“Dunmore Cave, not far from Kilkenny town, is a series of limestone chambers formed over millions of years. It contains some of the most impressive calcite formations found in any Irish underground structure.
The cave has been known for many centuries and is first mentioned in the ninth-century Triads of Ireland, where it is referred to as one of the ‘darkest places in Ireland’. The most gruesome reference, however, comes from the Annals of the Four Masters, which tells how the Viking leader Guthfrith of Ivar massacred a thousand people there in AD 928. Archaeological investigation has not reliably confirmed that such a massacre took place, but finds within the cave – including human remains – do indicate Viking activity.
Dunmore is now a show cave, with guided tours that will take you deep into the earth – and even deeper into the past.“
2. Jerpoint Abbey, Thomastown, County Kilkenny.
General information: 056 772 4623, email@example.com
“Founded in the 12th century, Jerpoint Abbey is one of the best examples of a medieval Cistercian Abbey in Ireland. The architectural styles within the church, constructed in the late twelfth century, reflect the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. The tower and cloister date to the fifteenth century.
Jerpoint is renowned for its detailed stone sculptures found throughout the monastery. Dating from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries these include mensa [table] tombs from the O’Tunney school, an exquisite incised depiction of two 13th century knights, the decorated cloister arcades along with other effigies and memorials.
Children can explore the abbey with a treasure hunt available in the nearby visitor centre. Search the abbey to discover saints, patrons, knights, exotic animals and mythological creatures.
A small but informative visitor centre houses an excellent exhibition.“
3. Kells Priory, Kells, County Kilkenny:
General information: 056 772 4623, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the OPW website:
“Kells Priory owes its foundation to the Anglo-Norman consolidation of Leinster. Founded by Geoffrey FitzRobert, a household knight and trusted companion of William Marshal the priory was one element of Geoffrey’s establishment of the medieval town of Kells.
Although founded in c. 1193 extensive remains exist today which include a nave, chancel, lady chapel, cloister and associated builds plus the remains of the priory’s infirmary, workshop, kitchen, bread oven and mill. The existence of the medieval defences, surrounding the entire precinct, underline the military aspect of the site and inspired the priory’s local name, the ‘Seven Castles of Kells’.“
4. Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny:
General information: 056 770 4100, email@example.com
From the OPW website:
“Built in the twelfth century, Kilkenny Castle was the principal seat of the Butlers, earls, marquesses and dukes of Ormond for almost 600 years. Under the powerful Butler family, Kilkenny grew into a thriving and vibrant city. Its lively atmosphere can still be felt today.
The castle, set in extensive parkland, was remodelled in Victorian times. It was formally taken over by the Irish State in 1969 and since then has undergone ambitious restoration works. It now welcomes thousands of visitors a year.“
Kilkenny Castle has been standing for over eight hundred years, dominating Kilkenny City and the South East of Ireland. Originally built in the 13th century by William Marshall, 4th Earl of Pembroke, as a symbol of Norman control, Kilkenny Castle came to symbolise the fortunes of the powerful Butlers of Ormonde for over six hundred years. 
In 1967 James Arthur Norman Butler (1893-1971), 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde sold the Castle to the Kilkenny Castle Restoration Committee for £50. Two years later it went into state ownership.
William Marshall (about 1146-1219) was married to the daughter of “Strongbow” Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. With the marriage, he gained land and eventually, the title, Earl of Pembroke. The daughter of Strongbow, Isabel, inherited the title of 4th Countess of Pembroke “suo jure” i.e. herself (her brother, who died a minor, was the 3rd Earl). Hence William Marshall became the 4th Earl through his wife, but then then was created the 1st Earl of Pembroke himself ten years after their marriage. They seem to have settled in Ireland and created place for themselves, beginning with setting up the town of New Ross and then restoring Kilkenny town and castle – a castle had pre-dated them, according to the Kilkenny Castle website. It tells us that the present-day castle is based on the stone fortress that Marshall designed, comprising an irregular rectangular fortress with a drum-shaped tower at each corner. Three of these towers survive to this day.
By 1200, Kilkenny was the capital of Norman Leinster and New Ross was its principal port. The Marshalls also founded the Cistercian abbeys at Tintern in County Wexford and Duiske in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny, as well as the castles at Ferns and Enniscorthy. He died and was buried in England. 
In 1317, the de Clare family sold the Kilkenny castle to Hugh Despenser. The Despensers were absentee landlords. In 1391 the Despensers sold the castle to James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond, 9th Chief Butler of Ireland (1360–1405). The first Butler to come to Ireland was Theobald Walter Le Botiller or Butler, 1st Baron Butler, 1st Chief Butler of Ireland (1165–1206). He was called “Le Botiller” because he received the monopoly of the taxes on wines being imported into Ireland (which The Peerage website tells us was eventually purchased back by the Crown from the Marquess of Ormonde for £216,000 in 1811.)
The Butlers were an important family in Ireland. They fought for the king in France and Scotland, and held positions of power, including Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the monarch’s representative in Ireland.
The castle now forms a “u” shape, because in the time of Oliver Cromwell’s invasion, the fourth wall fell. After the Restoration of 1660, there was a major rebuilding of the old castle. In 1826, another remodelling of the castle began. In 1935, the Butler family held a great auction, selling all of the castle’s furnishings.
Thomas Butler the 7th Earl of Ormond (d. 1515) lacked a male heir, and on his death, the Earldom was contested between Sir Piers Butler and his grandchildren led by Sir Thomas Boleyn. Thomas was favoured by King Henry VIII when Henry married his daughter Anne Boleyn. Piers Butler (1467-1539) was a descendant of the 3rd Earl of Ormond. Piers relinquished the claim to the title Earl of Ormond to Boleyn and was created Earl of Ossory by Henry VIII. The lands of the 7th Earl were divided between both parties. After a rapid escalation of disputes with rural Fitzgeralds and Boleyns, Piers regained his position and was recognised Earl of Ormond in February 1538.
The Crown hoped Piers would improve the Crown’s grip over southern Ireland. Piers the 8th Earl of Ormond gained much from Crown, including suppressed monasteries. He married Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, in marriage arranged for the purpose of ending the long-standing rivalry between the two families. They lived in Kilkenny Castle and greatly improved it. Margaret urged Piers to bring over skilled weavers from Flanders and she helped establish industries for the production of carpets, tapestries and cloth. Margaret and her husband commissioned significant additions to the castles of Granagh and Ormond. They also rebuilt Gowran Castle, which had been originally constructed in 1385 by James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond.
Walter Butler’s claim to the family estates was blocked by James I. The latter orchestrated the marriage of Black Tom’s daughter and heiress Elizabeth to a Scottish favourite Richard Preston, Baron Dingwall. The King gave Preston the title Earl of Desmond (after the Fitzgeralds lost the title, due to their Desmond Rebellion, and awarded his wife most of the Ormond estate, thus depriving Walter of his inheritance. Walter refused to submit and was imprisoned for eight years in the Fleet, London. He was released 1625. Walter’s nine-year-old grandson, James, became the heir to the titles but not the estates.
James Butler (1610-88) 12th Earl of Ormond (later 1st Duke of Ormond) was the eldest son of Thomas Butler, Viscount Thurles, and his wife Elizabeth Poyntz. Following his father’s death in 1619, 9-year-old James became direct heir to the Ormond titles. He was made a royal ward and was educated at Lambeth Palace under the tutelage of George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury.
In order to reunite the Ormond title with the estates, plans were made for a marriage between James and the daughter of the Prestons, Elizabeth, to resolve the inheritance issue. In 1629 James married his cousin Elizabeth Preston and reunited the Ormond estates.
James succeeded to the Ormond titles in 1633 on the death of his grandfather, Walter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormond.
The website tells us: “A staunch royalist, Ormond was appointed commander-in-chief of the army in Ireland in 1641. He served his first term of three as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1648 to 1650. Following the defeat of the royalists in Ireland, Ormond went to exile and spent most of the years 1649 to 1660 abroad, moving about Europe with the exiled court of Charles II. After the restoration of the monarchy in England, Ormond was rewarded with a dukedom and several high offices by a grateful king. Though he enjoyed the king’s favour, Ormond had enemies at court and as a result of the machinations of the Cabal, which included powerful figures such as the Earl of Shaftesbury, he was dismissed from his post as Lord Lieutenant in 1669. When he was raised to a dukedom in the English peerage in 1682, Ormond left Ireland to reside in England. During his last term as Lord Lieutenant (1677-85), he played a major role in the planning and founding of the Royal Hospital for old soldiers at Kilmainham, near Dublin. The last decade of his life was marked by tragedy: all three of his sons and his wife died during that time. He died at his residence at Kingston Lacy in Dorset was buried in Westminster Abbey.“
Note that the “Cabal” was the term used to refer to the clique around the king. The term comes from an acronym of their names, Sir Thomas Clifford 1st Baron Clifford, Henry Benet 1st Earl of Arlington, George Villiers 2nd Duke of Buckingham, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley 1st Earl of Shaftesbury and John Maitland, 1st Duke and 2nd Earl of Lauderdale.
The 1st Duke of Ormond carried out improvements to the castle. Mark Bence-Jones describes:
“The Great Duke transformed the castle from a medieval fortress into a pleasant country house, rather like the chateau or schloss of contemporary European princeling; with high-pitched roofs and cupolas surmounted by vanes and gilded ducal coronets on the old round towers. Outworks gave place to gardens with terraces, a “waterhouse” a fountain probably carved by William de Keyser, and statues copied from those in Charles II’s Privy Gardens. The Duchess seems to have been the prime mover in the work, in which William (afterwards Sir William) Robinson, Surveyor-General and architect of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, was probably involved, supervising the construction of the Presence Chamber 1679. Robinson is also believed to have designed the magnificent entrance gateway of Portland and Caen stone with a pediment, Corinthian pilasters and swags which the second Duke erected on the street front of the castle ca 1709. Not much else was done to the castle in C18, for the Ormondes suffered a period of eclipse following the attainder and exile of the 2nd Duke, who became a Jacobite after the accession of George I.” 
The website tells us that there has been an entrance hall here at least since the 17th century rebuilding of the castle. The north doorway through the massive curtain wall was remodelled on two occasions in the 19th century. The black and white stone floor is laid with Kilkenny Black Marble and local sandstone, laid in the 19th century.
This 19th century mahogany staircase was designed and made by the local firm of Furniss & Son, Kilkenny and leads to the Tapestry Room and first floor. The use of mahogany in domestic furniture, which is so synonymous with the Grand House, is virtually unknown before the 18th century. Most of the wood imported came from the Jamaican Plantations which were cleared in order to plant sugar cane and cotton. During the 19th century this staircase was hung with several beautiful tapestries from the Decius Mus suite, some of which are now housed in the Tapestry Room.
The Tapestry Room in the North Tower shows how the medieval castle was transformed in the 17th century to become a magnificent baroque ducal palace. This room was called the Great Chamber in the 17th century and the walls were decorated with embossed and gilded leather hangings on the walls; a fragment of a late 17th/ early 18th century leather has been hung beside the door to give an impression of how rich the room must have been. In the 18th century, they were replaced by a set of tapestries.
The ground floor also contains the State Dining Room. The website tells us that this was the formal dining room in the 1860’s. Historic evidence shows that this room was hung in the late 19th century with a red flock paper when it was a billiard room. The strong blue on the walls echoes the colour in the original 19th century-stained glass windows and provides a backdrop for the Langrishe family portraits, which originated in Knocktopher Abbey, Kilkenny, and are now in the care of the State. Most large estate houses would have had both a formal and informal Dining Room. The collection of silverware contains some pieces from the original 18th century collection, purchased by Walter Butler, the 18th Earl after his marriage to the wealthy heiress Anna Maria Price Clarke.
From the website: “Today the first floor space is occupied by three rooms: Anteroom, Library and Drawing Room, as it was in the 19th century. The processional lay out of the rooms, each opening into the next is characteristic of the Baroque style of the 17th century and was know as an ‘enfilade’ suite of rooms. Baroque protocol dictated that visitors of lower rank than their host would be escorted by servants down the enfilade to the nearest room that their status allowed. In the 16th and 17th century the State Rooms were situated on this floor. 17th century history records that it was in these state apartments that James Butler 1st Duke of Ormonde received the Papal Nuncio Giovanni Battista Rinuccini during the Irish Confederate Wars of that century. An Anteroom was a small room used as a waiting room, that leads into a larger and more important room. The Anteroom and the room below, today the Serving Room, were constructed in the area where an earlier stone staircase was situated.” The anteroom features a reproduction poplin wallpaper and bronze figurines in niches.
The anteroom leads to the library. “The interior decoration is a faithful recreation of the furnishing style of the mid to late 19th century. Thanks to a salvaged fabric remnant found behind a skirting board, it was possible to commission the French silk poplin on the walls in its original pattern and colour from the firm of Prelle in Lyons in France. The claret silk damask curtains are also based on the originals were made in Ireland. One of the nine massive curtain pelmets is original and an Irish firm of Master Gilders faithfully reproduced matching gilt reproductions. The bookcases were also reproduced based on one original bookcase acquired by the OPW in the 1980s, this original with its 19th century glass stands in the right end corner of the library. The matching pair of pier mirrors over the mantelpieces was conserved and re gilded.”
The Drawing Room is typically the room in a house where guests and visitors are entertained. Drawing rooms were previously known as ‘withdrawing rooms’ or ‘withdrawing chambers’ which originated in sixteenth century.
The fabrics in this room are vintage glazed and block printed English and French chintzes and have been chosen to recreate the style of the rooms as they appeared in the 19th century family photographs. The Drawing Room picture hang reflects the Edward Ledwich description in his 1789 “Antiquities of Ireland!” when this room was the Presence Chamber or Alcove.
The 1st Duke of Ormond had three sons: Thomas (1634-1680), 6th Earl of Ossory; Richard (1639-1686), 1st and last Earl of Arran; and John (1634-1677), 1st and last Earl of Gowran. He had two daughters, Elizabeth (1640-1665) and Mary (1646-1710). Mary married William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire and Elizabeth, the 2nd Earl of Chesterfield.
Thomas Butler (1634-1682) 6th Earl of Ossory was the father of the 2nd Duke of Ormond. Thomas was a soldier and Naval Commander, known as ‘Gallant Ossory’. Born at Kilkenny Castle in 1634, his childhood was spent at Kilkenny until he went with his father and brother Richard to England in 1647. They then went to France, where he was educated at Caen and Paris at Monsieur de Camps’ Academy. In Holland he married Amelia of Nassau, daughter of Lodewyk van Nassau, Heer van Beverweerd, a natural son of Prince Maurice of Nassau. He was a witness when James, Duke of York (later King James II) secretly married Anne Hyde in 1660.
Thomas enjoyed the favour and support of both King Charles II and his queen. Because of his wife’s Dutch connections he was frequently sent on royal missions to Holland. In 1670 he conducted William of Orange to England. John Evelyn, the diarist, was a close friend and referred to him as ‘a good natured, generous and perfectly obliging friend’. He died suddenly in 1680, possibly from food poisoning, at Arlington House in London. He was buried in Westminster Abbey
James Butler (1665-1745) 2nd Duke of Ormonde [the final ‘e’ was added to the name around this time] was the eldest surviving son of Thomas Butler 6th Earl of Ossory. Following his father’s death in 1680, James became the heir to his grandfather, James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, whom he succeeded in 1688.
Following his involvement in a Jacobite rising, a Bill of Attainder was passed against the 2nd Duke of Ormonde. His English and Scottish honours and his English estates were seized. Ormonde fled to France. He lived out his life in exile, and died at Avignon in France. Despite this, he was buried in 1746 in Westminster Abbey.
James the 2nd Duke had no son, so the title passed to his brother Charles Butler (1671-1758). He was enabled by an Act of Parliament in 1721 to recover his brother’s forfeited estates, but the dukedom ended with him. He was, however, also the 14th Earl of Ormonde and this title continued. He had no children, however, so the title passed to a cousin.
Richard Butler (d. 1701) of Kilcash, County Tipperary was a younger brother of James the 1st Duke of Ormond. There is a castle ruin still in Kilcash, under the protection of the Office of Public Works but not open to the public. His son was Walter Butler of Garryricken (1633-1700). Pictured above are this Walter’s sons Christopher (the Catholic Archbishop) and Thomas (d. 1738).
Walter’s son Thomas (d. 1738) inherited Kilcash from his grandfather Richard Butler (d. 1701) of Kilcash. A Colonel of a Regiment of Foot in the army of King James II, Walter married Margaret Bourke, daughter of William, 7th Earl of Clanricarde, and widow of 5th Viscount Iveagh. It was their son John (d. 1766) who succeeded to the Ormonde titles as 15th Earl of Ormonde in 1758.
The 15th Earl had no children so the title then passed to a cousin, Walter Butler (1703-1783), another of the Garryricken branch, who also became the 9th Earl of Ossory. He took up residence at Kilkenny Castle. Walter, a Catholic, was unable to exercise a political role. He undertook the restoration of the Castle, decorating some of the rooms with simple late eighteenth century plasterwork, and also built the stable block across the road from the Castle, today the Design Centre and National Craft Centre (also a Section 482 property). He also built the Dower House, now a hotel called Butler House.
He married Eleanor Morres (1711-1793), the daughter of Nicholas Morres of Seapark Court, Co. Dublin, and of Lateragh, Co. Tipperary. After Walter’s death in 1783, she moved into the Dower House.
Their son John (1740-1795) became known as “Jack of the Castle” and was the 17th Earl. Jack’s sister Susannah married Thomas Kavanagh of Borris House in County Carlow (see my entry about Borris House). Jack married Anne Wandesford, pictured below.
Their son Walter (1770-1820) became the 18th Earl and 1st Marquess of Ormonde. He had no sons so his brother James Wandesford Butler (1777-1838) inherited the title of 19th Earl. He became one of the largest landowners in Ireland with an estate worth more than £20,000 a year. He was recreated 1st Marquess of Ormonde in 1825 and officiated as Chief Butler of Ireland at the Coronation of George IV. He married Grace Louisa Staples in 1807, they had ten children.
James Wandesford Butler the 19th Earl and 1st Marquess undertook more renovations. Mark Bence-Jones describes:
“Ca. 1826, the Kilkenny architect, William Robertson, when walking in the castle courtyard with the Lady Ormonde of the day, noticed that a main wall was out of true and consequently unsafe. One suspects it may have been wishful thinking on his part, for it landed him the commission to rebuild the castle, which he did so thoroughly that virtually nothing remains from before his time except for the three old towers, the outer walls and – fortunately – the 2nd Duke’s gateway. Apart from the latter, the exterior of the castle became uncompromisingly C19 feudal; all the 1st Duke’s charming features being swept away. Robertson also replaced one of two missing sides of the courtyard with a new wing containing an immense picture gallery; the original gallery, on the top floor of the principal range, having been divided into bedrooms. Robertson left the interior of the castle extremely dull, with plain or monotonously ribbed ceilings and unvarying Louis Quinze style chimneypieces.”
William Robertson also designed a Section 482 property which I have yet to visit, Lismacue in County Tipperary.
The 1st Marquess died in Dublin in 1838 and was succeeded by his eldest son John Butler (1808-1854), 2nd Marquess, 20th Earl of Ormonde, Earl of Ossory and Viscount Thurles, Baron Ormonde of Lanthony, Chief Butler of Ireland (see his portrait below).
John the 2nd Marquess travelled extensively. His journals (now in National Library of Ireland) record his many journeys across Europe to Italy and Sicily. He published an account of his travels, Autumn in Sicily, and he also wrote an account of the life of St. Canice. He married Frances Jane Paget in 1843. He continued the work of rebuilding Kilkenny castle that was started by his father. His journals show him to have a deep interest in art, and there are careful descriptions of several of the great galleries in Italy to be found in his writing. Although he continued to write in his journals during the years 1847 to 1850, no mention of the Irish famine is made. He died while bathing in the sea near Loftus hall on Hook Head, Co. Wexford. A marble tomb was erected in his memory in St. Canice’s Cathedral, Kilkenny.
The son of the 2nd Marquess, James Edward William Theobald Butler became the 3rd Marquess in 1854. It was during his time that changes were made to the rather plain picture gallery block created by William Robertson. Robertston’s Picture Gallery, in keeping with his work on the rest of the castle, was in a Castellated Baronial style. Initially the gallery was built with a flat roof that had begun to cause problems shortly after its completion. The distinguished architectural firm of Deane and Woodward was called in during the 1860s to make changes to the overall design of the Picture Gallery block, and other corrections to Robertson’s work. These changes included the insertions of four oriels in the west wall and the blocking up of the eight windows, while another oriel added to the east wall.
“The magnificent Picture Gallery is situated in the east wing of Kilkenny Castle.This stunning space dates from the 19th century and was built primarily to house the Butler Family’s fine collection of paintings.“
From the website: “… The entire ceiling was hand painted by John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902), then Professor of Fine Arts at Newman College, Dublin, using a combination of motifs ranging from the quasi-medieval to the pre-Raphaelite, with interlace, gilded animal and bird heads on the cross beam.“
“The Marble Fireplace is made of Carrara marble and was designed by J. H. Pollen also in a quasi-medieval style. It was supplied by the firm of Ballyntyne of Dorset Street, Dublin. Foliage carving attributed to Charles Harrison covers the chimneypiece and a frieze beneath is decorated with seven panels, showing the family coat of arms and significant episodes from the family’s long history. Starting on the left, the first panel shows the buying the castle by the first Earl of Ormond in 1391 from the Despenser family – money changing hands is shown. The second panel depicts Theobald Fitzwalter acting as Chief Butler to the newly crowned King of England highlighting their ancient royal privilege and upon which their surname of Butler is based. On the third panel, you see King Richard the Second acting as godfather for one of the infants of the Butler family in 1391. The centrepiece is the family crest which can also be seen over the arch and gateway, with the family motto “comme je trouve”- “as I find”, as well as the heraldic shield guarded, the falcon, the griffin (a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle) and the ducal coronet. In the fifth panel, the 1st Duke of Ormond can be seen entering the Irish House of Lords still bearing his sword. Indeed, he refused to hand his weapon over as were the protocols in case it was used inside during an argument; this became known as The Act of Defiance. The sixth panel next to this symbolizes the charity of the Butler family showing Lady Ormonde giving alms to the poor. Finally, the sixth and last panel portrays the First Duke of Ormond’s triumphant return to Dublin from exile on the Restoration of Charles the Second in 1662, when he also established the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and founded the Phoenix Park.”
The 3rd Marquess’s brother James Arthur Wellington Foley Butler (1849-1943) became 4th Marquess (and 22nd Earl) of Ormonde in 1919. He was educated at Harrow and joined the army becoming a lieutenant in the 1st Life Guards. He was state steward to the Earl of Carnarvon when Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1887 he married Ellen Stager, daughter of American General Anson Stager.
As I mentioned earlier, it was James Arthur Norman Butler (1893-1971), 6th Marquess and 24th Earl of Ormonde, youngest son of James Arthur, 4th Marquess of Ormonde, who in 1967 sold the Castle.
Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the interior was largely redecorated and wood-carvings in the manner of Grinling Gibbons were introduced into some of the family rooms in the South Tower after the castle suffered damage 1922 during the Civil War, when, having been occupied by one side, it was attacked and captured by the other; the Earl of Ossory (afterwards 9th Marquess) and his wife being in residence at the time. In 1935 the Ormondes ceased to live in the castle, which for the next thirty years stood empty and deteriorating. It is now a wonderful place to visit, and has fifty acres of rolling parkland, a terraced rose garden, playground, tearoom and man-made lake, for visitors to enjoy.
5. St. Mary’s Church, Gowran, County Kilkenny:
General information: 056 772 6894, firstname.lastname@example.org
From the OPW website:
“This church was built in the late thirteenth century as a collegiate church and was served by a college – clerics who lived in a community but did not submit to the rule of a monastery.
The church was patronised by the Butler family and many early family members are commemorated here with elaborate medieval tombs. The impressive ruins were decorated by the Gowran Master whose stone carvings are immortalised in the poetry of Nobel Laureate Séamus Heaney.
The once medieval church was later partly reconstructed in the early 19th century and functioned as a Church of Ireland church until the 1970’s when it was gifted to the State as a National Monument. Today the restored part of the church preserves a collection of monuments dating from the 5th to the 20th centuries.“
 p. 167. 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.
Just to finish up my entries about Office of Public Works properties: Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.
1. Altamont Gardens
2. Castletown House, County Kildare
3. Maynooth Castle, County Kildare
1. Altamont House and Gardens, Bunclody Road, Altamont, Ballon, County Carlow:
“A large and beautiful estate covering 16 hectares in total, Altamont Gardens is laid out in the style of William Robinson, which strives for ‘honest simplicity’. The design situates an excellent plant collection perfectly within the natural landscape.
For example, there are lawns and sculpted yews that slope down to a lake ringed by rare trees and rhododendrons. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen, sheltered by ancient oaks and flanked by huge stone outcrops, leads to the banks of the River Slaney. Visit in summer to experience the glorious perfume of roses and herbaceous plants in the air.
With their sensitive balance of formal and informal, nature and artistry, Altamont Gardens have a unique – and wholly enchanting – character.” 
From Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the care of the OPW, Government Publications, Dublin, 2018:
“Altamont House was constructed in the 1720s, incorporating parts of an earlier structure said to have been a medieval nunnery. In the 1850s, a lake was excavated in the grounds of the house, but it was when the Lecky-Watsons, a local Quaker family, acquired Altamont in 1924 that the gardens truly came into their own.
Feilding Lecky-Watson had worked as a tea planter in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where he nurtured his love of exotic plants, and of rhododendrons in particular. Back in Ireland, he became an expert in the species, cultivating plants for the botanical gardnes at Glasnevin, Kew and Edinburgh. So passionate was he about these plants that when his wife, Isobel, gave birth to a daughter in 1922, she was named Corona, after his favourite variety of rhododendron.” 
Around the lake are mature conifers that were planted in the 1800s, including a giant Wellingtonia which commemorates the Battle of Waterloo.  Corona continued in her father’s footsteps, planing rhododendrons, magnolia and Japanese maples. Another feature is the “100 steps” hand-cut in granite, leading down to the River Slaney. There are red squirrels, otters in the lake and river, and peacocks. Before her death, Corona handed Altamont over to the Irish state to ensure its preservation.
2.Castletown House and Parklands, Celbridge, County Kildare.
“Castletown is set amongst beautiful eighteenth-century parklands on the banks of the Liffey in Celbridge, County Kildare.
The house was built around 1722 for the speaker of the Irish House of Commons, William Conolly, to designs by several renowned architects. It was intended to reflect Conolly’s power and to serve as a venue for political entertaining on a grand scale. At the time Castletown was built, commentators expected it to be ‘the epitome of the Kingdom, and all the rarities she can afford’.
The estate flourished under William Conolly’s great-nephew Thomas and his wife, Lady Louisa, who devoted much of her life to improving her home.
Today, Castletown is home to a significant collection of paintings, furnishings and objets d’art. Highlights include three eighteenth-century Murano-glass chandeliers and the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in the country.
It is still the most splendid Palladian-style country house in Ireland.“
The Conolly familysold Castletown in 1965. Mark Bence-Jones tells us that the estate was bought for development and for two years the house stood empty and deteriorating. In 1967, Hon Desmond Guinness courageously bought the house with 120 acres, to be the headquarters of the Irish Georgian Society, and in order to save it for posterity. Since then the house has been restored and it now contains an appropriate collection of furniture, pictures and objects, which has either been bought for the house, presented to it by benefactors, or loaned. It is now maintained by the Office of Public Works and the Castletown Trust.
William Conolly (1662-1729) rose from modest beginnings to be the richest man in Ireland in his day. He was a lawyer from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, who made an enormous fortune out of land transactions in the unsettled period after the Williamite wars.
William Conolly had property on Capel Street in Dublin, before moving to Celbridge. Conolly’s house was on the corner of Capel Street and Little Britain Street and was demolished around 1770.  The Kildare Local History webpage gives us an excellent description of William Conolly’s rise to wealth:
“In November 1688, William Conolly was one of the Protestants who fled Dublin to join the Williamites in Chester alongside his late Celbridge neighbour Bartholomew Van Homrigh.
On the victory of William III, he acquired a central role dealing in estates forfeited by supporters of James II, commencing his rise to fortune with the forfeited estates of the McDonnells of Antrim.
In 1691 he purchased Rodanstown outside Kilcock, which became his country residence until he purchased Castletown in 1709.
A dowry of £2,300 came his way in 1694 when he married Katherine Conyngham, daughter of Albert Conyngham, a Williamite General who had been killed in the war at Collooney in 1691.
He was appointed Collector and Receiver of Revenue for the towns of Derry and Coleraine on May 2nd 1698.
Conolly was the largest purchaser of forfeited estates in the period 1699–1703, acquiring also 20,000 acres spread over five counties at a cost of just £7,000.” 
He rose to become Speaker of the House of Commons in the Irish Parliament. William Conolly married Katherine Conyngham of Mount Charles, County Donegal, whose brother purchased Slane Castle in County Meath (see my entry https://irishhistorichouses.com/2019/07/19/slane-castle-county-meath/). As well as earning money himself, his wife brought a large dowry.
William Conolly purchased land in County Kildare which had been owned by Thomas Dongan (1634-1715), 2nd Earl of Limerick, in 1709. Dongan’s estate had been confiscated as he was a Jacobite supporter of James II (he became first governor of the Duke of York’s province of New York! The Earldom ended at his death). Dongan’s mother was the daughter of William Talbot, 1st Baronet of Carton (see my entry about Carton, County Kildare, under Places to stay in County Kildare https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/04/27/places-to-visit-and-to-stay-leinster-kildare-kilkenny-laois/).
The Archiseek website tells us about the design of Castletown House:
“Soon after the project got underway Conolly met Alessandro Galilei (1691-1737), an Italian architect, who had been employed in Ireland by Lord Molesworth in 1718 [John Molesworth, 2nd Viscount, who had been British envoy to Florence]. He designed the façade of the main block in the style of a 16th century Italian town palace. He returned to Italy in 1719 and was not associated with the actual construction of the house which began in 1722. Sir Edward Lovett Pearce (died 1733), a young Irish architect, on his Italian grand tour became acquainted with Galilei in Florence and through this connection he was employed by the Speaker to complete Castletown when he returned to Ireland in 1724. Pearce had first hand knowledge of the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and his annotated copy of Palladio’s Quattro libri dell’architettura survives. It was Pearce who added the Palladian colonnades and the terminating pavillions. This layout was the first major Palladian scheme in Ireland and soon had many imitators.” 
Mark Bence-Jones describes Castletown in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses. The centre block is of three storeys over basement, and has two almost identical thirteen bay fronts “reminiscent of the façade of an Italian Renaissance town palazzo; with no pediment or central feature and no ornamentation except for doorcase, entablatures over the ground floor windows, alternate segmental and triangular pediments over the windows of the storey above and a balustraded roof parapet. Despite the many windows and the lack of a central feature, there is no sense of monotony or heaviness; the effect being one of great beauty and serenity.”  The centre block is made of Edenderry limestone, and is topped by cornice and balustrade. On the ground floor the windows have frieze, cornice and lugged architrave, and on the first floor, alternating triangular and segmental pediments.
Pearce added the curved Ionic colonnades and two two-storey seven bay wings. He also designed the impressive two-storey entrance hall inside.
William died in 1729 aged just 67, so he had only a few years to enjoy his house. His wife Katherine lived on in the house another twenty-three years until her death at the age of 90 in 1752. William and Katherine had no children, so his estate passed to his nephew William James Conolly (1712-1754), son of William’s brother Patrick. We came across William James Conolly before in Leixlip Castle (another Section 482 property), which he also inherited. William James married Lady Anne Wentworth, the daughter of the Earl of Strafford. Her father, Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford is not the more famous Thomas Wentworth 1st Earl of Strafford who was executed (of whom there is at least one portrait in Castletown) but a later one, of the second creation. William James died just two years after Katherine Conolly, so the estate then passed to his son Thomas Conolly (1738-1803).
Thomas married Louisa Lennox in 1758, one of five Lennox sisters, daughters of the Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond. From the age of eight she had lived at nearby Carton with her sister Emily, who was married to James Fitzgerald, the 20th Earl of Kildare (who became the 1st Duke of Leinster). At Carton, Louisa was exposed to the fashionable ideas of the day in architecture, decoration, horticulture and landscaping.  Louisa loved Castletown and continually planned improvements, planting trees, designing the lake and building bridges.
Archiseek continues: “The Castletown papers, estate records and account books, together with Lady Louisa’s [i.e. Louisa Lennox, wife of Tom Conolly] diaries and correspondence with her sisters, provide a valuable record of life at Castletown and also of the reorganisation of the house. Lady Louisa’s letters from the 1750s onwards are revealing of the fashions in costume design, fabric patterns and furniture. She played an important part in the alteration and redecoration of Castletown during the 1760s and 1770s. As no single architect was responsible for all of the work carried out, she supervised most of it herself. Much of the redecoration of the house was done to the published designs of the English architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) who never came to Ireland himself. Chambers also worked for Lady Louisa’s brother, the 3rd Duke of Richmond, at Goodwood in Sussex. In a letter, written in July 1759, Lady Louisa mentions instructions given by Chambers to his assistant Simon Vierpyl who supervised the work at Castletown.” (see )
Description of the Hall, from Archiseek: “This impressive two-storeyed room with a black and white chequered floor, was designed by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce. The Ionic order on the lower storey is similar to that of the colonnades outside and at gallery level there are tapering pilasters with baskets of flowers and fruit carved in wood. The coved ceiling has a central moulding comprising a square Greek key patterned frame and central roundel with shell decoration.” [see 6]
The polished limestone floor with its chequered design and the Kilkenny marble fireplace reflect William Conolly’s desire to build the house solely of native Irish materials. Unfortunately when we visited in October 2022, the hall was half hidden with a large two storey curtain, as the windows are all being repaired. As we can see in the photograph, the room has an Ionic colonnade to the rear, and a gallery at first floor level, and the stair hall is through an archway in the east wall.
From the entrance hall, one enters the magnificent Stair Hall. The Castletown website describes the stair hall:
“The Portland stone staircase at Castletown is one of the largest cantilevered staircases in Ireland. It was built in 1759 under the direction of the master builder Simon Vierpyl (c.1725–1811). Prior to this the space was a shell, although a plan attributed to Edward Lovett Pearce suggests that a circular staircase was previously intended.
The solid brass balustrade was installed by Anthony King, later Lord Mayor of Dublin. He signed and dated three of the banisters, ‘A. King Dublin 1760’. The opulent rococo plasterwork was created by the Swiss-Italian stuccadore Filippo Lafranchini, who, with his older brother Paolo, had worked at Carton and Leinster House for Lady Lousia’s brother-in-law, the first Duke of Leinster, as well as at Russborough in Co. Wicklow. Shells, cornucopias, dragons and masks feature in the light-hearted decoration which represents the final development of the Lafranchini style. Family portraits are also included with Tom Conolly at the foot of the stairs and Louisa above to his right. The four seasons are represented on the piers and on either side of the arched screen.“
Mark Bence-Jones continues:
In the following year, Tom Conolly and Lady Louisa employed the Francini to decorate the walls of thestaircase hall with rococo stuccowork; and in 1760 the grand staircase itself – of cantilevered stone, with a noble balustrade of brass columns – was installed; the work beign carried out by Simon Vierpyl, a protégé of Sir William Chambers. The principal reception rooms, which form an enfilade along the garden front and were mostly decorated at this time, are believed to be by Chambers himself; they have ceilings of geometrical plasterwork, very characteristic of him. Also in this style is the dining room, to the left of the entrance hall. It was here that, according to the story, Tom Conolly found himself giving supper to the Devil, whom he had met out hunting and invited back, believing him to be merely a dark stranger; but had realised the truth when his guest’s boots were removed, revealing him to have unusually hairy feet. He therefore sent for the priest, who threw his breviary at the unwelcome guest, which missed him and cracked a mirror. This, however, was enough to scare the Devil, who vanished through the hearthstone. Whatever the truth of this story, the hearthstone in the dining room is shattered, and one of the mirrors is cracked.“
The Dining Room, description from Archiseek:
“This room dates from the 1760s redecoration of Castletown undertaken by Lady Louisa Conolly and reflects the mid-eighteenth century fashion for separate dining rooms. Originally, there were two smaller panelled rooms here. It was reconstructed to designs by Sir William Chambers, with a compartmentalised ceiling similar to one by Inigo Jones in the Queen’s House at Greenwich. The chimney-piece and door cases are in the manner of Chambers. Of the four doors, two are false.
Furniture original to Castletown includes the two eighteenth-century giltwood side tables. Their frieze is decorated with berried laurel foliage similar to the door entablatures in the Red and Green Drawing Rooms. The three elaborate pier glasses are original to the Dining Room. The frames are carved fruiting vines, symbols of Bacchus and festivity. These are probably the work of the Dublin carver Richard Cranfield (1713-1809) who, with the firm of Thomas Jackson of Essex Bridge, Dublin, was paid large sums for carving and gilding throughout the house.“
Between the front of the house, with its Entrance Hall, Stair Hall and Dining Room is a corridor, or rather, two corridors, one to the west and one to the east of the Entrance Hall. This corridor is on every storey, including the basement. To the rear (north) of the house on the ground floor is an enfilade of rooms: the Brown Study to the west end, next to another staircase, then the Red Drawing Room, the Green Drawing Room, the Print Room, the State Bedroom, and then small rooms called the Healy Room and the Map Room.
The corridors now hold paintings and art works, and one has a cabinet of Meissen porcelain.
Next to the Dining Room at the front of the house is the Butler’s Pantry, which contains photographs of the servants of Castletown, and a portrait of a housekeeper, Mrs Parnel Moore (1649–1761). It’s unusual to have a portrait of a housekeeper but perhaps someone painted her because she was a beloved member of the household, as she lived to be at least 112 years! This is a very old portrait dating back to the 1700s.
The Castletown website tells us about the Butler’s Pantry: “The Butler’s Pantry dates from the 1760s and connected the newly created Dining Room with the kitchens in the West Wing. Food was carried in from the kitchens through the colonnade passageway and then reheated in the pantry before being served. The great kitchens were on the ground floor of the west wing, with servants’ quarters upstairs. Upwards of 80 servants would have been employed in the house and kitchens in the late eighteenth century under the direction of the Butler and the Housekeeper.”
The Red Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:
“It is one of a series of State Rooms that form an enfilade and were used on important occasions in the eighteenth century. This room was redesigned in the mid 1760s in the manner of Sir William Chambers. The chimney-piece, ceiling and pier glasses are typical of his designs.
The walls are covered in red damask which is probably French and dates from the 1820s. Lady Shelburne recorded in her journal seeing a four coloured damask, predominently red, in this room. The Aubusson carpet dates from about 1850 and may have been made for the room. Much of the furniture has always been in the house and Lady Louisa Conolly paid 11/2 guineas for each of the Chinese Chippendale armchairs which she considered very expensive. The chairs and settee were made in Dublin and they are displayed in a formal arrangement against the walls as they would have been in the eighteenth century. The bureau was made for Lady Louisa in the 1760s.“
The neoclassical ceiling, which replaced the vaulted original, is based on published designs by the Italian Renaissance architect, Sebastiano Serlio, and is modelled after one in Leinster House (belonging to Lady Louisa’s sister’s husband the Earl of Kildare). The white Carrara chimney-piece came to the house in 1768.
The Green Drawing Room, description from Archiseek:
“The Conollys formally received important visitors to the house in the Green Drawing Room which was the saloon or principal reception room. The room was redecorated in the 1760s and like the other state rooms reflects the neo-classical taste of the architect Sir William Chambers. The Greek key decoration on the ceiling is repeated on the pier glasses and the chimney-piece. Originally these were pier tables with a Greek key frieze and copies of these may be made in the future. The chimney-piece is similar to one designed by Chambers for Lord Charlemont’s Casino at Marino.”
The Castletown website tells us: “The Green Drawing Room was the main reception room or saloon on the ground floor. Visitors could enter from the Entrance Hall or the garden front. Like the other state rooms it was extensively remodelled between 1764 and 1768. The influence of the published designs of Serlio and the leading British architect Isaac Ware can be seen in the neo-classical ceiling, door cases and chimney-piece...The walls were first lined with a pale green silk damask in the 1760s. Fragments of this silk, which was replaced by a dark green mid-nineteenth century silk, survived and the present silk was woven as a direct colour match in 1985 by Prelle et Cie in Lyon, France.”
The Brown Study is at one end of this enfilade of rooms. The website describes it:
“The Brown Study with its wood-panelled walls, tall oak doors, corner chimney-piece, built-in desk and vaulted ceiling is decorated as it was in the 1720s when the house was first built. This room was used as a bedroom in the late nineteenth century and then as a breakfast parlour in the early twentieth century.
Between the windows is a piece of the ‘Volunteer fabric’. Printed on a mixture of linen and cotton in Harpur’s Mills in nearby Leixlip, it depicts the review of the Leinster Volunteers in the Phoenix Park in 1782. Thomas Conolly was active in the Volunteer leadership in both Counties Derry and Kildare. The Volunteers were a local militia force established during the American War of Independence to defend Ireland from possible French invasion while the regular troops were in America. They were later linked to the Patriot party in the Irish House of Commons led by Henry Grattan and to their campaigns for political reform.“
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The doing-up of the house was largely supervised by Lady Louisa, and two of the rooms bear her especial stamp: the print room, which she and her sister, Lady Sarah Napier made ca. 1775; and the splendid long gallery on the first floor, which she had decorated with wall paintings in the Pompeian manner by Thomas Riley 1776.“
The website tells us about the Print Room, completed in 1769: “More than any other room in Castletown, the Print Room bears the imprint of Lady Louisa, who assiduously collected, cut out, and arranged individual prints, frames and decorations. The prints were glued on panels of off-white painted paper which was later attached to the walls on battens covered with cloth. Lady Louisa thus created an intimate, highly individual room which has survived changing tastes and fashions and is now the only fully intact eighteenth-century print room in Ireland.”
Print rooms were fashionable in the 18th century – ladies would collect their favourite prints and paste the walls with them. Prints featured include Le Bas, Rembrandt and Teniers, the actor David Garrick and Sarah Cibber, Louisa’s sister Sarah, Charles I and Charles II as a boy, with whom Louisa shared a bloodline.
The room was later used as a billiards room, and this helped inadvertedly to save the prints, as our guide told us, as the smoke from their pipes helped to protect against silverfish insects which eat wallpaper.
Next to the Print Room is the State Bedroom. The website tells us:
“In the 1720s, when the house was first laid out, this room, along with the rooms either side, probably formed William Conolly’s bedroom suite. It was intended that he would receive guests in the morning while sitting up in bed or being dressed in the manner of the French court at Versailles. In the nineteenth century, the room was converted into a library and the mock leather Victorian wall paper dates from this time. Sadly, the Castletown library was dispersed in the 1960s and today the furniture reflects the room’s original use.“
Next to the State Bedroom is The Healy Room: “This room originally served as a dressing room or closet attached to the adjoining State Bedroom. It was used as a small sitting room and later became Major Edward Conolly’s bedroom in the mid-twentieth century, as it was one of the few rooms that could be kept warm in winter. It is now known as the Healy room after the pictures of the Castletown horses by the Irish artist Robert Healy (d.1771).”
Upstairs has more bedrooms, and the beautiful Long Gallery. A corridor overlooks the Great Hall.
To one side of the Stair Hall upstairs is Lady Kildare’s Room, named after Lady Louisa’s sister Emily, Countess of Kildare and later Duchess of Leinster, who had raised Louisa and the two younger sisters Sarah and Cecilia at nearby Carton House after their parents’ death. Currently being renovated, in the past the room housed the Berkeley Costume Collection. Made in France, Italy, and England, the dresses on display consist of rich embroidered bodices and full skirts made from silk and gold thread.
Across the upstairs East Corridor from Lady Kildare’s room is the Blue Bedroom. The website tells us that the Blue Bedroom provides a fine example of an early Victorian bedroom. Like the Boudoir, it forms part of an apartment with two adjoining dressing rooms, one of which was upgraded into a bathroom with sink and bathtub. The principal bedrooms, used by the family and honoured guests, were on this floor. Bedrooms on the second floor were also used for guests and for children, while the servants slept in the basement. This room has a lovely pink canopied bed, but we did not see the room when we visited in 2022.
At the front of the house on the other side of the Great Hall upstairs are the Boudoir, and Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, and across the West Corridor upstairs, the Pastel Room. The website tells us:
“The Boudoir and the adjoining two rooms formed Lady Louisa’s personal apartment. The Boudoir served as a private sitting room for Louisa and subsequent ladies of the house. The painted ceiling, dado rail and window shutters possibly date from the late eighteenth century and were restored in the 1970s by artist Philippa Garner. The wall panels, or grotesques, after Raphael date from the early nineteenth century and formerly hung in the Long Gallery. Amongst the items inside the built-in glass cabinet are pieces of glass and china featuring the Conolly crest.
In the adjoining room, Lady Louisa’s Bedroom, OPW’s conservation architects have left exposed the walls to offer visitors a glimpse of the different historic layers in the room, from the original brick walls, supported by trusses, to wooden panelling to fragments of whimsical printed wall paper that once embellished the room.“
Across the West Corridor upstairs is the Pastel Room. The Corridor has more portraits.
The Pastel Room, the website tells us, was originally an anteroom to the adjoining Long Gallery. It was used as a school room in the nineteenth century and is now known as the Pastel Room because of the fine collection of pastel portraits. The smaller pastels surrounding the fireplace include a pair of portraits of Thomas and Louisa Conolly by the leading Irish pastel artist of the eighteenth century, Hugh Douglas Hamilton.
From the Pastel Room, we enter the Long Gallery. The website tells us about this room:
“Originally laid out as a picture gallery with portraits of William Conolly’s patrons on display, its function and layout changed under Lady Louisa. In 1760, she had the original doorways to the upper east and west corridors removed, replacing them with the central doorway above the Entrance Hall. The new doorcases as well as new fireplaces at either end were designed by leading English architect, Sir William Chambers, while the actual execution was overseen by Simon Vierpyl. The Pompeian style decoration on the walls dates from the 1770s and was inspired by Montfaucon’s publications on the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and by Raphael’s designs for the Vatican. The murals were the work of an English artist and engraver Charles Ruben Riley (1752–98). The Long Gallery became a space for informal entertaining and was full of life and activity as the following excerpt from one of Louisa’s letters suggests: “Our gallery was in great vogue, and really is a charming room for there is such a variety of occupations in it, that people cannot be formal in it. Lord Harcourt was writing, some of us played at whist, others at billiards, Mrs Gardiner at the harpsichord, others at chess, others at reading and supper at one end. I have seldom seen twenty people in a room so easily disposed of.”
The Long Gallery, description from Archiseek:
“…measuring almost 80 by 23 feet, with its heavy ceiling compartments and frieze dates from the 1720s. Originally there were four doors in the room and the walls were panelled in stucco similar to the entrance Hall. In 1776 the plaster panels and swags were removed but traces of them were found behind the painted canvas panels when they were taken down for cleaning during recent conservation work.”
Archiseek continues: “In the mid 1770s the room was redecorated in the Pompeian manner by two English artists, Charles Reuben Riley (c.1752-1798) and Thomas Ryder (1746-1810). Tom and Louisa’s portraits are at either end of the room over the chimney-pieces and the end piers are decorated with cyphers of the initals of their families: The portrait of Lady Louisa is after Reynolds (the original is in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard) and that of Tom after Anton Raphael Mengs (the original is in the National Gallery of Ireland).
Archiseek tells us: “The subjects of the wall paintings were mostly taken from engraving in d’Hancarville’s Antiquites Etrusques, Greques, et Romaines (1766-67) and de Montfaucon’s L’antiquite expliquee et representee en figures (1719). The busts of the poets and philosophers are placed on gilded brackets designed by Chambers. In the central niche stands a seventeenth-century statue of Diana. Above is a lunette of Aurora, the godess of the dawn, derived from a ceiling decoration by Guido Reni, the seventeenth century Bolognese painter.
The three glass chandeliers were made for the room in Venice and the four large sheets of mirrored glass came from France. In the 1770s the Long Gallery was used as a living room and was filled with exquisite furniture. Originally in the room, there were a pair of side tables attributed to John Linnell, with marble tops attributed to Bossi, a pair of commodes by Pierre Langlois, that were purchased in London for Lady Louisa by Lady Caroline Fox and a pair of bookcases at either end of the room.
In 1989 major conservation work was carried out on the Long Gallery. The wall paintings that had been flaking for many years were conserved. The original eighteenth-century gilding has been cleaned and the chandeliers restored. The project was funded by the American Ireland Fund, the Irish Georgian Society and by private donations.“
Mark Bence-Jones tells us: “The gallery, and the other rooms on the garden front, face along a two mile vista to the Conolly Folly, an obelisk raised on arches which was built by Speaker Conolly’s widow 1740, probably to the design of Richard Castle. The ground on which it stands did not then belong to the Conollys, but to their neighbour, the Earl of Kildare, whose seat, Carton, is nearby. The folly continued to be a part of the Carton estate until 1968, when it was bought by an American benefactress and presented to Castletown. At the end of another vista, the Speaker’s widow built a remarkable corkscrew-shaped structure for storing grain, known as the Wonderful Barn. One of the entrances to the demesne has a Gothic lodge, from a design published by Batty Langley 1741. The principal entrance gates are from a design by Chambers.“
The Obelisk, or Conolly Folly, was reputedly built to give employment during an episode of famine. It was restored by the Irish Georgian Society in 1960.
As Bence-Jones tells us, Castletown was inherited by Tom Conolly’s nephew, Edward Michael Pakenham, who took the name of Conolly, to become Pakenham Conolly. Thomas and Louisa had no children, and Thomas’s sister Harriet married John Staples, and their daughter was Louisa Staples. Louisa married Thomas Pakenham (1757-1836). It was their son, Edward Michael (1786-1849) who inherited Castletown.
The house then passed to his son, another Thomas Conolly (1823-1876). He was an adventourous character who travelled widely and kept a diary. Stephen and I recently attended a viewing of portraits of Thomas and his wife Sarah Eliza, which are to be sold by Bonhams. His diary of his trip to the United States during the time of the Civil War is being published.
Sarah Eliza was the daughter of a prosperous Celbridge paper mill owner, Joseph Shaw. Her substantial dowry helped to fund her husband’s adventurous lifestyle! A photograph album which belonged to her brother Henry Shaw, of a visit to Castletown, was rescued from the rubble of his home in London when it was destroyed by a German bomb in 1944. Sadly, he died in the bombing. The photograph album is on display in Castletown.
Sarah Eliza and Thomas had four children. Thomas, born in 1870, died in the Boer War in 1900. William died at the age of 22. Edward Michael (Ted), born in 1874, lived until his death in Castletown, in 1956. Their daughter Catherine married Gerald Shapland Carew, 5th Baron Carew, the grandson of Robert Carew, 1st Baron Carew of Castleboro House, County Wexford (today an impressive ruin), and son of Shapland Francis Carew and his wife Hester Georgiana Browne, daughter of Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo.
Catherine’s son, William Francis Conolly-Carew (1905-1994), 6th Baron Carew, inherited Casteltown, and added Conolly to his surname.
3.Maynooth Castle, County Kildare:
General information: 01 628 6744, email@example.com
“This majestic stone castle was founded in the early thirteenth century. It became the seat of power for the FitzGeralds, the earls of Kildare, as they emerged as one of the most powerful families in Ireland. Garret Mór, known as the Great Earl of Kildare, governed Ireland in the name of the king from 1487 to 1513.
Maynooth Castle was one of the largest and richest Geraldine dwellings. The original keep, begun around 1200, was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. Inside, the great hall was a nerve centre of political power and culture.
Only 30 kilometres from Dublin, Maynooth Castle occupies a deceptively secluded spot in the centre of the town, with well-kept grounds and plenty of greenery. There is a captivating exhibition in the keep on the history of the castle and the family.“
 p. 8, Living Legacies: Ireland’s National Historic Properties in the Care of the OPW. Government Publications, Dublin 2, 2018.
 p. xiii, Jennings, Marie-Louise and Gabrielle M. Ashford (eds.), The Letters of Katherine Conolly, 1707-1747. Irish Manuscripts Commission 2018. The editors reference TCD, MS 3974/121-125; Capel Street and environs, draft architectural conservation area (Dublin City Council) and Olwyn James, Capel Street, a study of the past, a vision of the future (Dublin, 2001), pp. 9, 13, 15-17.
 p. 75. Bence-Jones, Mark. A Guide to Irish Country Houses (originally published as Burke’s Guide to Country Houses volume 1 Ireland by Burke’s Peerage Ltd. 1978); Revised edition 1988 Constable and Company Ltd, London.
 p. 129. Great Irish Houses. Forewards by Desmond FitzGerald, Desmond Guinness. IMAGE Publications, 2008.
I have a bigger project than this section 482 houses blog. It helps, when writing about big houses, to know what is out there. So I have studied Mark Bence-Jones’s 1988 publication in great detail,A Guide to Irish Country Houses, and have conducted research with the help of the internet.
For my own interest, and I am sure many of my readers will appreciate, I am compiling a list of all of the “big house” accommodation across Ireland – finding out places to stay for when Stephen and I go on holidays, especially when we go to see the section 482 houses!
I am also discovering what other houses are open to the public. There are plenty to see which are not privately owned or part of the section 482 scheme. In fact many of the larger houses are either owned by the state, or have been converted into hotels.
This Monday, 8th June 2020, Ireland moves to the next phase of the government’s Covid-19 prevention plan, and we are allowed to travel 20km from our home, or to places within our county. Big houses won’t be open for visits, but some will be opening their gardens – already my friend Gary has been to the gardens of Ardgillan Castle for a walk. Stephen and I went there before lockdown, meeting Stephen’s cousin Nessa for a walk. The castle was closed, but we were blown away by the amazing view from the garden, and walked down to the sea.
Here is my list of houses/castles to visit in Dublin. Some are on section 482 so are private houses with very limited visting times; others are state-owned and are open most days – though not during Covid-19 restriction lockdown – they might be open from June 29th but check websites. Some have gardens which are open to the public now for a wander.
“Original home to the Overend family, today Airfield House is an interactive tour and exhibition which brings visitors closer to this admired Dublin family. Here you’ll view family photographs, letters, original clothing and display cases with information on their prize-winning Jersey herd, vintage cars and their much loved Victorian toys and books.
We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few.
Every Wednesday through to Sunday at 11.30am and then again at 2.30pm we offer visitors guided house tours.“
The name was changed from Bess Mount to Airfield circa 1836. It is a working farm, in the middle of suburban Dundrum! The house was built around 1830.  It was built for Thomas Mackey Scully, eldest son of James Scully of Maudlins, Co Kildare. Thomas Mackey Scully was a barrister at Law Grays Inn 1833 and called to the bar in 1847. He was a supporter of O’Connell and a member of the Loyal National Repeal Association. In 1852 the house went into the Encumbered Estates, and was purchased by Thomas Cranfield.
The Stillorgan History and Genealogy website tells us that Thomas Cranfield married Anne Keys in 1839. Thomas was a stationer and printer of 23 Westmorland Street. In 1847 he became the first mezzotint printer in Ireland producing copies of a works by Irish artists such as William Brocas. He received an award from the RDS for his print from a portrait of the Earl of Clarendon. He moved to 115 Grafton Street and received a Royal Warrant in 1850. The family moved to Airfield in 1854. Thomas was also an agent for the London Stereoscopic company and moved into photography. He disposed of his business in 1878 to his son and his assistant George Nutter. I recently heard Brian May member of the former rock band Queen discussing his interest in stereoscopic photography, which was fascinating. I wonder has he been to Airfield? It’s a pity there is nothing about it in the house. Thomas moved to England in 1882 after the death of his son Charles.
“Thomas’s father was interesting also: the website tells us: In 1753, Dr Richard Russell published The Use of Sea Water which recommended the use of seawater for healing various diseases. Circa 1790 Richard Cranfield opened sea baths between Sandymount and Irishtown and by 1806 was also offering tepid baths. Originally called the Cranfield baths it was trading as the Tritonville baths by 1806. Richard Cranfield born circa 1731 died in 1809 at Tritonville Lodge outliving his wife by four years to whom he had been married for over 60 years. He was a sculptor and a carver of wood and had a share in the exhibition Hall in William Street which was put up for sale after his death. He was also the treasurer for the Society of Artists in Ireland. He worked at Carton House and Trinity College. His son Richard took over the baths.“
The Stillorgan History and Genealogy website continues. When the Cranfields left Airfield, it was taken over by the Jury family of the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin. William Jury born circa 1805 was a hotel proprietor. He and his second wife went to live at Tolka Park, Cabra and William became proprietor of the Imperial Hotel in Cork and in Belfast and also had an interest ‘Jurys’ in Derry. In 1865 William, together with Charles Cotton, (brother of his wife Margaret) and Christian Goodman, (manager of the Railway Hotel in Killarney) purchased The Shelbourne from the estate of Martin Burke. They closed The Shelbourne in February 1866, purchased additional ground from the Kildare Society, and proceeded with a rebuild and reopened on 21.02.1867. John McCurdy was the architect and Samuel Henry Bolton the builder. The four bronze figures of Assyrian muses/mutes installed at the entrance of the Shelbourne Hotel were designed by the Bronze-founders of Gustave Barbezat & CIE of France.
William’s wife Margaret took over the running of the hotel after the death of her husband. She travelled from Airfield each morning bringing fresh vegetables for use in the hotel. She left Airfield circa 1891.
Four of their sons followed into the hotel business. Their fourth son, Charles, took over the running of The Shelbourne and died on 08.08.1946 in Cheshire aged 91 years.
The Overends seem to have taken over Airfield from 1884. Trevor Thomas Letham Overend born 01.01.1847 in Portadown 3rd son of John Overend of 57 Rutland Square married Elizabeth Anne (Lily) Butler 2nd daughter of William Paul Butler and Letitia Gray of Broomville, Co Carlow. Trevor died on 08.04.1919 and Lily died on 21.01.1945, both are buried at Deansgrange. Their daughters were left well provided for with no necessity to work and instead devoted themselves to volunteer work.
The website continues: “We focus not just on the way of life the family lived at Airfield, but also on their fantastic charitable work for organisations such as St John Ambulance and The Children’s Sunshine Home (now The Laura Lynn Foundation) to name but a few.“
“Airfield Ornamental Gardens Airfield gardens came to prominence under the leadership of Jimi Blake in the early 2000’s. Like all progressive gardens the garden in Airfield is an ever-evolving landscape. The gardens were redesigned in 2014 by internationally renowned garden designer Lady Arabella Lenox Boyd and landscape architect Dermot Foley. The colour and life you see in our gardens today are the result of the hard work and imagination of our Head Gardener Colm O’Driscoll and his team who have since put their stamp on the gardens as they continue to evolve. The gardens are managed organically and regeneratively with a focus on arts and craft style of gardening.
Airfield Food Gardens Certified organic by the Irish Organic Association this productive 2-acre garden supplies the onsite café and farmers market with fresh seasonal produce. Food production is only one element of this dynamic food garden. Education is at the core of this space. Annual crop trails, experimental crops and forward-thinking growing methods are implemented throughout the garden. Soil is at the heart of the approach to growing and and on top of being certified organic the garden is managed under “no dig” principals. These regenerative approaches result in a thriving food garden that is a hive of activity throughout the growing season.”
“The Walled Garden was originally a Victorian-styled kitchen garden that used to supply the fruit, vegetables and cut ower requirements to the house. It is 1 hectare (2.27 acres) in size, and is subdivided by free standing walls into five separate compartments. The walled garden was replanted in 1992 and through the 1990’s, with each section given a different theme.“
“The Victorian Conservatory was originally built in 1880 at Seamount, Malahide, the home of the Jameson family, who became famous for their whiskey all over the world. It was built by a Scottish glasshouse builder McKenzie & Moncur Engineering, and is reputed to be a replica of a glasshouse built at Balmoral in Scotland, the Scottish home of the British Royal Family. The conservatory was donated to Fingal County Council by the present owner of Seamount, the Treacy family and was re-located to the Ardgillan Rose Garden in the mid-1990s by park staff.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG) approached Fingal County Council in early 2014 to participate in a pilot project to develop and enhance skill sets in built heritage conservation, under the Traditional Building Skills Training Scheme 2014. The glass house/ conservatory at Ardgillan was selected as part of this project. The glass house has been completely dismantled because it had decayed to such an extent that it was structurally unstable. All parts removed as part of this process are in safe storage. This work is the first stage of a major restoration project being undertaken by the Councils own Direct Labour Crew in the Operations Department supervised by David Curley along with Fingal County Council Architects so that the glasshouse can be re-erected in the garden and can again act as a wonderful backdrop to the rose garden. This is a complex and difficult piece of work which is currently on going and we are hopeful to have the glasshouse back to its former glory as a centrepiece of the visitor offering in Ardgillan Demesne in the near future.“
Contact: Peter O’ Callaghan Tel 087-7179367 www.bewleys.com Open: all year except Christmas Day, 9am-5pm Fee: Free
The Bewleys business began in 1840 as a leading tea and coffee company, started by Samuel Bewley and his son Charles, when they imported tea directly from China. Charles’s brother Joshua established the China Tea Company, the precursor to Bewleys.
The Buildings of Ireland publication on Dublin South City tells us: “Rebuilt in 1926 to designs by Miller and Symes, the playful mosaics framing the ground and mezzanine floors are indebted to the Egyptian style then in vogue following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The interior, originally modelled on the grand cafés of Europe and Oriental tearooms, was restructured in 1995 but retains a suite of six stained glass windows designed (1927) by the celebrated Harry Clarke (1889-1931). Four windows lighting the back wall of the tearoom are particularly fine and represent the four orders of architecture.“
Recently Paddy Bewley died, the last of the family directly involved with the running of the cafe and coffee business of Bewleys. Paddy was responsible for starting the coffee supplying end of the Bewley business.
Paddy, like those in his family before him, was a Quaker, and he lived by their ethos. The Bewley family migrated from Cumberland in England to County Offaly in 1700. Their association with coffee and tea dates back to the mid nineteenth centry, when they began to import tea from China.
The Georges Street cafe opened in 1894. The business of the cafes was created largely by Joshua Bewley’s son Ernest, with the Grafton Street branch opening in 1927, complete with the Harry Clarke stained glass windows. His three sons Victor, Alfred and Joe took over: Victor ran the business, Alfred backed the bakes and Joe ran Knocksedan farm with its prize-winning Jersey cows. It wase Ernest who imported the first Jersey cows to Ireland. I remember looking forward to the jersey cow milk when we’d visit when I was young.
In 1986 Patrick Campbell acquired the company of Bewleys, forming the Campbell Bewley Group, and Paddy Bewley continued to work for the company.
In 1996, Paddy Bewley signed up the company to purchase Fair Trade coffee only, guaranteeing that producers of coffee and their communities would be paid a good price for their beans, irrespective of market fluctuations. In 2008 the company’s roasteries and headquarters in Dublin became 100% carbon neutral. (notes from Paddy Bewley’s obituary in the Irish Times, Saturday January 8th 2022).
There has been much discussion lately about the beautiful Harry Clarke windows in the Grafton Street Bewleys – are they part of the building, or removeable art? I believe they are not actually the windows but can be removed. It is being discussed because it’s not clear who owns them. Bewleys has changed ownership and the building is not owned by the business now.
6. Cabinteely House [formerly Clare Hill, or Marlfield], Cabinteely, Dublin
Mark Bence-Jones writes in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
p. 52. [Nugent, Byrne 1863, Ormsby-Hamilton sub Ormsby] A C18 house built round 3 sides of a square; with well-proportioned rooms and good decoration. Built by what genial Irishman on the C18 English political scene, Robert, 1st and last Earl Nugent, on an estate which belonged to his brother-in-law, George Byrne, and afterwards to his nephew and political protege, Michael Byrne MP. The house was originally known as Clare Hill, Lord Nugent’s 2nd title being Viscount Clare; but it became known as Cabinteely House after being bequeathed by Lord Nugent to the Byrnes, who made it their seat in preference to the original Cabinteely House; which, having been let for a period to John Dwyer – who, confusingly, was secretary to Lord Chancellor Fitzgibbon, 1st Earl of Clare – was demolished at end of C18 and a new house, known as Marlfield and afterwards a seat of the Jessop family (1912), built on the site. The new Cabinteely House (formerly Clare Hill), afterwards passed to the Ormsby-Hamilton family. In recent years, it was the home of Mr. Joseph McGrath, founder of the Irish Sweep and a well-known figure on the Turf.”
The National Inventory attributes it to architect Thomas Cooley. It is described as: Detached nine-bay (three-bay deep) two-storey country house, built 1769, on a quadrangular plan originally nine-bay two-storey on a U-shaped plan; six-bay two-storey parallel block (west). Sold, 1883. “Improved” producing present composition” when sold to George Pim (1801-87) of neighbouring Brenanstown House. The Inventory also lists other owners: estate having historic connections with Robert Byrne (d. 1798, a brother to above-mentioned Michael Byrne MP) and his spinster daughters Mary Clare (d. 1810), Clarinda Mary (d. 1850) and Georgina Mary (d. 1864); William Richard O’Byrne (1823-96), one-time High Sheriff of County Wicklow (fl. 1872) [he inherited the house after his cousin Georgiana Mary died]; a succession of tenants of the Pims including Alfred Hamilton Ormsby Hamilton (1852-1935), ‘Barrister – Not Practicing’ (NA 1901); John Hollowey (1858-1928); and Joseph McGrath (1887-1966), one-time Deputy Minister for Labour (fl. 1919-2) and co-founder of the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake (1930). 
The architect of Charlemount House was William Chambers, and it was built in 1763. The Archiseek website tells us:
“Lord Charlemont [James Caulfeild, 1st Earl, 4th Viscount of Charlemont] had met and befriended Sir William Chambers in Italy while Chambers was studying roman antiquities and Charlemont was on a collecting trip. Years later Charlemont had hired Chambers to design his Casino on his family estate at Marino outside Dublin. When the need arose for a residence in the city Charlemont turned again to Chambers who produced the designs for Charlemont House finished in 1763. The house now the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art consists of a single block of five bays with curved screen walls to either side. The house breaks up the regularity of this side of Parnell Square as it is set back from the other houses…Charlemont house was sold to the government in 1870 becoming the General Register and Census Offices for Ireland and later the Municipal Gallery for Modern Art – a development that Charlemont would undoubtedly would have approved.” 
Robert O’Byrne tells us that inside is work by Simon Vierpyl also.
Open: Jan 6-9, Feb 6-9, Mar 6-9, Apr 6-9, May 1-8, June 1-8, July 1-8, August 13-22, Sept 1-8, Nov 6-9, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult/OAP €5, child/student €2.50
The website tells us it is a castellated dwelling built c. 1789 as a suburban retreat for Henry Jackson, ironfounder, a prominent member of the United Irishmen. It has been granted a determination by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that the house and its attendant grounds are intrinsically of significant architectural and historical interest. The house was converted into flats in the 20C and has been the subject of an ongoing programme of restoration by the present owners, to its original use as a family home.
“A wealthy individual of liberal politics, Jackson became a prominent member of the United Irishmen, a movement animated by the French Revolution. Drawn to the writings of Thomas Paine, the author of The Rights of Man, he named the building Fort Paine.
Jackson was involved in preparations for the 1798 Rebellion, and his foundries were engaged to manufacture pikes for combat, and also iron balls of the correct bore to fit French cannons, in anticipation of an expected invasion. His son-in-law Oliver Bond was also heavily implicated in these plans.
In the event, Jackson was arrested before the ill-fated Rebellion, and imprisoned in England. After some time he was released on condition that he went into exile in America. He died in the city of Baltimore, Maryland in 1817.“
The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us:
“The name Clonskeagh comes from the Irish Cluain Sceach – the meadow of the white thorns. The house is a detached three storey with ‘a tower’ at each corner of the front and a set back Victorian style porch with limestone columns approached by a flight of six steps. Three bay between towers above the Doric porch. It originally had three gatelodges (main gate, west gate and inner gate) and was approached via a long carriage drive from the Clonskeagh Road by way of twin gatelodges and a castellated archway.” [https://www.youwho.ie ]
The Clonskeagh Castle website continues: “In 1811 the Castle was purchased by George Thompson, a landed proprietor, who had a post in the Irish Treasury, and it remained in the ownership of that family until the early twentieth century. It is interesting to note that whereas Henry Jackson was fired by the objective of Irish independence, the last Thompson family member to occupy the house was vehemently insistent on the preservation of the Union.
During the War of Independence (1919-1921) the Castle was occupied by the British military, and was used for some time to incarcerate Irish Republicans.
The original Jackson residence was built on an elevated site, following a fashion for mock castles in the Georgian period. It was initially approached by an avenue that is now Whitethorn Road, with elegant gardens surrounding it (the land for which is now occupied by apartments). This was a more compact construction than now greets the visitor and did not include the two towers at what is now the front of the building. In fact, the Thomson alterations turned the house back to front, as the original entrance had been on the southern side. One result was to render the fine hallway rather dark, and work is now nearing completion to allow light to penetrate from the south.
The recent works have also included restoration of the major portions of the parapet roof in accordance with best conservation practice; withdrawal of earth from the curtilage of the building, which had been piled up over at least a century giving rise to dampness in the walls; and restoration of rooms in what had been the servants’ quarters to create a small apartment.
These works have been executed by Rory McArdle, heritage contractor, under the supervision of award-winning architect Marc Kilkenny, with frequent reference to the conservation experts at Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Fionan de Barra, architect, also provided valuable consultation at the early stages of the project.
The owners have been particularly privileged to have had the benefit of research and guidance of the distinguished architectural historian, Professor Alistair Rowan.”
Postal address Woodbrook, Bray, Co. Wicklow contact: Alfred Cochrane Tel: 087-2447006 www.corkelodge.com Open: June 21-Sept 8, Tue-Sat, National Heritage Week Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €8
“The house was built in the 1820’s to designs by William Farrell as an Italianate seaside villa. A Mediterranean grove was planted with a Cork tree as its centrepiece. In the remains of this romantic wilderness, the present owner, architect Alfred Cochrane, designed a garden punctuated by a collection of architectural follies salvaged from the demolition of Glendalough House, an 1830’s Tudor revival mansion, built for the Barton family by Daniel Robertson who designed Powerscourt Gardens.”
“There is more fun at Corke Lodge” writes Jane Powers, The Irish Times, where ” the ‘ancient garden’ of box parterres is punctuated by melancholy gothic follies, and emerges eerily from the dense boskage of evergreen oaks, myrtles, and a writhing cork oak tree with deeply corrugated bark. Avenues of cordyline palms and tree ferns, dense planting of sword-leaved New Zealand flax, and clumps of whispering bamboos lend a magical atmosphere to this rampantly imaginative creation.”
Believe it or not, I did my Leaving Certificate examinations in this building! I was extremely lucky and I loved it and the great atmosphere helped me to get the points/grades I wanted!
The website tells us: “Dalkey Castle is one of the seven fortified town houses/castles of Dalkey. The castles were built to store the goods which were off-loaded in Dalkey during the Middle Ages, when Dalkey acted as the port for Dublin. The castles all had defensive features to protect the goods from being plundered. These are all still visible on the site: Machicolation, Murder Hole, Battlements and arrow-loop windows. In Dalkey Castle, you will see a fine example of barrel-vaulted ceiling and traces of the wicker work that supported it. Niches have been exposed on the walls where precious goods may have been stored. The Castle is an integral entrance to both the Heritage Centre and Dalkey Town Hall.
Dalkey Castle was called the Castle of Dalkey in the Middle Ages. Later, in the mid to late 1600s it was called Goat Castle when the Cheevers family of Monkstown Castle were the owners.
In 1860s the former living quarters, upstairs, became a meeting room for the Dalkey Town Commissioners. It continued as a meeting room until 1998 when it was incorporated into Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre. Today, part of the Living History tour takes place there. There is a re-creation of the stocks that were across the street where the entrance to the church is today.“
This is a popular pub, and one of the oldest family owned pubs in Dublin.
“Located on one of Dublin’s most famous streets – Baggot Street, Doheny and Nesbitt public house is surrounded by renowned landmarks – The Dail (House of Parliament), Grafton Street, Trinity College, Stephen’s Green and Lansdowne Road.
Otherwise known in literary and debating circles as the ‘The Doheny & Nesbitt School of Economics’ is situated a few hundred meters from the old Huguenot cemetery on Merion Row (1693). Probably the most photographed pub in Dublin, Doheny & Nesbitt is considered an institution for convivial gatherings a sanctuary in which to escape the ravages of modern life, and a shrine to everything that is admirable in a public house.
As a Protected Structure and unique example of Victorian pub architecture, the Doheny & Nesbitt public house demonstrates that skilful conversation can rest easily alongside modern commercial demands.
Most of the pub’s original features, both inside and outside remain intact. Its distinct Brass sign ‘Tea and Wine Merchant’, as well as the frieze boasting ‘Doheny & Nesbitt’ have spawned countless posters, postcards and guide books paying homage to this asset of Ireland’s capital city
If Ireland invented the pub, then Dublin’s finest showpiece is that of Doheny & Nesbitt. The main bar retains the original counter, and almost all of the original fittings date from the 19th century.
The pub’s carved timber, aged wooden floors and ornate papier-mâché ceiling, recently restored, are universally admired.
Its snugs and mirrored partitions are perfect for scheduled conversation, and one can easily muse on Ireland’s past Writers (Yeats, Behan, and Shaw) and Politicians debating and plotting in these hallowed surroundings.
Writers and Politicians from the nearby Dail or House of Parliament still frequent this pub, as do journalists, lawyers, architects and actors, along with a myriad of visitors from around the globe.
What attractions contribute to this pub’s character are debated by many; its perfect pint of stout, its array of Irish whiskeys, it’s comforting dark mahogany and glass furnishings, its reverence for the barman – customer relationship. What is in no doubt is that it is hot on the hit – list of tourists’ and locals’ itineraries – a ‘must-visit’ whilst in Dublin.
The building itself dates back hundreds of years, but was born as a public house in the 1840’s under the lease of a William Burke, who ran it as ‘Delahuntys’ for almost 50 years. In 1924, Messrs Philip Lynch and James O’Connor took it over for around 30 years, before passing it onto a Mr Felix Connolly. Ned Doheny & Tom Nesbitt, two Co. Tipperary men took over the reins of the public house at a later date up until its present owners, brothers Tom and Paul Mangan.
Interestingly the embossed lettering on the mirror to the rear of the main bar, originally bore the name O’Connor, but was later altered to Connolly and remains so to this day. Although the owners of this public house have come and gone, good sense has always prevailed that the landmark of Doheny & Nesbitt should remain just so.
Doheny & Nesbitts public house may reflect the characteristics of a bygone age, but this is no museum piece. An increased patronage has secured a Victorian replica bar to the rear, which is complemented by modern conveniences such as large plasma screen TV’s to cater for the pub’s many sports enthusiasts, and lunches to refresh tourists, workers and shoppers alike.”
See the website for opening times. It is also available for hire, and we attended a party there!
The website describes the Castle: “Drimnagh Castle is the only castle in Ireland to retain a fully flooded moat. Its rectangular shape enclosing the castle, its gardens and courtyard, created a safe haven for people and animals in times of war and disturbance. The moat is fed by a small stream, called the Bluebell. The present bridge, by which you enter the castle, was erected in 1780 and replaced a drawbridge structure.
Above the entrance of the tower, as the visitor comes through the large gateway is a ‘murder hole’. Rocks, stones, boiling water or limestone were poured down upon the head of any enemy attempting to break in. The main castle to the right of the tower was built in the 15th century, and the tower was built in the late 16th. The porch and stairways were built in the 19th century and the other buildings are 20th century.
The undercroft was built as a storage room for food; it also doubled up as a refuge if the castle was attacked. The fireplace and bread and smoking oven are recreations of the kitchen that was here in the 19th century. The narrow stairs leading up to the next floor are unique in that they turn to the left, unlike most Norman castles which turn to the right.“
“The great hall was originally an all-purpose living room/sleeping quarters in the 13th century. During the day tables and benches were placed in the centre of the floor for dining. At night straw or reed matting was laid on the floor and the occupants of the castle slept on this covering.“
“The tower was built in the late 16th or early 17th century. The tower is approximately 57 feet high and commands a great view of the surrounding countryside. Most of the castles at Ballymount, Terenure and Rathfarnham could have been seen from the top of the battlements.“
The website tells us: “In 1215 the lands of Drymenagh and Tyrenure were granted to a Norman knight, Hugo de Bernivale, who arrived with Strongbow. These lands were given to him in return for his family’s help in the Crusades and the invasion of Ireland. De Bernivale selected a site beside the “Crooked Glen” , the original Cruimghlinn, that gives its name to the townland of Crumlin, and there he built his castle. This “Crooked Glen” is better known today as Landsdowne Valley, through which the river Camac makes its way to the sea. The lands around Drimnagh at this time were rising and falling hills and vast forests stretching to the Dublin mountains. All through the 13th, 14th and 15th century the area around the castle was sparsely populated and a document shows that only around 11 people lived in the area during the 18th century.“
In The Landed Gentry and Aristocracy Meath, volume 1, by Art Kavanagh, published in 2005 by Irish Family Names, Dublin 4, he tells us that as a result of the foray into Ireland by the Bernevals in 1215 with Prince John, they were granted lands in Dublin in the Drimnagh, Kimmage, Ballyfermot and Terenure areas, where they settled until Cromwellian times. In Cromwell’s time Drimnagh and its lands were granted to Colonel Philip Ferneley, while Drimagh Castle itself was granted to a Major Elliot.
“Drimnagh has seen its fair share of raids and attacks by the O’Toole Clans through the years and there is record of two of the Barnewall’s of Drimnagh being killed in a skirmish near Crumlin. There are many undocumented raids and battles. In the 19th century, after these tumultuous times Drimnagh saw the arrival of industries like the paper mill at Landsdowne valley and other enterprises. Small Inns and lodges were built to house travellers on there way to Tallaght or further afield. Some of these are still in business today, such as the Red Cow and The Halfway House. Buildings of note in the area around the early 19th century were the Drimnagh Lodge, The Halfway House, Drimnagh Castle.
After the 19th century we see more and more expansion out towards the Drimnagh area, but it was in the 20th century were we see housing estates and industrial estates springing up around Drimnagh. For more modern historical info please visit the Drimnagh Residents Associations excellent page on its history.
After many years of activity, history and folklore the castle became uninhabited in the 1960’s, and fell into disuse and only housed countless pigeons, and other fowl. Over the next thirty years or so the Irish weather took its toll on the once great structure and caused untold damage. One day in 1985, a man named Peter Pearson, swung by a rope over the moat into the castle grounds. Having an interest in restoring old buildings, he set about trying to get the castle repaired to its former glory. He also discovered that the castle was potentially destined for destruction, which thankfully was prevented from happening. Many individuals and organisations were involved in the early stages including An Taisce, FAS, CYTP, and the Drimnagh and Crumlin community.“
The restoration work started in June 1986 and over 200 workers were involved in the repair work, including stonemasons, woodcarvers, metal workers, plasterers, tilers and artists. The restoration of the the roof was inspired by Dunshoughly Castle in Fingal, and was built using Roscommon Oak which is renowned for its great durability and strength. The roof was constructed in the courtyard and was then raised onto the castle at a cost of 50,000 Punts. The floor of the great hall was re-tiled with tiles taken from St Andrews Church, Suffolk Street.
The restoration work was completed in 1991 and was opened to the public by the then President of Ireland Mary Robinson. Since then the castle has hosted banquets, weddings, book launches and many more events. The castle is now maintained by a small group of dedicated FAS workers who keep the castle looking great for future generations to come.“
The early years of the Barnewalls at Drimnagh Castle
“The Barnewalls were an Anglo-Norman family who had great links with royalty of England, one being Alanus de Berneval who fought alongside William the Conquerer at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Another Alanus de Berneval sailed with Richard de Clare (Strongbow) in the conquest of Ireland in 1172, landing at Bannow Bay in Wexford. Alanus and his relations were slaughtered in Bearhaven, bar one Hugh de Berneval who was studying law in London at the time. In 1215 Hugh de Berneval was granted lands in Terenure and Drimnagh and also a sizeable dowry by King John. Hugh de Berneval established a castle in Drimnagh and this is where the Berneval family were in residence for more then 400 years.
The Barnewall’s (anglicised from De Berneval) were not just owners of land in Drimnagh, but owned land and fortified castles all over Ireland, such as Crickstown and Trimblestown. They were involved in many events in Irish history and held positions in Irish Parliament and in military campaigns against the Irish. Above right, you will see the Barnewall family crest, with its powerful warrior symbols, and its Latin inscription, “I would rather die than dishonour my name”. You can see a reproduction of this crest over the fireplace in the Great Hall in the now restored castle
In 1078 William the Conqueror, having pursued the insurgent Saxons to the Roman wall, returned to York in triumph, and there bestowed upon Roger de Barneville the manor of Newton in Cleveland, and various other lands which his descendants possessed until the 14th century. Roger, together with his brother Hugh, on the declaration of the Holy War at the Council of Clermont in 1095, hastened to receive upon their habits the consecrated cross. In the following year they joined the banner of Duke Robert, wintered in Apulia, and early in 1097 sojourned for some days at Constantinople, where in the Blanchernal palace, De Barneville and the rest of the Duke of Normandy’s retainers did homage to the Emperor Alexius, and received for this acknowledgement the most expensive presents. The subsequent achievements of De Barneville against the Sultan Kilidge Anslan, the Solyman of Tasso, appear in glowing eulogies from Latin historians. Roger ultimately fell before the walls of Antioch. His third son Roger was one of the military retainers of Robert de Bruce, and finally became a monk in the abbey of St. Sauveur le Vicomte.
In 1170 Jordan de Barneville was one of the knights bound to render military service for his possessions in the Duchy of Normandy, which he lived to see subdued by Philip Augustus, to whom, in 1204, he vowed allegiance. At the close of the 12th century, the family is traced in the records of Essex, Suffolk, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Middlesex, and a highly respectable branch at Hockworthy in Devonshire.
About the same time some of their members came to Ireland, where they won great possessions at Beerhaven, but by conspiracy of the Irish, headed by the O’Sullivans, were all slain, except one young man, who then studied the common laws in England; Hugh alias Ulfran de Barneville. On his return, King John, in 1215, granted the lands of Drymnagh and Tyrenure in the Vale of Dublin to Hugh.
Alanus de Berneval, who left two sons, Hugo and Regenald, was succeeded by the eldest, Hugo, who received two marks as the King’s gift for his expenses on going to Ireland, on 23rd August 1212. The King’s mandate, sent to Geoffry de Marisco, directed that Hugh de Berneval should have seisin of his land at Drumenagh and Terenure in the vale of Dublin, 12 December 1216. He d.s.p. before 24th January 1220 – 1221, when a mandate for seisin of his lands was granted to his brother and heir, Reginald.
Reginald de Berneval, was restored to the lands in Drimnagh and Terenure on January 24th 1228. and had a grant of £20 per year for his maintenance on the King’s service (mandate dated 28th September 1234). He was succeeded by his son, Ulphram. Ulphram (or Wolfram), was constable of Dublin Castle, 12 December 1279 – 1281, sheriff of Dublin 1284 – 1289. He was a witness, in 1289, to a deed between Hugh Tyrell and the Prior and Convent of the All Saints, near Dublin. He married Mary, only daughter and heiress of Sir William Molyneux, Kt of Molagh, co. Meath, and was succeeded by his son, Reginald. Reginald paid five shillings for Drumenagh, as subsidy to the King for the war against the Scots in 1299. He married a daughter of Sir Conway Clifford, Kt. and was succeeded by his son, Reginald.
Reginald de Berneval, of Drumenagh. In 1309 he gave thirty shillings for the army of Loxenedy, and in 1313 he paid his service for the expedition to the Castle Keyvening, under Piers Gaveston. He died in 1331, seised of a water mill, dovecote, and profits of the courts of Drumenagh and Terenure, co. Dublin, when he was succeeded by his son, Ulphram.
Ulphram de Berneval, of Drumenagh, had livery of his estates, 2nd September 1331, (16) Edward III. He married Sarah daughter of Berford of Moynet, and was succeeded by his son, Reginald.
Reginald de Berneval, of Drumenagh, contributed towards the expedition to Mallow, under Walter de Bermingham in 1372, and in 1374 paid royal service to the expedition to Kilkenny under William of Windsor. He married Jannetta, daughter of Cusac of Killeen, and left two sons.
Ulphram (or Wolfram), succeeded to Drumenagh. He was living seised of the Manor of Ballythermot, in 1400. His descendants continued to reside at Drumenagh until the reign of James 1, when his line terminated in an heiress, Elizabeth, daughter of Marcus Barneval of Drumenagh, who married James Barnewall of Bremore, and sold the property, 1st February 1607, to Sir Adam Loftus, Kt. of Rathfarnham.“
The castle’s gardens have been developed, with a Parterre:
“A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. It is not necessary for a parterre to have any flowers at all. French parterres originated in 15th-century Gardens of the French Renaissance. The castle parterre is a simple symmetrical design of four squares, divided into four triangular herb beds. The centre point of the squares feature a clipped yew tree while the centre point of each herb bed features a shaped laurel bay tree.
One of the most important household duties of a medieval lady was the provisioning and harvesting of herbs and medicinal plants and roots. Plants cultivated in the summer months had to be harvested and stored for the winter. Although grain and vegetables were grown in the castle or village fields, the lady of the house had a direct role in the growth and harvest of household herbs.
Herbs and plants grown in manor and castle gardens basically fell into one of three categories: culinary, medicinal, or household use. Some herbs fell into multiple categories and some were grown for ornamental use.” The website tells of some of these plants.
The gardens also have an alley of hornbeams:
“The common English “hornbeam tree” derives its name from the hardness of the wood, and was often used for carving boards, tool handles, shoe lasts, coach wheels, and for other uses where a very tough, hard wood is required. The plant beds either side of the trees, feature snowdrops, bluebells, tulips, daffodils, some ferns and hellebores.
Hornbeam leaves are popular for their use in external compresses to stop bleeding. Their haemostatic properties also help in the quick healing of wounds, cuts, bruises, burns and other minor injuries. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark.“
contact: Paul Harvey Tel: Paul 086-3694379 www.fahanmura.ie Open: May 5-15, June 13-19, July 4-12, Aug 13-25, Sept 10-24, Oct 10-14, 9am-1pm Fee: adult €5, student €2, OAP/child free
Fahanmura is a Modern Movement House from the 1940 period. The website tells us:
“It’s easy to confuse Art Moderne with Art Deco, but they are two distinctly different styles. While both have stripped-down forms and geometric designs, the Art Moderne style will appear sleek and plain, while the slightly earlier Art Deco style can be quite showy. Art Moderne buildings are usually white, while Art Deco buildings may be brightly colored. The Art Deco style is most often used for public buildings like theaters, while the Art Moderne style is most often found in private homes.
The sleek, rounded Art Moderne style originated in the Bauhaus movement, which began in Germany. Bauhaus architects wanted to use the principles of classical architecture in their purest form, designing simple, useful structures without ornamentation or excess. Building shapes were based on curves, triangles, and cones. Bauhaus ideas spread worldwide and led to the Moderne or International Style in the United States. Art Moderne art, architecture, and fashion became popular just as Art Deco was losing appeal.”
The website tells us: “Fernhill is a former substantial family residence on 34 hectares of land at Stepaside. Fernhill Park and Gardens is Dublin’s newest Public Park, and forms an important component of the historic landscape on the fringe of Dublin City and an impressive example of a small estate dating back to around 1823. The former estate is a unique collection of heritage buildings, gardens, parkland, woodland and agricultural land. The elevated nature of the site, overlooking Dublin Bay on the threshold between the city and the Dublin mountains, lends a particular magic to the place. Fernhill is also home to a unique plant collection, made up of acid-loving plants such as Rhododendrons, Camelias and Magnolias, among others.“
The Stillorgan Genealogy and History website tells us:
“The original house was a single-storey (possibly a hunting lodge) built circa 1723. By 1812 it was substantial family residence with additional out buildings surrounded by gardens, woodlands, parkland and farming land on an elevated location overlooking Dublin Bay. The house itself is a series of rambling interconnecting blocks of one and two stories transcended by a three storey tower which has developed and evolved over the years.
The gardens were planted with exotics such as magnolia and Chilean firetrees but it is also home to an extensive daffodil collection. Originally on 110 acres it now now on about 82 acres. The land was owned by Sir William Verner and part was leased to Joseph Stock. Alderman Frederick Darley purchased the lease from Verner in 1812 and his son William purchased the property outright in 1841.” Another son was the architect Frederick Darley (1798-1872).
20. Georgian House Museum, 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 – virtual visit only
21.“Geragh”, Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin – section 482
contact: Gráinne Casey Tel: 01-2804884 Open: Jan 4-23, May 3-29, Aug 13-21, Sept 1, 12-14, 2pm-6pm Fee: adult €7, OAP/student €4, child free
Archiseek website tells us:
“Designed by Michael Scott as a home for himself, he had bought the site by the martello tower at Sandycove some years before, and originally intended it as a site to build a home for his father who was a keen fisherman. He refused it so Scott built a house for himself. The house was named after the valley in County Kerry where his father was born. Scott never had much money, but he had, in the parlance of the day “married well” in 1933 and his wife Patricia had inherited a small amount of money. This was around £5-6000 and was used to buy the site and build the house. He became so enthusiastic about the site that he claimed to have designed the house in one day:
“I started one morning at eight o’clock and by 4 o’clock the following morning had finished the initial sketch plans. I was a quick boy in my day.
This was because the eccentric old lady, Mrs Chisholm Cameron from whom he bought the site had sold it on the condition that construction should start within three years. Due to other commitments Scott forgot about this, but then received a letter in the post reminding him of this clause, and so a design had to be rushed out, hence the claim above. The house is sited in an old quarry next to the Forty Foot bathing place and martello tower and seems to rise out of the rock. A public pathway winds its way around the seaward side of the site and so for privacy and protection from the prevailing wind, the building faces towards Dun Laoghaire rather than out to sea. It was one of the first houses built in this country using mass concrete throughout. The concrete is rendered externally and painted white. Using the maritime imagery of the International style, the house is made up of a series of decks, railings and portholes – indeed one end resembles the stern of an ocean liner with a descending series of circular bays and crescent balconies – a motif which also reflects the nearby martello tower and naval defences at the Forty Foot.
I thought of the house as a series of descending circles. each one wider than the other. It’s my tribute to the tower and to James Joyce.”
The tower is associated with James Joyce (1882-1941) through the opening passage of Ulysses and now contains the Joyce Museum. This curved bay feature was much used by Scott in this period – being used in his house for Arthur Shields (1934) where the living room is projected out with a curved bay and also at the hospital at Tullamore where a series of curved bays are placed above one another. The flat roof and balconies all command great views over Dublin bay. Original to the aesthetic of its day, it was originally sited on stilts, but over the years the spaces underneath were filled as the family’s needs expanded, but apart from that it remains intact. The house is basically a shallow v-plan embracing the garden with one end rectangular and the other round nosed.“
14 Henrietta Street is a social history museum of Dublin life, from one building’s Georgian beginnings to its tenement times. We connect the history of urban life over 300 years to the stories of the people who called this place home. The website tells us:
“Henrietta Street is the most intact collection of early to mid-18th century houses in Ireland. Work began on the street in the 1720s when houses were built as homes for Dublin’s most wealthy families. By 1911 over 850 people lived on the street, over 100 of those in one house, here at 14 Henrietta Street.
Numbers 13-15 Henrietta Street were built in the late 1740s by Luke Gardiner. Number 14’s first occupant was The Right Honorable Richard, Lord Viscount Molesworth [1670-1758, 3rd Viscount Molesworth of Swords] and his second wife Mary Jenney Usher, who gave birth to their two daughters in the house. Subsequent residents over the late 18th century include The Right Honorable John Bowes, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Sir Lucius O’Brien, John Hotham Bishop of Clogher, and Charles 12th Viscount Dillon [1745-1814].
Number 14, like many of the houses on Henrietta Street, follows a room layout that separated its public, private and domestic functions. The house is built over five floors, with a railed-in basement, brick-vaulted cellars under the street to the front, a garden and mews to the rear, and there was originally a coach house and stable yard beyond.
In the main house, the principal rooms in use were located on the ground and first floors. On these floors, a sequence of three interconnecting rooms are arranged around the grand two-storey entrance hall with its cascading staircase. On the ground floor were the family rooms which consisted of a street parlour to the front, a back eating parlour, a dressing room or bed chamber for the Lord of the house, and a closet.
On the first floor level, the piano nobile (or noble floor), were the formal public reception rooms. A drawing room to the front is where the Lord or Lady would host visitors, along with the dining room to the back. The dressing room or bed chamber for the lady of the house, and a closet were also on this floor. Family bedrooms were located on the floor above the piano nobile, and the servants quarters were located in the attic. A second back stairs would have provided access to all floor levels for family and servants alike.
These grand rooms began as social spaces to display the material wealth, status and taste of its inhabitants. Dublin’s Georgian elites developed a taste for expensive decoration, fine fabrics, and furniture made from exotic materials, such as ‘walnuttree’ and mahogany.
After the Acts of Union were passed in Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, all power shifted to London and most politically and socially significant residents were drawn from Georgian Dublin to Regency London. Dublin and Ireland entered a period of economic decline, exacerbated by the return of soldiers and sailors at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
This marked a turning point for the street – professionals moved in, and Henrietta Street was occupied by lawyers. Between 1800 and 1850 14 Henrietta Street was occupied by Peter Warren, solicitor, and John Moore, Proctor of the Prerogative Court.
From 1850-1860 the house was the headquarters of the newly established Encumbered Estates’ Court which allowed the State to acquire and sell on insolvent estates after the Great Famine.
In the 19th century the rooms of the house took on a different more utilitarian tone. Fine decoration and furniture gave way to desks, quills and paperwork with the activities of commissioners, barristers, lawyers, and clerks who moved into the house.
Family life returned to the street in the early 1860s when the Dublin Militia occupied the house until 1876, when Dublin became a Garrison town, with their barracks at Linenhall.
Dublin’s population swelled by about 36,000 in the years after the Great Famine, and taking advantage of the rising demand for cheap housing for the poor, landlords and their agents began to carve their Georgian townhouses into multiple dwellings for the city’s new residents.
In 1876 Thomas Vance purchased Number 14 and installed 19 tenement flats of one, three and four rooms. Described in an Irish Times advert from 1877:
‘To be let to respectable families in a large house, Northside, recently papered, painted and filled up with every modern sanitary improvement, gas and wc on landings, Vartry Water, drying yard and a range with oven for each tenant; a large coachhouse, or workshop with apartments, to be let at the rere. Apply to the caretaker, 14 Henrietta St.’
In Dublin, a tenement is typically an 18th or 19th century townhouse adapted, often crudely, to house multiple families. Tenement houses existed throughout the north inner city of Dublin; on the southside around the Liberties, and near the south docklands.
Houses such as 14 Henrietta Street underwent significant change in use – from having been a single-family house with specific areas for masters, mistresses, servants, and children, they were now filled with families – often one family to a room – the room itself divided up into two or three smaller rooms – a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom. Entire families crammed into small living spaces and shared an outside tap and lavatory with dozens of others in the same building.
By 1911 number 14 was filled with 100 people while over 850 lived on the street. The census showed that it was a hive of industry – there were milliners, a dressmaker (tailoress!), French polishers, and bookbinders living and possibly working in the house.
With the establishment of the new state, improvements to housing conditions in Dublin became a priority. In 1931 Dublin Corporation appointed its first city architect Herbert Simms to improve the standard of housing in the city. Simms and his team created new communities outside the city centre, amidst greenery and fresh air, this was the dawn of the suburbs. The development of these new communities signalled the end of tenement life in Dublin.
The last tenement residents of number 14 left in the late 1970s by which time the building was virtually abandoned by its owners after the basement and third floor (attic) had already become uninhabitable. During this period of neglect the processes of decay accelerated, leading to the rotting of structural timbers, loss of decorative plasterwork, and vandalism, leaving the house close to imminent collapse.
Dublin City Council began a process to acquire the house in 2000, and as a result of the Henrietta Street Conservation Plan and embarked on a 10-year long journey to purchase, rescue, stabilise and conserve the house, preserving it for generations to come.
In September 2018 14 Henrietta Street opened to the public.“
I am a fan of Mary Wollestonecraft, and am delighted with the connection to the house next to this address, 15 Henrietta Street:
“In 1786, on the far side of the wall in number 15, Mary Wollstonecraft was governess to Lord and Lady Kingsborough’s children. As tutor to Margaret King she instilled a wish for equal rights and republican ideals in her charge. She had an aspiration to be treated equally in a society where she was expected to fend for herself as most ladies of the ascendancy had to when suitors were not to be had or dowries were scarce. Governesses to wealthy families held a precarious middle ground between servant and family friend. In 1792 she would publish an important feminist treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Women.
Wollstonecraft gives us a look at a Dublin where women were expected to abide by what she regarded as oppressive social rules: “Dublin has not the advantages which result from residing in London; everyone’s conduct is canvassed, and the least deviation from a ridiculous rule of propriety… would endanger their precarious existence”.”
See also the wonderfully informative book, The Best Address in Town: Henrietta Street, Dublin and its First Residents 1720-80 by Melanie Hayes, published by Four Courts Press, Dublin 8, 2020.
23. Hibernian/National Irish Bank, 23-27 College Green, Dublin 2– section 482
contact: Dan O’Sullivan Tel: 01-6755100 www.clarendonproperties.ie Open: all year, except Dec 25, Wed-Fri, 9.30am-8pm, Sun, 11am-7pm, Sat, Mon, Tue, 9.30-7pm
The Dublin South City Buildings of Ireland booklet tells us:
“HIBERNIAN BANK (1864-71; 1873-6) 22-27 College Green An idiosyncratic bank designed by William George Murray (1822- 71) with Gothic and Italianate arcades converging on a Châteauesque tower. The original occupants, the short-lived Union Bank, are remembered by the intertwined “UBI” monogram over the first floor windows.”
24. Howth Castle gardens, and Transport Museum Dublin
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.]
p. 155. “Gaisford-St. Lawrence/IF) A rambling and romantic castle on the Hill of Howth, which forms the northern side of Dublin bay; the home of the St. Lawrences for 800 years. Basically a massive medieval keep, with corner towers crenellated in the Irish crow-step fashion, to which additions have been made through the centuries. The keep is joined by a hall range to a tower with similar turrets which probably dates from early C16; in front of this tower stands a C15 gatehouse tower, joined to it by a battlemented wall which forms one side of the entrance court, the other side being an early C19 castellated range added by 3rd Earl of Howth. The hall range, in the centre, now has Georgian sash windows and in front of it runs a handsome balustraded terrace with a broad flight of steps leading up to the entrance door, which has a pedimented and rusticated Doric doorcase. These Classical features date from 1738, when the castle was enlarged and modernized by William St. Lawrence, 14th Lord Howth, who frequently entertained his friend Dean Swift here; the Dean described Lady Howth as a “blue eyed nymph.” On the other side of the hall range, a long two storey wing containing the drawing room extends at right angles to it, ending in another tower similar to the keep, with Irish battlemented corner turrets. This last tower was added 1910 for Cmdr Julian Gaisford-St. Lawrence, who inherited Howth from his maternal uncle, 4th and last Earl of Howth, and assumed the additional surname of St Lawrence; it was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens, who also added a corridor with corbelled oriels at the back of the drawing room wing and a loggia at the junction of the wing with the hall range; as well as carrying out some alterations to the interior. The hall has C18 doorcases with shouldered architraves, an early C19 Gothic frieze and a medieval stone fireplace with a surround by Lutyens. The dining room, which Lutyens restored to its original size after it had been partitioned off into several smaller rooms, has a modillion cornice and panelling of C18 style with fluted Corinthian pilasters. The drawing room has a heavily moulded mid-C18 ceiling, probably copied from William Kent’s Works of Inigo Jones; the walls are divided into panels with arched mouldings, a treatment which is repeated in one of the bedrooms. The library, by Lutyens, in his tower, has bookcases and panelling of oak and a ceiling of elm boarding. Lutyens also made a simple and dignified Catholic chapel in early C19 range on one side of the entrance court; it has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and an apse behind the altar. Howth Castle is celebrated for the custom, continuing down to the present day, of laying an extra place at meals for the descendent of the chieftan who, several centuries ago, kidnapped the infant heir of the Lord Howth at the time in retaliation for being refused admittance to the castle because the family was at dinner, only returning him after the family had promised that the gates of the castle should always be kept open at mealtimes and an extra place always set at the table in case the kidnapper’s descendants should wish to avail themselves of it. Famous gardens; formal garden laid out ca 1720, with gigantic beech hedges; early C18 canal; magnificent plantings of rhododendrons.”
“It is with great sadness that we report the death of Pat Herbert, the founder and curator of The Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, sadly he passed away on the 18th of June, 2020.
The museum has been a very special place since it first opened its doors in 2003. Pat had begun collecting radios and all things connected with communications, when he was working in the construction industry in London in the 1950’s. His collection grew over the years and found its rightful home in the Martello Tower which has a long history with the story of radio in Ireland. Pat had an encyclopedic knowledge on the history of radio and was also a great storyteller. He generously allowed the setting up of the amateur station EI0MAR in the Martello Tower and was always fascinated with the contacts made throughout the world over the airwaves.”
contact: Richard Berney Tel: 087-2847797 Open: June 23-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 9am-1pm Fee: adult/OAP/child/student €5
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes Knocknagin House: “Detached three-bay two-storey house with attic storey, built c.1680, flanked by two and three-bay single-storey wings. Advanced gable-fronted central entrance bay to entrance façade. Single-bay three-storey return with adjoining single-bay two-storey lean-to to rear.” Knocknagin House has a drawing room of impressive length, height, light and elegance, and a couple of orangeries.
The outbuildings form a central square, a courtyard garden where there are roses and climbing plants, wisteria, rosemary and box hedging. Beyond lies a walled garden.
It was for sale in May 2020 for €1.5 million. French doors from all ground floor reception rooms lead out to the gardens.
Since 1680, owners of Knocknagin have included Robert Echlin of Rush, an agent of the Duke of York; the family of Henry Martin (1721-1799), the King family and, from 1827, the family of William O’Reilly, responsible for adding French windows, a ballroom and more. O’Reillys were a prosperous Catholic family of north County Dublin who owned the house for six decades until 1891. The Wade family bought in 1891 and the 2020 vendors bought it from the Wade family in 1994, when it was quite derelict. They brought it up to scratch with care and attention to detail. 
27. Lambay Castle, Lambay Island, Malahide, Co. Dublin– section 482
“The isle of Lambay is the family seat of the Revelstoke branch of the Baring family and home to Lambay Irish Whiskey. It is owned and protected today by the Revelstoke Trust and daily management lies in the hands of Alex Baring (7th Baron Revelstoke), with support from the wider family.
Nestled in the Irish Sea just four miles off the coast of County Dublin, the island is a square mile in extent (630 acres), making it the largest island off the east coast of Ireland and the largest privately owned island in North-West Europe.
It is a paradise of fine architecture, birds, flowers, cattle, seals, fallow deer and even a mob of wallabies! The island is internationally important as a Natura 2000 site designated for its breeding seabirds and as home to the largest breeding colony of North Atlantic Grey Seals on the east coast of Ireland. It holds a remarkable place in European natural history as the site of a pioneering biological investigation undertaken by the naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger in 1906, as a mutual project with Cecil Baring, during which they found several new species including three earthworms, a bristletail and a mite.
Entirely off-grid and unattached to the mainland by so much as a cable or pipe, the island is partially run on green energy generated by solar panels and a wind turbine that are rigged up to a complex battery system that baffles us at the best of times, but does the job! The natural spring gives us fresh drinking water year round, which is also used in our very own island whiskey, aged in old cognac casks where they can breathe in the salty sea air.”
“In 1181 the island was granted to the Archbishops of Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral. By 1467 it was described as “a receptacle for the King’s enemies, to the annoyance of the mainland,” and a licence was granted to build a fort to protect against invasions by the Spanish, French and Scots. Sir John Challoner is thought to have actioned the licence in the early 1500s. The conditions were that Challoner would within six years build a village, castle and harbour for the benefit of fishermen and as a protection against smugglers. He was to inhabit Lambay “with a colony of honest men”. He was a very active man who worked four mines for silver and copper and bred falcons on the island’s many cliffs.
In 1611 the island moved from the Church into the private hands of the Ussher family for 200 years, during which time it was used as a Prisoner of War camp for over 1,000 Irish soldiers during the Williamite war after the Battle of Aughrim. From 1805 the leasehold passed through several hands, including those of Sir William Wolseley and the Talbot family of Malahide.
In 1903 Cecil Baring (later the 3rd Baron Revelstoke) and his beautiful wife Maude Lorillard saw an advert in The Field for an “island for sale” in the Irish sea. It caught their eye for several reasons (which you will read about below) and within the year, on the 1st April 1904, Lambay was theirs for the princely sum of £5,250.
“Lambay’s history under the Baring family took a turn for the deeply romantic and, with the arrival of Cecil (Baron Revelstoke III) and his wife Maude in 1904, the island fell under an enchantment that still mesmerises visitors to this day.
Maude was the younger daughter of the American millionaire tobacco manufacturer, Pierre Lorillard, who owned Tuxedo Park in New York. A lively and active woman, she escaped the constraints of home before her 18th birthday by marrying Tommy Tailer, a wealthy New York socialite, in 1893. Tommy was a partner in the New York branch of Baring Brothers and, through this connection, met one of the family members of the bank – this was Cecil...
By the end of the 1890s, Maude’s marriage to Tommy Tailer fell apart after he was unfaithful to her. Cecil left New York in 1901 and it was then that Maude realised she had loved him all along. A maverick for her time, she secured a divorce from Tailer and in November 1902, was remarried in London to Cecil.
Such was the scandal of Cecil marrying a divorcee (and an American one, at that!), that he was encouraged to step down from his responsibilities at the bank. It was this yearning to escape from the critical public eye, mixed with Cecil’s passion for island ecologies, that led the betrothed couple to seek the peace and solitude of Lambay.
In early 1904, with Maude heavily pregnant, Cecil went to investigate Lambay; he found a small line of cottages occupied by coastguards, a chapel, a walled garden, a dilapidated old fort and a magnificent wealth of wildlife. It was an intoxicating mixture.
The first task facing the Barings was the repair of the castle and they refitted a heavy lugger, the Shamrock, to carry the necessary materials to the island. The Shamrock (version 3.0) is still in use today as Lambay’s main cargo boat and is used to transport the sheep and cattle as well as bulkier materials and equipment for the off-grid energy system.
A full year elapsed before the castle was habitable and it was not until June 1905 that it was furnished. Immediately thereafter, Cecil convened a congress to examine the flora and fauna of the island, the findings of which were published in The Irish Naturalist (1907).
He also tried to introduce new species, including mouflon sheep, chamois goats, kinkajous and rheas. Today, there is a large population of wallabies on Lambay, but these were brought here in the 1980s by Cecil’s son Rupert Revelstoke, who had enjoyed having two pet wallabies in the 1950s.
Now captivated by the island, the Barings determined to undertake more ambitious changes to the castle. They invited Sir Edwin Lutyens, renowned architect of the Arts & Crafts movement, to visit in August 1905.
Lutyens was utterly delighted by Lambay and the couple, and the visit sparked a warm friendship between the three of them that would last throughout their lives. Lutyens extended the Castle masterfully and by 1910 it was a beautiful refuge for Cecil and Maude, surrounded by an impressive circular wall, which Lutyens nicknamed “The Ramparts Against Uncharity“.
Cecil and Maude had 12 blissful years together with their little family on Lambay but alas, in 1922, a still young Maude died of cancer, leaving Cecil with two daughters, Daphne and Calypso, and their little son Rupert. Her body was brought back from London to the island for burial. Lutyens, who was then busy with war memorials and the government buildings of New Delhi, designed a large monument for her grave, set in against the rampart walls and facing towards the Castle. The mausoleum is today one of the most pleasant and peaceful spots on the island. Prefacing Cecil’s epitaph, a beautiful poem about his wife, is the word ‘Quiet’, both an imperative to the reader and a description of the monument’s setting.“
The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us that the castle is “constructed with small doors and small casements so that the inhabitants seem, on rough days, to be sheltering like monks.” The interior has vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces and a curved stone staircase, while much of the furniture chosen by Lutyens is still arranged just as he intended.
He also adapted and enlarged a number of other early structures and integrated them into an ingenious coordinated layout for the whole island, combining the farm, gardens and plantations as a single composition, in collaboration with the horticulturalist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.
The walled kitchen garden pierces the Rampart Wall to the South and there is the mausoleum of the Revelstokes, designed by Lutyens in 1930, on the opposite side of the enclosure. He also designed the White House overlooking the harbour on the western shores of the island, as a holiday home for the couple’s two daughters and their families.
28. Lissen Hall, Lissenhall Demesne, Swords, Dublin – open by appointment
The Historic Houses of Ireland tells us about Lissen Hall:
“Looking over the Meadow Water near the expanding village of Swords, Lissen Hall presents a tranquil mid-Georgian façade that is typical of rural Leinster. In fact country houses have become a rarity in the suburb of Fingal, formerly North County Dublin, which reuses an ancient place name for one of Ireland’s newest administrative regions. A pair of end bows disguise the fact that Lissen Hall is part of a far earlier building, possibly dating from the very end of the 17th century. The newer five-bay front is a typical mid-Georgian concept, with a tripartite door-case surmounted by a Serlian window.
The arrangement is repeated on the upper storey, where the central window is flanked by a pair of blind sidelights, and the façade continues upwards to form a high parapet, now adorned with a pair of stone eagles. The building’s other main decorative features, a pair of attached two-storey bows with half conical roofs, have many similarities with Mantua, a now-demolished house that faced Lissen Hall across the Meadow Water in former times. At Mantua, which was probably slightly earlier, the silhouettes of the bow roofs prolonged the hip of the main roof in an uninterrupted upward line. It is difficult to imagine how this arrangement could have been achieved at Lissen Hall without compromising the outer windows on the top floor.
The principal rooms are not over large but the interior of the mid-Georgian range is largely intact and original, with good joinery and chimneypieces. Architectural drawings from 1765 can be seen in the house, which at that time was owned by John Hatch, MP for Swords in the Irish Parliament in Dublin.
Lissen Hall has only been sold once in 250 years. It passed from John Hatch to the politically influential Hely-Hutchinson family, one of whose seats was Seafield House in nearby Donabate. In 1950 Terence Chadwick purchased the house and park from the Hely-Hutchinsons and the house was subsequently inherited by his daughter Sheelagh, the wife of Sir Robert Goff.”
“The estate began in 1185, when Richard Talbot, a knight who accompanied Henry II to Ireland in 1174, was granted the “lands and harbour of Malahide”. The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 12th century and it was home to the Talbot family for 791 years, from 1185 until 1976, the only exception being the period from 1649-1660, when Oliver Cromwell granted it to Miles Corbet [Lord Chief Baron of Ireland] after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland; Corbet was hanged following the demise of Cromwell, and the castle was restored to the Talbots. The building was notably enlarged in the reign of Edward IV [28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483], and the towers added in 1765.
The estate survived such losses as the Battle of the Boyne, when fourteen members of the owner’s family sat down to breakfast in the Great Hall, and all were dead by evening, and the Penal Laws, even though the family remained Roman Catholic until 1774.
Malahide Castle and Demesne was eventually inherited by the seventh Baron Talbot and on his death in 1973, passed to his sister, Rose. In 1975, Rose sold the castle to the Irish State, partly to fund inheritance taxes. Many of the contents, notably furnishings, of the castle, had been sold in advance, leading to considerable public controversy, but private and governmental parties were able to retrieve some. Rose Talbot, the last surviving member of the Talbot family died at Malahide House, Tasmania in 2009.“
“The original stronghold built on the lands was a wooden fortress but this was eventually superseded by a stone structure on the site of the current Malahide Castle. Over the centuries, rooms and fortifications were added, modified and strengthened until the castle took on its current form.
The Talbots are reputed to have been a diplomatic family and during the eight centuries between 1185 and the 1970s, their tenure at Malahide Castle was broken for only a brief interlude between 1649 and 1660 when their lands were seized by Cromwellian soldiers and the castle was occupied by Myles Corbet, Lord Chief Baron of Ireland.
The final [seventh] Baron de Malahide, Lord Milo Talbot, lived in the castle until his death in 1973. His sister Rose inherited the estate and subsequently sold it to the Irish State in 1975. Since then, Malahide Castle has continued to play an important part in Ireland’s political and social landscape, hosting international leaders and summits, and welcoming thousands of local and international visitors each year.”
It is described in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as a five bay three storey over basement medieval mansion from 1450, renovated and extended around 1650, and again partly rebuilt and extended in 1770 with single-bay three-storey Georgian Gothic style circular towers added at each end of the front elevation. It was further extensively renovated in 1990.
Mark Bence-Jones describes it in his Guide to Irish Country Houses:
p. 198. “(Talbot de Malahide, b/PB) The most distinguished of all Irish castles, probably in continuous occupation by the same family for longer than any other house in Ireland. It also contains the only surviving medieval great hall in Ireland to keep its original form and remain in domestic use – at any case, until recently.“
The Oak Room is the oldest room in the castle, and has carved timber panelled walls of different periods and nationalities. According to tradition, Mark Bence-Jones tells us, the carving of the Coronation of the Virgin above the fireplace of this room miraculously disappeared when the castle was occupied by the regicide, Myles Corbet, during the Cromwellian period, and reappeared when the Talbots returned after the Restoration.
It was John Talbot (d. 1671) who lost Malahide Castle to Miles (or Myles) Corbet. John was married to Catherine Plunkett, daughter of Lucas 1st Earl of Fingall and Susannah Brabazon daughter of Edward Brabazon, 1st Lord Brabazon and Baron of Ardee. Their son Richard (1638-1703) regained ownership of the castle.
Richard married Frances Talbot (d. 1718) daugher of Robert Talbot 2nd Baronet Talbot, of Carton, Co. Kildare.
Mark Bence-Jones continues:
“The opposite side of the castle to the great hall, dating from C16 or early C17, originally contained four tapestry-hung rooms; but this range was gutted by fire 1760. It was rebuilt ca 1770, probably by the same architect or builder who designed C18 wing at Ballinlough Castle, Co Westmeath [or Meath]; the then owner, Richard Talbot [1736-1788], being married to Margaret, daughter of James O’Reilly of Ballinlough, who, after her husband’s death, was created Baroness Talbot of Malahide. Externally, the rebuilt range was given a Georgian Gothic character, a slender round corner tower being added at each end of it. Inside, two magnificent drawing rooms were formed out of the space which had been previously occupied by the four smaller rooms; with ceilings of splendid rococo plasterwork which can be attributed stylistically to Robert West.“
The Ballinlough website tells us that the work was probably carried out by amateur architect Thomas Wogan Browne, who lived at Castle Brown, which is now the home of Clongowes Woods College, where my husband went to school. Thomas Wogan Browne (d. 1812) was a cousin, as Richard Talbot’s mother was Frances Wogan, daughter of Nicholas Wogan of Castle Browne and his wife Rose O’Neill, and her sister Catherine married Michael Browne, and was the mother of Thomas Wogan Browne. 
The Great Hall has an important collection of Jacobite portraits, on loan from the National Gallery of Ireland. It has corbel heads of King Edward IV (28 April 1442 – 9 April 1483), which are original.
Mark Bence-Jones continues: “The doorway between the two rooms has on one side a doorcase with a broken pediment on Ionic columns. The walls of the two drawing rooms are painted a subtle shade of orange, which makes a perfect background to the pictures in their gilt frames.
Opening off each of the two drawing rooms is a charming little turret room. A third round tower was subsequently added at the corner of the hall range, balancing one of C18 towers at the opposite side of the entrance front; and in early C19, an addition was built in the centre of this front, with two wide mullioned windows windows above an entrance door; forming an extension to the Oak Room and providing an entrance hall below it.”
The library wing dates to the seventeenth century and is hung with eighteenth century leather wall hangings.
The pair of drawing rooms were rebuilt c.1770 after a fire in 1760. They contain rococo plasterwork and decorative doorcases. The castle also has turret rooms.
contact: Ruth O’Herlihy, Tel: 087-2163623 Open: Jan 3-7, 10-14, 17-21, 24-28, May 3-7, 12-14, 16-21, June 7-11, 13-18, 20-25, Aug 13-21, 9am-1pm
Fee: adult €5, OAP/child/student €2
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes it:
“Detached four-bay two-storey mono-pitched house, built 1939, on an asymmetrical plan with single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor abutting single-bay two-storey mono-pitched higher projection; five-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation with single-bay two-storey projection on a shallow segmental bowed plan….A house erected to a design by Alan Hodgson Hope (1909-65) representing an important component of the twentieth-century domestic built heritage of south County Dublin with the architectural value of the composition, one ‘exploring Scandinavian modernism rather than Mediterranean modernism‘ (Becker 1997, 117), confirmed by such attributes as the asymmetrical plan form; the cedar boarded surface finish; the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with some of those openings showing horizontal glazing bars; and the oversailing roofline: meanwhile, a cantilevered projection illustrates the later “improvement” of the house expressly to give the architect’s children a room to wallpaper (pers. comm. 12th April 2016). Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the plywood-sheeted interior, thus upholding the character or integrity of a house ‘which has grown and matured together with its garden to make an ensemble appealing more to the senses than to the mind’.”
“No. 45 Merrion Square, the home of the Irish Architectural Archive, is one of the great Georgian houses of Dublin. Built for the speculative developer Gustavus Hume in the mid-1790s and situated directly across Merrion Square from Leinster House, this is the largest terraced house on the Square and is the centrepiece of its East Side.
Light-filled, spectacularly-proportioned, interconnected rooms on the piano nobile of this Georgian palazzo offer a range of venues and facilities: meeting rooms for up to 20 people; multimedia lecture facilities for up to 55, dining space for up to 80, and receptions for up to 250. Whether the event is a meeting, a conference with breakout sessions, or a private or corporate reception, the Irish Architectural Archive’s beautifully graceful spaces provide Georgian elegance in the heart of Dublin.”
“Standing four stories over basement, and five bays wide, No. 45 is the largest of the terraced houses on Merrion Square. The house was built circa 1794 for the property developer Gustavus Hume. The architect may have been Samuel Sproule who, in the early 1780s, was responsible for the laying out of much of Holles Street, of both Mount Streets and of the east side of Merrion Square. The first person to live in the house seems to have been Robert la Touche who leased the building in 1795. In 1829 the house was sold to Sir Thomas Staples. It had been built in an ambitious and optimistic age, but in the Dublin of the late 1820s its huge size was somewhat anachronistic and certainly uneconomical, so Sir Thomas had the building carefully divided into two separate houses. Sir Thomas died aged 90 in 1865, the last survivor of the Irish House of Commons.
On his death, both parts of the house passed to Sir John Banks, Regius Professor of Medicine in Trinity College, who, like his predecessor, leased the smaller portion of the divided building, by now numbered Nos. 10 and 11 Merrion Square East. Banks himself lived in No. 11, the larger part, which he maintained in high decorative order. Banks died in 1910, and both parts of the building fell vacant and remained so until 1915 when the whole property was used to accommodate the clerical offices of the National Health Insurance Company. With single occupancy restored, the division of the building, renumbered 44 – 45 Merrion Square, began to be reversed, a process carried on in fits and starts as successive Government departments and agencies moved in and out over the decades. The last to go was the Irish Patents Office, relocated to Kilkenny in 1996.
The house was assigned to Irish Architectural Archive by Ruairí Quinn TD, Minister for Finance, in his budget of 1996. The Office of Public Works carried out an extensive programme of works to the house from 2002 to 2004, including the refurbishment of the historic fabric and the construction of new state-of-the-art archival stores to the rear.“
34. MOLI, Museum of Literature Ireland, Newman House, 85-86 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
“No. 85 St. Stephen’s Green was built in 1738 by Richard Cassels, architect of Powerscourt House and Russborough House, and is notable for its exquisite baroque plasterwork by the Lafranchini brothers. The adjoining townhouse at No. 86 was constructed in 1765 and features superb examples of rococo stuccowork by the distinguished Dublin School of Plaster Workers.
The building takes its name from the theologian and educationalist Dr. John Henry Newman, who was rector when the Catholic University was founded in 1854. UCD Newman House also boasts many literary and cultural associations. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins lived here during his time as Professor of Classics at the university, and James Joyce was a student here before graduating with a BA in 1902. Other famous Irish writers to have studied at UCD Newman House include Flann O’Brien, Kate O’Brien and Maeve Binchy.
Explore the stunning surroundings and turbulent history of Numbers 85 and 86 St Stephen’s Green on MoLI’s Historic House Tour.
These beautiful examples of Georgian opulence – with lavish stuccowork by the famous Lafranchini brothers – have served not only as a university and a museum, but also as the townhouse of Buck Whaley, one of Ireland’s most infamous playboys and adventurers.
Join your guide as they bring you on a journey through these hidden historic rooms, witness these architectural treasures up close, and learn about the many fascinating characters that have passed through over the centuries.“
86 St Stephen’s Green is a granite-faced townhouse built for Richard Chapel Whaley (d. 1796) who was called “Burn Chapel” Whaley due to his anti-Catholic sentiment. It is a kind of rough justice that his house is now owned by the Catholic university of Ireland, University College Dublin, and named for Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) who famously converted from Protestantism to Catholicism, and by his example, encouraged many others to convert to Catholicism!
We then went outside to enter 85 St Stephen’s Green, next door. This is a smaller building, a Neo-Palladian urban palazzo designed by Richard Castle for Captain Hugh Montgomerie (d. 1741) purely for entertaining! It has a rusticated granite street front, a Venetian window overhead fromed by pedimented openings, and a balustraded parapet. The strict symmetry of the front belies an asymmetrical interior.
From this room we went through a narrow door cut in the wall and up a flight of stairs to the Bishop’s Room, which is back in 86 St Stephen’s Green.
The music room, part of 86, has more fine stucco work on the ceiling.
Below are three photographs from Newman House from the Digital Library and Archives, of a room or rooms which we did not see:
After our house tour we browsed the Museum, then went for a delicious sandwich in the cafe and sat in the gardens.
Newbridge House is a Georgian Villa built to the design of James Gibbs in 1737 for Charles Cobbe (1686-1765), Archbishop of Dublin. For many years, it was attributed to Richard Castle, but in 2000 a plan for Newbridge was discovered which suggests it was the work of James Gibbs, an English architect.  Charles Cobbe married Dorothea, daughter of the Rt Hon Sir Richard Levinge Bt, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Chief Justice of Common Pleas in Ireland, widow of Sir John Rawdon Bt, of Moira.
Mark Bence-Jones describes Newbridge House in his A Guide to Irish Country Houses (1988):
“Of two storeys over high basement, ashlar faced entrance of six bays, with a pedimented tripartite doorcase. Broad flight of stairs with ironwork railings up to hall door; shouldered window architraves; solid roof parapet with urns and eagles at corners. Hall with modillion cornice and large pedimented chimneypiece. Soon after the Archbishop’s death, 1765, his son, Col Thomas Cobbe, MP, who had a fashionable wife, a sister of 1st Marquess of Waterford, added a wing at the back of the house containing a very large drawing room, with a ceiling of rococo plasterwork by Robert West [we now know it is actually by a pupil of Robert West, Richard Williams], who also decorated the family pew in the Protestant church at Donabate. This great room, which is now hung with a scarlet wallpaper, is entered by way of a corridor and though a monumental doorway with a pediment and fluted engaged Corinthian column.”
The website for Newbridge House tells us: “In 1985 the family gave the house and sold the demesne to Dublin County Council (now Fingal County Council) entering into an agreement under which the historic family-owned pictures, furniture and documents, are kept in situ while the Cobbe family remains in residence. As a result of this agreement, the interiors of Newbridge House are remarkably complete and amongst the best preserved in Ireland.“
Dublin county Council began an extensive programme of restoration, renovation and reconstruction. The house was opened to the public in 1986 along with 360 acres of landscape which had been developed in the style of the English landscape movement, probably to the designs of Charles Frizell from Wexford . Additions include the cobbled courtyard designed by Robert Mack and built about 1790. This too has been extensively restored and now houses a museum on late 18th century rural life.
Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd and Christopher Simon Sykes describe the acquisition of Newbridge House in their Great Houses of Ireland: “the enterprising pair of Michael Lynch, of Dublin County Council’s Parks Dept, and Matt McNulty, of Bord Failte (the Irish Tourist Board), who had already rescued the historic Malahide Castle nearby to be a tourist attraction, stepped in with an ingenious solution [in 1985]. The Cobbes could continue to reside in the house in return for leaving most of the contents – the original Irish furniture, pictures and works of art on display – in situ on loan.” [11, p. 123]
Montgomery-Massingberd and Sykes tells us that in 1749 three years after Charles Cobbe was made Archbishop of Dublin, he hired his friend, architect George Semple, to add the 100 foot spire to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Before this, Jonathan Swift, a former Dean of St. Patrick’s had objected to a steeple.
The website tells us about the history of the Cobbe family:
“In 1717, Charles Cobbe (1686-1765) came to Ireland as private secretary and chaplain to his kinsman Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He was appointed Bishop of Killala in 1720 and his career progressed with successive bishoprics until he was enthroned as Archbishop of Dublin in 1743.
Cobbe began purchasing lands on the Donabate peninsula in 1736, and commissioned the celebrated architect James Gibbs in 1744 to design a plan for the rebuilding of Newbridge House, where a house had stood previously. Work began in 1747 and Newbridge is Gibbs’s only executed work in Ireland.
The Archbishop gave the near-finished building to his only surviving son, Thomas (1733-1814) in 1755, on the latter’s marriage to Lady Elizabeth (Betty) Beresford, youngest daughter of the 1st Earl of Tyrone. By extending the house, decorating it with ornamental stucco, collecting pictures, porcelain and commissioning furniture from Irish cabinetmakers, Thomas and Lady Betty left a significant mark on Newbridge which is still evident today.
The entrance hall, which is one of the three halls, has a grand a pedimented chimneypiece flanked by doors that have shouldered architraves. The coat of arms of the Cobbe family features two swans with the legend Moriens Cano (dying I sing), along with the Archbishop’s coat of arms built into the Portland stone. The plaster cornice features oak leaf and ribbon frieze, and the chair rails and skirting all have the mark of Gibbs as seen in other houses of the period. The flooring is of Portland stone and Welsh slate. Throughout the house, the plasterwork is attributed to the Dublin stuccodore Richard Williams, who is documented as receiving payments at Newbridge during the early 1760s. 
Off the entrance hall, the study is faithful to the manner in which it was left when Tommy Cobbe had the run of the house up until 1984. Locals remember doing business here, be it selling hay or buying cattle, across the large desk in the centre of the room. Family portraits hang on the walls while a writing desk used by Frances Power Cobbe, the great social campaigner, still exists. Her two autobiographies provide a telling insight into the 19th century operation of the house. [see 12]
To the right, facing south, is the dining room, which features a black Kilkenny marble broken-pedimented chimneypiece. It is likely that this followed a Gibbs design, as drawings for similar pieces exist for the drawing room, library and saloon at Kelmarsh Hall, Gibbs’ Palladian-style mansion in Northampton [see 9]. Both the walls and ceiling are decorated with ornate stuccowork, with the Greek key motif of the panel frets replicated in the side tables made for the room. A hand-operated dumb-waiter sits discretely in one corner. A portrait of the Duke of Bolton as Knight of the Garter and a portrait of the Archbishop adorn the walls. [see 12, p. 243]