Adlercron (1782-1852). This son married Dorothea Rothe, daughter of Abraham George Rothe of Kilkenny. They had a son George Rothe Ladaveze Adlercron (1834-1884), who was born at Moyglare.  The Rothe House in the city of Kilkenny is well worth a visit, a house built from 1594-1610, open to the public as a museum. It is unique and there is nothing like it open to the public in Dublin.
John Ladaveze Adlercron and his wife Dorothea travelled extensively. Dorothea kept diaries about their travels, and was interested in art and architecture. They lived in Moyglare and also had a house in Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin. 
Moyglare House was sold around 1840.  It passed through a few owners before Colonel William Tuthill bought it in the 1850s. [see 3]
According to the Landed Estates Database:
The Tuthills of Moyglare, county Kildare, descend from the Reverend Christopher Devonsher Tuthill, fourth son of John Tuthill of Kilmore, county Limerick. Captain William Tuthill of Moyglare owned 286 acres in county Limerick in the 1870s and a further 821 acres in the same county in association with William Bredin.” 
Several generations of Tuthills seem to have lived at Moyglare. By the 1960s, Dr. and Mrs. William George Fegan lived in the house. Dr. Fegan, known as George, was a surgeon, academic and art collector. When he sold Moyglare in the 1970s it was separated from the bulk of the estate, which now houses Moyglare Stud.
The west wing was added and it became a boutique country house hotel. The hotel closed in 2009 and the house stood empty for several years before the Alexanders purchased it. It was full of dry rot, and the beautiful original staircase had to be rescued by insertion of a steel beam.
Angela is an expert in antiques and Malcolm in paintings, and they have an obvious passion for their project. Before they purchased the house they had already collected some paintings, furniture and even a chimneypiece that fit perfectly.
The front hall is high ceilinged and corniced, with a fine plaster frieze with a combination of musical instruments and military trophies, which reflect the military background of its originators. There is a decorative niche between two doors.  Leading off the hall are the library, dining room and drawing room, all tastefully and sensitively renovated and furnished. You can see more photographs on the facebook page for the house, which charts the progress of work in the house and garden.
The Alexanders have renovated the west annex and outbuildings for further B&B accommodation.
We had a great chat about an unusually shaped picture of the Great Exhibition in London, and the Alexanders also have pictures from the Great Exhibitions in Ireland. Angela gave us recommendations for an upholsterer, and she brought us into the private part of their house, the kitchen, which we loved – it’s in the newer part of the house which was built on when it was a hotel. The good taste continues into their private area with more fascinating collectable pieces, including a door I admired with lovely stained glass panels. Chatting with them, we participated in their excitement about the house, a work in progress. I envy them – I would love to have such a project! Visiting and staying in such houses is the next best thing!
 Yvonne Hogan, Irish Independent, June 11, 2009.
 p. 408. Casey, Christine and Alistair Rowan. The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster. Penguin Books, London, 1993.
The Peerage website claims that George Rothe Ladaveze Adlercron was born in 1834 at Moyglare. www.thepeerage.com
 Byrne, Angela. The European Travels of Dorothea Ladeveze Adlercron (nee Rothe) c. 1827-54. Old Kilkenny Review: Journal of Kilkenny Archaeological Society, vol. 65, 2013.
 According to the Historic Houses of Ireland website, Henry’s son, another Henry Arabin, sold Moyglare in 1842.
Turtle Bunbury writes that it was Henry’s youngest son, John Ladaveze Arabin, who consented to the sale of the estate in 1839, and sold it to his cousin, Henry Morgan Tuite. [Elizabeth Arabin who married Daniel Chenevix had a daughter, Sarah Chenevix, who married Hugh Tuite].
The Landed Families website claims that it was John Ladaveze Adlercron (1872-1947) who sold Moyglare. This places the sale quite a bit later than Bunbury’s date. According to Angela Byrne (see ) the Adlercrons were referred to as “of Moyglare” until the 1880s. This discrepancy can be explained by the fact that there were two houses at Moyglare.
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I contacted Mr. Savage Jones beforehand and we went to visit Colganstown on the last day that it as open in 2019! It was a rainy day, unfortunately, but I cannot complain as we have been so lucky with the weather on our visits.
The entrance gates have the visiting times displayed.
In his A Guide to Irish Country Houses, Mark Bence-Jones describes Colganstown as Palladian.  It is not immediately apparent, but the house, the centre block, is attached to two “wings,” which appear to be separate but are connected by flanking walls. The walls are unusual as they come from the back rather than from the front of the house, and are just the height of one storey. The house is attributed to the amateur architect Nathaniel Clements, who also built the Aras an Uachtarain (the House of the President [of Ireland], previously the Viceregal Lodge – although Nathaniel Clements built it for himself, as he was the Chief Ranger of Phoenix Park at the time). The Aras has been much added to, however, since the time when it was Clements’s residence.
The centre block is of two storeys over a basement, and the wings are of two storeys with three bays. The Palladian-style sweep is further prolonged, Bence-Jones describes, by gated walls joining the pavilions [wings] to the gable-ends of farm buildings, which run from the back to form the sides of yards on either side of the back of the house.
Colganstown was built in the 1760s for the Yates, or Yeates, family, who also owned Moone Abbey in County Kildare, another section 482 property, which you can also read about on this blog . The centre of the main block breaks forward slightly,and has a Diocletian window above a tripartite fanlighted and pedimented doorway . Bence-Jones writes that the glazing of the fanlight is delightfully original! The Diocletian window, the semi-circular one above the doorway, divided by vertical mullions, is derived from Roman baths, according to Maurice Craig and the Knight of Glin, Desmond Fitzgerald in their Ireland Observed, A Handbook to the Buildings and Antiquities (Mercier Press, Dublin and Cork, 1970) .
The house was in poor condition when Howard and his wife Lynn purchased it in 1992. They moved into the basement of the house while they refurbished. The wings were not habitable. Slates were gone from the rooves of the wings, so the buildings had to be re-roofed. Since the roof had gone, the walls were in extremely bad condition, and so far the current owners have renovated just one of the two wings.
Howard took us through the house to the airy new kitchen, which he had added to the house. The original kitchen would have been in the basement. He added a “bridge” from the bow at the back of the house, a glass-topped walkway which forms a sort of orangerie, across the courtyard from the basement below, to a lovely conservatory style room, with large windows. You can just see the roof of this addition in one of my photographs. The owners chose the materials and style of the addition carefully to complement the house. In the photograph below one can see the way the basements have windows and let in the light. You can also see how at the front and back there is a wall about a metre from the basement, so the earth doesn’t cover the walls of the basement.
Sitting in this comfortable room, I didn’t recognise it to be a kitchen until Howard mentioned it, because everything is hidden in cupboards and panelling. There are comfortable seats beyond the island, where we sat to discuss the history of the house.
I had printed out my notes about the house, for Stephen to read aloud in the car while I drove, and I showed my notes to Howard so he could see the information that I’d gathered so far.
The basement of the house is at water level, and when they moved in, water had to be pumped out of the basement. Originally there had been drains coming out from the basement but the conduits had collapsed, so the current owners installed electric pumps. There’s a wonderful tunnel from the basement level near the back of the house, which goes to one of the wings from the basement kitchen, and would have been for the servants. I didn’t get a great picture of it, but you can see it from the “bridge” orangerie in this photograph (excuse the reflections on the glass window):
In Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size, Maurice Craig notes that not a lot is known about the date of building, or original ownership, of Colganstown. He writes that: “It appears to have been built by a family variously spelt as Yates or Yeats, who had a house in Sackville Street (now O’Connell St) in the 1760s and also Moone House in Co. Kildare.” It was great to be able to tell Howard that we had visited Moone Abbey House earlier this year.
It seems that Samuel Yates (1681-1765) built the house at Moone Abbey.  If Colganstown was built in the 1760s it may have been built for Samuel’s son, Thomas Yates (1726-1815). He is believed to be buried with his parents in a church in Newcastle. He sold Colganstown in 1780.
Howard told us that Yates had business interests in Dominic Street in Dublin, and this could explain how the Yates came to have a beautiful ceiling by Robert West in their drawing room in Colganstown, as West would have been a neighbour in Dominic Street. According to the Dictionary of Irish Architects, Robert West was admitted as a member of the Plasterers’ Guild in 1752, and died in 1790. He is associated with one of the most spectacular pieces of stuccowork in Ireland, the hall of the house which he built as a speculation at No. 20 Lower Dominick Street. 
The stuccowork of birds in the drawing room is famed as a story is told about a raucous party where dinner guest shot at the birds. Bence-Jones writes: “The interior contains some excellent rococo plasterwork in the manner of Robert West; there is a Chinese dragon over the staircase window and many birds in high relief, some of which have unfortunately had their heads shot off at one time or another as after-dinner sport.” Howard showed us the mark in the ceiling but pointed out that the story is probably a fable – there is not much damage to the birds but the corner does get damp, and the dampness might have caused the damage!
In Classic Irish Houses of the Middle Size, Maurice Craig writes about who might have been the architect of the house:
The Knight of Glin has made a good case for regarding it as part of the oeuvre of Nathaniel Clements, a politician and banker turned architect, who was born in 1705. He was a political associate of the great Luke Gardiner of Henrietta Street, who speaks of him as an “architect” as early at 1744. One thing is certain: that Colganstown belongs with Clements’s own house Woodville, with his other house (later transformed as the Viceregal Lodge), with Williamstown, Co. Kildare, with Newberry Hall, with Belview, and probably also with Lodge Park, Straffan. It is impossible yet to say where it belongs in the series, but the character of its internal decoration, admirable stucco decoration in the style of Robert West, suggests a date in the 1760’s. 
Craig calls Colganstown a “hobby” farm, as it is small and near the city in Dublin. A gentleman, however, he points out, can look out his windows without seeing the farmyards, since the farm building are built to the sides. The acreage has been reduced, however, to just 25, and the surrounds are farmed by a neighbour, which means the beauty of the driveway through the fields has been retained (although the driveway had to be reworked and a separate drive made for the farmer and his heavy equipment, which had taken its toll on the original driveway). The original farm reached all the way to the canal. A previous owner of the house, Andrews, was involved with the canals.
The area has long been inhabited, as one can see from the building behind the house – see the photograph below.
This house, now a ruin, was owned by Thomas Arthur, a politician from the “Patriot Parliament,” who was killed in the Battle of the Boyne. The Patriot Parliament was one in Ireland called by James II during the 1689-1691 war in Ireland, and held only one session, from 7 May 1689 to 20 July 1689. Arthur, therefore, would have been loyal to James II, and therefore fought against William III, who had been invited to be king of England (and Scotland and Ireland).
Colganstown was also previously occupied in the early to mid 1900’s by the Blackrock Christian Brothers, Howard told us, and by a Scottish family named Harrison.
He then took us on a tour of the house. I was eager to see the stuccowork, especially the dragon mentioned by Bence-Jones! I didn’t take photographs of the drawing room birds, but took out the camera to photograph the rococo work in the stairwell.
The library has wood panelling and shelves taken in the 1960s from a building in Mountjoy Square. There is more stuccowork on the ceiling, a frieze with birds, and even a nest with chicks.
You can see how the stairs are built into the bow at the back of the house.
In 2010 a pipe burst, which was very destructive but fortunately the stuccowork was unharmed. The owners had to get new flooring – they managed to salvage parts and to buy salvaged wood from other houses. In rebuilding, Howard told us, he discovered that the walls are packed, in between the lathe and plaster, with dry moss and bracken, acting as insulation!
Craig writes of the interior of the house:
The small square hall is groin-vaulted with delicate plaster enrichment: the doors are of beautiful pale mahogany. The staircase-hall ceiling has, in its wandering Rococo design, elongated versions of the cornucopia so frequently seen in Dublin bookbindings of the 1760s… Elsewhere the birds of the West school are ubiquitous in high relief, with baskets of fruit and flowers.
The bow continues upstairs with lovely curved walls and the bedrooms are a nice size. The main block forms a perfectly sized house on its own. The front room upstairs was once a chapel when the Brothers lived in the house, and that room is unusual with the Diocletian window. It is a lovely comfortable house, and with its proximity to Dublin, I envy its owners! They have made a lovely home.
Help me to fund my creation and update of this website. It is created purely out of love for the subject and I receive no payment so any donation is appreciated! For this entry I paid for petrol and for the entrance fee for myself and Stephen.
 Mark Bence-Jones. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
 A footnote in Craig’s book follows: see Knight of Glin in Apollo, October 1966 p. 314-321. – Fitzgerald thinks Newberry (Carbury, Co. Kildare) and Colganstown are by Clements, which Maurice Craig has begun to doubt. Craig also references the Knight of Glin’s “less sober” article in the Irish Georgian Society Bulletin V, 1962.
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Today (Saturday 27th April 2019) my husband Stephen and I made our first official blog trip. We started in the “ancient east,” going to Slane Castle in County Meath. The land around the Boyne River is beautiful, rolling and fertile. It took almost exactly one hour to drive from our home in Dublin, taking the M1 which I find easier than the M2 through the city’s north side, with which I’m less familiar. Our timing was perfect, we arrived at 2:10pm, in time for the 2:15 tour – there are tours every hour on the quarter hour. 
The castle is three storeys over basement, in the Gothic Revival style. There is a bow on the back side of the castle, facing the river, and the basement serves as the ground floor on this side due to the steep slope down to the River Boyne. The bow forms a round tower, but you cannot see it as you approach the castle as the river is behind.
Our guide Matthew told us that the castle was reconstructed and enlarged by William Burton Conyngham (1733-1796). It was built on the foundations of a medieval castle of the Fleming family, replacing an earlier house. William Burton Conyngham was a classicist and the front hall features Greek columns and key patterns on the walls and many marble Greek sculptures, including a sculpture of King George IV of England, donated by the king himself.
William Burton Conyngham argued with his architects, Matthew told us, so ended up having three architects for his castle: James Gandon, James Wyatt and Francis Johnston. According to Mark Bence-Jones in A Guide to Irish Country Houses, Francis Johnston completed the house for the the second Lord Conyngham’s son, nephew of William Burton Conyngham, Henry (1766-1832), who later became the 1st Marquess Conyngham. Other architects were consulted at various times, including James Gandon, who most famously designed the Custom House and the Four Courts in Dublin, and Emo in County Laois. Francis Johnston designed the General Post Office in Dublin, and Townley Hall, County Louth. Another architect consulted was a favourite of King George IV, the English Thomas Hopper.
In 1785 the castle was remodelled to the design of James Wyatt (1746 – 1813). Wyatt also designed another house on the section 482 list this year, Curraghmore in County Waterford, and a house not on the list, unfortunately, as I would love to see inside, Abbeyleix House (incidentally, my father grew up in Abbeyleix and we used to enjoy the gardens which used to be open and which were reknowned for the bluebells. Also, coincidentally, according to wikipedia, Wyatt spent six years in Italy, 1762–68, in company with Richard Bagot of Staffordshire, who was Secretary to the Earl of Northampton’s embassy to the Venetian Republic. My family is rumoured to be descended from the Staffordshire Bagots, although I have not found the connection!).
The Conyngham family have owned the castle since 1703.
The Flemings of Slane
The Conynghams bought the land in Slane after it was confiscated from the Flemings. In 1175, Richard Le Fleming built a castle at the western end of Slane hill and, three generations later, Simon Fleming was created Baron of Slane. 
The Conynghams did not acquire Slane directly after it was confiscated from the Flemings – Terry Trench of the Slane History and Archaeology Society writes that the estate changed hands, at least on paper, seven times between 1641 and 1703. The estate was taken from the Flemings in 1641, when William Fleming, the 14th Baron Slane, joined the Catholic Irish forces in rebellion against the British. He remained loyal to the king, but objected to the laws that the British parliament passed to make the Irish parliament subservient to the British parliament. The estate was restored to William’s son Randall under the Act of Settlement and Distribution of Charles II’s reign, by decree dated 27th March 1663.  Many estates that had been confiscated by Cromwell’s parliament were restored when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660.
The Flemings had their land confiscated again as Christopher, 17th Baron Slane (1669-1726), backed James II in his battles against William of Orange. He served in the Irish Parliament of King James II in 1689, and as colonel in James’s army in Ireland 1689-91, fighting in both the Battle of the Boyne and in Aughrim, where he was taken prisoner by William’s forces. Released, he emigrated and fought in the French and Portuguese armies, as did many of James II’s followers who were attainted and lost their estates, as they needed to be able to earn a living. He was later reconciled with Queen Anne of England (daughter of James II) and returned to Ireland, to live in Anticur, County Antrim. In 1703, Henry Conyngham purchased the estate of Slane.
The Conynghams of Slane
The Conyngham motto, Over Fork Over, recounts the way Duncan hid from Macbeth (familiar to us from Shakespeare). Matthew told us that Duncan hid in straw in a barn, having it forked over him. After that, he managed to defeat Macbeth and to become king. So the Conynghams are descendants of a Scottish king!
Alexander Conyngham moved from Scotland to Ireland when he was appointed in 1611 to be the first Protestant minister to Enver and Killymardin the diocese of Raphoe, County Donegal.  He was appointed dean of Raphoe in 1631.
He settled at Mount Charles, County Donegal, on an estate he leased from John Murray, earl of Annandale, the owner of ‘a vast estate’ in Scotland. Conyngham subsequently acquired the Mount Charles property through his marriage to the earl’s grand-neice, Marian, daughter of John Murray of Broughton, in Scotland (see ).
Alexander’s son Albert lived at Mountcharles.  Albert had fought with William III’s troops in the Battle of the Boyne, against Fleming and James II’s troops.
Albert married Mary, daughter of the Right Reverend Robert Leslie, Bishop of Raphoe – this Bishop is the ancestor of the Leslie family of Castle Leslie in County Monaghan, another property on the Section 482 list that I will be visiting. Albert was killed by Irish Royalist rebels, and succeeded by his only surviving son, Henry (1664-1705).
Henry, a military man who also served as MP for County Donegal, purchased the land in Slane in 1703.
He built himself a residence, which he called Conyngham Hall, on the foundations of an older castle formerly belonging to the Flemings.
Henry Conyngham (d. 1705) fought first in James II’s army, but then persuaded his regiment to transfer their loyalty to William III.
Henry’s son Henry (1705-1781) inherited the Slane estate. Henry became an Member of the Irish Parliament and was raised to the peerage in 1753 to the title of Baron Conyngham of Mount Charles, and later became Viscount and eventually, Earl. He died without a son so the Barony passed to his nephew, William Burton (his sister Mary had married Francis Burton).
William Burton (1733-1796) took the name of Conyngham upon inheriting the estate in 1781. It was he who rebuilt Slane Castle.
His brother Francis Pierpoint Burton also who then took the name of Conyngham in 1781 as he inherited the title to become 2nd Baron Conyngham of Mount Charles, Co. Donegal. He died six years later, in 1787. [see 3]. In 1750 he had married Elizabeth, the daughter of amateur architect Nathaniel Clements, whose work we will see later in other houses on the section 482 list of heritage properties. For himself, Nathaniel Clements built what is now the Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of our President, Michael D. Higgins, in Phoenix Park in Dublin.
The castle and estate passed to Francis 2nd Baron Conyngham’s son Henry (1766-1832). Henry succeeded as the 3rd Baron Conyngham of Mount Charles, Co. Donegal in 1787. He served as a politician and moved quickly up the ranks of the peerage and was Lord Steward of the Royal household between 1821-30. He married Elizabeth Denison in 1794.
In 1821 King George IV visited Ireland, and he spent time in the Castle with his lover, Elizabeth, wife of Frances Pierpoint Burton Conyngham. “In return,” as our guide told us, the king made Conyngham a Marquess, although this isn’t quite true as he became Marquess in 1816. .
One of the rooms of the castle, the Smoking Room, has two cartoons from the period mocking the King and his consort Elizabeth, drawing them as overweight. In one, she aids her son when he has to move from the Castle of Windsor where he was Royal Chamberlain. It was he who announced to Victoria that she was Queen, upon death of the previous monarch. He was let go from his position when he tried to move his lover into his rooms in Windsor. His mother came to fetch him, with several wheelbarrows, the story goes, and she took all the furniture from his rooms. Somehow she brought a grand piano back from Windsor to Slane Castle where it sat in a specially made arbor for music in the Smoking room, until it was destroyed by a fire in Slane Castle in the 1990’s. One of the Punch style cartoons is of Elizabeth with a wheelbarrow fetching her son from Windsor. I can’t quite remember the other – it had King George IV and herself in a carriage. The Irish were very annoyed that when he came to Ireland he spent his entire time at Slane Castle!
The Irish Aesthete writes of the visit:
“Neither the king nor his inamorata were in the first flush of youth, and both were equally corpulent. These circumstances however did nothing to dampen their ardour. As was written of them at the time, ‘Tis pleasant at seasons to see how they sit/ First cracking their nuts, and then cracking their wit/ Then quaffing their claret – then mingling their lips/ Or tickling the fat about each other’s hips.’ And according to one contemporary observer, Lady Conyngham ‘lived exclusively with him during the whole time he was in Ireland at the Phoenix Park. When he went to Slane, she received him dressed out as for a drawing-room; he saluted her, and they then retired alone to her apartments.’” 
Our tour started with a video of Charles Conyngham, now known as Lord Mount Charles, telling of his childhood in the Castle, growing up in a very old-world upper class manner. He did not join his parents at the dining table until he was twelve years old, dining until then in the Nursery. His nurse, Margaret Browne, came to the Castle at 16 years old, and he held her in such regard that he named his bar after her.
Lord Mount Charles described how he started out, when he had to take over the Castle, with a restaurant, which is now the Gandon Restaurant. To further fund the Castle maintenance, Lord Mount Charles started concerts at the venue, beginning with Thin Lizzy in 1981. To seal the deal, the next show was the Rolling Stones! With such august imprimateur, the Castle’s concerts became world-famous and featured many top performers including David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Queen.
Henry 1st Marquess Conyngham’s son, Francis Nathaniel Burton Conyngham (1797-1876) inherited the property and the title, to become 2nd Marquess Conyngham. His daughter Frances Caroline Maria married Gustavus William Lambart (1814-1886), who we will come across later as the owner of Beauparc in County Meath, another Section 482 property https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/07/22/beauparc-house-beau-parc-navan-co-meath/ . The current owner of Slane inherited Beauparc from the Lambarts.
A son, George Henry (1825-1882) became 3rd Marquess Conyngham, and his son, Henry Francis the 4th Marquess. He married the daughter of the 4th Baron Mollens of Ventry, County Kerry. Their son the 5th Marquess died unmarried, so the title passed to his brother, Frederick William Burton, 6th Marquess. The current Marquess is the 8th, who is known as Lord Henry Mount Charles, but is officially 8th Marquess Conyngham since 2009.
A disasterous fire in the castle in 1991 destroyed the roof and one third of the castle.
The magnificent library with its intricate ceiling and impressive wooden chandelier was saved by two firemen fighting the fire from within the room, battling for nine hours. The smoke was so thick that one couldn’t see the ceiling. I think they deserve a plaque in the room to recognise their effort! Meanwhile the family saved as many priceless historic paintings and antiques as they could, including a huge portrait of King George IV that is now hanging again in the library, by cutting it from its giant gilt frame then taking the frame apart into four pieces in order to get it out through the doors. Lord Mount Charles now suffers with his lungs, probably partially as a result of long exposure to the flames and smoke. It took ten years to reconstruct the castle, but it has been done excellently so traces of the fire barely remain.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, as usual with these properties. There is a picture of the ornate roof in the library on the wonderful blog of the Irish Aesthete .
Mark Bence-Jones describes the room in his 1988 book (published before the fire, but this room remained intact!), A Guide to Irish Country Houses:
“…the great circular ballroom or library which rises through two storeys of the round tower and is undoubtedly the finest Gothic Revival room in Ireland; with a ceiling of Gothic plasterwork so delicate and elaborate that it looks like filigree. Yet this, too, is basically a Classical room; the Gothic ceiling is, in fact, a dome; the deep apses on either side of the fireplace are such as one finds in many of Wyatt’s Classical interiors, except that the arches leading into them are pointed; they are decorated with plasterwork that can be recognised as a very slightly Gothicized version of the familiar Adam and Wyatt fan pattern.“
Of the tales on the tour, I especially enjoyed the story of the funeral of a soldier’s leg. Apparently it was quite the custom to have funerals for body parts – his leg had to be amputated on the field of battle and the soldier brought it back to be buried with a full-scale military funeral. It must have been to do with the fact that a person’s body is to be resurrected on the Last Day, so it’s good to know where all the parts are! Cremation used to be forbidden in the Catholic church, as somehow it would be too difficult for God to put the ashes back together – never mind a disintegrated body!
We had lunch in the bar after the tour.
There is an adjoining distillery in what used to be the stables, and a tour of that can be purchased in combination if desired. Lord Charles’s mother bred horses before the stables were converted. The stables were designed by Capability Brown.
According to the Irish Aesthete:
“Henry Conyngham, grandson of General Henry Conyngham who purchased the property, around 1770 invited Capability Brown around 1770 to produce a design both for the landscaping of the parkland at Slane, and also for a new stable block. In the collection of the Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin a drawing survives of Brown’s proposal for the latter. It is not unlike the finished building, but more elaborate than what we see today.” 
I found a blog by the Irish Aesthete on a portrait now in Slane, of Lady Elizabeth wife of the first Marqess’s daughter, Lady Maria Conyngham. Reportedly Lady Elizabeth looked very like her daughter – which one would not guess from the unflattering cartoons of her! 
Help me to fund my creation and update of this website. It is created purely out of love for the subject and I receive no payment so any donation is appreciated! For this entry I paid for petrol and entrance fee for myself and Stephen.
“She probably became his [George IV’s] lover in 1819, when he was Prince Regent, but finally supplanted her predecessor, Isabella Seymour-Conway, Marchioness of Hertford, after he became king in 1820. He became besotted with her, constantly “kissing her hand with a look of most devoted submission.” While his wife Caroline of Brunswick was on trial in 1820 as part of efforts to divorce her, the king could not be seen with Lady Conyngham and was consequently “bored and lonely.” During his coronation, George was constantly seen “nodding and winking” at her. “Lady Conyngham’s liaison with the king benefited her family. Her husband was raised to the rank of a marquess in the Peerage of the United Kingdom and sworn to the Privy Council, in the coronation honours of 1821. He was also given several other offices, including Lord Steward of the Household and the lieutenancy of Windsor Castle. Her second son was made Master of the Robes and First Groom of the Chamber.”
On Sunday July 14th Stephen and I went to see Dardistown Castle, in County Meath. I contacted the owners beforehand, Ken and Lizanne Allen. www.dardistowncastle.ie Open in 2023: Feb 1-3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-28, July 17-31, August 1-31,10am-2pm Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €3, donation to Irish Cancer Society
Dardistown has some links to our most recent visit, to Dunsany Castle, as it was enlarged by Dame Jenet Sarsfield (1500-1597), who was the widow of Robert Plunkett, the 5thBaron of Dunsany.
She is worth writing about, but first let me backtrack.
During the Hundred Years War, 1337-1453 (that’s more than one hundred!), in which the English fought the French for the right to rule France, the English military were mostly withdrawn from Ireland. To compensate for their military absence, a limited number of government grants of £10 each were made available to landowners in the “The Pale” for the building of fortified houses. John Cornwalsh (or Thomas? Drogheda Museum blog writes that it was built by Thomas Cornwalsh, and that Thomas Cornwalsh was related to the Talbot family of Malahide Castle by marriage, which explains how the castle came into the Talbot family later ) obtained a £10 grant in 1465 for the building of Dardistown Castle. According to wikipedia, John Cornwalsh was Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer.
Driving up the driveway, one cannot see the tower. We drove up in front of the house, which has a lovely square trellis outside.
Ken was sitting outside waiting for visitors. He took us around to the back of the house. We went around the side, and only then saw the impressive tower.
It’s a four storey medieval tower, extended with the addition of a Victorian frontage. The tower is square with sides about 44 feet long and a square turrret at each corner. The turrets are of different sizes. The main arched entrance to the tower is now blocked and the main entrance is now on the south side. The tower is fifty feet high.
According to the website, fifty years after the castle was built, the Castle and lands were rented for £4 a year by John and Thomas Talbot, who supplied three armed horsemen for the royal army.
The Talbot family remained in Dardistown Castle until 1690, when they lost possession of the Castle and lands at Dardistown after the Battle of the Boyne. The castle became the residence of the Osborne family, who remained there until 1970. Francis Osborne of Dardistown was M. P. for Navan Borough in 1692 and 1695, and the Osborne family continued to occupy Dardistown until the death of the last member of the family. Henry Osborne (died May 10, 1828) also owned Cooperhill Brickworks. The castle passed via Samuel Henry Osborne to Henry St. George Osborne, who died in 1899, and then to his son Henry Ralph Osborne, who died in the 1970’s.
It was then taken over by the Armstrong family until 1987, and then the Allen family, who are from the Drogheda area, and it was Ken Allen who showed us around. He has restored the castle tower beautifully.
The tower was a ruin when the Allens acquired the castle and attached house.
The first extension to the Castle, forming part of the present house, was built before 1582, when Dame Genet (or Jenet) Sarsfield came to reside here, and made a new entrance doorway and built a further addition (commemorated by two stone tablets on the house).
The house was further added to in around 1770, and an extension built in 1800, with an upper storey added around 1860.
Dame Jenet Sarsfield was the not only the widow of Robert Plunkett. She was also the widow of Sir John Plunket of Dunsoghly Castle in Dublin (that one is not on the Section 482 list so I will not be visiting it this year). She was married six times! She was the daughter of a merchant, John Sarsfield, of Sarsfieldstown in County Meath. She was born in around 1500. Her brother William was an alderman of Dublin. She must therefore have mixed in rather elite circles, as she married Robert Shilyngford (or Shillingford), who became Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1534 for the usual one year term. They had one daughter who survived to adulthood – the only offspring of Jenet who lived into adulthood, according to Wikipedia . Jenet was also reputed to be the tallest lady living in Ireland in the 1500s, as testified by the tall door built at Dardistown! (it must be this pale green door under the balcony). 
After Robert’s death, Jenet married James Luttrell. He was also prominent in Dublin administration as he was the High Sheriff of County Dublin in 1556, and his father was Chief Justice. He died in 1557.
It was after James Luttrell’s death that Jenet married Robert Plunkett (1520-1559), 5thBaron of Dunsany. She was his second wife. He died only two years after her previous husband died, in 1559. After that marriage, she continued to be referred to as the Dowager Lady Dunsany. She next married Sir Thomas Cusack (1490-1571) of Cushinstown. He had previously been Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was about thirty years older than her. She was his third wife (!), although he refused to acknowledge his first wife. His second wife was reputed to have murdered her first husband, but she had a happy marriage to Thomas Cusack. Jenet had around eleven years as Thomas Cusack’s wife before he died.
Jenet inherited most of Cusack’s personal property, which was unusual at that time. Normally the firstborn son would be the heir. Sir Robert, Thomas’s son, had acquired the Abbey of Lismullen after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Sir Robert’s son Edward pursued litigation to obtain his father’s property. Lady Dunsany married Sir John Plunket then, of Dunsoghly Castle, who was an influential judge and Privy Councillor. She eventually vacated Lismullen but Edward Cusack complained that she had removed most of the valuables. Lady Dunsany lived with her husband Sir John Plunket in Dunsoghly Castle. He died in 1582.
Her sixth and final marriage was to John Bellew, and she lived for her last years in Dardistown Castle. She died in 1598 and chose not to be buried with any of her husbands, but in a tomb of her own, in Moorchurch in County Meath. Her last husband outlived her. Dardistown Castle passed to her son-in-law Thomas Talbot after her death. Her daughter Katherine Shillingford married Thomas Talbot, who lived in Dardistown Castle. Jenet Sarsfield/Lady Dunsany was John Bellew’s third wife. John Bellew (1522-1600) was of Bellewstown and Castletown. Dardistown Castle came into the family due to Katherine’s marriage to Thomas Talbot. 
The historic battle of Julianstown of 1641 is said to have taken place on the front lawn of Dardistown, though at that time it was separated from the House by the road [in1800 the road (main Drogheda – Dublin road at that time) was moved so that, instead of passing the front door, it now curved several hundred yards from the Castle, enclosing the area which is now picturesque parkland.] Richard Talbot was then in occupation of the Castle. The battle was fought by insurgents led by Sir Phelim O’Neill, against an English garrison on their way to Drogheda. Three new rooms were added to the Castle about this time.
As I mentioned earlier, the Talbot family remained in Dardistown Castle until 1690, when they lost possession of the Castle and lands at Dardistown after the Battle of the Boyne. The castle became the residence of the Osborne family, who remained there until 1970.
In the main house, the drawing room and dining room date from around 1750. The upper floors were added in two stages, the back about 1800 and the front in 1860. We did not get to see inside the main house, as the Allen family live there.
Ken led us in to the ground floor, which was originally the basement. This room is quite empty, and has been used for parties and gatherings so has a bar installed. It is described on the website as a games room. It is surprisingly large – this is by far the largest most spacious tower I have seen. There are vaulted smaller rooms in three of the four turrets off the main ground floor room. One turret would have been the toilet, where everything dropped down to the ground. There is a fireplace in the west wall of each main room on every level.
This room has the remains of a very unusual looking ceiling, “barrel vaulted.”  We can still see the sticks, in what looks like a wattle and daub type construction. I had never seen anything like it in a tower, but it is part of the original tower! [I have since seen this in several castles, such as in Blarney Castle in County Cork and in the basement of St. Mary’s Abbey house in Trim, County Meath] The website states:
“Following a native Irish technique, woven wicker mats resting on timber beams were used to support the vaults during their construction and at Dardistown bits of the wickerwork may still be seen embedded in the undersides of the vaults.”
We went up the original stone staircase in the southwest turret, unusual because it spirals to the left, or anticlockwise, rather than the right – Stephen is fascinated how the direction in most towers was determined to give the advantage to the owner, so that on descent, he (it was usually a male, I presume, wielding the sword, although surely not always!) could more easily wield his sword than an intruding coming up the stairs. Perhaps the person who designed these stairs was left-handed, Stephen speculated.
The rooms above are furnished beautifully, in a style to fit the medieval origins but with all the comforts of a modern home. They have wooden ceilings. It is tasteful and elegant and I would love to stay there! The Allens rent the rooms for accommodation. The first floor above is the dining room. A chandelier graces the room, and many pieces of antique furniture, plus comfortable couches and armchairs in front of the wood-burning stove in the fireplace. The original stone walls are exposed and have been repointed.
A fully outfitted kitchen has been installed in one turret. It is modern and luxurious.
The third turret of the tower has a large bathroom, which contains a lovely free-standing bath. At all levels above the ground floor the southeast turret contains a small chamber with an even smaller garderobe chamber opening off it.
The fourth turret in the tower on the first level contains a second, wooden, staircase, for fire escape safety. We looked up to see the top of the turret, which has a ceiling of overlapping flagstones, much like the tower ceiling which we saw in the Moone Abbey ten pound tower, and also in Newgrange.
The two upper floors of the turret have been decorated as luxurious bedrooms. There is a corridor off the third floor that leads into the main house, and which has been converted with two more beautiful bedrooms that can be hired for accommodation, plus bathroom.
I would love to stay! There is more accommodation in the yard.
There is a walled garden, which now is the back garden of the Allen family, and contains a tennis court. After our tour, we wandered into the lovely garden.
Help me to fund my creation and update of this website. It is created purely out of love for the subject and I receive no payment so any donation is appreciated! For this entry, I paid for petrol and the entrance fee for myself and Stephen.