Places to visit and stay in Munster: County 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.

Waterford:

1. Ballynatray Estate, Co. Waterford – section 482

2. Ballysaggartmore Towers, County Waterford

3. Bishop’s Palace Museum, Waterford

4. Cappagh House (Old and New), Cappagh, Dungarvan, Co Waterford – section 482

5. Cappoquin House & Gardens, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford – section 482

6. Curraghmore House, Portlaw, Co. Waterford – section 482

7. Dromana House, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford – section 482

8. Dungarvan Castle, Waterford – OPW

9. Fairbrook House, Garden and Museum, County Waterford

10. Lismore Castle Gardens

11. Mount Congreve Gardens, County Waterford

12. The Presentation Convent, Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road, Waterford – section 482

13. Reginald’s Tower, County Waterford – OPW

14. Tourin House & Gardens, Tourin, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford – section 482

Places to stay, County Waterford

1. Annestown House, County Waterford – B&B €

2. Ballynatray Estate, Co. Waterford – section 482

3. Ballyrafter House, Lismore, Co Waterford – https://www.dungarvantourism.com/ballyrafter-house-hotel/

4. Cappoquin House holiday cottages, County Waterford

5. Dromana, Co Waterford – 482, holiday cottages

6. Faithlegg House, Waterford, Co Waterford – hotel https://www.faithlegg.com

7. Fort William, County Waterford, holiday cottages

8. Gaultier Lodge, Woodstown, Co Waterford 

9. Richmond House, Cappoquin, Co Waterford – guest house https://www.richmondcountryhouse.ie

10. Salterbridge Gate Lodge, County Waterford

11. Waterford Castle, The Island, Co Waterford

Whole House Rental County Waterford

1. Ballynatray Estate, Co. Waterford – section 482

2. Glenbeg House, Jacobean manor home, Glencairn, County Waterford P51 H5W0 €€€ for two, € for 7-16 – whole house rental http://www.glenbeghouse.com

3. Lismore Castle, whole house rental

Waterford:

1. Ballynatray Estate, Co. Waterford – section 482 – gardens only

Ballynatray, Youghal, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [1]
Ballynatray, Youghal, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [1]

Postal address: Glendine, Youghal, Co. Cork

contact: Carmel O’Keeffee-Power
Tel: 024-97460
www.ballynatray.com
Open: April 1-Sept 30, 12 noon-4pm
Fee: adult €6, child OAP/student €3

Ballynatray, Youghal, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [1]

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

“[Holroyd-Smyth; Ponsonby and sub Bessborough] A house of 2 storeys over a basement and 11 bays, built 1795-97 by Grice Smyth [1762-1816], incorporating some of the walls of a much earlier house which itself was built on the foundations of an old castle; refaced in stucco and its principal rooms re-decorated early in the C19 by Grice Smyth; some work having been done ca 1806 by Alexander Deane. Entrance front with 3 bay recessed centre between 4 bay projections joined by single-storey Ionic colonnade with a statue in a niche at either end. Balustraded roof parapet with urns. Garden front, facing down the Blackwater estuary, with 3 bay pedimented breakfront and 4 bays on either side. 5 bay side elevations. Early C19 interior plasterwork. Frieze of bulls’ heads – as distinct from the neo-Classical ox-skulls or bucrania, a demi-bull being the Smyth crest – in hall. Unusual frieze of cues and billiard balls in billiard room. Wide arched doorways between most of the principal rooms. By means of these arches, the library runs right through the house, with windows facing both the river and the park. The house is gloriously situated at a point where the river does a loop. Woods sweep outwards and round on either side and continue up and downstream for as far as the eye can see. On the landward side of the house is a hill, with a deer park full of bracken. There is an extraordinary sense of peace, of remoteness from the world. A short distance from the house is a ruined medieval abbey on an an island which was joined to the mainland by a causeway built 1806 by Grice Smyth, who put up a Classical urn within the abbey walls in honour of Raymond-le-Gros, Strongbow’s companion, who is said to be buried here. Also within the abbey walls is a statue of its founder, St. Molanfide, which Grice Smyth’s widow erected in 1820. The second daughter of Grice Smyth was the beautiful Penelope Smyth, whose runaway marriage with the Prince of Capua, brother of King Ferdinand II of Two Sicilies, caused an international furore in 1836. On the death of Mr Horace Holroyd-Smyth 1969, Ballynatray passed to his cousins, the Ponsonby family, of Kilcooley Abbey, Co. Tipperary.” [2]

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us Ballynatray is:

A very fine, substantial late eighteenth-century Classical-style house, built by Grice Smyth (n. d.), composed on a symmetrical plan, which has been very well restored in the late twentieth century to present an early aspect, with important salient features and materials intact, both to the exterior and to the interior. Fine reserved detailing applied shortly after completion of construction to designs prepared by Alexander Deane (c.1760 – 1806) enhances the architectural and design qualities of the composition, and is indicative of high quality craftsmanship. Incorporating the fabric of an earlier house, and reputed to incorporate the foundations of a medieval castle, the house continues a long-standing presence on site, and is of additional importance in the locality for its historic associations with the Smyth (Holroyd-Smyth) family. The house forms the centrepiece of an extensive planned estate that contributes significantly to the visual appeal of the locality, while the gardens overlooking the River Blackwater are of some landscape design interest.” (see [1])

2. Ballysaggartmore Towers, County Waterford

Ballysaggartmore Towers, Lismore, photograph by Chris Hill, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]
The Towers, Ballysaggartmore, Lismore, Co Waterford Courtesy of Luke Myers 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]

Mark Bence-Jones tells us (1988): p. 27. “(Keily, sub Ussher/IFR, Anson, sub Lichfield, E/PB) A late-Georgian house built round a courtyard, on the side of a steep hill overlooking the River Blackwater, to which a new front was subsequently added… A seat of the Keily family. Arthur Keily [1777-1862], who assumed the name of Ussher 1843, built two remarkable Gothic follies in the demesne, to the design of his gardener, J. Smith; one of them a turreted gateway, the other a castellated bridge over a stream. The house was bought at the beginning of the present century by Hon Claud Anson, who sold it 1930s. It was subsequently demolished. The follies remain, one of them being now occupied as a house.” 

The National Inventory describes this bridge and its towers:

Three-arch rock-faced sandstone ashlar Gothic-style road bridge over ravine, c.1845, on a curved plan. Rock-faced sandstone ashlar walls with buttresses to piers, trefoil-headed recessed niches to flanking abutments, cut-stone stringcourse on corbels, and battlemented parapets having cut-stone coping. Three pointed arches with rock-faced sandstone ashlar voussoirs, and squared sandstone soffits. Sited in grounds shared with Ballysaggartmore House spanning ravine with grass banks to ravine…Detached five-bay single- and two-storey lodge, c.1845, to south-west comprising single-bay single-storey central block with pointed segmental-headed carriageway, single-bay single-stage turret over on a circular plan, single-bay single-storey recessed lower flanking bays, single-bay single-storey advanced end bay to right, single-bay single-storey advanced higher end bay to left, and pair of single-bay two-storey engaged towers to rear (north-east) on square plans….Rock-faced sandstone ashlar walls with cut-sandstone dressings including stepped buttresses, battlemented parapets on corbelled stringcourses having cut-stone coping, and corner pinnacles to central block on circular plans having battlemented coping. Pointed-arch window openings with paired pointed-arch lights over, no sills, and chamfered reveals. Some square-headed window openings with no sills, chamfered reveals, and hood mouldings over. Square-headed door openings with hood mouldings over….Detached five-bay single- and two-storey lodge, c.1845, to north-east comprising single-bay two-storey central block with pointed segmental-headed carriageway, single-bay single-storey flanking recessed bays, single-bay two-storey advanced end bay tower to right on a square plan, single-bay two-stage advanced higher end tower to left on a circular plan, and pair of single-bay two-stage engaged towers to rear (south-west) elevation on circular plans…Although initial indications suggest that the lodges are identical, individualistic features distinguish each piece, and contribute significantly to the architectural design quality of the composition. Well maintained, the composition retains its original form and massing, although many of the fittings have been lost as a result of dismantling works in the mid twentieth century. The construction in rock-faced sandstone produces an attractive textured visual effect, and attests to high quality stone masonry.”

Ballysaggartmore Towers, Lismore, photograph by Chris Hill, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]
Ballysaggartmore Towers, Lismore, photograph Courtesy Celtic Routes, 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]
Ballysaggartmore Towers, Lismore, photograph Courtesy Celtic Routes, 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]
Ballysaggartmore Towers, Lismore, photograph Courtesy Celtic Routes, 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]
Ballysaggartmore Towers, Lismore, photograph by Chris Hill, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]

The National Inventory describes the gateway: “Gateway, c.1845, comprising ogee-headed opening, limestone ashlar polygonal flanking piers, and pair of attached two-bay single- and two-storey flanking gate lodges diagonally-disposed to east and to west comprising single-bay single-storey linking bays with single-bay two-storey outer bays having single-bay three-stage engaged corner turrets on circular plans…Limestone ashlar polygonal piers to gateway with moulded stringcourses having battlemented coping over, and sproketed finial to apex to opening with finial. Sandstone ashlar walls to gate lodges with cut-limestone dressings including stepped buttresses, stringcourses to first floor, moulded course to first stage to turrets, and battlemented parapets on consoled stringcourses (on profiled tables to turrets) having cut-limestone coping. Ogee-headed opening to gateway with decorative cast-iron double gates. Paired square-headed window openings to gate lodges with no sills, chamfered reveals, and hood mouldings over. Square-headed door openings with chamfered reveals, and hood mouldings over. Pointed-arch door openings to turrets with inscribed surrounds. Trefoil-headed flanking window openings with raised surrounds, and quatrefoil openings over. Cross apertures to top stages to turrets with raised surrounds. All fittings now gone. Interiors now dismantled with internal walls and floors removed.

An impressive structure in a fantastical Gothic style, successfully combining a gateway and flanking gate lodges in a wholly-integrated composition. Now disused, with most of the external and internal fittings removed, the gateway nevertheless retains most of its original form and massing. The construction of the gateway attests to high quality stone masonry and craftsmanship, particularly to the fine detailing, which enhances the architectural and design quality of the site. The gateway forms an integral component of the Ballysaggartmore House estate and, set in slightly overgrown grounds, forms an appealing feature of Romantic quality in the landscape.

The Gate Lodge, Ballysaggartmore, Lismore, Co Waterford Courtesy of Luke Myers 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]
Ballysaggartmore Towers, Lismore, photograph by Chris Hill, 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]

3. Bishop’s Palace Museum, Waterford

Bishop’s Palace, Waterford, photograph from the National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 282. “The Palace of the (C of I) Bishops of Waterford; one of the largest and – externally – finest episcopal residences in Ireland. Begun 1741 by Bishop Charles Este to the design of Richard Castle. The garden front, which faces over the mall and new forms a magnificent architectural group with the tower and spire of later C18 Cathedral, by John Roberts, is of three storeys; the ground floor being treated as a basement and rusticated. The centre of the ground floor breaks forward with three arches, forming the base of the pedimented Doric centrepiece of the storey above, which incorporates three windows. In the centre of the top storey is a circular niche, flanked by two windows. On either side of the centre are three bays. Bishop Este died 1745 before the Palace was finished, which probably explains why the interior is rather disappointing. The Palace ceased to be the episcopal residence early in the present century, and from then until ca 1965 it was occupied by Bishop Foy school. It has since been sold.” 

Bishop’s Palace, Waterford by Keith Fitzgerald, 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]

Archiseek adds: “It has now been extensively restored to showcase artefacts and art from Waterford’s Georgian and Victorian past. The two main facades are quite different: one having seven bays – the central bay having an more elaborate window treatment and a Gibbsian doorway; the other facade has eight bay with a more elaborate entrance and shallow pediment with blank niches.” [4]

The National Inventory explains about the designs of Richard Castle and John Roberts:

An imposing Classical-style building commissioned by Bishop Miles (d. 1740) and subsequently by Bishop Charles Este (n. d.), and believed to have been initiated to plans prepared by Richard Castle (c.1690 – 1751), and completed to the designs prepared by John Roberts (1712 – 1796). The building is of great importance for its original intended use as a bishop’s palace, and for its subsequent use as a school. The construction of the building in limestone ashlar reveals high quality stone masonry, and this is particularly evident in the carved detailing, which has retained its intricacy. Well-maintained, the building presents an early aspect while replacement fittings have been installed in keeping with the original integrity of the design. The interior also incorporates important early or original schemes, including decorative plasterwork of artistic merit. Set on an elevated site, the building forms an attractive and commanding feature fronting on to The Mall (to south-east) and on to Cathedral Square (to north-west).”

Bishop’s Palace, Waterford City Courtesy Leo Byrne Photography 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]
Bishop’s Palace, Waterford by Keith Fitzgerald, 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [3]

4. Cappagh House (Old and New), Cappagh, Dungarvan, Co Waterford – section 482

Cappagh House, County Waterford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

contact: Charles and Claire Chavasse
Tel: 087-8290860, 086-8387420
http://www.cappaghhouse.ie
Open: April, June, & August, Wednesday & Thursday, May & September Wednesday Thursday & Saturday, National Heritage Week, August 13-21, Oct 1, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult/OAP/student/€5, child under 12 free

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 56. [Ussher; Chavasse] “A 2 storey Victorian house built 1875 by R.J. Ussher [Richard John Ussher (1841-1913)] to the design of the engineer who constructed the railway from Cork to Rosslare [ the National Inventory tells us the designs were by James Otway (1843-1906) and Robert Graeme Watt]; replacing an earlier house, which was subsequently used as outbuildings. Camber-headed widows cutting through string-courses; 3 sided bow on principal front; roundheaded staricase window with Romanesque tracery; highish roof. Sold 1944 by Mr Arland Ussher, the writer, to Col Kendal Chavasse.” 

The National Inventory tells us it has historical connections with historic connections with the Ussher family including Beverley Grant Ussher (1867-1956) and Percival Arnold “Arland” Ussher (1899-1980); and Colonel Kendal George Fleming Chavasse DSO (1904-2001). [5]

Old house at Cappagh, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [6]
Old house at Cappagh, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [6]

The National Inventory tells us of Old Cappagh: “Detached seven-bay single-storey split-level country house, extant 1768, on a quadrangular plan with single-bay (two-bay deep) two-storey flush end bays; five-bay two-storey rear (north) elevation centred on single-bay two-storey breakfront on a bowed plan…A country house erected by Arthur Ussher (1683-1768) of Camphire House (Dean 2018, 229) representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of County Waterford with the architectural value of the composition confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking “The American Ground” and a wooded lake with a hilly backdrop in the distance; the quadrangular plan form centred on a Classically-detailed doorcase showing a pretty fanlight; the somewhat disproportionate bias of solid to void in the massing; the definition of the principal “apartments” by Wyatt-style tripartite glazing patterns; and the “book end” crow stepped gables embellishing the roofline. A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; an elegant staircase; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition.” [6]

5. Cappoquin House & Gardens, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford – section 482

see my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/01/24/cappoquin-house-gardens-cappoquin-co-waterford/
contact: Sir Charles Keane
Tel: 058-54290, 087-6704180
www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com
Open: July 1-2, 4-9, 11-16, 18-23, 25-30, Aug 1-6, 8-22, Sept 16-17, 19-24, 26-30, 9am-1pm

Gardens open all year, 9am-6pm, closed Sundays except July 17, August 14, 21, 28, Fee: house/garden €15, house only €10, garden only €6

6. Curraghmore House, Portlaw, Co. Waterford – section 482

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/08/01/curraghmore-portlaw-county-waterford/
contact: Vanessa Behal
Tel: 051-387101
www.curraghmorehouse.ie
Open: May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Thurs-Sun and Bank Holidays, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21,10am-4pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student, house/garden/shell house tour €20, house €15, garden & shell house €12, garden €7, child under12 years free

7. Dromana House, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford – section 482

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/02/06/dromana-house-cappoquin-co-waterford/
contact: Barbara Grubb
Tel: 086-8186305
www.dromanahouse.com
Open: June 1-12, 14-19, 21-26, 28-30, July 1-3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-31, Aug 13- 21, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult/OAP/student, house and garden €15, house €10, garden €6, child under 12 free, groups of 100 or more house/garden €12, garden €5, house €9

8. Dungarvan Castle, Waterford – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

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

9. Fairbrook House, Garden and Museum, County Waterford

https://www.fairbrook-housegarden.com/

The website tells us: “Fairbrook House garden and museum, Kilmeaden, Co.Waterford, Ireland X91FN83 A romantic walled garden at the river Dawn laid out between ruins of the former Fairbrook Mill (since 1700). OPEN MAY – SEPTEMBER”

10. Lismore Castle Gardens

Lismore Castle from the Pleasure Grounds in the Lower garden, by George Munday/Tourism Ireland 2014 (see [3])
Lismore Castle Gardens, Co Waterford, photograph Courtesy of Celtic Routes 2019 for Tourism Ireland (see [3])

https://www.discoverireland.ie/waterford/lismore-castle-gardens

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Lismore Castle:

p. 186. “(Boyle, Cork and Orrery, E.PB; Cavendish, Devonshire, D/PB)…Now predominantly of early C17 and C19; but incorporating some of the towers of the medieval castle of the Bishops of Lismore which itself took the place of a castle built by King John [around 1185] where there had formerly been a famous monastery founded by St. Carthagh and a university which was a great centre of civilisation and learning in the Dark Ages. The first Protestant Bishop, the notorious Myler McGrath, granted the castle and its lands to Sir Walter Raleigh; who, however, seldom lived here, preferring his house in Youghal, now known as Myrtle Grove.”

Lismore Castle, photograph Courtesy Patrick Brown 2014 for Tourism Ireland (see [3]).

Mark Bence-Jones continues the history of the castle: “In 1602, Raleigh sold Lismore and all his Irish estates to Richard Boyle, afterwards 1st Earl of Cork, one of the most remarkable of Elizabethan adventurers; who, having come to Ireland as a penniless young man, ended as one of the richest and most powerful nobles in the kingdom. From ca 1610 onwards, he rebuilt Lismore Castle as his home, surrounding the castle courtyard with three storey gabled ranges joining the old corner-towers, which were given Jacobean ogival roofs; the principal living rooms being on the side above the Blackwater, the parlour and dining-chamber in a wing projecting outwards to the very edge of the precipice, with an oriel window from which there is a sheer drop to the river far below. On the furthest side from the river Lord Cork built a gatehouse tower, incorporating an old Celtic-Romanesque arch which must have survived from Lismore’s monastic days. He also built a fortified wall – so thick that there is a walk along the top of it – enclosing a garden on this side of the castle; and an outer gatehouse with gabled towers known as the Riding House because it originally sheltered a mounted guard. The garden walls served an important defensive purpose when the castle was besieged by the Confederates 1642, the year before the “Great Earl’s” death. On this occasion the besiegers were repulsed; but in 1645 it fell to another Confederate Army and was sacked.”

Lismore Castle, photograph Courtesy Chris Hill 2015 for Tourism Ireland (see [3]).

Mark Bence-Jones continues the fascinating history: “It was made habitable again by the 2nd Earl of Cork – James II stayed a night here in 1689 and almost fainted when he looked out of the dining room window and saw the great drop – but it was neglected in C18 and became largely ruinous; the subsequent Earls of Cork, who were also Earls of Burlington, preferring to live on their estates in England. Through the marriage of the daughter and heiress of the architect Earl of Burlington [Charlotte Elizabeth Boyle (1731-1754), daughter of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, 4th Earl of Cork] and Cork to the 4th Duke of Devonshire [William Cavendish (1720-1764], Lismore passed to the Cavendishes. The 4th and 5th Dukes took no more interest in the castle than the Earls of Burlington had done; but the 6th Duke [William George Spenser Cavendish (1790-1858)] – remembered as the “Bachelor Duke” – began work at Lismore as soon as he succeeded his father 1811.”

Lismore Castle Gardens, Co Waterford, photograph Courtesy of Celtic Routes 2019 for Tourism Ireland (see [3])

I love the story of the Bachelor Duke: “By 1812 the castle was habitable enough for him to entertain his cousin, Lady Caroline Lamb [nee Ponsonby], her husband William, and her mother, Lady Bessborough, here. Caroline, who had been brought to Ireland in the hope that it would make her forget Byron, was bitterly disappointed by the castle; she had expected “vast apartments full of tattered furniture and gloom”; instead, as Lady Bessborough reported, “Hart handed her into, not a Gothic hall, but two small dapper parlours neatly furnished, in the newest Inn fashion, much like a Cit’s villa at Highgate.” Hart – the Bachelor Duke [He succeeded as the 6th Marquess of Hartington, co. Derby [E., 1694] on 29 July 1811] – had in fact already commissioned the architect William Atkinson to restore the range above the river in a suitably medieval style, and the work actually began in that same year. Battlements replaced the Great Earl of Cork’s gables and the principal rooms – including the dining room with the famous window, which became the drawing room – where given ceilings of simple plaster vaulting.

Lismore Castle Gardens, Co Waterford, photograph Courtesy of Celtic Routes 2019 for Tourism Ireland (see [3])

The Bachelor Duke, who became increasingly attached to Lismore, began a second and more ambitious phase of rebuilding 1850, towards the end of his life. This time his architect was Sir Joseph Paxton, that versatile genius who designed the Crystal Palace and who, having started as the Bachelor Duke’s gardener, became his close friend and right hand man. During the next few years, the three remaining sides of the courtyard were rebuilt in an impressive C19 castle style, with battlemented towers and turrets; all faced in cut-stone shipped over from Derbyshire. The Great Earl’s gatehouse tower, with its pyramidal roof, was however, left as it was, and also the Riding House. The ruined chapel of the Bishops, adjoining the range containing the Great Earl’s living rooms, was restored as a banqueting hall or ballroom of ecclesiastical character; with choirstalls, a vast Perpendicular stained glass window at either end, and richly coloured Gothic stencilling on the walls and the timbers of the open roof. The decoration of the room was carried out by John Gregory Crace, some of it being designed by Pugin, including the chimneypiece, which was exhibited in the Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition. The banqueting hall is the only really large room in the castle, the interior of which is on a much more modest and homely scale than might be expected from the great extent of the building; but in fact one side of the courtyard was designed to be a separate house for the agent, and another side to be the estate office. Subsequent Dukes of Devonshire have loved Lismore as much as the Bachelor Duke did, though their English commitments have naturally prevented them from coming here for more than occasional visits. From 1932 until his death 1944, the castle was continuously occupied by Lord Charles Cavendish, younger son of the 9th Duke, and his wife, the former Miss Adele Astaire, the dancer and actress, who still comes here every year. The present Duke and Duchess have carried out many improvements to the garden, which consist of the original upper garden, surrounded by the Great Earl’s fortified walls, and a more naturalistic garden below the approach to the castle; the two being linked in a charming and unexpected way by a staircase in the Riding House.” 

Lismore Castle, photograph Courtesy Chris Hill 2006 for Tourism Ireland (see [3]).

11. Mount Congreve Gardens, County Waterford – currently closed for renovations

https://mountcongreve.com/

Mount Congreve House and Gardens, Co Waterford Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019 for Tourism Ireland (see [3])

The website tells us: “Mount Congreve House and Gardens situated in Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford, in Ireland’s Ancient East is home to one of “the great gardens of the World”. Mount Congreve House, home to six generations of Congreves, was built in 1760 by the celebrated local architect John Roberts.

The Gardens comprise around seventy acres of intensively planted woodland, a four acre walled garden and 16 kilometres of walkways. Planted on a slight incline overlooking the River Suir, Mount Congreve’s entire collection consists of over three thousand different trees and shrubs, more than two thousand Rhododendrons, six hundred Camellias, three hundred Acer cultivars, six hundred conifers, two hundred and fifty climbers and fifteen hundred herbaceous plants plus many more tender species contained in the Georgian glasshouse.

The house was built for John Congreve (1730-1801), who held the office of High Sheriff of County Waterford in 1755. He married Mary Ussher, daughter of Beverly Ussher, MP, who lived at Kilmeadon, County Waterford.

Mount Congreve, Co Waterford Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland (see [3])

Mark Bence-Jones tells us of Mount Congreve (1988):

p. 213. “(Congreve/IFR) An C18 house [the National Inventory says c. 1750] consisting of three storey seven bay centre block with two storey three bay overlapping wings; joined to pavilions by screen walls with arches on the entrance front and low ranges on the garden front, where the centre block has a three bay breakfront and an ionic doorcase. The house was remodelled and embellished ca 1965-69, when a deep bow was added in the centre of the entrance front, incorporating a rather Baroque Ionic doorcase, nd the pavilions were adorned with cupolas and doorcases with broken pediments. Other new features include handsome gateways flaking the garden front at either end a fountain with a statue in one of the courtyards between the house and pavilions. The present owner has also laid out magnificent gardens along the bank of the River Suir which now extends to upwards of 100 acres; with large scale plantings of rare trees and shrubs, notably rhododendrons and magnolias. The original walled gardens contains an C18 greenhouse.” 

Mount Congreve Estate Gardens, Co Waterford Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland (see [3]). In April 2011 Mr. Congreve was in London en route to the Chelsea Flower Show, aged 104, when he died. His ashes were returned to Mount Congreve and placed in the temple overlooking his gardens and the River Suir below.

The Woodland gardens at Mount Congreve were founded on the inspiration, generosity and encouragement of Mr. Lionel N. de Rothschild. He became arguably, the greatest landscaper of the 20th Century and one of the cleverest hybridists. He died in 1942. The original gardens at Mount Congreve had comprised of a simple terraced garden with woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts on the slopes falling down to the river. The Gardens are held in Trust for the State.

The original gardens at Mount Congreve had comprised of a simple terraced garden with woodland of ilexes and sweet chestnuts on the slopes falling down to the river. Ambrose Congreve began planting parts of these in his late teens but it was not until 1955 that he began to make large clearings in the woodlands to create the necessary conditions where his new plants would thrive. With the arrival of Mr. Herman Dool in the early sixties, the two men began the process that would lead to Mount Congreve’s recognition as one of the ‘Great Gardens of the World’. Up to the very last years of his life, Mr Congreve could be found in the gardens dispensing orders and advice relating to his beloved plants.

Mount Congreve Estate Gardens, Co Waterford Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland (see [3])

Mount Congreve Gardens is closed at the moment for new development works. An article by Ann Power in the Mount Congreve blog, 22nd Sept 2021, tells us

Grand opening of the House & Gardens set for 2022.

The 70-acre Mount Congreve Gardens overlooking the River Suir and located around 7km from the centre of Waterford City will close on October 10th 2021. The closure is to facilitate the upcoming works on Mount Congreve House and Gardens as it will be redeveloped into a world-class tourism destination with an enhanced visitor experience which is set to open for summer 2022.

Funding of €3,726,000 has been approved under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund with additional funding from Failte Ireland and Waterford City & County Council for the visitor attraction, which is home to one of the largest private collections of plants in the world. The redevelopment and restoration of the Estate is set to provide enhanced visitor amenities including the repair of the historic greenhouse, improved access to grounds and pathways, and provision of family-friendly facilities. Car parking & visitor centre with cafe & retail.

The project is planned for completion in 2022 and will create a new visitor centre featuring retail, food and beverage facilities, kitchens, toilets, and a ticket desk while also opening up new areas of the estate to the public including parts of the main house which has never been accessible to the public before.

Estate Manager Ray Sinnott says, “There are exciting times ahead for the historic Mount Congreve House and Gardens and we are very much looking forward to working on and unveiling the new visitor experience in 2022.

Unfortunately for now, in order to facilitate the redevelopment of Mount Congreve House and Gardens, we will be closed for a number of months. This is to facilitate a number of restorative and construction works in the different areas of the gardens and at the main house.

We apologise for any inconvenience and look forward to welcoming all of our visitors old and new when we reopen next year.

12. The Presentation Convent, Waterford Healthpark, Slievekeel Road, Waterford – section 482

The Presentation Convent, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

contact: Michelle O’ Brien
Tel: 051-370057

www.rowecreavin.ie
Open: Jan 1-Dec 31, excluding Bank Holidays, 8.30am-5.30pm, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21
Fee: Free

The National Inventory tells us it is a:

Detached ten-bay two-storey over basement Gothic Revival convent, built 1848 – 1856, on a quadrangular plan about a courtyard comprising eight-bay two-storey central block with two-bay two-storey gabled advanced end bays to north and to south, ten-bay two-storey over part-raised basement wing to south having single-bay four-stage tower on a circular plan, eight-bay two-storey recessed wing to east with single-bay two-storey gabled advanced engaged flanking bays, six-bay double-height wing to north incorporating chapel with two-bay single-storey sacristy to north-east having single-bay single-storey gabled projecting porch, and three-bay single-storey wing with dormer attic to north…

An attractive, substantial convent built on a complex plan arranged about a courtyard. Designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) in the Gothic Revival style, the convent has been well maintained, retaining its original form and character, together with many important salient features and materials. However, the gradual replacement of the original fittings to the openings with inappropriate modern articles threatens the historic character of the composition. The construction of the building reveals high quality local stone masonry, particularly to the cut-stone detailing, which has retained its original form. A fine chapel interior has been well maintained, and includes features of artistic design distinction, including delicate stained glass panels, profiled timber joinery, including an increasingly-rare rood screen indicative of high quality craftsmanship, and an open timber roof construction of some technical interest. The convent remains an important anchor site in the suburbs of Waterford City and contributes to the historic character of an area that has been substantially developed in the late twentieth century.” [7]

13. Reginald’s Tower, County Waterford – OPW

See my OPW write-up:

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

14. Tourin House & Gardens, Tourin, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford – section 482

See my entry:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/30/tourin-house-gardens-cappoquin-county-waterford/
contact: Kristin Jameson
Tel: 086-8113841
www.tourin-house.ie
Open: April 1-Sept 30, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 1pm-5pm
Fee: adult €6, OAP/student €3.50, child free.

Places to stay, County Waterford

1. Annestown House, County Waterford – B&B €

Annestown House, County Waterford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

http://homepage.eircom.net/~annestown/welcome.htm 

Mark Bence-Jones tells us of Annestown:

p. 5. “(Palliser, sub Galloway/IFR) Rambling three storey house at right angles to the village street of Annestown, which is in fact two houses joined together. The main front of the house faces the sea; but it has a gable end actually on the street. Low-ceilinged but spacious rooms; long drawing room divided by an arch with simple Victorian plasterwork; large library approached by a passage. Owned at beginning of 19C by Henry St. George Cole, bought ca. 1830 by the Palliser family, from whom it was inherited by the Galloways.”

The National Inventory gives us more detail on its construction: “Detached six-bay two-storey house with dormer attic, c.1820, retaining early fenestration with single-bay two-storey gabled entrance bay, single-bay two-storey gabled end bay having single-bay two-storey canted bay window, three-bay two-storey wing to north originally separate house, c.1770, and three-bay two-storey return to west. Extended, c.1920, comprising single-bay single-storey lean-to recessed end bay to south.

Annestown House, County Waterford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

2. Ballyrafter House, Lismore, Co Waterford –

https://www.dungarvantourism.com/ballyrafter-house-hotel/

I’m not sure if this is still a hotel as it was advertised for sale in 2020. The Myhome website tells us: “Ballyrafter House was built circa 1830, on the commission of the Duke of Devonshire, one of the wealthiest men in England, whose Irish Seat is the nearby Lismore Castle. Initially intended for the Duke’s Steward, it soon became a hunting and fishing lodge for his guests.

3. Cappoquin House holiday cottages

www.cappoquinhouseandgardens.com

4. Dromana, Co Waterford – 482, holiday cottages

www.dromanahouse.com

5. Faithlegg House, Waterford, Co Waterford – hotel €€

https://www.faithlegg.com

Faithlegg House Hotel, Co Waterford, Courtesy Colin Shanahan_ Faithlegg House Hotel 2021, for Tourism Ireland. (see [3])

Mark Bence-Jones describes Faithlegg House (1988):

p. 123. (Power/IFR; Gallwey/IFR) A three storey seven bay block with a three bay pedimented breakfront, built 1783 by Cornelius Bolton, MP, whose arms, elaborately displayed, appear in the pediment. Bought 1819 by the Powers who ca 1870 added two storey two bay wings with a single-storey bow-fronted wings beyond them. At the same time the house was entirely refaced, with segmental hoods over the ground floor windows; a portico or porch with slightly rusticated square piers was added, as well as an orangery prolonging one of the single-storey wings. Good C19 neo-Classical ceilings in the principal rooms of the main block, and some C18 friezes upstairs. Sold 1936 by Mrs H.W.D. Gallwey (nee Power); now a college for boys run by the De La Salle Brothers.” 

The Faithlegg website tells us that the house was probably built by John Roberts (1714-1796): “a gifted Waterford architect who designed the Waterford’s two Cathedrals, City Hall, Chamber of Commerce and Infirmary.  He leased land from Cornelius Bolton at Faithlegg here he built his own house which he called Roberts Mount. He built mansions for local gentry and was probably the builder of Faithlegg House in 1783.”

The website tells us of more about the history of the house:

Faithlegg stands at the head of Waterford Harbour, where the three sister rivers of the Barrow, Nore and Suir meet.  As a consequence, it has been to the fore in the history of not just Waterford but also Ireland. For it was via the harbour and these rivers that the early settlers entered and from the hill that we stand under, the Minaun, that the harbour was monitored. Here legend tells us sleeps the giant Cainche Corcardhearg son of Fionn of the Fianna who was stationed here to keep a watch over Leinster.

A Norman named Strongbow landed in the harbour in 1170 and this was followed by the arrival of Henry II in October 1171.  Legend has it that Henry’s fleet numbered 600 ships and one of the merchants who donated to the flotilla was a Bristol merchant named Aylward.  He was handsomely rewarded with the granting of 7000 acres of land centred in Faithlegg. The family lived originally in a Motte and Baily enclosure the remains of which is still to be seen.  This was followed by Faithlegg Castle and the 13th century church in the grounds of the present Faithlegg church dates from their era too. The family ruled the area for 500 years until they were dispossessed in 1649 by the armies of Oliver Cromwell. The property was subsequently granted to a Cromwellian solider, Captain William Bolton. 

Over a century later in 1783 the present house was commenced by Cornelius Bolton who had inherited the Faithlegg Estate from his father in 1779. Cornelius was an MP, a progressive landlord and businessman. Luck was not on his side however and financial difficulties followed. In 1819 the Bolton family sold the house and lands to Nicholas and Margaret Mahon Power, who had married the year before. It was said that Margaret’s dowry enabled the purchase. The Powers adorned the estate with the stag’s head and cross, which was the Power family crest. It remains the emblem of Faithlegg to this day.”

Margaret, the website tells us, was the only daughter and heiress of Nicholas Mahon of Dublin. She married Nicholas Power in 1818 and the couple came to live in Faithlegg.  It was not a happy marriage and, following a legal separation in 1860, she returned to live in Dublin where she died in 1866.  

The House passed to Hubert Power, the only son of Pat & Lady Olivia Power, and in 1920 upon Hubert’s death, it passed to his daughter Eily Power, in 1935 Eily and her husband sold the House to the De la Salle order of teaching brothers after which it acted as a junior novitiate until 1986. 

The last remaining gap in history is from 1980’s until 1998 when it was taken over by FBD Property and Leisure Group.

6. Fort William, County Waterford, holiday cottages

Fort William, County Waterford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

www.fortwilliamfishing.ie

Mark Bence-Jones tells us of Fort William (1988):

p. 126.  “Gumbleton, sub Maxwell-Gumbleton/LG1952; Grosvenor, Westminster, B/PB) A two storey house of sandstone ashlar with a few slight Tudor-Revival touches, built 1836 for J. B. [John Bowen] Gumbleton to the design of James & George Richard Pain. Three bay front with three small gables and a slender turret-pinnacle at either side; doorway recessed in segmental-pointed arch Georgian glazed rectangular sash windows with hood mouldings. Tudor chimneys. Other front of seven bays; plain three bay side elevation. Large hall, drawing room with very fine Louis XI boiseries, introduced by 2nd Duke of Westminster, Fort William was his Irish home from ca 1946 to his death in 1953. Afterwards the house of Mr and Mrs Henry Drummond-Wolff, then Mr and Mrs Murray Mitchell.” 

Fort William, County Waterford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The Historic Houses of Ireland gives us more detail about the house, including explaining its name:

In the early eighteenth century the Gumbleton family, originally from Kent, purchased an estate beside the River Blackwater in County Waterford, a few miles upstream from Lismore. The younger son, William Conner Gumbleton, inherited a portion of the estate and built a house named Fort William, following the example of his cousin, Robert Conner, who had called his house in West Cork Fort Robert. The estate passed to his nephew, John Bowen Gumbleton, who commissioned a new house by James and George Richard Pain, former apprentices of John Nash with a thriving architectural practice in Cork. 

Built in 1836, in a restrained Tudor Revival style, the new house is a regular building of two stories in local sandstone with an abundance of gables, pinnacles and tall Elizabethan chimneys. The interior is largely late-Georgian and Fortwilliam is essentially a classical Georgian house with a profusion of mildly Gothic details. 

Gumbleton’s son died at sea and his daughter Frances eventually leased the house to Colonel Richard Keane, brother of Sir John from nearby Cappoquin House. The Colonel was much annoyed when his car, reputedly fitted with a well-stocked cocktail cabinet, was commandeered by the IRA so he permitted Free State troops to occupy the servants’ wing at Fortwilliam during the Civil War, which may have influenced the Republican’s decision to burn his brother’s house in 1923. 

When Colonel Keane died in a shooting accident, the estate reverted to Frances Gumbleton’s nephew, John Currey, and was sold to a Mr Dunne, who continued the tradition of letting the house. His most notable tenant was Adele Astaire, sister of the famous dancer and film star Fred Astaire, who became the wife of Lord Charles Cavendish from nearby Lismore Castle. 

In 1944 the Gumbleton family repurchased Fortwilliam but resold for £10,000 after just two years. The new owner was Hugh Grosvenor, second Duke of Westminster and one of the world’s wealthiest men. His nickname ‘Bend or’ was a corruption of the heraldic term Azure, a bend or, arms the Court of Chivalry had forced his ancestor to surrender to Lord Scroope in 1389 and still a source of irritation after six hundred years. Already thrice divorced, the duke’s name had been linked to a number of fashionable ladies, including the celebrated Parisian couturier Coco Chanel. 

Fortwilliam is in good hunting country with some fine beats on a major salmon river, which allowed the elderly duke to claim he had purchased an Irish sporting base. Its real purpose, however, was to facilitate his pursuit of Miss Nancy Sullivan, daughter of a retired general from Glanmire, near Cork, who soon became his fourth duchess. 

They made extensive alterations at Fortwilliam, installing the fine gilded Louis XV boiseries in the drawing room, removed from the ducal seat at Eaton Hall, in Cheshire, and fitting out the dining room with panelling from one of his sumptuous yachts. He died in 1953 but his widow survived for a further fifty years, outliving three of her husband’s successors at Eaton Lodge in Cheshire. Anne, Duchess of Westminster was renowned as one of the foremost National Hunt owners of the day. Her bay gelding, Arkle, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on three successive occasions and is among the most famous steeplechasers of all time. 

Fortwilliam was briefly owned by the Drummond-Wolfe family before passing to an American, Mr. Murray Mitchell. On his widow’s death it was purchased by Ian Agnew and his wife Sara, who undertook a sensitive restoration before he too died in 2009. In 2013 the estate was purchased by David Evans-Bevan who lives at Fortwilliam today with his family, farming and running the salmon fishery.

7. Gaultier Lodge, Woodstown, Co Waterford €€

http://www.gaultierlodge.com 

The website tells us that

Gaultier Lodge is an 18th Century Georgian Country House designed by John Roberts, which overlooks the beach at Woodstown on the south east coast of Co. Waterford in Ireland. Enjoy high quality bed and breakfast guest accommodation next to the beach and Waterford Bay. Relax and unwind in the tastefully decorated rooms and warm inviting bedrooms. Enjoy an Irish breakfast each morning.”

8. Richmond House, Cappoquin, Co Waterford – guest house 

https://www.richmondcountryhouse.ie

The Earl of Cork built Richmond House in 1704. Refurbished and restored each of the 9 bedrooms feature period furniture and warm, spacious comfort. All rooms are ensuite and feature views of the extensive grounds and complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access is available throughout the house. An award winning 18th century Georgian country house, Richmond House is situated in stunning mature parkland surrounded by magnificent mountains and rivers.

Richmond House facilities include a fully licensed restaurant with local and French cuisine. French is also spoken at Richmond House. Each bedroom offers central heating, direct dial telephone, television, trouser press, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, tea-and coffee-making facilities and a Richmond House breakfast.”

9. Salterbridge Gate Lodge, County Waterford

https://www.irishlandmark.com/property/salterbridge-gatelodge/

See my write-up about Salterbridge, previously on the Section 482 list but no longer:

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/16/salterbridge-house-and-garden-cappoquin-county-waterford/

and www.salterbridgehouseandgarden.com

10. Waterford Castle, The Island, Co Waterford €€

https://www.waterfordcastleresort.com

Waterford Castle Hotel, photo by Shane O’Neill 2010 for Tourism Ireland. (see [3])

The Archiseek website tells us that Waterford Castle is: “A small Norman keep that was extended and “restored” in the late 19th century. An initial restoration took place in 1849, but it was English architect W.H. Romaine-Walker who extended it and was responsible for its current appearance today. The original keep is central to the composition with two wings added, and the keep redesigned to complete the composition.

The National Inventory adds: “Detached nine-bay two- and three-storey over basement Gothic-style house, built 1895, on a quasi H-shaped plan incorporating fabric of earlier house, pre-1845, comprising three-bay two-storey entrance tower incorporating fabric of medieval castle, pre-1645…A substantial house of solid, muscular massing, built for Gerald Purcell-Fitzgerald (n. d.) to designs prepared by Romayne Walker (n. d.) (supervised by Albert Murrary (1849 – 1924)), incorporating at least two earlier phases of building, including a medieval castle. The construction in unrefined rubble stone produces an attractive, textured visual effect, which is mirrored in the skyline by the Irish battlements to the roof. Fine cut-stone quoins and window frames are indicative of high quality stone masonry. Successfully converted to an alternative use without adversely affecting the original character of the composition, the house retains its original form and massing together with important salient features and materials, both to the exterior and to the interior, including fine timber joinery and plasterwork to the primary reception rooms.”

Waterford Castle Hotel and Golf Resort 2021 County Waterford, from Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Photograph Courtesy of Waterford Castle Hotel and Golf Resort, 2021, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [3])
Waterford Castle Hotel, photo by Shane O’Neill 2016 for Tourism Ireland. (see [3])

Whole House Rental County Waterford

1. Glenbeg House, Jacobean manor home, Glencairn, County Waterford P51 H5W0 €€€ for two, € for 7-16 – whole house rental http://www.glenbeghouse.com

The website tells us: “Tranquil historic estate accommodating guests in luxury. Glenbeg, a historic castle which has been sensitively restored, preserving its historic past, whilst catering to the needs and comforts of modern living.

Glenbeg Estate is the maternal home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who visited during his life time and wrote some of his early work while visiting with his family here. You and your party will have exclusive use of the property during your stay.

2. Lismore Castle, whole house rental

www.lismorecastlegardens.com

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22903712/ballynatray-house-ballynatray-demesne-co-waterford

[2] 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.

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

[4] https://archiseek.com/2009/1746-bishops-palace-waterford/

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22903010/cappagh-house-cappagh-d-wt-by-co-waterford

[6] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22903010/cappagh-house-cappagh-d-wt-by-waterford

[7] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/22829002/presentation-convent-slievekeale-road-waterford-city-waterford-co-waterford

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 has an interesting ghostly display of servants.

Bence-Jones tells of the house’s occupants; “Soon after the house was finished, Lord Bellfield’s beautiful wife [Mary Molesworth, daughter of Richard, 3rd Viscount Molesworth of Swords, Dublin] confessed to him that she had committed adultery with his brother; whereupon he incarcerated her at Gaulston, where she remained, forbidden to see anyone but servants, until his death nearly thirty years later; while he lived a bachelor’s life of great elegance and luxury at Belvedere. Another of his brothers lived close to Belvedere at Rochfort (afterwards Tudenham Park); having quarrelled with him too, Lord Belvedere, as he had now become, built the largest Gothic sham ruin in Ireland to blot out the view of his brother’s house; it is popularly known as the Jealous Wall. In C19, the Diocletian windows in the front of the house were replaced with rectangular triple windows; and the slope from the front of the house down to the lough was elaborately terraced. Belvedere passed by inheritance to the Marlay family and then to late Lt-Col C.K. Howard-Bury, leader of the 1921 Mount Everest Expedition; who bequeathed it to Mr Rex Beaumont.” (see [3])

“The Jealous Wall,” Belvedere.

The jealous wall is rather disappointingly attached to the visitor centre of Belvedere at the entrance to the park.

Visitor centre attached to the Jealous Wall, Belvedere.
Visitor centre attached to the Jealous Wall.

Robert Rochfort managed to have children despite his antipathy toward his wife. George Rochfort (1738-1814), 2nd Earl of Belvedere inherited Belvedere and other estates when his father died in 1774. He also inherited debts, and sold Gaulston House, the house where his mother had been imprisoned by his father. Unfortunately Gaulston House was destroyed by fire in 1920. George Rochfort built an extension onto the rear of Belvedere but spent most of his time in his townhouse, Belvedere House in Great Denmark Street, Dublin.

The 2nd Earl of Belvedere had no children. His wife inherited his Dublin property but his sister Jane inherited Belvedere. Jane married Brinsley Butler, 2nd Earl of Lanesborough. She inherited Belvedere when she was 77 years old! She had married a second time and the income from the estate allowed herself and her second husband to live in fine style in Florence. The male line of the Earls of Lanesborough died out after two more generations. Jane’s son Robert Henry Butler (1759-1806) 3rd Earl of Lanesborough married Elizabeth La Touche, daughter of David La Touche and Elizabeth Marlay, whom we came across when we visited Harristown, County Kildare (see my entry) and Marlay Park in Rathfarnham, Dublin. The estate passed down to their son, Brinsley Butler, 4th Earl of Lanesborough. The estate then passed through the female line. The 3rd Earl’s sister Catherine married George Marlay (1748-1829), the brother of Elizabeth who married David La Touche.

Catherine and George Marlay had a son, George, who married Catherine Tisdall, and the estate passed to his son, Charles Brinsley Marlay (1831-1912). He was only sixteen when he inherited Belvedere from his cousin the Earl of Lanesborough. It was Charles Brisley Marlay who built the terraces leading down to the lake, in the late 1880s. The twelve stone lions were added later. He spent many hours planning the 60 metre long rockery to the side of the terraces, and also built the walled garden. He was known as “the Darling Landlord” due to his kindness to tenants, and for bringing happiness and wealth back to Belvedere. He was cultured and amassed an important art collection, as well as improving the estate.

Charles Brisley Marlay built the terraces leading down to the lake, in the late 1880s. The twelve stone lions were added later. The terraces are said to have been inspired by the terraces at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, the home of his sister.
Charles Brisley Marlay built the terraces leading down to the lake, in the late 1880s. The twelve stone lions were added later.

The inheritance of Belvedere continues to be even more complicated. It passed via Catherine Tisdall’s family. Her mother Catherine Dawson had married twice. Catherine’s second husband was Charles William Bury (1764-1835), the 1st Earl of Charleville. We came across him earlier, as an owner of Charleville Forest, in Tullamore, County Offaly. Belvedere passed to his descendent, Lt. Col Charles Howard-Bury (1883-1963). The 3rd Earl of Charleville, Charles William George Bury (1822-1859) had several children but the house passed to the fourth child as all others had died before Charles Brinsley Marley died. It was therefore the son of Emily Alfreda Julia Bury (1856-1931) who inherited Belvedere. She married Kenneth Howard, who added Bury to his surname. Their son was Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury.

Charles Howard-Bury brought a bear back from Kazakhstan!

Charles Howard-Bury left Belvedere to his friend, Rex Beaumont. Eventally financial difficulties caused Mr Beaumont to sell the property, and it was acquired by Westmeath County Council. Two years previously, in 1980, Mr Beaumont sold the contents of the house – I wonder where those things ended up?

The estate is a wonderful amenity for County Westmeath, with large parklands to explore with several follies, as well as the walled garden.

Belvedere garden folly, Courtesy of Westmeath County Council (www.visitwestmeath.ie), photograph by Clare Keogh,2019.
The Octagonal Gazebo, Belvedere. It was once panelled with wood on the walls, floor and ceiling adn was used for summer picnics, where guests would be waited on by servants.
Lough Ennell.

3. Lough Park House, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath – section 482

contact: Liam O’Flanagan
Tel: 044-9661226
Open: Mar 16-22, Apr 15-18, May 1-4, June 1-7, July 14-24, Aug 1-7, 13-22, Sept 1- 7, Oct 28-31, 2pm-6pm

Fee: adult €4

4. St. John’s Church, Loughstown, Drumcree, Collinstown, Co. Westmeath – section 482

contact: Billy Standish
Tel: 044-9666570
Open: Aug 1-31, Sept 1-30, 2pm-6pm
Fee: adult €4, child/OAP/student €2

5. Tullynally Castle & Gardens, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath – section 482

Tullynally, County Westmeath, August 2021.

https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/11/19/tullynally-castle-and-gardens-castlepollard-county-westmeath/
contact: Octavia Tullock
Tel: 044-9661856 

www.tullynallycastle.com
Open: Castle, May 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28, June 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 30, July 1- 2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30, Aug 13-21, 25-27, Sept 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 10am-2pm Garden: Apr 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-30, May 1-2, 5-8, 12-15, 19-22, 26-29, June 2-6, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30, July 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-30, Aug 1, 4-7, 11-21, 25-28, Sept 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 29-30, 11am-5pm

Fee: adult, castle/garden €16, garden €8.50, child, castle/garden €8, garden €4 (over 10 years only admission to castle) families (2+2) garden €22

6. Turbotstown, Coole, Co. Westmeath – section 482

contact: Peter Bland
Tel: 086-2475044
Open: July 22-31, Aug 1-31, Dec 1-20, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/student €8, child/OAP €4

7. Tyrrelspass Castle, Co Westmeath – restaurant and gift shop https://www.facebook.com/tyrrellspasscastle/ 

Places to stay, County Westmeath: 

1. Annebrook House Hotel, Austin Friars Street, Mullingar, Co.Westmeath, Ireland, N91YH2F.

https://www.annebrook.ie/gallery.html

The family run Annebrook House Hotel Mullingar opened its doors February 2007.  Originally an Old Georgian residence for the local county surgeon, Dr O’Connell, the historic Annebrook House Hotel was purchased by the Dunne family in 2005. With his experience in hospitality and construction Berty Dunne set about creating a hotel as unique as the man who owns it. The Annebrook’s central location, its diverse range of accommodation from 2 bedroomed family suites to executive doubles has made it a very popular location for those coming to experience all that the midlands has to offer.

Situated in the heart of Mullingar overlooking 10 acres of parkland, the Award Winning 4 star Annebrook House Hotel presents a modern day styling coupled with 17th century heritage.  As a family run hotel the Annebrook prides itself on quality and high standards of customer service, working as part of one team to ensure all guests of their best and personal attention at all times. Annebrook House Hotel is steeped in history and enjoys the enviable advantage of being one of the most centrally located hotels in Mullingar town. This unique venue mixes old world charm with modern comfort and has established itself as one of Westmeath’s top wedding venues and was recently voted Best Wedding Venue Ireland by Irish Wedding Diary Magazine. With accommodation ranging from executive hotel rooms, family suites, luxurious champagne suites and apartments, the Annebrook has much to offer those visiting Mullingar. Offering a range of dining options from Berty’s Bar to fine dining in the award winning Old House Restaurant.  The four star Annebrook House Hotel offers an excellent service to both its corporate & leisure guests. The hotel is accessible by car just 50 mins from Dublin and is only 10 minutes from the local Train Station.

2. Lough Bawn House, Colllinstown, Co Westmeath – B&B accommodation €€

http://loughbawnhouse.com

A classic Georgian house in a unique setting. Lough Bawn house sits high above Lough Bane with amazing sweeping views. Nestled in a 50 acre parkland at the end of a long drive, Lough Bawn House is a haven of peace and tranquillity.

The house and estate has been in the same family since it was built in 1820 by George Battesby, the current occupier, Verity’s, Great Great Great Grandfather. The house is being lovingly restored by Verity, having returned from England to live in the family home. Verity ran her own catering and events company in Gloucestershire for over 20 years. Her passion for cooking & entertaining shines through. Guests enjoy an extensive and varied breakfast with much of the ingredients being grown or reared by Verity herself, and delicious dinners are on offer. Breakfast is eaten in the large newly restored dining room, with wonderful views over the lough and of the parading peacocks on the rolling lawns.

Both of the large, en-suite rooms have fine views down the length of Lough Bane and over the wooded hills while the single room and the twin/double room have sweeping views of the surrounding parklands. Guests are warmly welcomed and encouraged to relax in the homely drawing room in front of a roaring fire or to explore one of the many local historical sites, gardens, walks or cultural entertainments on offer.

Several areas of the estate have been classified as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC‘s) due to the incredibly varied and rare flora. Wild flowers can be found in abundance and a charming fern walk has been the created amongst the woodland near the house.

3. Mornington House, County Westmeath – B&B accommodation 

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

Mornington House, a historic Irish Country Manor offering luxury country house accommodation located in the heart of the Co. Westmeath countryside, just 60 miles from Ireland’s capital city of Dublin. Tranquility and warm hospitality are the essence of Mornington, home to the O’Hara’s since 1858.

Mornington House is hidden away in the midst of a charming and dramatic landscape with rolling hills, green pasture, forests with ancient, heavy timber and sparkling lakes, deep in an unexplored corner of County Westmeath. Nearby are ancient churches, castles and abbeys, and delightful small villages to explore, away from all hustle and bustle of 21st century life, yet just 60 miles from Dublin.

There has been a house at Mornington since the early 17th century but this was considerably enlarged in 1896 by Warwick’s grandparents. It is now a gracious family home with a reputation for delicious breakfasts which are prepared in the fine tradition of the Irish Country House and really set you up for the day ahead.

A special place to stay for a romantic or relaxing break Mornington House’s location in the centre of Ireland just an hour’s drive from Dublin and Dublin Airport makes it ideal for either a midweek or weekend country break. Guests can walk to the lake or wander round the grounds. Excellent golf, fishing, walking and riding can be arranged. The Hill of Uisneach, the Neolithic passage tombs at Loughcrew and Newgrange and the early Christian sites at Fore and Clonmacnoise are all within easy reach, as are the gardens at Belvedere, Tullynally and Loughcrew.

Whole House accommodation, County Westmeath:

1. Bishopstown House, Rosemount, Westmeath – whole house rental https://www.bishopstownhouse.ie

The website tells us of the history:

Bishopstown House is a three-storey Georgian house built in the early 1800s by the Casey family. After he passed away, the original owner, Mr. J Casey left Bishopstown to his two daughters, who then sold the house to Mr Richard Cleary in 1895.

Mr Richard Cleary, formally from the famed lakeside Cleaboy Stud near Mullingar, planned and erected Bishopstown House and Stud. In his younger days he rode horses at Kilbeggan, Ballinarobe, Claremorris and other Irish meetings with varying degrees of success, but as a trainer he knew no bounds. In his later years he devoted his time to breeding and training, and in time he became one of Ireland’s most famous trainers, breeding some excellent horses, including the winner of the 1916 Irish Grand National, Mr James Kiernan’s All Sorts!

Other famous horses from the Bishopstown stud include Shaun Spada and Serent Murphy who both won the Aintree Grand National in England. Another horse called Dunadry won the Lancashire Steeple Chase. Other stallion winners include Sylvio III, Lustrea and Irish Battle who frequently had their names in the limelight throughout Irish and English racecourses.

After being left fall into a dilapidated state, the stud farm and house was purchased by Paddy and Claire Dunning, the owners of the award-winning Grouse Lodge Recording Studios and Coolatore House and members of the Georgian society. It was restored to its former glory in 2009 and is now available for rent.

2.  Middleton Park, Mullingar, County Westmeath – available to rent http://mph.ie

Middleton Park House featured in The Great House Revival on RTE, with presenter (and architect) Hugh Wallace. The website tells us:

Carolyn and Michael McDonnell, together with Carolyn’s brother Henry, joined together to purchase this expansive property in Castletown Geoghegan. Built during the famine, the property was last in use as a hotel but it had deteriorated at a surprisingly fast rate over its three unoccupied years.

Designed by renowned architect George Papworth, featuring a Turner-designed conservatory, Middleton Park House stands at a palatial 35,000sq. ft. and is steeped in history. Its sheer scale makes it an ambitious restoration.

The trio’s aim is to create a family home, first and foremost, which can host Henry’s children at the weekends and extended family all year-round. Due to its recent commercial use, the three will need to figure out how to change industrial-style aspects to make it a welcoming home that is economical to run.

Henry will be putting his skills as a contractor and a qualified chippy to use, and Michael will be wearing his qualified engineer’s hat to figure out an effective heating system. Carolyn will be using her love of interiors to work out the aesthetic of the house, and how to furnish a property the size of 35 semi-detached houses in Dublin.

The trio have now made the house available for accommodation and as a wedding venue.

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/14911023/ballybrittan-house-ballybrittan-co-offaly

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

[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] p. 136. O’Reilly, Sean. Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of Country Life. Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1998. 

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/14942001/corolanty-house-curralanty-offaly

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

[7] https://offalyhistoryblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/31/sun-too-slow-sun-too-fast-ethel-and-enid-homan-mulock-of-ballycumber-house-by-lisa-shortall/

[8] https://archiseek.com/2009/athlone-castle-co-westmeath/

Office of Public Works Properties Dublin

I have noticed that an inordinate amount of OPW sites are closed ever since Covid restrictions, if not even before that (as in Emo, which seems to be perpetually closed) [these sites are marked in orange here]. I must write to our Minister for Culture and Heritage to complain.

Dublin:

1. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin

2. Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin

3. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin – closed at present

4. The Casino at Marino, Dublin – closed at present

5. Customs House, Dublin

6. Dublin Castle

7. Farmleigh House, Dublin

8. Garden of Remembrance, Dublin

9. Government Buildings Dublin

10. Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin

11. Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Dublin

12. Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

13. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin

14. National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

15. Phoenix Park, Dublin

16. Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin

17. Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin – historic rooms closed

18. St. Audoen’s, Dublin

19. St. Enda’s Park and Pearse Museum, Dublin

20. St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin

1. Aras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8:

July 2012, The Aras. The portico with giant Ionic columns was added in 1815 by Francis Johnston.

general enquiries: (01) 677 0095

phoenixparkvisitorcentre@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Áras an Uachtaráin started life as a modest brick house, built in 1751 for the Phoenix Park chief ranger. It was later an occasional residence for the lords lieutenant. During that period it evolved into a sizeable and elegant mansion.

It has been claimed that Irish architect James Hoban used the garden front portico as the model for the façade of the White House.

After independence, the governors general occupied the building. The first president of the Republic of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, took up residence here in 1938. It has been home to every president since then.” [1]

Photograph from the National Library, from when the building was the Vice Regal Lodge.

The park chief ranger was Nathaniel Clements(1705-1777), who was also an architect, and it was he who built the original house. Phoenix Park was originally formed as a royal hunting Park in the 1660s, created by James Butler the Duke of Ormond. A large herd of fallow deer still remain to this day. Since it was a deer park it needed a park ranger. Clements was also an MP in the Irish Parliament. He accumulated much property including Abbotstown in Dublin, and estates in Leitrim and Cavan. In Dublin, he developed property including part of Henrietta Street, where he lived in number 7 from 1734 to 1757. Another house he designed, which is sometimes on the Section 482 list, is Beauparc in County Meath, and another Section 482 property, Lodge Park in County Kildare. I hope to visit both this year! Desmond Fitzgerald also attributed Colganstown to him, though this is not certain, a house we visited in 2019. [2]

The administration of the British Lord Lieutenant bought the house from Nathaniel Clements’ son Robert 1st Earl of Leitrim, and it was used as his summer residence in the 1780s, and later became the Viceregal Lodge. See my footnotes for some portraits of Vicereines and Viceroys who may have lived in the Aras.

The East Wing was added in 1849 for a visit of Queen Victoria. George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon would have been Viceroy at that time (1800-1870). The Queen planted a Wellingtonia Gigantea tree which is still standing (others have planted trees also, including Queen Alexandria and Barak Obama, Charles de Gaulle, John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II and King Juan Carlos of Spain).

By Queen Victoria’s Wellingtonia Gigantea in July 2012.

The office of Lord Lieutenant was abolished in 1922 when the Irish Free State came into being. From 1922 until 1932 it was the residence of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State. In 1937 when the office of President of Ireland was established, the house became the house of the president.

Aras an Uachtarain, July 2012.
Photograph from the National Library of Ireland. This is the garden side of the house. The double height pedimented portico of four gian Ionic columns was added in 1815 by architect Francis Johnston.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us that after being bought by the government, the house was altered and enlarged at various times, notably by Michael Stapleton – who was an architect as well as noted stuccadore – Robert Woodgate and Francis Johnston. An extra storey was added to the wings and in 1815 Johnston extended the garden front by 5 bays projecting forwards, and in the centre of this front he added the pedimented portico of four giant Ionic columns which is the house’s most familiar feature. The Entrance Hall dates from 1751 and features a magnificent barrel-vaulted ceiling with plaster busts in the ceiling coffers. The State Reception Room (formerly the ballroom) features a plaster cast of a Lafranchini panel in the ceiling. The Francini Corridor leads from the Entrance Hall past the State Reception Room. One side of the corridor is lined with bronze busts of Irish Presidents mounted on marble columns and the other side features stucco panels showing classical figures. A new part of the West Wing was added for the visit of George V in 1911. The formal gardens were established by Decimus Burton in the 1840s.  

The Francini Corridor leads from the Entrance Hall past the State Reception Room. One side of the corridor is lined with bronze busts of Irish Presidents mounted on marble columns and the other side features stucco panels showing classical figures.

We attended a few of President Higgins’s summer parties at the Aras. These are open to the public, by booking tickets.

A covered ceiling with original mid-C18 plasterwork of Aesop’s fable theme. This beautiful plasterwork is by Bartholomew Cramillion. Another ceiling by him was taken from a house which was demolished, Mespil House in Dublin, and is now in what is called the President’s Study, and depicts Jupiter presiding over the elements and the four season and dates from the late 1750s.

During the incumbency of President Sean T. O’Kelly, a wonderful mid-C18 plasterwork ceiling representing Jupiter and the Four Elements, with figures half covered in clouds, was brought from Mespil House, Dublin, which was then being demolished, and installed in the President’s Reception Room, one of the two smaller rooms in the garden front of the original house. The Mespil House ceiling was brought here at the instigation of Dr. C.P. Curran, who was also instrumental in having casts made of the plasterwork by the Francini at Riverstown House, Co. Cork, which then seemed in danger; and which have been installed in the ballroom and in the adjoining corridor. 

One of the State Rooms in the Aras, 1984, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [3]
The Drawing Room.
Maude Gonne, by Sarah Purser.
Dining room at the Aras, July 2013.
The walled gardens at the Aras.
The Peach House glasshouse was designed by Richard Turner, constructed between 1836-37. Turner also designed the large palm houses in the Botanic Gardens in Dubln, Belfast and London. The one at the Aras underwent restoration between 2007-2009.
The gardens of the Aras, at 2012 garden party. The main parterre forms a pair of ringed Celtic crosses, as laid out by Decimus Burton in conjunction with Maria Phipps nee Liddell, Lady Normanby, wife of the Viceroy in 1838. Decimus Burton also designed many gardens in London including St. James’s Park, Hyde Park Corner and Regent’s Park. He was also an architect.
Maria Phipps nee Liddell, Marchioness of Normanby (1798-1882) by Sir George Hayter, Vicereine 1835-39, who laid out the gardens along with Decimus Burton. She persuaded Queen Victoria to support Irish weavers and grant them lucrative royal warrants. George Hayter was Queen Victoria’s favourite painter.
This lovely building is to one side of the main house at the Aras, I’m not sure what it is but it’s very picturesque.

2. Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin 7:

General enquiries: (01) 821 3021, superintendent.park@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

The military cemetery at Arbour Hill is the last resting place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising. It is therefore a place of pilgrimage for students and aficionados of this tempestuous moment in Irish history.

There is an adjoining church, the chapel for Arbour Hill Prison. At the rear of the church lies the old cemetery, containing fascinating memorials to British military personnel.

The clear focus of Arbour Hill, however, is the legend of the rising. Among those buried here are Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Major John MacBride. Their bodies were put into an unmarked pit and covered with quicklime, but their grave has now been saved from obscurity with an impressive memorial inscribed in English and Irish.

Arbour Hill Cemetery is at the rear of the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, where you can currently find a large display of 1916-related material.

3. Ashtown Castle, Phoenix Park, Dublin:

Ashtown Castle is in the Phoenix Park. From the OPW website:

Ashtown Castle is a tower house that probably dates from the seventeenth century, but may be as early as the fifteenth.

For years it was completely hidden within the walls of a Georgian mansion once occupied by the under-secretary for Ireland. When that house was demolished in the late 1980s, the castle was rediscovered. It has since been fully restored and now welcomes visitors.”

The National Inventory tells us:

The castle was dated to the early seventeenth century on the basis of surviving fragments of a roof truss found in the wall during the restoration project in the early 1990s. There is in the stonework some suggestion of a further wing to the north, but no archaeological evidence was found, leaving this section unresolved. The builder is unknown, but in 1641 the estate was in the ownership of John Connell, a distant ancestor of Daniel O’Connell. Curiously the Civil Survey, 1654, lists him as a Protestant. Stone from a quarry at Pelletstown owned by Connell was used in the building of the original wall of the Park. The castle and its lands were purchased for the crown by the Duke of Ormonde in 1663 and it became the official residence of the second Keeper of the Park, Sir William Flower, who assigned it to a subordinate. The building was extended to become the Under Secretary’s residence in the late eighteenth century. After Independence it served as the residence of the Papal Nuncio. The later extension was demolished in the 1980s and the site was briefly considered for an official Taoiseach’s residence, the brief requiring the restoration of the castle. Although heavily restored, it is a rare surviving example of a fortified tower house close to the capital city.

The land at Ashtown was granted to the Hospital of St. John the Baptist in the 12th century by Hugh Tyrrell, 1st Baron of Castleknock. Restoration of the castle began in 1989.

4. The Casino at Marino, Cherrymount Crescent, Malahide Road, Marino, Dublin 3

The Casino at Marino, Dublin, August 2009. It looks like it houses one large room, but it actually has sixteen rooms, arranged over three floors.

General enquiries (01) 833 1618, casinomarino@opw.ie

From the website:

“The Casino is a remarkable building, both in terms of structure and history. Sir William Chambers designed it as a pleasure-house for James Caulfeild, first earl of Charlemont, beside his residence in what was then the countryside. It is a gem of eighteenth-century neo-classical architecture. In fact, it is one of the finest buildings of that style in Europe.

The term ‘casino’ in this case means ‘little house’, and from the outside it gives an impression of compactness. However, it contains 16 rooms, each of which is finely decorated and endlessly rich in subtle and rare design. The Zodiac Room, for example, has a domed ceiling which represents the sky with astrological symbols modelled around its base.

The Casino at Marino, Dublin, August 2009. At the front of the building stand Ceres and Bacchus, and at the back are Apollo and Venus. These represented the enjoyment and abundance that was intended for the Casino. The urns on the roof (disguised chimneys) can also be seen from this angle. The lions that guard each corner are Egyptian in style.
The painting is a portrait by William Hogarth of the 1st Earl of Charlemont, James Caulfeild (1728-1799) aged 13, with his mother, Elizabeth Bernard (portrait painted in 1741).

The Casino website tells us that the plan of the Casino is in the shape of a Greek cross, and it is only fifty feet square. There are three floors containing sixteen rooms. Although small, they are entirely habitable, with service rooms in the basement, reception rooms on the main floor, and sleeping quarters on the upper floor. There is, however, no evidence of any long term occupation of the building. The exterior of the building is that of a one-room Greek temple, so the complexity of the interior was achieved by remarkable architectural design. This includes faux windows, gib doors, hollow columns, and disguised chimneys. Only half of the great front door actually swings open to admit entrance.

Very little is known about how the inside of the building originally looked. There are brief descriptions surviving in Charlemont’s own correspondence or in that of visitors, or rare mentions in sales catalogues. The exterior of the building is heavily decorated. Four statues adorn the attic storey; Bacchus, Ceres, Venus, and Apollo declare the abundance and love of good living that inspired the creation of the Casino. Around the chimney-urns curve mermaids and mermen. The ‘ceilings’ of the outside porches are densely carved to create a stucco effect. Four large Egyptian-style lions guard the corners. [4] Service tunnels underground surround the building, lit from above by grilles.

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

“… in the form of a Roman Doric temple, … built over the years 1758-76. It is one of the most exquisite miniature C18 buildings in Europe; within an exterior that appears to be sculptured rather than built are a number of little rooms, each of them perfectly proportioned and finished; with plasterwork ceilings, doorcases and inlaid floors. Sir Sacheverell Sitwell compares them to the little rooms in the Petit Trianon, and indeed the Casino shows considerable French influence, both inside and out. Among those who worked on the Casino was Simon Vierpyl, the sculptor and builder from Rome, and Joseph Wilton, the sculptor. The house [Marino] has long been demolished, but the Casino is maintained as a National Monument and has been restored by Mr Austin Dunphy of O’Neill Flanagan and Partners, in conjunction with the Office of Public Works.” [5]

The Casino at Marino, Dublin, August 2009.

The website of the Casino educates us about the family who owned the Casino. James Caulfeild succeeded to the titles 8th Lord Caulfeild, Baron of Charlemont and 4th Viscount Charlemont on the death of his father in 1734. It was not until 1763 that he was created 1st Earl of Charlemont, as recognition for keeping the peace in the Armagh/ Tyrone area. He was well-known for his love of the arts, and spent a record nine years on Grand Tour through Europe, Turkey, and Egypt. With the help of his stepfather, Thomas Adderley, he established himself at Marino on his return to Ireland in 1755. Here he began the improvements to his Marino estate, one of which was the celebrated Casino.

He was a leader in many different areas of eighteenth-century Irish society. Instrumental in setting up the Royal Irish Academy, he was also its first President. He was a member of the Royal Dublin Society, and a supporter of Grattan’s parliament. He was also a founding member of the Irish Volunteers (formed to protect Ireland from invasion while British troops served in the American Revolutionary War). His contribution to Irish culture was significant and lasting. [6]

The website tells us that while James was on his Grand Tour in Rome, he had become acquainted with those he would eventually hire to create his estate at Marino. This included William Chambers, Simon Vierpyl, Johann Heinrich Müntz, and Giovanni Battista Cipriani. Charlemont’s heavy involvement in the composition of the buildings at Marino, as well as his house in Rutland Square, is clear from the correspondence that has survived. In many ways, what he created at Marino was a living testament to the different cultures and styles he had experienced while travelling, and his buildings there were fitting exhibition spaces to the huge number of souvenirs and collectable items he brought home.

The Casino at Marino, Dublin, August 2009.

The website also tells us more about William Chambers:

Born in Sweden to a Scottish father in 1723, he spent the first few years of his working life travelling to and from China as an agent of the Swedish East India Company. At the age of twenty-six, he began training as an architect in Paris, later living in Rome, where he was a member of Charlemont’s circle. He moved to London to establish his practice in the same year that Charlemont returned to Dublin (1755). He achieved great success in England, with much employment from King George III and his mother, the Dowager Princess Augusta. His Treatise on Civil Architecture, published in 1759, was a huge influence on Palladian neoclassicism in Britain. The Casino appeared in this Treatise as a plate illustration (image below). Chambers would go on to count James Gandon as one of his students.

As well as the Casino at Marino, Chambers completed designs for Charlemont House and Trinity College, and for modifications to Rathfarnham Castle, Castletown House, and Leinster House, among others. He never, however, visited Ireland in person. His projects with Charlemont were discussed at great length, over two decades, in numerous letters; many of these can be read today in the Royal Irish Academy. One of his original drawings for the Casino is on display in the building.”

photograph of the Casino taken 1951, Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

It was London-born Simon Vierpyl who oversaw the building work. The website tells us:

He was an accomplished sculptor and builder, who was living in Rome at the same time as Charlemont and Chambers. Impressed with his work on a commission of terracotta copies of statues and busts (now in the Royal Irish Academy), Charlemont invited him to come to Ireland. Vierpyl arrived in 1756, and supervised work on the Casino, something he was complimented for in Chambers’ Treatise. He stayed in Ireland for the rest of his life, working as a builder or developer on many central Dublin sites. He married twice, and died in Athy, Co. Kildare in 1810 at the age of around eighty-five.”

The website also tells us about Giovanni Battista Cipriani, an Italian painter:

“He was another member of Charlemont’s circle in the early 1750s in Rome; in 1755, he also left the city, and travelled in England in the company of Joseph Wilton. Wilton was a sculptor whose work is represented at the Casino in the four lions which guard it. Cipriani’s contribution was the design of the four attic statues, and the dragon gates that formed the entrance to the estate. Copies of his original sketches for the four statues, as well as a revised sketch of Venus, can be seen on display in the State Bedroom today. The gods represented (Ceres, Bacchus, Venus, and Apollo) were chosen by Charlemont and Chambers, designed by Cipriani, and then sculpted by either Wilton or Vierpyl on site.”

In 1876, The 2nd Lady Charlemont (Anne Bermingham) died, after which the 3rd Earl [James Molyneux Caulfeild, son of Henry Caulfeild, and therefore grandson to the 1st Earl. He inherited the title from his uncle, Francis] sold the estate lands [James lived at Roxborough Castle in Northern Ireland]. It was bought on behalf of Cardinal Cullen, who kept thirty acres for an orphanage (the O’Brien Institute), and gave the remaining land (over 300 acres) to the Christian Brothers.

5. Custom House, Dublin:

Custom House, Dublin, by James Gandon, 1781-91. Photograph by Chris Hill, 2014, for Tourism Ireland. Ireland’s Content Pool. [7]

General enquiries: 086 606 2729, customhousevc@opw.ie

From the website:

“This architectural icon stands on the Liffey quays, which were once Ireland’s major trade route to the wider world. The architect James Gandon completed the building, a masterpiece of European neoclassicism, in 1791. Admire the decorative detail of Edward Smyth’s beautifully executed stonework carvings on the exterior and the famous carved keystones depicting the terrible heads of the river gods. There are 14 of these – one for every major river of Ireland.

The Custom House witnessed not only the development of a great city, but also some of the most turbulent milestones in its history. The building was destroyed by burning in 1921 and later restored to its former splendour.

The stories of the building, burning and restoration of Dublin’s Custom House are now brought to life in a new and fascinating exhibition, revealing a rich, many-layered story that spans over 200 years.

Customs House, Dublin, February 2015.

A previous Custom House was located further up the river at Essex Quay, built in 1707. By 1780 it was judged to be unsafe and a new building was required. The Right Honourable John Beresford (1738-1805) determined position for the new Custom House (against much objection as its position affected property prices – raising prices in the area and lowering the value of properties nearer the previous Custom House). Beresford sought to move the city centre eastwards from the Capel Street-Parliament Street axis towards College Green. The new Custom House was built on land reclaimed from the estuary of the Liffey.

On the main pediment, Hibernia is seen embracing Britannia while Neptune drives away famine and despair. Above the pediment stand four figures symbolising Neptune, Mercury, Industry and Plenty. At the top of the dome stands a figure of Commerce. [8]
At the roof line is the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Ireland, with a lion and a unicorn either side of an Irish harp.

James Gandon was an English-born architect who settled in Dublin in 1781 and was responsible for three major public buildings there – the Custom House, the Four Courts, and the King’s Inns – as well as for Carlisle Bridge and for extensions to the Parliament House. He also designed Emo in County Laois for John Dawson, 1st Earl of Portarlington (formerly 2nd Viscount Carlow). He was apprenticed to William Chambers, who designed on the Casino at Marino.

The Custom House has four different but consistent facades, linked by corner pavilions. The south facade is of Portland stone, the others of mountain granite. The exterior is adorned with sculptures by Thomas Banks, Agnostino Carlini and Edward Smyth. Smyth carved the series of sculpted keystones symbolising the rivers of Ireland: the Bann, Barrow, Blackwater, Boyne, Erne, Foyle, Lagan, Lee, Liffey, Nore, Shannon, Slaney and Suir. On the north face are personifications of the four continents of world trade: Africa, America, Asia and Europe. [9]

Custom House, photograph taken 1943, Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Custom House 1982 photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3] Smyth carved the series of sculpted keystones symbolising the rivers of Ireland: the Bann, Barrow, Blackwater, Boyne, Erne, Foyle, Lagan, Lee, Liffey, Nore, Shannon, Slaney and Suir.
Custom House 1982 photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

During the Irish Civil War, the buildings was engulfed in flames and the interior destroyed. The dome was rebuilt with Ardbraccan limestone instead of Portland stone.

Custom House photograph taken 1971, Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

6. Dublin Castle, Dame Street, Dublin:

Dublin castle, photograph taken 1951, from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3] This is the Bedford Hall and the design has been attributed to Arthur Jones Nevill (d. 1771), who was Surveyor General at the time. He also designed the entrance front of the Battleaxe Hall building with its colonnade of Doric columns. The Bedford Hall was completed by his successor Thomas Eyre (d. 1772). [10]
Dublin Castle, 2020.

General Enquiries: 01 645 8813, dublincastle@opw.ie

From the website:

Just a short walk from Trinity College, on the way to Christchurch, Dublin Castle is well situated for visiting on foot. The history of this city-centre site stretches back to the Viking Age and the castle itself was built in the thirteenth century.

The building served as a military fortress, a prison, a treasury and courts of law. For 700 years, from 1204 until independence, it was the seat of English (and then British) rule in Ireland.

Rebuilt as the castle we now know in the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Dublin Castle is now a government complex and an arena of state ceremony.

The state apartments, undercroft, chapel royal, heritage centre and restaurant are now open to visitors.

Dublin castle by Robert French Lawrence Photographic Collection National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.
Dublin Castle, 2020.

What is called “Dublin Castle” is a jumble of buildings from different periods and of different styles. The castle was founded in 1204 by order of King John who wanted a fortress constructed for the administration of the city. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the castle contained law courts, meeting of Parliament, the residence of the Viceroy and a council chamber, as well as a chapel.

The oldest parts remaining are the medieval Record Tower from the thirteenth century and the tenth century stone bank visible in the Castle’s underground excavation.

The first Lord Deputy (also called Lord Lieutenant or Viceroy) to make his residence here was Sir Henry Sidney (1529-1586) in 1565. He was brought up at the Royal Court as a companion to Prince Edward, afterwards King Edward VI. He served under both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I. He spent much of his time in Ireland expanding English administration over Ireland, which had reduced before his time to the Pale and a few outlying areas.

Dublin Castle Upper Yard, 2020.
Dublin Castle, September 2021. The statue of Justice by John Van Nost (1721). On the other gate is the figure of Fortitude.
NLI Ref.: L_ROY_06809, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

In 1684 a fire in the Viceregal quarters destroyed part of the building. The Viceroy at the time would have been James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond. He moved temporarily to the new building of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. New designs by the Surveyor General Sir William Robinson were constructed by October 1688, who also designed the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. He designed the State Apartments, originally to be living accommodation for the Lord Lieutenant (later known as the Viceroy), the representative for the British monarch in Ireland. [11] Balls and other events were held for fashionable society in the Castle. The State Apartments are now used for State occasions such as the Inauguration of the President. The Castle was formally handed over to General Michael Collins on 16th January 1922, and the Centenary of this event was commemorated in January 2022.

James Butler 1st Duke of Ormond, Viceroy from 1643, on and off until he died in 1688.
Frances Jennings, Vicereine of Ireland 1687-89, Duchess of Tyrconnell. She and her husband would have been Vicereine and Viceroy while the new State Apartments by William Robinson were constructed. Resting her hand on a spaniel, a symbol of loyalty. She was committed to James II, which prompted her to establish a Catholic convent beside Dublin Castle and in 1689, to lead a procession that culminated in the seizure of Christ Church cathedral from Protestant hands. She was married to Richard Talbot, 1st Duke of Tyrconnell (1630-1691). She was previously married to George Hamilton, Comte d’Hamilton.
Dublin Castle, 2020.
Dublin Castle, 2020.
Dublin Castle July 2011.
Bermingham Tower of Dublin Castle, 2020. This tower was destroyed by a gunpowder explosion in 1775 and demolished, leaving only its lowest stage and battery base. The tower was rebuilt in 1777 in a loose interpretation of the medieval which we now term Georgian Gothic or “Gothick.” [12]
Dublin Castle, 2020, the base of the Records, or Wardrobe, Tower.

The Bedford Tower was constructed around 1750 along with its flanking gateways to the city. The clock tower is named after the 4th Duke of Bedford John Russell who was Lord Lieutenant at the time.

The Chapel Royal, renamed the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in 1943, was designed by Francis Johnston in 1807. It is built on the site of an earlier church which was built around 1700. The exterior is decorated with over 100 carved stone heads by Edward Smyth, who did the river heads on Dublin’s Custom House, and by his son John. They are carved in Tullamore limestone, and represent a variety of kings, queens, archbishops and ‘grotesques’. A carving of Queen Elizabeth I is on the north façade and Saint Peter and Jonathan Swift above the main entrance. The interior of the chapel has plasterwork by George Stapleton and wood carving by Richard Stewart. What looks like carved stone is actually limestone ashlar facing on a structure of timber, covered in painted plaster. Plasterwork fan vaulting, inspired by Henry VII’s chapel at Westminster Abbey, is by George Stapleton (1777-1841) while a host of modelled plasterwork heads are by the Smyths, likely the work of John (the younger) after the death of his father in 1812. [13] The Arms of all the Viceroys from 1172-1922 are on display.

Chapel Royal and the Record Tower, Dublin Castle, March 2020.
Dublin Castle, 2020. The Wardrobe tower was renovated at the same time as the Chapel Royal, in 1807, with the addition of a storey, topped with battlements.
Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, 2020.
Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle, 2020. Two of the 103 heads carved by Edward and John Smyth. These two are Brian Boru and St. Patrick.

The Viceroy at the time of Francis Johnston’s work on the chapel would have been Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond.

Charlotte Lennox nee Gordon (1768-1842), Duchess of Richmond, Vicereine 1807-1813.

The State Apartments consist of a series of ornate decorated rooms, stretching along the first floor of the southern range of the upper yard.

The Battleaxe Staircase, Dublin Castle, September 2021. This staircase dates from 1749 and is the gateway to the State Apartments. The Viceroy’s Guards were called the Battleaxe Guards.
Photograph of the “Battleaxe staircase” taken in 1984, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Photograph of the “Battleaxe staircase” taken in 1984, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

The State Corridor on the first floor of the State Apartments is by Edward Lovett Pearce in 1758.

The State Corridor, Dublin Castle, September 2021. It was designed in 1758 and provided access to a series of public reception rooms on the left and the Viceregal’s quarters on the right. At the far end it led to the Privy Council Chamber.
State apartments Dublin Castle, photograph taken 1985, from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
The ceiling of the Apollo Room. Apollo, god of the sun and music, identified by a sunburst and a lyre. Emerging from the clouds are some of the signs of the zodiac, including Sagittarius, Scorpio and Libra. The ceiling was taken in eleven pieces from a nearby townhouse, Tracton House, St Stephen’s Green, which was demolished in 1910. [14]
In the corners of the Apollo room are “trophies” i.e. collections of objects and instruments that symbolise life’s pursuits. Pictures here is Music. The other corners are The Arts, Hunting and some that can either be identified as Love or War.

The Drawing room was largely destroyed in a fire in 1941, and was reconstructed in 1968 in 18th century style. It is heavily mirrored with five large Waterford crystal chandeliers.

The State Drawing Room, designed in 1838, with its five Waterford crystal chandeliers, installed in the 1960s.

The Throne Room, originally known as Battleaxe Hall, has a throne created for the visit of King George IV in 1821. The walls are decorated with roundels painted by Gaetano Gandolfi, depicting Jupiter, Juno, Mars and Venus. The Throne Room was created by George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham, the viceroy of the day.

The Throne Room, originally known as Battleaxe Hall. The walls are decorated with roundels painted by Gaetano Gandolfi depicting Jupiter, Juno, Mars and Venus. The chandelier was created in 1788. (see [10])
On the canopy is a lion representing England and a unicorn representing Scotland, each gripping the harp, to symbolise British control of Ireland. These date from 1788 when the Throne Room was created by Lord George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess Buckingham (1753-1813), the viceroy of the day.
The Throne Room, originally known as Battleaxe Hall. The walls are decorated with roundels painted by Gaetano Gandolfi depicting Jupiter, Juno, Mars and Venus.

Next to the Throne Room is the Portrait Gallery, where formal banquets took place at the time of the Viceroys.

The Viceroys wear a star-shaped badge that contains rubies, emeralds and Brazilian diamonds. These crown jewels were stolen from Dublin Castle in 1907. Pictured here, John William Brabazon Ponsonby (1781-1847) 4th Earl of Bessborough, County Kilkenny, Viceroy in 1846.
Some of the Viceroys also wear the chain of office.The panelling in the room is from 1747 and is the oldest surviving interior finish in the State Apartments. Pictured here, Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1852-1915), 6th Marquess of Londonderry, Viceroy from 1886-1889.
Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey (1768-1854), Viceroy in 1828 and 1830.

There are many other important rooms, including the Wedgwood Room, an oval room decorated in Wedgwood Blue with details in white, which was used as a Billiards Room in the 19th century. It dates from 1777.

The Wedgwood Room.
Wedgwood Room, Dublin Castle, photograph taken 1985, from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

Beyond the Wedgwood Room is the Gothic Room, and then St. Patrick’s Hall. It has two galleries, one at each end, initially intended as one for musicians and one for spectators. There are hanging banners of the arms of the members of the Order of St Patrick, the Irish version of the Knight of the Garter: they first met here in 1783. The room is in a gold and white colour scheme with Corinthian columns. The painted ceiling, commissioned and paid for by the viceroy George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 1st Marquess of Buckingham in 1788, is by Vincenzo Valdre (c. 1742-1814), an Italian who was brought to Ireland by his patron the Marquess of Buckingham. In the central panel, George III is between Hibernia and Brittania, with Liberty and Justice. Other panels depict St. Patrick, and Henry II receiving the surrender of Irish chieftains.

The hall was built originally as a ballroom in the 1740s but was damaged by an explosion in 1764, remodelled in 1769, and redecorated in the 1780s in honour of the Order of St Patrick.

1985, photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. (see [3])
St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle.
St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle.
Dublin castle, photograph taken 1960, from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle.
Henrietta Crofts, Duchess of Bolton (1682-1730) as shepherdess, by James Maubert. Henrietta Street was named in her honour. Vicereine 1717-1720. She was the daughter of James Crofts (Scott), 1st and last Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of King Charles II. She married Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton.
Dublin Castle, September 2021.
Dublin Castle state apartments, photograph taken 1985, from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

Located around the castle within the castle grounds are the Coach House Gallery, Garda Museum, the Revenue Museum, the Hibernia Conference Centre and the Chester Beatty Museum and Dubh Linn Gardens, which are located on the original “dubh linn” or black pool of Dublin.

next to Dublin Castle, 2020.
Entrance to Dublin Castle, March 2020.
Entrance to Dublin Castle, March 2020.
Entrance to Dublin Castle, March 2020.

7. Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin, July 2015:

Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin, July 2015.

General enquiries: (01) 815 5914, farmleighguides@opw.ie

Farmleigh was originally a two storey Georgian house, belonging first to the Coote family and then to the Trenches, then bought by the 1st Earl of Iveagh in 1870. He enlarged it and added a third storey, using designs first by James Franklin Fuller and later by William Young.

From the website:

Farmleigh is a 78-acre estate inside Dublin’s Phoenix Park. The government bought it in June 1999 to provide accommodation for high-level meetings and visiting guests of the nation.

Farmleigh is a unique representation of its heyday, the Edwardian period. Edward Cecil Guinness [(1847-1927) 1st Earl of Iveagh], great-grandson of Arthur Guinness (founder of the brewery), constructed Farmleigh around a smaller Georgian house in the 1880s. According to his tastes, the new building merged a variety of architectural styles.

Many of the artworks and furnishings that Guinness collected remain in the house. There is a stunning collection of rare books and manuscripts in the library. The extensive pleasure-grounds contain wonderful Victorian and Edwardian ornamental features, with walled and sunken gardens and scenic lakeside walks. The estate also boasts a working farm with a herd of Kerry cows.” [15]

Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin, July 2015. It was renovated by architect James Franklin Fuller.

One is not allowed to take photographs inside the house but you can see pictures of the house and take an online tour on the website. It operates as the official residence for guests of the Irish state, which is why photography is not allowed inside.

Farmleigh was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927) on his marriage to his cousin, Adelaide Guinness, in 1873. A great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the eponymous brewery, Edward Cecil became the first Earl of Iveagh in 1919. The first major building programme was undertaken in 1881-84 to designs by Irish architect James Franklin Fuller (1832-1925), who extended the House to the west, refurbished the existing house, and added a third storey. In 1896 the Ballroom wing was added, designed by the Scottish architect William Young (1843-1900).

With the addition of a new Conservatory adjoining the Ballroom in 1901, and increased planting of broadleaves and exotics in the gardens, Farmleigh had, by the early years of the twentieth century, all the requisites for gracious living and stylish entertainment. Its great charm lies in the eclecticism of its interior decoration ranging from the classical style to Jacobean, Louis XV, Louis XVI and Georgian.

Farmleigh  was purchased from the Guinness family by the Irish Government in 1999 for €29.2m. The house has been carefully refurbished by the Office of Public Works as the premier accommodation for visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation, for high level Government meetings, and for public enjoyment.” [16]

Gardens at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, February 2014.

Edward’s main residence at the time was 80 St. Stephen’s Green (now Iveagh House, the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs – see my entry under places visited at Open House) and he viewed Farmleigh as ‘a rustic retreat’. In 1886 Edward Cecil Guinness floated the brewery on the Stock Exchange increasing his wealth and social standing and this reflected in an extensive rebuild of Farmleigh. Despite this work, Edward and his wife Adelaide spent relatively little time there. Their primary residence was in London, but when in Dublin, they stayed mostly at 80 St. Stephen’s Green. The family only stayed in Farmleigh for short periods of a couple of weeks, mainly in the spring and summer months.

After Edward Cecil’s death in 1927, his eldest son, Rupert, became the second Earl of Iveagh and inherited Farmleigh and 80 St Stephen’s Green. The latter he presented the Irish State in 1939. Rupert, who was a British MP for Southend at the time, ceased to be an MP when he succeeded to his father’s earldom. His wife The Countess of Iveagh, Gwendolen Guinness, won the Southend by-election in November 1927 to replace her husband as MP. She served until her retirement in 1935.

Rupert gave Farmleigh to his grandson and heir, Benjamin (Rupert’s eldest son and Benjamin’s father, Arthur, was killed in WWII). Farmleigh became a family home for Benjamin (3rd Earl of Iveagh) and Miranda Guinness, and their children. Benjamin became a keen bibliophile and collector of rare books, parliamentary and early bindings, as well as first editions of the modern poets and playwrights. The library in Farmleigh in now dedicated to Benjamin Iveagh and his wonderful collection of books.

Benjamin died in 1993 in London and in 1999, his son Arthur Guinness (4th Earl of Iveagh), sold Farmleigh to the Irish State.” [16]

Connemara marble dominates the Entrance Hall. The immediate front hallwas is toplit by roundels set in the ceiling of the hallway/porte cochere. The stairwell is toplit also. The Dining Room panelling was designed by decorators Charles Mellier & Co to incorporate four late seventeenth century Italian tapestries which once belonged to Queen Maria Christina of Spain. One of the former drawing rooms is now called the “Noble Room” and honours the memory of Ireland’s four Nobel Laureates for literature: George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.

The suite for state guests, which is not included in the house tour, is inspired by designs of Irish modernist Eileen Gray (you can see examples of her work in the Museum at Collins Barracks in Dublin).

The house also contains the Benjamin Iveagh Library, donated by the Guinness family to Dublin’s Marsh’s Library and on permanent display in Farmleigh. Scholars can access material from the collection by arrangement.

The grounds contain a clock tower, a large classical fountain in the Pleasure Grounds, an ornamental dairy, garden temple and four acre walled garden and sunken garden. The outbuildings have been adapted to house an art gallery and a theatre and a courtyard for additional state accommodation. The Boathouse now houses a cafe overlooking the lake.

Gardens at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin, August 2015.
Gardens at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin, August 2015.

Sunken gardens in various formal styles were popular in the early twentieth century… This one is in the Dutch of Early English style and was created some time after 1907, probably by Edward Cecil Guinness. The design has some similarities with the sunken pond garden at Hampton Court, which dates from the original Early English period, and may relate to his connections with the British Royal family.

An ornamental gate leads into the rectangular garden, which was designed with three descending brick terraces leading to an oval pool in the centre, with a marble fountain of carved putti figures. The fountain has been restored under the direction of OPW and the Carrara marble exposed. Fine topiary peacocks and spirals surround this fountain on two levels. A brick wall enclosing the garden is paralleled by a high yew hedge, which leads the eye to the two conifers framing the view to the small apple orchard beyond.” [17]

Gardens at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin, August 2015.

“The Walled Garden covers about four acres and is sloped ideally towards the south. A fine pair of highly decorative wrought iron gates lead into a diagonal walk with double herbaceous borders backed by high yew hedges. South of the main crosswalk is a small orchard and potager, while north of it there is a small rose and lavender garden. The Walled Garden dates from the early nineteenth century, when Charles Trench owned Farmleigh; it is shown on the 1837 Ordnance Survey map as having a diagonal layout with seven squares and glasshouse. Later that century it had an extensive range of glasshouses on the south wall for many plants grown in typical Victorian fashion to support large-scale bedding schemes as well as producing exotic fruit and flowers and foliage, particularly orchids and ferns, for year round display in the house.

Among the additions made by Edward Cecil Guinness were the small Victorian fernery under glass and grotto nearby with two old ogee windows from St Patrick’s Cathedral in the end wall of the garden. He also erected a number of glasshouses, including a fine three quarter span cast-iron vinery behind the high yew hedge, the potting shed, and the gardener’s house and pump house which were built in the Arts and Crafts style. His daughter in-law, Gwendolen, Lady Iveagh, subsequently created a compartmentalised layout, which was fashionable in the early twentieth century along with renewed interest in old style garden plants and herbaceous borders. A new traditional path led from the wrought iron gateway connecting the Walled Garden to the broad walk at the back of the house. This new axis of the garden was reinforced by tall yew hedges backing the long double herbaceous borders which she also planted.

A stone temple was created as a focal point of the garden by Benjamin and Miranda Guinness in 1971: it has six antique columns of Portland with a copper roof and ornamental weather vane. The main cross path either side of the temple has metal structures designed by Lanning Roper for climbing roses and wisteria similar to those in the famous Bagatelle Garden in Paris. A paved rose garden was laid out to the north east of the temple backed by a yew hedge and looking across a lawn to the small orchard and potage. Lanning Roper suggested planting a quince, a mulberry, a catalpa, and a magnolia, to complete what he described as a Carolingian Quartet on this lawn. Lady Iveagh subsequently planted the double herbaceous borders, which include yuccas, phormiums, paeonies, astilbe and euphorbias.” [18]

Gardens at Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin, August 2015.

8. Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin 1:

Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, photo by Anthony Woods, 2021 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

General enquiries: (01) 821 3021, superintendent.park@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

This beautiful garden in the centre of the city was designed by architect Dáithí Hanly and dedicated to the memory of ‘all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom’. 

The garden was officially opened on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

The focus point is a magnificent sculpture by Oisín Kelly, based on the legend of the Children of Lir, in which four children are transformed into swans and remain so for 900 years before becoming human again. A poem by Liam Mac Uistin is inscribed on the wall behind the sculpture. It concludes: ‘O generations of freedom remember us, the generations of the vision.’

The garden is intended as a place of quiet remembrance. It is a perfect place to enjoy some respite from the clamour of the city.

Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, photo by Anthony Woods, 2021 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

and

In the eighteenth century, it was the location of pleasure gardens which were intended to raise funds for the maternity hospital to the front of Rutland (now Parnell) Square. In the late nineteenth century, these gardens contained a large temporary building which was used as a hall, and called Rotunda Rink.

It was at Rotunda Rink in 1913 that the Irish Volunteers were formed, at a meeting reportedly attended by around 7,000 people. In 1916, the Rotunda gardens were also where many of the leaders of the Easter Rising were held, before being taken to Kilmainham Gaol for execution. The site for the Garden of Remembrance was bought from the hospital in 1939, and a competition for its design was announced the year after.” [19]

Architect Daithí Hanly (1917-2003) was responsible for the design of the Garden. The centre of the plan contains a large cross-shaped pool, with a tiled mosaic pattern as its base. The tiles show a picture of swords, shields, and spears thrown beneath waves; this is a nod to the Celtic custom of casting weapons into water once a battle had ended. Important objects from the history of prehistoric and medieval Ireland were woven into the structure of the Garden elsewhere; in the railings can be seen the shapes of the Trinity College (Brian Boru) harp, the Loughnashade trumpet, and the Ballinderry sword.” [19]

Commemorated by the Garden of Remembrance are:

  • the 1798 rebellion of the Society of United Irishmen
  • the 1803 rebellion of Robert Emmet
  • the 1848 rebellion of Young Ireland
  • the 1867 rising of the Fenian Brotherhood
  • the 1916 Easter Rising
  • the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence

9. Government Buildings Dublin:

Irish Government Buildings, Dublin, housing the office of the Prime Minister or Taoiseach, as well as the Department of Finance. Photograph by Dave Walsh, 2009, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

General Inquiries: 01 645 8813

From the OPW website:

The imposing complex of Government Buildings on Upper Merrion Street, next door to Leinster House, was the last major public building the British constructed in Ireland. It was intended as accommodation for the Royal College of Science and various departments of the administration.

Fortuitously, it was complete by 1922. When independence dawned, the new Free State government moved in.

In more recent times, Taoiseach Charles Haughey converted and entirely refurbished the building to form state-of-the-art accommodation for a number of departments, including the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Finance and the Office of the Attorney General. Despite criticism of the expenditure involved, the renovated building won awards for its architectural design when it opened in the 1990s.

There are free guided tours every Saturday, although they are subject to occasional cancellation for urgent government business.

The building was constructed between 1904 and 1922 as a combination of Government offices and Royal College of Science, which occupied the centre block. My father went to college there! The function is represented by statues of William Rowan Hamilton, a mathematician, and Richard Boyle, the scientist, in niches flanking the entrance. The architects were Sir Aston Webb of London and Sir Thomas Manley Dean, from Cork.

The College of Science was incorporated into University College Dublin in 1926 and it vacated the premises in 1989.

Stephen and I took the tour of the buildings in 2020 but one is not allowed to take photographs. We were excited to stand in the Office of the Taoiseach – who was Leo Varadkar at the time.

1947, photograph from Digital Repository, Dublin City Archives and Library, for Failte Ireland. [see 3]

10. Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin 7:

General enquiries: (01) 821 3021, superintendent.park@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

The largest military cemetery in Ireland, Grangegorman is a stone’s throw from the landmark Phoenix Park.

The graveyard was opened in 1876 as a resting place for service personnel of the British Empire and their families. It contains war graves from both world wars, as well as the graves of some of the British soldiers who lost their lives during the 1916 Rising.

A simply designed screen-wall memorial, built of Irish limestone and standing nearly 2 metres high, commemorates those war casualties whose graves lie elsewhere in Ireland and can no longer be maintained.

Mature trees and well-maintained lawns cast a sombre and reflective atmosphere over this restful place.” [20]

The cemetery adopts the “garden cemetery” styple promoted by J.C. Louden, the Victorian botanist and garden designer.

11. Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin:

National War Memorial Gardens, Dublin, 2021. At the centre of the garden is the War Stone, or Stone of Remembrance, on which is written “Their name liveth forevermore.” There is a similar stone is almost all cemeteries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

General enquiries: (01) 475 7816, parkmanager@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

These gardens in Islandbridge, a Dublin suburb, are one of the most famous memorial gardens in Europe. They are dedicated to the memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died in the First World War. The name of every single soldier is contained in the sumptuously illustrated Harry Clarke manuscripts in the granite bookrooms.” They were created in the 1930s, with the stipulation that labour would be divided with fifty percent coming from ex-soldiers of the British army and fifty percent from ex-soldiers of the Irish army.

These gardens are not only a place of remembrance; they are also of great architectural interest and beauty. The great Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) designed them. Lutyens was a prolific garden designer, especially of war memorials, but nonetheless lent his expertise to only four gardens in Ireland.

Sunken rose gardens, herbaceous borders and extensive tree-planting make for an enjoyable visit in any season. The solemn, serene atmosphere of this elegant garden makes it a perfect place in which to relax and reflect.

War Memorial Gardens October 2014: the sunken rose garden.
War Memorial Gardens November 2020.
War Memorial Gardens October 2014, my Dad and Stephen.
War Memorial Gardens October 2014, Stephen, and two of the four “bookrooms” which represent the four provinces of Ireland and house a collection of items relating to both world wars, as well as record books which list the names, regiments and places of birth of the Irish soldiers known to have died in the First World War. These books are illustrated by Harry Clarke and are kept in cases designed by Lutyens. I have never seen these pavilions open to the public, however.
War Memorial Gardens November 2020.
War Memorial Gardens November 2020.

The site chosen for the Gardens lies on the banks of the River Liffey, and was known as Longmeadows. It is around fifty acres in size. Its location next to this section of the Liffey meant that it was an important ancient and medieval fording point. The earliest Viking burials were discovered in the vicinity in the early nineteenth century. The most recent excavations in 2008 uncovered a grave which contained a sword, spearhead, and ringed pin. In an era when the Liffey was unconstrained by its modern quays, and spread far wider than it does today, Islandbridge was the first navigable point. The Irish National War Memorial Gardens therefore occupy a space that was important at many different points in Irish history.

Today, the location of the Gardens mean that they are a popular recreational destination for both the local community and international visitors alike. The pathways between the rose gardens, tree avenues, and herbaceous borders allow for pleasant walking. The presence of many boatclubs, mainly along the north side of the Liffey, mean that the park is a significant hub for rowing, and other water sports, in Dublin. The 250m-long weir, dating to the 13th century, attracts a steady stream of anglers who fish its salmon and trout.” [21]

12. Iveagh Gardens, Clonmel Street, Dublin 2:

Iveagh Gardens, Dublin, October 2021.

General Enquiries: 01 475 7816, parkmanager@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Tucked away behind the National Concert Hall, the Iveagh Gardens are among the finest, but least known, of Dublin’s parks and gardens.

They were designed by Ninian Niven in 1865 as the grounds for the Dublin Exhibition Palace – a space ‘where the citizens might meet for the purposes of rational amusement blended with instruction’.

The gardens contain a unique collection of features, which include rustic grottos, sunken formal panels of lawn with fountain centrepieces, woodlands, a maze, a rosarium, the American garden, rockeries and archery grounds.

This oasis of tranquillity and beauty, just a stone’s throw from the city centre, can justly claim to be the capital’s best-kept secret.

This figure used to be in the fountain.
Iveagh Gardens rose garden, 2009.

The website gives us a wonderfully informative history of the garden:

In 1777, Harcourt Street was built southwards from the south-west corner of St Stephen’s Green. The following year, its first residence was completed – Clonmel House – now number 17 Harcourt street. The proprietor was John Scott (1739 – 1798), 1st Earl of Clonmell, whose country estate was Temple Hill House in Blackrock, Co Dublin. A lawyer by profession, Scott was a friend, collaborator, and fellow-scoundrel of the infamous ‘Buck’ Whaley (whose house at number 85 St Stephen’s Green backed onto Leeson’s Fields).” John Scott, or “Jack,” was the original “Copper Faced Jack,” so called because of his face red from alcohol.

Scott bought eleven acres of Leeson’s Fields as a garden for Clonmel House. Because Harcourt Street separated the two, a subterranean passage was built (believed to be extant), from one of the now-demolished wings of Clonmel House, with two entrances in the garden.  In a map of 1789 this site is named ‘Lord Earlsfort’s Lawn’ after Scott’s first title Baron Earlsfort.  In the 1790s he became Earl of Clonmell, to which he added an ‘L’ (Clonmell).  

In 1817 this private land was leased, made public, and renamed the ‘Cobourg Gardens’, a name probably suggested by recent events on the Continent. For a brief period the Cobourg Gardens, barely altered from their time as the lawn of Clonmell House, enjoyed a very fashionable position among Dublin’s upper-class society…

Iveagh Gardens 2014, photograph by James Fennell for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

By the 1830s the popularity of the Cobourg Gardens had declined sharply. In 1836, the ground reverted to Thomas, Earl of Clonmell, who seems to have encouraged plans to build a new street across the Garden, parallel to St Stephen’s Green to be called Clonmel Street.

The gardens … were badly neglected until bought by Benjamin Lee Guinness from John Henry, [3rd] Earl of Clonmell, in 1862.

Benjamin Lee Guinness acquired the land to act as a garden for his town house mansion Iveagh House (numbers 80 and 81 St Stephen’s Green), which he acquired in 1856. Being characteristic of his conscientious and philanthropic family, he became a trustee of the Dublin Exhibition Palace and Winter Garden Company, established in 1862.

He sold the land bordered by Harcourt Street, St Stephens Green south, Earlsfort Terrace and Hatch Street, to the Company for the price he had paid for it. This was to be the location of the Company’s planned recreational and cultural centre for Dublin’s citizens…

Meanwhile, considerable labour was required in the pleasure grounds of the Exhibition Palace. Ninian Niven, famed landscape gardener and former Director of the Botanic Gardens Glasnevin (1834 – 1838), designed the layout…” [you can see a picture of the Exhibition building on the OPW website]. The gardens combined the “French formal” style with “English landscape.” Niven also designed the gardens at a Section 482 property, Hilton Park in County Monaghan, as well as the National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin at gardens at Aras an Uachtarain.

Iveagh Gardens 2014, photograph by James Fennell for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

The heir to the throne, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, to rapturous enthusiasm, performed the grand opening, on 9 May 1865. In all a huge 930,000 visitors attended the Exhibition between 9 May and 9 November.  The Company arranged special railway and other concessions and the Palace was equipped with a telegraph centre, post office branch, railway office, and facilities for a large number of international newspapers.

The gardens remained open to the public until the exhibition building was sold and then, the land made private again in 1883. They opened again to the public in 1941, first as part of University College Dublin.

The Gardens feature a unique collection of landscape features, which include a Rustic Grotto and Cascade, sunken formal panels of lawn with Fountain Centre Pieces, Wilderness Woodlands, a Maze, Rosariurn, American Garden, Archery grounds, Rockeries and Rookeries. Happily, many of these features were still visible when the gardens transferred into State care in 1991.

Accordingly, a plan was put in place immediately to undertake restoration and conservation works to the gardens. Looking around the gardens the fruits of this work are visible, in features such as the Yew maze and the Rosarium with its period collection of roses pre-dating 1865. The two fountains, restored in 1994, form a magnificent centerpiece in the gardens.” [22]

Legend tell us that an elephant is buried near the sunken lawn. It may have been used for dissection in the medical school or by a veterinarian, or else could have died in Dublin zoo. However, no remains have ever been found so its presence may be an urban myth.

13. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin:

The main entrance was the formidable doorway, above which five monstrous shapes writhe. These have variously been called dragons, demons, serpents, and a hydra. It is said that they represented the five worst crimes: murder, rape, theft, treason, and piracy. Just outside this entrance was where public hangings took place until the late nineteenth century, and remains of the fixtures for the gallows can still be seen. [23]
Kilmainham Gaol, January 2014.

General Enquiries: 01 453 5984, kilmainhamgaol@opw.ie

from OPW website:

Kilmainham Gaol is one of the largest unoccupied gaols in Europe. It opened in 1796 as the new county gaol for Dublin and finally shut its doors as such in 1924. During that period it witnessed some of the most heroic and tragic events in Ireland’s emergence as a modern nation.

Among those detained – and in some cases executed – here were leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916, as well as members of the Irish republican movement during the War of Independence and Civil War.

Names like Henry Joy McCracken [founder of the United Irishmen. He entered the Gaol on the 11th of October 1796 and was hanged two years later], Robert Emmet [United Irishman, hung in 1803], Anne Devlin [friend of Robert Emmet, spent two years in Kilmainham Gaol] and Charles Stewart Parnell [leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party at Westminster, and many of his fellow MPs were detained in Kilmainham after their open rejection of the Land Act introduced by the British government in 1881. Parnell was imprisoned in Kilmainham from October 1881 to May 1882] will always be associated with the building. Not to be forgotten, however, are the thousands of men, women and children that Kilmainham held in its capacity as county gaol. 

Kilmainham Gaol is now a major museum. The tour of the prison includes an audio-visual presentation.

The Gaol was closed as a convict prison in 1910 and handed over to the British Army. It was closed for good as a prison in 1924.

Kilmainham Gaol, January 2014.
Kilmainham Gaol, January 2014.
Kilmainham Gaol, January 2014.
In the late 1850s, the east wing was replaced completely. The architect who won the open competition was John McCurdy, freemason and official college architect of Trinity College Dublin. This new wing was envisaged as a different system as early as its competition advertisement in 1857. It opened four years later, and reflected the very different ideas of the Victorian age. Based on the Panopticon, it is possible to see all ninety-six cells from a central viewing area. The use of light was deliberate and philosophical. It was thought that the huge skylight would spiritually inspire the inmates, while the out-of-reach cell windows would encourage them to turn heavenward. Under the ground of this new wing were four cellar-level isolation cells intended for dark and solitary confinement. [23]
Eamon Devalera’s cell, who later became President of Ireland.

The Easter Rising of 1916 was devised to take place at a time when the British were distracted by fighting the Great War on the continent. Led by members of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, with support from the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Volunteers, and Cumann na mBan, the rebels seized key sites in Dublin on the 24th of April 1916. It began with a reading of the Proclamation of the Republic by Patrick Pearse. Fighting lasted for six days, until the British Army suppressed the rebellion and Pearse surrendered.

James Connolly was badly wounded and brought to Dublin Castle. Patrick Pearse was brought to Arbour Hill, before transferring to where the rest of the leaders were located, in Richmond Barracks. There they were court-martialled and sentenced to death. They were transferred to Kilmainham Gaol. Here, they were visited by loved ones, and wrote their final goodbyes. It was also here that another leader, Joseph Plunkett, married Grace Gifford in the Gaol chapel the night before he was shot. Between the 3rd and 12th of May 1916, fourteen men were executed by firing squad in the Stonebreakers’ Yard of Kilmainham Gaol. Seven of them had been the signatories of the Proclamation. These were Thomas Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly, and Joseph Plunkett.” [23]

The cell of Grace Gifford, Mrs Joseph Plunkett in 1923 (her husband was killed in 1916).
The place where the executions took place in 1916.
Kilmainham Gaol, January 2014.

14. National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin 9:

National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, 2009: the Richard Turner Palm House. The glass houses were built between 1843-1869.

General enquiries: (01) 804 0300, botanicgardens@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

The National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, just 3 kilometres from Dublin city centre, are renowned for the exquisite plant collections held there. They are home to over 15,000 plant species and cultivars from a variety of habitats from all around the world.

The jewel in the gardens’ crown is a set of exquisitely restored and planted historic glasshouses. Most notable among these are Richard Turner’s Curvilinear Range and the Great Palm House, both winners of an award for excellence in conservation architecture.

Conservation plays an important role in the life of the gardens and Glasnevin is home to over 300 endangered plant species, 6 of which are already extinct in the wild.

The gardens have been closely associated with their counterpart in Kilmacurragh, County Wicklow, since 1854. Unlike the Wicklow branch, though, they provide a calm and beautiful green space in the midst of the nation’s capital.

National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, 2009.

“In 1790, the Irish Parliament, with the active support of the Speaker of the House, John Foster, granted funds to the Dublin Society (now the Royal Dublin Society), to establish a public botanic garden.

In 1795, the Gardens were founded on lands at Glasnevin…The original purpose of the Gardens was to promote a scientific approach to the study of agriculture. In its early years the Gardens demonstrated plants that were useful for animal and human food and medicine and for dyeing but it also grew plants that promoted an understanding of systematic botany or were simply beautiful or interesting in themselves.

By the 1830s, the agricultural purpose of the Gardens had been overtaken by the pursuit of botanical knowledge.

This was facilitated by the arrival of plants from around the world and by closer contact with the great gardens in Britain, notably Kew and Edinburgh and plant importers such as Messrs. Veitch. By 1838, the basic shape of the Gardens had been established. Ninian Niven as Curator had, in four years, laid out the system of roads and paths, and located many of the garden features that are present today. [Niven had formerly been head gardener at the Chief Secretary’s Lodge in the Phoenix Park, now the residence of the American Ambassador to Ireland).

The ever increasing plant collection, and especially plants from tropical areas, demanded more and more protected growing conditions and it was left to Niven’s successor, David Moore, to develop the glasshouse accommodation. Richard Turner the great Dublin iron-master, had already supplied an iron house to Belfast Gardens, and he persuaded the Royal Dublin Society that such a house would be a better investment than a wooden house. So indeed it has proved.

…Moore used the great interest in plants that existed among the estate owners and owners of large gardens in Ireland to expand trial grounds for rare plants not expected to thrive at Glasnevin. The collections at Kilmacurragh, Headford, and Fota, for example, attest to this.

It was David Moore who first noted potato blight in Ireland at Glasnevin on 20th August 1845, and predicted that the impact on the potato crop would lead to famine in Ireland….

A development plan for the Gardens, published in 1992, led to a dramatic programme of restoration and renewal.

Primary amongst these was the magnificent restoration of the Turner Curvilinear Range of glasshouses completed for the bicentenary of the Garden in 1995. A new purpose-built herbarium/library was opened in 1997. The 18th century Director’s House and the Curator’s House have been refurbished. New service glasshouses and compost storage bays have been built. Additional lecture rooms for the Teagasc Course in Amenity Horticulture were opened in 1999. Improved visitor and education facilities have been provided in a new Visitor Centre. In tandem with the restoration and expansion of the buildings, upgrading of the collections and displays has also been in progress. The work of plant identification and classification, of documenting, labelling and publishing continues, as does that of education and service to the visiting public.

The Botanic Gardens came into state care in 1878 and since then have been administered variously by the Department of Art and Industry, the Department of Agriculture, Dúchas the Heritage Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage the Gaeltacht and the Islands, and the Office of Public Works (OPW), which currently has responsibility for the Gardens.” [24]

The gardens include an extensive arboretum as well as rockery, herbaceous border, alpine house, rose garden and woodland garden.

National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, 2009.
National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin, 2009.
National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, 2021.

15. Phoenix Park, Dublin:

Phoenix Park in snow, 1969, photograph from Dublin City Library archive. [see 3]

General Enquiries: 01 821 3021, superintendent.park@opw.ie

One would think it was named for the bird that rose from the flames, but in fact its name comes from the Irish phrase “Fionn Uisce” meaning “clear water.”

From the OPW website:

It was originally formed as a royal hunting Park in the 1660s [by James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, for King Charles II] and opened to the public in 1747. A large herd of fallow deer still remain to this day. The Park is also home to the Zoological Gardens, Áras an Uachtaráin, and Victorian flower gardens. The Phoenix Park is only a mile and a half from O’Connell Street. Both passive and active recreational pursuits may be viewed or pursued such as walking, running, polo, cricket, hurling, and many more. The Glen Pond is set in very scenic surrounds in the Furry Glen. There are many walks and cycle trails available to the public.

The Phoenix Park is open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, all year round.”

The 4th Earl of Chesterfield [Philip Stanhope] was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in January 1745, and is credited with initiating a series of landscape works, many of which were probably not completed until after his short tenure, having been recalled to London more than a year later. These included considerable replanting of the Park as well as planting of trees on either side of the main avenue and the erection of the Phoenix Column in 1747. He is also credited with opening the Park to the public.

The dominant eighteenth-century managerial and infrastructural characteristics of the Phoenix Park were reflected in the extensive use of the Park by the military and the number of lodges used by government officers and other lesser officials involved in Park management. Apart from the use of the Park for military manoeuvres and practices, there were also a number of military institutions which included the Royal Hibernian Military School (1766) for children who were orphaned, or whose father was on active military service abroad. The Magazine Fort, constructed in 1736 with additions in 1756, was a major military institution from which small arms, munitions and gunpowder were distributed to other military barracks in the Dublin area. Mountjoy Cavalry Barracks (formerly the home of Luke Gardiner, one of the Keepers of the Park) and the Royal Military Infirmary were two further buildings constructed during the eighteenth century, in 1725 and 1786 respectively. The role of the Salute Battery (for firing cannon on Royal and other special occasions), situated in the environs of the Wellington Testimonial, was discontinued, and the lands it occupied within the Park subsequently became known as the Wellington Fields, and on which the Wellington Testimonial was erected.

All the important lodges and accompanying demesnes, which were originally occupied by Park Rangers or Keepers, were purchased for Government use as private dwellings for the chief officers of state. These included the Viceregal Lodge for the Lord Lieutenant (now Áras an Uachtaráin), the Chief Secretary’s Residence (now the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland [called Deerfield]) and the Under-Secretary’s Residence (subsequently the Papal Nunciature and now the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre [Ashtown Castle, next to a Victorian walled kitchen garden]).

The beginning of the nineteenth century saw the Park in a much-neglected state with poor drainage, the roads in bad order, and most of the trees very old and/or in a state of decay. However with the Commissioners of Woods and Forests taking over the management of the public areas of the Park and the employment of the renowned architect/landscape architect, Decimus Burton, all this was about to change. Burton produced a master plan for the Park which included the building of new gate lodges, the removal and levelling of old hedgerows and shooting butts, tree planting in strategic locations, drainage, the restoration of the boundary wall, creation and realignment of the Park roads, which included Chesterfield Avenue. This latter project involved the relocation of the Phoenix Column on the main avenue. Burton’s involvement for nearly two decades represents the greatest period of landscape change since the Park’s creation by the Duke of Ormond.

From the 1830s and particularly after the 1860s, sporting and recreational activities became prominent. The Royal Dublin Zoological Society opened Dublin Zoo in 1830. The Promenade Grounds opened in 1840 (later to be known as the People’s Garden) and were considerably improved in the 1860s with the addition of a Head Gardener’s House, rock garden, and horticultural facilities to allow for flower production for planting in the Gardens. Between the People’s Garden and Dublin Zoo, a bandstand and tearooms were built in the final decade of the nineteenth century.” [25]

Phoenix Park People’s Garden, 1971, photograph from Dublin City Library archive. [see 3]

and the People’s Flower Garden:

A 9-hectare section of the massive Phoenix Park is given over to this enclosed and immaculately manicured Victorian flower garden. 

The garden was laid out and opened in the mid-nineteenth century as the Promenade Grounds. It provides an opportunity to enjoy the horticulture of that era at its best. A large ornamental lake with various fowl, a children’s playground, picnic areas and Victorian bedding schemes are just some of the attractions you will come across here.

Whether you’re looking to relax in the sun, have a picnic or simply take a pleasant walk, don’t miss this enchanting portion of the capital’s largest green space.

Phoenix Park People’s Garden, 1959, photograph from Dublin City Library archive. [see 3]

16. Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin:

Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin, September 2021.

General Enquiries: 01 493 9462, rathfarnhamcastle@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

The castle at Rathfarnham dates back to the Elizabethan period. It was built [around 1583] for Adam Loftus, a Yorkshire clergyman and politician [1533-1605]. Loftus was ambitious and eventually rose to become Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Loftus’s castle, with its four flanker towers, is an excellent example of the Elizabethan fortified house in Ireland. In the late eighteenth century, the house was remodelled on a splendid scale employing some of the finest architects of the day including Sir William Chambers and James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. The collection includes family portraits by Angelica Kauffman, Sir Peter Lely, and Hugh Douglas Hamilton.

Archbishop-Chancellor Adam Loftus (1533-1605). The portrait is in Trinity College Dublin, as he was the first Provost. He was also Keeper of the Great Seal of Ireland, and he is here holding the embroidered purse which held the seal.

Loftus wanted the Castle to be a grand and impressive home which would reflect his high status in Irish society. He also needed it to be easily defended against attack from hostile Irish families such as the O’Byrnes based in the mountains to the south. The design was radically modern for the time and based on recent continental thinking about defensive architecture. The angled bastion towers located at each corner of the building were equipped with musket loops which allowed a garrison of soldiers to defend all approaches to the castle.” He married Jane Purdon. He was also the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. They had many children, who married very well.

His son Dudley (1561-1616) married Anne Bagenal, daughter of Nicholas Henry Bagenal, Marshal of Ireland. The castle passed to his son, Adam Loftus (1590-1666), who married Jane Vaughan of Golden Grove, County Offaly. Their son Arthur Loftus (1616-1659) married Dorothy Boyle, daughter of Richard Boyle the 1st Earl of Cork. They had a son, Adam Loftus (1632-1691) who became the 1st and last Viscount Lisburne. His only son died in infancy. Viscount Loftus was killed at the Seige of Limerick.

Lucy Loftus nee Brydges (1654-1681), by Peter Lely. She was a renowned Restoration beauty and the first wife of Viscount Adam Loftus. He died at the Siege of Limerick in 1691 and the cannon ball which reputedly killed him hangs in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Lucy is dressed in pseudo-antique clothing against an Arcadian landscape. The parrot in the background is an ambiguous symbol and can refer to a number of characteristics including eloquence, marital obedience or exoticism. Peter Lely was of Dutch origin but spent most of his career in England and became the most influential portrait painter at court following the death of Anthony van Dyck. He successfully navigated the turbulence of the 17th century to paint at the court of Charles I, the Cromwellian Commonwealth and Charles II following the REstoration. Lely was prolific, often only painting the sitter’s head while students and assistants at his studio completed the portraits.

Another son of Dudley and Anne Bagenal was Nicholas Loftus (1592-1666), the ancestor of Henry Loftus, the Earl of Ely. Nicholas’s second son Henry (1636-1716) lived in Loftus Hall in County Wexford, and was the father of Nicholas Loftus, 1st Viscount Loftus of Ely. He married Anne Ponsonby, daughter of William Ponsonby, 1st Viscount Duncannon, and they had, first, the son Nicholas Loftus (1708-1766), who became the 1st Earl of Ely, and who added Hume to his surname after marrying Mary Hume, daughter of Gustavus Hume, 3rd Baronet of Castle Hume, County Fermanagh.

Nicholas Loftus, 1st Viscount Ely (1687-1763). Painter unknown. This painting was completed in 1758 to mark the 70th birthday of Nicholas, father of both Nicholas (the 1st Earl of Ely) and Henry Loftus. He sits next to a book entitled 
The Present State of Ireland
. This anonymous work was originally published in 1730 and contained criticism of the amount of money flowing out of Ireland to absentee landlords, no doubt reflecting Nicholas’s concern with the financial state of the kingdom. He is sometimes known as “the Extinguisher” because of his threat to extinguish the Hook lighthouse in Wexford unless the rent he received from it was increased.

Nicholas Loftus 1st Earl of Ely and his wife Mary Hume gave birth to Nicholas Loftus Hume, 2nd Earl of Ely (1738-1769). 

Nicholas Hume Loftus, 1st Earl of Ely (1708-1766), unknown artist. 
It was after Nicholas Loftus (son of the Extinguisher) had married into the wealthy Hume family that the Ely earldom was created for the first time. This depicts Nicholas, the so-called “Wicked Earl” in the doctoral robes of Trinity College Dublin. 
Nicholas Hume Loftus, 1st Earl of Ely (1708-1766) by Jacob Ennis. These two portraits depict Nicholas, the so-called “Wicked Earl” at various stages of his life. Nicholas is much older in the Ennis portrait on the left. Lord Loftus allegedly mistrated his son (also Nicholas) leading to a protracted court case. That son would later bequeath Rathfarnham Castle and the estate to his uncle, Henry Loftus (1709-1783) who became the 1st Earl of Ely (of the second creation). Jacob Ennis was an Irish historical and portrait painter who spent some time studying in Italy. He was later a Master in the Dublin Society’s Drawing Schools.
Henry Loftus, 1st Earl of Ely of the 2nd Creation (1709-1783) by Angelica Kauffman. Henry inherited Rathfarnham Castle and its demesne in 1769 upon the death of Nicholas, his nephew. Nicholas had been the subject of a long running legal case concerning the state of his mind and Henry had suppported him throughout. Between 1769 and his death in 1783 Henry funded some of the most substantial 18th century changes to Rathfarnham Castle and the demesne. He contracted Sir William Chambers to remodel several of the rooms including the Ballroom and Anteroom. The Swiss artist Angelica Kauffman is known to have spent several months in Dublin in 1771. As well as this portrait which was probably completed to mark Henry’s elevation to the earldom of Ely, this renowned painter also completed a group portrait of Henry and his family (now in the National Gallery) as well as a series of ceiling paintings for the long gallery on the first floor depicting scenes from Greek mythology.

Henry Loftus (1709-1783) pictured below. He married first, Frances Monroe of Roe’s Hall, County Down, (pictured below), who died in 1774, then married secondly Anne Bonfoy. He purchased Ely House in Dublin (built 1770) from Sir Gustavus Hume, 3rd Baronet.

painting by Angelica Kauffman, who spent several months in Dublin in 1771. It shows Henry Loftus with his wife Frances, her nieces and an exotic trophy servant, a young Indian page in Oriental dress carrying a cushion with two coronets, symbolising the title the Earl had just received. The older niece, Dolly Monroe, was Classical costume. Her younger sister Frances plays a fashionable aria on the harpsichord.

Rathfarnham Castle remained in the hands of the Loftus family and their heirs until it was purchased in 1723 by Speaker William Conolly of Castletown, Co Kildare, for £62,000. It returned to ownership of the Loftus family in 1767 when it was purchased by Nicholas Hume-Loftus.

Speaker Conolly never resided at Rathfarnham, leasing it instead to Joan Hoady, Archbishop of Dublin, from 1730-1742, who began the series of alterations that were to transform the castle into a modern country residence. He gave it to his son-in-law Bellingham Boyle.

“Bellingham Boyle (1709-1772). He inherited Rathfarnham Castle in 1746 from his father-in-law, Archbishop John Hoadley who leased the castle in 1742 by “indented lease renewable forever.” Bellingham Boyle served as an MP, first for Bandon then for Youghal in Cork and was later appointed a Commissioner for the Revenue. Prior to his marriage, Belingham travelled across Europe to Italy where he had his portrait painted by Giorgio Dupra.”

The castle returned to the ownership of the Loftus family in 1767 when it was purchased by Nicholas Hume-Loftus. Nicholas never married and on his death in 1769 the Castle passed to his uncle, Henry Loftus (created Earl of Ely in 1771). Henry continued the remodelling of the castle and the works were completed by the time of his death in 1783. 

Henry Loftus (1709-1783) commissioned Sir William Chambers to remodel and redecorate Rathfarnham Castle. There are also several rooms which are attributed to architect and designer James “Athenian” Stuart. Much of the neo-classical design of the Castle today can be attributed to these two architects.
Externally, the window openings were enlarged, and a new stone Tuscan entrance portico added, probably to the designs of William Chambers. The original battlements were removed and the new parapet was embellished with ball finials and urns some of which also serve as chimneys. On the south front new garden steps were added, while on the east front a three bay bow had been added by 1774.
Most of the main interiors can now be attributed with certainty to James Stuart, whose best work in Ireland is the Temple of the Winds at Mount Stewart, County Down, and Sir William Champbers. Stuart was employed at Rathfarnham from at least 1769 and was responsible for the design of the ground floor gallery and two rooms above it. He was also involved in the decoration of some interiors at the family townhouse, Ely House, Dublin. Chambers was responsible for the small drawing room ceiling, back staircase lobby, the ante room and ballroom above, the entrance hall on the first floor, and the octagonal room in one of the towers.

Henry Loftus was succeeded by his nephew Charles Tottenham who did little beyond the erection in 1790 of the Gothic or Back Gate, now almost competely demolished to make way for a road.

Charles Tottenham Loftus, Marquis of Ely by Hugh Douglas Hamilton. Charles was the nephew of Henry Loftus Earl of Ely and inherited Rathfarnham CAstle and the demesne on his death in 1783. The painting shows Charles in the robes of the Irish House of Lords. He is also wearing a chain indicating his membership of the prestigious Order of St Patrick. He was elevated to a Marquis, given a baronetcy in England as well as £45,000 in return for his votes in favour of the Act of Union. Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1740-1808) was born and grew up in Dublin and attended the Dublin Society’s Drawing Schools. He had a long and successful career as an artist and worked in London and Rome as well as Dublin. He is perhaps best known for his work in pastels and left an extensive series of portraits of leading figures in Irish society.
Jane Tottenham-Loftus (nee Myhill), 1740-1807, Marchioness of Ely. After Angelica Kauffman. She was married to Charles Tottenham Loftus, 1st Marquis of Ely, whose portrait hangs in the Ballroom. He was the son of John Tottenham, 1st Baron Tottenham of Ireland, and of Elizabeth Loftus, daughter of Nicholas Loftus, 1st Viscount Loftus of Ely.

“The Loftus family left Rathfarnham Castle in the 19th century and it was ultimately sold to the Blackburne family in 1852 (Francis Blackburne 1782-1867) who lived there until 1911. Coincidentally almost in the footsteps of Adam Loftus who built Rathfarnham Castle, Francis Blackburne became Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College. The Society of Jesus then acquired the building and for much of the remainder of the 20th century it was used as a Retreat House for lay visitors as well as accommodation for seminarians attending college in the city. Following the departure of the Jesuits in 1985, the Castle came into the care of the state and a great deal of restoration work has been carried out. Most of the rooms have been restored to their 18th century state and several are furnished with a collection of fine eighteen and nineteenth century pieces from continental Europe, Britain and Ireland.”

The entrance hall, Rathfarnham Castle.

This room is believed to have been built to a design by the influential architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796). Despite never visiting Ireland, Chambers left a significant mark on Dublin where he also designed the Casino at Marino, Charlemont House on Parnell Square, and much of Front Square in Trinity College. The floor and free standing Doric columns are in Portland stone. The painted glass panels featuring fruit and flowers are believed to be by the Dublin Huguenot artist Thomas Jervais (d. 1799). The marble relief busts on the walls depict well known figures from the Classical and Renaissance past, including the Egyptian queen Cleopatra and Italian poet Dante. These sculptures seem to have been acquired in Italy and would have been incorporated into the design of the Entrance Hall to signal the taste and refinement and learning of the Loftus family. The original eighteenth century marble fireplace was replaced with a painted timber one in around 1913. It was one of several of the original fireplaces which were removed and sold when the Blackburne family left the castle in 1911.

The painted glass panels featuring fruit and flowers are believed to be by the Dublin Huguenot artist Thomas Jervais (d. 1799).
This long room would have been used as a saloon or drawing room to entertain guests and perhaps also as a space to display a collection of art works. It is believed the room was designed by James “Athenian” Stuart (1713-1788). The original ceiling paintings were a series of Greek mythological scenes by Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807). These were sold at auction in the early 20th century and are now believed to be in a private collection in the United States. The Jesuits commissioned a new series of ceiling paintings featuring scenes from the life of Christ by Dublin artist Patrick Tuohy (1894-1930). The residents of the Castle had direct access from this room to the lawn, woods and ornamental lake beyond via a double-cantilevered exterior staircase in Portland stone.

The Dining Room. “This room remains unrestored which allows us to see the changes and alternations which were made to the building over the years. The door on the left-hand (northern) wall is typically eighteenth century in style and decoration. However to the left of it a trace of the original Elizabethan doorway is visible. It was blocked up during the 18th century refurbishments. The bow extension to the eastern side of the building is another change dating to that period which added space and brought more light into these rooms. The 18th century timber wall panelling and lining paper survives in this room. It is likely that the walls were covered with silk. Although designed as a dining room, in the 20th century the Jesuits used this room as a library.

Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin.
The door on the left-hand (northern) wall is typically eighteenth century in style and decoration. However to the left of it a trace of the original Elizabethan doorway is visible. It was blocked up during the 18th century refurbishments. 
The Pistol Loop Room: “This room in the south-eastern corner of the Castle reminds us of the orignal defensive function of the building. A blocked-up gun loop is still visible in the corner of the room. These gun loops allowed those defending the Castle to fire their weapons at any approaching attackers. Note also the odd shape of the room which tapers off to the left. This reflects the shape of the angled bastion towers which were designed to allow defending soldiers to protect all approaches to the castle. The plates and wine decanters depicted in the plaster frieze just below the ceiling would suggest that in the eighteenth century this room may have been used as a private or smaller dining room.”
The Ante-Room. This served as a reception or waiting rom for guests attending the Ball. The Ionic columned Venetian style window is perhaps the highlight of this room. The columns are wooden and hollow and feature intricately carved foliage. The whole window may be referencing the form of a Roman triumphal arch. The wall separating this room from the ballroom was reinstated in the 1990s by the OPW. It had been removed in the 19th century by the then owner, Lord Chancellor Francis Blackburne (1782-1867), to accommodate a large pipe organ.
The Ballroom. The Ballroom was the principal room for entertainment and dancing and it is believed that the room was designed by Sir William Chambers. The door to the left on entering the room is false. It opens to reveal the wall behind. It was installed to maintain the balance and symmetry of the room. Musicians may have played in the eastern bow at the top of the Ballroom when dancing took place. Later, the Jesuits transformed the room into a chapel placing an altar in the bow with pews arranged down the centre of the room.
Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin.
The Octagonal Room. This room features an eight sided ceiling and is decorated with ancient Roman symbols of war. The border is made up of bound groups of timber rods (fasces), a symbol of authority and power in the Roman period. In the 18th century it may have been a withdrawing room where guests could step out of the Ballroom for private conversation or relaxation. It was later used as a sacristy by the Jesuits.
The Four Seasons Room, believed to have been designed by James “Athenian” Stuart. In each corner of the ceilign a cherub represents one of the four seasons while the central painting is that of teh goddess of agriculture and the harvest (Demeter in Greek or Ceres in Roman mythology). The mirror is from the late18tth century and constructed from a type of papier-mache treated to give the appearance of gilded wood or metal. The Louis XVI giltwood and tapestry chairs feature scense from La Fontaine’s fables which were adapted from the classics and published in the late 17th century. They are accompanied by an inlaid George III Pembroke Table. The bureau belonged to Henry Loftus and is of German manufacture (c. 1775). The carpet is a late 19th century Aubusson.
The Gilt Room ceiling. A design by James “Athenian” Stuart, features eight rondels containing objects symbolising different Greek gods and goddesses. Facing toward the window and moving clockwise, these symbols are thought to represent Apollo, Hermes, Dionysus, Ares, Aphrodite, Pen, Demeter and Artemis.

17. Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Military Road, Dublin 8:

Royal Hospital Kilmainham, January 2022.

General Enquiries: 01 643 7700, rhktours@opw.ie

In Irish, ‘Kil Maignenn’ means Maignenn’s church, and the area takes its name from that saint, who established a church and monastery here around AD 606. After Strongbow’s arrival in Ireland, the land was granted to the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem, who established a priory here.

From the OPW website:

The building as we know it today was begun in 1680. Leading architects such as William Robinson, Thomas Burgh and Francis Johnson made it the starting point for Dublin’s development into a city of European standing.

Inspired by Les Invalides in Paris, the building was to be a retirement home for old soldiers. Over the next 247 years, thousands of army pensioners lived out their final days within its walls.

In 1991, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham became home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art.” [26]

The arms of the 1st Duke of Ormond adorn the building.

The building was founded by King Charles II in 1679 to accommodate 300 soldiers. The building is arranged around four sides of a cloistered courtyard. Three of these wings house the Irish Museum of Modern Art. In the fourth wing, and not generally open to the public, is the splendid Robinson’s Chapel with a baroque plaster ceiling, carved oak and beautiful stained glass window, and the Geat Hall. You can see an online tour at https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=ce2pG4J1huc&mls=1

The Great Hall contains portraits that have hung here since 1713, and splendidly carved trophies over the doors remind me of those at Beaulieu in County Louth. The portaits include Queen Anne, Queen Mary, William III, Narcissus Marsh, Charles II, James 1st Duke of Ormond and the Earl of Arran and Earl of Ossory (sons of the Duke of Ormond), amongst others. A library which belonged to the original hospital is also cared by the OPW. The northern wing also contains the Master’s Lodgings, made for the Master of the Royal Hospital.

The Great Hall, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, photograph taken 1987, from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]
Royal Hospital Kilmainham dining hall by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection NLI, flickr constant commons.
Gardens at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, January 2022. The Formal Garden also known as the Master’s Garden, which has been recently restored under the supervision of architect Elizabeth Morgan.

18. St. Audoen’s, Dublin

St Audoen’s, Culture Night 2010.

General Enquiries: 01 677 0088, staudoenschurch@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

Nestled in the heart of the walled medieval city of Dublin, St Audoen’s Church is the only remaining medieval parish church in the capital. It is dedicated to the seventh-century bishop of Rouen and patron saint of Normandy.

St Audoen’s Church was crucial to the life of the medieval city. Here papal bulls were pronounced and public penances carried out. The Guild Chapel of St Ann houses an award-winning exhibition on the importance of St Audoen’s to medieval Dublin.

Visitors to St Audoen’s can examine the part of the church still in use by the Church of Ireland. They can also view the stunning fifteenth-century tomb to Baron Portlester and his wife.

St Audoen’s, Culture Night 2010.

The church is dedicated to St Ouen the 7th century bishop of Rouen and patron saint of Normandy, and was built in 1190 to replace an earlier structure. It is said to have the oldest bells in Ireland with three bells dating from 1423 hanging in the tower. In the main porch is stored an early Christian gravestone known as the Lucky Stone which has been kept here since 1309.

The OPW restored and re-roofed St Anne’s Guild Chapel, which had been without a roof since 1826. This chapel dates back to the time of Henry VI of England, who in 1430 authorised the erection of a chantry here, to be dedicated to St. Anne. The story of this Guild is fascinating as it had most of Dublin’s most important businessmen as its members. After Henry VIII made Protestantism the state religion, the Catholic members of St Anne’s Guild had to have meetings and Catholic masses in secret. They held much property, as wealthy patrons gave land to the church and guild as a way to curry favour in heaven, and so Guild members took to hiding the property deeds to the St Anne’s Guild.

The roof of the Portlester Chapel was removed in the 17th century, and the tomb was removed and can be seen in the main porch. The church still holds a weekly Church of Ireland service.

The Portlester tomb, St Audoens, featuring Roland FitzEustace (d. 1496), Lord Portlester, and his wife Margaret d’Artois. Photograph from ca. 1898, National Library of Ireland flickr constant commons.
Photograph from the National Library of Ireland.
The arch and old city walls, St. Audoen’s, 1954 photograph from Dublin City Library and Archives. [see 3]

19. St. Enda’s Park and Pearse Museum:

Pearse Museum, St Enda’s Park, Dublin, photograph 2021 by Aoife O’Neill_Aidona Photography for Fáilte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [7])

General Enquiries: 01 493 4208, pearsemuseum@opw.ie

From the OPW website:

The Pearse Museum in St Enda’s Park is where the leader of the 1916 Rising, Patrick Pearse, lived and operated his pioneering Irish-speaking school from 1910 to 1916.

Set in nearly 20 hectares of attractive parkland in Rathfarnham, Dublin, the museum tells the story of Patrick Pearse and his brother Willie, both of whom were executed for their part in the 1916 Rising. Here you can peruse a fascinating exhibition on Pearse’s life and wander through the historic rooms where he, his family and his students once lived and worked.

The romantic landscape surrounding the museum contains a wild river valley, forested areas and some enchanting eighteenth- and nineteenth-century follies.” The follies were built by two generations of the Hudson family.

and

Edward Hudson, the State Dentist and a Doctor of Physic, signed a lease on the lands known as the ‘Fields of Odin’ in Rathfarnham which were owned by Thomas Connolly of Castletown House in Co. Kildare on 2 April, 1786. He had a home and business premises on St. Stephen’s Green but he also built the house which now houses the Pearse Museum as a country retreat and appropriately named it ‘The Hermitage’.

We stayed in the country house of Edward Hudson in Cork in 2020, Glenville Park, which later became the home of Mark Bence-Jones.

Glenville Park, County Cork, 2020 – the country residence of Edward Hudson and later, Mark Bence-Jones. [27]

The website continues:

Across the road was The Priory, the home of the famous lawyer John Philpot Curran. His daughter, Sarah, was the sweetheart of the rebel Robert Emmet. Legend has it that Hudson allowed the two young lovers to meet in the grounds of the Hermitage away from the disapproving stares of her father. It was this story which first drew Pearse to this area of Rathfarnham in the summer of 1910.

Edward Hudson was a very learned man with a passionate interest in science and the ancient past. This interest is reflected in the garden monuments and follies which are dotted around the park, many of which were built in imitation of ancient Irish field monuments, including the ogham stone which bears his name. His son William Elliot shared his father’s fascination with Irish history, and in particular the Irish language. He was a founder of the Celtic Society and was a friend of Thomas Davis. He was a lawyer and was involved in the defence of the Young Irelanders, Thomas Francis Meagher and William Smith O’Brien, following their rebellion in 1848. He sold The Hermitage to a legal colleague, Justice Richard Moore, in 1847. Ironically it was Moore who eventually passed sentence on Meagher and Smith O’Brien.

From Justice Moore the property came into the ownership of Major Richard Doyne, a veteran of the Crimean War, who purchased it in 1859. It was then inherited by his son, Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Kavanagh Doyne, who spent much of his life serving with the British Army in India. In 1898, two years before his death, he sold The Hermitage to William Woodbyrne who had made his fortune in the diamond mines of South Africa. Woodbyrne made many improvements to the grounds, including the creation of the ornamental lake. He never lived in the house as his wife contracted tuberculosis and they had to move to a warmer climate. Instead he rented the house to a series of tenants, including Pearse.

One other tenant of particular note was Sir Neville Chamberlain, a former officer in the British army in India and the person credited with the invention of the game of snooker. He moved into The Hermitage in 1900 when he was appointed Chief Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force of Ireland at the time. In an amazing historic coincidence, Sir Neville was head of the RIC in 1916 when Pearse led the Rising against British rule in Ireland!

Surrounded by fifty acres of landscaped parkland, the museum is located in the former home and school of Patrick Pearse, the leader of the 1916 Rising. He founded his school, Scoil Éanna, in 1908 in Cullenswood House, Ranelagh. His initial interest in education stemmed from his involvement in the Gaelic League and the Irish language movement. However he very quickly became passionate about education and its possibilities. His ideas were progressive and radical and he had little time for the exam-focused education system of the time. He felt that schools should nurture the talents of all their pupils, even if those talents lay outside the traditional school subjects.

For Pearse the key to real learning was inspiration, and he felt that to be a success his school needed a suitably inspiring setting. He was anxious to find a home for his school which would allow his pupils direct access to the natural world. He discovered The Hermitage in Rathfarnham in 1910 while on a historical pilgrimage of sites associated with the revolutionary Robert Emmet. Nestled in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, it was the ideal location for his school.

The house was also Patrick Pearse’s family home. His mother, brother and sisters all assisted in the running of the school. In 1916 he and his brother William left to fight in the 1916 Rising, never to return. Pearse was the leader of the uprising and the author of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. He also oversaw the surrender once all hope of victory was lost. While revolution was raging in Dublin, his mother and sisters waited for news in Rathfarnham. It was there that they heard that both brothers were to be executed. His mother and eldest sister lived on in the house and ran the school there until 1935. Following the death of Pearse’s last surviving sister in 1968, the house and grounds were handed over to the state with the provision that they be used as a memorial to the lives of Patrick and William Pearse. The Pearse Museum was then opened to the public in 1979.” [28]

20. St. Stephens Green, Dublin:

The park was landscaped between 1877-1880. It was created as a park in 1663 for citizens of the city could take the open air.
Stephen’s Green 1957, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Stephen’s Green 1949, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]

General Enquiries: 01 475 7816, info@heritageireland.ie

from the OPW website:

In the very centre of Dublin’s shopping district lies one of Ireland’s best-known public parks.

Lord Ardilaun [Arthur Edward Guinness, 1st and last Baron Ardilaun of Ashford (1840-1915)] opened it for the citizens of the city in 1880. This 9-hectare green space has been maintained in its original Victorian layout, with extensive tree and shrub planting and spectacular spring and summer bedding. The herbaceous border provides vibrant colour from early spring to late autumn.

It boasts over 3.5 kilometres of accessible pathways. The waterfall and Pulham rockwork on the western side of the green are well worth a visit. So is the ornamental lake, which provides a home for waterfowl. Several sculptures are located throughout the green, including the James Joyce Memorial Sculpture and a fine specimen by Henry Moore.

A children’s playground in the park is always popular and, if you visit at lunchtime during the summer months, you might even catch a free concert.”

Stephen’s Green 1952, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Stephen’s Green 1955, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Stephen’s Green 1963, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Stephen’s Green 1966, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Stephen’s Green 1944, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Statue of Clarence Mangan in St. Stephen’s Green, March 2011.

The name St Stephen’s Green originates from a church called St Stephen’s in that area in the thirteenth century. Attached to the church was a leper hospital. Around this time the area was a marshy piece of common ground, which extended as far as the River Dodder and was used by the citizens of the city for grazing livestock.

In 1663 the City Assembly decided that the plot of ground could be used to generate income for the city and a central area of twenty-seven acres was marked out which would define the park boundary, with the remaining ground being let out into ninety building lots. Rent generated was to be used to build walls and paving around the Green. Each tenant also had to plant six sycamore trees near the wall, in order to establish some privacy within the park. In 1670 the first paid gardeners were employed to tend to the park.

The Green became a particularly fashionable place during the eighteenth century, owing mainly to the opening of Grafton Street in 1708 and Dawson Street in 1723, and the construction of desirable properties in and around this area. The Beaux Walk situated along the northern perimeter of the park became a popular location for high society to promenade. Lewis’ Dublin Guide of 1787 describes the Beaux Walk as being a scene of elegance and taste. Other walks found in the park included the French Walk found along the western perimeter of the park, and Monk’s Walk and Leeson’s Walk located along the eastern and southern boundaries of the park respectively.

By the nineteenth century the condition of the park had deteriorated to such an extent that the perimeter wall was broken, and many trees were to be found in bad condition around the park. In 1814 commissioners representing the local householders were handed control of the park. They replaced the broken wall with ornate Victorian railings and set about planting more trees and shrubs in the park. New walks were also constructed to replace the formal paths previously found in the park. However with these improvements, the Green then became a private park accessible only to those who rented keys to the park from the Commission, despite the 1635 law which decreed that the park was available for use by all citizens. This move was widely resented by the public.

The Band Stand in St Stephen’s Green.

Sir Arthur Guinness, later known as Lord Ardilaun, grew up in Iveagh House located on St Stephen’s Green, and came from a family well noted for its generosity to the Dublin public. In 1877 Sir Arthur offered to buy the Green from the commission and return it to the public. He paid off the park’s debts and secured an Act which ensured that the park would be managed by the Commissioners of Public Works, now the OPW.

Sir Arthur’s next objective was to landscape the park, and provide an oasis of peace and tranquility in the city. He took an active part in the design of the redeveloped park, and many of the features in the park are said to have been his suggestions. The main features of the redeveloped park included a three-acre lake with a waterfall, picturesquely-arranged Pulham rockwork, and a bridge, as well as formal flower beds, and fountains. The superintendent’s lodge was designed with Swiss shelters. It is estimated the redevelopment of the park cost £20,000.

After three long years of construction work, and without a formal ceremony the park reopened its gates on 27th of July 1880, to the delight of the public of Dublin.” [29]

Stephen’s Green 1963, photograph from Dublin City Library archives. [see 3]
Royal Fusiliers Arch, St. Stephen’s Green, 2007, commemorates members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Second Boer War. It was erected in 1907.

[1] https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/aras-an-uachtarain/

Some of the Viceroys and Vicereines who lived there may include (portraits below are from the 2021 exhibition of Vicereines that took place in Dublin Castle): William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck the 3rd Duke of Portland and his wife Dorothy (Viceroy 1782), George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, 11st Marquess of Buckingham (Viceroy 1782), Charles Manners the 4th Duke of Rutland (1754-1787), Viceroy 1784-87, and his wife Mary Isabella, Charles Lennox the 4th Duke of Richmond and his wife Charlotte (Viceroy 1807-1813), Hugh Percy 3rd Duke of Northumberland and his wife Charlotte Florentia (Viceroy 1829-30), Constantine Henry Phipps 1st Marquess of Normanby and his wife Maria Phipps (Viceroy 1835-39), James Hamilton 1st Duke of Abercorn and his wife Louisa (Viceroy 1866-68 and 1874-76), Thomas de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey, 3rd Baron Grantham, 6th Baron Lucas and his wife Henrietta Cole from Florence Court, County Fermanagh (Viceroy 1841-1844), Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 6th Marquess of Londonderry and his wife Theresa (Viceroy 1886-89), John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer (Viceroy 1868-74 and 1882-5), John Hamilton-Gordon, 1st Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair (Viceroy 1886 and 1905-1915)and Ivor Guest, 1st Viscount Wimborne (Viceroy 1915-1918).

Mary Somerset (1665-1733), Duchess of Ormond, wife of James Butler 2nd Duke of Ormond (1665-1745), painted by Michael Dahl. She publicly wore a new Irish-made dress every Monday in Dublin Castle to set a trend so that all ladies of fashion would buy Irish-made clothing. James Butler 2nd Duke became Lord Lieutenant in 1703, so they would have lived in Dublin Castle.
Dorothy Bentinck Duchess of Portland (1750-1794), nee Cavendish, daughter of the 4th Duke of Devonshire, Vicereine of Ireland 1782, painted by George Romney.
Mary Isabella Manners nee Somerset, Duchess of Rutland, Vicereine 1784-87.
Charlotte Florentia Percy nee Clive, Duchess of Northumberland (1787-1866), by Martin Cregan, Vicereine 1829-30.
Lady Henrietta Cole, Lady Grantham, later Countess de Grey (1784-1848), Vicereine 1841-44, from Florence Court, Fermanagh.
Louisa Hamilton nee Russell Duchess of Abercorn, by Edwin Landseer (Vicereine 1866-68 and 1874-76).
Charlotte Spencer nee Seymour, Countess Spencer (1835-1903) by Sir John Leslie, Vicereine 1868-74 and 1882-5. She supported Home Rule for Ireland, putting her at odds with Queen Victoria.
Theresa Susey Helen Talbot, Marchioness of Londonderry (1856-1919) by John Singer Sargent, Vicereine 1886-89. She worked to develop the craft of lacemaking in counties such as Limerick and Monaghan.
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Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 6th Marquess of Londonderry, husband of Theresa Susey Helen Talbot (above).
Ishbel nee Marjoribanks Countess of Aberdeen (1857-1939), by Alphonse Jongers. Vicereine 1886 and 1905-1915, she brought about improvements in cottage industries and women’s healthcare, and was a committed advocate of Irish Home Rule.
Alice Guest nee Grosvenor Viscountess Wimborne by Sir John Lavery, Vicereine 1915-18.

[2] https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/05/21/colganstown-house-hazelhatch-road-newcastle-county-dublin/

[3] https://repository.dri.ie/

[4] https://casinomarino.ie/

[5] p. 201, Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988, Constable and Company Ltd, London.

[6] https://casinomarino.ie/the-family/

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

[8] https://www.archiseek.com/2010/1791-custom-house-customhouse-quay-dublin/

[9] https://www.archiseek.com/2010/1791-custom-house-customhouse-quay-dublin/

[10] p. 8, Marnham, Niamh. An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of Dublin South City. Published by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 2017.

[11] https://www.archiseek.com/2010/1204-dublin-castle/

[12] p. 6, Marnham, Niamh. An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of Dublin South City. Published by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 2017.

[13] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/building-of-the-month/chapel-royal-dublin-castle-dame-street-dublin-2/

[14] p. 9, Marnham, Niamh. An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of Dublin South City. Published by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 2017.

[15] See also https://farmleigh.ie/

* I visited Iveagh House during Open House in October 2014.

[16] https://farmleigh.ie/the-guinness-family/

[17] https://farmleigh.ie/the-parkland/

[18] https://farmleigh.ie/the-parkland/

[19] https://opwdublincommemorative.ie/garden-of-remembrance/learn-more/

[20] https://opwdublincommemorative.ie/grangegorman/learn-more/

[21] https://opwdublincommemorative.ie/war-memorial/

[22] https://iveaghgardens.ie/

[23] https://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie/the-building/

[24] https://botanicgardens.ie/glasnevin/history/

[25] https://phoenixpark.ie/

[26] See also https://rhk.ie/about-us/

William Robinson also built Marsh’s Library in Dublin.

Marsh’s Library, photograph from 1975, Dublin City Library and Archive. [see 3]

[27] http://www.glenvillepark.com/

[28] https://pearsemuseum.ie/the-museum/

[29] https://ststephensgreenpark.ie/cultural-heritage/