Places to Visit and Stay, Munster: County Cork

Munster’s counties are Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

Accommodation is in red. Section 482 properties are in purple.

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Cork:

1. Annes Grove Gardens, County Cork – OPW

2. Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork – section 482

3. Ballymaloe House, Cloyne, County Cork

4. Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Co. Cork – section 482

5. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork – section 482

6. Barryscourt Castle, County Cork – OPW

7. Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork

8. Blarney Castle & Rock Close, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

9. Blarney House & Gardens, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

10. Brideweir House, Conna, Co. Cork – section 482

11. Burton Park, Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork – section 482

12. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482

13. Desmond Castle, Kinsale, County Cork – OPW

14. Doneraile Court, County Cork – OPW

15. Drishane Castle & Gardens, Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork – section 482

16. Drishane House, Castletownshend, Co. Cork – section 482

17. Dunkathel House [or Dunkettle], Glanmire, Cork

18. Dún Na Séad Castle, Baltimore, Co. Cork – section 482

19. Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens – OPW

20. Garrettstown House, Garrettstown, Kinsale, Co. Cork – section 482

21. Fenns Quay, 4 & 5 Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

22. Ilnacullin, Garanish Island, County Cork – OPW

23. Inis Beg gardens, Baltimore, County Cork

24. Kilcascan Castle, Ballineen, Co. Cork – section 482

25. Kilshannig House, Rathcormac, Co. Cork – section 482

26. Riverstown House, Riverstown, Glanmire, Co. Cork – section 482

27. Woodford Bourne Warehouse, Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

Places to stay, County Cork

1. Annes Grove (formerly Ballyhemock or Ballyhimmock), Castletownroche, Co Cork – gate lodge accommodation

2. Assolas, Kanturk, Co Cork – airbnb

3. Ballincurra House, County Cork – coach house, estate cottages, and whole house rental

4. Ballinterry House, Rathcormac, Co Cork – accommodation https://www.facebook.com/BallinterryH/

5. Ballylickey House, Bantry, Co Cork – now the Seaview House Hotel 

6. Ballymacmoy, Killavullen, Co Cork – coach house airbnb 

7. Ballymaloe, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation 

8. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental

9. Ballyvolane, Castlelyons, Co Cork – Hidden Ireland accommodation

10. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork

11. Brideweir, Conna, co Cork – 482 and accommodation

12. Castle Martyr, Co Cork – hotel 

13. Castle Townshend, Co Cork – accommodation, hotel 

14. Creagh (former Glebe House), Skibbereen, Co Cork – B&B 

15. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482

16. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above

17. Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, Co Cork

18. Elizabeth Fort Parade Houses, County Cork https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

19. Galley Head Lighthouse Keepers House, County Cork

https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

20. Coach House Apartments, Glebe Country House, Ballinadee Bandon County Cork https://glebecountryhouse.ie

21. Glenlohane cottage, Kanturk, Cork – accommodation

22. Glenville Park, Glenville, County Cork (previously known as The Manor and as Mount Pleasant) – accommodation 

23. Inis Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork

24. Killee Cottage, Mitchelstown, County Cork

25. Kilmahon House, County Cork

26. Kilshannig, County Cork holiday accommodation

27. Liss Ard Estate, County Cork

28. Lota Lodge, Glanmire, Co Cork – now the Vienna Woods Hotel 

29. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibbereen, County Cork – whole house or gate lodge –

30. The Courtyard, Mallow https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/the-courtyard-mallow/

31.  Maryborough, Douglas, Co Cork – Maryborough Hotel €€  https://www.maryborough.com

32. Old Bank Townhouse, Kinsale, County Corkhttps://www.oldbankhousekinsale.com

33. Perryville, Kinsale, Co Cork – hotel €€ https://www.perryvillehouse.com

[see 5]. Seaview House Hotel, Ballylicky, County Cork

34. Springfort Hall, Mallow, Co cork – hotel

Whole House Accommodation, County Cork

1. Aspen House, Dromgarriff Estate, Glengarriff, Cork, Ireland – whole house rental  

2. Ballincurra House, County Cork – coach house, estate cottages, and whole house rental

3. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental

4. Barnabrow, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation

5. Blackwater Castle (Castle Widenham, or Blackwater Valley Castle) Castletownroache, Co Cork

6. Blairscove House, County Cork

7. Careysville (Ballymacpatrick Castle), Clondulane, Fermoy, Co.Cork, Ireland P61 VF53 – accommodation

8. Clifford House, Clifford, Co Cork – airbnb

9. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above

10. Dunowen House, Co Cork – Blue Book Accommodation

11. Farran House, County Cork, whole house rental

12. Longueville, Mallow, Co Cork – Blue Book accommodation

13. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house €€€ for two, € for 5-8; or gate lodge €

14. Rincolisky Castle, Whitehall, co Cork – renovated, whole house.  €€€ for 2, € for 5.

15. Southernmost House, Cape Clear Island, County Cork

Cork:

1. Annes Grove Gardens, County Cork – OPW

Annes Grove County Cork 1981, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive [1]

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

2. Ashton Grove, Ballingohig, Knockraha, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Gerald McGreal
Tel: 087-2400831
Open: Feb 10-13, 19-27, Mar 10- 13, May 5-8, 19-22, 26-29, June 9-12, 23-26, July 21-24, Aug 13-21, 25-28, Sept 1-4, 22-25, 8am-12 noon

Fee: adult €6, OAP/student/child €3 

An article published on June 2nd 2013 in the Irish Examiner by Peter Dowdall gives a wonderful description of the garden. He writes:

From tiny little details, such as a glimpse of a marble seat in the distance through an accidental gap in a hedge, to a perfectly-positioned specimen tree, this garden needs senses on high alert.

If I am to be honest, I was expecting a garden recreated by the book and with a certain degree of interest from the owner. What I discovered was a garden being recreated by a man who is now thinking of the future generations and recreating this garden with a passionate attention to detail. Every plant that goes in is carefully considered; every stone and brick that went into creating an orangery from a derelict pig shed and a belfry from a cowshed were reused from the estate. Fallen slates, which weren’t good enough to use on buildings, create an edge around the rose beds.

What I love about the place is that the rule book is not evident, trial and error is the order of the day, which to me is real gardening. Except when it comes to the meticulous planning of the box hedges in the potager and the Horological Maze, which at this stage is on its third planting because the original Taxus (yew) failed due to a blight which struck again a few years later. The maze was replanted using Lonicera and is thriving, though it will be a few years before it is truly at its best…I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Sunday than roaming through the ‘garden rooms’ here.

Looking down on this garden, which is next to the maze, from an elevated platform you could imagine yourself in the south of France, except for the single-figure temperatures. Other features to admire include the fantastic Anglo-Chinese Regency-style bridge, constructed by the owner’s brother, and the pergola, which has been planted with several climbers including Jasminum, Laburnum, David Austin roses, Wisteria and Passiflora.

However, no account of a visit to this garden is complete without mentioning the Horological Maze.

What, I hear you ask is a Horological Maze? Well it’s a design centred on a French mantle clock, which is surrounded by interlocking cog-wheels, pinions and coil springs, all inspired by the workings of a typical mechanism. It also reflects the owner’s interest in horology and provides a balance in its garden sculpture to the turret clock presiding over the courtyard.

The owner took his inspiration for this creation from visits to Blenheim Palace and Weston Park in England, Shanagarry and Faithlegg in Ireland, and the Summer Palace in Vienna.

3. Ballymaloe House, Cloyne, County Cork

www.ballymaloe.ie

Ballymaloe House, 2017, photograph for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [2]

The website tells us:

Ballymaloe House is a family run Country House Hotel and restaurant on 300 acres of farmland located in beautiful East Cork countryside. Internationally recognised as the birthplace of Modern Irish Cuisine, Ballymaloe House offers you the very best of Irish hospitality and seasonal locally sourced or homegrown food.
A unique Irish Country House experience.”

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [3]

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

p. 24. “[Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E/PB; Corker sub. Corcor/LGI1912] A castle built towards the end of C16 by the FitzGeralds of Imokilly, enlarged 1602 by Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald [b. 1555]; confiscated by Cromwell; occupied for a period after the Restoration by William Penn [1644-1718], of Pennsylvania, when he was managing his father’s estate at Shanagarry, nearby; subsequently occupied by 1st Earl of Orrery [Roger Boyle (1621-1679)], presumably while he was repairing and improving his nearby seat of Castle Martyr; acquired towards end of C17 by Lt-Col Edward Corker; sold by him ante his death 1734 to Hugh Lumley, who added some new buildings to the castle some time ante 1750. As a result of Lumley’s additions, Ballymaloe is now predominantly early C18 in character; consisting of a plain two storey six bay range with an old tower built into one end of it, and a three storey gable-ended range at right angles to the two storey range, and joined to it by a return; forming a house on a “L”- plan. Some of the windows have thick early C18 glazing-bars. A staircase with thin turned balusters rises from the inner end of the hall, which has a ceiling with simple Adamesque decoration. The large room to the right of the hall has simple Adamesque frieze. Ca 1800, Ballymaloe was the residence of the Penn Gaskell family, who were descended from William Penn. In 1814, it was the residence of William Abbott. In 1837, it was owned by a Mr Forster; in 1908, it was occupied by William Litchfield. Until ca 1947, it was the home of Mr and Mrs J.M. Simpson; since then, it has been the home of Mr and Mrs Ivan Allen.” [4]

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

The Ballymaloe website elaborates the history:

Ballymaloe was a castle of the Imokilly Geraldines. Richard FitzMaurice FitzGerald was a son of the Knight of Kerry, who was appointed as Seneschal, or governor, of the area by the Earl of Desmond in 1440. The original castle was probably built by him shortly after that time. By the time of the Desmond rebellion, the occupant was John FitzEdmund FitzGerald who was known as ‘the Queen’s John FitzEdmond’ to distinguish him from the Seneschal of the same name who was a leader of the Insurrection and owned nearby Castlemartyr.

John FitzEdmund of Ballymaloe castle was an illegitimate son of Edmund by Honor Ni Donagh, ‘a woman of Muskerry’ and was well up in the list of efficient contrivers and gatherers of land of his time. John FitzEdmund appointed himself Sheriff of Cork in 1570 and during the Desmond rising he ‘dyd hang his (legitimate) brother James FitzEdmund’ in 1582. John refused to join O’Neill in 1599 and his lands were devastated, but he survived to be knighted by Mountjoy at Cloyne for his faithfulness in 1602.

Despite their differences, the close ties to the Geraldines were apparent when John FitzEdmund’s son, Edmund, was married to Honora, widow of his namesake, the late Seneschal. In 1611 this Edmund died and she was a widow again so old Sir John leased her the lands at a nominal rent before he died the following year aged 85.

A daughter of her rebellious father, she housed the homeless friars at Ballymaloe. Her son John moved to Ballymaloe where he died in 1640.

By the time of the Confederate War in 1641, the owner was her grandson, another Edmund and he lost the lands for taking the ‘rebel’ side. They passed to Broghill, (Roger Boyle, son of the Earl of Cork; newly-created Earl of Orrery, but living on a narrow edge of survival since he had escaped a charge of treason in London. Broghill lived at Ballymaloe after his enforced retirement as President of the court of Munster in 1672 before making his last home at Castlemartyr.

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

By the middle of the 18th Century, the occupier was Abraham Forster, and early in the 19th century, his grandson demolished parts of the old castle. It was he who largely build the house into its present form. Sometime later it passed to the Litchfield’s, and in 1924 Simpson, a nephew of the latter family came into possession. Mr. Simpson sold the house and farm to Myrtle and Ivan Allen in 1948 and it remains owned by the Allen family to this day.

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

Myrtle and Ivan Allen bought Ballymaloe in 1948 from the Simpson family. The Simpsons were known in the area for their parties and Myrtle and Ivan had, in fact, met at Ballycotton Lifeboat fundraising dinner at Ballymaloe a few years previously. Ivan had wide farming interests, growing tomatoes and cucumbers in glasshouses and mushrooms in dark wooden sheds at nearby Kinoith as well as managing the orchards there.

However, Ivan longed for a mixed farm and when Ballymaloe came up for sale he decided to buy it. Myrtle and Ivan spent the next sixteen years farming and bringing up their children. The farm was a success producing milk, butter, cream, eggs, home raised pork and veal as well as fruit and vegetables. Myrtle became highly knowledgeable about cooking their produce and began writing a cookery column in the Irish Farmers Journal.

In 1964, Myrtle, encouraged by Ivan, decided to open Ballymaloe as a restaurant. The children were growing up and she could see a different future ahead of her:

“On a winter’s day I sat by the fire alone and wondered what I would do in this big house when they were all grown up – Then I thought about a restaurant.”

Her aim was to emulate the best Irish Country House cookery.  Myrtle and Ivan then placed an advert in the Cork Examiner: Dine in a Historic Country House. Open Tuesday to Saturday. Booking essential. Phone Cloyne 16.

So Myrtle scrubbed down the kitchen table, and with the help of two local women she began. They cooked on an Aga at first and she was helped front of house by Ivan and their daughter Wendy. Their shepherd Joe Cronin ran the bar.

The food was good and the restaurant flourished. They cooked using their own produce- unpasteurised milk and cream, veal, pork, homemade sausages and black puddings, herbs, fruit and vegetables. Ivan went to Ballycotton every day for the fresh catch. Local beef and lamb came from Mr.Cuddigan, the butcher in Cloyne. Myrtle also encouraged local farmers’ wives to bring in their surplus produce and blackberries, elderflowers and watercress were brought in by children for pocket money.

Although times have changed at Ballymaloe, the essential spirit of the place is rooted in these improvised beginnings and in the relationship of the farm to the table which underlies the elegance of Irish Country House cooking.

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

The National Inventory describes it: “Detached six-bay two-storey country house, built c. 1780, with four stories to rear (north) elevation, three bays to rear forming central projection and having single-storey additions to rear. Tower house, c.1450, incorporated into west elevation and taller L-plan three-storey house c. 1730 to east, five-bay two-storey hipped-roofed block with slightly projecting east bay to north-east corner…The fascinating multiphase construction is evident in the variety of styles and blocks which form the house. Formerly the seat of the FitzGeralds of Imokilly, it was enlarged by Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald. It was occupied at one time by William Penn of Pennsylvania and by First Earl of Ornery. Its impressive size is enhanced by fine proportions and by the retention of various timber sliding sash windows. The central doorcase and large petal fanlight form the main artistic focus and enhance the impressive and symmetrical façade. The other blocks add tremendous context. The tower house incorporated into the main house is a very notable archaeological feature. The house retains much early fabric and forms a group with related outbuildings and gate lodge.” (see [3])

Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])
Ballymaloe House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. (see [3])

4. Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Justin Green
Tel: 025-36349
(Tourist Accommodation Facility) 

www.ballyvolanehouse.ie

Open: all year except Jan 1, Dec 24-31

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website tells us: “Welcome to Ballyvolane House, a historic Irish country house of extraordinary warmth, style and comfort that provides luxury manor house accommodation, bespoke intimate weddings, glamping and private house parties/exclusive house rentals, located in the beautiful North Cork countryside of southern Ireland. Ballyvolane House is also home to Bertha’s Revenge Gin.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The National Inventory describes the house: “Ballyvolane House is a fine example of the Victorian Italianate domestic architecture, in this case being applied to a house which was originally a three-storey early eighteenth-century structure. The top storey was removed when the house was remodelled in 1847. The classically proportioned façade is enlivened by the decorative render dressings including oak-leaf brackets to the eaves, window surrounds and heavy continuous sill course. The porch constitutes the decorative focus of the house and is articulated by pilasters. The doorway is flanked by skillfully carved marble engaged columns with ornate foliate capitals which add further artistic interest to the façade. The block to the west was built to house the servants and is of a simpler design and treatment. This building, together with extensive outbuildings and walled gardens, adds valuable context to the site.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website tells us about the history:

There is an inescapable air of frivolity at Ballyvolane – the name itself means ‘the place of springing heifers’ and is testament to the fertility, richness and natural diversity of the land on which the estate lies.

Originally built in 1728 by Sir Richard Pyne, a retired Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Ballyvolane was designed in the classic Georgian country house style with three storeys An amorous descendent, Arthur Pyne, acquired sufficient capital from his marriage to three wealthy women to have the house considerably enlarged in the early 19th century.

The three-storey house was again modified in 1872 by George Pyne. He had the building pulled apart and then, by removing the top storey, recreated a two-storey house rendered in Italianate style, with an extensive west end wing.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website continues: “Recent research carried out Terence Reeves-Smyth unearthed tender documents for the remodelling of Ballyvolane from this time – the architect was Richard Rolt Brash (1817-1876), a Cork architect, whose father and brother were well known builders in the city. RB Brash is better known as a very active antiquarian and friend of John Windele – he was especially interested in round towers.

The rebuilding/remodelling in the early 1870s followed the re-acquisition of the house and demesne by the Pyne family in 1869. Arthur Pyne (1747-1839) who probably built the present house around c1800 and laid out the present parkland (which looks Regency in date), was succeeded by his eldest son Jasper Pyne. Unfortunately, when Jasper died in 1860-1 he left no male heirs and as a result his wife and daughters did not inherit the property (the estate had been left by his father Arthur entailed for a life and could only be inherited by male issue). Consequently, following a big court case in May 1861 the property passed to Jasper’s younger brother, the Rev. William Masters Pyne, Rector of Oxted in Surrey. In March 1864 the Rev Pyne put the place on the market through the Encumbered Estates Courts. It remained on the market until bought by another member of the Pyne family in January 1869.

It appears that Ballyvolane was originally purchased by Sir Richard Pyne in 1702-3 for £696; prior to this it had been the property of Sir Richard Nagle and Edmond Barry, but had been granted (forfeited lands) to Viscount Sidney. At the same time Sir Richard Pyne also purchased three other Co Cork properties from the Commissioners for Sale of Forfeited Estates; one was Blarney, the others were the estates of Ballinaneala and Ardra. He also in England bought Great Codham Hall in Essex, where the family continued to live well into the 19th century.

The Pynes built the present house and lived here until 1953, when it was bought by the late Cyril Hall Green (known as Squirrel Green) and his wife Joyce (née Blake), on their return from Malaya, where Squirrel had managed rubber plantations since the 1920’s. Ballyvolane was passed on to Squirrel’s son, Jeremy, who ran it as a mixed tillage and dairy farm until the mid 1980’s when it became one the founding members of the Hidden Ireland group, an association of town and country houses offering a unique and exclusive style of accommodation and chosen for their architectural merit and interesting characteristics.

Ballyvolane was managed as a successful country house bed and breakfast by Jeremy and his wife, Merrie until January 2004, when the reins were handed to his son Justin and his wife, Jenny. Justin and Jenny are experienced hoteliers having gained international management experience in some of the best hotels in the world namely Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, The Legian in Bali, Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai and prior to moving home, Justin was GM of Babington House (part of Soho House) in Somerset. Three generations of the Green Family now live at Ballyvolane.

Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Ballyvolane, County Cork, photo taken 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

5. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork – section 482

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph 1989 from the National Library, flickr constant commons.
Bantry House, County Cork, photograph by Chris Hill, 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2]) “Many more substantial changes were made in 1845 by Richard, Viscount Berehaven (1800-67), the son of the first Earl of Bantry, a passionate art collector …To accommodate his new furnishings, the Viscount built a fourteen bay block to the rear of the old house consisting of a six-bay centre of two storeys over a basement flanked by four-storey bow end wings. No doubt inspired by the grand baroque palaces of Germany, he gave the house a sense of architectural unity by lining the walls with giant red brick pilasters with Coade-stone Corinthian capitals, the intervening spaces consisting of grey stucco and the parapet adorned with an attractive stone balustrade. He also lay out the Italianate gardens, including the magnificent terraces on the hillside behind the house, most of which was undertaken after he had succeeded his father as the second Earl of Bantry in 1851.”

contact: Julie Shelswell-White
Tel: 087- 9811149
www.bantryhouse.com
Open: Apr 1-Oct 31, 10am-5pm
Fee: adult €14, OAP/student €11.50, child €5, groups over 8-20, €8 and groups of 21 or more €9

The website tells us:

The original house was built in around 1690, a three storey five bay building, by Samuel Hutchinson. Called Blackrock, [and before that, Seafield – Mark Bence-Jones in his A guide to Irish Country Houses dates this nucleus of the house of three storeys five bays as being built by the Hutchinson family in around 1740] it forms the nucleus of the present Bantry House. Today the house has many treasures: exquisite French furniture, tapestries and objets d’art, which give it the air of a baroque palace. According to Reeves-Smyth, it was acquired by Richard White [1700-1776], a farmer from Whiddy Island, in the 1760’s, and he had amassed a fortune from pilchard-fishing, iron-smelting and probably from smuggling. Through a series of purchases, he acquired most of the land around Bantry including large parts of the Beare Peninsula, and these estates were enlarged by his grandson Richard White (1767-1851.) 

This grandson, Richard White, raised defenses in 1796 against the French invasion. The weather, however, scuttled the invasion. Richard White was created Baron Bantry in 1797 in recognition of his “spirited conduct and important service.” In 1801 he was made a viscount, and in 1815 he became the Earl of Bantry. 

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph by Chris Hill, 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

.”..A two-storey addition with bowed ends and a six-bay front facing onto Bantry Bay were added in 1820, providing space for two large drawing rooms and several bedrooms above. Many more substantial changes were made in 1845 by Richard, Viscount Berehaven (1800-67), the son of the first Earl of Bantry, a passionate art collector who travelled regularly across Europe, visiting Russia, Poland, France and Italy and bringing back shiploads of exotic goods between 1820 and 1840. To accommodate his new furnishings, the Viscount built a fourteen bay block to the rear of the old house consisting of a six-bay centre of two storeys over a basement flanked by four-storey bow end wings. No doubt inspired by the grand baroque palaces of Germany, he gave the house a sense of architectural unity by lining the walls with giant red brick pilasters with Coade-stone Corinthian capitals, the intervening spaces consisting of grey stucco and the parapet adorned with an attractive stone balustrade. He also lay out the Italianate gardens, including the magnificent terraces on the hillside behind the house, most of which was undertaken after he had succeeded his father as the second Earl of Bantry in 1851. After his death in 1867 the property was inherited by his brother William, the third Earl (1801-1884), his grandson William the fourth and last Earl (1854-91), and then passed through the female line to the present owner, Mr. Shelswell-White.

Today the house remains much as the second earl left it, with an important part of his great collection still intact. Nowhere is this more son than the hall where visitors will find an eclectic collection garnered from a grand tour, which includes an Arab chest, a Japanese inlaid chest, a Russian travelling shrine with fifteenth and sixteenth century icons and a Fresian clock. There is also a fine wooden seventeenth century Flemish overmantel and rows of family portraits on the walls. The hall was created by combining two rooms with the staircase hall of the original house and consequently has a rather muddled shape, though crisp black and white Dutch floor tiles lend the room a sense of unity.. Incorporated into this floor are four mosaic panels collected by Viscount Berehaven from Pompeii in 1828 and bearing the inscriptions “Cave Canem” and “Salve.” Other unusual items on show include a mosque lamp from Damascus in the porch and a sixteenth century Spanish marriage chest which can be seen in the lobby. 

The most spectacular room is the dining-room, dominated by copies of Allan Ramsay’s full-length portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte, whose elaborate gilt frames are set off by royal blue walls. The ceiling was once decorated with Guardi panels, but these have long since been removed and sold to passing dealers at a fraction of their worth. The differing heights of the room are due to the fact that they are partly incorporated in the original house and in the 1845 extension, their incongruity disguised by a screen of marble columns with guilded Corinthian capitals. Much of hte furniture has been here since the second Earl, including the George III dining table, Chippendale chairs, mahogany teapoy, sideboards made for the room, and the enormous painting The Fruit Market by Snyders revealing figures reputedly drawn by Rubens – a wedding present to the first Countess.

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph by Chris Hill, 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The description on the website continues: “The first flight of the staircase from the hall belongs to the original early eighteenth century house, as does the half-landing with its lugged architraves. This leads into the great library, built around 1845 and the last major addition to the house. The library is over sixty feet long, has screens of marble Corinthian columns, a comparmented ceiling and Dublin-made mantelpieces at each end with overhanging mirrors. The furnishing retains a fine rosewood grand piano by Bluthner of Leipzig, still occasionally used for concerts. The windows of this room once looked into an immense glass conservatory, but this has now been removed and visitors can look out upon restored gardens and the steep sloping terraces behind. Visitors can stay overnight on a B&B basis. It is located on the outskirts of Bantry on the N71.

Bantry House and Gardens, Bantry, Co Cork, photo by George Karbus 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
View from the top of the “Sky Steps” (also known as the “100 Steps”) Showing the house and Bantry Bay, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

6. Barryscourt Castle, County Cork – OPW

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

7. Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork

Blackrock Castle, Cork, from the National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

The Archiseek website tells us:

Blackrock Castle lies on the shore of the river Lee, in the city of Cork, in County Cork in Ireland. 

The circular watchtower of Blackrock Castle was built in 1604, on the site of an earlier fort. With its 2.2 meter thick walls, it was designed to withstand cannon fire. It was built to defend the city against attacks from pirates and the Spanish, who had landed at Kinsale 3 years earlier. But it also served to protect the English Lord Deputy Mountjoy against the citizens of Cork, who had been slow to acknowledge King James I. 

Later Blackrock Castle was used by the Mayors of Cork for the Admiralty Court. Also known as the Maritime Court, it exercised jurisdiction over all maritime caes and offences. 

In 1827 the castle was gutted by fire following the annual Corporation banquet. Two years later, in 1829, it was rebuilt and enlarged in Gothic Revival style. 

Later it was used as a meeting place, a private residence, a restaurant and commercial offices before it was acquired by the Cork City Council in 2001. At present the castle houses an astronomy center/museum especially aimed at children.” [5]

8. Blarney Castle & Rock Close, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

Kissing the Blarney Stone, County Cork, photograph from the National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
Kissing the Blarney Stone, around 1897, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
The Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

contact: Charles Colthurst
Tel: 021-4385252
www.blarneycastle.ie
Open: all year except Christmas Eve & Christmas Day, Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec, 9am-4pm, Mar-Oct, 9am-5pm

Fee: adult €18, OAP/student €15, child €10, family and season passes

Blarney Castle, March 2003.

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

p. 43. “An exceptionally large keep with an angle-tower, built 1446 by the McCarthys of Muskerry, and world-famous for having the Blarney Stone built into its battlements. Having been fortified by Donogh MacCarthy, 4th Earl of Clancarty [d. 1734], who fought for James II in the Williamite War, it was acquired by the St. John Jefferyes family. In the mid to late C18, James St. John Jefferyes built a four storey Georgian-Gothic house onto the old keep; with a central bow and a turret and cupola; pointed windows and curvilinear pinnacled battlements. The Jefferyes family also laid out a landscape garden known as Rock Close, with great stones arranged to look as though they had been put there in prehistoric times. The C18 house was burnt early in C19 and not rebuilt; its ruin now forms a picturesque adjunct to the keep. In 1874 a new house was built, on a different site further into the demesne and overlooking the lake.”

Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])
Blarney Castle, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

9. Blarney House & Gardens, Blarney, Co. Cork – section 482

Blarney House, County Cork, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

contact: Charles Colthurst
Tel 021-4385252
www.blarneycastle.ie
Open: June 1-Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €7, concession joint with castle

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

p. 43. “It is in the Scottish Baronial style, of rough-hewn ashlar; of two storeys over a high basement with a gabled attic. Round corner turret and bartizans with conical roos; stepped gables and dormer gables; rectangular plate-glass windows. Porch with two Ionic columns on entrance front, the window above being framed by Corinthian pilasters, an entablature and strapwork cresting on garden front. Entrance hall with timbered ceiling and flight of stone steps leading up to the level of the principal rooms. Top-lit inner hall with Jacobean style oak staircase; first floor landing with arches and Corinthian pilasters. Large and small drawing rooms en suite, with friezes of Adam-Revival plasterwork. Adam-Revival frieze also in dining room. Passed through marriage to the Colthurst family.

10. Brideweir House, Conna, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Ronan Fox
Tel: 025-36386

www.brideweir.ie
Open: Jan 1-Dec 24, 11am-4pm
Fee: adult €10, OAP/student €5, OAP free

Brideweir House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us: “Every house has its tales to tell and Brideweir House in Conna, Co Cork is no exception. In the year  1822  famine had hit Ireland. In Conna the local Reverend Ludlow Tonson chaired a meeting of the parish on 29th July in favour of constructing a bridge over the River Bride. 

Its purpose was “to facilitate communications in the area, and to offer employment”. A petition was sent to Dublin Castle and the rest, as they say, is history. The bridge still has pride of place today over the River Bride. 

But it’s safe to say that the reverend Tonson must have had a vested interest in seeing the bridge built. It was to be just a stone’s throw from the location of his two storey over basement rectory, Brideweir House, built in 1822, the same year he helped raise the petition

The Reverend’s house, completed for the princely sum of £923 (thanks to a gift and a grant, both of £300 from the Board of First Fruits), was situated on a glebe of seven acres and boasted a fine coach house and stables, all still in existence today.

11. Burton Park, Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Jess Angland
Tel: 022-59955
www.slieile.ie 

Open: May 8-July 7, Mon-Sat, closed Bank Holidays, Aug 13-21, 11am-3pm Fee: adult/child/OAP/student €9

Burton Park, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 50. “(Perceval, Egmont, E/PB; Ryan-Purcell/IFR) Originally a fine cut-stone house built in several stages between ca 1665 and 1686 for Sir John Perceval, 1st Bt, and his two sons, Sir Philip, 2nd Bt and Sir John, 3rd Bt; designed by Captain William Kenn, his son Benjamin, and Thomas Smith. Of two storeys over a basement, with a dormered attic; 7 bay front, with unsually tall windows. The roof was surmounted by a row of tall chimneys and a lantern with a copper ball on top of it. The house stood within a series of walled enclosures, with turrets at the outer corners. Like his brother, the 3rd Bt died young, 1686, leaving several infant sons, one of whom eventually became 1st Earl of Egmont [John Perceval (1683-1748)]. In 1690 the house was burnt by James II’s troops as they retreated south after the Battle of the Boyne. A new two storey house was built by the Earl of Egmont in the late-Georgian period; it was subsequently acquired by the Purcell family, who refaced it in Victorian cement and gave it a high roof with curvilinear dormer-gables. Hall with staircase rising round it; stairs of wood, with thin balusters. Pedimented Georgian doorcases put in later. Large drawing room with ceiling of delicate late-Georgian plasterwork; walls decorated in the Louis Seize style. Victorian dining room. Castellated entrance gateway, from which a straight avenue of trees leads up to the house.” 

12. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Michael O’Sullivan
Tel: 022-24433
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April-Sept
Public tours of house all year

Creagh House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 94. “(Becher/IFR; Wrixon -Becher, Bt/PB; Harold-Barry/IFR) A pleasant Regency house of two storeys over a basement, built ca 1820. Entrance front with a single deep semicircular bow and one bay; fanlighted doorway beneath trellised porch; a second bow is said to have been intended, but never built. Side elevation fo three bays and a three sided bow. Eaved roof.  

Curving staircase, with slender wooden balusters; drawing room extending into the semi-circular bow, dining room in the three-sided bow.  Delightful gardens laid out by the present owner, Mr. P.J. Harold-Barry, extending to the shore of the estuary and along the banks of a mill-race and millpoint, with the ruined mill providing a folly-like “object.” “

13. Desmond Castle, Kinsale, County Cork – OPW

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

14. Doneraile Court, County Cork – OPW

Doneraile Court, County Cork, August 2020.

See my OPW write-up. https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

15. Drishane Castle & Gardens, Drishanemore, Millstreet Town, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Thomas Duggan
Tel: 087-2464878, 029-71008
www.millstreet.ie
Open: June 1-Sept 30, Mon-Sat, (Jan-May, Oct-Dec Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by appointment only) National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 9am-5pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student free, child free when accompanied by adult.

Drishane Castle, County Cork, photograph from National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

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

p. 108. “(Wallis/IFR) A three storey C18 house built alongside the keep of a C15 castle of the MacCarthys by the Wallises, castellated and extended between 1845 and 1860. Battlemented parapet; entrance front with square corner-towers and central porch tower – with presumably later battlemented porte-cochere built onto its front – prolonged by a single-storey range joining it to a two storey wing or pavilion with Irish battlemented corner towers. Adjoining front with three sided bow and mullioned windows, prolonged by a slightly lower wing ending in a square tower, joined by high battlemented walls to the old keep, which stands on a mound at this corner of the house. Two storey hall with gallery; Goergian doorcases with entablatures. Two drawing rooms opening into each other with an arch. The old keep was completely restored some time post 1879 by Lady Beaumont, mother of Major H.A.B. Wallis, the last member of the family to live at Drishane, which was sold 1908 by order of the court of Chancery. It was re-sold a year later to the Sisters of the Infant Jesus, who opened a boarding school and domestic economy school here.” 

16. Drishane House, Castletownshend, Co. Cork – section 482

Drishane House, County Cork.

See my write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/03/07/drishane-house-castletownshend-co-cork/
Contact: Thomas Somerville
Tel: 028-36126, 083-574589
www.drishane.com
Open: May 1-31, Aug 13-21, Oct 2-21, 11am-3pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €8, student/child €6

17. Dunkathel House [or Dunkettle], Glanmire, Cork

– open to public May-Oct

Dunkathel, photo from 1981, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons

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

p. 115. “(Tonson, sub Tonson-Rye/IFR and Riversdale, BDEP; Trant/LGI1958; Morris/LG1879; Gubbins/LG1937-Supp; Russell/IFR) A house in the Palladian manner, consisting of a two storey nine bay centre block joined by screen walls with rusticated niches to office wings extending back; the front ends of the wings being treated as two storey two bay pavilions with oculi in their upper storey. The front of the centre block has quoins at its sides and framing a three bay breakfront; a solid roof parapet and fanlighted doorcase with an entablature and engaged Tuscan columns. Built post 1780 by Abraham Morris, a wealthy Cork merchant who became an MP after a celebrated electoral case which ended in the unseating of his successful opponent, Lord Kingsborough; the architect of the house is not known, but the Knight of Glin has suggested that it might be by an associate of Davis Duckart, who designed the nearby Lota; since the design clearly owes much to Duckart’s influence. The wings from two sides of a courtyard at the back of the house, being joined by a range containing a room with a frieze of C18 plasterwork, which is possibly a remnant of the previous house, built by Dominick Trant, MP – who had a fine collection of pictures here – itself the successor to an earlier house on a different site built by Richard Tonson, MP. The present house has an impressive bifurcating staircase of stone with graceful iron balusters behind a wide arch at the back of the hall, which is adorned by fluted Corinthian pilasters of wood. The hall keeps its early C19 decorations, the walls marbled to represent Siena, the ceiling painted as a blue sky with clouds. The other main rooms have simple friezes. The house stands in a fine situation overlooking the Lee estuary just below the mouth of the Glanmire River. Sold ca 1870 by Jonas Morris to the Wise Gubbins family, from whom it was inherited by the Russell family.” 

Dunkathel, photo from 1981, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
Dunkathel, photo from 1981, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons

18. Dún Na Séad Castle, Baltimore, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Donna O’Driscoll
Tel: 087-7374592
www.baltimorecastle.ie
Open: March 1-Oct 31, 11am -6pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €5, children under 12 free

Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.
Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.

The website tells us:”Dunasead Castle, also known as Dún a Séad, Dunashad or Baltimore Castle, lies in the town of Baltimore in Cork, in County Cork in Ireland. 

The site of Dunasead Castle, a rocky cliff above Baltimore Harbour, has been fortified since a very long time. The first fortification was maybe a ringfort. After that an Anglo-Norman castle was built here in 1215. In 1305 that castle was taken and destroyed by the MacCarthys. Subsequently the O’Driscolls took possession of the site and built a castle. 

The O’Driscolls were constantly under pressure from encroachments by Anglo-Norman settlers and rival Gaelic clans on their territory and trade interests, which resulted in the castle being attacked and destroyed numerous times in the following centuries. 

The present Dunasead Castle was built in the 1620’s by the O’Driscolls. In 1631 the castle narrowly escaped an attack by a band of pirates from Algiers, who landed in Baltimore and took 107 captives to a life of slavery in North Africa. 

In the 1640’s it was surrendered to Oliver Cromwell’s forces and passed to the Coppingers. In 1642 the O’Driscolls fruitlessly attempted to recover the castle by force. In the 1690’s the Coppingers were forfeited. After the 17th century the castle fell to ruin

Between 1997 and 2005 the ruined castle was rebuilt, at first as a private residence. At present it is a small museum.”

Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.
Worn steps at Baltimore Castle, County Cork, August 2020.

19. Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens – OPW

maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust, now OPW.

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

Fota House, County Cork, August 2020.

20. Garrettstown House, Garrettstown, Kinsale, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Denis Mawe
Tel: 021-4778156
Open: May 15-Sept 5, 12 noon-5pm
Fee: adult €8, OAP/student/child €5, groups of 10+ adults €5 per person

www.garrettstownhouse.com

Garrettstown House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 132. “(Cuthbert-Kearney/LG1863; Franks/IFR) Some time ante mid-C18, the Kearney family – who, like other families along the south-west coast of Ireland, are reputed to have become rich through smuggling – began building themselves a grand house with two wings facing each other across a forecourt in the Palladian manner; levelling a site for it out of the solid rock above the sea at great expense. The two wings, of an attractive golden stone, their handsome pedimented facades, each with a rusticated doorway, facing each other across the forecourt, fwere completed. But whether the house itself was actually built is uncertain; though Charles Smith (writing 1750) implies that it was. If it existed, it cannot have survived very long; for one of the wings subsequently became the house, being enlarge dfor this purpose…Towards the end of C19, Garrettstown was inherited by the Franks family, who sold it ca 1950. It is now ruinous.” It is no longer ruinous and has undergone major renovation.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage gives the following appraisal:

Built by the Kearney family between the years 1702 and 1720, with changes and additions being made until 1740, this building was originally a wing of a substantial country house. The main house was never started due to financial reasons and this, one of the flanking buildings, was subsequently turned into a stable block. The money saved by not building the main house was spent on improving the gardens and grounds. The house was passed down through the female line, staying within that lineage until 1950 when it was sold to the Land Commission. Although now in use as offices, the building retains much of its original form and character seen in the tooled limestone detailing and its grand scale. The retention of many of the original outbuildings and the extensive gardens on the site give further evidence to the wealth and status of this former country house.” 

21. Fenns Quay, 4 & 5 Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

contact: Clare Supple
Tel: 089-4646208
www.encorestaging.org
Open: May 1-Nov 30, Sat-Sun, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: Adult €3, OAP €2, student €1

The website tells us:

Fenns Quay Sheares Street is a listed building in Cork. It is one of the oldest terraced buildings in Cork. It is a three-bay three-storey former house, built c.1740, as a group of four with the adjoining three buildings to the east. Now in use as restaurant and accomadation.

Comprising of:

Pitched slate roof with red brick corner chimneystacks and cast-iron rooflights.

Red brick walls to upper floors having ashlar limestone keystones over first floor windows.

Timber sliding sash windows.

Projecting timber shopfront. Retaining interior features.” You can have a virtual tour on their website.

22. Ilnacullin, Garanish Island, County Cork – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

23. Inis Beg gardens, Baltimore, County Cork

https://www.inishbeg.com/homepage/

Inish Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork, photograph by George Karbus 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

The website tells us:

Inish Beg, Irish for “small island”, is the most northerly of the Carbery Hundred Islands of County Cork Ireland and lies in the unspoilt tidal estuary of the Ilen River. There is a bronze age Cromlech (boulder burial) within the grounds, as well as a tree covered Lissaghaun (little fort or fairy mound) in front of the main house.The local saint, St. Fachtna is recorded as having been given the “Book of Dues” on the island in the 6th century.The island belonged to a Richard White in the 17th Century and was acquired by the MacCarthy Morrough family in 1830. Initially used as a sporting estate, the main house was finally finished in 1899.The population of the island followed a familiar pattern to that of much of the rural west of Ireland. Lewis quotes 109 inhabitants in 1837, but the numbers then declined to 11 by 1901 following the famine years of the mid nineteenth century and the agricultural depression of the 1880’s.

In 1908 Kay Summersby was born at Inish Beg House. She came to notoriety as a close companion of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Inish Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork, photograph by George Karbus 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

Inish Beg Estate comprises 97 acres; 

  • 42 of these are birdsong-filled woodlands which are sympathetically managed and include exceptional tree ferns, bamboo, several ponds, bird hides and carriage drives,
  • 42 acres are green fields sweeping down to the Ilen Estuary where sheep and ponies graze, for this is a working farm run on organic principles.
  • the remaining 13 acres is taken up with buildings, a walled garden with glass house and fruit cages, a sunken garden with fountain, a cherry drive, an orchard, a daffodil lined avenue and two woodland gardens.
  • see also https://westcorkgardentrail.com

24. Kilcascan Castle, Ballineen, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Alison Bailey
Tel: 023- 8847200
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 9.30am-1.30pm
Fee: Free

Kilcascan Castle, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 165. “Daunt/IFR) A two storey early C19 castellated house. Symmetrical entrance front with projecting bays joined by battlemented cloister; rectangular tracery windows. Battlemented bow and square turret.” 

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

The seat of the Daunt family between 1712 and 1987, this picturesque country house is thought to have been built in the early decades of the nineteenth century around the time of the second wedding of Joseph Daunt, to replace an earlier house. Though the architect is unknown, it has been suggested that it is the work of the Pain brothers. According to James N. Healy’s The Castles of Co.Cork the contractors were a local family named Hickie. It is a fine addition to the county’s architectural heritage, and retains much of its excellently executed historic fabric. It was apparently the site of the last death by duelling in 1826, at which time Joseph Daunt was shot and killed by his cousin from Manch House. It has more illustrious associations with the following generation, William O’Neill Daunt (1807-94) was a leading Nationalist politician and one time secretary to Daniel O’Connell.

25. Kilshannig House, Rathcormac, Co. Cork – section 482

Kilshanning House, County Cork, August 2020.

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/12/10/kilshannig-house-rathcormac-county-cork/
contact: Hugo Merry
Tel: 025-36124
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 8.30am- 2.30pm, 

Fee: adult €10, child/student €8.50, group discount by arrangements 

26. Riverstown House, Riverstown, Glanmire, Co. Cork – section 482

contact: Denis/Rita Dooley
Tel: 021-4821205
Open: May 5-Sept 10, Thurs, Fri, Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €10, OAP €7, student €5

Riverstown House, County Cork, photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 242. “An early C18 house, enlarged and remodelled 1730s by Dr Jemmett Browne, Dean of Ross and afterwards Bishop of Cork. The house consists of a double gable-ended block of 2 storeys over a basement which is concealed on the entrance front, but which forms an extra storey on the garden front, where the ground falls away steeply; and a 3 storey 1 bay tower-like addition at one end, which has 2 bows on its side elevation. The main block has a 4 bay entrance front, with a doorway flanked by narrow windows not centrally placed. The hall, though of modest proportions, is made elegant and interesting by columns, a plasterwork frieze and a curved inner wall, in which there is a  doorcase giving directly onto an enclosed staircase of good joinery. To the left of the hall, in the 3 storey addition, are 2 bow-ended drawing rooms back to back. Straight ahead, in the middle of the garden front, is the dining room, the chief glory of Riverstown, the walls and ceiling fo which are decorated with plasterwork by the Francini brothers, probably their earliest work in Ireland and dating from ca. 1734. The decoration of the ceiling incorporates an oval of allegorical figures representing Time rescuing Truth from the assaults of Discord and Envy, based on a painting by Poussin now at the Louvre. The walls are surrounded by panels with large Classical figures in high relief. The spaces between the windows are covered with exuberantly rococo decoration of flowers and foliage incorporating mirrors, which still have their original glass. The house was owned by Bishop Browne’s descendents until the present century. In 1950s it was empty and deteriorating; so that at one stage there was a plan to remove the dining room plaster-work, for fear that it would otherwise perish. It could not, however, be removed from the walls, so moulds were taken from it, from which were made copies now at Aran an Uachtarain. It was indeed fortunate that the Riverstown dining room was left intact; since, from 1965 onwards, the house was sympathetically restored by its present owner, Mr. John Dooley, with the help of the Irish Georgian Society. The rooms have been suitably and most attractively furnished, and the house is now open to the public.” 

Riverstown County Cork, 1970, National Libary archives. (see [1])
Riverstown, 1975, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive. (see[1])

27. Woodford Bourne Warehouse, Sheares Street, Cork – section 482

contact: Edward Nicholson
Tel: 021-4273000
www.woodfordbournewarehouse.com
Open: all year except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, 1pm-11pm
Fee: Free.

Now a fast food outlet, this used to be a warehouse, and the Architect is William Henry Hill (1837-1911).

Places to stay, County Cork

1. Annes Grove (formerly Ballyhemock or Ballyhimmock), Castletownroche, Co Cork – gate lodge accommodation

https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/annes-grove-miniature-castle/

A miniature medieval castle, Annes Grove Gatelodge was designed in 1853 to impress visitors to the main house – Annesgrove House and Gardens. 

2. Assolas, Kanturk, Co Cork – airbnb

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/20534251?source_impression_id=p3_1646682196_Jmx%2FEPxio5YUgpzI 

Assolas, County Cork – photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

p. 14. “(Wrixon-Becher, Bt/PB) A truncated tower-house [the National Inventory dates the tower house to 1640], with a late C17 two storey three bay façade surmounted by a pediment-gable incorporating a chimneystack [the Inventory dates this modification to 1780], to which a two storey bow-ended range was added in C18, to provide a new front at right angles to C17 facade. The side of the house incorporating the latter was made nearly symmetrical by the addition of a two storey wing with a curved bow, balancing the curved end bow of C18 front on the other side of the old tower. The house was re-roofed with exceptionally wide eaves, probably in the early C19. The interior contains some C17 and C18 panelling. Acquired ca. 1714 by Rev Francis Gore [Rector of Castlemagner, d. 1748]; subsequently owned by the Wrixon family. Now owned by Mrs. Bourke.” 

A doorway with side-lights and a fanlight of “simple switch-track tracery.” Assolas, County Cork – photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

In The Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County Frank Keohane notes that the rooms in the tower have 17th century panelling. The south range is one room deep and two storeys high and has curved bows at each end. It is of five bays, with an advanced central bay with an eaves pediment, and a doorway with side-lights and a fanlight of “simple switch-track tracery.” A further bow-ended range of a similar date housed the kitchen. Ionic pilasters flank a sideboard recess in the dining room. [6]

A truncated tower-house [the National Inventory dates the tower house to 1640], with a late C17 two storey three bay façade surmounted by a pediment-gable incorporating a chimneystack [the Inventory dates this modification to 1780], to which a two storey bow-ended range was added in C18, to provide a new front at right angles to C17 facade. Assolas, County Cork – photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/20534251?source_impression_id=p3_1589548372_F%2BgMnw2IRJKwsyE3&guests=1&adults=1

Assolas dates back to 1630’s, but the guest rooms are in the Queen Ann part of the house Circa 1720. They look out over the extensive gardens and ancient trees. It is a much loved family home hosted by Joe and Hazel who have extensive high end hospitality experience. It is a peaceful, calm welcoming house, comfortable spacious bed rooms listed as King doubles that may also be made up as twins, well appointed bathrooms, and inviting public areas.” 

3. Ballincurra House, County Cork – whole house rental, and cottages

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/ballinacurrahouse/

and https://www.ballinacurra.com/the-coach-house/

The website tells us: “Ballinacurra House is an elegant Georgian Mansion built c.1770 which has been fully renovated and upgraded over the past 20 years. The Estate consists of the main Manor House, Stone Cottage and Coach House – set behind 10 foot high stone walls with lawns, fields, river jetty and forest – and only 5 minutes’ drive from Ireland’s premier tourist town of Kinsale. Whether it’s for a holiday or some type of event … we’ve got you covered. The Owners’ 30 years of experience in event management is one of the reasons that Ballinacurra House is known as Ireland’s Premier Events House with a guarantee of privacy, discretion and style. And is the ideal venue for corporate retreats, client hosting, birthday parties, team-building events, golf groups, family reunions, private parties, friend gatherings and … weddings with a difference.

For the first time we are now opening up the property to give groups of various sizes the opportunity to enjoy the uniqueness of the property! So depending on the size of your family or group, we have developed a range of options for self-catering (minimum 3 days) and our fully staffed and catered premium product for Private Groups (price on request). So now you can choose from:

  1. Estate Cottage 1 – The Coach House – up to 7 people – Self Catering – from €1,200 A 3 bedroom/4 bathroom separate 1,200 square foot home with a private outdoor dining terrace. This building has been renovated from the original coach house for the main manor house – and perfect for up to 7 people.
  2. Estate Cottage 2 – The Stone Cottage – up to 10 people – Self Catering – from €2,200 A stand-alone 1,800 square foot home with 4 bedrooms/4.5 bathrooms with its own private garden. This building was the original gardener’s cottage for the main manor house – now fully renovated that will sleep up to 10 people comfortably.
  3. Manor House (Partial) – up to 20 people – Self Catering – from €8,800 You will enjoy private use of Two Wings of the Manor House including 8 ensuite bedrooms and a range of living rooms, dining rooms, country style kitchen and outdoor dining options (can be catered or staffed by request).
  4. Manor House (Whole) – from 28 to 36 people – Full Catered & Staffed Only – on request There are 14 Bedrooms in the Manor House that can accommodate up to 36 adults + 3 children sharing and a whole range of living and entertainment spaces. Due to the numbers, this is only available on a fully catered and staffed basis.
  5. Whole Estate – from 44 to 54 people – Fully Catered & Staffed Only – on request The entire Estate consisting of the Manor House, Stone Cottage and Coach House for your private and exclusive use. A total of 22 ensuite bedrooms which is fully staffed and catered. This can cater for up to 54 adults + 4 children sharing.”

4. Ballinterry House, Rathcormac, Co Cork – accommodation

Ballinterry House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Ballinterry House, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

 https://www.facebook.com/BallinterryH/

https://castlelyonsparish.com/who-i-am/accommodation/accommodation-2/

Ballinterry House Accommodation 
P: +353 (0)25 87835  or  +353 (0)87-6508555 
E: ballinterryhouse@yahoo.co.uk 

Frank Keohane writes in his Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County that:

p. 21. “After the Williamite wars, landowners had the confidence to invest in their property and improve their estates, building new houses and offices, and creating enclosed landscaped demesnes. Of the minor gentry, most aspired to nothing more than a house that was solidly built, symmetrical and convenient. At first, middling houses were unsophisticated in their form and planning, often only one room deep but sometimes having a return containing a staircase or service rooms, thus forming an L-plan or T-plan. Steep gable-ended roofs were almost universal, hipped roofs and the use of parapets the exception. This arrangement continued throughout the 18th century for gentry houses, and well into the C19 for larger farmhouses. Early examples include Ballinterry (Rathcormac), Velvetstown (Buttevant), Rosehill at Ballynacorra (Midleton) and Aghadoe at Killeagh.”

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

p. 290. “(Barry/IFR) An early C18 house built on the site of a castle which in 1699 belonged to Andrew Morrough or Murragh, an attainted Jacobite; the house was until comparatively recently surrounded by old fortifications including four round towers, of which one and the fragments of another survive. Gable ended main block of two storeys with attic lit by windows in gable-ends; five bay front, originally seven bay, the windows on either side of the centre having been blocked up; presumably in the late Georgian period, when the other windows of the front appear to have been reduced in size and the interior walls rearranged. Simple fanlighted doorway. Original grass terrace with flagged pavement along front. Two storey return wing; central projection at rear of main block containing late-Georgian stairs with balustrade of plain sturdy wooden uprights. Stairs now open to hall; formerly separated from it by screen of C18 panelling with Gothic fanlight, now removed to first floor lobby of wing. Bought 1703 by the 4th Earl of Barrymore [James Barry (1667-1747)]; afterwards passed to the Ross family and then by marriage and descent to the Ryders and Henleys successively. From 1821 to 1862 the home of Archdeacon (“Black Billy”) Ryder, remembered for his part in the “Gortroe Massacre” in 1834, a tragic episode of the Tithe War. Ballinterry is now the home of Mr Hurd Maguire Hatfield, the stage and screen actor, who has carried out a sympathetic restoration of the house [who sold it to the current owners, Michael and Anne in 2007].” 

The interior extensively damaged by a fire in 1991. Michael and Anne bought the period propety as a restoration project and realised it would be suitable for taking guests. An article in the Irish Times on Oct 3 2013 by Ellen Lynch tells us about the renovation:

Michael and Ann spent three years taking up rotting floors, dismantling partitions, uncovering windows and other original features, and taking the house “back to the future” by renovating and modernising it in a way which was wholly sympathetic to its origins.  

In December 2007, without power and with no floorboards, the couple had no choice but to decamp with their young children to a cottage in outbuildings on the property. They moved back in during the spring of 2009.

They managed to complete the work with the help of a conservation architect and the encouragement and blessing of Cork County Council’s conservation officer, Mona Hallinan. The Georgian Society declared it one of the most sympathetic restorations they’ve seen.  

Ann credits Michael’s unerring eye for detail and his capacity for hard work in bringing everything together to make Ballinterry House what it is today – a splendid country house with a truly authentic feel. 

5. Ballylickey House, Bantry, Co Cork – hotel, Seaview House Hotel 

https://www.seaviewhousehotel.com/

The website tells us:

Welcome to Seaview House Hotel, a delightful 4 star country house hotel full of character, set in private and well tended grounds in the quiet village of Ballylickey beside Bantry in the heart of West Cork.

Offering award-winning cuisine, luxurious B&B and a modern Spa & Bath House.

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

p. 290. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, Lansdowne, M/PB) A two storey house of mid C19 appearance; pillared porch between two three sided bows, the front being prolonged on one side by a similar bow, and on the other by a lower service wing ending in a gable. Orignally a shooting box of the Marquesses of Lansdowne (see Derreen); acquired by the Graves family who made a noteable garden here and added an extra storey to the house ca 1950 when they turned it into a hotel. After a serious fire 1984, the house was rebuilt without the additional storey, regaining its original C19 character.” 

6. Ballymacmoy, Killavullen, Co Cork – coach house airbnb 

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/6862913?source_impression_id=p3_1589550654_DKKIguPPQK2Nhhvp&guests=1&adults=1 https://thecoachhouseatballymacmoy.weebly.com/ballymacmoy-house.html

The website tells us: “Ballymacmoy is the estate of origin of the wild geese family, the Hennessy’s of Cognac and is still owned and inhabited by their descendants.  40 kilometres from Cork International Airport, Ballymacmoy is a 23 acre estate located at the edge of the little village of Killavullen (200 inhabitants).  It is made up of grasslands and wooded areas with 3.5 miles of exclusive fishing rights along the Blackwater river, it includes a 1 acre walled garden and a unique prehistoric private cave reserved for guests.” 

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

p. 24. “[Hennessy/IFR] A two storey late-Georgian house on a rock overhanging the River Blackwater. Entrance front of three bays and curved bow; Wyatt windows, subsequently reglazed with central mullions; fanlighted doorway now obscured by plain porch. Simple battlemented arch at opposite end of house. Hall with elaborate early to mid-C19 plasterwork; reeded cornice with rosettes, central oval of acanthus. Partly curving stair with slender wooden balusters at inner end of hall beyond arch with rope ornament. Fine doorcases with Doric entablatures and rope ornament on architraves. Cornices of oakleaves in drawing room and ante room. Bow-ended ballroom with higher ceiling than the other principal rooms and simpler and presumably earlier C19 plasterwork; oval moulding in centre of ceiling, with flat pan pendentives at corners. Fluted pilasters on walls. Oak chimneypiece in the “Arts and Crafts” style, with overmantel incorporating needlework panel, carved in 1905 by Harriette, widow of J.W. Hennessy. There is a similar oak fireplace in the dining-room, which has been entirely done over in Edwardian Tudor; with a beamed ceiling, timber-studded walls and painted coat-of-arms. Sold 1932 by Mr. C.J. Hennessy to his kinsman, the late Monsieur J.R. Hennessy, of La Billarderie, Cognac. Recently tenanted by Mr. Ian Sherriff, who ran it as a guest house.” 

7. Ballymaloe, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation – see above

8. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental – see my entry under County Waterford – the gardens are on the 2022 Section 482 list.

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/ballynatray-coach-house-area/

Ballynatray House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us of the accommodation: “a. As the name suggests, it was originally the Coach House where the owner of the Estate would have kept the horse drawn carriages along with all the necessary tack for the horses. Sometimes these buildings housed some very ornate and fascinating carriages. The two storey Coach House takes centre stage in the stable yard and has been transformed into a beautiful, luxurious 4 bedroom self catering property. Downstairs there is a very relaxing style open plan kitchen & dining area with comfortable couches which allow for great conversations even while you prepare a bite of lunch or dinner.

Within the quaint stable yard and in view of Ballynatray House itself, the Coach House really is a home from home with beautifully maintained gardens & parklands. The Coach House offers self-catering accommodation most suited to families as there is plenty of space both inside and in the stable yard which has beautifully maintained gardens. Guests can also view the walled kitchen garden which can be accessed from the stable yard.  This is the perfect retreat for any family who wishes to step back from the hustle & bustle of modern life and just relax and soak up the atmosphere only a private estate can offer.

b. Set in the grounds of Ballynatray Estate, the Garden Flat is located in the stable yard and is suitable for those looking for a self-catering holiday. There are two double bedrooms on the ground floor which would ideally suit two couples or if the need arises one of the bedrooms can be changed to be a twin room. There is a large bathroom and the kitchen is well equipped, decorated in the style of a country kitchen with painted units, stone floor and large kitchen table to seat ten. The Garden Flat can be used for a luxury self catering week in the beautiful Irish countryside.

c. The Garden House is a quaint little cottage that sits at the bottom of the walled garden next to the beautiful Ballynatray House. Set across two floors the Garden House boasts a beautiful double room complete with comfortable armchairs either side of the open fire that fills the complete upstairs area. This is an ideal adult only location where romantic notions are never very far away.

The wonderful location allows those who book the Garden House to wander through the estate which is one of the finest estates you will find in the Irish countryside. Taking long walks along the Blackwater or taking a picnic while you go exploring you could easily get lost in the beautiful countryside that is the Ballynatray Estate.

d. From history we know that on an estate like Ballynatray the owners would employ a groom to keep their horses fed, watered and groomed. As on many estates the job came with accommodation next to the stable as the groom was expected to be on hand if any of the family wished to go horse-riding or if one of the horses fell ill. This is the case on the Ballynatray Estate.

Renovated & situated in the stable yard the Groom’s Flat is an ideal self catering option for two people. The Groom’s Flat now boasts a beautiful open plan structure which allows guests the feel of an authentic cottage complete with the original stone floor in the kitchen and a small wood burner. The double bedroom benefits from French doors, whilst the heritage bathroom includes a shower and is decorated with small hand painted tiles. It is extremely comfortable and would be ideal for anyone looking to escape from the frenetic buzz of city life to somewhere beautiful and rural where every need is catered for in this self-contained Estate.

9. Ballyvolane, Castlelyons, Co Cork – Hidden Ireland accommodation, see above

https://ballyvolanehouse.ie 

10. Bantry House & Garden, Bantry, Co. Cork - see above

Bantry House, County Cork, photograph from the National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

11. Brideweir, Conna, co Cork – 482 and accommodation – see above

https://www.brideweir.ie/ 

12. Castle Martyr, Co Cork – hotel 

and Castle Martyr Lodges

https://www.castlemartyrresort.ie

Mark Bence-Jones writes in 1988 of Castle Martyr in A Guide to Irish Country Houses:

p. 72. “(Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E/PB; Boyle, Shannon, E/PB; Arnott, Bt/PB) Originally an old castle of the FitzGeralds, Seneschals of Imokilly, to which an early C17 domestic range was added by richard Boyle, the “Great” Earl of Cork, who bought it from Sir Walter Raleigh, to whom it had been granted, along with other confiscated Geraldine estates. Having been damaged during the Civil Wards, it was repaired and made “English like” by Lord Cork’s third son, 1st Earl of Orrery, to whom it had passed; only to suffer worse damage in the Williamiate War, after which it was left a ruin, and a new house built alongside it early in C18 by Henry Boyle, who became Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and eventually 1st Earl of Shannon. The house was greatly enlarged by 2nd Earl between 1764/71, and further remodelled in late-Georgian period. While giving it an abnormally long facade, the subsequent additions did not take away from the house’s early C18 character, beign on the same scale and in the same style as the original building. Entrance front of two storeys and 17 bays, consisting of a five bay recessed centre with a giant pedimented portico between projecint wings, the forward-facing one bay ends of which are prolonged by a further five bays on either side. The ends of the projecting wings on either side of the centre are framed by rusticated pilasters, and formerly had Venetian windows in their lower storey, which have now been made into ordinary triple windows; there is also a rusticated pilaster at either end of the facade. The front is unusual in having three entrance doorways, of similar size, one under the portico and one in the centre of the five outer bays on either side; originally these doorways had plain architraves, but they were replaced by rusticated doorcases early this century. High-pitched, slightly sprocketed roofs. Irregular garden front; range of three bays on either side of a curved central bow, then a four bay range set slightly back with a balustraded colonnade of coupled Doric columns along its lower storey, then a range set further back again, of the same height as the rest of the facade but of one storey only, with three tall windows. Long, narrow and low-ceilinged hall with bifurcating wooden staircase at one end; late-Georgian frieze. A wide pilastered corridor runs from the staircase end of the hall, opening into a series of reception rooms along the garden front’ they are of modest size, low-ceilinged and simply decorated. In contrast to them is the magnificent double cube saloon or ballroom at the opposite end of the hall., which rises the full height of the house and is lit by the three tall windows in the single-storey part of the garden front. It has a coved ceiling with splendid rococo plasterwork in the manner of Robert West – birds, swags, flowers, foliage and cornucopiae in high relief – and a doorcase with fluted Ionic columns and a broken pediment. This room was one of 2nd Earl’s additions; it was finished by 1771, when it was seen by Arthur Young, who considered it to be the best room he had seen in Ireland. It certainly rates among the dozen or so finest Irish country house interiors; or anyhow whould have done when it had its chimneypiece and its original pictures and furnishings. The entrance front of the house overlooks a sheet of water which is part of the remarkable artificial river made ante 1750 by 1st Earl; it winds its way between wooded banks through the demesne and round the neighbouring town of Castlemartry; broad and deep enough to be navigable by what was described in C18 as “an handsome boat.” The entrance gates from teh town are flanked by tall battlemented walls shaped to look like Gothic towers; from the side they reveal themselves to be no more than stage scenery. Castle Martyr was sold early in the present century to the Arnott family; it was subsequently re-sold and is now a Carmelite College.” 

13. Castle Townshend, Co Cork – accommodation, hotel 

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/the-castle-castletownshend/

http://castle-townshend.com/

Castle Townshend, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

We came upon the Townshend family when we visited Drishane, as the Somervilles nearby intermarried with their cousins the Townshends.

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

p. 78. “[Townshend/IFR) A castellated house, consisting of two battlemented towers joined by a range with dormer gables. Panelled hall. The tower of the parish church rises picturesquely from among the trees immediately above the house, which stands on the shore of Castle Haven.” 

Jane O’Hea O’Keeffe tells us of the Castle’s builder, in her Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry (Mercier Press, Cork, 2013): p. 83. “In the late 1600s Richard Townsend, an officer in the Cromwellian army, acquired lands at Castlehaven in west Cork originally owned by the O’Driscoll clan. Richard Townsend also owned other lands in County Cork totalling over 6,540 acres. It was he who built the castle at Castletownshend, the centre portion of which still remains. The two towers at each corner of the castle today were added in the eighteenth century.” [7]

She continues: “Over the following centuries, members of the Townsend family served as high sheriffs of County Cork. In 1753 Richard Townsend was the office-holder and in 1785 Richard Boyle Townsend was appointed to the position. In the 1870s Richard M.F. Townsend owned over 7,000 acres near Dingle in County Kerry, inherited from the FitzGerald family, Knights of Kerry. At that time, the estate of the late Rev. Maurice Townshend extended to over 8,000 acres in County Cork...

According to Griffith’s Valuation (1848-64), Rev. Maurice Townshend owned property at Castletownshend, Myross, Castlehaven and Creagh. The Register of Landowners in County Cork 1876 records 8,665 acres in the ownership of Rev Townshend. Six years before, Rev Townshend had altered the spelling of his surname (adding an h) and requested that all his relatives do the same. Some did not comply. ” 

Frank Keohane describes Castle Townshend in his Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County:

p. 314. “The Castle. A house of several parts, the seat of the Townshends. The earliest, described as ‘newly built’ in 1780 by the Complete Irish Traveller, is presumably the two-storey, five-bay rubble-stone centre block, with dormers over the upper windows and a two-storey rectilinear porch. Taller three-storey wings with battlements carried on corbelled cornices and twin- and triple-light timber-mullioned windows. The E. wing was perhaps built in the late 1820s; the W wing was added after a fire in 1852. Modest interior. Large low central hall with a beamed ceiling and walls lined with oak panelling and gilded embossed wallpaper. Taller dining room to the r., with a compartmented ceiling; a Neoclassical inlaid fireplace in the manner of Bossi, and a large Jacobean sideboard. C19 staircase with barley-twist type balusters. 

Octagonal three-stage battlemented tower, 60 m west of the castle.” (see [6])

Castle Townshend, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage..

14. Creagh (former Glebe House), Skibbereen, Co Cork – B&B

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us Creagh House in Skibbereen is a: “Detached four-bay two-storey former glebe house, built c.1820, now in use as private house…Set overlooking an inlet, this house occupies an attractive site which is enhanced by its well maintained grounds. Built as the glebe house for the Church of Ireland church to the west, it forms an interesting group with the church and graveyard. It is a reminder of the influence and prosperity of the Church of Ireland in the early nineteenth century, when many churches and clergy residences were built throughout the country. It retains much of its original character and charm.”

15. Creagh House, Main Street, Doneraile, Co. Cork – section 482 – see above

16. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above

www.drishane.com

17. Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, Co Cork
Email: reservations@eccleshotel.com

Tel: +353 – 27 – 63003
www.eccleshotel.com

18. Elizabeth Fort Parade Houses, County Cork https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

19. Galley Head Lighthouse Keepers House, County Cork

https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

Galley Head Lighthouse, County Cork, 2016 photograph Courtesy George Karbus for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

20. Coach House Apartments, Glebe Country House, Ballinadee, Bandon, County Cork https://glebecountryhouse.ie

A fantastic option for travellers looking for a quiet stay, in a strategic location, to explore Kinsale, West Cork and beyond.  We offer Warm hospitality with a romantic and relaxed atmosphere.

Our facilities are fully equipped with all the comforts you need, as well as beautiful formal gardens with a Lavender walk, Partier and Rose Garden. We have areas for walks, an enclosed garden for our dog guests, and easy access to the main tourist attractions of Blarney, Kinsale and West Cork.

Under the hospitable ownership of Gill and Caroline, this classically proportioned Georgian Rectory has been providing a restful retreat for guests since 1989, and everybody loves it for its genuine country house feeling and friendliness.

Spacious reception rooms have the feeling of a large family home, and generous, stylishly decorated bedrooms have good bathrooms, fast Internet connection, and tea/coffee making facilities. The Rose Room, on the ground floor, has French doors to the garden.

Set in two acres of beautiful, well-tended gardens (including a productive kitchen garden), this charming old rectory near Kinsale has a lovely wisteria over the front door and it is a place full of interest.

Check in is between 4.00pm and 6.00pm when Complimentary Afternoon Tea is served. Please let us know if you require check in at a different time and we can arrange it.”

21. Glenlohane, Kanturk, Cork – B&B accommodation and self-catering cottage

Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

 www.glenlohane.ie

The website tells us: “Desmond, Melanie and their son, Gordon, run Glenlohane as an extremely private house with an air of friendly informality so unique to Irish Country House Bed and Breakfasts. Certainly not considered a ‘room for the night’ type of B&B, there are no public signs at the roadside to draw the attention of casual visitors. Guests are welcomed on a pre-arranged basis and know where they are going by the detailed directions in this web site. There are no public and private quarters as in a professional place and guests may use facilities of the entire house as if staying with friends.

There are family dogs and a cat in the background and animals play a large part of life at Glenlohane. Less than a quarter of a mile away, and still on the farm, is a Self Catering Cottage that can be rented on a weekly basis. Apart from farm animals, there are also horses, ponies, fantail pigeons and bantam hens in the traditional stable yard.

Whether it be at Glenlohane for B&B or Glenlohane Cottage for self catering, staying is for the discerning visitor who wishes to learn more about Ireland’s history and culture through personal contact with the owners. One is also well positioned for sightseeing throughout the Scenic Southwest of the country.

and Cottages on https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/glenlohane-cottage/

Glenlohane Cottage has been part of the Sharp Bolster family who are celebrating 275 years in Glenlohane House in 2016. It is an exceptional period cottage built in the 1600’s and added onto over the centuries. Centered in the Glenlohane farm estate, this geographic location is one of the very best locations for touring the Scenic Southwest of Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle, Rock of Cashel, Cork City, Blarney, Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Kinsale, Bantry & the Beara, and even Schull are all easy day trips.

Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The Glenlohane website gives us a history of the house:

Glenlohane Country House was built by Desmond’s antecedents in 1741. Your hosts, Desmond, Melanie and their son Gordon represent the 9th and 10th generations of the same family living at Glenlohane since its inception. Surrounded by terraced lawns overlooking a park like setting, the house was built by John Sharp, of Mount Conway, near Cork City in 1741. Mount Conway still stands.

Early records show the Sharp family in the parish of St. Katherine, Dublin in 1535. As a prominent Quaker family that became eminently successful in the woolen industry in the mid 1600’s, they also built Roundwood House in Co Laois at the same time that Glenlohane was being built in Co Cork. Anthony Sharp was reputed to employ 500 people at the time, which would have made him one of Ireland’s largest employers. For Dublin, that is a sizeable concern even by today’s standards! As sizeable land owners, the Bolsters have been within 5-6 miles of Glenlohane since Elizabethan times and John Hawkes Bolster of Egmont House, Churchtown, Co Cork married Sarah Sharp of Glenlohane in the early 1800’s. The house was extended to its present size shortly thereafter. We now have the opportunity to share our family’s heritage by offering guests Irish Country House Accommodation in the heart of the Co Cork countryside.

Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenlohane, County Cork, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

22. Glenville Park, Glenville, County Cork (previously known as The Manor and as Mount Pleasant) – accommodation 

http://www.glenvillepark.com

Glenville Park, County Cork, August 2020.

This is the home of the late Mark Bence-Jones, whom I refer to so much on this website! Stephen and I were very excited to discover that his daughter rents rooms in the house for visitor accommodation.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us:

p. 139. (Hudson-Kinahan, sub Kinahan/IFR; Bence-Jones/IFR) Originally a two storey five bay C18 house, of rendered rubble with block window surrounds of cut stone; it was fronted by a semi-circular forecourt or enclosure, with a gate at either end. The seat of a branch of the Coppinger or Copinger family, the estate having originally belonged to the O’Keefes. Bought between 1776-1788 by Dr Edward Hudson, who built a new house a short distance from the old one, and at right angles to it; consisting of three storey three bay gable-ended centre, with a fanlighted doorway, and two storey one bay gable-ended wings. This house was the home of Dr Edward Hudson’s son, William Elliot Hudson [1796-1853], composer, collector of ancient Irish music and Irish patriot [his Dublin home was St. Enda’s in Rathfarnham, previously called The Hermitage and Fields of Odin]. The estate eventually passed to Wm Elliot Hudson’s nephew, Sir Edward Hudson-Kinahan, 1st Bt [the son of William Elliot’s sister Charlotte, who married Robert Henry Kinahan], who enlarged and remodelled the house to the design of Sandham Symes 1887. A new two storey front was built onto the house, making it twice as deep, other additions were built at the back, and the original part of the house was reconstructed with two storeys instead of the original three, so as to make the rooms as high as those in the new additions. The new front is in the Victorian-Georgian style, faced in grey cement and of considerable length; it has a small pedimented breakfront with a pair of round-headed windows above a balustraded and fanlighted porch. On either side of the centre is a three sided bow between two bays; the façade being prolonged at one end by an additional bay, beyond which is a three storey one bay wing set back.

Glenville Park August 2020: At the back of the house is a bow fronted pavilion like wing, containing a single large room, joined to the main building by a corridor.
The Historic Houses of Ireland website identifies the Hudson-Kinahan arms are displayed in the pediment of the unusally arranged central breakfront of Glenville Park. 

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “Entablatures on console brackets above ground floor windows, shouldered window surrounds in upper storey, parapeted roof. At the back of the house is a bow fronted pavilion like wing, containing a single large room, joined to the main building by a corridor. Long hall running the full depth of the house, with staircase at its inner end, behind an arch with plasterwork mouldings; modillion cornice. Doorcases with segmental pediments in the hall and principal receptions rooms, which have Victorian plasterwork cornices of flowers and foliage; the drawing room has an original C19 wallpaper in faded lemon and grey. Spacious landing or upper hall at head of stairs.”

Glenville Park: Long hall running the full depth of the house, with staircase at its inner end, behind an arch with plasterwork mouldings; modillion cornice. Doorcases with segmental pediments in the hall and principal receptions rooms, which have Victorian plasterwork cornices of flowers and foliage.
Glenville Park: spacious landing at the top of the stairs.
Stephen in our room at Glenville Park, August 2020. You can see Mark Bence-Jones’s book on the bedside table!
Reading a novel by Mark Bence-Jones in our bedroom at Glenville Park, August 2020.

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us: “The Hudson-Kinahan family died out with the third baronet, Sir Robert, and the house became the home of Colonel Philip Bence-Jones and his wife, who purchased Glenville from the trustees in 1949. The Bence-Jones family, who originally came from Lisselane, near Clonakilty in West Cork, were looking for a new home after their house, Annemount on Cork Harbour, had been destroyed by fire.” [8]

Mark Bence-Jones continues his description: “Walled garden with old beech hedges and walls of faded pink brick; the back of the Coppinger house being at one side of it. Glen garden containing a noteable collection of rhododendrons and other shrubs and trees; long flight of steps down hillside to formal pool. Bought 1949 from the trustees of Sir Robert Hudson-Kinahan, 3rd Bt, by Col Philip Bence-Jones, who carried out various alterations to the house and threw three small rooms together to make a chapel, which has stained glass windows by Mr Stanley Tomlin and Mr Patckick Pollen, and a stone altar by the late Seamus Murphy, above which is a statue of the Madonna which survived the fire at Annemount.” 

The chapel in the house, with the statue of the Madonna which survived the fire at Annemount. In 1949 a Roman Catholic chapel was formed out of three small first-floor rooms. Alter by Seamus Murphy, stained glass by Stanley Tomlin.

We spent a heavenly week at Glenville Park during Heritage Week of 2020, when we used it as a base to visit several Section 482 and OPW properties.

Glenville Park: “Glen garden containing a noteable collection of rhododendrons and other shrubs and trees; long flight of steps down hillside to formal pool.
The site of an old church, where William E. Hudson is buried, near an ancient well, Doonpeter’s Well. It is the second oldest consecrated ground in Ireland, an information panel told us. A “Pattern” takes place every year on 23rd June, Bonfire Night, an ancient tradition. The sacred well and ring fort are pre-Christian.

23. Inis Beg estate, Baltimore, County Cork – see above

https://www.inishbeg.com/homepage/

24. Killee Cottage, Mitchelstown, County Cork

https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

Once one of a number of bothies stretching along this quiet country lane, Killee Cottage and its neighbour are now the only two thatched cottages remaining.

25. Kilmahon House, County Cork

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/kilmahon-house/

The Hidden Ireland website tells us:

The beautiful Kilmahon House, built in 1780, is a fully restored Georgian Country House offering elegant Bed & Breakfast accommodation. The house is also available for smaller events on special request. Just 30 minutes from Cork airport and the Historic city of Cork, Kilmahon is situated in the East Cork Village of Shanagarry. It is only a short walk to Ballymaloe Cookery School and the blueflag beaches along Ballycotton Bay.

Kilmahon is an impressive listed Glebe Heritage House of Ireland and has been lovingly restored over a number of years. The result is a seamless blend of original period features and modern facilities, set within the idyllic coastal surroundings of County Cork’s nature.

Spending a few days in this secluded ancient environment offers a chance to rejuvenate in comfort and peace. Weather with a good book in front of a warm fire or a stroll through the old gardens, you will find yourself uplifted and reset from the stresses of everyday life.

THE GROUNDS

While the house was restored so too were the gardens surrounding it. The walled rose garden has been brought back to life and is a feast of colour through the summer months; a perfect and private space for guests to relax in. An expansive lawn to the front provides a large open space and stunning views over fields toward the ocean, while old stone walls and mature trees in abundance maintain the sense of privacy at Kilmahon.

THE RECEPTION ROOMS
Period fireplaces with log fires set a welcoming tone in each of the elegant reception rooms in Kilmahon House. Rooms are tastefully furnished with antiques and original art work effortlessly combining style and comfort. Large Georgian windows provide idyllic views onto the formal gardens below and Ballycotton Bay beyond.

THE BEDROOMS

A wonderful nights rest in one of the six individually designed en-suite bedrooms awaits guests at Kilmahon House. Recent restorations allow for the inclusion of modern power showers and super-king beds whilst still enjoying the ambience of antique furniture, sumptuous furnishings and spectacular scenic views.

BOOKING YOUR STAY

Kilmahon offers guests luxury Bed & Breakfast accommodation or the house also can be taken for exclusive rental where guests can enjoy staying in this outstanding Georgian house and its beautiful surroundings. Julia will be happy to organise with you any catering requirements you have. Kilmahon House is an ideal setting for family breaks. Contact the house directly to check availability.

26. Kilshannig, County Cork holiday accommodation – see above

27. Liss Ard Estate, County Cork

https://lissardestate.ie

The Sky Garden at Liss Ard by James Turrell.

The website invites us to “Escape to 163 acres of pristine nature with manicured gardens, a 40 acre private lake and James Turrell’s renowned Irish Sky Garden. The Estate features 26 unique guest rooms in the heart of West Cork, the culinary capital of Ireland.

The Manor was built in 1853, a fine early Victorian country house built by H.W. O’Donovan, who succeeded his brother as The O’Donovan in 1870. The Victorian Lake House was built in 1870.

The James Turrell Sky Garden:

James Turrell’s The Irish Sky Garden

For over half a century, the internationally renowned landscape artist James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception. New Yorker critic Calvin Tompkins writes, “His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form.” ” It was built in 1992.

Mark Bence-Jones tell us about Liss Ard (1988):

P. 188. “[O’Donovan/IFR] A long two storey early Victorian house, built ca. 1840 by H.W. O’Donovan, who succeeded his brother as The O’Donovan 1870. Entrance at end; fine rooms. Sold ca 1924 by Col. M.W. O’Donovan, The O’Donovan. In recent years the home of the late Captn and Mrs Richard Ansdell.” 

28. Lota Lodge, Glanmire, Co Cork – now the Vienna Woods Hotel  https://www.viennawoodshotel.com/

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Lota Lodge (1988): p. 191. “(Sharman-Crawford/LGI1912) A two storey Regency house with circular projections and iron veranda. Eaved roof. Partly destroyed by fire 1902, rebuilt 1903.” 

The website tells us:

Cork’s Vienna Woods Country House Hotel has a history as dramatic as the rich mustard tone that sets the building apart from the surrounding woodlands on the peaks of Glanmire, Co. Cork.

The building, perched on a height overlooking the Glashaboy River, has stood proudly since 1756. Built by Davis Ducart as a summer leisure lodge for Lord Barrymore, the building was designed in the Regency Style, a style that was very popular in the latter part of the 18th century.

Characteristic traits of the Regency Style include an emphasis on the classical form, and the forging of a close relationship between structure and the landscape, evident in The Vienna Woods Country House Hotel, which nestles in to the surrounding mountainous woodlands.

Vienna Woods, or Lota Lodge as it was originally titled, forms part of a collection of grand country houses in the Glanmire area of Cork, like; Dunkathel House, Glenkeen, Glyntown House, Lauriston House and Brooklodge House.

The house was home to AF Sharman Crawford and his family from 1875-1946, who was thankfully here to restore the house to its original glory after a fire in the early 1900s destroyed some of the original building. Crawford was a managing director of the Beamish and Crawford Brewery, (which was founded by his uncle, William Crawford II), and the city of Cork benefited from his philanthropic disposition, particularly in the arts; in fact the Crawford family funded the establishment of the Crawford Art Gallery and the Crawford School of Art.

As with so many other grand houses in 20th century Ireland, the building was purchased by a religious order in 1951, and was used as a seminary for 13 years, until it was converted into a hotel in 1964 by Joan Shubuek renamed the building ‘Vienna Woods’, because of the parallels she drew between the area, and the Austrian capital city where she had lived for a number of years.

The Fitzgerald family along with Michael Magner, bought the hotel in 2006 and renamed it ‘The Vienna Woods Country House Hotel’. Michael Magner, one of the co-owners, is also the General Manager of the hotel, and this close level of personal care and involvement is most evident in the building’s most dramatic makeover to date, which has taken almost fifteen years to complete.  The Fitzgeralds/Magners have lovingly and painstakingly restored much of the original protected features of the building.

29. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house or gate lodge –

http://www.loughinehouse.com

This beautiful holiday house and cottage are set on stunning Lough Ine sometimes spelt Lough Hyne – which is well known as one of the most romantic spots in West Cork.

Just 85km from Cork airport, Lough Ine is easily accessible but also far enough off the beaten track to be the perfect place to get away for either a romantic break or a fabulous family holiday.

30. The Courtyard, Mallow https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/the-courtyard-mallow/

The Courtyard, Mallow has been lovingly renovated and is at the rear of the main Georgian house which was built in 1780 and was the original home of the Carpenter family. The Courtyard, Mallow is situated on a working farm and equestrian centre.

Comprising of two 2-bedroomed self-catering apartments, and one 1-bedroomed self-catering apartment we can provide for couples and friend/family groups alike. Your home-from-home, each apartment at The Courtyard is equipped with all cooking facilities that you need, WiFi, and television sets with endless channels and movies to choose from. Catering and shopping is available upon prior request and subject to availability.

All three apartments have been recently refurbished and each apartment is elegantly decorated with its own unique style and story.  We have scoured vintage and antique shops around the country to add that extra flare and individuality to the living spaces of The Courtyard apartments. We use White & Green luxury organic cotton bed linen on all beds and Dalkey liquid handmade soap to ensure our guests can fully unwind during their stay. All bedrooms are ensuite for your comfort and privacy.

31.  Maryborough, Douglas, Co Cork – Maryborough Hotel €€

  https://www.maryborough.com

The website tells us:

Located in the leafy suburbs of Douglas, yet minutes from Cork City Centre, The Maryborough has a character and style all of its own. Set in 18 acres of 300-year-old listed gardens and woodland, our family-owned boutique hotel affords guests an experience in luxury itself and is among the top hotels in Cork.  The Maryborough Hotel is unique with its charming 18th Century Mansion accompanied by the creatively designed contemporary extension. All of this combined makes The Maryborough the perfect destination.

The hotel delivers a unique experience in an exceptional atmosphere. From the moment you enter, we will guarantee you a level of personal service and care designed to match the exquisite surroundings of our 300-year-old listed gardens. Guests can enjoy an award-winning restaurant in Cork, state of the art Leisure Club and luxurious ESPA spa.

Our History

The Maryborough Hotel & Spa is one of the most renowned 4 star hotels in Cork today. The Maryborough’s Georgian Manor House was built in 1710 by Mr Richard Newenham [note that a Richard Newenham of Maryborough married Sarah Devonsher, niece of Abraham Devonsher of Kilshannig]. Descendants of the Newenhams as well as other families lived there up until the 1990s when it was purchased by the O’Sullivan family. In 1997 the family opened what is now The Maryborough Hotel, a 4 star luxury hotel in Cork with 93 bedrooms.

Since becoming a hotel, the Mansion House has fortunately retained its striking original architectural features. Some of the rooms at The Maryborough still showcase Adam style decoration – notably the entrance hall and some mantelpieces. This adds to the historical relevance of the manor house and contributes to the decadence and luxury of this boutique hotel in Cork.

The former eighteenth-century stately home is set amid acres of woods and beautiful gardens, just south of Cork’s historical city centre in Douglas. John Newenham, a younger brother of the last Newenham owner of The Maryborough was a great gardener and collector of trees. Thanks to his inspired work the gardens at The Maryborough still host quite a collection, in particular of rhododendrons, making it one of the reasons for The Maryborough being one of the best hotels in Cork.

The Maryborough works to continually develop a deluxe guest experience merging the hotels history with beautifully appointed accommodations. In order to incorporate the elegant grandeur of the old house into the hotel, several splendid suites were built on the upper floors of the Mansion House. Read more about our luxury suites in Cork.

To compliment the opulent charm of the old house, the hotel’s contemporary extension was built. It is here you will find our Deluxe, Executive and Family Rooms. Spectacular architecture blended with effortless service and genuine hospitality makes the Maryborough one of the top hotels in Cork.

32. Old Bank Townhouse, Kinsale, County Cork

https://www.oldbankhousekinsale.com

The website tells us:

Take an elegant townhouse in a spectacular location, add a gourmet cafe with a mouth watering array of local produce, mix well with the locals who love the atmosphere here, bring it all together with a very warm welcome and a pinch of kinsale humour… and you’ll have the Old Bank Townhouse.

Set in the heart of Kinsale, this beautifully renovated Bank House is both elegant and welcoming. Just a short walk from the of world renowned restaurants, inviting bars and interesting boutiques of Kinsale… yet only 25 minutes from cork city, the Old Bank Townhouse is popular with golfers and those with a passion for food.

Steeped in history, this Kinsale accommodation was originally the Munster & Leinster Bank.The beautiful Georgian facade with impressive sash windows used to front a waterway for passing ships that berthed in the quays running from the site of on old mill.

33. Perryville, Kinsale, Co Cork – hotel €€

 https://www.perryvillehouse.com

The webiste tells us:

Perryville House is an elegant and distinctive period townhouse overlooking Kinsale Harbour, County Cork in the south of Ireland. Originally built in 1820 and lovingly restored by us, Perryville House is now a warm, gracious and light-filled boutique guesthouse.

True to its original role as a private residence, Perryville House welcomes guests from all over the world to share and enjoy the finest Irish hospitality and luxury accommodation in Kinsale — your first stop on the Wild Atlantic Way. We invite you to savour a one-of-a-kind, historic hotel experience.

A masterpiece of Georgian architecture with later Victorian embellishment, Perryville House was built in 1820 by Captain Adam Warren Perry for his family whose ancestors continued to reside here until the late 1950s. It had various owners from then until 1997 when fired by the beauty, character and history of this lovely house, Andrew & Laura Corcoran undertook the mammoth task of refurbishing and bringing it back to its former glory. Situated in the heart of Kinsale, overlooking the harbour, Perryville House welcomes guests from April to October each year.

[see 5]. Seaview House Hotel, Ballylicky, County Cork

https://www.seaviewhousehotel.com/

34. Springfort Hall, Mallow, Co cork – hotel

https://www.springfort-hall.com

The website tells us:

“Tucked away amid tranquil woodlands , Springfort Hall Country House Hotel is a hotel for all seasons . The gardens and lawns at this 4 Star Hotel are a delight during the Summer , while in the Winter months, there’s no better place to relax with a glass of red wine than in The Baltydaniel Bar. Add to this , impeccably maintained 4 Star Accommodation and Sumptuous dining in The Limetree Restaurant and you will discover a wonderful 18th Century Country House Hotel Countryside. Explore one of the finest 4 Star Springfort Hall Country House Hotel.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us Springfort is (1988):

“(Foott/LGI1912; Grove-White/IFR; Clarke/IFR) A two storey early C19 house with two deep curved bows on each side of its two principal fronts. Open porch with square piers on entrance front, between the two bows and below a central Wyatt window; large triple windows in lower storey of bows. Service wing at side. Spacious bow-eded reception rooms; ceilings and surrounds of early C19 plasterwork. Plaster Gothic vaulting in staircase hall.” 

Whole House Rental County Cork:

1. Aspen House, Dromgarriff Estate, Glengarriff, Cork, Ireland

https://cashelfean.ie/aspen-house/

2. Ballincurra House, County Cork – coach house, estate cottages, and whole house rental – see above

3. Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork, holiday cottages and whole house rental – see above

4. Barnabrow, Cloyne, Co Cork – accommodation

https://www.barnabrowhouse.ie/

The website tells us: “Barnabrow Country House: in idyllic East Cork is discreet – it is like a secret garden that beckons. Visitors may happen upon it nestled in the rolling hills of East Cork with distant but tantalising glimpses of Ballycotton Bay. At first glance it appears contained – its banqueting hall, high on the hill, is not obvious, the twenty-two bedrooms are tucked away in various courtyards and the cottages are not apparent. 

The meandering passages entice the curious to explore, its various decks with their pleasing views invite others to relax while the menagerie of animals offers solace. Combined, these elements make Barnbrow Country House an atmospheric, intimate setting where memories, that last a lifetime, are created.  

Barnabrow Country House in East Cork is one of the most idyllic locations for romantic weddings, corporate events, special celebrations and group gatherings.  

The family and staff at Barnabrow are proud to act as caretaker of this lovingly-restored manor house and 30-acre estate which dates back to the 17th century. A recurrent comment of our guests is an appreciation of the relaxed and warm atmosphere here. Primarily we wish to share this great house with you. 

For the past four years, Head Chef, Stuart Bowes, who is Michelin Star-trained, has ensured a new level of excellence in our food: jus is prepared over three days, handmade sweets are on the pillows, herbal aromas pervade the air.  

Mary Russell’s discerning eye adds an artistic dab here and there to enhance the visual feast that Barnabrow has gradually become. Liam Irwan, our steadfast gardener, preserves its organic nature and tends to the donkeys, goats and fowl that so add to its ambiance.

Cloyne, Midleton, East Cork, Ireland. 
info@barnabrowhouse.ie 
+353 21 4652534  

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

p. 32. “A three storey 3 bay double gable-ended C18 house with single-storey 2 bay C19 wings. Wyatt windows in 2 lower storeys of C18 block. In 1814 the residence of Timothy Lane; in 1837, of J.R. Wilkinson; in recent years, of Lt-Cmdr and Mrs Whitehouse.”

5. Blackwater Castle (Castle Widenham, or Blackwater Valley Castle) Castletownroache, Co Cork 

https://www.blackwatercastle.com/

The website tells us:

A medieval Castle for rent in Ireland, the spectacular home of the former Viscount of Fermoy and Lords of the Barony of Fermoy, is a truly unique heritage site of international significance. Blackwater Castle, with a history extending back some 10,000 years to the Mesolithic period, is available to hire as a private Castle experience for exclusive Castle weddings, private parties, and family gatherings.

The Castle was first erected in the twelfth century on the site of the Bronze Age fortress of Dún Cruadha, an inland promontory fort which was established some 2,500 years ago or more on a rocky outcrop on the banks of the River Awbeg.   Beautifully appointed suites, welcoming reception rooms, historical tours, and extensive activities from zip-lining to fly fishing are all on offer at one of Ireland’s more interesting and best preserved castles set on a 50 acre estate of mature native Irish trees with a private stretch of the River Awbeg.

Visitors gracing the Castle down through the centuries include Early Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, Druids and Chieftains, Strongbow’s Men at Arms, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Michael Jackson while Oliver Cromwell and his army also laid siege to the Castle.  More recently we have received the President of Ireland Uachtarán Michael D. Higgins who described the Castle as a “beautiful place” and set in “a majestic and pastoral environment”.  This exquisite Castle is available for private exclusive hire as the perfect venue for castle weddings, private parties and self catering holiday vacation rentals. Guesthouse options are also available for group bookings.

The Castle is a highly recommended venue with a coveted 5 star rating on Tripadvisor where we rank as the Best Speciality Accommodation in Cork. We were winners of the Best Hospitality, Tourism and Food Venue in the North Cork Business Awards 2017 while we have been selected for five consecutive years by One Fab Day as one of the best wedding venues in Ireland. in October 2015 The Irish Times listed us among the top ten Castles in Ireland while The Irish Examiner declared on 6 May 2015 that Blackwater Castle was one of only six Irish wedding venues you ever need in your “wedding venue little black book”.

Blackwater Castle is the original seat of the FitzHugh/Roche Family who travelled to Ireland with Strongbow in the late twelfth century.  The Castle is located on an elevated site (and former inland promontory fort) above the River Awbeg with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside from the Norman Tower which is reputed to be one of the best preserved medieval keeps in Ireland.  Blackwater Castle is blessed with a rich historical legacy the traces of which, dating from the early Mesolithic period or some 10,000 years ago, are visible today and are entertainingly and enthusiastically revealed and interpreted via guided tour with the owner Patrick Nordstrom.

Mark Bence-Jones also tells us of the castle (1988):

p. 79. Castle Widenham: “(Roche of Fermoy, V/DEP; Brasier-Creagh/IFR; Smyth/IFR; Cotter, Bt/PB) 

The old castle of the Viscounts Roche of Fermoy, on a rock high above the Awbeg River; consisting of a tall keep and a baily enclosed by a curtain wall with bastions and other fortifications. During the Civil War the castle was heroically defended against the Cromwellian forces by the Lady Roche of the time but she was eventually obliged to surrender. The estate was confiscated and granted to the Widenham family [to Colonel John Widenham in 1666, when it became known as Castle Widenham]; Lord Roche failed to recover it after the Restoration and was reduced to dire poverty. Later, in C17 or early C18 a house of two storeys and an attic was built onto the keep, incorporating some of the walls of the old castle; it stood within the bailey, the wall of which was still intact 1790s. Ca 1820s, Henry Mitchell Smyth [1795-1870, from Ballynatray, the gardens of which are on the Section 482 listing], whose wife Patricia (nee Brasier-Creagh) [1802-1837]was the eventual heiress of the Widenhams [via her mother, Elizabeth Widenham], castellated the house and extended it at the opposite end to the old keep; giving it a skyline of battlements and machiolations and a turreted porch on its entrance front. Probably at the same time, the bailey wall was largely demolished; though parts of it still survive, together with some of the outworks and a detached building which is thought to have been a chapel. A terrace ws built along the garden front later in C19 by H.J. Smyth. The rooms of the house have plain cornices and charming Georgian-Gothic shutters in the deep window recesses; the drawing room has segmental pointed doorways with rope ornament. The principal staircase has slender turned balusters, there is also a delightful little spiral staircase of wood, rather similar to that at Dunsany Castle, which goes up to the attic storey, whence a door leads into an upper room of the keep. From ca 1963-76, Castle Widenham was the home of Sir Delaval Cotter, 6th and present Bt [6th Baronet Cotter, of Rockforest, co. Cork] – whose old family seat, Rockforest, was nearby. Sir Deleval and Lady Cotter carried out an admirable restoration of the castle, which was in poor condition when they bought it; the rooms, as redecorated by them, were greatly improved and gained much from their fine furniture and the Cotter family portraits. They also made a garden in the outworks of the castle and opened up the views down to the river, which had become completely overgrown. Unfortunately, in 1976, circumstances oblighed them to sell it and move to England.” 

6. Blairscove House, County Cork: accommodation in the Piggery, Smoke House and Loft.

https://blairscove.ie/

The website tells us:

Blairscove House is situated on the picturesque inlet of Dunmanus Bay in West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way. Not touched by mass tourism, it appeals to visitors who want to get away ‘far from the madding crowd,’ yet desire premium facilities in terms of service and food, with home from home comforts in terms of welcome and accommodation.

Around the courtyard of a Georgian House, beautifully restored with cobbled paths, shrubs and flowers, are the restaurant and four stylish suites or small apartments which can be rented on a bed and breakfast or self-catering basis. Formerly a piggery, coach house and servants’ quarters, each suite is individually and very lovingly decorated with a quirky mix of contemporary and antique furnishings.

We also have another holiday cottage on Dunmanus Pier in West Cork, just 12km from Blairscove, in the direction of Mizen Head, again on the Wild Atlantic Way driving route.

7. Careysville (Ballymacpatrick Castle), Clondulane, Fermoy, Co.Cork, Ireland P61 VF53 – accommodation

https://careysville.com 

Careysville House sits on an escarpment overlooking the fishery, with stunning views of the Blackwater valley. Guests can look out of their bedroom window and see one of the most stunning stretches of salmon fishing in Ireland, not to mention watch the salmon jumping in the pools below. It was built in 1812 in the Georgian style, on the site of the old ruined Ballymacpatrick Castle.

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

 p. 56. “[Montgomery of Killee; Cavendish, Devonshire] “A C18 house of 2 storeys over a high basement and 5 bays, above the River Blackwater. Subtly spaced windows. The seat of the Carey family; passed by inheritance to the Montgomery family, from whom it was bought by the Duke of Devonshire, whose Irish seat, Lismore Castle, is a few miles further down the river.” 

The National Inventory tells us: “Built on the site of Ballypatrick Castle, this house has been used as a fishing lodge by the Duke of Devonshire for many years. It is a substantial house with elegant proportions and articulated by its cut limestone plinth course. The building retains many notable features and materials such as the varied timber sash windows and slate roof. The classically inspired porch retains its timber panelled doors and flanking pilasters. The different window treatments to the side and rear provide further interest to the house. The site retains associated structures such as the solidly constructed outbuildings, which provide valuable context to the side. The piers are finely crafted and indicative of the quality of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century craftsmanship.”

8. Clifford House, Clifford, Co Cork – airbnb

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/23073945?source_impression_id=p3_1589821677_g%2Fl3KzQeCDhVcv1s&guests=1&adults=1

The National Inventory of Architeral Heritage tells us: “This solid and handsome country house was built by Richard Martin on a prominent position overlooking the River Blackwater. It developed over the centuries, as evidenced by the various additions. The house is notable for the quantity and quality of historic fabric retained such as the varied small-paned sash windows and slate roof, helping to maintain the integrity of the composition. The cut limestone piers with pineapple caps are a most decorative feature.” 

9. Drishane House whole house rental and holiday cottages – see above

10. Dunowen House, Co Cork, and Orchard Cottage – Blue Book Accommodation

https://dunowenhouse.ie/

The website tells us:

Dunowen House is a luxury 18th Century Private Rental Property, situated in a stunning coastal location ten minutes from vibrant Clonakilty town. Surrounded by private coves and sandy beaches, it offers guests the chance to totally escape and experience West Cork life.

When you book Dunowen House it is yours exclusively making it perfect for extended families, groups of friends, bespoke celebrations and intimate weddings.

It offers the comforts of a luxury small hotel with the privacy of an historic country estate – all to yourself.”

Orchard Cottage is a beautifully refurbished three bedroom house nestled within the peaceful one acre walled garden of Dunowen House.

This characterful old building, dating back to the 1800’s, has been sympathetically restored to a very high standard. It has three cosy bedrooms, two bathrooms, a wood burning stove and an open plan kitchen living area, offering accommodation for up to five guests. The cottage is suitable for up to three children within that number.

Orchard Cottage is available to rent with Dunowen House or on its own as a cute tranquil hideaway for short-breaks or longer holidays.

11. Farran House, County Cork, whole house rental

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/farran-house/

The Hidden Ireland website tells us: “An elegant Italiante style Manor house in mature beech woodland and gardens close to Cork City (15km).

The house is spacious and bright and beautifully decorated and it is set in 12 acres of mature beech woodland and landscaped gardens. Accommodation is exceptionally generous and gracious with antique furnishings, a grand piano and full-sized billiard table.

Situated 9 miles from Blarney, 38 miles from Killarney and 10 miles from Cork city and airpor, this is an ideal location for touring both Cork and Kerry and perfect for family reunions / anniversaries. It is available for self catering and catered rental, with accommodation for up to 16 people. Perfect for vacation rentals.

Ten 18-hole golf courses are within 25km. Children welcome.

12. Longueville, Mallow, Co Cork – Blue Book accommodation

https://www.irelands-blue-book.ie/houses.html?country=Cork

Mark Bence-Jones tells us of Longueville:

p. 191. “(Longfield/IFR) A three storey five bay C18 block, enlarged by the addition of two storey three bay wings in the late Georgian period, probably between 1800-5 by John Longfield, MP; the centre being refaced and some of its windows altered at the same time so as to make the front uniform. One bay central breakfront, Wyatt windows in two upper storeys above a fanlighted doorway beneath a single-storey portico. One of the wings was extended at right angles to the front ca 1866, and a charming Victorian conservatory of curved ironwork was added, probably at the same time. The principal reception rooms, which have simple early C19 plasterwork and doors of inlaid mahogany, extend on either side of the entrance hall, which has a floor of Portland stone. Behind is the staircase hall, with bifurcating staircase which is most unusual in rising to the top of the house; the central ramp and two returns being repeated in the storey above. Longueville was sold by the Longfields to the late Senator William O’Callaghan, whose son and daughter-in-law have opened it as an hotel.” 

The National Inventory tells us of the Turner conservatory:

Constructed in 1862, this glasshouse was the last designed by Richard Turner, whose portfolio includes the conservatory at the famous Kew Gardens in London. The cast-iron framework and attractively flawed glass are of considerable technical interest and create a focal point for Longueville House, to which it is attached.

13. Lough Ine House and Lodge, Skibereen, County Cork – whole house €€€ for two, € for 5-8; or gate lodge €

http://www.loughinehouse.com/

The website tells us:

This beautiful holiday house and cottage are set on stunning Lough Ine sometimes spelt Lough Hyne – which is well known as one of the most romantic spots in West Cork.

Just 85km from Cork airport, Lough Ine is easily accessible but also far enough off the beaten track to be the perfect place to get away for either a romantic break or a fabulous family holiday.

The House: “This elegant Regency house was built in 1830 as a hunting lodge for Lord Carbery and maintains several original features to this day. It is surrounded by its own 15 acre estate on the edge of Lough Ine and includes a patio garden, beautiful walkways through the woods and gardens and a private shingle beach. The Lough is a famous beauty spot 5km from Skibbereen and 4km from Baltimore in West Cork, Ireland. The estate is located in a conservation area of outstanding natural beauty.

Elegantly furnished for comfortable country life, polished oak floors and period furniture add to the unique charm of this house. The unique vine-filled conservatory has a large breakfast area and elegant seating area with rattan furniture. Sun pours through the French windows in the interconnecting reception rooms, offering spectacular views of the garden, lough and surrounding hills.

From the elegant panelled hall, a striking curved staircase leads you to the first floor where you will find 3 double bedrooms and a large bathroom. The two front bedrooms overlook the sea and are elegantly decorated with material on the walls and fine furniture. One has an eighteenth century four-poster bed, the others have twin beds. The charming third room overlooks the gardens. The bathroom is worth noting for its historic bathtub, which used to belong to Winston Churchill!

On the ground floor there are two further wood panelled twin bedrooms each with their own bathroom containing bathtub and shower. The rowing boat is at your disposal to explore the island where you can see the remains of an O’Driscoll castle and picnic on the beach, or visit the shoreline and rapids that lead out to the sea.

The Gate Lodge: “The gate lodge is an 18th Century, small cosy house at the entrance of the property on the edge of the lough, with wonderful view of the sea, the island and the fields.

The ground floor is an open plan living room with a large fireplace, a dining area, a kitchenette and a spiral staircase leading to a twin bedroom overlooking the lough, a single bedroom and a bathroom with basin, W.C, bath and shower.

14. Rincolisky Castle, Whitehall, co Cork – renovated, whole house.  €€€ for 2, € for 5.

  https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/20771431?source_impression_id=p3_1646737924_o%2BwxYCDhpDgJDHfX

Rincolisky Castle, sometimes also called Whitehall Castle, lies on a hill on the southern shore or Roaringwater Bay, in County Cork in Ireland.

Rincolisky Castle, originally a 5 storey high, square tower house was built in 1495 by the powerful local O’Driscoll clan.

In 1602, after the Battle of Kinsale, the castle was easily taken by English forces. It was then given to Sir Walter Coppinger. He changed the name of the castle into Whitehall, after the townland in which it is situated. The Coppingers lost their possessions in 1690 for supporting James II.

It was then given to Samuel Townsend. The Townsends built a new mansion nearby; Whitehall House. They removed the 3 upper floors of Rincolisky Castle to provide building material for their new mansion. From then on the truncated 2 storeys high remnant of Rincolisky Castle fell to ruin. It is said that there is a tunnel leading from the castle to the mansion. One of the Townsends sent his little page boy down the passage to see if it was clear. The boy was never seen again.

In 2000, the ivy covered ruin of Rincolisky Castle was restored and made habitable again.” [9]

15. Southernmost House, Cape Clear Island, County Cork

https://hiddenireland.com/stay/self-catering-holiday-rentals/

The website tells us:

A unique Irish cottage for two overlooking the beautiful seascapes and landscape of Cape Clear Island. Cape Clear Island is located off the coast of West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way. The Island could be considered as part of the Hidden Ireland that is rarely encountered by visitors to the West of Ireland. The house is situated in a secluded location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Mizen Head, Roaring Water Bay and the South Harbour of Cape Clear.

Built pre-famine in approximately 1830 and occupied until 1890-1894. It was subsequently used as a cow house for many years before being restored in the mid 1990’s. There are no other houses between Southernmost House and the Atlantic Ocean, which suggests that the house is the most Southerly house in Ireland.

Beautiful sunrises to the East and unsurpassed sunsets to the West are daily occurrences at Southernmost House. The natural night time light and early morning light give another dimension to the magnificent views from each window. The landscape and seascapes never fail to captivate during all seasons of the year. There is always a magical aura to the regular cloudless starry nights. Southernmost House is a unique haven, offering guests among other things an opportunity to regain and engage in the quiet and simple enrichment of body and soul.

Southernmost House has been prepared specifically for the enjoyment and pleasure of one or two people. The house comprises a large sitting area with an open turf fire and large sun receiving windows. A dining area with panoramic views and a loft over in the traditional Irish style. A study for scripting reflective thoughts. A meditation room, to embrace calmness and serenity. Kitchen with all necessary cooking and storage facilities. Bathroom with bath and power shower. One double bedroom with traditional style super king bed and high quality bed linen. The house is presented and furnished in an authentic manner to reflect the resources available locally and with an aesthetic sympathic to the simple origins of the house.

There is no television in Southernmost House. There is a mobile internet ‘dongle’ available if required and a music unit with radio and c d player. A cross section of c d’s are on hand as well as selection of board and card games. Also a selection of Irish and classic books. There are two restaurants and two pubs on the Island. Costs include linen, heating, gas, turf and kindling etc for the open fire. We will be on hand to render assistance at any stage. A few non perishable cupboard basics are provided. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate children or pets. The house is strictly ‘no smoking’. A full list of terms and conditions will be available before confirmation of booking.

[1] https://repository.dri.ie/catalog

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

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/20908902/ballymaloe-house-ballymaloe-more-cork

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

[5] https://archiseek.com/2012/blackrock-castle-cork/

[6] p. 300, Keohane, Frank. The Buildings of Ireland: Cork City and County. Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 2020.

[7] O’Hea O’Keeffe, Jane.Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry (Mercier Press, Cork, 2013).

[8] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Glenville%20Park

[9] https://www.castles.nl/rincolisky-castle

Places to visit and stay: Munster: Clare and Kerry

Munster’s counties are Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

Accommodation is in red. Section 482 properties are in purple.

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Clare:

1. Barntick House, Clarecastle Co. Clare – section 482

2. Bunratty Castle, County Clare

3. Craggaunowen Castle, Kilmurray, Sixmilebridge, Clare

4. Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, County Clare

5. Kilrush House, Co Clare – ‘lost’, Vandeleur Gardens open 

6. Knappogue or Knoppogue Castle, County Clare

7. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co. Clare – section 482

8. Mount Ievers Court, Sixmilebridge, Clare  

9. Newtown Castle, Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare – section 482

10. O’Dea’s, or Dysert Castle, Co Clare

Places to Stay, County Clare 

1. Ballynalacken Castle, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare – hotel 

2. Castle Fergus House, or Ballyhannon, County Clare – coach house accommodation

3.  Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare – hotel 

4. Ennistymon House, Ennistymon, Co. Clare, now Falls Hotel 

5. Gregan’s Castle Hotel, County Clare €€€

6. Loop Head Lightkeeper’s Cottage, County Clare €€ for 2; € for 4-6

7. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co Clare

8. Mount Callan House and Restaurant, Inagh, Co Clare – B&B 

9. Mount Cashel Lodge, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare 

10. Newpark House, Ennis, County Clare

11. Sheedy’s Hotel and Restaurant, County Clare 

12. Spanish Point House, Spanish Point, County Clare 

13. Strasburgh Manor coach houses, Inch, Ennis, County Clare

Whole House Rental, County Clare

1. Ballyportry Castle, Corofin, County Clare 

2. Inchiquin House, Corofin, County Clare – whole house rental

3. Mount Vernon lodge, Co Clare – whole house accommodation 

4. Smithstown Castle (or Ballynagowan), Co Clare

Kerry:

1. Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co. Kerry – section 482

2. Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, Kerry – OPW

3. Derreen Gardens, Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry – section 482

4. Dhu Varren garden, Knockreigh, Milltown, Kerry, V93 VX27, IE 

5. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry 

6. Knockreer House and Gardens, County Kerry

7. Listowel Castle, co Kerry – OPW

8. Muckross House (or Muckruss),  Killarney, Co Kerry – open to visitors 

9. Ross’s Castle, Killarney, County Kerry

10. Steig Fort, County Kerry

11. Tarbert House, Tarbert, Co. Kerry – section 482

Places to Stay, County Kerry: 

1. Arbutus Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry €€

2. Ballyseede Castle/ Ballyseedy (Tralee Castle), Tralee, county Kerry – hotel, €€

3. Cahernane (or Cahirnane) House, Killarney, Co Kerry – hotel 

4. Carrig Country House, County Kerry €€€

5. Castlewood House, Dingle, County Kerry €€

6. Dingle Benners Hotel, Dingle, Co Kerry  €€

7. Dromquinna Estate, Co Kerry – accommodation 

8. Fahagh Court, Beaufort, Co Kerry – now Killarney Country Club and accommodation 

9. Glanleam, Valentia Island, Co Kerry – accommodation

10. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry € 

11. Kenmare House, formerly Killarney House, Killarney, Co Kerry – Park Hotel  

12. Killeen House Hotel and Rozzers Restaurant, Aghadoe, Killarney, Co Kerry 

13. Muxnaw Lodge, Kenmare, Co Kerry 

14. Parknasilla Resort and Spa, Kenmare, Co Kerry 

15. Randles Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry 

16. Sneem Hotel, Sneem, Co Kerry 

Whole House Rental County Kerry:

1. Churchtown House, Killarney, Co Kerry

2.  Coolclogher House, Killarney, co Kerry – whole house rental accommodation 

Clare:

1. Barntick House, Clarecastle Co. Clare – section 482

contact: Ciaran Murphy
Tel: 086-1701060
Open: May 1-31, Aug 1-31, 5pm-9pm
Fee: adult/student €5, child/OAP free, group discount available.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

Detached three-bay two-storey house, dated 1665, and renovated c. 1740. Hipped slate roof with red brick chimneystacks. Roughcast rendered walls with string course between ground and first floors and moulded eaves course. Timber sliding sash windows. Carved limestone door surround comprising shouldered surround with entablature above, approached by flight of limestone steps. Timber panelled double leaf doors. Retaining interior features. Attached single-bay single-storey outbuilding to right. Date plaque from house moved to outbuilding. Rendered gate piers to site with wrought-iron railings.

It was a barracks and one point, and is now a farm. An article in the Irish Times tells us that it was owned by the families of Hickman, Peacocke, Lyons and Murphy. [1]

2. Bunratty Castle, County Clare

maintained by Shannon Heritage

Bunratty Castle, County Clare, photograph by Chris Hill 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [2]

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

p. 49. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB; and Thomond, E/DEP; Studdert/IFR; Russell/IFR; Vereker, Gort, VPB) One of the finest 15C castles in Ireland, standing by the side of a small tidal creek of the Shanon estuary; built ca 1425, perhaps by one of the McNamaras; then held by the O’Briens, who became Earls of Thomond, until 6th Earl [Barnabas O’Brien (d. 1657)] surrendered it to the Cromwellian forces during the Civil War. A tall, oblong building, it has a square tower at each corner; these are linked, on the north and south sides, by a broad arch just below the topmost storey. The entrance door leads into a large vaulted hall, or guard chamber, above which is the Great Hall, the banqueting hall and audience chamber of the Earls of Thomond, with its lofty timber roof. Whereas the body of the castle is only three storeys – there being another vaulted chamber below the guard chamber – the towers contain many storeys of small rooms, reached up newel stairs and by passages in the thickness of the walls. One of these rooms, opening off the Great Hall, is the chapel, which still has its original plasterwork ceiling of ca 1619, richly adorned with a pattern of vines and grapes. There are also fragment of early C17 plasterwork in some of the window recesses. After the departure of the O’Briens, a C17 brick house was built between the two north towers; Thomas Studdert [1696-1786], who bought Bunratty early in C18, took up residence here in 1720. Later, the Studderts built themselves “a spacious and handsome modern residence in the demesne: and the castle became a constabulary barracks, falling into disrepair so that, towards the end of C19, the ceiling of the Great Hall collapsed. Bunratty was eventually inherited by Lt-Com R.H. Russell, whose mother was a Studdert, and sold by him to 7th Viscount Gort [Standish Robert Gage Prendergast Vereker (1888-1975)] 1956. With the help of Mr Percy Le Clerc and Mr John Hunt, Lord Gort carried out a most sympathetic restoration of the castle, which included removing C17 house, re-roofing the Great Hall in oak and adding battlements to the towers. The restored castle contains Lord Gort’s splendid collection of medieval and C16 furniture, tapestries and works of art, and is open to the public; “medieval banquets” being held here as a tourist attraction. Since the death of Lord Gort, Bunratty and its contents have been held in trust for the Nation.” [3]

Bunratty Castle, County Clare, Photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Bunratty Castle, County Clare, Photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Bunratty Co Clare National Library of Ireland stereo pairs collection STP_1858. (Dublin City Library and Archives) (see [8])
Bunratty Castle Co Clare National Library of Ireland Lawrence Collection taken between 1880 and 1914, L_CAB_00962 (Dublin City Library and Archives) (see [8])

3. Craggaunowen Castle, Kilmurray, Sixmilebridge, Clare

Craggaunowen Pre-Historic Park, County Clare, photo by Stephen Power 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

– history park, maintained by Shannon Heritage, www.craggaunowen.ie

Craggaunowen Castle - built by  John MacSioda MacNamara in 1550 a descendant of Sioda MacNamara who built Knappogue Castle in 1467. After the collapse of the Gaelic Order, in the 17th century, the castle was left roofless and uninhabitable. The Tower House remained a ruin until it and the estate of Cullane House across the road, were inherited in 1821 by ”Honest” Tom Steele, a confederate of Daniel O’Connell, Steele had the castle rebuilt as a summer house in the 1820s. He used it and the turret on the hill opposite for recreation. His initials can be seen on one of the quoin-stones to the right outside. “The Liberator”. By the time of the First Ordnance Survey, in the 1840s, the castle was “in ruins”. After he Steele in 1848 the lands were divided, Cullane going to one branch of his family, Craggaunowen to another, his niece Maria Studdert. Eventually the castle and grounds were acquired by the “Irish Land Commission”. Much of the land was given over to forestry and the castle itself was allowed to fall into disrepair. In the mid-19th century, the castle, herd’s house and 96 acres were reported in the possession of a Reverend William Ashworth, who held them from a Caswell (a family from County Clare just north of Limerick). In 1906, a mansion house here was owned by Count James Considine (from a family based at Derk, County Limerick). Craggaunowen Castle was restored by John Hunt in the 1960s – he added an extension to the ground floor, which for a while housed part of his collection of antiquities. The collection now resides in the Hunt Museum in the city of Limerick.” [4]

4. Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, County Clare

Dunguaire Castle, County Clare, July 2021.

Maintained by Shannon Heritage.

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

p. 115. “(Martyn/LGI1912; Gogarty/IFR; Russell, Ampthill, B/PB) An old tower-house with a bawn and a smaller tower, on a creek of Galway Bay; which was for long roofless, though in other respects well maintained by the Martyn family, of Tulira, who owned it C18 and C19, and which was bought in the present century by Oliver St John Gogarty, the surgeon, writer and wit, to save it from threat of demolition. More recently, it was bought by the late Christabel, Lady Ampthill, and restored by her as her home; her architect, being Donal O’Neill Flanagan, who carried out a most successful and sympathetic restoration. The only addition to the castle was an unobtrusive two storey wing joining the main tower to the smaller one. The main tower has two large vaulted rooms, one above the other, in its two lower storeys, which keep their original fireplaces; these were made into the dining room and drawing room. “Medieval” banquets and entertainments are now held here.” 

Dunguaire Castle, County Clare, July 2021.
Dunguaire Castle, County Clare, July 2021.

5. Kilrush House, Co Clare – Vandeleur Gardens

Vandeleur walled Garden, Kilrush, Co Clare, photo by Air Swing Media 2019 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

– ‘lost’, Vandeleur Gardens open 

www.vandeleurwalledgarden.ie 

Timothy William Ferrers writes about it on his website:

KILRUSH HOUSE, County Clare, was an early Georgian house of 1808. 

From 1881 until Kilrush House was burnt in 1897, Hector Stewart Vandeleur lived mainly in London and only spent short periods each year in Kilrush. Indeed during the years 1886-90, which coincided with the period of the greatest number of evictions from the Vandeleur estate, he does not appear to have visited Kilrush. 

In 1889, Hector bought Cahircon House and then it was only a matter of time before the Vandeleurs moved to Cahircon as, in 1896, they were organising shooting parties at Kilrush House and also at the Cahircon demesne.  

Hector Stewart Vandeleur was the last of the Vandeleurs to be buried at Kilrush in the family mausoleum. Cahircon House was sold in 1920, ending the Kilrush Vandeleurs’ direct association with County ClareHector Vandeleur had, by 1908, agreed to sell the Vandeleur estate to the tenants for approximately twenty years’ rent, and the majority of the estate was purchased by these tenants. 

THE VANDELEURS, as landlords, lost lands during the Land Acts and the family moved to Cahircon, near Kildysart. 
 
In 1897, Kilrush House was badly damaged by fire. 

During the Irish Land Commission of the 1920s, the Department of Forestry took over the estate, planted trees in the demesne and under their direction the remains of the house were removed in 1973, following an accident in the ruins.Today the top car park is laid over the site of the house. 

Vandeleur Walled Garden now forms a small part of the former Kilrush demesne. The Kilrush demesne was purchased by the Irish Department of Agriculture as trustee under the Irish Land Acts solely for the purpose of forestry. The Kilrush Committee for Urban Affairs purchased the Fair Green and Market House.” [5]

6. Knappogue or Knoppogue Castle, County Clare

Knappogue is maintained by Shannon Heritage.

From Mark Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses.

Mark Bence-Jones writes about Knoppogue, or Knappogue, Castle in A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):

p. 180. “(Butler, Dunboyne, B/PB) A large tower-house with a low C19 castellated range, possibly by James Pain, built onto it. Recently restored and now used for “medieval banquets” similar to those at Bunratty Castle, Co Clare.” 

7. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co. Clare – section 482

contact: Billy Loughnane
Tel: 086-2565012
www.clareecolodge.ie
Open: June 1-August 31, Wed-Sun, Aug 13-21, 2pm-6pm Fee: Free

The website tells us: “Clare Ecolodge at Loughnane’s, Feakle, in the heart of East Clare, is a unique family-run guest accommodation experience. We also offer group and self-catering accommodation as well as residential courses.
The buildings, which have been in the family for over 100 years, were renovated 10 years ago. Since then we have been welcoming guests from all over the world.

8. Mount Ievers Court, Sixmilebridge, Clare  

mountieverscourt.ie

The website has a terrific history of the house. First, it tells us:

Mount Ievers Court is an 18th c. Irish Georgian country house nestled in the Co. Clare countryside just outside the town of Sixmilebridge.  The house was originally the site of a 16th c.  tower house called Ballyarilla Castle built by Lochlann McNamara.  The tower house was demolished in the early 18th c. to construct the present house, built between 1733-1737 by John & Isaac Rothery, for Col. Henry Ievers.

Mount Ievers Court  has been home to the Ievers family for 281 years and since then generations of Ievers and their families have worked hard to maintain the house in order to ensure that the estate retains a viable place in the local community and Ireland’s heritage long into the future. Mount Ievers is currently owned by Breda Ievers née O’Halloran, a native of Sixmilebridge, and her son Norman. Norman is married to Karen, an American by birth, who has a keen interest in Irish history & the family archives.

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

p. 214. “(Ievers/IFR) The most perfect and also probably the earliest of the tall Irish houses; built ca. 1730-37 by Colonel Henry Ievers to the design of John Rothery, whose son, Isaac, completed the work after his death and who appears to have also been assisted by another member of the Rothery family, Jemmy. The house, which replaced an old castle, is thought to have been inspired by Chevening, in Kent – now the country house of the Prince of Wales – with which Ievers could have been familiar not only through the illustration in Vitruvius Britannicus, but also because he may have been connected with the family which owned Chevening in C17. Mount Ievers, however, differs from Chevening both in detail and proportions; and it is as Irish as Chevening is English. Its two three storey seven bay fronts – which are almost identical except that one is of faded pink brick with a high basement whereas the other is of silvery limestone ashlar with the basement hidden by a grass bank – have that dreamlike, melancholy air which all the best tall C18 Irish houses have. There is a nice balance between window and wall, and a subtle effect is produced by making each storey a few inches narrower than that below it. The high-pitched roof is on a bold cornice; there are quoins, string-courses and shouldered window surrounds; the doorcase on each front has an entablature on console brackets. The interior of the house is fairly simple. Some of the rooms have contemporary panelling; one of them has a delightful primitive overmantel painting showing the house as it was originally, with an elaborate formal layout which has largely disappeared. A staircase of fine joinery with alternate barley-sugar and fluted balusters leads up to a large bedroom landing, with a modillion cornice and a ceiling of geometrical panels. On the top foor is a long gallery, a feature which seems to hark back to the C17 or C16, for it is found in hardly any other C18 Irish country houses; the closest counterpart was the Long Room in Bowen’s Court, County Cork. The present owners, S.Ldr N.L. Ievers, has carried out much restoration work and various improvements, including the placement of original thick glazing bars in some of the windows which had been given thin late-Georgain astragals ca. 1850; and the making of two ponds on the site of those in C18 layout. He and Mrs Ievers have recently opened the home to paying guests in order to meet the cost of upkeep.” 

The website tells of the ancient origins of the family, and goes on to explain:

A parchment found in the sideboard at Mount Ievers in July 2012 maintains that Henry Ivers arrived in Ireland in 1640 from Yorkshire, where the family had been settled since arriving with William the Conqueror nearly six hundred years earlier. It also records that Henry settled in County Clare in 1643 when he was appointed Collector of Revenue for Clare and Galway.

9. Newtown Castle, Newtown, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare – section 482

Newtown Castle, photograph fron National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

contact: Mary Hawkes- Greene
Tel: 065-7077200
www.newtowncastle.com , 
Open: Jan 10-May 31, Mon-Fri, June 1-30 Mon-Sat, July 1-Aug 31 daily, Sept 1-Dec 16 Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm
Fee: Free.

The website tells us: “The historic Newtown Castle has occupied a prominent position in Ballyvaughan since the 16th century. Having lain derelict for many years, the castle’s restoration began in 1994, completed in time for the opening of the Burren College of Art in August of that year. 

Newtown Castle is once again a vibrant building in daily use, central to the artistic, cultural and educational life of the Burren. It is open free of charge to the public on week days. Newtown Castle is also available to hire for: wedding ceremonies, small private functions or company events.” 

10. O’Dea’s, or Dysert Castle, Co Clare

– can visit http://www.dysertcastle.com/castle.htm

The Castle was built in 1480 by Diarmuid O’Dea, Lord of Cineal Fearmaic. The uppermost floors and staircase were badly damaged by the Cromwellians in 1651. Repaired and opened in 1986, the castle houses an extensive museum, an audio visual presentation and various exhibitions. 

Free car/coach parking and toilets 
Tea rooms and bookshop 
Chapel 
Modern History Room 1700AD – 2000AD 
Museum – Local artefacts 1000BC – 1700AD 
Audio – visual presentation – local archaeology 
Medieval masons and carpenters workshop 
Roof wall – walk to view surrounding monuments 

Places to Stay, County Clare 

1. Ballynalacken Castle, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare – hotel

https://www.ballinalackencastle.com/ 

The website tells us that the property has been in the O’Callaghan family for three generations, and is now run by Declan and Cecilia O’Callaghan. The rooms look luxurious, some with four poster beds, and the hotel has a full restaurant.

The website tells us: “The original house was owned by the famous O’Brien clan – a royal and noble dynasty who were descendants of the High King of Ireland, Brian Ború. The house , castle and 100 acres of land was bought by Declan’s grandfather Daniel O’Callaghan, in 1938 and he and his wife Maisie opened it as a fine hotel. It was later passed to Daniel’s son Dennis and his wife Mary and then to his son, Declan. Declan and Cecilia have three children who also assist in the family business.

Standing tall on a limestone outcrop, our very own Castle, Ballinalacken Castle, is a two-stage tower house which was built in the 15th or early 16th century. It is thought the name comes from the Irish Baile na leachan (which means “town of the flagstones/tombstones/stones”).

10th Century: The original fortress is built by famous Irish clan, the O’Connors – rulers of West Corcomroe.

14th Century: The fortress itself is found and Lochlan MacCon O’Connor is in charge of its rebuilding.

1564: Control of West Corcomroe passes to Donal O’Brien of the O’Brien family.

1582: The lands are formally granted by deed to Turlough O’Brien of Ennistymon. After the Cromwellians triumphed in the area, five of Turlough’s castles are razed to the ground – but Ballinalacken is saved as it was not on the list of “overthrowing and demolishing castles in Connaught and Clare.”

1662: Daniel dies and grandson Donough is listed as rightful holder of the Castle.

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

p. 26. “(O’Brien/LGI1912) A single-storey house with a curved bow, close to an old keep on a rock. The seat of the O’Brien family, of which Lord Chief Justice Peter O’Brien, Lord O’Brien of Kilfenora (known irreverently as “Pether the Packer”) was a younger son.” 

Photograph from National Library of Ireland, constant commons, Flickr, Ballinalicken Castle, County Clare.

2. Castle Fergus House, or Ballyhannon, County Clare – coach house accommodation

www.ballyhannon-castle.com

There is a private house, a tower house castle and coach house.

Castlefergus House, also known as Ballyhannon Castle: A Blood Smyth property from the late 18th century, sold by the Blood Smyth to the Bloods of Ballykilty in the early 20th century. This house was occupied by Daniel Powell in 1814 but the Blood Smyths were in residence in the 1830s and 1850s. They appear to have held the property from Ralph Westropp. The mansion house of Castlefergus was in the possession of Rev William Blood Smith in 1906.” [6]

The Lodge: https://www.castleferguslodge.com/

A 19th century coach house adjacent to Ballyhannon Fortress Castle. Take a step back in time, and enjoy the unique experience of this historic landmark, at our bed and breakfast. We are at the end of a private drive, so no one will be “passing by” to interfere with your peace and tranquility.” 

The Tower House: http://rentacastleinireland.com/history.html

The website tells us:

The castle of Ballyhannon, also known in later times as Castlefergus, most likely from its proximity to the River Fergus, is a late fifteenth century towerhouse of untypical internal design within the context of the Co. Clare group of towerhouses. The castle stands in the townland of Castlefergus close to Latoon Creek, which itself feeds into the River Fergus. Ballyhannon townlands (both north and south) lie to the north east of the castle. The older spelling, Ballyhannan, is retained in these townland names. The townland name can be translated as O’Hannan’s or O’Hannon’s home. Although there are many substantial families of Hannon in Munster and Connaught, the name seldom appears in the annals of medieval Ireland. 

The death in 1266 of Maelisa O’Hannen, prior of Roscommon, is one of the few such entries.In the census of 1659 the name was found in considerable numbers in the Barony of Bunratty. The prefix O, was dropped in the submergence of Gaelic Ireland and has not been resumed. Strictly speaking Hannon is the anglicised form of the Gaelic O’ hAnnáin, a name chiefly associated with Co. Limerick. It was common at the end of the sixteenth century in many parts of Connaught and Munster. The Hannons or Ó hAnnáin are a Dalcassian sept of noble Milesian ancestry whose members attained the status of knighthood, and whose patrimonial lands were in this area, south of Quin. Their name is still retained in the townlands of Ballyhannan north and Ballyhannan south. Although the Hannon name is remembered in the name of Ballyhannon Castle, their history is of an earlier period and no references to the family can be found in connection with the history of the castle itself. 

The castle was built about 1490 by Hugh, and possibly Síoda, sons of Donnchadh MacNamara. This period was described by the noted antiquarian, T.J.Westropp, as the “Golden Age of castle-building in Thomond”, because of the high standard of construction which had been achieved by the masons at this period. Although Ballyhannon Castle was the home of the MacNamaras for many centuries, there are some references to the O’Briens, on whose lands it stood, in relation to its history. For example in the year 1560, a grant was made by Queen Elizabeth I to Conor O’Brien, Earl of Thomond, of Ballyhannon Castle, and several other castles, previously held by Donnell O’Brien; “To hold in tail male, by service of one knight’s fee”, meaning that the property would pass onto his male heirs, subject to military service to the Queen. In the lists of the castles of the county for the years 1570 and 1574 Ballyhannon Castle was owned by Covea Riogh MacNamara, son of Mahon. Some transcriptions of these lists record the castle as being owned by William Neylon. This was due to an error in aligning the columns during the transcription of the original manuscript lists

A fireplace with the inscription “H.T.E. 1576” was recorded by Westropp & Twigge in the 1890’s, as being in the castle. This was one of the earliest dated fireplaces in the county, though it cannot now be located within the castle. In 1586 Queen Elizabeth I issued a pardon to Hugh, son of Covea MacNamara, of Ballyhannon Castle for being in rebellion. He had to provide sureties for his future good behaviour and answer at the local courts as requested. In the 1626 rental of the 5th Earl of Thomond, Henry O’Brien, Ballyhannon Castle was listed as being rented to one Robert Hawksworth, with one quarter of land for the sum of £4.00. It is likely that Hawksworth was one of the many English Protestant settlers brought into the county by the O’Briens and settled on the O’Brien properties in Thomond during this period. The settling of English Protestants on lands of the native Irish Catholics precipitated the 1641 rebellion and many records exist of the Irish despoiling the settlers and turning them out of their newly acquired lands and properties. The MacNamaras of Ballyhannon acted no differently than the other displaced Irish. John Smith of Latoon complained of his losses which, “amounted to £1,354, including his lease for life of Lattoon, and his outlay upon buildings and sea embankments.” He complained that Oliver Delahoyde of Fomerla Castle in Tulla, “with fifty men came, on the night of 15th January 1642, and stripped him of part of his goods. The work of spoilation was subsequently completed by the MacNamaras of Ballyhannon” among others. Most of the Irish landowners who took part in this rebellion were later stripped of their possessions. Among those noted as having forfeited their property after the rebellion was Mahone MacNamara of Ballyhannon. His property was disposed of to Pierce Creagh (a Protestant settler) and to the Earl of Thomond, Barnabas O’Brien, 6th Earl. After the rebellion, the Cromwellian campaign attempted to complete the subjugation of the native Irish, and many of their castles were dismantled by the Commonwealth forces to render them defenceless. Ballyhannon appears to have escaped this destruction and a sketch of the castle in 1675, which survives in the “Edenvale Survey”, shows it to have been roofed and in good condition. The castle appears to be surrounded by a bawn wall with a gate and loophole windows at this time. With the assention to the English throne of the Catholic King James II in 1685, the fate of the native Irish improved somewhat for a time. Ballyhannon Castle was one of the castles noted by Sir Daniel O’Brien, Viscount Clare, as being suitable for the imprisonment of Protestant settlers who were now being dispossessed. A letter written in 1689 describing the events of the time is worth recording. “Take every one of them that are young (Seir or Mr.), and let the common sort lie in the prison, and the rest strictly guarded, or rather put into some strong castle that has a geate to be locked on the outside like Ballyhannon”. Pierce Creagh who had received part of the MacNamara property at Ballyhannon after the rebellion was named as one of those to be imprisoned in the above letter from Sir Daniel O’Brien. The castle is also mentioned in 1690 when Thomas Hickman, who seemed to be living in fear during another upsurge in the conflict, asked Sir Donough O’Brien to collect some of his belongings from Ballyhannon Castle and to keep  other possessions of his in a safe place, as he expected the castle was soon to be garrisoned. The castle appears on Henry Pelham’s “Grand Jury” map of 1787 under the names Ballyhannon and Castlefergus, which is the first time Castlefergus appears as the name of the castle. Hely Dutton, writing in 1808, records the castle as: “Fergus – inhabited and lately white-washed! ”. There are also some references to the Blood family of Castlefergus, though these relate most likely to Castlefergus House which stood south west of the castle and is now demolished. Charlotte Blood, daughter of William Blood, who was murdered at his house at Applevale near Corofin, married her cousin Matthew Henry Blood, M.D. of Castlefergus in 1831. Westropp, writing in 1917 notes some curious traces of settlement in the fields at Castlefergus, most likely the remains of ringforts and other early Bronze Age habitation sites. Samuel Lewis, writing, in 1837, notes Castlefergus as: “The fine modern residence” of William Smith Blood Esq. He adds: “adjoining which are the remains of the ancient edifice”, telling us that by this date the castle was uninhabited, probably for the first time in 350 years. By 1858 the castle was ivy-covered and described as: “a fine old green-mantled tower” on the grounds of Castlefergus House. 

The American millionaire and oil heiress Elizabeth Phillips (of Phillips Petroleum) and her husband Henry D. Irwin, who chose to call it “Ballyhannan Castle”, (using the older townland spelling), restored the building to its former glory in 1970. It is currently rented out to top-of-the-market tourists as a unique ‘out-of-the-way’ destination. It was also home to rock stars, as well as several American and British film stars during film making in the region. 

Robert Twigge’s description of the castle in the early 1900’s is of interest and is appended here. “The castle stands on a low rock, scarped to the west and had no outworks, (the bawn noted in 1675 having been removed by this time). The very perfect tower, measuring 33’6” x 24’, is in excellent preservation, having been inhabited in the last century. The pointed south door is defended by a shot-hole on the left and a murder hole above. The stair mounts round the s.w. angle, and at the 14th step a long corridor with 2 lights in the w. wall is reached. At the n. end a spiral staircase of 72 steps leads to the top. At the 12th step from the corridor another passage through the n. wall is reached. 5 curved steps at the s. end of the w. corridor lead to a similar passage along the s. wall over the porch and lodge. There is a handsome trefoil headed window of 2 lights in the s.w. angle and a garderobe to the s.e. angle. Mounting the spiral stair still higher other corridors, over the lower ones, in the w. and s. sides, are reached. There are 4 main stories under the stone vault forming the roof. The basement story has very deep recesses under the corridor and the 2 on the n. side have a narrow chamfered screen between them. A fireplace bears the date 1576, but this was of course a later addition to the building”. 

In Quin, County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland is one of the most renowned authentic medieval castles in Ireland to rent, whether as a self catering vacation rental, or in which to have your castle wedding or to mark one of life’s special occasions.  

Dating back to the late 15th century, in recent years it has proven to be the most popular choice of foreign and Irish tourists alike, for both catered events and self catering accommodation.  

Known locally as Castlefergus, in the Irish Governmental records it is registered as a National Monument and “Listed/Protected” structure, intended to protect its historic, architectural and aesthetic significance. It is indeed fortunate that we, the current owners, take great care of it and are in a position to allow it to continue to be among the few castles in Ireland to rent on an exclusive basis for the likes of weddings, honeymooners, family reunions or other milestone events, or just for those who wish to have the unique experience of having an entire real medieval Irish castle privately to themselves.”  

3. Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare – hotel 

www.dromoland.ie 

Dromoland Castle, County Clare, photo care of Dromoland Castle, for Tourism Ireland 2019, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

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

p. 109. “(O’Brien, Inchiquin, B/PB) Originally a large early C18 house with a pediment and a high pitched roof; built for Sir Edward O’Brien, 2nd Bt; possibly inspired by Thomas Burgh, MP, Engineer and Surveyor-General for Ireland. Elaborate formal garden. This house was demolished ca 1826 by Sir Edward O’Brien, 4th Bt (whose son succeeded his kinsman as 13th Lord Inchiquin and senior descendant of the O’Brien High Kings) and a wide-spreading and dramatic castle by James and George Richard Pain was built in its place. The castle is dominated by a tall round corner tower and a square tower, both of then heavily battlemented and machicolated; there are lesser towers and a turreted porch. The windows in the principal fronts are rectangular, with Gothic tracery. The interior plan is rather similar to that of Mitchelstown Castle, Co Cork, also by the Pains; a square entrance hall opens into a long single-storey inner hall like a gallery, with the staircase at its far end and the principal reception rooms on one side of it. But whereas Mitchelstown rooms had elaborate plaster Gothic vaulting, those at Dromoland had plain flat ceilings with simple Gothic or Tudor-Revival cornices. The dining room has a dado of Gothic panelling. The drawing room was formerly known as the Keightley Room, since it contained many of the magnificent C17 portraits which came to the O’Brien family through the marriage of Lucius O’Brien, MP, to Catherine Keightley, whose maternal grandfather was Edward Hyde, the great Earl of Clarendon. The other Keightley portraits hung in the long gallery, which runs from the head of the staircase, above the inner hall. Part of the C18 garden layout survives, including a gazebo and a Doric rotunda. In the walled garden in a C17 gateway brought from Lemeneagh Castle, which was the principal seat of this branch of the O’Briens until they abandoned it in favour of Dromoland. The Young Irelander leader, William Smith O’Brien, a brother of the 13th Lord Inchiquin, was born in Dromoland in C18 house. Dromolond castle is now a hotel, having been sold 1962 by 16yh Lord Inchiquin, who built himself a modern house in the grounds to the design of Mr Donal O’Neill Flanagan; it is in a pleasantly simple Georgian style.” 

4. Ennistymon House, Ennistymon, Co. Clare, now Falls Hotel 

Falls Hotel, photograph for Failte Ireland, 2021. [see Ireland’s Content Pool]. (see [2])

www.fallshotel.ie 

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

p. 121. “(Macnamara/IFR) :A two storey seven bay gable-ended C18 house with a two bay return prolonged by a single-storey C19 wing ending in a gable. One bay pedimented breakfront with fanlighted tripartite doorway; lunette window in pediment. Some interior plasterwork, including a frieze incorporating an arm embowed brandishing a sword – the O’Brien crest – in the hall. Conservatory with art-nouveau metalwork; garden with flights of steps going down to the river. The home of Francis MacNamara, a well-known bohemian character who was the father-in-law of Dylan Thomas and who married, as his second wife, the sister of Augustus John’s Dorelia; he and John are the Two Flamboyant Fathers in the book of that name by his daughter, Nicolette Shephard.” 

5. Gregan’s Castle Hotel, County Clare €€€

WWW.GREGANS.IE

The National Inventory tells us Gregan’s Castle was built in 1750. It tells us Gregan’s Castle is a: “six-bay two-storey house, built c. 1750, with half-octagonal lower projection. Extended c. 1840, with single-bay two-storey gabled projecting bay and single-storey flat-roofed projecting bay to front. Seven-bay two-storey wing with single-storey canted bay windows to ground floor, added c. 1990, to accommodate use as hotel.”

The website tells us:

Welcome to Gregans Castle Hotel. Please take a look around our luxury, eco and gourmet retreat, nestled in the heart of the beautiful Burren on Ireland’s west coast. The house has been welcoming guests since the 1940s and our family have been running it since 1976. Our stunning 18th century manor house is set in its own established and lovingly-attended gardens on the Wild Atlantic Way, and has spectacular views that stretch across the Burren hills to Galway Bay.

Inside, you’ll find welcoming open fires, candlelight and striking decoration ranging from modern art, to antique furniture, to pretty garden flowers adorning the rooms. Gregans Castle has long been a source of inspiration for its visitors. 

Guests have included J.R.R Tolkien, who’s said to have been influenced by the Burren when writing The Lord of the Rings, as well as other revered artists and writers such as Seamus Heaney and Sean Scully.

And for the guests of today: with warm Irish hospitality, stylish accommodation, outstanding service and exceptional fine dining in our award-winning restaurant, we truly are a country house of the 21st century. You can do nothing or everything here. And whatever you choose, we’d like you to join us in celebrating all that is wondrous and beautiful in this truly exceptional place.

Simon Haden and Frederieke McMurray

6. Loop Head Lightkeeper’s Cottage, County Clare €€ for 2; € for 4-6

https://www.irishlandmark.com/properties/

Perched proudly on an enclosure at the tip of Loop Head stands the lighthouse station. Surrounded by birds and wild flowers, cliffs and Atlantic surf, Loop Head offers holiday accommodation with all of the spectacular appeal of the rugged west coast.

7. Loughnane’s, Main Street, Feakle, Co Clare – see above

contact: Billy Loughnane
Tel: 086-2565012 www.clareecolodge.ie

8. Mount Callan House and Restaurant, Inagh, Co Clare – B&B 

https://www.mountcallanhouse.ie

Culleen, Kilmaley,
County Clare, V95 NV0T

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

p. 212. (Synge/IFR; Tottenham/IFR) A Victorian house of two storys over basement built 1873 by Lt Col G.C. Synge and his wife, Georgiana, who was also his first cousin, being the daughter of Lt-Col Charles Synge, the previous owner of the estate. The estate was afterwards inherited by Georgiana Synge’s nephew, Lt-Col F. St. L. Tottenham, who made a garden in which rhododendrons run riot and many rare and tender species flourish.” 

The website tells us:

Mount Callan House & Restaurant is situated in the beautiful surroundings of West Clare in the heart of Kilmaley village. We are a small, family-run restaurant, led by Chef Daniel Lynch, and guest house with a deep connection to our rural community.

The local landscape is our inspiration and our food is created using the very best seasonal ingredients from award-winning, local suppliers.

We encourage creativity, a good working environment and a community approach for the benefit of all.

9. Mount Cashel Lodge, Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare – period self-catering accommodation.

https://www.mtcashel.com

and Stables https://hiddenireland.com/stay/self-catering-holiday-rentals/

The website describes it: “Enjoy luxury self-catering accommodation in these beautifully restored 18th Century lakeside lodges. Set in a 38 acre private landscaped estate with private Lake, riverside walk and Victorian cottage garden to explore. Lake boating, kayaking and fishing are available on site to complete this idyllic retreat.

10. Newpark House, Ennis, County Clare – accommodation 

https://www.newparkhouse.com/rates/

The website tells us: “Newpark House was built around 1750, and since then it has been the property of three families: the Hickmans, the Mahons and the Barrons.

The Hickmans came into the possession of Cappahard Estate in 1733. On part of this estate, Gortlevane townland, Richard Hickman built a house and landscaped around it. Around this time he re-named the townland Newpark. Several of those trees from the planting of the new park still survive. 
On his marriage in 1768 his father transferred the property to Richard. He died in 1810 and this property transferred to his son Edward Shadwell Hickman. Edward was a Crown Solicitor in Dublin and put the property up for rent. 

The Mahons: Patrick Mahon, a member of the new up and coming Catholic gentry, took up this offer and moved his family into Newpark. The Mahon family were very involved in the campaign for equal rights for Catholics in Ireland. Patrick’s son, James Patrick commonly known as The O’Gorman Mahon, nominated Daniel O’Connell to contest the famous Clare Election of 1828. O’Connell’s victory in this election resulted in the granting of Catholic Emancipation in 1829. It is highly likely that Daniel O’Connell stayed at Newpark during his visits to Ennis at this time. O’Gorman Mahon (1802-1891) had a very colourful life which ranged from hunting bears in Finland with a Russian Tzar to becoming a Colonel and Aide-de-Camp to the President of Costa Rica. Back in Ireland he is said to have introduced Parnell to Kitty O’Shea. 

While the Mahon family were living here they totally remodled the house. They added on wings and castlated the house in the Gothic revival style which was fashionable in Ireland at that time. The architect responsible would seem to be either John Nash or one of his former apprentices, the Pain brothers, all three were working in the area at this time.

 Of special historical significance is a pair of crosses on the turrets of the house. These crosses have shamrocks on the ends and were put there to commerate Catholic Emancipation. The Mahon family purchased the estate outright in 1853 and held it until 1904. 

At times when Newpark was owned by the Hickmans and Mahons several other families and individuals lived there. The Ennis poet Thomas Dermody spent time here with his father before he set off from Newpark, in 1785, for Dublin, in search of fame and fortune. Thomas remarked on the comfort he felt at Newpark during his time there. Also to have lived at Newpark were Captain William Cole Hamilton, a Magistrate (1870-1876), William Robert Prickett (1883-1886) and Philip Anthony Dwyer (1888-1904), Captains in the local Clare Division of the British Army. 

The Barrons: In 1904 the property came into ownership of the present family, the Barrons. 
Timothy ‘Thady’ Barron was born on the side of the road, in 1847, during the famine. His father had lost his herdsman job, along with the herdsman’s cottage, due to a change of landlord. After a few tough years his father got another herdsmans job and Thady followed in his fathers footsteps. Thady moved in to Newpark in 1904 with his family and he lived he until his death in 1945. In the 1950s Thady’s son James ‘Amy’ bought the property from his sister Nance. In 1960 Amy’s son Earnan and his new wife Bernie moved into a barely habitable Newpark House. They set about slowly but surely bringing the house back to live. Luckily for them they got an opportunity to furnish the house with antiques, which were at that time considered second-hand furniture. Bernie opened up Newpark House as a B&B in 1966. Her son, Declan, is the present owner and we are looking forward to 50 years in business in 2016.”

11. Sheedy’s Hotel and Restaurant, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare https://sheedys.com/

The website tells us: “The Burren is one of the most beautiful places to stay in Ireland.  Sheedy’s is the perfect spot to enjoy all that the Burren has to offer.

Owned and managed by the Sheedy family, we pride ourselves in offering a warm welcome, traditional hospitality and delicious cuisine.

There is a long tradition of hospitality at Sheedys since Alice Sheedy opened the doors of the house to guests in the 1930s.

12. Spanish Point House, Spanish Point, County Clare

https://spanishpointhouse.ie

The is a Victorian house, originally called Sea View House.

The website tells us:

In 1884 the local Roman Catholic Bishop, James Ryan, expressed a wish to start a primary and secondary school in Miltown Malbay, a short distance from Spanish Point House, but his vision was unrealised for many years to come.

In 1903 the bishop’s estate donated £900 to the Mercy Sisters to establish a school, but things did not happen until 1928, when three houses owned by the Morony estate were offered for sale to the Mercy Sisters with the intention of establishing a school at Spanish Point. The Moronys were a family of local landlords who had owned a significant number of properties in the Spanish Point and Miltown Malbay area between 1750 and 1929, including Sea View House, Miltown House, and The Atlantic Hotel.

The Moronys were responsible for much of the development of the locality of Spanish Point, which began in 1712 when Thomas Morony took a lease of land, later purchased by his eldest son, Edmund, divided it into two farms and leased it to two local landlords for thirty-one years. Francis Gould Morony willed Sea View House, which he built in 1830, to his wife’s niece, Marianne Harriet Stoney, who married Captain Robert Ellis. The house was inherited by the Ellis family and one of their sons – Thomas Gould Ellis – became the son and heir.”

13. Strasburgh Manor coach houses, Inch, Ennis, County Clare

https://www.strasburghmanor.com/about-strasburgh-manor/

The website tells us:

The buildings that comprise the holiday homes were the coach houses attached to the House.

Once occupied by James Burke, who was killed in the French Revolution in 1790, the House was named after the French town of Strasbourg.

It figured prominently in Irish history up to its demise in 1921, when it was burned down during the Irish War of Independence.

Families associated with it included: Burke, Daxon, Stacpoole, Huxley, Mahon, Talbot, Taylor, Scott & McGann (ref: ‘Houses of Clare’ by Hugh Weir, published by Ballinakella Press, Whitegate, Co. Clare).

Whole House Rental, County Clare

1. Ballyportry Castle, Corofin, County Clare – a tower house

http://www.ballyportry.ie

Rising bluntly out of the craggy landscape, Ballyportry is the finest example in Ireland of a complete medieval Gaelic Tower House. Built in the 15th century it has been beautifully restored with careful attention being paid to retaining all its original features and style, yet with the comforts of the 21st century.”

2. Inchiquin House, Corofin, County Clare – whole house rental, €€€ for 2, € for 6-10

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

The website tells us “Inchiquin House is an elegant period home in County Clare, romantically tucked away in the west of Ireland not far from the Wild Atlantic Way. It is the perfect base from which to explore the unique Burren landscape, historic sites, and the region’s many leisure activities.

3. Mount Vernon lodge, Co Clare – whole house accommodation 

https://www.mountvernon.ie

Mount Vernon is a lovely Georgian Villa built in 1788 on the Burren coastline of County Clare with fine views over Galway Bay and the surrounding area. 

Built in 1788 for Colonel William Persse on his return from the American War of Independence, Mount Vernon was named to celebrate his friendship with George Washington. The three remaining cypress trees in the walled garden are thought to have been a gift from the President. 
 
During the nineteenth century Mount Vernon was the summer home of Lady Augusta Gregory of Coole, an accomplished playwright and folklorist and a pivotal figure in the Irish Cultural Renaissance. It was her collaboration with W.B.Yeats and Edward Martyn that created the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1904. Lady Gregory entertained many of the luminaries of the Irish Literary Revival at Mount Vernon including W.B.Yeats, AE (George Russell), O’Casey, Synge and George Bernard Shaw. 
 
In 1907 Lady Gregory gave the house to her son Robert Gregory as a wedding present and it was from here that he produced many of his fine paintings of the Burren landscape. He later joined the Royal Flying Corps and was shot down by ‘friendly fire’ in 1918, an event commemorated by W.B.Yeats in his famous poem, An Irish Airman Foresees his Death. 
 
A feature from this period are the unusual fireplaces designed and built by his close friend the pre-Raphaelite painter Augustus John.

4. Smithstown Castle (or Ballynagowan), Co Clare – tower house

http://smithstowncastle.com 

From the website:

Only few castles in the West of Ireland have survived into our times. Ballynagowan (Smithstown) Castle has played an exciting role in the history of North Clare, taking its name from ‘beal-atha-an-ghobhan’, meaning the ‘mouth of the smith’s ford’. 

It was first mentioned in 1551 when the last King of Munster, Murrough O’Brien, (also known as the Tanist, was created 1st Earl of Thomond and 1st Baron of Inchiquin in 1543), willed the Castle of Ballynagowan to his son Teige before his death. 

Over the years it accommodated many famous characters of Irish history. Records show that in 1600 the legendary Irish rebel “Red” Hugh O’Donnell rested there with his men during his attack on North Clare, spreading ruin everywhere and seeking revenge on the Earl of Thomond for his being in alliance with the English. 

In 1649 Oliver Cromwell’s army came from England with death and destruction. The Castle was attacked with cannons when Cromwell’s General, Ludlow, swept into North Clare striking terror everywhere he went. 

In 1650 Conor O’Brien of Lemeneagh became heir of the castle. His death, however, came shortly afterwards in 1551, as he was fatally wounded in a skirmish with Cromwellian troops commanded by General Ludlow at Inchicronan. With him had fought his wife Maire Rua O’Brien (“The Red Mary”, named after her long red hair), one of the best known characters in Irish tradition. She had lived in the castle as a young woman and it is the ferocity and cruelty attributed to her, which has kept her name alive. Legends tell that to save her children’s heritage after Conor’s death she married several English generals, who were killed in mysterious ways one after the other- she supposedly ended her bloody carrier entombed in a hollow tree. 

During 1652 almost all inhabitable castles in Clare including Smithstown were occupied by Cromwellian garrisons, a time of terrible uncertainty as Clare was under military rule. 

Over the next decades Ballynagowan Castle was the seat of army generals, the High Sheriff of County Clare and Viscount Powerscourt, one of the most powerful aristocrats who had their main residence – a monumental neogothic palace – in Dublin.  

The castle was last inhabited mid 19th century and until its recent restauration served as beloved meeting point for couples -, songs and poems about it finding their way into the local pubs.

Kerry:

1. Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co. Kerry – section 482 €€

contact: Marnie Corscadden
Tel: 066-7125799
www.ballyseedecastle.com
Open: Mar 1-Dec 21, 28-31.
Fee: Free

The website tells us:

Take a step back in time with a hotel steeped in history that offers luxurious surroundings within 30 acres of private gardens and woodland.

The Doric columns that lead to an elegant oak staircase in the lobby are indicative of the grand decoration throughout the hotel. Impressive drawing rooms with ornate cornices, adorned with marble fireplaces provide an ideal setting for afternoon tea or morning coffee.

Elegant accommodation, fine dining with traditional Irish cuisine, rooms that tell a story and the picturesque natural setting, will all comprise to make your stay at Ballyseede Castle an unforgettable one.”

Ballyseede Castle, County Kerry, photograph by Keith Robinson, flickr creative commons.

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

p. 28. “(Blennerhassett/IFR; Blennerhassett, Bt/PB) A large three storey block of ca 1760 with two curved bows on the entrance front and another bow on the side, given a battlemented parapet, hood mouldings and other mildly baronial touches late C19 by James Franklin Fuller. At one side of the front is a long and low castellated service wing, with round and square turrets, the other side of which has a sham wall, consisting of a long range of false windows. This Gothic work dates from 1816 and may well be by Sir Richard Morrison. Rather narrow bifurcating staircase rising behind a screen of Doric columns at one end of the hall. Bequeathed 1965 by Miss Hilda Blennerhassett to her kinsman Sir Adrian Blennerhassett, 7th Bt, who sold it 1867. Now an hotel.” 

2. Derrynane House, Caherdaniel, Kerry – OPW

Derrynane House, County Kerry, photograph by George Munday, 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

Daniel O’Connell, who lived at Derrynane.

3. Derreen Gardens, Lauragh, Tuosist, Kenmare, Co. Kerry – section 482

John Daly
Tel: 087-1325665
https://www.derreengarden.com/
Open: all year, 10am-6pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €8, child €3, family ticket (2 adults and all children and 2 maps) €20

The website tells us: “A beautiful 19th century woodland garden with paths winding through rare tropical plants and opening onto sea views.

Set on a peninsula at the head of Kilmackillogue Harbour and surrounded by the Caha Mountains, the garden at Derreen covers 60 acres.

A network of winding paths passes through a mature woodland garden laid out 150 years ago with subtropical plants from around the world and incomparable views of the sea and mountains.

4. Dhu Varren garden, Knockreigh, Milltown, Kerry, V93 VX27, IE 

www.dhuvarrengarden.com 

The website tells us:

Dhu Varren Garden, owned by Mark and Laura Collins, began its development in 2001. Since then it has grown to contain one of the largest and most diverse plant collections of any private garden in Ireland. This continues to grow as new and exciting plants are sourced from around the world. It has been described by visitors as ‘Kerry’s Botanical Garden’.

5. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry 

contact: Billy Alexander
Tel: 066-9477975 

www.kellsbay.ie 

Kells Bay House and Gardens, Co Kerry. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan, 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool (see [2])

Open: Feb-Dec 9.30am-dusk
Fee: adult €8.50, child €6, family €26 (2 adults + 3 children under 17 years) 

The website tells us: “Kells Bay Gardens is one of Europe’s premier horticultural experiences, containing a renowned collection of Tree-ferns and other exotic plants growing in its unique microclimate created by the Gulf Stream. It is the home of ‘The SkyWalk’ Ireland’s longest rope-bridge.

6. Knockreer House and Gardens, County Kerry

https://www.discoverireland.ie/kerry/knockreer-house-and-gardens

The website tells us:

Found in County Kerry’s Killarney National Park, Knockreer House and Gardens are within walking distance of Killarney Town. The area includes a circular walk with excellent views of the Lower Lake.

The Knockreer section of Killarney National Park is within walking distance of Killarney Town, County Kerry. This area was formerly part of the Kenmare Estate, which was laid out by Valentine Brown, the third Viscount of Kenmare. Deenagh Lodge Tearoom dates back to 1834 and was the gate lodge of the Kenmare Estate. The tearoom is a popular haunt with locals and visitors after a stroll in the park. It is located just inside Kings Bridge across from St Mary’s Cathedral.

Knockreer House, a short walk up the hill, is the Killarney National Park Education Centre and is built on the site of the original Killarney House, which was destroyed by fire in 1913. The circular walk is signposted and offers excellent views of the Lower Lake. On the circular walk there is a pathway off to the right that leads up to the viewing point on top of the hill, which provides a wonderful panorama of the surrounding countryside.

7. Listowel Castle, co Kerry – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

8. Muckross House (or Muckruss),  Killarney, Co Kerry – open to visitors 

Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

www.muckross-house.ie 

This nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The house stands close to the shores of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, famed world wide for their splendour and beauty. As a focal point within Killarney National Park, Muckross House is the ideal base from which to explore this landscape. 

Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, the water-colourist Mary Balfour Herbert. This was actually the fourth house that successive generations of the Herbert family had occupied at Muckross over a period of almost two hundred years. William Burn, the well-known Scottish architect, was responsible for its design. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843. 

Originally it was intended that Muckross House should be a larger, more ornate, structure. The plans for a bigger servants’ wing, stable block, orangery and summer-house, are believed to have been altered at Mary’s request. Today the principal rooms are furnished in period style and portray the elegant lifestyle of the nineteenth century landowning class. In the basement, one can imagine the busy bustle of the servants as they went about their daily chores. 

During the 1850s, the Herberts undertook extensive garden works in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. Later, the Bourn Vincent family continued this gardening tradition. They purchased the estate from Lord and Lady Ardilaun early in the twentieth century. It was at this time that the Sunken Garden, Rock Garden and the Stream Garden were developed.

Muckross House, County Kerry, October 2012.
Muckross House 1970, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archive. (see [8])
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Muckross House Killarney Co. Kerry, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

9. Ross’s Castle, Killarney, County Kerry

See my OPW write-up:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/

10. Staigue Fort, County Kerry

Staigue Fort, County Kerry, October 2012.

The following website gives us information about this ancient impressive fort: https://voicesfromthedawn.com/staigue-fort/

It tells us:

Constructed entirely without mortar, Staigue cashel encloses an area of 27.4 m (90 ft) in diameter, with walls as tall as 5.5 m (18 ft) and a sturdy 4 m (13 ft) in thickness. It has one double-linteled entrance, a passageway 1.8 m (6 ft) long. In the virtual-reality environment (above) click the hotspots to proceed to the fort’s interior. It is similar in construction to the Grianan of Aileach in Co. Donegal, and was possibly constructed in the same period of the Early Medieval period (approximately fifth to eleventh century CE). The fort is surrounded by a large bank and ditch, most evident on its northern side. This may have been a part of Staigue’s defenses, or it may be a prehistoric feature that pre-dates the construction of the stone fort.

Staigue Fort, October 2012

The website continues: “In 1897 T.J. Westropp reported that the local peasantry called the building Staig an air, which he translated as “Windy House, or “Temple of the Father,” or “The Staired Place of Slaughter.” These different translations may inspire distinctly different conjectures about the builders of Staigue. It has been described as both a temple or an observatory, and has been attributed to many different cultures in the past, such as Druids, Phoenicians, Cyclopeans, and Danes. But it was, of course, built by the “Kerrymen of old.”

Staigue Fort, October 2012

The sign at the site explains that Staigue “was the home of the chieftain’s family, guards and servants, and would have been full of houses, out-buildings, and possibly tents or other temporary structures.” The illustration from this sign is in the gallery below. Cashels, of which Staigue is an impressive and probably high-status example, were enclosed and defendable farmsteads of the Irish Early Medieval period. They housed an extended family and, in high-status examples, their retinue. However archaeologist Peter Harbison was unable to explain why the ancient architects would have created so many (10) sets of X-shaped stairs climbing up the inner face of the wall to its ramparts.

11. Tarbert House, Tarbert, Co. Kerry – section 482

contact: Ursula Leslie
Tel: 068-36198, 087-2917301
Open: May, June July, Aug, 2pm-4pm
Fee: adult/OAP €5, student €2, child free

Tarbert House, County Kerry, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Tarbert House, near the town of that name in County Kerry, stands in wooded parkland beside the River Shannon, a few miles downstream from Glin and just across the county bounds. The plain, square, seven-bay seat of James Leslie, erstwhile Bishop of Limerick, was built precisely in the middle of his diocese for convenience, and dates from the 1750s. The house, which is still owned by the bishop’s descendants, was given an additional storey in the mid-19th century but retains its mid-Georgian character and plan, with robust joinery and chimneypieces, and a fine collection of family portraits, furniture, papers and objects.” [9]

Places to Stay, County Kerry: 

1. Arbutus Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry €€

https://www.arbutuskillarney.com/ 

The website tells us: “If you are seeking an utterly unique experience, genuine Irish hospitality and a hotel with character, the Arbutus Hotel is for you. Established in 1926 by our grandparents, we continue our proud family tradition of extending the warmest of welcomes to the Arbutus Hotel and Killarney. We are perfectly situated amongst the shops, pubs and restaurants of Killarney town centre, minutes’ walk from the train station. Parking is available in the adjacent carpark.

Every landscape produces and inspires characters whose stature seems to mirror the landscape itself. Tim Buckley was such a character, raised on the borders County Cork and the ‘Kingdom’ of Kerry. Today, Tim is remembered as the founder of the Arbutus, the unique and historic Killarney hotel. Even a glimpse of the path he travelled before establishing the Arbutus will help to explain why it remains a distinct and remarkable place.

Tim’s parents both survived the horrors of the potato famine to raise a family of two girls and five boys, including Tim who was born in 1885, at Toorbona in County Cork, close to the Kerry border. As a child he was bright, observant and active. Attending the local fairs with his father, he saw the wealthy farmers and the poorer farmers, he noticed the business people with their property, confidence and social standing. This made a formidable impression on him and it was from the fairfield in Killarney that he first noticed what was then Russell’s Hotel. He vowed that one day it would be his, hankering for it from the fair or eyeing it across the road from Casey’s Corner. The hotel became his mission and his vision. At the age of 24, with little hope of raising the necessary money at home, he set off for New York where many had gone before him. What made him different was he didn’t bring dreams with him, he brought a vision. He remained in New York for more than fifteen years. Like many Irish people, he had relatives who had gone before him. In New York, he went to stay with his aunt, who consoled his mother by writing: “he is going to a foreign country but going to his own family, always remember that.” Driven by his vision, Tim worked hard at a number of jobs including on the railways, in a bakery, as a hackney driver and in a hotel. America could be a lonely place for homesick immigrants and Tim was no exception. He never forgot the feeling of being away from home, a feeling he found perfectly expressed in the poem “The Dawn on the Hills of Ireland”, which became his party piece:

“For thirty years ‘asthore macree’, Those hills I now feast my eyes on
Ne’er met my vision, save at night,
In memory’s dim horizon,

Even so, ’twas grand and fair they seemed
In the landscape spread before me,
But dreams are dreams, and I would awake
To find American skies still o’er me.”

He knew all eight verses off by heart and would recite them at gatherings for the rest of his life. As well as building up capital, he spent those years developing his vision of what he would do when he bought the Russell Hotel. The time came in 1924 when, unlike today, very few Irish emigrants returned and many never saw their families again. True to his rare strength of character, Tim did return to Kerry. Not only that, but he had arranged a match for himself, corresponding with a Kerry matchmaker from New York. Julia Daly was born on April 10th 1898, the second of two daughters. Her older sister was to inherit the farm, leaving a good marriage her best option for a secure future. Julia was made of strong stuff and was ready for the challenge of marrying the aspiring hotelier. In the year before his return, she had attended Ramsgrange Cookery School in Wexford, getting the necessary skills for hotel catering.

Tim and Julia were married on the 31st of January 1925, in her home townland of Ballydaly, Co. Cork. His savings, combined with her dowry, enabled them to buy Russell’s Hotel, which had been running since 1880. Their new endeavor would utilise their combined wealth of talents to realise his vision for a new generation of hotel. A new vision required a new name. Tim and Julia settled on the name Arbutus, after the tree. The Arbutus, or Strawberry Tree, is the only tree native to Ireland but not to Britain, and grows only in Cork, Sligo and, most famously, Kerry. ‘Arbutus’, therefore, represents what is special and unique about the region. But Tim was as pragmatic as he was romantic. He also settled on the name ‘Arbutus’ because, beginning with ‘A’, it would appear earlier in tourist brochures and pamphlets, not to mention listings for the telephone, which was just making its presence felt. Though Kerry had been an important tourist destination for wealthy travelers since the 1750s, Tim created the Arbutus as a destination in itself, a place of distinction to which travelers would return and recommend to others. In a practice that would later become a norm among quality hotels around the world, he arranged for guests to be picked up at Cobh. Two uniformed Arbutus drivers drove guests back in Tim’s pristine Buick and Dodge limousines imported specially form the USA. On their arrival at the Arbutus guests would be met by a welcome which combined local charm and international standards of hospitality. Tim Buckley saw the Arbutus as much more than a building, he saw the hotel holistically, as a place where the hospitality experience merged seamlessly with location, structure and detail. He commissioned the interior design himself, overseeing everything down to the smallest detail. Much of the work was undertaken by Dan Connor, trained by a master carpenter from the famous German village of Oberammergau, who had been brought back to Ireland by Lord Kenmare. To this day, Tim’s collection of specially commissioned ‘Celtic Deco’ furniture, fittings and tableware can be seen throughout the Arbutus – probably the only collection of its kind. Known affectionately as ‘The Boss’, Tim Buckley was admired and respected in Killarney, both as a businessman and a family man.

Tim Buckley and Julia Daly established the Arbutus Hotel Killarney in 1926. Their style of hospitality merged seamlessly with location, structure and detail to create something special for their guests.

Their son Pat and his wife Norrie Comer, took over in 1960, modernising the hotel whilst maintaining the spirit created by his parents.

Grandson Seán, his wife Carol Dempsey and their 3 children, Emer, Roisin and Ronan continue the promise made over 85 years ago and have maintained the warmth and friendliness that sets the Arbutus apart.

The Arbutus Killarney, there ever…

2. Ballyseede Castle/ Ballyseedy (Tralee Castle), Tralee, county Kerry – hotel, see above €€

3. Cahernane (or Cahirnane) House, Killarney, Co Kerry – hotel

 https://www.cahernane.com

The website tells us:

Beautifully situated on a private estate on the edge of Killarney National Park, our luxury four-star hotel is located just twenty minutes’ walk from Killarney town centre. The entrance to the hotel is framed by a tunnel of greenery which unfurls to reveal the beauty of this imposing manor house, constructed in 1877 and formerly home to the Herbert Family.

Cahernane House Hotel exudes a sense of relaxation and peacefulness where you can retreat from the hectic pace of life into a cocoon of calmness and serenity. The only sounds you may hear are the lambs bleating or the birds singing.

Cahernane House was built as the family residence of Henry Herbert in 1877 at a cost of £5,992. The work was carried out by Collen Brothers Contractors. The original plans by architect James Franklin Fuller, whose portfolio included Ballyseedy Castle, Dromquinna Manor and the Parknasilla Hotel, was for a mansion three times the present size.

4. Carrig Country House, County Kerry €€€

https://carrighouse.com

The website tells us: “If you are looking for the perfect hideaway which offers peace, tranquility, plus a wonderful restaurant on the lake, Carrig House on the Ring of Kerry and Wild Atlantic Way is the place for you. The beautifully appointed bedrooms, drawing rooms and The Lakeside Restaurant, overlooking Caragh Lake and surrounded by Kerry’s Reeks District mountains, rivers and lakes create the perfect getaway.

Carrig House was built originally circa 1850 as a hunting lodge, it was part of the Blennerhassett Estate. It has been mainly owned and used by British Aristocracy who came here to hunt and fish during the different seasons.

The house was purchased by Senator Arthur Rose Vincent in the early 20th. Century. Vincent moved here after he and his wealthy Californian father in law Mr. Bowers Bourne gave Muckross House & Estate in Killarney to the Irish Government for a wonderful National Park.

Bourne had originally purchased Muckross House from the Guinness family and gave it to his daughter Maud as a present on her marriage to Arthur Rose Vincent. However, Maud died at a young age prompting Bourne and Vincent to donate the estate to the Irish State.

Vincent remarried a French lady and lived at Carrig for about 6 years, they then moved to the France. The country house history doesn’t end there, Carrig has had many other illustrious owners, such as Lady Cuffe , Sir Aubrey Metcalfe, who retired as the British Viceroy in India and Lord Brocket Snr, whose main residence was Brocket Hall in England.

Frank & Mary Slattery, the current owners purchased the house in 1996. They are the first Irish owners of Carrig since it was originally built and have renovated and meticulously restored the Victorian residence to its former glory.

For over two decades Frank & Mary have operated a very successful Country House & Restaurant and have won many rewards for their hospitality and their Lakeside Restaurant. They are members of Ireland’s prestigious Blue Book.

Carrig House has 17 bedrooms, each individually decorated in period style with antique furniture. Each room enjoys spectacular views of Caragh Lake and the surrounding mountains. All rooms are en suite with bath and shower. Those who like to indulge can enjoy the sumptuous comfort of the Presidential Suite with its own separate panoramic sitting room, male and female dressing rooms and bathroom with Jacuzzi bath.

The restaurant is wonderfully situated overlooking the lake. The atmosphere is friendly, warm and one of total relaxation. The menu covers a wide range of the freshest Irish cuisine.

Irish trout and salmon from the lake and succulent Kerry lamb feature alongside organic vegetables. Interesting selections of old and new world wines are offered to compliment dinner whilst aperitifs and after-dinner drinks are served in the airy drawing room beside open peat fires.

Within the house, chess, cards and board games are available in the games room.

5. Castlewood House, Dingle, County Kerry €€

https://www.castlewooddingle.com/about-castlewood/about-us/

The website tells us:

Since Brian and Helen opened their Boutique style property in 2005, the name of Castlewood House has become synonomous with style and sophistication.

We have created an oasis of calm within a few minute’s walk to the Marina area of Dingle town. Every effort has been made to ensure that our guests get the very best Dingle has to offer and the house is designed to make utmost advantage of the fabulous views of Dingle Bay. All areas of the house are elegant and sophisticated with an eclectic mix of old and new. Timeless antique pieces and a stunning art collection make Castlewood House a feast for the senses.

Our elegant drawing room overlooks Dingle Bay where you can sit and relax and just watch the world go by. The room has an elegant marble fireplace and comfy sofa’s that are just waiting for you to sink into! Enjoy a glass of wine or Afternoon Tea by the fire. Your every need is anticipated and you can enjoy complimentary tea/coffee along with our homemade cakes and biscuits which are available throughout the day for you to enjoy. The room has a library of books, travel guides, style magazines, board games and jigsaws for your enjoyment. Our honesty bar is also stocked and you can settle up for your drinks on your departure.

6. Dingle Benners Hotel, Dingle, Co Kerry €€

https://www.dinglebenners.com/ 

The website tells us:

Dingle Benners Hotel is an intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Dingle town. With a long standing history of warm welcomes and award winning food, while staying with us you can explore the town at your own pace. 

Centered around 52 guest rooms, including Classic, Superior and our Four Poster Guest Rooms we offer you a calming haven to celebrate that special occasion, or simply to get away from it all. 

Food is at the heart of what we offer here at Dingle Benners Hotel and past awards include the Gorgina Campbell award for Irish Breakfast of the year. 

If you are seeking the very best of location to experience all the magic that Dingle has to offer, Dingle Benners Hotel is the perfect choice.

7. Dromquinna Estate, Co Kerry – accommodation €€

 https://www.dromquinnamanor.com

It was constructed for Sir John Columb around 1889-90. The website tells us:

There are many elements to Dromquinna Manor. Firstly it is a stunning waterside estate unlike anything else. Set on 40 acres of parkland planted in the 1800s, the Estate offers an abundance of activities and facilities.

The Manor, dating from the 1890s, is dedicated to catering for Weddings and events. The Oak Room is the heart of the Manor and is classical in every sense. Stylish beyond words with views of Kenmare Bay celebrations here are truly memorable. The Drawing Rooms and Terrace all make for a very special and memorable occassion for all. It is a real family and friends party as opposed to a hotel ballroom function.

8. Fahagh Court, Beaufort, Co Kerry – now Killarney Country Club and accommodation € 

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 122. (Morrogh-Bernard/IFR) An irregular two storey house with a shallow battlemented bow and a rusticated doorcase of sandstone on its front, and a gable at the back. Now an hotel.

https://www.hogansirishcottages.com/cottage/County-Cork-Killarney/Killarney-Country-Club-Cottage-924208.html

or on airbnb https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/18733691?source_impression_id=p3_1652716587_lWafOPgeB9uWaPDl

The website tells us:

A fantastic mid-terrace property in the grounds of Killarney Country Club just outside Faha near Beaufort in County Kerry, eight miles from Killarney.

Stone built but with a modern feel and fantastic mountain views, this is an excellent base for a family or friends to come to County Kerry and do some sightseeing.

There are two bedrooms upstairs, a double and a twin, along with a shower room, while on the ground floor there is an open plan living area with kitchen, dining area and living area, keeping everyone together while breakfast is being rustled up ahead of a day of exploring.

French doors in the living area take you out to the rear garden, with spectacular views of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, home to Carrauntoohil, the highest peak in Ireland.

With a bar on site there will be no arguments about who the designated driver will be.

With great scenery in the surrounding area, be sure to do a bit of sightseeing while out for a walk or a cycle in the fresh Irish air.

Only a short drive down the road, Beaufort will tend to your basic needs while Killarney is only eight miles away, where you can sample a range of shops, restaurants and pubs with some good local Irish music being played.

9. Glanleam, Valentia Island, Co Kerry – accommodation €

 https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/glanleam-house/

The website tells us:

Glanleam was built as a linen mill in 1775 and later converted into a house by the Knight of Kerry, who planted the magnificent sub-tropical gardens. In 1975 Meta Kreissig bought the estate which had declined for 50 years. She rescued the house, restored and enlarged the garden and, with her daughter Jessica, made it a delightful place to stay, with a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture and an extensive library. The setting looking out over the harbour is magical. There are green fields, a beach and a lighthouse, and Valentia Island is connected to the Kerry mainland by a car ferry and a bridge.

Glanleam was converted into a country house by the 19th Knight of Kerry (1808-1889). His father had developed the famous Valentia slate quarry (the slates were especially in demand for billiard tables, then very much in vogue). The Knight, an enthusiastic botanist, recognised the unique potential of the island’s microclimate for sub-tropical plants and laid out a fifty acre garden, using species just introduced from South America. His efforts won him great acclaim at the time and today his gardens have matured into dense woodlands.

Together Meta Kreissig and her daughter Jessica have refurbished the house, furnishing it with an amalgam of antique and modern pieces, and opened it to guests. There is an extensive library, several of the rooms have their original Valentia slate chimneypieces, and the bedrooms have luxurious Bonasck designer bathrooms. The gardens have also benefited from their attention. One recent visitor described the ‘radial planting of vegetables’ in the centre of the walled kitchen garden as ‘a jewel’.

10. Kells Bay House & Garden, Kells, Caherciveen, Co Kerry € see above

 https://www.kellsbay.ie/accommodation/

11. Kenmare House, formerly Killarney House, Killarney, Co Kerry – Park Hotel €€€

 https://www.killarneyparkhotel.ie/

The Killarney Park is one of the finest five-star hotels that Ireland has to offer. The hotel is on the doorstep of Killarney’s town centre and is situated adjacent to the 25,000 acre Killarney National Park.  One of the last few Family Owned and run five-star hotels in Ireland, The Killarney Park is set on its own mature grounds and guests can enjoy the privacy of dining in the secluded garden space. The Killarney Park by name is a hotel, but what sets it aside as one of the best, is the amazing team that strives daily, to deliver an unparalleled guest experience.

12. Killeen House Hotel and Rozzers Restaurant, Aghadoe, Killarney, Co Kerry 

https://www.killeenhousehotel.com

The website tells us:

Within a 10 minute drive of Killarney town, we are perfectly located to explore all that the Kingdom of Kerry has to offer. Sightseeing, walking, hiking, golfing, fishing… it is all on your doorstep when you are staying with us. We are located in the townland of Aghadoe, but we prefer to call it “the Place God made when He was in good humour”.

Killeen House Hotel & Rozzers Restaurant was opened by Michael and Geraldine in 1992. While Michael has retired in recent years, Geraldine is still very much the Lady of the House with her daughter Michelle at her side.

13. Muxnaw Lodge, Kenmare, Co Kerry 

https://www.muxnawlodgekenmare.com/

The website tells us that Muxnaw Lodge in Kenmare is an attractive Victorian house, with spectacular views of the Kenmare River and Suspension Bridge.

Muxnaw Lodge features in Jane O’Hea O’Keeffe’s Voices from the Great Houses: Cork and Kerry. Mercier Press, Cork, 2013:

p. 242. “John Desmond Calverley Oulton (konwn as Desmond), who was born at Clontarf Castle in 1921, is the son of John George Oulton and Sybil Mona Calverley. He has long and loving memories of his childhood home at Clontarf Castle, where he played with his siblings in truly magical surroundings…”

p. 245. “During his childhood days, Desmond and his family would travel to Kerry each summer to stay at Muxnaw Lodge at Kenmare, which had been owned for generations by his mother’s people, the Calverleys. A lovely gabled building, the Lodge was built in 1801 as a hunting and fishing lodge by the Calverley family. It is situated on a spectacular site overlooking the Kenmare River and is now run as an up-market guesthouse. 

The name Muxnaw comes from the Irish Mucsnamh (the swimming place of the pigs). Joyce’s Irish Place Names gives this explanation: 

The natural explanation seems to be that wild pigs were formerly in the habit of crossing… at this narrow point. The Kenmare River narrowed at this point by a spit of land projecting from the northern shore, and here in past ages, wild pigs used to swim across so frequently, and in such numbers, that the place was called Muscnamh or Mucksna.” 

p. 245. “Desmond explains the complexities of his family history: “Colonel Vernon, owner of Clontarf Castle, had several daughters and a son. One daughter, Edith Vernon, married Walter Calverley who owned Muxnaw Lodge. They had two children, my mother, Sybil Mona Calverley, and Walter Calverley. Walter was killed during the first world war, and following the death of Walter Calverley Sr, Muxnaw Lodge went to his brother, Charles, who left it to his niece, my mother.” “

14. Parknasilla Resort and Spa, Kenmare, Co Kerry 

https://parknasillaresort.com

Archiseek tells us that Derryquin Castle was: “Designed by James Franklin Fuller, built for the Bland family. The main block was of three storeys, with a four-storey octagonal tower running through its centre. The entrance door was at one end, flanked by a two-storey, part-curved wing. There were rectangular, pointed and camber-headed windows; battlements, and machiolations. It was burnt in 1922, and the ruins demolished in 1969. It was located in the grounds of what is now the Parknasilla Hotel. 

Fuller was related to the Bland family – his mother Frances was the third daughter of Francis Christopher Bland of Derryquin. Fuller also designed the Parknasilla Hotel in 1897.

The website tells us:

Parknasilla Hotel, nestled in the shadows of the Kerry mountains amidst islands, inlets and hidden beaches.

Come stay with us and feel the restorative power of nature and marvel in the splendour of the seascape and landscape that surrounds you here.

The word  Parknasilla ,(means the field of Sallys) [perhaps “salix” meaning Willow], for so many is evocative of so many things, tucked away in the corner of a subtropical paradise on the Kenmare river , it’s a place of beauty, of rare plants, islands linked by timber bridges and coral inlets.

Where the sea, the light and clouds  put on a continual show to delight the senses. A place where people come as guests and leave as friends, with its tradition of hospitality stretching back over 125 years. It has hosted royalty, dignitaries, family gatherings and romantic get aways.

It has provided people with that peaceful haven for them to recalibrate and recharge their batteries but it has also been that place of quite inspiration for writers and artist from George Bernard Shaw to Ceclia Ahern .

With its winding walks, this 200 acre estate walled gardens, golf course, island dotted bay and spa coupled with a world class resort with a 4 star hotel houses and apartments  it provides one with that perfect retreat to suit all tastes.

It is a place of many layers constantly evolving, seen through the prism of history it’s a place where people create their own be it in the friends formed or memories laid down to last a life time, a place to return to again.”

The website tells us about the history of Parknasilla:

The origins of the rise of the Great Southern Hotels and Parknasilla arised from the middle of the 19th century. Despite the ravages of the famine, Ireland was seen as an exotic tourism destination and this was particularly true after Queen Victoria’s trip to Ireland and Kerry in 1861, that saw an explosion of tourism from overseas. Railway lines were developed in the mid 1850’s from Dubin to remote towns of Killarney, Dingle, Galway and Sligo and later new lines were developed from Killarney for instance to Kenmare.

In the South of Ireland, the most import railway was the Great Southern and Western Dublin-Cork Link that opened in 1849. Excursions were promoted and resort hotels that were built were to supplied with customers by new railway line. New doors opened for Parknasilla around the start of the 1890’s, when in 1893 Kenmare became the terminuis of the branch line. Subsequently two years earlier, the Derryquin Estate was in 1891 by the Bland family in various lots. Bishop Graves of Limerick who had leased the part of the property for a long period off the Blands, purchased in one lot, and only a short time after sold the property to the Great Southern Hotel Group.

On the 1st of May 1895, The Southern Hotel Parknasilla opened, the name Parknasilla which means “The field of the willows” began to appear on the maps. It was also refered to as the “Bishops House Hotel, Parknasilla”.The story of the construction of architecture is also an interesting one. Eminent architect James Franklin Fuller was chosen by the Great South and Western Railway, prior 1895. Fuller himself left an incredible legacy behind, he was responsible for the designs of some of Ireland’s most iconic buildings such as Kylemore Abbey, Ashford Castle, Kenmare Park (formely the Great Southern Kenmare) and Farmleigh House.

Born in 1835 in Kerry, he was the only son of Thomas Harnett Fuller of Glashnacree by his first wife, Frances Diana, a daugther of the Francis Christopher Bland of Parknasilla dn Derryquin Castle. The Blands were indeed synomous with Parknasilla for over two centuries, and new chapter for Parknasilla future now had an incredible link with its past.

The hotel originally started out in what was known as “The Bishops House”, however a better position was chosen in 1897 for a new purpose buillt hotel. The new Parknasilla Hotel faced down the Kenmare Bay an offered its guests uparelled views of the Atantic Ocean. The facilties of the new hotel included Turkish Hot and Cold Seawater Baths, reading and games rooms and bathrooms on every floor. This decision came after unprecedented demand that well exceed supply.

The website also tells us about the early owners of the property:

The Blands of Derryquin Castle Demense were a Yorkshire family, the first of whom Rev. James Bland came to Ireland in 1692 and from 1693 was vicar of Killarney. His son Nathaniel, a judge and vicar general of Ardfert and Aghadoe obtained a grant of land in 1732 which would later become the Derryquin Estate. Derryquin Castle was the third house of the Blands on this land but it is not known when it was first constructed, its earliest written mention being in 1837, however it was indicated some decades earlier by Nimmo in his 1812 map.

The estate is said to have reached its zenith under the guidance of James Franklin Bland (1799-1863). His nephew the well known architect James Franklin Fuller described the castle estate in his
autobiography as a largely self-supporting community busy with sawmill, carpenter’s shop, forge as well as farming and gardening. A fish pond existed on the water’s edge just below the castle, alternatively described as being self-replenishing with the tide or restocked from a trawler.

The castle itself consisted of a three-storey main block with a four-storey octagonal tower rising through the centre and a two storey partly curved wing branching off in a western direction. Major renovations were carried out and a significant additional wing running southwest, overlooking the coastline was added sometime between 1895 and 1904.

James Franklin Bland’s death in 1863 the estate passed to his son Francis Christopher, the estate slipped into decline during the time that he was absent while travelling and preaching on Christian ministry, this being during the years of land agitation in Ireland. Part of the estate was sold in the landed estates court in 1873 but ultimately the decline continued with the remainder being sold in 1891.

It was bought in 1891 for £30,000 by Colonel Charles Wallace Warden. He had retired in 1895 as Colonel of the Middlesex Regiment (previously known as the 57th) He had seen action in the Zulu War of 1879 and on his death on 9th March 1953 in his 98th year was its oldest survivor. He also fought with the Imperial Yeomanry in the Boer War. As landlord of Derryquin he was highly unpopular with tenants and neighbours alike, his behaviour regularly mentioned in Parliament. After the burning of Derryquin Castle he retired to Buckland-tout-Saints in Devon and acquired an estate there with his payment from the burning of Derryquin.

However in 2014 Derryquin castle rose again out of the ashes to feature in a novel by Christopher Bland chairman of the BBC who having discovered a photo of his ancestors decided to write the novel Ashes in the Wind it interweaves the destinies of two families: the Anglo-Irish Burkes and the Catholic Irish Sullivans, beginning in 1919 with a shocking murder and the burning of the Burkes’ ancestral castle in Kerry. Childhood friends John Burke and Tomas Sullivan will find themselves on opposite sides of an armed struggle that engulfs Ireland. Only 60 years later will the triumphant and redemptive finale of this enthralling story be played out.

15. Randles Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry €€

https://www.randleshotel.com

The Randles Hotel Killarney offers 4 Star accommodation in Killarney and is ideally located, just five minutes’ walk from Killarney Town Centre. This unique Kerry Hotel has been welcoming guests since 1906. Famous for its Irish hospitality, guests will enjoy the comfort and elegance of an era long since passed complemented by the most modern of facilities.

16. Sneem Hotel, Sneem, Co Kerry https://www.sneemhotel.com/

The website tells us: “Welcome to the 4 Star Sneem Hotel in Co. Kerry, Winner of the Travellers’ Choice Award. Sneem Hotel is nestled in Goldens Cove on the famous Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way. This quiet and unspoilt location will take your breath away and make you feel right at home from the moment you arrive at this beautiful hotel. Big things are important to us at Sneem Hotel, like a spacious, comfortable luxury accommodation in Kerry you can call your own, or our self catering Kerry holiday apartments offering the practicalities of home with the luxury of a 4 Star Hotel, wide-open skies, and the endless seashores of Kenmare Bay.

Whole House Rental County Kerry:

1. Churchtown House, Killarney, Co Kerry

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/churchtown-house/

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

p. 83. “(Magill/IFR) A three storey 5 bay C18 house. Doorcase with entablature on console brackets flanked by narrow windows. Fine gate piers with pineapples.” 

The Hidden Ireland website tells us: “

“Churchtown Estate incorporates both Churchtown House and Beaufort Golf Club. The centre piece is the Georgian Churchtown House built in 1740 by Sir Rowland Blennerhassett. In 1860 James MacGillycuddy Magill bought the estate and turned it into one of the largest dairy farms of its time in the south west region.

James’s grandson and great grandson’s closed the farm in the early nineties and with the help of golf architect Arthur Spring, developed Beaufort Golf Course which was officially opened in 1995. The golf course went through further development in 2007 when it was re-designed by Tom Mackenzie of Mackenzie Ebert – Leading International Golf Architects.

Churchtown House mixes traditional elegance with country house charm and modern facilities. 2 large elegant reception rooms, roaring fires and quiet reading rooms add to the atmosphere. There is also a home entertainment room and games room in the basement of the house for guests to enjoy.

The House comfortably sleeps 12 in 6 spacious bedrooms, with a selection of King or twin rooms, with 2 additional ‘pull out’ beds if needed to accommodate 14 guests. All bedrooms have private bathrooms with modern facilities. The kitchen is fully equipped with an Aga and halogen hob, modern appliances and beautiful breakfast table looking out onto the courtyard and Ireland’s highest mountain Carrauntoohil.

The ruins of 15th century Castle Corr standing on the 15th green was designed as a square tower house. Castle Corr (Castle of the round hill) was built circa 1480 by the MacGillycuddy’s, a branch of the O’Sullivan Mór Clan. Fearing that it would have been taken by the English forces Donagh MacGillycuddy burnt the castle in 1641 but restored it in 1660. Donagh went on to become High Sheriff of Kerry in 1687.

The castle was abandoned by Donagh’s son Denis in 1696 when he married into the Blennerhassett family in nearby Killorglin Castle. The stone of Castle Corr was taken to build the Georgian manor Churchtown House.

2. Coolclogher House, Killarney, co Kerry – whole house rental accommodation 

https://hiddenireland.com/house-pages/churchtown-house/

Coolclogher House built in 1746 is a historic manor house set on a 68 acre walled estate near Killarney on the Ring of Kerry. The house has been restored to an exceptional standard by Mary and Maurice Harnett and has spacious reception rooms, a large conservatory containing a 170 year-old specimen camellia and seven large luxurious bedrooms, each with their own bathroom and with magnificent views over the gardens and pasture to the dramatic mountains of the Killarney National Park.

This is an excellent base for exploring this ruggedly beautiful county and Coolclogher House specialises in vacation rental for groups of up to 16 people. It is right on the Ring of Kerry and Ross Castle and Killarney town are within walking distance while the Gap of Dunloe and Muckross House are in easy reach. It is the ideal special holiday destination for extended family groups, golfing groups or celebrating that special occasion.

The famous Lakes of Killarney, the Killarney National Park, Muckross House and Abbey and Ross Castle are all within easy reach. Killarney is an ideal starting point on the famous Ring of Kerry, going by way of Kenmare, Parknasilla and Waterville, and returning via Cahirciveen, Glenbeigh and Killorglin, but there are also wonderful drives through Beaufort and the Gap of Dunloe, along Caragh Lake to Glencar or, for the more ambitious, a day trip to the Dingle Peninsula or the wonderful Ring of Beara. There are world famous golf courses at Waterville, Tralee and Ballybunion while boat trips on the famous Lakes of Killarney, fishing and horse riding can all be arranged.

Situated 5 minutes from the historic town of Killarney, which boasts a number of excellent dining options and a wide variety of entertainment, this mansion house is the perfect base for a longer stay and a wonderful location for a family reunion or for celebrating a special occasion.

[1]

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

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

[3] p. 49. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[4] https://www.geni.com/projects/Historic-Buildings-of-County-Clare/29203

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

[6] https://www.geni.com/projects/Historic-Buildings-of-County-Clare/29203

[7] https://www.ireland.com/what-is-available/attractions-built-heritage/historic-houses-and-castles/destinations/republic-of-ireland/clare/newquay/all/1-89785/

[8] https://repository.dri.ie/catalog?f%5Broot_collection_id_ssi%5D%5B%5D=pk02rr951&mode=objects&search_field=all_fields&view=grid

[9] https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Tarbet%20House

Places to visit and stay: Connacht: Galway and Roscommon

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

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

Accommodation is in red. Section 482 properties are in purple.

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Galway

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

2. Ardcarrig Garden, Oranswell, Bushypark, Galway, IE 

3. Athenry Castle, County Galway  – open to public 

4. Aughnanure Castle, County Galway (OPW)

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

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

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

8. Gleane Aoibheann, Clifden, Galway, IE  – gardens

9. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

10. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482

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

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

13. Portumna Castle, County Galway (OPW)

14. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – gardens open 

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

16. Thoor Ballylee, County Galway

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

Places to stay, County Galway

1. Abbeyglen Castle, Galway €€

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

3. Ballindooly Castle, Co Galway – accommodation 

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

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

6. Castle Hacket west wing, County Galway

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

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

8. Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, Co Galway – Airbnb €

9. Crocnaraw County House, Moyard, County Galway

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

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

12. Emlaghmore Cottage, Connemara, County Galway

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

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

15. Kilcolgan Castle, Clarinbridge, Co Galway  

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

17. Lough Cutra Castle, County Galway, holiday cottages

18. Lough Ina Lodge Hotel

19. The Quay House, Clifden, Co Galway 

20. Renvyle, Letterfrack, Co Galway – hotel

21. Rosleague Manor, Galway – accommodation 

22. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway

23. Ross Lake House Hotel, Oughterard, County Galway 

24. Screebe House, Camus Bay, County Galway

25. Thorn Park, Oranmore, Co Galway – now the Oranmore Lodge Hotel  

Whole House Accommodation and Weddings, County Galway:

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

Roscommon:

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

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

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

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

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

Places to stay, County Roscommon:

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

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

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

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

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

Galway

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

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

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

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

2. Ardcarrig Garden, Oranswell, Bushypark, Galway, IE 

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

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

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

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

3. Athenry Castle, County Galway  – open to public 

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

4. Aughnanure Castle, County Galway (OPW)

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

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

contact: Míceál P. O’Cionnaith and Diarmuid
Tel: 087-2747692, 087-8137058

Eircode: H65 AX27
http://www.castleellen.ie/
Open: June 5-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30, July 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, Aug 7-11, 13- 25, 28-31, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, 12 noon-4pm
Fee: Free

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

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

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

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

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Architectural Features of Castle Ellen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fee: adult €6, student/OAP/child €4

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Coole Park, County Galway – house gone but stables visitor site open https://www.coolepark.ie/

The website tells us:

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

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

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

10. Gleane Aoibheann, Clifden, Galway, IE  – gardens

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

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

11. Kylemore Abbey, County Galway

https://www.kylemoreabbey.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Lisdonagh House, Caherlistrane, Co. Galway – section 482

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

Email: cooke@lisdonagh.com

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

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

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

The National Inventory tells us that Lisdonagh is a:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oranmore Castle, photograph from flickr creative commons Johanna.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Portumna Castle, County Galway (OPW)

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

16. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – gardens open 

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

www.rosscastle.com 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18. Thoor Ballylee, County Galway

Thoor Ballylea 1984 Dublin City Library Archives [12]

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

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Places to stay, County Galway

1. Abbeyglen Castle, Galway €€

www.abbeyglen.ie

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

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

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

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

3. Ballindooly Castle, Co Galway – accommodation https://www.visitgalway.ie/explore/heritage-and-history/castles/ballindooley-castle/

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

https://www.ballynahinch-castle.com

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

The website tells us:

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

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

Mark Bence-Jones writes:

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

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

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

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

 https://cashelhouse.ie/cms/

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

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

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

The website continues the history:

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

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

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

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

6. Castlehacket west wing, County Galway

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

The entry tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

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

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

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

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

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

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

The space

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

8. Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, Co Galway – Airbnb

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

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

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

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

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

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

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

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

Cregg Castle, Corrandulla, County Galway, July 2021.

The National Inventory describes it:

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

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

9. Crocnaraw County House, Moyard, County Galway

http://www.crocnaraw.ie/

The website tells us:

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

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

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

https://www.currarevagh.com

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 https://delphilodge.ie

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

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

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

12. Emlaghmore Cottage, Connemara, County Galway

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

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

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

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

https://www.theardilaunhotel.ie

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

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

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

 https://www.glenloabbeyhotel.ie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988):

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

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

contact: John & Finola Cooke
Tel: 093-31163, John, 086-0529052, Finola, 086-0546565
www.lisdonagh.com

17. Lough Cutra Castle, County Galway, holiday cottages

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

info@loughcutra.com

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

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

https://www.loughcutra.com/

The website gives us a detailed history of the castle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18. Lough Ina Lodge Hotel

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

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

19. The Quay House, Clifden, Co €€

https://thequayhouse.com  

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

20. Renvyle, Letterfrack, Co Galway – hotel https://www.renvyle.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21. Rosleague Manor, Galway – accommodation

 https://www.rosleague.com

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

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

22. Ross, Moycullen, Co Galway – see above

www.rosscastle.com 

23. Ross Lake House Hotel, Oughterard, County Galway

http://rosslakehotel.com/

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

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

https://www.screebe.com/

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

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

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

25. Thorn Park, Oranmore, Co Galway – now the Oranmore Lodge Hotel   https://www.oranmorelodge.ie

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

The National Inventory tells us:

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

Whole House Accommodation and Weddings, County Galway:

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

https://www.cloughancastle.ie/

The website describes it:

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

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

The Visit Galway website tells us:

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

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

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

Roscommon:

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

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

July 20,21,22, 10am-4pm Fee: €5

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

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

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

contact: Majella Hunt
Tel: 090-6637100

www.visitkinghouse.ie

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

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

contact: Fergal Moran
Tel: 090-9674973 

www.shannonbridgefortifications.ie 

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

Fee: Free

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

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

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

Places to stay, County Roscommon:

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

https://www.abbeyhotel.ie

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

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

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

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

www.castlecootehouse.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Inventory tells us:

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

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

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

The website tells us:

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

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

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

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

Marrying into majesty

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

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

From extension to destruction

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

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

A labour of unrivalled love

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

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

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

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

[4]

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

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

Homepage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Places to visit and stay in Leinster: Offaly and Westmeath

Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.

Accommodation is in red. Section 482 properties are in purple.

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing;

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

Whole house accommodation is for more than 10 people.

Offaly:

1. Ballindoolin House, Edenderry, Co. Offaly – section 482

2. Ballybrittan Castle, Ballybrittan, Edenderry, Co. Offaly – section 482

3. Birr Castle, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

4. Boland’s Lock, Cappincur, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – section 482

5. Charleville Forest Castle, Tullamore, County Offaly

6. Clonony Castle, County Offaly

7. Corolanty House, Shinrone, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

8. Crotty Church, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly section 482

9. Gloster House, Brosna, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

10. High Street House, High Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – section 482

11. Leap Castle, County Offaly

12. Loughton, Moneygall, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

13. Springfield House, Mount Lucas, Daingean, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – section 482

14. The Maltings, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

15. Woodland Cottage Garden, Birr, Offaly, IE 

Places to stay, County Offaly

1. Kinnitty Castle (formerly Castle Bernard), Kinnity, Co Offaly

2. Loughton House, County Offaly

3. The Maltings, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Whole house rental, County Offaly:

1. Ballycumber, County Offaly – whole house rental

Westmeath:

1. Athlone Castle, Co Westmeath – ruin, open to visitors 

2. Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, County Westmeath

3. Lough Park House, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath – section 482

4. St. John’s Church, Loughstown, Drumcree, Collinstown, Co. Westmeath – section 482

5. Tullynally Castle & Gardens, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath – section 482

6. Turbotstown, Coole, Co. Westmeath – section 482

7. Tyrrelspass Castle, Co Westmeath – restaurant and gift shop 

Places to stay, County Westmeath: 

1. Annebrook House Hotel, Austin Friars Street, Mullingar, Co.Westmeath, Ireland, N91YH2F.

2. Lough Bawn House, Colllinstown, Co Westmeath – accommodation

3. Mornington House, County Westmeath – accommodation 

Whole House Rental/wedding venue, County Westmeath:

1. Bishopstown House, Rosemount, Westmeath – whole house rental https://www.bishopstownhouse.ie

2.  Middleton Park, Mullingar, County Westmeath – available to rent http://mph.ie

Offaly:

1. Ballindoolin House, Edenderry, Co. Offaly – section 482

contact: Rudolf Prosoroff
Tel: 0043 676 5570097
Open: April 4-8, 19-28, May 2-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26, 30-31, June 1-2, 6-9, 13-16, 20- 23, 27-30, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €10, student /OAP/child €5

Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie

An article in the Irish Times by Gemma Tipton in March 2014 tells us that Ballindoolin near Edenderry is the old demesne of the Bor family. The Humphrey Bor family lived on the estate from 1620 untill the 1890s brought them financial difficulty and their land agent William Tyrell took over the demesne when they vacated it. The house was built in 1822.  

When Robert Moloney inherited it in 1993, he and his wife Esther began a huge project of renovation and restoration, including reroofing, replumbing and rewiring.  

Outside, with the help of Fáilte Ireland and some EU funds, the original large walled gardens were returned to their exact and former glory, as one of 26 chosen under the Great Gardens Restoration Scheme.

The house was again on the market in 2021. Gemma Tipton writes tells us a bit more about the house in the August article in the Irish Times: The Bor family were Dutch bankers, whose origins in the Dutch East India Company might be seen in the Hindu Gothic style plasterwork in the hallway.

Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie. Tipton tells us that the gate lodge is designed originally by  William Morrison for the Duke of Abercorn.
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie

Tipton writes:

Robert and Esther used documents and diaries to ensure the restoration, inside and out, was in-keeping, later donating 40 boxes of account books, ledgers and records to the archives at NUI Maynooth for safe-keeping.  

These reveal a wealth of stories about the day-to-day running of the house, although it is just as easy to imagine them coming alive as you wander through the rooms. There is the wide, stone-flagged hallway, and the cosier, but still imposing back hall. The drawing room has its original wallpaper and chandelier; the marvellous fireplaces are intact. ”

Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie. Gemma Tipton writes that The Bor family were Dutch bankers, whose origins in the Dutch East India Company might be seen in the Hindu Gothic style plasterwork in the hallway.

Tipton tells us:

Ballindoolin last sold in 2017, to an Austrian businessman, who fell in love with the house, its enviable position (less than an hour’s drive to Dublin city centre) and its stories. His plan was to lavish it with care and attention, and ultimately move over with his family. The first part worked out beautifully – Ballindoolin is in showpiece condition, but the family’s plans changed, and so it is now on the market.

Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie
Ballindoolin House, County Offaly, from myhome.ie

2. Ballybrittan Castle, Ballybrittan, Edenderry, Co. Offaly – section 482

Ballybrittan Castle, County Offaly, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Rosemarie
Tel: 087-2469802 

www.ballybrittancastle.com

Open: Jan 30-31, Feb 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, Sept 21-30, 2pm-6pm.
Fee: Free – except in case of large groups a fee of €5 p.p.

The National Inventory describes it: “Detached four-bay two-storey house, built c.1750, with return and extension to rear and adjoining outbuildings to north. Set within own grounds…Modest in design, this fine house retains its original character with minimal intervention. The simple well proportioned façade is enhanced by the survival of its sash windows and door, while the finely executed door surround forms a subtle adornment. The outbuildings to rear, along with the iron-mongery to the front, complete this appealing domestic complex.” [1]

3. Birr Castle, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

contact: Alicia Clements Tel: 057-9120056

www.birrcastle.com

Open: May 17-Aug 31, Mon-Sat, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-2, 10am-2pm
Fee: adult/OAP/student €20, child free

Birr Castle, photograph by Chris Hill 2018, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [2]

Our tour guide was young but thoroughly knowledgeable. He walked a group of us over to the castle, across the moat, which he told us had been created, along with the walls surrounding the castle demesne, and the stone stable buildings, which are now the reception courtyard, museum and cafe, in 1847 when the owners of Birr Castle provided employment to help to stave off the hunger of the famine. 

Gates made by Lady Rosse, Mary Field, wife of the third Earl of Rosse, with the family motto, “For God and the Land to the Stars.” The motto was originally for God and King but, unhappy with the monarch’s response to the famine, the family changed their motto.

I was intrigued to hear that the gates had been made by one of the residents of the castle, Lady Mary Field, wife of the third Earl of Rosse. She was an accomplished ironworker!! She brought a fortune with her to the castle when she married the Earl of Rosse, which enabled him to build his telescope. But more on that later. 

Birr Castle, photograph by Chris Hill 2018, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

More on Birr Castle soon!

Birr Castle, photograph by Liam Murphy, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website tells us:

In Anglo Norman Times, the Castle was built on the motte. The gate tower of this led into the castle bawn (courtyard) which is now the centre of the present building. The Central Gate Passage with its 12 foot walls can be seen in the lower floor of the present building.

The castle or fortress of Birr was re occupied by the O’Carroll’s who held it until the 1580s when it was sold to the Ormond Butlers. In 1620 the now ruined castle was granted to the Parsons family by James I.  Rather than occupy the tower house of the O’Carrolls, the Parsons decided to turn the Norman Gate Tower into their ‘English House’. Building on either side and incorporating two Flanking Towers.  Sir Laurence Parsons did a large amount of building and remodelling including the building of the two flanking towers, before his death in 1628. This is all accounted for in our archives.

The castle survived two sieges in the 17th century, leaving the family impoverished at the beginning of the 18th century. This led to little was done to the 17thcentury house.  However, sometime between the end of that century and the beginning of the 19th century, the house which had always faced the town, was given a new gothic facade, which now faces the park.  The ancient towers and walls, now the park side of the castle, were swept away, including the Black Tower (The Tower House) of the O’Carroll’s, which had stood on the motte. Around 1820 the octagonal Gothic Saloon overlooking the river was cleverly added into the space between the central block and the west flanking tower.

After a fire in the central block in 1836 the centre of the castle was rebuilt, with the ceilings heightened, a third story added and also the great dining room. In the middle of the 1840s a larger work force was employed during the famine times in Ireland. The old moat and the original Norman motte were flattened, and a new star-shaped moat was designed, with a keep gate. This was financed by Mary, Countess of Rosse. This period of remodelling was also overlapped with the construction of the Great Telescope, The Leviathan. Which was completed in 1845.

The final work on the castle was completed in the 1860s when a Square Tower at the back of the castle on the East side was added. This now contains nurseries on the top floor which have a great view over the town of Birr.”

Birr Castle gardens, photograph for Tourism Ireland, 2015, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website also gives us a good history of the family:

The Parsons family arrived at Birr in 1620. They acquired the ruined fortress of Birr. It had been an O’Carroll castle, but had for some twenty years belonged to the Ormond Butlers. Sir Laurence [1576-1628], one of four brothers living in Ireland at the beginning of end of the 16th century, had been working with his cousin Richard Boyle the great Earl of Cork,(to whom he was related through the Fenton family, in Youghal). Laurence died suddenly in 1628 and was succeeded by his second son, William, ably supported by his mother, Anne, née Malham, a Yorkshire woman related to the Tempest family.

Sir Laurence’s elder brother, also William, became Surveyor General of Ireland and founded the elder branch of the family, living in Bellamont, Dublin. This branch died out at the end of the 18th century.

The 17th century was a turbulent one for the Parsons family in Birr. The castle was involved in two sieges, the first in the 1640s where the family moved for a time to London, before returning at the end of the Cromwellian period. In 1690 the castle was besieged again, by Sarsfield [Patrick Sarsfield, 1st Earl of Lucan].This time the Castle held out and Sarsfield moved on.

The 18th century was a quiet period for the family who were left with little money and returned to improving their estates at Birr and living off the land. Towards the end of the century Sir Laurence, [1758-1841] 5th baronet, became a politician and friend of Flood and Grattan. He was praised for his honesty. He opposed the Act of Union. He became 2nd Earl of Rosse in 1807 when he inherited the title from his Uncle [Lawrence Harman Parsons-Harman, 1st Earl of Rosse, who had inherited Newcastle, County Longford].”

Birr Castle, this is the only photograph I can find of the inside as one cannot take photographs! photograph by Chris Hill 2018, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website history of the family continues:

The 19th century saw the castle become a great centre of scientific research when William Parsons, 3rd Earl built the great telescope. (See astronomy).His wife, Mary, whose fortune helped him to build the telescope and make many improvements to the castle, was a pioneer photographer and took many photographs in the 1850s.  Her dark room – a total time capsule which was preserved in the Castle – has now been exactly relocated in the Science Centre.

Their son the 4th Earl also continued astronomy at the castle and the great telescope was used up to the beginning of the 2nd world war. His son the 5th Earl was interested in agriculture and visited Denmark in search of more modern and successful methods. Sadly he died of wounds in the 1st world war.

His son, Michael the 6th Earl and his wife Anne created the garden for which Birr is now famous. (see the gardens and trees and plants) Anne, who was the sister of Oliver Messel the stage designer, brought many treasures to Birr from the Messel collection and with her skill in interior decoration and artist’s eye, transformed the castle, giving it the magical beauty that is now apparent to all.  Michael was also much involved in the creation of the National Trust in England after the war.

Their son Brendan, the present Earl, spent his career in the United Nations Development Programme, living with his wife Alison and their family in many third world countries.  He returned to Ireland on his father’s death in 1979.  Brendan and Alison have also spent much time on the garden, especially collecting and planting rare trees.  Their three children are all passionate about Birr and continue to add layers to the story for the future.

Patrick, Lord Oxmantown currently lives in London and is working on plans to bring large scale investment into Birr which will enable him and his family to move back to Ireland.

Alicia Clements managers the Birr Castle Estate and lives in the sibling house of Tullanisk.

Michael Parsons, works in London managing a portfolio of properties for the National Trust and is a board member to The Birr Scientific and Heritage Foundation.”

4. Boland’s Lock, Cappincur, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – section 482

contact: Martin O’Rourke
Tel: 086-2594914
Open: June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €2, student/child free, family €5

Boland’s Lock, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Designed by Michael Hayes of Tullamore Harbour.

The National Inventory describes it: “Oval-shaped four-bay two-storey lock keeper’s house, built c.1800, with a projecting bow to the front and rear. Located at the 26th lock on the Grand Canal.”

5. Charleville Forest Castle, Tullamore, County Offaly

Charleville Castle, August 2018.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 82. “(Bury/IFR) The finest and most spectacular early C19 castle in Ireland, Francis Johnston’s Gothic masterpiece, just as Townley Hall, Co Louth, is his Classical masterpiece. Built 1800-1812 for Charles William Bury, 1st Earl of Charleville, replacing a C17 house on a different site known as Redwood. A high square battlemented block with, at one corner, a heavily machicolated octagon tower, and at the other, a slender round tower rising to a height of 125 feet, which has been compared to a castellated lighthouse. From the centre of the block rises a tower-like lantern. The entrance door, and the window over it, are beneath a massive corbelled arch. The entire building is cut-stone, of beautiful quality. To the right of the entrance front, and giving picturesque variety to the composition, is a long, low range of battlemented offices, including a tower with pinnacles and a gateway. The garden front is flanked by square turrets. The interior is as dramatic and well-finished as the exterior. In the hall, with its plaster groined ceiling carried on graceful shafts, a straight flight of stairs rises between galleries to piano nobile level, where a great double door, carved in florid Decorated style, leads to a vast saloon or gallery running the whole length of the garden front. This is one of the most splendid Gothic Revival interiors in Ireland; it has a ceiling of plaster fan vaulting with a row of gigantic pendants down the middle; two lavishly carved fireplaces of grained wood, Gothic decoration in the frames of the windows opposite and Gothic bookcases and side-tables to match. The drawing room and dining room, on either side of the hall, are also of noble proportions, the dining room  has a coffered ceiling and a fireplace which is a copy of the west door of Magdalen College chapel, Oxford. Staircase of Gothic joinery leading to the upper storeys, with Gothic mouldings on walls. Small octagonal library in octagon tower; charming little boudoir in round tower, with plaster vault surmounted by an eight-pointed star. Very heavily oak-wooded demesne, with grotto and serpentine walks; castellated entrance gateway. With the death of 5th Earl of Charleville 1875, the title became extinct; Charleville Forest passed to a sister of 4th Earl [Emily Alfreda Julia Bury, who married Kenneth Howard who added Bury to his surname], then to her son [Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury], and then to the grandson of another of 4th Earl’s sisters. After standing empty for many years, the castle has been let to Mr M.G. McMullen, who has restored it.” [3]

The entrance door, and the window over it, are beneath a massive corbelled arch.

Sean O’Reilly tells us in rish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of Country Life: “Bury’s intention, as he wrote in his own unfinished account of the work, was to ‘exhibit specimens of Gothic architecture’ adapted to ‘chimneypieces, ceilings, windows, balustrades, etc.’ but without excluding ‘convenience and modern refinements in luxury.’ This recipe for the Georgian gothic villa had already been used at Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill in London, and Bury’s cultivated lifestyle in England certainly would have made him aware of that house and its long line of descendants.” [4]

My camera battery died before I had time to take photographs when I visited so please excuse these blurry pictures taken on my old phone. For much better pictures and more information, see the website of the Irish Aesthete Robert O’Byrne, https://theirishaesthete.com/2019/10/14/charleville/

In the hall, with its plaster groined ceiling carried on graceful shafts, a straight flight of stairs rises between galleries to piano nobile level, where a great double door, carved in florid Decorated style, leads to a vast saloon or gallery running the whole length of the garden front.

O’Reilly tells us: “Charleville Forest’s patron, Charles William Bury, from 1800 Viscount and from 1806 Earl of Charleville, was a man well versed in contemporary English taste and style. He inherited lands in Limerick, through his father’s maternal line, and in Offaly. His great wealth, lavish lifestyle and generous nature allowed him simultaneously to distribute largesse in Ireland, live grandly in London and travel widely on the continent…[p. 139] Charleville’s lack of success in his search for a sinecure proved ill for the future of the family fortunes for, continuing to live extravagantly above their means, they advanced speedily towards bankruptcy. On Charleville’s death in 1835, the estate was ‘embarrassed’ and by 1844, the Limerick estates had to be sold and the castle shut up, while his son and heir, ‘the greatest bore the world can produce’ according to one contemporary, retired to Berlin.

O’Reilly continues to tell us of the history of ownership: “The 3rd Earl [Charles William George Bury (1822-1859)] returned to the house in 1851, but with a much reduced fortune; the property was then inherited by his grand-daughter Lady Emily Howard-Bury, after whose death in 1931 it remained unoccupied.”

Charming little boudoir in round tower, with plaster vault surmounted by an eight-pointed star.
Charming little boudoir in round tower, with plaster vault surmounted by an eight-pointed star.
It has a ceiling of plaster fan vaulting with a row of gigantic pendants down the middle.
The ceiling, with its coffered panels, sports family emblems of the Moores and the Burys, all supported on a light Gothic crested frieze, dating to 1875 and a remnant of William Morris’s only Irish commission. (see [5]) The oak forest and lands were gifted by Queen Elizabeth I to Moore, Earl of Charleville in 1577. Due to the lack of male heirs in the Moore family the land was inherited by Charles William Bury who was the grand nephew of the last Earl [Charles Moore (1712-1764), 1st Earl of Charleville] just six months old.
Staircase of Gothic joinery leading to the upper storeys, with Gothic mouldings on walls.

6. Clonony Castle, County Offaly

https://www.visitoffaly.ie/Things-to-do/Culture-Heritage/Clonony-Castle/

The website tells us:

Clonony Castle, built in the 1490’s by the Coghlan Clan, was seized by Henry VIII during the war of dominion by England. He ceded it to Thomas Boleyn, making him the Earl of Ormond, his daughter, the ill-fated Ann, a countess and marriageable by a king. When Henry tired of Ann and the Boleyns fell from grace, two ladies, Mary and Elizabeth, were sent back to Clonony and remained for the rest of their lives. Their tombstone lays beneath a tree in the castle bawn.

Following the ladies demise, a merchant, Sir Matthew de Renzi, wrote to Queen Elizabeth of the great significance of the castle and begged to be awarded it. These DeRenzi letters have become very important as they tell us what life was like in the 16th Century in the midlands. Possessing a great facility for language, speaking and trading with many countries, he wrote the first English/Irish dictionary.

Today the castle has been sensitively restored to reflect the way of life through this historical period and now is open to the public casually from 12 to 5 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through summer and anytime by appointment on 0877614034. There is no fee, but donations toward the maintenance of the castle is greatly appreciated. In June, the castle will open on weekends for glamping (glamourous camping). Early booking is essential.”

7. Corolanty House, Shinrone, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

Corolanty House, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Siobhan Webb
Tel: 086-1209984
Open: Jan, Feb, July, Aug, Sept, daily 2pm-6pm Fee: Free

The National Inventory tells us it is: “Detached five-bay three-storey over basement country house, built c.1730, with two-storey addition to north. Set within its own grounds….Corolanty House displays some of the characteristics of a typical eighteenth-century Irish country house, which include its form and scale, the finely tooled Gibbsian door surround and the curiously concealed tooled limestone architrave surrounds to the window openings. The symmetrical form of the house is maintained by the inclusion of blind windows to the rear elevation, but this is somewhat disrupted by the two-storey addition to the north-facing side elevation. The retention of many original features, including the staircase, decorative plasterwork to the ceilings of the principal rooms and the interior joinery, contribute to the character of the house and its architectural and artistic significance. The remains of Corolanty Castle to the yard contributes an archaeological interest.” [5]

8. Crotty Church, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly section 482

contact: Eoin Garry
Tel: 086-3286277
Open: all year, 1pm-5pm Fee: Free

9. Gloster House, Brosna, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

contact: Tom & Mary Alexander
Tel: 087-2342135
Open: Jan 3-28, Mon-Fri, May 1-31, Aug 13-21, 9am-1.30pm Fee: adult/student/child/OAP €7

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

Just east of the road between Birr and Roscrea, Gloster is County Offaly’s most important remaining eighteenth century house. The formal facade, overlooking the steeply terraced garden, is unusually long and low, and is very grand. Thirteen bays wide and two stories high, the house is constructed in blue-grey limestone with a wealth of early architectural details in warm contrasting sandstone. The interior is equally splendid, especially the two principal rooms; the richly decorated double-height entrance hall and the great barrel-vaulted hall, or landing, on the piano nobile. 

The Lloyd’s ancestor came to Ireland from Denbighshire, to serve in the army of King Charles I, and he acquired the estate in 1639 through  marriage with an heiress, Margaret Medhop. Presumably they and their descendants lived in an earlier dwelling, of which no trace remains, until the present house was completed sometime after 1720. The architectural historian Maurice Craig, who edited the book of Pearce’s drawings, observed that, “Gloster has features which can hardly derive from anyone other than Sir Edward Lovett Pearce” (c.1699-1733). Craig also believed that, while Pearce may well have provided a design for his cousin, Trevor Lloyd, he almost certainly left the execution to others since “for all its charm, it is provincial in almost every respect”.

The central breakfront is relatively plain, apart from the typically 1700s hooded door case with pilasters to either side, while two recessed bays at either end of the facade are treated as wings, with Pearcean blind niches in place of windows on the upper storeys. Meanwhile the three intervening bays to either side are further divided by vertically paired pilasters, Doric below the string course and Corintian above, and their positions are reflected in the cornice, the parapet and in the intervals of the balustrade.

Inside, the elaborate double-height entrance-hall has a series of bust-filled niches while there is very grand upper hall on the piano nobile. This is approached by twin staircases and overlooks the entrance-hall though a series of round-headed openings with a profusion of architectural detail.

Samuel Chearnley may have had a hand in designing the gardens, which contain a canal, a lime avenue and a pedimented arch, flanked by obelisks in the manner of Vanburgh, while a series of later terraces in front of the house descend to a small lake.

Gloster was sold in 1958 and became a convent and nursing home, with a new school complex built on the site of the former stables. The school closed shortly after 1990 and the house fell into considerable disrepair. Happily Tom and Mary Alexander purchased the house and have carried out a thorough and sympathetic restoration.

Famous visitors to Gloster include John Wesley, who preached here in 1749, while the famous Australian “diva” Dame Nellie Melba sang from the gallery in the upper hall early in the 20th century.” [6]

10. High Street House, High Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – section 482

contact: George Ross
Tel: 086-3831992

www.no6highstreet.com

Open: Jan 4-31, Mon -Fri, May 1-18, Aug 13-21, Sept 1-24, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult/student €5, OAP €4, child under 12 free

11. Leap Castle, County Offaly

https://www.visitoffaly.ie/Things-to-do/Culture-Heritage/Leap-Castle/

Sean Ryan of Leap Castle, insisted that he doesn’t fabricate when telling the story of what he and his wife see and hear at their home. Where most would refer to these apparitions as ghosts, Sean prefers to call them spirits. He describes the regular visions as people with a haze around them. Sometimes there is a lot of activity; other times less so. The sounds they hear are footsteps, doors opening and closing and crowds talking. However, on occasions that he has gone in the direction of the noise, nothing is apparent there, with the location of the spirits always out of reach. There is spirit, though, a lady, who touches off people. A lot of guests to the castle have also felt her presence. The remarkable thing Sean told us was that this experience never seems to alarm his guests, rather they always remain very calm, something that surprises them! Sean doesn’t regard his home as haunted and, as far as he is concerned, the spirits he sees and hears have as much right to live there as he does. Sean is happy to continue to live alongside them as he has done since 1994, when restoration on the castle began.

Leap Castle by Brian Morrison, 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The Leap Castle website gives us more information: http://leapcastle.net

Built in the early 1500’s under the supervision of the powerful and warring O’Carroll clan, Leap Castle has been the centre of much bloodshed.

Leap Castle by Brian Morrison, 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The O’Carrolls were a fierce and brutal clan, continually struggling for power and supremacy. They were known to be particularly violent and cunning in the attempts for domination. John O’Carroll was thought to be the first Prince of Ely who lived at Leap Castle. It is very probable that it was he who was responsible for the construction of the earliest sections of Leap Castle. John O’Carroll died at Leap Castle, suffering from the plague. John O’Carroll was succeeded by his son named Mulrony O’Carroll.
Mulrony O’Carroll was renowned for his strength, bravery and valour and was considered a great leader. The Great Mulrony as he was known died (most likely) at Leap in 1532 after a rulership of forty two years. Mulrony was succeeded by his son Fearganhainm.

The website continues with the history of one brother after another killing each other for supremacy.

The website tells us:

In 1629 John O’Carroll, nephew of Charles O’Carroll was given the official ownership of the Leap Estate.
The year 1649 the property of Leap Castle was handed over to the first of the Darby line, Jonathon. He was a soldier of the Cromwellian forces and was handed the property and land in lieu of pay.

1664 saw the property handed back to John O’Carroll due to his continued loyalty to Charles the 1st. This arrangement was unfortunately reversed in 1667 due to the differing views of Charles the 2nd. The Leap Castle was once again back in the hands of the Darbys.

Leap Castle by Brian Morrison, 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

Jonathon Darby the 2nd, a Cromwellian soldier obtained Leap Castle in 1649. This was lieu of payment for his services. Jonathon and his wife Deborah had a son also named Jonathon.

The estate was passed through a line of Jonathan Darbys.

“Jonathon Darby the 5th maintained the Leap Estate until his death in 1802. As Jonathon fathered no male children, Leap Castle was passed on to his younger brother Henry. 

Henry d’Esterre Darby, born in 1750 climbed through the Naval ranks to become Admiral Sir Henry d’Esterre Darby in 1799. Henry died in 1823 bearing no children of his own. Upon Henry’s death, the Leap Castle estate was inherited by his brother John Darby. 

John Darby married Anne Vaughan and died in 1834. He was succeeded by their sons William Henry, Christopher, George, Susan, Jonathon, Horatio d’Esterre, John Nelson and Sarah Darby.

William Henry Darby inherited Leap Castle died in 1880.  His eldest son had died in 1872 aged 45 so the Leap Estate was passed on to his grandson Jonathon Charles Darby.

Jonathon married Mildred Dill aka Mildred Darby in 1889.

Leap Castle by Brian Morrison, 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 30 July 1922 a party of eleven raiders set fire to the Leap totally destroying the North and larger wing and its valuable contents.  Giving evidence in the claims court Richard Dawkins said that on 30 July 1922, he was living in the Castle as caretaker with his wife and baby. They were the only persons in the castle that night. Richard Dawkins stated that at 2.20am there was a knock on the door. He opened the window, put out his head, and saw men outside who stated that they wanted a night’s lodging. They ordered him to open the door. He went down and opened the door and was subsequently held at gunpoint. The raiders then stated that they were going to burn the castle.  Dawkins asked for time to get his wife and child out and was given twenty minutes to do so. The raiders then went into the castle and poured petrol over the rooms, and set them on fire. They kept the family outside from 2.30am to 5.00am. Each of the men had a tin of petrol, and all were armed. Some had trench coats and other had bandoleers over their civilian clothes. The men broke furniture before setting the castle on fire.

In a newspaper report Jonathan Darby said that it looked as if there were explosives used in the destruction of the castle he had found some dynamite in the cellar where the raiders got so drunk they could not explode it.  He said that it was the locals who burned the castle.” 

–          Noel Guerin

Leap Castle by Brian Morrison, 2015 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

13. Loughton, Moneygall, Birr, Co. Offaly – section 482

Loughton House, County Offaly, May 2019.

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/01/loughton-house-moneygall-county-offaly/
contact: Michael Lyons 
Tel: 089-4319150
www.loughtonhouse.com
Open: May 10-June 30, Tue-Sunday, Aug 2-7, 9-21, 11am-3.30pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €4, child €3 (under 12 free), family (2 adults & 2 children over 12) €15

14. Springfield House, Mount Lucas, Daingean, Tullamore, Co. Offaly – section 482

contact: Muireann Noonan
Tel: 087-2204569
www.springfieldhouse.ie

Open: Jan 1-9, 1pm-5pm, April 15-19, May 21-29, June 10-12, 17-19, July 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, Aug 13-28, 2pm-6pm, Dec 26-31, 1pm-5pm
Fee: Free

Write-up coming soon!

15. The Maltings

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly Eoin Garry
Tel: 086-3286277 

www.canbe.ie

(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: all year

16. Woodland Cottage Garden, Birr, Offaly, IE 

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/42/woodland+cottage+garden/

Contact: Anne Ward 

Tel: +353 (0) 57 912 1215 

Mobile: +353 (0) 86 305 1697 

Email: nanoward@eircom.net 

Web: www.loughderggardens.com 

Places to stay, County Offaly

1. Kinnitty Castle (formerly Castle Bernard), Kinnity, Co Offaly https://www.kinnittycastlehotel.com/index.html

Kinnitty Castle Hotel, 2014, photographer unknown, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

Mark Bence-Jones writes in his 1988 book of Kinnitty Castle, formerly named Castle Bernard: p. 62. [Castle Bernard]: “[Bernard 1912; De la Poer Beresford, Decies] A Tudor-Revival castle of 1833 by James and George Pain [built for T. Bernard]. Impressive entrance front with gables, oriels and tracery windows and an octagonal corner tower with battlements and crockets; all in smooth ashlar. Subsequently the home of 6th Lord Decies [Arthur George Marcus Douglas De La Poer Beresford (1915-1992)], by whom it was sold ca. 1950. Now a forestry centre.” 

Kinnitty Castle Hotel, 2014, photographer unknown, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

The website used to include a history, which told us:

The present building was originally built by William O’Carroll on the site of the old Abbey in 1630.  The English Forces, as part of the plantation of Offaly, or “Kings County” as it was renamed, confiscated this in 1641.  In 1663 Colonel Thomas Winter was granted 2,624 acres by King Charles II for military services rendered.  The Winter family sold the building in 1764 to the Bernards of County Carlow.  This building was reconstructed as a castellated mansion in 1811 by the famous Pan Brothers at the commission of Lady Catherine Hutchinson, wife of Colonel Thomas Bernard.  The building was burned in 1922 by Republican forces and rebuilt by means of a Government grant of £32,000 in 1927.  The building became the property of Lord Decies in 1946.  He in turn sold it and the estate to the Government of Ireland on 12th December 1951.  The State used the castle as a Forestry Training centre from 1955 until it was purchased in 1994 and turned into a 37 bedroom luxurious hotel for all guests both locally and internationally to enjoy.

Kinnitty Castle Hotel, 2014, photographer unknown, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])
Kinnitty Castle Hotel, 2014, photographer unknown, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [2])

2. Loughton House, County Offaly – see above

https://loughtonhouse.com

3. The Maltings, Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

contact: Eoin Garry
Tel: 086-3286277 

www.canbe.ie

(Tourist Accommodation FacilityOpen: all year

Whole house rental, County Offaly:

1. Ballycumber, County Offaly – whole house rental

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/21064152?source_impression_id=p3_1646848147_zcYarfp2zhDKFdHo

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us about Ballycumber:

Originally built as a castle in 1627 and remodelled at a later date, the regular from of this well proportioned house is enhanced by architectural detailing such as the finally executed doorcase and attractive, steeply-pitched hipped roof. The building retains many notable features and materials such as the timber sash windows with the date plaque, which adds historical interest to the site. The related outbuildings and walled garden create an interesting group of agricultural structures, while the folly and landscaped tree-lined river walk make a positive contribution to the setting of the house, reflecting the era of the large country estate.

The Offaly history blog tells us more about the occupants of Ballycumber:

Ballycumber House was bought by Francis Berry Homan Mulock in 1899 from the Armstrong family who had been in possession of the estate for successive generations. Originally built as a castle in 1627 by the Coghlan family, it was extensively remodelled by the Armstrongs in the eighteenth century into a detached five-bay two storey over basement country house, much as it is today.” [7]

I would love to stay at Ballycumber because the Bagot family of County Offaly intermarried with the Armstrong family who owned Ballycumber. I’m not sure if my own Baggot family is related to the Bagots of Offaly but there is a good possibility!

Westmeath:

1. Athlone Castle, Co Westmeath – ruin, open to visitors http://www.athlonecastle.ie/ 

Cruising by Athlone Castle, Co Westmeath_Courtesy Fennell Photography 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

The website tells us: “Trace the footprints of the generations who shaped this place. From early settlements and warring chieftains to foreign invaders and local heroes. This site on the River Shannon is the centre of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Over the centuries it has been the nucleus of the Anglo-Norman settlement; a stronghold of the rival local families the Dillons and the O’Kelly’s; the seat of the Court of Claims; the residence of the President of Connaught and the Jacobite stronghold during the sieges of Athlone.  After the Siege of Athlone it became incorporated into the new military barrack complex.  It remained a stronghold of the garrison for almost three hundred years.

In 1922 when the Free State troops took over the Barracks from their British counterparts, they proudly flew the tricolour from a temporary flagpole much to the delight of the majority of townspeople.

In 1967 the Old Athlone Society established a museum in the castle with a range of exhibits relating to Athlone and its environs and also to folk-life in the district.  Two years later when the military left the castle it was handed over to the Office of Public Works and the central keep became a National Monument.

In 1991 to mark the Tercentenary of the Siege of Athlone the castle became the foremost visitor attraction in Athlone.  Athlone Town Council (then Athlone UDC) made a major investment in the castle creating a multi-faceted Visitor Centre as it approached its 800th Anniversary in 2010. A total of €4.3million euro was invested in the new facility by Fáilte Ireland and Athlone Town Council and was officially opened by the then Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring T.D. on Tuesday 26th February 2012.

Athlone Castle Visitor Centre is now a modern, engaging, fun and unique family attraction which harnesses most significant architectural features, such as the keep, to act as a dramatic backdrop to its diverse and fascinating story.

It houses eight individual exhibition spaces, each depicting a different aspect of life in Athlone, the Castle and the periods both before and after the famous Siege. Fun, hands-on interactives, touchable objects and educational narratives immerse visitors in the drama, tragedy and spectacle of Athlone’s diverse and fascinating story. 3D maps, audio-visual installations, illustrations and artefacts bring the stories and characters of Athlone to life and The Great Siege of Athlone is dramatically recreated in a 360-degree cinematic experience in the Keep of the castle.

As part of Westmeath County Council’s commemoration of Ireland’s world-renowned tenor, John Count McCormack, a new exhibition dedicated to the celebrated singer was opened at Athlone Castle in October 2014.

Athlone Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath_Courtesy Ros Kavanagh 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

Archiseek tells us about Athlone Castle: “Towards the end of the 12th century the Anglo-Normans constructed a motte-and-bailey fortification here. This was superceeded by a stone structure built in 1210, on the orders of King John of England. The Castle was built by John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich. The 12-sided donjon dates from this time. The rest of the castle was largely destroyed during the Siege of Athlone and subsequently rebuilt and enlarged upon. In the early 1800s, during the Napoleonic Wars, the castle was rebuilt as a fortification to protect the river crossing, taking the form we largely see today. The machicolations of the central keep are all nineteenth century. In the interior is an early nineteenth century two-storey barrack building. The modern ramp up to the castle has a line of pistol loops. The castle was taken over by the Irish Army in 1922 and continued as a military installation until it was transferred to the Office of Public Works in 1970.” [8]

Athlone Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath_Courtesy Ros Kavanagh 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Athlone Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath_Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2021 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

2. Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, County Westmeath

Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Belvedere in his 1988 book:

p. 39. “(Rochfort, sub Belvedere, E/DEP Rochfort/LGI1912; Marlay/LGI1912; Howard-Bury, sub Suffolk and Berkshire, E/PB; and Bury/IFR) An exquisite villa of ca 1740 by Richard Castle, on the shores of Lough Ennell; built for Robert Rochfort, Lord Bellfield, afterwards 1st Earl of Belvedere, whose seat was at Gaulston, ca 5 miles away. Of two storeys over basement, with a long front and curved end bows – it may well be the earliest bow-ended house in Ireland – but little more than one room deep.”

Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021.
Robert Rochfort (1708-1774) 1st Earl of Belvedere.

Bence-Jones continues: “The front has a three bay recessed centre between projecting end bays, each of which originally had a Venetian window below a Diocletian window. Rusticated doorcase and rusticated window surrounds on either side of it; high roof parapet. The house contains only a few rooms, but they are of fine proportions and those on the ground floor have rococo plasterwork ceilings of the greatest delicacy and gaiety, with cherubs and other figures emerging from clouds, by the same artist as the ceilings formerly are Mespil House, Dublin, one of which is now in Aras.

Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021: “The house contains only a few rooms, but they are of fine proportions and those on the ground floor have rococo plasterwork ceilings of the greatest delicacy and gaiety, with cherubs and other figures emerging from clouds, by the same artist as the ceilings formerly are Mespil House, Dublin, one of which is now in Aras.
Hallway, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021.
The portrait is of Charles Howard-Bury, who was one of the owners of Belvedere.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath. The Dining Room occupies one end bow of the house, and has a Venetian window overlooking Lough Ennell.

In Belvedere, dining was an opportunity to impress guests not only by the room bu tby the sumptuous meals, presented by immaculately dressed servants. The rococo ceiling of puffing cherubs and fruits and foliage is attributed to Barthelemji Cramillion, a French stuccodore.

The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath: The rococo ceiling of puffing cherubs and fruits and foliage is attributed to Barthelemji Cramillion, a French stuccodore.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.

Bence-Jones continues: “The staircase, wood and partly curving, is in proportion to the back of the house.

The Venetian window that lights the stairs, on the back facade of the house. The wooden porch below is an entrance into the basement of the house.
Drawing Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath. The drawing room occupies one of the bows of the house, and has a Venetian window overlooking the terrace and Lough Ennell.

Information boards tells us that the Drawing Room was the place for afternoon tea, after-dinner drinks, music and conversation. Belvedere’s last owners, Charles Howard-Bury and Rex Beaumont would have passed many happy hours relaxing and reminiscing about their wartime experiences and travels across the world, as well as planning trips to Tunisia and Jamaica.

Ceiling of the Drawing Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
The kitchen is in the vaulted basement of Belvedere and