Places to visit and stay in County Limerick, Munster

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

orange: “whole house rental” i.e. those properties that are only for large group accommodations or weddings, e.g. 10 or more people.

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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

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 (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

For a full listing of accommodation in big houses in Ireland, see my accommodation page: https://irishhistorichouses.com/accommodation/

Limerick:

1. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co. Limericksection 482

2. Askeaton Castle, County Limerick – OPW

3. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick – OPW

4. Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick – OPW

5. Glebe House, Holycross, Bruff, Co. Limerick – section 482

6. Glenville House, Glenville, Ardagh, Co. Limerick – section 482

7. Glenquin Castle, Newcastle West, Co Limerick – open to visitors 

8. Glenstal Abbey, County Limerick

9. Kilpeacon House, Crecora, Co. Limerick – section 482

10. King John’s Castle, Limerick

11. Odellville House, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482

12. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limerick – section 482

13. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482

14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick – section 482

Places to stay, County Limerick:

1. Adare Manor, Limerick – hotel €€€

2. Ash Hill Towers, Kilmallock, Co Limerick – section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €

3. Ballyteigue House, County Limerick self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10

4. Deebert House, Kilmallock, County Limerick – B&B and self-catering

5. The Dunraven, Adare, Co Limerick € 

6. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11

7. Longcourt House Hotel, Newcastle West, Co Limerick €

8. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick €€

Whole house rental County Limerick

1. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick – self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10

2. Fanningstown Castle, Adare, County Limerick – sleeps 10

3. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11

4. Glin Castle, whole house rental.

5. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.

Limerick:

1. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick – section 482 €

contact: Simon and Nicole Johnson
Tel: 063-98035
www.ashhill.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: Apr 1-Sept 30, 9.30am-4.30pm Fee: adult €5, child/OAP/student €3

Ashill Towers, taken  c.1865-1914 by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons. The two corner towers were taken down in the 1960s.
Ash Hill, August 2022. Listed in National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [1]

The website tells us: “Ash Hill is a large, comfortable Georgian estate, boasting many fine stucco ceilings and cornices throughout the house. For guests wishing to stay at Ash Hill, we have three beautifully appointed en-suite bedrooms, all of which can accommodate one or more cots…Open to the public from January 15th through December 15th. Historical tours with afternoon tea are easily arranged and make for an enjoyable afternoon. We also host small workshops of all kinds, upon request…For discerning guests, Ash Hill can be rented, fully staffed, in its entirety [comfortably sleeps 10 people]. Minimum rental 7 days.”

We treated ourselves to a stay during Heritage Week 2022 – write-up coming soon!

Our bedroom at Ash Hill, County Limerick.

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

“(Evans/Carbery/ Johnson/ Harrington) A C18 pedimented house [the National Inventory tells us it was built in 1781], the back of which was rebuilt in Gothic 1833, probably to the design of James and George Richard Pain [the National Inventory corrects this – it was designs by Charles Frederick Anderson], with two slender round battlemented and machiolated towers. Rectangular windows with wooden tracery. Good plasterwork in upstairs drawing room in the manner of Wyatt and by the same hand as the hall at Glin Castle; saloon with domed ceiling. The towers have, in recent years, been removed. Originally a seat of the Evans family; passed in the later C19 to John Henry Weldon. Now the home of Major Stephen Johnson.” [2]

The website also tells us about its history:

The oldest evidence of habitation at Ash Hill is what is believed to be a long barrow grave dating somewhere between 4000 and 2000 B.C. This was described in letters written by Eileen Foster, an American visiting her ancestral home, Ash Hill, in 1908. Miss Foster wrote “close to the avenue, as they call it, although there are trees on only one side of the road, is a large green mound which is supposed to mark the burial place of one of the Irish chieftains and a number of his followers. It was the custom in those days to bury a dozen or so of his slaves with every chieftain. Father says he would like to explore the spot, but not a man could be found who would put a spade into the sacred earth”.

Also on the estate, beside the site of an old lake, there are the remains of a crannog (an Irish house built on a small island) usually dating prior to 1000 A.D. The lake was drained in the 1915 and during this process, the remains of numerous Irish Elk (deer from the interglacial period) were discovered.

Close to the lake, overlooking the town, is the site of Castle Coote, birthplace of Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Coote, conqueror of India. This castle was demolished in the later half of the eighteenth century.

The courtyard to the main house was built sometime between 1720 and 1740 and it was sympathetically restored in the 1950’s by the late Mrs. Denny Johnson. The present house, which overlooks this courtyard, was built by Chidley Coote [1735-1799] in 1781.

The courtyard side of the house, Ash Hill.
The stables in the courtyard, Ash Hill.

This part of the house has numerous ceilings of historical and architectural importance displaying dancers from Herculaneum which are similar to the stucco medallions found in the saloon at Castletown, County Kildare. Numerous windows, looking out onto the courtyard, date from this period and have the original glass. 

In the 1830’s, Eyre Evans [1773-1856] employed Charles Anderson, an architect, to build the front of the house in a Gothic style with two large towers on it. There are various Gothic features in this part of the house. Unfortunately, due to excessive rates (a valuation based property tax), some parts of the house, including the towers, were removed in the early 1960’s.

During the “troubled times”, the house was occupied by three sets of troops who looted and vandalized the property, using ancient family portraits for target practice. As these “troubled times” were ending, Michael Collins, the Irish leader at the time, visited the house on his way south to what would be his violent and untimely demise at the hands of his enemies. There is a considerable amount of graffiti left on the walls of the top floor rooms which were occupied by both troops and prisoners.

The first recorded ownership of Ash Hill was in 1667 when Chidley Coote [d. 1702, grandson of Charles Coote, 1st Baronet Coote, of Castle Cuffe, Queen’s Co., or perhaps his father Chidley Coote (d. 1668)] acquired the property from Catherine Bligh. It is probable that he had a son who was also Chidley Coote [(1678-1730). He married Jane Evans of Bulgaden Hall, Limerick.]. In 1726, Lieutenant General Eyre Coote [1726-1783] (son of Chidley Coote–a clergyman and owner of Castle Coote) was born at Ash Hill which was known as Castle Coote at that time [There were three other brothers: Robert Coote who married Anne Purdon of Ballyclough, County Cork (now partly demolished); Reverend Charles Coote who married Grace Tilson; Thomas Coote who married Eleanor White of Charleville, County Cork]. General Coote went on to become one of the greatest military tacticians of the eighteenth century with numerous victories to his credit, including winning India from the French in the Seven Years’ War and defeating Hyder Ali despite being outnumbered by almost twenty to one. This same victorious pattern was to be repeated in battles throughout the war. 

Coote’s nephew, Sir Eyre Coote [(1762-1823), son of Eyre Coote’s brother Reverend Charles Evans Coote (1713-1796)], who was born at Ash Hill in the late eighteenth century, became the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica between 1806 and 1808. It has been said that Coote, while living in Jamaica, had a relationship with a slave girl. Although unconfirmed, it is thought that Colin Powell, hero of the Gulf War, may be a descendent of this relationship.

Major-General Sir Eyre Coote, (1762-?1824), Governor of Jamaica Date 1805 Engraver Antoine Cardon, Flemish, 1772-1813 After W. P. J. Lodder, British, fl.1783-1804 Publisher A. Cardon, photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland.

Sometime prior to 1799, Ash Hill passed on to Eyre Evans. We are still attempting to ascertain if Eyre Evans was a descendent of Eyre Coote [I believe he is related: Jane Evans who married Reverend Chidley Coote had a brother named Thomas Evans (d. 1753). He had a son, Eyre Evans (1723-1773). This Eyre had a son also named Eyre Evans (1773-1856). It was he who inherited Ash Hill Towers. He married Anna Maunsell of Limerick]. We believe this could well be the case in light of both parties sharing the same first name as well as ownership of Ash Hill. At about the time of the Famine, ownership of the estate passed out of the Evans family and, in 1858, part of the estate was acquired by Thomas Weldon. In 1860, another part of the estate was acquired by Captain Henry Frederick Evans. In 1880, Evans’ widow sold her interest in the estate to John Henry Weldon, a son of Thomas Weldon. 

The Evans family was a large family with many branches that emigrated to New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, Canada and U.S.A. One of the branch that emigrated to New Zealand was a prolific writer and much or possibly all of his writings were donated to the Alexander Turnbull library in Wellington, New Zealand. 

The estate passed out of the Weldon family to P.M. Lindsay in 1911. Captain Lindsay sold Ash Hill to Mrs. Denny Johnson in 1946. 

After Denise Johnson bought the property in 1946 she ran it as a successful stud, and she was a successful point-to-point rider with over 50 wins to her name. In 1956 she married Stado Johnson. After many falls she was told to “take up a safer sport then point-to point riding” by her doctor, she took up 3-day eventing and represented Ireland at an international level. 

Today, Ash Hill has been opened to the public and sees a great many people of vaired interests. From architects to historians interested in taking a peek at Ireland’s unique past, all are welcome. Ash Hill is still owned by the Johnson family who enjoy sharing their love of history and the outdoors with the public. Most days, Simon and Nikki Johnson can be found wandering around the estate tending to the garden and pastures. For those interested, Simon can be happily talked into a full tour.

2. Askeaton Castle, County Limerick – OPW

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

3. Desmond Castle, Adare, County Limerick – OPW

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

4. Desmond Castle, Newcastlewest, County Limerick – OPW

Desmond Castle, Newcastle West, County Limerick, August 2022.

See my OPW write-up: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

5. Glebe House, Holycross, Bruff, Co. Limerick – section 482

Is it this? Brackvoan, former Presbytry, Bruff, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [3]

contact: Kate Hayes and Colm McCarthy
Tel: 087-6487556
Open: Jan 4-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, 31, Aug 13-22, Sept 1-30, Mon-Fri, 5.30pm- 9.30pm, Sat-Sun, 8am-12 noon

Fee: Free

6. Glenville House, Glenville, Ardagh, Co. Limerick – section 482

Glenville House, County Limerick, August 2022.

contact: Owen O’Neill
Tel: 086-2541435
Open dates in 2022: Apr 1-30, May 1-31, Sept 1-13, Tue-Sat, Aug 13-21, 9.30am-1.30pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/student €3, child free

We visited during Heritage Week 2022 – write-up coming soon!

The National Inventory tells us it is a :”Detached three-bay two-storey country house, dated 1803, having six-bay block to north (rear) elevation, extending to east of main block and adjoining L-plan multiple-bay two-storey outbuilding. Central full-height breakfront to south (front) elevation. …Flat arched opening to east elevation with cut limestone surround, voussoirs and keystone, and double-leaf timber battened door… Lunette openings to first floor, east and west elevations, having tooled limestone sills, red brick surrounds and timber framed windows…

Once the home of William Massey, this building is currently undergoing restoration. Its size and massing make it a very notable feature on the landscape and the regular façade and restrain in ornamentation adds to the imposing appearance. The retention of timber sliding sash windows and limestone sills is significant, and adds to the architectural significance of the site. Symmetry is evident in the design and is enhanced by the hipped roof, central chimneystacks and breakfront. The outbuildings, walled garden to the rear, and gate lodge all serve to add context to the site. Keystone reads: ‘WM/AD/1803’.” [4]

Glenville House, Limerick.

7. Glenquin Castle, Newcastle West, Co Limerick – open to visitors 

One of the finest tower houses to survive from the 16th century, Gleann an Choim (Glen of the Shelter) is situated a few miles from Ashford at the edge of the road (open to the public during summer). 

This castle was a fortified dwelling, for the protection against raids and invaders, more correctly described as a Tower House. [5]

Robert O’Byrne tells us: “Thought to stand on the site of an older building dating from the 10th century, Glenquin Castle in Killeedy was built by the O’Hallinan family (their name deriving from the Irish Ó hAilgheanáin, meaning mild or noble). When the castle was built seems unclear; both the mid-15th and mid-16th centuries are proposed. Regardless, it is typical of tower houses being constructed at the time right around the country.” [6]

8. Glenstal Abbey, County Limerick

Glenstal Abbey, Courtesy Michelle Crowley 2020 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [7]

https://glenstal.com/

The website tells us: “Glenstal Abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks in County Limerick, Ireland, and is a place of prayer, work, education and hospitality. The monastery sits alongside a popular guesthouse and a boarding school for boys, housed within a 19th century Normanesque castle amidst five hundred magnificent acres of farmland, forest, lakes and streams.

We are happy to welcome groups who wish to visit the monastery and spend some time getting to know our place, our tradition and our life.”

You can book to stay, as a retreat: https://glenstal.com/abbey/stay/

View of a copy of the romansque cathedral door in Glenstall. Country Life 03/10/1974 [8]

The castle was built as a home for Joseph Barrington (1764-1846), 1st Baronet of Limerick. Joseph married Mary Baggott – I wonder are we distantly related? She was the daughter of Daniel Baggot (the landed families website tells us that he was a bootseller in Limerick!). Joseph’s son Matthew, 2nd Baronet was also involved with having the home built.

The front door is flanked by figures of Henry II and Queen Eleanor, who were such a warring couple that one wonders if they were chosen in ignorance: the Queen holds a scroll on which is inscribed the Irish welcome, Cead mile failte. [9]

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 139. “(Barrington, BT/Pb) A massive Norman-Revival castle by William Bardwell, of London, begun in 1837, though not finished till about 1880. 

The main building comprises a square, three-storey keep joined to a broad round tower by a lower range. 

The entrance front is approached through a gatehouse copied from that of Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire. The stonework is of excellent quality and there is wealth of carving; the entrance door is flanked by the figures of Edward I and Eleanor of Castille; while the look-out tower is manned by a stone soldier. Groined entrance hall; staircase of dark oak carved with animals, foliage and Celtic motifs, hemmed in by Romanesque columns; drawing room with mirror in Norman frame. Octagonal library at the base of the round tower, lit by small windows in very deep recesses; the vaulted ceiling painted with blue and gold stars; central pier panelled in looking-glass with fireplace. Elaborately carved stone Celtic-Romanesque doorway copied from Killaloe Cathedral between two of the reception rooms. Glen with fine trees and shrubs; river and lake, many-arched bridge. Now a Benedictine Abbey and a well-known  boys’ public school.” 

Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glenstal Abbey, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Sean O’Reilly writes: “the castle remains one of the most magnificent attempts at creating an Irish version of the medieval Anglo-Norman castle. Yet Glenstal’s castle-like form is not due to the need for defence. In a tradition going back to Georgian castles such as Glin, Co Limerick and Charleville forest, Co Offaly, the intention is to evoke some ancient time, but conbined with the needs of a modern country house.” [10]

“(p. 172)The appearance of antiquity might also give to its patron at least the suggestion of an ancient lineage, and that in itself, in an increasingly disjointed Irish society, was not without significance. The Barringtons settled in Limerick relatively late, at the end of the seventeenth century, and furthered their fame less though marriage than through hard work, innovative industry and successful trading. Pofessional advancement was not accompanied by significant social advance, and though Joseph Barrington was a baronet, the family were in essence business people rather than aristocracy. Although there was no speedier way of securing the impression of title and history than by having one’s own castle, his son Matthew, Crown solicitor for Munster, must have recognized the discomfort of real castles, and so decided to build a more comfortable, modern version. 

The design passed through numerous phases even before building began. Even after construction commenced in 1838, from designs provided by the successful English architect William Bardwell, changes, indecision and economic variables all added further complications. Initially, before the selection of the design, the problem was the choice of site. Not having inherited lands on which to build, Barrington might use any site, and he decided first on property he had leased in 1818 from the increasingly encumbered Limerick estates of the Lord Carberry. Part of these included the district of Glenstal, at one time intended as a site for the house, and although Barrington later turned to various other sites, he took with him the name. Consequently, in a very characteristic Georgian incongruity, the title of this apparently ancient castle bears no relation to the land on which it sits.

View of the Central peri of one of the fire places in the library at Glenstall. Country Life 03/10/1974 [8]
 

O’Reilly tells us “[William] Bardwell [1795-1890], little known today despite his long life – he died in 1890 aged 95 – was still less familiar when first employed by Barrington, and Glenstal remains his most important work. After training in England he advanced his studies, rather unusually for the date, in France. He gained some celebrity through competing both for the London Houses of Parliament, and for the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. It may well have been the Norman tower proposed by Bardwell as his entrance to Parliament that suggested him to his Limerick patron, though as all periods of architecture were intended to be represented in that building, any prospective client may have found something of interest. 

The ultimate inspiration for Bardwell’s Glenstal lay less with the designs of the Paines or O’Hara than with the work of Thomas Hopper, notably his Gosford Castle in Armagh, of 1819. This was the first Normal revival castle in these islands, and the first in a style that Hopper would make his own. Neither Barrington nor Bardwell need have been with Gosford itself, for by the late 1830s the type was not uncommon. 

…Bardwell was in Ireland in 1840, reviewing the completed work. It then extended from the largest, southern, tower to the gatehouse in the south-east wall. However, work stopped in the following year, and began again only in 1846 or 1847. Construction paused again in 1849, to recommence in about 1853, with Bardwell finally paid off, and a Cork architect, Joshua Hargrave, appointed to complete the work with restricted funds, and to create something approaching a functioning building…

Most carving was executed by an English firm, W.T. Kelsey of Brompton, which provided fifteen cases of columns, capitals and corbels in 1844. However, the detailing of much of the carved work suggests some familiarity with Irish early Christian sources, and echoes abound of recent work at Adare Manor, itself being slowly built over many years, although using native craftsmen. 

If much of the carved detail is evocative rather than accurate, there are also striking and significant copies of Irish early Christian design. The style was then only beginning to receive proper attention as part of Ireland’s heritage. The idea may have been inspired again by Dunraven’s Adare – Barrington is known to have had business dealings with the family – for they used such Hiberno-Romanesque designs in the doorcase of their entrance hall. At Glenstal we find superb copies, notably the doorcase connecting the dining room and drawing room. This is a magnificently carved and surprisingly accurate reconstruction of the doorway in Killaloe Cathedral, Co Clare, today recognized as one of the masterpieces of the Irish Romanesque. A lack of understanding of the importance of such work was prevalent in mid-nineteenth-century Ireland – it might be compared to the recent lack of interest in the heritage of the country house – and its introduction here was an important moment in the history of the revival of interest in Ireland’s Christian and Celtic legacy.

“…It was part of a wider interest in Ireland’s national character that the future of this important house was put in jeopardy. The tragic accidental shooting of the daughter of the 5th Baronet, Charles Barrington, by the IRA in an ambush on the Black and Tans in May 1921, led to the family’s departure and, eventually, the sale of the estate in 1925.

Timothy William Ferres quotes “The Origins and Early Days of Glenstal” by Mark Tierney OSB, in Martin Browne OSB and Colmán O Clabaigh (eds), The Irish Benedictines: a history (Dublin, 2005):

When eventually, in 1925, the time came to leave, Sir Charles made a magnificent gesture. He wrote to the Irish Free State government, offering Glenstal as a gift to the Irish nation, specifically suggesting that it might be a suitable residence for the Governor-General. 

Mr W T. Cosgrave, the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, and Mr Tim Healy, the Governor-General, visited Glenstal in July 1925, and ‘were astonished at its magnificence, which far exceeded our expectations’. However, financial restraints forced them to turn down the offer. Mr Cosgrave wrote to Sir Charles, stating that ‘our present economic position would not warrant the Ministry in applying to the Dail to vote the necessary funds for the upkeep of Glenstal’. “

9. Kilpeacon House, Crecora, Co. Limerick – section 482

contact: Donie and Mary Costello
Tel: 087-9852462
Open: May 3-June 30, Mon- Sat, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €4

Kilpeacon, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

“[Gavin, sub Westropp/IFR] An early C19 villa undoubtedly by Sir Richard Morrison, though it is undocumented; having a strong likeness to Morrison’s “show” villa, Bearforest, Co Cork; while its plan is, in Mr. McPartland’s words, “an ingenious contraction of that of Castlegar,” one of his larger houses in the villa manner, 2 storey; 3 bay front; central breakfront; curved balustraded porch with Ionic columns; Wyatt windows under semi-circular relieving arches on either side in lower storey. Eaved roof. 5 bay side elevation. Oval entrance hall. Small but impressively high central staircase hall lit by lantern and surrounded by arches lighting a barrel-vaulted bedroom corridor. The seat of the Gavin family.

The landed estates database tells us:

Lewis writes that the manor was granted to William King in the reign of James I and that “the late proprietor” had erected a handsome mansion which was now the “property and residence of Cripps Villiers”. In his will dated 1704 William King refers to his niece Mary Villiers. The Ordnance Survey Field Name Book states that Kilpeacon House was the property of Edward Villiers, Dublin, and was occupied by Miss Deborah Cripps. Built in 1820 it was a large, commodious building of 2 stories. It was the residence of Edward C. Villiers at the time of Griffith’s Valuation, held in fee and valued at £60. Bought by Major George Gavin in the early 1850s from the Villiers and the residence of his son Montiford W. Gavin in the early 20th century. The Irish Tourist Association surveyor writes in 1942 that this house was completed in 1799. The owner was Mrs O’Kelly, her husband having purchased the house in 1927 from the Gavins. This house is still extant and occupied.” [11] 

10. King John’s Castle, Limerick

King John’s Castle Limerick, July 2018.

Maintained by Shannon Heritage. Archiseek tells us: “King John’s Castle, on the south side of Thomond Bridge head, built in 1210 “to dominate the bridge and watch towards Thomond”, is one of the finest specimens of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland.

The castle is roughly square on plan and its 60 meter frontage along the river is flanked by two massive round towers, each over 15m. in diameter with walls 3 metres thick. The castle gate entrance – a tall, narrow gateway between two tall, round towers is quite imposing. There is another massive round tower at the north east corner of the fortification, but the east wall and the square tower defending the south-east corner of the castle, and on which cannons were mounted, is long demolished. 

There was a military barracks erected within the walls in 1751, some of which still remains. Houses were also erected in the castle yard at a very much later date. These have now been removed and a modern visitor centre built on the walls. 

The walls and towers still remaining of the castle are in reasonably good state of preservation. The domestic buildings of the courtyard do not survive, except for remnants of a 13th century hall and the site of what could be the castle chapel.” [12]

King John’s Castle Limerick, July 2018.
King John’s Castle Limerick, July 2018.

The castle was built around 1197 under the orders of King John following the invasion of the Anglo-Normans. It was built on the site of an original Viking settlement believed to date back to 922 AD.” [13]

King John’s Castle, Limerick. The information board tells us that from here you can see the Gatehouse and the Great Hall. These are some of the earliest remaining features of the stone castle: the back of the twin-towered gatehouse and the northeast tower. The gatehouse defences were continued into the courtyard by means of an arched passageway, at the end of which were placed the inner gates of the castle. This extension was demolished in the 18th century.

The information board tells us that built between 1210-1212 along part of the line of the 12th century ringwork, the gatehouse was the first of its kind to be constructed in Ireland, with boldly projecting towers placed on either side of the gate. It followed the latest trend in European castle building, moving from rectangular to round towers, as curved walls offered better protection from attack, particularly from mining. Mining is when one digs a series of holes or “mines” under the walls in order to weaken the walls – hence comes our term “to undermine.” The two towers of the gatehouse are “D” shaped in plan, with three floors of circular chambers within and a parapet on top.

By flanking the gate, the two towers allowed the castle’s entrance to be defended in depth, from a number of well-positioned arrow loops in the chambers. The defences also included a portcullis and a murder hole. The castle was also supplied via the river, where there is a more modest watergate in the west curtain wall.

“In 1642 the castle was occupied by people escaping the confederate wars and was badly damaged in the Siege of Limerick. The confederate leader Garret Barry had no artillery so dug under the foundations of the castle’s walls, causing them to collapse. There was also considerable damage caused during the Williamite sieges in the 1690s and so the castle has been repaired and restored on a number of occasions.” [13]

It is a good place here to review the Siege of Limerick. Near the castle is the Treaty Stone: apparently the Treaty of Limerick, which was signed by, amongst others, John Baggot, was signed on this stone, which was later memorialised on a plinth. A series of plaques on the ground around the stone tells us the story of the Siege of Limerick:

The War of Two Kings. James II, a Catholic, was king of England. Parliament, unhappy with the power that James II had given to the Catholics, invite William and Mary to take over the throne. William of Orange was married to Mary the Protestant daughter of James. William arrives in England. James, fearing for his life, flees to France and gets support from his cousin Louis XIV, William’s enemy. James lands at Kinsale.

A document in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, with pictures of King William III and Queen Mary, the daughter of King James II.

William and Mary are crowned King and Queen of England. A French army of 7000 men arrive in Ireland to help James regain his crown.

King William arrives in Carrickfergus with a large army, aiming to take Dublin. Battle of the Boyne. James’ army had 25,000 poorly equipped Irish and French soldiers. William had 36,000 experienced soldiers from all over Europe. King William is victorious.”

King William sent General Schomberg first, who landed in Carrickfergus on 14th June 1690 with 300 troops.

Seats of Schonberg (or Schomberg) and King William III in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
Chair where King William III sat in St Patrick’s Cathedral where he gave thank for winning the Battle of the Boyne.

The plaques continue the story: “July 2nd 1690 James flees to France. By the 2nd July, most of the army had gathered in Limerick with Tyrconnell [Richard Talbot (1630-1691), 1st Duke of Tyrconnell] in charge. Limerick, an important port, was the second largest city in the country, with 1000 inhabitants. The Irish military in Limerick had few weapons. A small force of French cavalry were with the Irish cavalry on the Clare side of the Shannon. Their leader was Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan [1620-1693].

First Siege of Limerick. King William’s army began to set up camp while they waited for their heavy guns and ammunition to arrive from Dublin. Aug 10th 1690, In a daring overnight raid Sarsfield attacked the siege train at Ballyneely. King William continued his siege but massive resistance from the Jacobite army and the people of Limerick, plus bad weather, forced him to call off the siege.

King William returned to England leaving Baron de Ginkel in charge. Cork and Kinsale surrendered to William’s army. Sarsfield rejects Ginkel’s offer of peace. More French help arrives in Limerick as well as a new French leader, the Marquis St. Ruth. Avoiding Limerick, Ginkel attacked Athlone, which guarded the main route into Connaght. 30th June 1691, Athlone surrendered. St. Ruth withdrew to Aughrim. 12th July 1691 The Battle of Aughrim. The bloodiest battle ever fought on Irish soil. The Jacobites were heading for victory when St. Ruth was killed by a cannonball. Without leadership the resistance collapsed and by nightfall, the Williamites had won, with heavy losses on both sides. Most of the Jacobites withdrew to Limerick.

There is a John Baggot who fought in the Battle of Aughrim, and lost an eye. He later went to France with the Wild Geese, and served in the court of James II and “James III” (his followers called him James III although he was not the recognised king).

The city walls had been strengthened since the previous year. Tyrconnell died in mid-August and the promised help from Louis XIV had not yet arrived. The Second Siege of Limerick. Ginkel and the Williamites reached Limerick and took up positions on the Irishtown side. They bombarded the city daily with cannon. They managed to break down a large section of the walls at English town, but could not get into the city. With a large English fleet on the Shannon, the city was cut off and almost completely surrounded. Sept 22nd 1691 Ginkel’s army attacked the Jacobites who were defending Thomond Bridge. The drawbridge was ordered to be raised too soon and about 600 Irish were killed or drowned. This had a profound effect on the morale of the garrison. A council of war was held and the Jacobites decided to call a truce. Leaders from both sides saw that they could gain more by ending the fighting and the discussions were conducted with great courtesy. The Treaty was finally signed on October 3rd 1691, reputedly on the Treaty Stone.

Article Civil and Military, agreed on the 3rd day of October 1691, between the Right Honourable Sir Charles Porter, Knight, and Thomas Coningsby, Esq, Lords Justices of Ireland, and his Excellency the Baron de Ginkel, Lieutenant General, and the Commander in Chief of the English army, of the one part and Sarsfield and his followers on the other. The treaty had civil and military sections. The Civil articles promised freedom to practice their religion to Catholics, but in the years after 1691, harsh laws were passed against Catholics known as the Penal Laws.

The broken treaty embittered relations between the English and Irish for two centuries.

The military parts of the Treaty allowed the Irish Jacobites to join the French army. Most of the Irish (about 14,000 approx.) went to France with Sarsfield. Some of their wives and children also travelled to France. These exiles were known as the Wild Geese. The Wild Geese became part of the French army, which included Irish regimens until the French Revolution. Wine Geese: some of the Wild Geese got into the wine trade, where their names live on today, names such as Michael Lynch, who fought in the battle of the Boyne, Phelan, Barton, and Richard Hennessy of Hennessy cognac.

John Baggot’s sons (sons of Eleanor Gould), John and Ignatius, became soldiers and one fought for France and one fought for Spain.

In 1791 the British Army built military barracks suitable for up to 400 soldiers at the castle and remained there until 1922. In 1935 the Limerick Corporation removed some of the castle walls in order to erect 22 houses in the courtyard. These houses were subsequently demolished in 1989 when the castle was restored and opened to the public.” [13]

11. Odellville House, Ballingarry, Co. Limericksection 482

Odellville, Photograph from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [14]

contact: Aisling Frawley
Tel: 085-8895125
www.odellville.simplesite.com
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, Aug 13-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €8, student/OAP/child €4

The National Inventory tells us it is a detached five-bay two-storey over basement house, built c. 1780, with later two-storey extension to rear (south). It continues: “Odell Ville is typical of the small country houses of rural Ireland, often associated with the gentleman farmers of the eighteenth century. The retention of historic fabric such as sliding sash windows, fine tooled limestone details and modest door with its stepped approach all contribute positively to the building’s character. It was once the house of T. A. O’Dell, Esq. Athough of a modest design, the overall massing of the house makes a strong and positive impact on the surrounding countryside. The associated gate lodge adds further context and character to the site.” [14]

12. Mount Trenchard House and Garden, Foynes, Co. Limericksection 482

contact: Frieda Keane Carmody
Tel: 087-2220692
Open: June 1-31, July 1-31, Aug 1-31, 10am-4pm Fee: adult €10, child/OAP/student €5

Mount Trenchard, County Limerick, August 2022.

We visited Mount Trenchard during Heritage Week 2022 – write-up to follow soon!

The Landed estates database tells us:

Lewis described this mansion formerly called Cappa as “beautifully situated on the banks of the Shannon”. Marked as “Cappo” on the Taylor and Skinner map of the 1770s. Home of the Rice/Spring Rice family in the 19th century, valued at £40 in the 1850s and at £54 in 1906. Occupied by the Military in 1944, sold to Lady Holland in 1947 and to the Sisters of Mercy in 1953 who opened a school.” [15]

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

“[Spring-Rice, Monteagle of Bandon, B/PB] A late-Georgian house of three storeys over basement, with 2 curved bows on its entrance front, which overlooks the estuary of the Shannon, and a wide curved bow in the centre of its garden front. At one side is a 2 storey Victorian wing almost as high as the main block; at the other side is 1 bay three storey addition and a lower 2 storey wing. Also in the Victorian period, a rather unusal porch was added, in the form of a short length of curving corridor, with an open arched end; it was placed not in the centre of the front, but to the left of the left-hand bow, growing out of the high two storey addition. This was subsequently removed and a more conventional entrace doorway made between the two bows with a pillared and pedimented doorcase. From the garden front, a straight walk between trees ascends the hillside. In recent years the home of Lt-Cmdr C.E. Hall; now owned by an order of teaching nuns.

Timothy William Ferres tells us in his blog:

“Thomas Rice, of Mount Trenchard, wedded Mary, daughter of Maurice FitzGerald, 14th Knight of Kerry, and had issue, a son, Stephen Edward Rice, of Mount Trenchard, who married, in 1785, Catherine, only child and heir of Thomas Spring, of Castlemaine, County Kerry.” [16]

Their son was Thomas Spring-Rice (1790-1866), of Brandon, County Kerry, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1835-39. He married in 1811 the Lady Theodosia Pery, second daughter of Edmund, 1st Earl of Limerick. Thomas was elevated to the peerage in 1839 to become 1st Baron Monteagle of Brandon, County Kerry.

When the 5th Baron Monteagle of Brandon died in 1946, the estate was sold.

Recently the house was used as a Direct Provision Centre.

13. The Turret, Ryanes, Ballyingarry, Co. Limerick – section 482

The Turret, County Limerick, August 2022.

contact: Donal Mc Goey
Tel: 086-2432174
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-31,12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student/ free

We visited The Turret during Heritage Week 2022: write-up to follow soon!

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

“(Odell/LGI1958) A three storey house, 1 room deep, with a curvilinear gable at one end of its front; built 1683 by Major John Odell; said to have incorporated a turret surviving from an old house of the Knights Hospitallers, hence its name. Became a presbytery at the end of C19, when an enclosed porch was added on the front and a wing at the back.”

14. The Old Rectory, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick – section 482

contact: John Roche
Tel: 087-8269123
Open: May 1-Nov 27, Saturday and Sundays, National Heritage Week, Aug 13-21 10am-2pm

Fee: adult €8, child/OAP/student €3

Places to stay, County Limerick:

1. Adare Manor, Limerick – hotel €€€

Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.
Adare Manor, photograph from Lawrence Collection, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

Originally a two storey 7 bay early C18 house with a 3 bay pedimented breakfront and a high-pitched roof on a bracket cornice; probably built ca 1720-1730 by Valentine Quin [1691-1744], grandfather of the first Earl of Dunraven [Valentine Richard Quin (1752-1824)].”

David Hicks tells us in his Irish Country Houses, A Chronicle of Change that Valentine Quin converted to Protestantism to retain the Quinn lands. In the 1780s his son Windham remodelled the Georgian house in a neoclassical manner and made many improvements including the addition of another storey. His son Valentine Richard Quin inherited but due to debt, moved to England to live a more frugal lifestyle. He was created 1st Baronet Quin, of Adare, Co. Limerick in 1781, and 1st Baron Adare, of Adare in 1800 for voting for the Act of Union, and finally 1st Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl in 1822, Dunravan being chosen in honour of his daughter-in-law Caroline Wyndham and her home Dunraven Castle in Wales. His son Windham Henry (1782-1850), 2nd Earl, returned to the heavily indebted Irish estate in 1801 and managed to reduce debts by leasing land. He was elected MP for Limerick in 1806. He was a supporter of the Union but also an advocate of Catholic emancipation. In 1810 he married Caroline Wyndham, heiress to large estates in Wales, and as a result of her large inheritance, the Quin family name was changed to Wyndham-Quin. The Quin and Wyndham heraldic shields decorate the entrance to the manor. An inscription in Gothic lettering on the south front of the manor reads “This goodly house was erected by Windham Henry Earl of Dunraven and Caroline his Countess without borrowing, selling or leaving a debt.”

Bence-Jones continues: “From 1832 onwards the 2nd Earl, whose wife was the wealthy heiress of the Wyndhams of Dunraven, Glamorganshire, and who was prevented by gout from shooting and fishing, began rebuilding the house in the Tudor Revival style as a way of occupying himself; continued to live in the old house while the new buildings went up gradually behind it only moving out of it about ten years later when it was engulfed by the new work and demolished.

To a certain extent Lord and Lady Dunraven acted as their own architects, helped by a master mason named James Conolly; and making as much use as they could of local craftsmen, notably a talented carver. At the same time, however, they employed a professional architect, James Pain; and in 1846, when the house was 3/4 built, they commissioned A.W. Pugin to design some of the interior features of the great hall. Finally, between 1850 and 1862, after the death of the second Earl, his son, the 3rd Earl [Edwin Richard Wyndham-Quin (1812-1871)], a distinguished Irish archaeologist, completed the house by building the principal garden front, to the design of P.C. [Philip Charles] Hardwick. The house, as completed, is a picturesque and impressive grey stone pile, composed of various elements that are rather loosely tied together; some of them close copies of Tudor originals in England, thus the turreted entrance tower, which stands rather incongruously at one corner of the front instead of in the middle, is a copy of the entrance to the Cloister Court at Eton.

Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick

Bence-Jones continues: “The detail, however, is of excellent quality; and the whole great building is full of interest, and abounds in those historical allusions which so appealed to early-Victorians of the stamp of the second Earl, his wife and son. As might be expected, Hardwick’s front is more architecturally correct than the earlier parts of the house, but less inspired; a rather heavy three storey asymmetrical composition of oriels and mullioned windows, relieved by a Gothic cloister at one end and dominated by an Irish-battlemented tower with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted by High-Victorian decorative iron cresting.

Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick:Irish-battlemented tower with a truncated pyramidal roof, surmounted by High-Victorian decorative iron cresting.

The Archiseek website tells us:

The structure is a series of visual allusions to famous Irish and English homes that the Dunravens admired. It is replete with curious eccentricities such as the turreted entrance tower at one corner rather than in the centre, 52 chimneys to commemorate each week of the year, 75 fireplaces and 365 leaded glass windows. The lettered text carved into the front of the south parapet reads: “Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but lost that built it.” The elaborate decoration is a miracle of stonework – arches, gargoyles, chimneys and bay windows. The interior spaces are designed on a grand scale. One of the most renowned interior spaces is the Minstrel’s Gallery: 132 foot long, 26-1/2 foot high expanse inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and lined on either side with 17th Century Flemish Choir Stalls. 

Other architects to have collaborated with the Earl include Lewis [Nockalls] Cottingham, Philip Charles Hardwick, and possibly A.W.N Pugin who designed a staircase and ceiling.” [17]

Adare Manor, Limerick: The lettered text carved into the front of the south parapet reads: “Except the Lord build the house, the labour is but lost that built it.” O’Reilly tells us that “The ornamental carving at Adare is one of the earliest manifestations of a survival – or perhaps revival – in Ireland of ancient carving traditions. This same tradition would shape the future of the Gothic revival in Ireland, and make the nineteenth century one of the most creative periods in the whole history of the nation’s architecture. Two names in particular are associated with the stonework over the 1830s and early 1840s, James Conolly and Michael Donoghue, but it remains uncertain as to which of them, if either, deserves the major credit.”
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
An inscription in Gothic lettering on the south front of the manor reads “This goodly house was erected by Windham Henry Earl of Dunraven and Caroline his Countess without borrowing, selling or leaving a debt.” Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Adare Manor, Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The entrance hall has doorways of grey marble carved in the Irish Romanesque style; the ceiling is timbered, the doors are covered in golden Spanish leather. The great hall beyond, for which Pugin provided designs, is a room of vast size and height, divided down the middle by a screen of giant Gothic arches of stone, and with similar arches in front of the staircase, so that there are Gothic vistas in all directions. A carved oak minstrels’ gallery runs along one side; originally there was also an organ-loft. From the landing of the stairs, a vaulted passage constitutes the next stage in the romantic and devious approach to the grandest room in the house, the long gallery, which was built before the great hall, in 1830s; it is 132 feet long and 26 feet high with a timbered roof; along the walls are carved C17 Flemish choir stalls and there is a great deal of other woodcarving, including C15 carved panelling in the door.

The other principal reception rooms are in Hardwick’s garden front; they have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces; that in the drawingroom having been designed by Pugin.

Hall of Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012. Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin designed the shield bearing ravens that sit on top of the newel posts on the stairs in the Great Hall.
Hall of Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012.

Sean O’Reilly writes in his book Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of  Country Life.

Nowhere is the creativity of Adare more apparent than in the Great Hall and its associated spaces. Enclosed by screens of giant and more modest arches, round and pointed, surrounded by corridors, staircases and steps flying in an apparently conflicting succession of directions, and with galleries breaking through walls, not to mention the ubiquitous antlers of the Irish elk, the great hall was one of the most picturesque interiors of its day. Lady Dunraven described the room as being ‘peculiarly adapted to every purpose for which it may be required,’ observing that ‘it has been frequently used with equal appropriateness as a dining room, concert-room, ballroom, for private theatricals, tableaux vivants and other amusements.’ ” [18]

In 1834 the Dunravens visited Antwerp and purchased the woodcarvings to adorn the gallery. In 1835 they purchased a highly carved and decorative choir stall from St. Paul’s church in Antwerp. Local woodcarvers in Limerick then made an exact copy of the seventeenth century original in order to form a pair.

Inside Adare Manor, Limerick, October 2012: The Gallery.
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick

O’Reilly writes: “If the hall is the most complex space, the most dramatic is the gallery, a huge timber-roofed space rising through two storeys and stretching nearly forty-five metres. With its architectural details, pictures and furnishings, the idea, as Cornforth so well expressed it, was to ‘create 250 years of history overnight.’ The family history from the twelfth century is traced in Willement’s stained glass and portraits – both family heirlooms and acquisitions – which carry the story through in more intimate, if also more vague terms. Seventeenth century Flemish stalls, purchased by the Dunravens during their Continental tour of 1834-36, add to the ambiguous combination of old and new.” [18]

Adare Manor, Limerick: 15th century carved panelling in the door. In 1835 the Dunravens purchased a highly carved and decorative choir stall from St. Paul’s church in Antwerp. Local woodcarvers in Limerick then made an exact copy of the seventeenth century original in order to form a pair.
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick: Seventeenth century Flemish stalls, purchased by the Dunravens during their Continental tour of 1834-36.
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick: 15th century carved panelling in the door. 
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerickchimneypieces were designed by Pugin.
The Gallery, Adare Manor, Limerick

O’Reilly adds: “It was Pugin’s successor, the English architect P.C. Hardwick, who developed the next and final major phase of work at Adare. This involved the laying out of the surrounding terraces, and the completion of the southern range, that which looks across to the river and occupies the site of the original classical house. Although Hardwick’s work embodies the professional finish of the later nineteenth century, it possesses none of the amateur exuberance of the earlier work. Yet his patron, the 3rd Earl, was to establish himself as one of the foremost authorities of Irish antiquities. He was a friend of the celebrated Irish antiquary George Petrie, and collated the material for the posthumously published Notes on Irish Antiquities, one of the most significant antiquarian publications of the century.” [18]

The principal reception rooms in Hardwick’s garden front have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces, that in the drawing room was designed by Pugin. The drawing room, library and other reception rooms in the garden front only came into use for the coming of age of the future fourth Earl of Dunraven in 1862. The third Earl married Augusta Charlotte Gould, whose grandmother was Mary Quin, daughter of Valentine Quinn who built the first house at Adare. Augusta’s sister Caroline married Robert Gore-Booth, 4th Baronet of Lissadell, County Sligo, a section 482 property.

Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012. The other principal reception rooms are in Hardwick’s garden front; they have ceilings of Tudor Revival plasterwork and elaborately carved marble chimneypieces; that in the drawing room having been designed by Pugin. 

A daughter of the 3rd Earl, Mary Frances, married Arthur Hugh Smith-Barry, 1st and last Baron Barrymore of Fota House in County Cork (see my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/01/19/office-of-public-works-properties-munster/ )

The 4th Earl had no sons and he was succeeded by his cousin, Windham Henry Wyndham-Quin (1857-1952), grandson of the 2nd Earl of Dunraven. He lived at Adare for twenty-six years, until his death in 1952. He was married to Eva Constance Aline Bourke, daughter of the 6th Earl of Mayo. It was their son, Richard Southwell Windham Robert Wyndham-Quin, 6th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, who made the difficult decision to sell Adare Manor due to difficult economic climate of the 1980s in Ireland. It took a while to find a suitable buyer. Unable to bear the expense of maintaining Adare Manor, the 7th Earl sold it and its contents in 1984.

Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, breakfast room, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.

Mark Bence-Jones adds: “The house stands close to the River Maigue surrounded by a splendid desmesne in which there is a Desmond castle, and a ruined medieval Franciscan friary; one of three monastic buildings at Adare, the other two having been restored as the Catholic and Protestant churches.” 

Ruined medieval Franciscan friary at Adare Manor, Limerick, 2012.
Veteran’s Memorial, Adare Manor, Limerick
Adare Manor, Limerick, veterans memorial

Among the trees southwest of the Manor House are Ogham Stones, which were brought to Adare Manor from Kerry by Edwin, the 3rd Earl of Dunraven. Ogham Stones date from the early 5th Century to the middle of the 7th Century. They are mainly Christian in context and are usually associated with old churches or early Christian burial sites. Ogham inscriptions are in an early form of Irish, frequently followed by Latin inscriptions and often read from the bottom upwards.

Ogham stones at Adare Manor, Limerick.

2. Ash Hill, Kilmallock, Co Limerick – section 482, Hidden Ireland accommodation €

www.ashhill.com 

See above in “places to visit.”

Ashill Towers, taken  c.1865-1914 by Robert French, Lawrence Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland, flickr constant commons.

3. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick – self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10

Ballyteigue House, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is a three-bay two-storey country house, built c. 1850, having later porch to front (south).

http://www.ballyteigue.com/

Ballyteigue House accommodation Limerick can accommodate nine people comfortably and there is a Courtyard Cottage which can accommodate an extra 6 people.

The House available for holiday lettings consists of 5 Bedrooms, 4 double or twin, and a single room. All rooms have their own bathroom.

Bruree is where President De Valera spent the early part of his life and went to school.

4. Deebert House, Kilmallock, County Limerick – B&B and self-catering http://www.deeberthouse.com/

The National Inventory tells us it was built in 1804.

5. The Dunraven, Adare, Co Limerick € 

https://www.dunravenhotel.com/

6. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland  whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests. €€€ for two for a week, € for 4-11

https://flemingstownhouse.com

plus self-catering cottage for up to 4 people.

7. Longcourt House Hotel, Newcastle West, Co Limerick €

https://www.longcourthousehotel.ie/our-story/

“It is a vibrant property and the teams behind it are equally passionate and dedicated to the hotel and guests who frequent it. Jim & Mary Long are the proprietors, who purchased the property in 2014 and lovingly restored it and redeveloped it for its opening in December 2017. They are both from West Limerick but reside in London and have always maintained their strong connections to the area and frequent visitors to the hotel and their extended family and friends.”

8. Woodlands House and Spa, Adare, Co Limerick € or €€

https://www.woodlands-hotel.ie/home/history/

Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa, which is a founding member of Original Irish Hotels, began life more than 40 years ago as a four-bedroomed bed and breakfast (B&B) run by Mary and Dick (RIP) Fitzgerald as a way to supplement their farming income.  Today, it is an 89-room award-winning four-star hotel employing more than 200 people.”

Whole house rental County Limerick

1. Ballyteigue House, Bruree, County Limerick – self-catering whole house accommodation, rental per week. €€ for two, € for 4-10 – see above

2. Fanningstown Castle, Adare, County Limerick – sleeps 10

https://fanningstowncastle.com/

3. Flemingstown House, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland – whole house accommodation, up to 11 guests – see above

https://flemingstownhouse.com

plus self-catering cottage for up to 4 people.

4. Glin Castle, County Limerick – whole house rental.

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.glin-castle.com/

You can see lovely photographs of the castle, inside and out, on the website.

The website tells us: “The castle comprises 5 exquisite reception rooms filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century furniture. The entrance hall with a screen of Corinthian pillars has a superb Neo-classical plaster ceiling and the enfilade of reception rooms are filled with a unique collection of Irish 18th century mahogany furniture. Family portraits and Irish pictures line the walls, and the library bookcase has a secret door leading to the hall and the very rare flying staircase.

Upstairs there are 15+ individually decorated bedrooms, each with its own private bathroom. Colourful rugs and chaise longues stand at the end of comforting plump beds. Pictures and blue and white porcelain adorn the walls. The bedrooms at the back of the castle overlook the garden, while those at the front have a view of the river.

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website tells us of the history:

The FitzGeralds first settled here in the 1200’s at nearby Shanid Castle following the Norman invasion of Ireland. Their war cry was Shanid Abu!  (Shanid forever in Gaelic). In the early 14th century the Earl of Desmond, head of the Geraldines, made hereditary Knights of 3 illegitimate sons he had sired with the wives of various Irish chieftains, creating them the White Knight, the Green Knight of Kerry and the Black Knight of Glin. For seven centuries they defended their lands against the troops of Elizabeth I, and during the Cromwellian plantation and Penal laws.

Coming into the hall with its Corinthian columns and elaborate plaster ceiling in the neo­ classical style, one can see straight ahead among a series of family portraits, some already mentioned, the picture of Colonel John FitzGerald [(1765-1803)the 23rd Knight of Glin], the builder of the house, wearing the uniform of his volunteer regiment the Royal Glin Artillery. In his portrait, which hangs over the Portland stone chimneypiece, he is proudly pointing at his cannon. In May 1779 Colonel John’s father, Thomas FitzGerald, whose portrait in a blue coat is on the left of the dining room door, wrote to Edmund Sexton Pery the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons to warn him that a French naval invasion was expected off the coast. There were rumours that the American privateer Paul Jones had sailed up the Shannon to Tarbert after he had defeated an English ship in Belfast Lough in the summer of 1779. France and Spain had declared war on England and were supporting the American colonists in the War of Independence. Panic spread among the gentry and nobility of Ireland in case the country should be left unprotected in the face of an invasion, and the Irish Volunteer Regiments were raised between 1778 and 1783-40,000 men having been enrolled by 1779 and 100,000 by 1782. Inspired by the success of the Americans and with the strength of the Volunteers behind them, Henry Grattan and his Patriot Party demanded legislative independence for Ireland from Britain following their achievement of the abolition of trade restrictions in 1778. These stirring optimistic times were the background to the building of Glin.” 

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The website continues: “The new prosperity of the country was reflected in a great deal of public and private building and the accompanying extensive landscaping and tree planting showed the pride of Ireland’s ruling classes in their newly won but brief national independence-an independence which was shaken by the French Revolution and finally shattered by the Rebellion of 1798 and the ensuing Union with England in 1800. Colonel John supported this Union, though his faith in King and Country had faltered under the influence of his United Irishman brother, Gerald during the 1798 Rebellion, when his kinsman Lord Edward FitzGerald is said to have stayed at Glin. Colonel John had no political influence as all the local boroughs were in the hands of the new English settler families. This meant that unlike so many of them he did not spend money on a large Dublin house and thereby concentrated on cutting a greater dash at home. 

Unfortunately, we have no direct information about who designed the house or the identity of the craftsmen who styled the superb woodwork such as the mahogany library bookcase with its concealed secret door, the inlaid stair-rail, the flying staircase, or the intricate plaster ceilings. This is because many of the family papers were burned by the so-called ‘Cracked Knight’ in the 1860s. Tradition tells us that the stone for the house was brought across the hills from a quarry in nearby Athea on horse-drawn sleds by a ‘strongman’ contractor called Sheehy. This is the only name connected with the building of the house that has come down to us. 

It seems likely that Colonel John started his house sometime in the 1780s as he obviously used the same masons and carpenters as were used for two houses adjoining each other in Henry Street, Limerick, one built for the Bishop of Limerick, later Lord Glentworth, and the other for his elder brother the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, Viscount Pery. These Limerick houses were finished by 1784 and it would seem not unlikely that they are the work of a good local carpenter /builder. Colonel John may well have been his own architect working with the excellent craftsmen that Limerick could obviously produce. The neo-classical plasterwork of the hall is possibly an exception as it is close to the work of two Dublin stuccadores, Charles Thorpe or Michael Stapleton. The motifs on the frieze reminds us of the Volunteer enthusiasm of the house for the military trophies, shields sprouting shamrocks and the full bosomed Irish harp which are to be seen on the hall ceiling all underline Colonel John’s patriotism. The French horn and the music book also reminds us that this hall doubled up as a ballroom; the music undoubtedly being played by the musicians from the artillery band. Colonel John loved music and had been taught the flute by a Gaelic music and dancing master, Seań Bán Aerach Ó Flanagán. The house stands on the banks of the widest part of the river Shannon and the snub nosed dolphins and tridents in· the corners of the main hall ceiling symbolise water, while flower-laden cornucopiae and ears of wheat represent the fruitful grasslands that surround the newly built mansion. Oval plaques with their Pompeian red background portray Roman soldiers depicting war and other figures characterise peace and justice. All this symbolism reminds us of contemporary events in the sea girt island of Ireland. This magnificent ceiling retains much of its original 18th century colouring. 

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

In 1789 Colonel John married his beautiful English wife, the daughter of a rich west country squire, and her coat-of-arms are impaled with his on the hall ceiling. Her portrait hangs above her husbands to the right of the drawing room door in the hall. Her coat-of-arms on the ceiling suggests that the house was still being decorated in 1789 although the money must have been beginning to run out, because work was stopped short on the third floor, and walls remained scored for plaster and pine doors are unpainted to this day. Financial problems must have marred their brief decade together at Glin as in 1791 the Dublin La Touche Bank called in their debts going back as far as 1736 and took a case to Parliament. In June 1801 a private Act of Parliament in Westminster was passed to force part of the Glin estate to be sold in order to pay off the many ‘incumbrances’ which had accrued through the 18th century. This document mentions that Colonel John had expended ‘Six thousand pounds and upward in building a mansion house and offices and making plantations and other valuable and lasting improvements…’. Comparing costs with other roughly contemporary buildings shows us that the cut stone Custom House in Limerick cost £8,000 in 1779 and Mornington House, one of Dublin’s largest houses, was sold for the same sum in 1791, so £6,000 ‘and upwards’ was a substantial sum in those days. Colonel John’s wife Margaretta Maria Fraunceis died at one of her father’s properties, Combe Florey in Somerset a few months after the Act was passed. In 1802, 5,000 acres of Glin were sold, and Colonel John himself died in 1803 leaving an only son, and heir aged 12. In June 1803 the local newspaper the Limerick Chronicle advertised sales of the household furniture, the library, , ‘a superb service of India china’, but no pictures or silver. The hall chairs and amorial sideboard in the hall survived because of their family associations but carriages, farm stock, and ‘the fast-sailing sloop The Farmer, her cabin neatly fitted up’ followed. The FitzGeralds of Glin were almost bankrupt.

It was only because of the long minority of John Fraunceis FitzGerald, the son and heir, and the fact that there were no younger children to provide for, which saw the estate on to 1812 when he attained his majority. Educated at Winchester and Cambridge he regained the family fortunes by successful gambling and though he married an English clergyman’s daughter with no great dower, he built the various Gothic lodges and added the battlements and sugar icing detail to the old Glin House making it into the ‘cardboard castle’ that it is today. This would have been typical of the romantic notions of the 1820s and he obviously thought that the holder of such an ancient title should be living in a castle like his medieval ancestors.

Glin Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The top floor was never completed and other than further planting, little else was done to Glin for over a hundred years as money was scarce during the Victorian period. Over 5,000 acres were sold by 1837 and for the rest of the century the estate consisted of 5,836 acres and the town of Glin. The rent roll came to between £3,000 and £3,800 a year but with mortgages, windows jointures, and other family charges there was in 1858 a surplus of only £777 16s. 5d. brought in from the estate. Not included in this would have been the income from the salmon weirs on the Shannon. Lack of money may have been a blessing in disguise for there were few Victorian improvements at Glin though the Dublin firm of Sibthorpe redecorated the staircase ceiling and added Celtic revival monograms in two roundels and carried out some stencil work in the library and smoking room. This work would have been done in the 1860s probably at the same time that the Protestant church at the gate was being rebuilt.

From “In Harmony with Nature, The Irish Country House Garden 1600-1900” in the Irish Georgian Society, July 2022, curated by Robert O’Byrne.

5. Springfield Castle, Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, Ireland €€€ for 2, € for 5-25.

Springfield Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

https://www.springfieldcastle.com 

The website tells us: “Springfield Castle is situated in the heart of County Limerick on a magical 200 acre wooded estate and is approached along a magnificent three quarter mile long avenue, lined with ancient lime trees. Enjoy an exclusive relaxing stay in a one of a kind castle.

Accommodation for up to 25 people in a unique Irish castle we are the perfect place for your vacation, family gathering or boutique wedding in Ireland. It is the ideal place to stay in an Irish castle, Springfield is centrally located allowing you to explore many of Ireland’s fantastic gems including the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a one of a kind place where you can unwind and relax.

Springfield castle is owned By Robert Fitzmaurice Deane the 9th Baron of Muskerry. Robert and his wife Rita are regular visitors. Robert has funded the ongoing restoration in Springfield since 2006, most recently of the garden cottage where he and Rita stay when visiting Ireland.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 263. “(Petty-Fitzmaurice, sub Lansdowne, M/PB; Deane, Muskerry, B/PB) A three storey C18 house adjoining a large C16 tower house of the FitzGeralds, later bought by the Fitzmaurices, whose heiress married Sir Robert Deane, 6th Bt, afterwards 1st Lord Muskerry, 1775. …A two storey C19 Gothic wing with pinnacle buttresses was added at one end of C18 block, extending along one side of the old castle bawn, a smaller tower at another and outbuildings along two of the remaining sides to form a courtyard. 20C entrance gates and lodge in the New Zealand Maori style. C18 house was burnt 1923 and new house was afterwards made out of C19 Gothic wing, which was extended in the same style.” 

Springfield Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Springfield Castle, County Limerick, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is a “Gothic Revival style country house with courtyard complex, commenced c. 1740, comprising attached eight-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt c. 1925, having single-bay three-stage entrance tower. Earlier two-bay three-storey wing to side (east) having single-bay three-stage gate tower with integral camber-headed carriage arch. Tooled limestone octagonal corner turrets with pinnacles to front (south) elevation of wing gate tower, rendered octagonal turrets and pinnacles to side (west) elevation of main block. Two-bay two-storey double-pile over basement block to rear (north) incorporating possibly earlier three-stage tower to north-west. Additional lean-to stairwell block to side (west) elevation of extension block.

This impressive country house is situated in a picturesque location with extensive panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The house and courtyard complex are the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry and occupies the site of an old bawn associated with the sixteenth-century tower house. The first record of a castle at Springfield is dated to 1280, when the Norman Fitzgeralds arrived. A visible mark to the tower house represents part of the roof line of an earlier eighteenth-century mansion that was built by John Fitzmaurice, a grandson of the 20th Lord of Kerry. Sir Robert Deane [1745-1818] married Ann Fitzmaurice in 1780, the sole heiress of Springfield and was a year later awarded the title Baron Muskerry. This mansion was burnt in 1921 by the IRA who were afraid that the occupying Black and Tans were going to convert the buildings into a garrison. The current house was rebuilt by ‘Bob’ Muskerry, the 5th Baron and follows the Gothic Revival style of the nineteenth century, with characteristic pinnacled turrets to the house and main entrance. The castellated entrance towers with tooled stone forming the main fabric of the turrets and a grand entrance door greatly enliven the façade of the building. The fine Gothic Revival style gate tower provides a glorious entrance to the substantial courtyard. A large variety of outbuildings display great skill and craftsmanship with well executed rubble stone walls and numerous carriage arches helping to maintain the historic character of the site. A curious mechanised clock controlling a mechanical calendar, lunar calendar and a bell constructed by the current owner’s great grand uncle is a mechanical masterpiece of great technical interest. Coupled with the archaeological monuments, this complex has a significant architectural value at a national level.

The website tells us about the history:

Steeped in history, it is the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Muskerry, whose motto Forti et fideli nihil dificile which means “nothing is difficult to the strong and faithful” underlies over 700 years of family history.

The earliest castle at Gort na Tiobrad, the Irish name for Springfield Castle, is reputed to date from 1280 when one of the Fitzgeralds, a junior member of the Earl of Desmond’s family, married a lady of the O Coilleains, who were the Gaelic Lords of Claonghlais. He took the title Lord of Claonghlais and subsequently built a castle at Springfield. The Tower house and build circa 1480. This was the beginning of a long association of the Fitzgeralds with the area. They were patrons to Irish poets and musicians.As you enter the impressive gateway to Springfield Castle a plaque on the wall commemorates Daithi O’Bruadair, a classical Irish poet of the seventeenth century who lived at the castle with his patrons, the Fitzgerald family, recording their lives (and general events). He described Springfield Castle as “a mansion abounding in poetry, prizes and people”

The Fitzgeralds soon became, as the saying goes “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and had an oft-times difficult relationship with the British monarchy. In 1691 they had their lands confiscated for the third and last time and Sir John Fitzgerald went to France with Sir Patrick Sarsfield to continue fighting the English there, never to return to Ireland. A younger son of the 20th Lord of Kerry, William Fitzmaurice [1670-1710], (cousins to the Fitzgeralds) then bought Springfield castle. His son, John, built a very large 3 story early Georgian mansion attached to the existing buildings. The Fitzmaurices occupied Springfield Castle until Sir Robert Deane married Ann Fitzmaurice, the sole heiress, in 1780. He was awarded the title Baron Muskerry in 1781 and the title Lord Muskerry has stayed at Springfield Castle to this day. The castle was burnt in 1921 during the war of Independence and rebuilt by “Bob” Muskerry the 5th Baron in 1929. The 9th Baron, Robert Fitzmaurice Deane, lives and works in South Africa at present, and started restoring the castle in 2006. Robert’s sister Betty, her husband Jonathan and their children Karen and Daniel run Springfield Castle and look forward to meeting you.

[1] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21813051/ash-hill-stud-ash-hill-kilmallock-co-limerick

[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.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21803033/brackvoan-bruff-limerick

[4] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21902807/glenville-house-glenville-ardagh-co-limerick

[5] https://www.limerick.ie/discover/eat-see-do/history-heritage/historic-attractions/glenquin-castle

[6] https://theirishaesthete.com/2021/09/13/glenquin-castle/

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

[8] https://www.countrylifeimages.co.uk/Search.aspx?s=glenstall

[9] https://landedfamilies.blogspot.com/search/label/Ireland?updated-max=2020-04-02T14:59:00%2B01:00&max-results=20&start=5&by-date=false

[10] p. 171, O’Reilly, Sean. Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of  Country Life. Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1998. 

[11] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/property-list.jsp?letter=K

[12] https://archiseek.com/2009/king-johns-castle-limerick/

[13] http://www.britainirelandcastles.com/Ireland/County-Limerick/King-Johns-Castle.html

[14] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/21903717/odell-ville-ballynarooga-beg-limerick

[15] http://landedestates.nuigalway.ie/LandedEstates/jsp/property-list.jsp?letter=M

[16] http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/2014/12/mount-trenchard-house.html

[17] https://archiseek.com/2009/adare-manor-co-limerick/

[18] p. 160. O’Reilly, Sean. Irish Houses and Gardens. From the Archives of  Country Life. Aurum Press Ltd, London, 1998. 

Coopershill House, Riverstown, Co. Sligo

contact: Simon O’Hara
Tel: 071-9165108
www.coopershill.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open in 2022: April-Sept, Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm
Fee: adult/child/OAP/student €5.

While we stayed in Annaghmore [1] during Heritage Week in August 2021 with Durcan O’Hara and his wife Nicola, we first visited Durcan’s cousin in nearby Newpark [2], then another cousin, Simon O’Hara, at Coopershill.

The O’Haras were a Gaelic family who managed to keep their position of importance through changes in sovereignty, from the invasion of the Normans through the Tudor and Stuart monarchy, the Cromwellian Parliament and the overthrow of King James II. The O’Haras of Coopershill and Annaghmore are of descendants of the “O’Hara Boy” family – the other O’Hara family of Sligo is the O’Hara Reogh family.

An ancestor, Tadgh O’Hara, encouraged his sons, Tadgh and Kean, to convert to Protestantism in order to be better able to hold on to their land. On Tadgh’s death in 1616 his sons, still minors, became Wards of Court. The eldest son, Tadgh, was raised by Sir Charles Coote (1581-1642), 1st Baronet Coote of Castle Cuffe, Queen’s County, who was Provost Marshal of Connaught and had much land in the area. Edward Cooper of Markree, another property which we visited, was a cornet in Sir Charles Coote’s dragoons. Tadgh died in 1634 and his property passed to his brother Kean. Some of the O’Hara relatives were implicated in the Rebellion of 1641 but Kean, as an Irish Protestant, was able to hold on to his property [3]. Coopershill belonged to the Cooper family but passed by marriage to the O’Hara family, as we will see below.

According to the Historic Houses of Ireland website, Arthur Cooper (born around 1716) and his wife Sarah (born Carleton, from Enniskillen, County Fermanagh) lived in a sixteenth century fortified house on the River Unsin (or Unshin), near the village of Riverstown. This house still exists as a ruin on the property of Coopershill, and we passed it as we approached the main house.

Arthur Cooper, b. 1716.
Sarah Carleton (born around 1718), wife of Arthur Cooper.

The pre-1700s house is attached to a farm building which was built in about 1830, according to the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. The ruin is evocative and may have been retained in order to embody the picturesque notion of nostalgic antiquity. The newer house was positioned to been seen from a bridge, in a deliberately created picturesque view. The grounds were landscaped with plantings of trees and a deerpark, which remains today.

Pre-1700 ruin, called Tanzyfort House [4]
The pre-1700 ruin is attached to an 1830s farm building.
The farm building, called The Kennels, which housed the groundskeeper and the hunting dogs.

Legend has it that in the early 1750s, Arthur and Sarah Cooper engaged an architect and placed two buckets of gold sovereigns on the ground, instructing him to build a suitable house on a hill in the middle of their County Sligo estate, Cooper’s Hill. [5] The architect’s plans overshot the budget and the sovereigns ran out even before the walls were built! Arthur Cooper was forced to sell some of his land to continue building, and the house was completed around twenty years after it was started, in 1774. The completion date is noted on the keystone over the front door.

The keystone of the front door surround is inscribed “1774”, the date of completion. The O’Hara armorial plate would have been put up later, as the house was still belonging to the Coopers in 1774.
O’Hara crest on the stables at Annaghmore.

Coopershill has two similar facades, at the front and back of the house.

The front of Coopershill.
The back facade of the house, almost exactly the same as the front.

The stone, a high quality local ashlar, took eight years to quarry. [6] One would assume that the Coopers of Markree Castle and the Coopers of Coopershill are related, but Durcan told us that he has not found the connection.

The house has been attributed by Desmond FitzGerald, the Knight of Glin, to Francis Bindon, who also designed Woodstock in County Kilkenny (1740), which we visited later in the week. [7] Bindon also painted portraits, including those of Jonathan Swift and Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin. FitzGerald writes:

Perhaps Bindon’s very last mansion is Coopershill, County Sligo, although like most of these houses, no documentary evidence exists for it. Tower-like and stark, of similar proportions to Raford [County Galway], it is made up of two equivalent fronts composed with a central rusticated Venetian window and door, and a third floor three-light window. The fenestration is reminiscent of [Richard] Castle’s demolished Smyth mansion in Kildare Place, Dublin. Coopershill is sited particularly well and stands high above a river reminding one of the feudal strength of the 17th century towerhouse. As at Raford, the roof is overlapping and 19th century.” [8]

Raford House, County Galway, also attributed to Francis Bindon, built around 1760. Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. It has the same tripartite door structure, with a Venetian window above and a grouping of three windows together above that.
Woodstock House, County Kilkenny, also designed by Francis Bindon.
A detail of Woodstock house, which shows some similarity to the tripartite window with rusticated surrounds above the front door at Coopershill. Photograph taken from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The front has two bays on either side of the Gibbsian doorcase (a Gibbsian doorcase usually has “blocking” where rectangular blocks stick out at intervals). A “Gibbsian surround” is an eighteenth century treatment of a door or window, seen particularly in the work of James Gibbs (1682-1754); it usually has columns or pilasters with an architrave, that is, a lintel resting on columns, and voussoirs (wedge shaped elements, usually stones, forming an arch), a keystone (wedge shaped stone at the top of an arch) and pediment (a formalized gable derived from that of a temple). [9] Above the doorcase of Coopershill is a rusticated Venetian window (which Bence-Jones describes as “a window with three openings, that in the centre being round-headed and wider than those on either side; a very familiar feature of Palladian architecture”), and a three-light window on the centre of the top storey. All of the other windows in the front have rusticated surrounds (that is, a particular treatment of joints or faces of masonry to give an effect of strength).

There is a hardwood door with fifteen raised-and-fielded panels, an interlaced fanlight, and sandstone steps with dressed limestone parapet walls bridging the basement area. [10]

The Gibbsian doorcase – a Gibbsian doorcase usually has “blocking” where rectangular blocks stick out at intervals. In this case, the doorcase includes two “sidelight” windows, though this is not typical of a “Gibbsian” doorcase. Above the doorcase is a Venetian window.
view from the front of the house.
Bridge which we crossed on the drive through the demesne.

To reach the house we drove across a lovely bridge, pictured above, which was built at the same time as the house, in 1771. The foundation stones kept sinking into the mud and eventually sheepskin was laid on the ground, which stopped the stones sinking. This same technique is being used nowadays in the bog to create paths for walking. One’s first view of the house is attained when crossing the bridge.

A great little face carved into the bridge along with the date 1771. Photograph taken from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
The view of Coopershill from the bridge.

Simon welcomed us, the seventh generation of the family to live here. Arthur and Sarah Cooper’s son, Arthur Brooke Cooper (1775-1854) (“Brooke” was Sarah’s mother’s maiden name), inherited Coopershill and married Jane Frances O’Hara, the daughter of Charles Edward O’Hara (1746-1822) from nearby Annaghmore.

Arthur Brooke Cooper (c. 1775-1854).

Their eldest son, also named Arthur Brooke Cooper, predeceased his father in 1845, so their second son, Charles William (1817-1898), inherited Coopershill on the death of his father in 1854. He also inherited Annaghmore on the death in 1860 of Jane Frances’s brother, Charles King O’Hara (1784-1860), on condition that Charles William take the name “O’Hara.”

The tennis court. The cousins from Annaghmore, Coopershill and Newpark play tennis together every week.

Fortunately Charles William Cooper O’Hara married well by marrying Anne Charlotte Streatfeild, daughter of Richard Shuttleworth Streatfeild of the Rocks, Uckfield, Sussex. They moved to Annaghmore and Charles William’s sisters, Margaret Sarah and Mary Jane Caroline Cooper, remained living in Coopershill.

Portraits of Charles William Cooper, who took the name O’Hara when he inherited his uncle’s estate, and his wife Anne Streatfield.

Stephen and I were excited to learn that an ancestor of Simon’s and Durcan’s who had lived at Annaghmore (albeit an earlier house), Charles O’Hara (c.1705-1776), was not only a friend of Edmund Burke, politician, writer and philosopher who wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France and A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, but also of Stephen’s ancestor George Macartney (1737-1806).

Annaghmore, County Sligo, which also belongs to the O’Hara family, and where we were staying while visiting Section 482 properties in Sligo. The principal seat of the O’Hara family since medieval times, the current house replaced an earlier house, and was built around 1820 for Charles O’Hara (1746-1822), MP for County Sligo, and enlarged and remodelled around 1860 to designs by the architect James Franklin Fuller, for Charles William Cooper, who took the name O’Hara when he inherited from his uncle.
The bedroom in which we stayed at Annaghmore.

Charles William and Anne Charlotte’s eldest son, Charles Kean O’Hara (1860-1947) inherited Annaghmore, and the second son, Arthur Cooper O’Hara (1862-1934), inherited Coopershill.

Charles Kean O’Hara of Annaghmore also did not marry and had no children, so when he died in 1947, Annaghmore passed to his nephew, Donal, eldest son of his brother, Frederick William O’Hara (1875-1949).

Three bay side of Coopershill.
Three bay side of Coopershill plus basement.
Basement of Coopershill.

Charles Kean O’Hara had many brothers and sisters. His sister Charlotte Jane O’Hara married Alexander Perceval of Temple House, County Sligo, another section 482 property which unfortunately we did not visit on this trip to Sligo. Charles Kean’s brother Richard Edward had meanwhile purchased Newpark, another section 482 property which we visited. Another brother, Alexander, moved to the United States. Although his brother Frederick was not the next eldest, his son inherited Annaghmore because his older brother, Richard Edward, only had a daughter. As we were told when we visited Newpark, if Richard Edward’s daughter had been a son instead, that child would have inherited Annaghmore!

Arthur Cooper O’Hara (1862-1934) also did not have any children, so Coopershill passed to his nephew, Francis Cooper O’Hara (1906-1982), second son of his brother Frederick. Francis had married an English woman, Joan Bridgeman, during his career of tea planting in India. After his father’s death in 1947, Frank and Joan moved to Coopershill to start a new life in agriculture.

The impressive front hall of Coopershill.
The front hall of Coopershill. Upon entry, one is greeted by a pair of busts in niches, deer heads, and a door with pilasters, pediment and fanlight.
Thomas Wentworth, the 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641).

The front hall has decorative plasterwork and carved door surrounds, with two doorcases on either side and one leading to the stair hall, with niches on either side. There is a nice contrast in the yellow of the walls, darker in the niches and plasterwork for emphasis. The hall features a large portrait of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641). From 1632 to 1640 he was Lord Deputy of Ireland. He was a loyal supporter of King Charles I and was condemned to death by the Parliament and like Charles I himself, executed. He is not to be confused with the later Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford of a later creation (1672-1739) whose daughter Anne married William James Conolly, father of Thomas Conolly of Castletown, County Kildare.

The lock on the front door with its heart shape reminded me of the lock on the door of Cregg Castle in Galway.
The heart-shaped lock in Cregg Castle in County Galway.

After Frank and Joan’s family of six children had grown up, they began to take paying guests into their home. The website tells us some families came year after year for the childrens’ riding as the stables had several ponies. Frank died in 1982, and Joan continued for another four years on her own, joining a growing group of owners of large manor houses from all over Ireland who could only keep their houses in shape with the aid of income generated by taking paying guests.

Frank and Joan’s son Brian Cooper O’Hara and his wife Lindy took over the Country House Hotel in early 1987, and continued until their retirement in 2007. They now live in a new stone house beside the stables and their son Simon lives in Coopershill continues the business.

Stone accommodation next to the stables.

The dining room contains portraits of the ancestors, and the house has the original fireplaces. The room has a simple decorative cornice.

We then entered the Drawing Room, painted a bold turquoise. It too has a decorative cornice, tall windows with shutters and a marble fireplace.

Stephen admires the grandfather clock.
Through the windows, a wonderful view of the old bridge.

The Historic Houses of Ireland entry about Coopershill points out that the service staircase is of stone but the principal staircase is constructed from timber in a reversal of the usual fashion. There is good decorative plasterwork of the 1770s in the reception rooms and especially over the main staircase.

The view into the front hall from the staircase – one can see the lovely old floor tiles. The doorframe mirrors those in the front hall, with carved pilasters and pediment.
A rent table in the staircase hall. A tenant could place his rent in the drawer facing him then the table top spun around to the landlord. In this way other tenants may not see how much a particular tenant is paying.

The staircase hall has another niche, and portraits of William and Mary hang either side of the door. It’s unusual to have the Royalist Wentworth as well as William and Mary – Stephen says the family are keeping in with both sides! (normally a monarchist supporter of Charles I would be a supporter of King James II, who was overthrown by William). In fact the O’Hara ancestor, Kean O’Hara, was careful to keep in with both the Jacobites and the Williamites.

The fine timber staircase. Although there are pikes on either side of the window overlooking the stairs, the family were not rebels in 1641 or 1798, although some of their relatives might have been!
Ancient pikes.

There are not only pikes, but many other souvenirs from battles and travels.

An old blunderbuss.
A gong made from an enormous shell casing.
Simon showing us up the stairs.
Beautiful Adamesque plasterwork on the ceiling of the staircase hall.
The position of the staircase crosses the doorcase of the back facade of the house rather awkwardly, which is probably a result of the house being built over two decades.

Upstairs are the bedrooms, available for accommodation. All are en suite and several have canopied beds. You can see photographs of all of the bedrooms on the website.

The bedrooms doors also have elaborate carved doorcases.

We continued on up the stairs to the third storey.

After our tour upstairs, Simon took us down to the basement. Here he showed us some wonderful leather ammunition pouches that must be very old as they bear the initials of Arthur Brooke Cooper.

He also showed us the laundry, which still contains an beautiful old washing unit as well as the new ones. There is also a working, certified abbatoir, for processing the deer in the deer park for venison, which can be purchased (along with Coopershill honey, from their own bees).

Old laundry boiler, with lovely details.
An example of an old bell alert system for the servants, in the basement of Coopershill.
More complete set of bells for servants in Annaghmore.
A newer bell system at Coopershill.

We went outside after our tour to take a quick look around the stables and gardens.

Fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden are served to guests at Coopershill.
Archway leading past the tennis court to the stable yard.

[1] https://www.annaghmore.ie/

[2] https://irishhistorichouses.com/2021/11/30/newpark-house-and-demesne-newpark-ballymote-co-sligo/

[3] Bartlett, Thomas. “The O’Haras of Annaghmore c. 1600—c. 1800: Survival and Revival.”

Irish Economic and Social History. Vol. 9 (1982), pp. 34-52. Published on JStor, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24337261?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

[4] Orser, Charles E. Jr. “Symbolic Violence and Landscape Pedagogy: An Illustration from the Irish Countryside” Historical Archaeology. Vol. 40, No. 2 (2006), pp. 28-44. Published on JStor, https://www.jstor.org/stable/25617328?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ab2963d83c7041caf7fce13fe69e6dc6b&seq=5#page_scan_tab_contents

[5] http://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Coopershill

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

[7] FitzGerald, Desmond, “Francis Bindon (c. 1690-1765) His Life and Works,” Quarterly Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society April-Sept 1967.

[8] I am indebted to the blog of “Lavender’s Blue” for this quote from Desmond FitzGerald. https://lvbmag.wpcomstaging.com/2018/10/02/coopershill-house-county-sligo-francis-bindon/

[9] https://irishhistorichouses.com/2020/04/18/architectural-definitions/

[10] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/32313019/coopershill-house-cooperhill-riverstown-sligo