Office of Public Works properties: County Kilkenny, Leinster

Kilkenny:

1. Dunmore Cave, County Kilkenny – site currently closed

2. Jerpoint Abbey, County Kilkenny

3. Kells Priory, County Kilkenny

4. Kilkenny Castle, County Kilkenny

5. St. Mary’s Church, Gowran, County Kilkenny – site currently closed

1. Dunmore Cave, Mothel, Ballyfoyle, Castlecomer Road, County Kilkenny:

General information: 056 776 7726, dunmorecaves@opw.ie

https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/dunmore-cave/

From the OPW website:

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.

Jerpoint Abbey, May 2016.

General information: 056 772 4623, jerpointabbey@opw.ie

https://heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/jerpoint-abbey/

From the OPW website:

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, jerpointabbey@opw.ie

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:

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by macmillan media 2016 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. It sits on the banks of the River Nore. [1]

General information: 056 770 4100, kilkennycastleinfo@opw.ie

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, photograph by unknown 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

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. [2]

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.

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Mark Wesley 2016 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]
Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Finn Richards, 2015 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

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. [3]

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.[4] 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.

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by unknown 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

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.

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Roselinde Bon 2016 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1]

The 10th Earl of Ormond, “Black Tom,” had no direct heir so the Earldom passed to his nephew, Walter, a son of Sir John Butler of Kilcash. Unlike his uncle, who had been raised at Court and thus reared a Protestant, Walter the 11th Earl of Ormond was a Catholic. See my entry about the Ormond Castle at Carrick-on-Suir for more on “Black Tom.” https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/06/26/opw-sites-in-munster-clare-limerick-and-tipperary/

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 Butler 1st Duke of Ormond painted by John Michael Wright (1617-1694), and in centre, Elizabeth Poyntz (1588-1673), mother of the 1st Duke of Ormond, painted by John Michael Wright, and Elizabeth Preston (1615-1684), wife of the 1st Duke of Ormond, with her son Thomas, who became the 6th Earl of Ossory.

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.

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James Butler 1st Duke of Ormond, Viceroy 1703-1707 and 1710-1713. Artist: Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680). He is wearing robes of the Order of the Garter and holds the wand of office of Lord Steward of the Household in his right hand.

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.” [5]

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by unknown 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1] The National Inventory describes: Random rubble stone walls with sections of limestone ashlar construction (including to breakfront having full-height Corinthian pilasters flanking round-headed recessed niches with sills, moulded surrounds having keystones, decorative frieze having swags, moulded course, modillion cornice, and blocking course with moulded surround to pediment having modillions), and limestone ashlar dressings including battlemented parapets (some having inscribed details) on corbel tables. The classical frontispiece was designed for James Butler, Second Duke of Ormonde possibly to designs prepared by Sir William Robinson. 

You can take an online tour of the castle on the website https://kilkennycastle.ie/about/explore-the-castle-new/

Photograph courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website, Entrance Hall.

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.

Photograph courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website, The Grand Staircase.

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.

Tapestry Room, in the North Tower. There are two tapestries from the “Decius” suite in the Tapestry room: The obsequies of Decius Mus. The Story of ‘Decius Mus’ is a heroic tale of a Roman Consul who foretold his own death at the Battle of Veseris (Vesuvius) in the Latin War (340BC). The tapestries are attributed to the workshop of Jan Raes, after designs by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. The ‘Decius’ suite had been in the ownership of the Ormonde family for over 300 years and was displayed in several of their residences before being acquired by OPW for display in Kilkenny Castle. Tapestries were an important feature of the interior decoration of large houses in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries and helped provide interior interest, warmth, and colour. You can read more about these tapestries on the Kilkenny Castle website.
Tapestry Room, in the North Tower: Desius Mus and Manlius Torquatus leave to fight the Latins.
The 12 foot thick walls of the Tapestry Room in the North Tower.

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.

Photograph courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website, The State Dining Room.

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 Ante Room.

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 Library. Photograph courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website.

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 Drawing Room, courtesy of Kilkenny Castle website.

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

Top left: James Butler 2nd Duke of Ormonde (1665-1745), Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, son of Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory. First married Anne Hyde and then Mary Somerset; below him, Mary Somerset (1665-1733), daughter of the Duke of Beaufort. In middle, Thomas Butler (1634-1680), Earl of Ossory, second son of the Duke and Duchess of Ormond and father of 2nd Duke of Ormonde. Mary Somerset’s father top right, Henry Somerset (1629-1700), 1st Duke of Beaufort; below Anne Hyde (1669-1685), the 2nd Duke’s first wife, daughter of Lawrence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester, artist: William Wissing (1656-87).

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.

Christopher Butler (d. 1758?), Catholic archbishop of Cashel and Emly, son of Walter Butler of Garryricken and brother of Colonel Thomas Butler of Kilcash, portrait by James Latham (1696-1747); Charles Butler (1671-1758) 2nd Earl of Arran, youngest son of Thomas Butler Earl of Ossory and brother of the 2nd Duke of Ormonde; Colonel Thomas Butler of Kilcash (d. 1738) by James Latham. He was the son of Walter Butler and Garryricken and Mary Plunket. He inherited Kilcash from his grandfather Richard, youngest brother of the Duke of Ormond. His wife was Margaret Burke. Portrait attributed to Hans Hysing (1678-1753).

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.

John Wandesford (1725-1784), Earl of Wandesford, father of Anne; below, Susan Frances Elizabeth (Anne) Wandesford (1754-1830), Countess of Ormonde, wife of 17th Earl of Ormonde and mother of 18th Earl, Artist: Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808); Landscape with Waterfall from the Italian school of 18th century and below, Before the Hunt. To right, Gilbert Clarke (d. 1725), by Sir Godffrey Kneller (1646-1723) and below, possibly Susanna nee Boun, wife of Gilbert Clarke.

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.

The Chinese Withdrawing Room. On the walls are remnants of hand painted Chinese wallpaper original to the room with monochrome infill carried out by the studio of David Skinner. This delicate paper was probably ordered as part of the redecorations done to the castle by the 18th Earl, Walter Butler. During the 19th century ladies withdrew here from the dining room leaving the men to enjoy their port and cigars after dinner, as was the social convention.
The Chinese Withdrawing Room. A tulipiére is an ornate vessel in which to grow tulips. They are typically constructed to accommodate one bulb per spout with a larger common water reservoir base. It is usually made of hand crafted pottery, classically delftware. This tulipiére was hand-made in Delft in 2009 as a one off.

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.

Kilkenny Castle, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Failte Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [see 1] The National inventory describes the newer wing: Renovated, 1858-62, with eight-bay two-storey range to north-east reconstructed having canted oriel windows to first floor, and pair of single-bay single-stage corner turrets on octagonal plans
Kilkenny Castle, photograph by me in May 2018.
The Chinese Bedroom is connected to the blue bedroom by double doors [these are on the second floor]. This bedroom is decorated with a modern reproduction of a hand painted Chinese wallpaper, part of the Chinoiserie theme of the room. The wallpaper was based on a design from Lissan House in County Tyrone, owned by the Staples family, Grace Louisa Staples became Marchioness of Ormonde when she married James Butler, 19th Earl, 1st Marquess of Ormonde in 1807.

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 Butler (1808-1854), 2nd Marquess of the 3rd creation, 20th Earl of Ormonde, Earl of Ossory and Viscount Thurles, Baron Ormonde of Lanthony, Chief Butler of Ireland. He died while bathing; Frances Jane Paget in middle (1817-1903), with her son James, Earl of Ossory. She was the daughter of General E. Paget and niece of Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquis of Anglesey, and wife of 2nd Marquess of Ormonde. Following the death of her husband, she managed the Ormonde estates and continued the rebuilding of Kilkenny Castle.  On top of the three,  over her father and uncle, is France Jane Paget again, with her dog. Below is her father General the Honourable Edward Paget (1775-1849), soldier and Governor of Ceylon. He was second in command under the Duke of Wellington in the Napoleonic Wards. He lost his right arm in Spain. Below him is Field Marshall Henry William Paget (1768-1854), 1st Marquis of Anglesey, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, brother of Edward, above.

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 Moorish Staircase: Created by the architects Woodward & Deane to allow better access to the Picture Gallery and provide another staircase in this awkwardly shaped building. It is a rising half-turn stairs around a sky-lit well. Charles Harrison (1835-1903), the stone carver, is credited with the carved naturalistic foliage and small animals which adorn the stairs.

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.”

From the Poole photographic collection, National Library of Ireland. Royal visitors to the Picture Gallery of Kilkenny Castle: the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary with James Butler the 3rd Marquess of Ormond and his wife Elizabeth Grosvenor, also Two other Ormondes (likely the Marquess’ daughter & brother), Marshal & Lady Roberts (Frederick Roberts & Nora Bews), 4th Viscount & Viscountess De Vesci (John Vesey & Evelyn Charteris), Lady Eva Dugdale (later Lady of the Bedchamber), Earl of Ava (Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood d.1900), Sir Charles Leopold Cust (baronet), Sir Francis De Winton, Mr J. T Seigne JP (officer of Ormonde’s estate – we came across him when we visited Kilfane, as he lived in the house there), and “Mr Moncrieffe” 

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.

The Nursery. Boys were usually sent away to boarding school in England at a young age. The Butlers traditionally sent their sons to Harrow. Girls however generally received less formal education at home including sewing, drawing, etiquette and instruction on running a household. 

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, breda.lynch@opw.ie

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.

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

[2] https://kilkennycastle.ie/about/explore-the-castle-new/

[3] https://kilkennycastle.ie/about/characters-of-kilkenny-castle/

[4] http://www.stevenroyedwards.com/kilkennycastle-timeline.html

[5] 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.

Places to visit and stay in County Wexford, Leinster

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

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

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

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

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

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

Wexford:

1. Ballyhack Castle, Co. Wexford – open to public OPW

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum 

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford

4. Clougheast Cottage, Carne, Co. Wexford – section 482

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford

6. Ferns Castle, Wexford – open to public, OPW

7. Johnstown Castle, County Wexford maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust

8. Kilcarbry Mill Engine House, Sweetfarm, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – section 482

9. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

10. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

11. Newtownbarry House, Wexford

12. Tintern Abbey, Ballycullane, County Wexford – concessionary entrance to IGS members, OPW

13. Wells House, County Wexford

14. Woodville House, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

Places to Stay, County Wexford

1. Artramont House, Castlebridge, Co Wexford – B&B 

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

4. Berkeley Forest, New Ross, Co Wexford – B&B? 

5. Butlerstown Castle, Tomhaggard, Co Wexford – A ruin, coach house accommodation  

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation 

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation

8. Fruit Hill Cottages, Fruit Hill House, Campile, New Ross, County Wexford  

9. Hyde Park House (or Tara House),Gorey, co wexford- accommodation 

10. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford  – accommodation 

11. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

12. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

13. Monart, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – 5* hotel 

14. Rathaspeck Manor “doll’s house” gate lodge, County Wexford and the Manor B&B

15. Riverbank House Hotel, The Bridge, Wexford, Ireland Y35 AH33

16. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – accommodation 

17. Wells House, County Wexford – self catering cottages

18. Wilton castle, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

19. Woodbrook, Killane, Co Wexford – accommodation and 482 

20. Woodlands Country House, Killinierin, County Wexford B&B

21. Woodville House, New Ross, Co Wexford – 482 

Whole House rental County Wexford:

1. Ballinkeele, County Wexford – whole house rental (sleeps up to 19 people)

2. Horetown House, County Wexford – whole house rental (wedding venue, up to 24 people in house, plus shepherd’s huts)

Places to visit in County Wexford:

1. Ballyhack Castle, Co. Wexford – open to public OPW

see my OPW write-up https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/07/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-laois-longford-louth-meath-offaly-westmeath-wexford-wicklow/

2. Ballymore, Camolin, Co Wexford – museum 

http://www.ballymorehistoricfeatures.com

The website tells us:

Ballymore is an old family property located away from main routes in a particularly scenic part of North Wexford. It retains many features which have survived from past periods of occupation in an attractive setting of mature trees, ordered landscape and views of the surrounding countryside.

A large scale map indicates theroute visitors are requested to follow. This route allows a leisurely ramble around several interesting features including the tea room, the museum, art gallery and display of old farming equipment in part of the farmyard. The residence itself is private and not open to the public.

In the surrounding grounds you will find the church and ancient graveyard, holy well, former site of a 1798 rebel camp and the 14th century Norman castle ruins, which now is a simple labyrinth.

The present church was built in 1869 on the site of a medieval building, of which nothing now survives except a carved wooden door lintel which can be seen at the museum.

The holy well is covered completely by a large boulder. This was done some centuries ago to discourage its continued use for prayer and devotion.

The castle mound is all that remains of the 14th century motte built by Norman settlers. The ruins of the stone-built tower were pulled down in the 19th century.

The large reconstructed greenhouse is the setting for the tea room. 

Its design copies the original greenhouse built around 1820, along with the walled garden behind it.

The museum and display area open out from the small courtyard. The museum itself is in a large converted hayloft in a period farmyard building. The contents of the museum are from the family home and farmyard. They illustrate many different aspects of earlier occupation and activity. Another feature is the old water wheel now on display in the same farm building.

The old dairy room will take you back in time. It adjoins the 1798 Room, containing a display of items from this period and from the house and family records. The further display area includes pieces of older farm equipment and hand tools used when the horse was the only source of motive power.

The art gallery is located below the museum in what was the farm stables. It displays a selection of paintings and drawings of local scenes and activities by the much admired artist Phoebe Donovan.

Take one of our exclusive tours, which encompasses many features including the museum of local and family history spanning over 300 years, dairy and farming display, 1798 memorabilia room and the Phoebe Donovan art gallery.

Venture out into the surrounding grounds and you will find the ruins of a Norman castle dating back to the 14th century, Ballymore Church and graveyard (1869), and a former 1798 rebel camp site. You may even spot a buzzard or some of the other varied wildlife in the area.

Finally, relax and enjoy a beverage in our greenhouse tea room.

Ballymore Historic Features is also part of the Wexford Heritage Trail.”

3. Berkeley Forest House, County Wexford

http://berkeleyforesthouse.com

Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.

This website tells us:

Berkeley Forest is unusual as a period house as it has a bright and uncluttered look with a strong Scandinavian flavour -painted floors, hand stencilled wallpaper and bedcoverings designed by artist Ann Griffin-Bernstorff who lives and works here during part of the year.

The house offers a beguiling experience. With a beautiful faded brick walled garden with a terrace, summer house and an outdoor fireplace, it is a delight throughout the day.

In easy reach of the Wexford beaches to the South and East and the picturesque villages of Inistioge, Thomastown and Graiguenamanagh, the cities of Kilkenny (Medieval) and Waterford (Viking) are also nearby. Just off the N30, less than 2 hours from Dublin Airport, 45 mins from Kilkenny, 20 mins from Wexford or Waterford, the house is perfectly situated to visit a host of interesting historical, cultural or sporting amenities, or to hide away in complete peace and quiet.

The house was once the home of the family of 18th century philosopher George Berkeley.
It also houses a 19th Costume museum which was created by Ann Griffin-Bernstorff and is available to costume and fashion students on request (her original 18th century Costume Collection is now to be seen at Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin) She is also the designer of the internationally acclaimed Ros Tapestry.

Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.
Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.

The property consists of the main house, lawns and gardens; beyond that are pasture and woodland, some mature, some more recently planted; as well as original farm buildings. All of which ideal for exploring and wandering. There is a beautifully proportioned upper drawing room (28ftx18ft) which is suitable for music rehearsal, fine dining and specialist conferences.”

Berkeley Forest House, photograph courtesy of the house’s website.

4. Clougheast Cottage, Carne, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Jacinta Denieffe
Tel: 086-1234322
Open: Jan 10-31, May 1-31, August 13-21, 9am-1pm Fee: €5

5. Enniscorthy Castle, County Wexford

http://enniscorthycastle.ie

Enniscorthy castle, Co Wexford_Courtesy Patrick Brown 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

The website tells us:

Enniscorthy Castle, in the heart of Enniscorthy town, was originally built in the 13th century, and has been ‘home’ to Norman knights, English armies, Irish rebels and prisoners, and local  merchant families.  Why not visit our dungeon to see the rare medieval wall art –The Swordsman, or our battlements at the top of the castle to marvel at the amazing views of Vinegar Hill Battlefield, Enniscorthy town, and the sights, flora and  fauna of the  surrounding countryside. Enniscorthy Castle explores the development of the Castle and town from its earliest Anglo-Norman origins, with a special focus on the Castle as a family home. Visitors can also view the ‘Enniscorthy Industries ‘exhibition on the ground floor from the early 1600’s onwards when Enniscorthy began to grow and prosper as a market town. Visitors can explore the work of the renowned Irish furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray (born in 1878 just outside the town). The roof of the castle is also accessible, with spectacular views of the surrounding buildings, Vinegar Hill, and countryside. Note that access to the roof is only possible when accompanied by a staff member. Tours of the Castle are self guided. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing. Our facilities include: craft and gift shop, toilets and baby changing area, wheelchair access to all floors (including roof) , and visitor information point (tourist office for town). We look forward to welcoming you to our town’s most public ‘home’.

Enniscorthy castle, Co Wexford_Courtesy Patrick Brown 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. [1]

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

p. 121. “(Wallop, Portsmouth, E/IFR) A C13 four-towered keep, like the ruined castles at Carlow and Ferns, restored at various dates and rising above the surrounding rooftops of the town of Enniscorthy like a French chateau-fort, with its near row of tourelles. Once the home of Edmund Spenser, the poet. Now a museum.” [2]

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it is a two-bay three-stage over basement castle, built 1588, on a rectangular plan with single-bay full-height engaged drum towers to corners on circular plans. [3]

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2019, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

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

Maud de Quency (granddaughter of the famous Strongbow) marries Philip de Prendergast (son of Anglo-Norman Knight Maurice de Prendergast) and they reside at Enniscorthy Castle from 1190 to his death in 1229. From then until the 1370’s, their descendants, and other Anglo-Norman families rule the Duffry and reside in Enniscorthy Castle.

In 1375: The fief (a defined area of land or territory) of the Duffry  and Enniscorthy Castle are forcefully retaken by Art MacMurrough Kavanagh who regains his ancestral lands. This marks a time of Gaelic Irish revival. The MacMurrough Kavanagh dynasty rule until they eventually surrender the Castle and lands to Lord Leonard Grey in 1536. At this time Enniscorthy Castle is reported be in a ruined condition.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

In 1569, The Butlers of Kilkenny and the Earl of Kildare lead a raid on Enniscorthy town on a fair day, killing numerous civilians and burning the castle. In 1581, The poet Edmund Spenser leases the Castle but never lives in it. Historians speculate that this was because Spenser feared the MacMurrough Kavanaghs.

In 1585, Henry Wallop receives ownership of the Duffry by Royal Appointment. He exploits the dense forests (the Duffry, An Dubh Tír in Irish, meaning “The Black Country”) surrounding Enniscorthy which brings considerable wealth to the town, and funds the rebuilding of Enniscorthy Castle which we see standing today. Enniscorthy begins to rapidly develop as a plantation town.

1649: Oliver Cromwell arrives in Co. Wexford. Enniscorthy Castle is beseiged by his forces; its defenders surrender, leaving it intact. In December of the same year the Castle once again fell to the Irish (under Captain Daniel Farrell), but two months later Colonel Cooke, the Governor of Wexford, reoccupied the castle.

1898: The Castle is leased by Patrick J. Roche from the Earl of Portsmouth. P.J. Roche restores and extends the Castle making it into a residence for his son Henry J. Roche.

1951: Roche family leaves.

1962: Castle opens as Wexford County Museum.

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford_Courtesy Celtic Routes 2020, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool. (see [1])

6. Ferns Castle, Wexford – open to public, OPW

see my OPW entry: https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/07/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-laois-longford-louth-meath-offaly-westmeath-wexford-wicklow/ 

8. Johnstown Castle, County Wexford maintained by the Irish Heritage Trust

Johnstown Castle, County Wexford. The house was designed by Daniel Robertson (d. 1849). It envelops a seventeenth-century house (perhaps by Thomas Hopper) [4] remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick.
Garden front, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford: The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows.
Front of Johnstown Castle, with porte-cochere projection at the end of an entrance corridor.
The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.

An information board in the museum tells us that Geoffrey and Maurice Esmonde were the estate’s first owners, who arrived as part of the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169. Geoffrey Esmonde built the original Johnstown Castle, which was a plain and modest tower house. His son Maurice built a second tower house at Rathlannon Castle, the remains of which are on the grounds to this day.

The Esmondes lost their lands during the invasion of Oliver Cromwell, as they were Catholics. Lieutenant Colonel John Overstreet was granted Johnstown Castle estate. The land passed through several hands until acquired by John Grogan in 1692. The Grogan family and their descendants lived at Johnstown Castle until 1945 when it was handed over to the state.

Mark Bence-Jones tells us about Johnstown Castle (1988):

p. 161. “(Esmonde, bt/PB; Grogan-Morgan; LG1863; Forbes, Grandard, E/PB; FitzGerald, sub Leinster, D/PB) An old tower house of the Esmondes, engulfed in an impressively turreted, battlmented and machicolated castle of gleaming silver-grey ashlar built ca 1840 for Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan [1808-54], MP, to the design of Daniel Robertson [d. 1849], of Kilkenny. The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end. The garden front has two round turrets, a three-sided central bow with tracery windows. Lower wing with polygonal tower. The castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side. Impressive castellated entrance archways facing each other on either side of the road. After the death of H.K. Grogan-Morgan, Johnstown passed to his widow, who married as her second husband, Rt Hon Sir Thomas Esmonde, 9th Bt, a descendent of the original owners of the old tower house. The estate afterwards went to H.K. Grogan-Morgan’s daughter, Jane, Countess of Granard [she married George Arthur Forbes (1833-1889) 7th Earl of Granard], and eventually to Lady Granard’s daughter, Lady Maurice Fitzgerald [born Adelaide Jane Frances Forbes, she married Maurice Fitzgerald son of the 4th Duke of Leinster]. It is now an agricultural institute, and the grounds are maintained as a show place. The old tower house was the home of Cornelius Grogan [1738-1798], who was unjustly executed for treason after 1798 Rebellion.” 

The entrance front is dominated by a single frowning tower with a porte-cochere projecting at the end of an entrance corridor and a Gothic conservatory at one end.
Inside the front arch of Johnstown Castle.
The Gothic conservatory in the middle.
Johnstown Castle stands in a lush setting of lawns and exotic trees and shrubs, overlooking a lake with has a Gothic tower rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on its far side.
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan (1807-1854) and his family. [5]

The National Inventory describes it:

Detached three-bay three-storey over basement country house, built 1836-72, on an asymmetrical plan centred on single-bay full-height breakfront with single-bay (four-bay deep) single-storey projecting porch-cum-“porte cochère” to ground floor; five-bay three-storey Garden Front (south) with single-bay four-stage turrets on circular plans centred on single-bay full-height bow on an engaged half-octagonal plan…A country house … enveloping a seventeenth-century house remodelled (1810-4) by James Pain (1779-1877) of Limerick (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the asymmetrical plan form centred on ‘a splendid porch…formed by beautiful Gothic arches with neat light groinings’ (Lacy 1852, 259); the construction in a blue-green rubble stone offset by glimmering Mount Leinster granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a sober two-tone palette; the diminishing in scale of the multipartite openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with the principal “apartments” defined by a polygonal bow; and the battlemented turrets producing an eye-catching silhouette: meanwhile, aspects of the composition clearly illustrate the continued development or “improvement” of the country house ‘under the munificent and highly-gifted Lady Esmonde who never tires of affording employment to the skilful artisans whom she herself has trained’.”

You can see the basement on the garden front.
The clock tower side of Johnstown Castle.
Spectacular doorway arch to one side of Johnstown Castle.
The doorway arch at Johnstown Castle features a border of carved stone heads.
Carved stone heads at Johnstown Castle.
Window surround detail and tracery at Johnstown Castle.
A workman at Johnstown Castle.

We did not get to see the inside of Johnstown Castle when we visited as it was closed that day, but the National Inventory gives us pictures – and I can’t wait to visit again!

I think this is the portico corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “corridor on a rectangular plan retaining encaustic tiled floor, Gothic-style timber panelled wainscoting supporting carved timber dado rail, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, and groin vaulted ceiling with carved timber ribs on portrait-detailed oak leaf corbels.” [5]
Tile floor of the corridor, Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues:

A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; the so-called “Apostles Hall” with ‘oak panelling and carving of the most costly description’ (Lacy 1852, 268); contemporary joinery ‘by poor Mooney who may be said to have lived and died in the employment of the munificent proprietor [and who was] succeeded by another native genius [named] Sinnott’ (ibid., 269); restrained chimneypieces in contrasting neo-Classical or Egyptian Revival styles; and geometric ceilings recalling the Robertson-designed Wells House (1836-45), all highlight the considerable artistic significance of the composition.

Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “top-lit triple-height “Grand Hall” on a square plan retaining tessellated “Asphaltum” tiled floor, clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to door openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled doors, arcaded galleries (upper floors) with carved timber hand rails, and fan vaulted plasterwork ceiling centred on replacement glass block-filled mass concrete dome.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “bow-ended dining room (south) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, coat-of-arms-detailed cut-veined green marble Gothic-style chimneypiece in Gothic-style timber surround, and picture railing below grape-and-vine-detailed cornice to quatrefoil-detailed compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.” [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage: “library (south-east) retaining clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to door opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled door with clustered colonette-detailed carved timber surround to opposing window opening framing Gothic-style timber panelled shutters on Gothic-style timber panelled risers, Gothic-style timber bookcases centred on cut-black marble Egyptian-style chimneypiece, and picture railing below compartmentalised ceiling in carved timber frame.”[5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]
Johnstown Castle, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. [5]

The National Inventory continues: “Furthermore, a “Terrace Garden”; a stable complex; folly-like towers and turrets overlooking an artificial lake ; a walled garden; and nearby gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a largely intact estate having subsequent connections with the Right Honourable Sir Thomas Esmonde (1786-1868) [9th Baronet] and Dame Sophia Maria Esmonde (née Rowe) (1805-67) [she was first the wife of Hamilton Knox Grogan-Morgan]; and Lord Maurice FitzGerald (1852-1901) and Lady Adelaide Jane Frances FitzGerald (née Forbes) (1860-1942). NOTE: Armorial panels over the glazed-in carriageway and on the dining room chimneypiece show a coat of arms combining three bears heads couped and muzzled [Forbes] centred on a griffin sergeant [Morgan] representing the marriage of George Arthur Hastings Forbes (1833-89), seventh Earl of Granard, and Jane Colclough Morgan (1840-72) with Order of Saint Patrick motto (“QUIS SEPARABIT MDCCLXXXIII [Who Will Separate Us 1783]”) recognising the earl’s investment as a Knight of the Order of Saint Patrick (K.P.) in 1857.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Kathleen, married Michael Lawrence Lakin and they had two sons: Gerald Michael Lakin and Maurice Victor Lakin, the latter pictured below, the last man to privately own the castle and estate before handing it over to the state.

A daughter of Maurice Fitzgerald and Adelaide Jane, Geraldine, married Gerald More O’Ferrall.
Walled garden, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.
Entrance to Johnstown Castle estate, County Wexford.
The National Inventory describes this: “A tower-like gate lodge contributing positively to the group and setting values of the Johnstown Castle estate with the architectural value of the composition, one erected to a design signed (1846) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA), confirmed by such attributes as the compact square plan form; the construction in ‘[a] fine bluish stone raised from the quarries on the demesne’ (Lacy 1852, 265-6) offset by silver-grey granite dressings demonstrating good quality workmanship; the definition of the principal “apartment” by a jettied oriel window recalling the Daniel Robertson (d.1849)-designed gate lodge at Shankill Castle, County Kilkenny; and the corbelled battlements embellishing the roofline.”
I think this is Rathlannon Castle, built by Maurice Esmonde in the 1200s.
Stable Complex, Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, November 2021.

9. Kilcarbry Mill Engine House, Sweetfarm, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – section 482

Contact: Stephen Hegarty
Tel: 087-2854143
Open: Apr 30, May 1-13, July 25-31, Aug 1-30, Dec 12-24, 12 noon-4pm Fee: adult €10, student/OAP €5

10. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

The main lawn at the rear of the house at Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders – and some fine topiary, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

contact: Mark Hewlett
Tel: 086-0227799
www.kilmokea.com
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Open: April – Oct
Gardens:

Open Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Wed-Sun, June, July, Aug, daily, 10am-5pm Fee: adult €7, OAP €6, student €5, child €4, family €20

The website tells us:

Kilmokea, on Great Island in south County Wexford, was built in 1794, on the site of an ancient monastery as the glebe house for a Church of Ireland rector. The house is a simple, neo-classical late Georgian building of two stories, roughly square in plan with a three-bay facade protected by a later porch. The garden front is of four bays and the rooms at the rear are set high above the lawn and treated as a piano nobile. While there is no cornice, the roof is hipped and elegantly sprocketed, and the flues are all diverted into a single elongated central chimney stack.   

Great Island is not actually an island, although it is largely surrounded by water. The River Barrow, which converged with the River Nore just upstream from New Ross, forms its western boundary and joins the River Suir at the inner reaches of Waterford Harbour, which borders Great Island to the South. The Campile River, to the east, also flows into Waterford Harbour, while the connecting isthmus to the ‘mainland’ of County Wexford is largely low-lying and prone to floods, hence the name Great Island.  

Kilmokea stands on the highest point of the isthmus, north-west of the small town of Campile. Just a few miles beyond, the Hook peninsula stretches southwards like a rocky finger pointing out into the Celtic Sea. In the twelfth century the first Normans settlers landed near Hook Head and put their stamp upon the entire region. The great ruined Cistercian abbey of Dunbrody, standing in splendid isolation on the banks of the Campile River, is perhaps their finest legacy. 

In the 1950s Kilmokea was in a dilapidated state when purchased by David and Joan Price, prime movers behind the Wexford Opera Festival. They restored and extended the house in the fashion of the times, removing the external rendering and stripping and waxing the internal joinery by hand. But their principal focus was the garden, where the subtropical microclimate allows many rare and tender plants to flourish. They surrounded the house with a series of interconnecting garden ‘rooms’ of varying size, while a reconstructed millpond, on the opposite side of an adjoining by-road, feeds a small stream that winds its way through a magical woodland garden to the River Barrow. 

In the 1990s Kilmokea was purchased by Mark and Emma Hewlett as their family home. Together they have extended and enhanced both house and garden, which they maintain to an exemplary standard, and have built a magnificent new conservatory.”

The main lawn at the rear of Kilmokea – surrounded by perenniel borders, photograph 2014 by George Munday/Tourism Ireland (see [1]).
Kilmokea House, conservatory on right, photograph by Chris Hill 2014 for Tourism Ireland. (see [1])

11. Loftus Hall, County Wexford

https://www.discoverireland.ie/wexford/loftus-hall

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Loftus Hall (1988):

p. 189. “(Redmond/LG1863; Loftus, Ely, M/PB) A gaunt, three-storey mansion of 1871, with rows of plate-glass windows and a balustraded parapet, incorporating parts of a previous house here, which was late 17th century or early C18, gable-ended and of two storeys and nine bays, with a domered roof and a steep pedimented gable; it was fronted by a forecourt with tall piers surmounded by ball finials and had a haunted tapestry room. The house stands near the tip of Hook Head, and must have been one of the most wing-swept noblemen’s seats in the British Isles; “No tree will grow above the shelter of the walls,” Bishop Pococke observed of Loftus Hall in C18, and the same is true of the place today. The site was originally occupied by an old castle of the Redmonds, which was known in their day as The Hall; and of which a square turret remained near the old house, but was demolished when the present house was built. The present house, which was built soon after his coming-of-age by the 4th Marquess of Ely [John Henry Willington Graham Loftus (1849-1889), built in 1870-71] – who also planned to rebuild his other seat, Ely Lodge – contains an impressive staircase hall, with an oak stair in Jacobean style, richly decorated with carving and marquetry; the gallery being carried on fluted Corinthian columns of wood. The house is now a convent.” 

For more on Loftus Hall and on Nicholas Loftus (c, 1714-1766), 1st Earl of Ely, who also lived in 13 Henrietta St from 1752-66, see Melanie Hayes, The Best Address in Town: Henrietta Street, Dublin and its First Residents 1720-80, published by Four Courts Press, Dublin 8, 2020. 

Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us it is a nine-bay three-storey country house, built 1870-1, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor; seven-bay three-storey side (south) elevation centred on three-bay three-storey breakfront on a bowed plan…”A country house erected for John Henry Wellington Graham Loftus (1849-89), fourth Marquess of Ely, representing an important component of the later nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of a house (1680-4) illustrated in Volume IV of Philip Herbert Hore’s (1841-1931) “History of the Town and County of Wexford” (1901), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking windswept grounds with Saint George’s Channel and Waterford Harbour as backdrops; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared porch demonstrating good quality workmanship; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression with those openings showing “stucco” refinements ‘designed to resemble a grand hotel’ (Williams 1994, 186); the definition of the principal “apartments” by Osborne House (1845-51)-like bows; and the balustraded roofline repurposing eagle finials shown in a sketch (1835-6) by Charles Newport Bolton (1816-84) of County Waterford (Hore 1901 IV, 381). A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where encaustic tile work; contemporary joinery; robust chimneypieces; plasterwork by James Hogan and Sons of Great Brunswick Street [Pearse Street], Dublin (The Irish Builder 15th May 1874, 148; Freeman’s Journal 6th November 1875); and ‘an impressive oak stair in the Jacobean style…richly decorated with carving and marquetry’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 189-90), all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent coach house-cum-stable outbuilding; a walled garden; and a nearby gate lodge, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having subsequent connections with John Henry Loftus (1851-1925), fifth Marquess of Ely. NOTE: Loftus Hall is the subject of two apocryphal legends with the first being the famous “Legend of Loftus Hall” (1765) and the second being that the country house was erected in anticipation of a royal visit from Queen Victoria (1819-1901; r. 1837-1901) by whom Jane Loftus (née Hope-Vere) (1821-90), Dowager Marchioness of Ely, was appointed to the office of Lady of the Bedchamber (1851).”

Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: the Naional Inventory describes: “top-lit double-height staircase hall (west) retaining inlaid timber parquet floor, timber panelled staircase on an Imperial plan with fluted timber balusters supporting carved timber banisters terminating in timber panelled newels, round-headed niche to half-landing with moulded plasterwork frame, carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings to landing framing timber panelled doors, and decorative plasterwork cornice to compartmentalised ceiling centred on stained glass lantern with “Acanthus” ceiling rose.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021. The National Inventory describes: “hall retaining encaustic tiled floor carved timber Classical-style surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors centred on cut-veined marble Classical-style chimneypiece with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021: “bow-ended reception room (south) retaining carved timber Classical-style surround to door opening framing timber panelled double doors with carved timber surrounds to opposing window openings framing timber panelled shutters on panelled risers, and decorative plasterwork cornice to ceiling.”
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021
Loftus Hall, County Wexford, photograph from myhome.ie 2021

12. Newtownbarry House, Wexford – gardens open to the public

https://www.gardensofireland.org/directory/52/

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Contact: Clody and Alice Norton 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 937 6383 

Email: clodynorton@gmail.com 

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 225. “(Barry/IFR; Maxwell, Farnham, B/PB; Hall-Dare;IFR) The estate of Newtownbarry originally belonged to a branch of the Barrys; passed to the Farnhams with the marriage of Judith Barry to John Maxwell, afterwards 1st Lord Farnham, 1719. Subsequently acquired by the Hall-Dare family, who built the present house 1860s, to the design of Sir Charles Lanyon. It is in a rather restrained Classical style, of rough ashlar; the windows have surrounds of smooth ashlar, with blocking. Two storey; asymmetrical entrance front, with two bays projecting at one end; against this projection is set a balustraded open porch. Lower two storey service wing. Eaved roof on plain cornice. Impressive staircase.”

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us that it is a five-bay (five-bay deep) two-storey country house, built 1863-9, on an L-shaped plan off-centred on single-bay single-storey flat-roofed projecting porch to ground floor abutting two-bay two-storey projecting end bay; eight-bay two-storey rear (south) elevation. It continues:

Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Newtownbarry House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

A country house erected for Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1840-76) to a design by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon (formed 1860) of Belfast and Dublin (Dublin Builder 1864, 66) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding the eighteenth-century ‘Woodfield…[a] mansion of long standing and of cottage-like character in the Grecian style of architecture’ (Lacy 1863, 485), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking the meandering River Slaney with its mountainous backdrop in the near distance; the asymmetrical footprint off-centred on an Italianate porch; the construction in a rough cut granite offset by silver-grey dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also providing an interplay of light and shade in an otherwise monochrome palette; and the slight diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a feint graduated visual impression. 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 interior arranged around a top-lit staircase hall recalling the Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon-designed Stradbally Hall (1866-7), County Laois, where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings; walled gardens; all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Hall-Dare family including Captain Robert Westley Hall-Dare JP DL (1866-1939), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1891); and Robert Westley Hall-Dare (1899-1972).”

13. Tintern Abbey, Ballycullane, County Wexford – concessionary entrance to IGS members, OPW

see my OPW write-up https://irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/07/office-of-public-works-properties-leinster-laois-longford-louth-meath-offaly-westmeath-wexford-wicklow/

14. Wells House, County Wexford – open for tours

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 283. “(Doyne/IFR) A Tudor-Gothic house of ca 1840 by Daniel Robertson of Kilkenny; built for Robert Doyne [1816-1870], replacing an earlier house which, for nearly three years after the Rebellion of 1798, was used as a military barracks. Gabled front, symmetrical except that there is a three sided oriel at one end of the façade and not at the other, facing along straight avenue of trees to entrance gate. Sold ca 1964.” 

Wells House and Gardens, Ballyedmond, Gorey, Co Wexford_Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2017 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

Contact: Sabine Rosler 

Tel: +353 (0) 53 918 6737 

Mobile: +353 (0) 87 997 4323 

Email: info@wellshouse.ie 

Web: www.wellshouse.ie 

Wells House has a stunning Victorian Terrace garden, parterre garden and arboretum designed by the renowned architect and landscape designer, Daniel Robertson. 

The terraced gardens which have been restored to their former glory sit beautifully into the large setting of his vast parkland design which spans for acres in the stunning Co. Wexford landscape. 

With two woodland walks, a craft courtyard, adventure playground, restaurant and a busy calendar of events this is a perfect day out for all the family. 

and “Discover the 400-year-old history of Wells House & Gardens by taking a guided exploration of the house. Our living house tour and expert guide in Victorian dress will bring you back to a time. To a time when the magnificent ground floor and bedrooms witnessed the stories of Cromwell, Rebellions and the Famine. Uncover the everyday lives of the wealthy, powerful families who lived in the estate and their famed architect Daniel Robertson. All giving you a unique insight into the life of previous generations all the way up until the current owners of Wells House.

It was for sale in 2019.

Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Wells House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

15. Woodville House, New Ross, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Gerald Roche
Tel: 087-9709828

Email: woodville05@eircom.net

www.woodvillegardens.ie
Open: May 1-31, June 1-30, July 1-31, Aug 1-21, 10am-2pm Fee: adult €7.50, OAP/student/child €5

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us that it was allegedly erected for Edward William Tottenham (d. 1860) on the occasion of his marriage (1807) to Henrietta Alcock (d. 1861).

Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.

The website tells us:

Woodville House and Gardens are situated on a working farm just two miles from New Ross, County Wexford. The Georgian house belongs to the Roche Family who have lived here since 1876.  The current owner Gerald Roche and his mother maintain the enchanting gardens, mature grounds and water garden which make this a truly delightful place to visit. 

Woodville House is a fine five bay, two storey over basement Georgian house dating from about 1800 situated above the river Barrow. The property was acquired by P J Roche, great grandfather of the present owner in 1876 and is now occupied by the 5th generation of Roches to live there. It is thought to have been built by the Tottenhams, the first mention of it being the home of Edward Tottenham and subsequently was lived in by a Reverend Minchen. The house has two gate lodges, one a gothic lodge opposite the river Barrow and the other a 19th century Italianate gate lodge with gates at the southern end of the property. This entrance way and avenue were built after the construction of the now disused railway.

The house, recently renovated, maintains its period charm with period interior decoration and antique furniture. Visitors to the house can view the reception rooms, the former billiard room with faithfully copied and reprinted original wallpaper and Victorian conservatory by the Messenger Company.

Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.
Woodville House, photograph courtesy of Woodville house website.

Woodville Garden and Parkland

The house is set in the centre of a working farm and is approached by long avenues through parkland planted with specimen trees including Sequoia, cedar, pines, cypress and a recent addition the Wollemi pine. The resident flock of sheep grazes the pasture land, a scene unchanged for two hundred years.

A laurel shrubbery to the front of the house is also planted with colourful flowering cherry, Paulownia, Crinodendron, and Catalpa, and leads down to the double tennis courts which in turn leads to the water garden. Started in 1963 by Peter and Irene Roche and planted under the embankment of the old New Ross to Macmine Junction Railway, the water garden is a tranquil haven of shade and water-loving plants: ferns, hostas, Arisarum proboscideum (the fetching mouse plant), Clematis, Astilbe and trilliums, as well as Cornus controversa and others. A series of dropping pools are shaded by majestic oaks and a Metasequoia glyptostroboides (the dawn redwood). 

The Victorian walled garden at the rear of the house is 0.5 hectares in size with conservatories, vegetable garden, fruit trees, herbaceous borders and lawn. A striking feature of the garden is the original box hedging proudly maintained by the present owner and enclosing different plantings. First to feature in spring is a Magnolia soulangeana followed by a spring border of snowdrops, crocus & narcissi. 

In May the iris border comes into full bloom, a nearby bed is devoted to blue flowering plants including Chatham Island forget-me-not (Myositidium hortensia). Later the roses present a striking and colourful display contrasting with the box hedging while the reds, yellows and oranges of later summer put in an appearance. Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ flowers in the contemplative garden, a sunny corner and vantage point. 

This is a plantsman’s garden and also a most productive vegetable patch providing an abundant supply of fresh fruit and vegetables for the household. The greenhouses designed by Messenger and built by P J Roche in the 1880’s house grapevines, peaches and nectarines as well as exotic and tender flowers plumbago, red and white nerines, vines and an old asparagus fern. A large bed of Crambe maritima (seakale) beloved of the Victorians is maintained as are beds of globe artichoke and asparagus. 

The garden was extensively planted with several varieties of apple, pear and cherry, which carefully pruned and espaliered on frames and against the walls of this sunny garden, provide visual structure and a rich harvest.

The dairy walk, so called because in the past it was the route taken from farmyard to the dairy in the basement of the house, features a blaze of Embothrium coccineum flowering vigorously in May following on witch hazel (Hamamalis mollis), rhododendrons, camellias and azaelias producing spectactular and colourful effects in early summer.

Places to Stay, County Wexford

1. Artramont House, Castlebridge, Co Wexford – B&B 

Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Artramon House, County Wexford, photograph from Artramon website.

https://www.artramon-farm.com/english/welcome

Mark Bence-Jones writes: p. 12. “(Le Hunte/LGI 1912; Neave, Bt/Pb) A late C18 house, remodelled after being burnt 1923. 2 storey; entrance front with pediment of which the peak is level with the coping of the parapet, and the base is well below the level of the main cornice. In the breakfront central feature below the pediment are two windows and a tripartite Venetian doorway; two bays on either side of the central feature.” 

Artramon – bei Ulrike von Walderdorff in Wexford / Irland

The National Inventory tells us it is a five-bay two-storey country house, rebuilt 1928-32, on an L-shaped plan centred on single-bay two-storey pedimented breakfront; seven-bay two-storey side (west) elevation… “A country house erected for Richard “Dick” Richards (Wexford County Council 17th June 1927) to a design by Patrick Joseph Brady (d. 1936) of Ballyhaise, County Cavan (Irish Builder 1928, 602), representing an important component of the domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one retaining at least the footings of an eighteenth-century house destroyed (1923) during “The Troubles” (1919-23), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with ‘fine views of the estuary, harbour and town of Wexford’ as a backdrop (Fraser 1844, 118); the symmetrical frontage centred on a curiously compressed breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic parapeted roofline. 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 interior where contemporary joinery; reclaimed Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); and a substantial walled garden (extant 1840), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Le Hunte family including Captain George Le Hunte (d. 1799); William Augustus Le Hunte (1774-1820), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1817); George Le Hunte (1814-91), ‘late of Artramont [sic] County Waterford [sic]’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations (1892, 481); and the largely absentee Sir George Ruthven Le Hunte KCMG (1852-1925), one-time Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Trinidad and Tobago (fl. 1908-15); and Major Sir Arundell Thomas Clifton Neave (1916-92), sixth Baronet.

2. Ballytrent House, Broadway, Co Wexford – one wing rental.

http://ballytrenthouse.com 

Ballytrent House, courtesy of their website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Ballytrent (1988):

p. 28. “Redmond/Hughes. A two storey Georgian house, 5 bays, projecting ends, each with a Wyatt window in both storeys. Adamesque plasterwork. Home of John Redmond MP, leader of Irish Parliamentary Party.” 

The website tells us:

Welcome to the Ballytrent website. Visitors to Wexford seeking a quiet, secluded location,could not choose a better location than Ballytrent. Ballytrent is a magnificent 18th century heritage house set in extensive grounds overlooking the sea towards Tuskar Rock Lighthouse. 

In the grounds of the house is located a Ráth or earthen mound dating back to prechristian times and, measuring 650 yards in circumference, is reputed to be the largest in Europe. The grounds also contain a large flag pole that was once the tallest mast in the British Isles. The Rath garden is a haven for songbirds & a visit, either early morning or late evening, is pure magic! 

Ballytrent is tranquil and secluded. The garden & lawns cover three acres and include some rare plants. Our farm is a mix of cattle, cereals and root crops. We extend a warm welcome to those interested in visiting the farm. We are fortunate in having the best weather in Ireland – the annual rainfall is approximately 35 inches and each year the Weather Station at Rosslare records the highest mean sunshine hours. We are indeed the Sunny South East ! 

Ballytrent House, 
Ballytrent, 
Rosslare Harbour, 
Co. Wexford, 
Ireland. 

Telephone/Fax: 053 91 31147 
Email: jepryan@eircom.net 

Situated in St Helen’s E.D., Ballytrent, with its double ringed ráth, is an 18th century  home set in extensive ground. The history of Ballytrent is a collection of works and illustrations put together after several years  of research by Mary Stratton Ryan, wife of the present owner, James Power Ryan. 

A brief look at this work could keep the most avid historian content for quite a while. It is from this book that the following list of names and facts are taken,  all having connections to Ballytrent. 

  • Aymer De Valance; Earl of Pembroke, buried in Westminster Abbey, London. 
  • Robert Fitzstephens; Ballytrent bestowed on him by Strongbow. 
  • John le Boteller (Butler); Constable of the Kings Castle at Ballytrent. 
  • John Sinnot; Listed as a Juror of the Inquisition at Wexford (c1420). 
  • Patrick Synnot; In a 1656 Curl Survey of Ireland shown as owner of 96 acres 24 perches at Ballytrent. 
  • Abraham Deane; Given Ballytrent by Cromwell. 
  • Sarah Hughes; Daughter of Abraham Deane. 
  • Walter Redmond; Purchased Ballytrent from Henry Hughes. 
  • William Archer Redmond MP; Father of John and William – both also MP’s. 
  • John Edward Redmond MP; Represented North Wexford, succeeded Parnell as leader of the Nationalist Party. 
  • William Hoey Kearney Redmond MP; MP for Wexford and Fermanagh. 
  • John H. Talbot (the younger);  Inherited Ballytrent from his sister Matilda Seagrave. 
  • William Ryan; Grandson of Sir James Power. Purchased Ballytrent from Emily Talbot (nee Considine). 
  • James Edward Power Ryan; Present owner and grandson of William Ryan. 

This clearly illustrates the influence and power that is part of the documented history of Ballytrent, without even considering the possibilities of the time when the ráth was in its prime.”

3. Bellfry at Old Boley, County Wexford

http://oldboleywexford.com

4. Berkeley Forest, New Ross, Co Wexford – B&B

http://berkeleyforesthouse.com 

5. Butlerstown Castle, Tomhaggard, Co Wexford – A ruin, coach house accommodation  

http://www.butlerstowncastle.com/  

6. Clonganny House, Wexford – accommodation 

https://clonganny.com/

The website tells us: “Clonganny House is a fine country Georgian residence originally erected for Hawtry White (1758-1837) and sympathetically restored in the late twentieth century. Retaining many original features, Clonganny is a fine example of late Georgian architecture. Set in eight acres embracing gently rolling lawns, serene woodland, and a stunning walled garden, Clonganny House is only a short drive to a beautiful, award winning coastline and miles of golden sandy beaches.

7. Dunbrody Park, Arthurstown, County Wexford – accommodation €€

WWW.DUNBRODYHOUSE.COM 

Dunbrody House, courtesy of their website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 114. “(Chichester, Templemore, B/PB; and Donegall, M/PB) A pleasant, comfortable unassuming house of ca 1860 which from its appearance might be a C20 house of vaguely Queen Anne flavour. Two storey, five bay centre, with middle bay breaking forward and three-sided single-storey central bow; two bay projecting ends. Moderately high roof on bracket cornice; windows with cambered heads and astragals. Wyatt windows in side elevation.” 

Dunbrody House, courtesy of their website.
Dunbrody House, courtesy of their website.

The National Inventory tells us:

nine-bay two-storey country house with dormer attic, extant 1819, on an E-shaped plan with two-bay two-storey advanced end bays centred on single-bay two-storey breakfront originally single-bay three-storey on a rectangular plan. “Improved”, 1909-10, producing present composition…A country house erected by Lord Spencer Stanley Chichester (1775-1819) representing an integral component of the domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one sometimes known as “Dunbrody Park” (Lacy 1863, 516) or “Harriet’s Lodge” after Lady Anne Harriet Chichester (née Stewart) (c.1770-1850), suggested by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds with Waterford Harbour as a backdrop; the near-symmetrical frontage centred on a truncated breakfront; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the decorative timber work embellishing the roofline: meanwhile, a photograph (30th August 1910) by A.H. Poole of Waterford captures recent “improvements” to the country house with those works ‘[presenting the] appearance [of] a twentieth-century house of vaguely “Queen Anne” flavour’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 114). Having been well maintained, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original or sympathetically replicated fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior where contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and sleek plasterwork refinements, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1840); a private burial ground; and distant gate lodges, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Barons Templemore including Henry “Harry” Spencer Chichester (1821-1906), second Baron Templemore ‘late of Great Cumberland-place Middlesex’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1907, 508); Arthur Henry Chichester (1854-1924), third Baron Templemore; Arthur Claud Spencer Chichester (1880-1953), fourth Baron Templemore; and Dermot Richard Claud Chichester (1916-2007), fifth Baron Templemore.

8. Fruit Hill Cottages, Fruit Hill House, Campile, New Ross, County Wexford €

https://www.fruithillcottages.com/

Set in the landscaped grounds of 18th Century Fruit Hill House, these traditional self-catering farm cottages make an ideal base for touring South-East Ireland.

9. Hyde Park House (or Tara House),Gorey, Co Wexford- accommodation 

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

The Hidden Ireland description tells us:

Designed by Sir Richard Morrison and built in 1807, the house is a listed building, featuring fine plasterwork and a magnificent cantilevered stairs. Having been lovingly restored over five years the house now boasts beautiful large comfortable bedrooms with well appointed en-suite bathrooms and immaculate bed linen and towels. Guests can relax in the drawing room and sit under the great Holm oaks.”

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 271. “(Beauman/LG1886; Kelly/LGI1958) A compact two storey villa by Richard Morrison, built ca 1807 for J.C. Beauman. Three bay front, with slightly recessed centre; single storey Doric portico, Wyatt window under relieving arch on either side. Wide-eaved roof. Very good interior plasterwork by James Talbot. Impressive domed staircase hall with oval oculus; the dome beign without pendentives, but restign directly on the cornice. Keyhole pattern in plasterwork on soffit of stairs. For some years the home of Sir David Kelly, former British Ambassador to Russia, and his wife, the writer on travel, architecture and gardens, Marie-Noele Kelly.” 

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage tells us:

Detached three-bay (three-bay deep) two-storey over basement country house, designed 1803; built 1807, on a square plan centred on (single-storey) prostyle tetrastyle Doric portico to ground floor; six-bay full-height rear (north) elevation….A country house erected to a design (1803) by Sir Richard Morrison (1767-1844) of Clonmel and Dublin representing an important component of the early nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of north County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one recalling the Morrison-designed Bearforest (1807-8) in County Cork; and Kilpeacon House (1810) in County Limerick, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas ‘commanding a fine view of the sea [and] of the escarpment of Tara Hill’ (Lewis 1837 II, 99); the compact near-square plan form centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the dramatic diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated tiered visual effect with the principal “apartments” defined by Wyatt-style tripartite glazing patterns; and the timber work embellishing a slightly oversailing roofline. 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 interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and plasterwork attributed to James Talbot (fl. 1801-18) of Dublin (DIA), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent farmyard complex; and a walled garden, all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Beauman family including John Christopher Beauman Senior (1764-1836), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1821); John Christopher Beauman Junior (1800-72); Matthew Forde Beauman (1805-72) ‘late of Hyde Park [sic] near Gorey County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1873, 32); and Jane Emily Beauman (1844-1920), ‘Landowner’ (NA 1901; NA 1911; Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1920, n.p.); and Sir David Victor Kelly GCMG MC (1891-1959), one-time British Ambassador to Argentina (fl. 1942-6) and the Soviet Union (fl. 1949-51).”

Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie: central hall on a square plan retaining tessellated flagged floor, and dentilated plasterwork cornice to coved ceiling.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie. Top-lit double-height staircase hall (north) on a rectangular plan retaining carved timber surrounds to door openings framing timber panelled doors, “Greek Key”-detailed cantilevered staircase on a dog leg plan with fluted balusters supporting carved timber banister terminating in volute.
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie
Hyde Park House, County Wexford, from myhome.ie

10. Kilmokea Country Manor & Gardens, Kilmokea, Great Island, Campile, New Ross, Co. Wexford  – accommodation, see above

11. Killiane Castle, County Wexford

Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.

https://killianecastle.com/

The website tells us: “The castle history is a remarkable tale of survival. Killiane Castle, a landmark in this cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East, has been in the Mernagh family for over one hundred years. However, its origins date back to medieval times to the Norman conquests and possibly even further to the early Irish settlers 500 years ago. 

The name ‘Killiane’ derives from ‘Cill Liadhaine’ in Gaelic, meaning the church of St Leonard which lies within the grounds of the Castle. 

Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.

Medieval Times 

Pre-dating the castle history, it is likely that there was some form of native Irish settlement here before the Normans. However, the first recorded owner of the lands was Richard de Hay in the 13th century. Richard de Hay came over with Fitzstephen in the first Norman invasion. 

The Norman tower house is approximately 50ft high and measures 39ft x 27ft externally. The walls are between 4ft and 9ft in thick.  The Normans built the tower around 1470. It is most likely one of the “£10 castles”.  King Henry VIII awarded a grant of £10 for the building of fortresses in his kingdom that became known as the “£10 castles”.  In recent years, an Australian visitor brought us a photo of the original deeds for Killiane Castle signed by King Henry VIII no less! 

Thomas Hay, a descendant of Richard, probably built the tower in the late 15th century c.1470. The present castle and surrounding walls bear testimony to the building genius of the Normans, over 500 years old and quite sound!  Built in a prominent position, the tower most likely overlooked a harbour. However, in the intervening years, reclaimed land replaced the harbour.  The surrounding lands feature a canal, slob lands and slightly further down the coast, Rosslare strand. 

Local Legend… 

Legend has it that below the ground floor underneath the stair way is a dungeon leading to a passageway to a doorway that no longer exists. 

In the early 16th century c.1520, Killiane passed to the Cheevers family by marriage. They continued to fortify the site. By 1543 one Howard Cheevers held Killiane, 2000 acres of land and the office of Mayor of Wexford. The ‘Laughing Cheevers’, as they were then known, held prominence in Wexford for another 100 years until the great rebellion. They built the house sometime in the early 17th century. 

The 17th century was a tumultuous part of the castle history. George Cheevers took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. He played a role in both the Siege of Duncannon, and the Confederation of Kilkenny. Following the Sacking of Wexford, Cromwell dispossessed him for his part in these rebellions. Georges son, Didicus, was a blind Franciscan monk. Infamously, several clergy were murdered in Wexford town’s Bullring at this time. Didicus was one of them. Sent to Connaught by Cromwell, the Cheevers family left Killiane. Just a few remained as tenants. The last of the them, an old man, who died in 1849. 

Nearby stands the ruins of the small medieval church of Saint Helen which was in ruins by 1835. Enclosed by a wall is the adjoining cemetery. It is reputed to be the burial place of the Cheevers family. 

Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.
Killiane Castle, courtesy of their website.

Cromwell’s Rule 

In 1656 the property, along with 1500 acres, was granted to one of Cromwell’s soldiers, a Colonel Bunbury.  He sold it on to his friends, the Harveys of Lyme Regis. The first of these, Francis Harvey, became MP for Clonmines and Mayor of Wexford, positions his son John also held.  A famous beauty known as the Rose of Killiane, a daughter of the Harveys, married the Dean of Dublin in 1809. 

Victorian Times 

As time went by, the Harveys increasingly became absentee landlords. They leased the land to their tenants. Both the condition of the castle and the size of the estate materially diminished during this dark time in the castle hsitory. 

Throughout the 19th century there are references to tenants ‘Aylward’, ‘Elard’ and ‘Ellard’, possibly all the one family. By this time, the Harveys overwintered in their townhouse in Wexford at 38 Selskar Street. The family considered Killiane Castle too damp to stay at in winter. 

In 1908 Crown Solicitor, Kennan Cooper, bought the property for £1515. Cooper, a renowned character, kept racehorses and the 1911 census shows Killiane occupied by his tenant, George Grant and family. The census records Grant’s occupation as a ‘Horse trainer/jockey’. 

In 1920 John Mernagh, father of Jack the present owner, bought Killiane with 230 acres for £2000. At that time there was no roof on the tower-house. Ivy covered it. John re-roofed it and used it to store grain and potatoes.  Today the castle is home to Jack & Kathleen Mernagh who run the property along with their son Paul & his wife Patrycja and their family. 

The Structure of the Building  

Original Norman Features  

The castle still contains one original window that dates from the 15th century.  The original window is an ogee style window featuring two lights. Over the years, incumbents replaced the other windows. The main entrance to the castle was originally on the east side. It provided an adjoining door to the house at one time. The original door is bricked-up. On the south side of the tower a new door has been opened. 

Murder Holes! 

Looking at the front of the castle. There are murder holes over each of the doors on the ground floor. Perfectly located to pour hot tar over any unwelcome visitors!  This practice, we assure you, is not in place today! 

The third floor contains a fine granite fireplace. Small smooth stones from the beach line the chimney rising on the outer wall. Also in evidence on this floor, is a cupboard recess. 

Corrugated iron replaced the original slate roof. The parapet consists of large sloping slabs. The battlements are of the steeply stepped type. There is a square turret on each corner. On the outside of the southern turret is a carved head. 

The large bawn has a round tower on the south east corner and a square tower on the south west corner, castle occupying the north west corner. The north east tower has been removed. In order to accommodate the facade of the house, the northern apron wall was taken down. 

Original 17th Century House 

The original 17th century house consisted of two storeys with a garret on top. The incumbents raised the roof at a date unknown to us.  This action incorporated the original dormer windows of the garrets,

converting it into a third storey. Furthermore, they also reduced the great slant on the original 17th-century roof. 

The staircase of the house is of a simple very wide design, typical of the 17th century. 

12. Marlfield, Gorey, Co Wexford – accommodation 

WWW.MARLFIELDHOUSE.COM 

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

The website tells us:

Marlfield House is renowned for its hospitality and service, welcoming guests for over 40 years, and is recognised as one of the most luxurious boutique hotels in Wexford, Ireland with the focus on environmentally sustainable practices. All rooms and suites at Marlfield House luxury hotel in County Wexford, Ireland are styled to provide you with elegant, comfortable interiors, furnished with antiques and paintings. Set in 36 acres of woodland, ornamental lake, rose, vegetable and herb gardens, it is a haven of tranquillity, with peacocks, hens, dogs and ponies waiting to greet you on your garden walk.

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

The house is set in 40 acres of manicured gardens, encompassing a large kitchen garden, woodland walks, lake and fowl reserve, lawns and herbaceous borders. The interior bears all the signs of a much loved house filled with fresh flowers, gleaming antiques and mirrors, blazing fires and period paintings.

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Marlfield (1988):

Supplement 

P. 299. (Stopford, Courtown, E/PB) “A three storey Regency house of random stone with brick facings; four bay front with two bay breakfront centre, eaved roof on bracket cornice, massive chimneystacks. Originally the dower house of the [Stopford] Earls of Courtown, it eventually replaced Courtown House as their Irish seat. Sold in 1979 to Mary Bowe, who has opened it as an hotel. As an extension to the dining room, a veranda and an elegant curvilinear conservatory were added to the front of the house 1983; the architects of this addition being Messrs Cochrane, Flynn-Rogers and Williams.” 

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

The National Inventory tells us it is a four-bay (two-bay deep) three-storey land agent’s house, built 1852, on a T-shaped plan; four-bay three-storey rear (south) elevation centred on two-bay full-height breakfront. Occupied, 1901; 1911. In occasional use, 1916-75. Vacated, 1975. Sold, 1977. Modified, 1989, producing present composition to accommodate continued alternative use… “A land agent’s house erected by James Thomas Stopford (1794-1858), fourth Earl of Courtown (Walsh 1996, 68), representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of the outskirts of Gorey with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding an adjacent house occupied by Reverend James Bentley Gordon (1750-1819), author of “History of the Rebellion in Ireland in the Year 1798” (1803), confirmed by such attributes as the compact plan form centred on a much-modified doorcase; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by vibrant red brick dressings producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the monolithic timber work embellishing the roofline. 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 interior, including some crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and the decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, adjacent outbuildings (extant 1904); a walled garden (extant 1904); and a nearby gate lodge (see 15700718), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of a self-contained estate having historic connections with Colonel Robert Owen (1784-1867) and Charlotte Owen (1796-1853) ‘late of Marlfield County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1870, 447); and the Stopford family following the sale (1947) and demolition (1948-9) of Courtown House (see 15701216) including James Walter Milles Stopford (1853-1933), sixth Earl of Courtown; Major James Richard Neville Stopford DL OBE (1877-1957), seventh Earl of Courtown; and Brevet Colonel James Montagu Burgoyne Stopford OBE (1908-75), eighth Earl of Courtown.

Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.
Marlfield House, photograph courtesy of the website.

13. Monart, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford – 5* hotel 

https://www.monart.ie/

Monart Spa Wexford Annica Jansson 2016, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

Nestled in over 100 acres of lush countryside in County Wexford, Monart offers two types of accommodation, 68 deluxe bedrooms with lake or woodland views and two luxurious suites located in the 18th century Monart House.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 208. “Cookman/IFR) A three storey mid-C18 house of sandstone and limestone dressings Five bay front with breakfront centre; Venetian windows in centre of middle storey, with Diocletian windows over it; modified Gibbsian doorcase. Later additions.”

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Edward Cookman JP (d. 1774), one-time High Sheriff of County Wexford (fl. 1763), representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, ‘a handsome mansion pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence above the Urrin [River] in a highly improved and richly wooded demesne’ (Lewis 1837 II, 385), confirmed by such attributes as the neo-Palladian plan form centred on a Classically-detailed breakfront; the construction in an ochre-coloured fieldstone offset by silver-grey granite dressings not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also producing a mild polychromatic palette; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. Having been sympathetically restored following a prolonged period of unoccupancy in the later twentieth century, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior, including crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; Classical-style chimneypieces; and “bas-relief” plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of a country house having historic connections with the Cookman family including Nathaniel Cookman (—-); Edward Rogers Cookman JP (1788-1865) ‘late of Monart House in the County of Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1865, 70); Nathaniel Narcissus Cookman JP DL (1827-1908), ‘Country Gentleman late of Monart House Enniscorthy County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1908, 96; cf. 15701922); and Captain Nathaniel Edward Rogers Cookman JP DL (1894-1983); and a succession of tenants including Lowry Cliffe Tottenham (1858-1937), ‘Gentleman [and] District Inspector of Royal Irish Constabulary’ (NA 1911).” 

14. Rathaspeck Manor “doll’s house” gate lodge, County Wexford and the Manor B&B

https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/18288598?source_impression_id=p3_1646906004_9dSSY0tDTw%2FmQ8TE

The delightful Rathaspeck gate lodge, County Wexford, available for accommodatino on airbnb.

and Manor https://www.rathaspeckmanor.ie

The website tells us:

Rathaspeck Manor Georgian House Wexford was built between 1680-1720 by the Codd Family who came to Ireland circa 1169. William Codd’s son Sir Osborne Codd settled at Rathaspeck and erected a castle there in 1351. 

A descendant Loftus Codd was succeeded by daughters, one of whom, Jane Codd, married Thomas Richards. The Richards Family came to Ireland in 1570 approx. It was this marriage which placed Rathaspeck in the Richards Family. 

Jane and Thomas had 6 sons and 2 daughters. The eldest son Thomas, born 1722 had a Family of two daughters, the oldest Martha married Count Willimsdorf from the Kingdom of Hannover in 1802. This couple had one son , Thomas William Fredrick Von Preberton Willimsdorf who died in 1834 unmarried. There were also three daughters, one of whom Elizabeth , born in 1778 , died in 1863 in Holland. 

Elizabeth married Count Von Leinburg Slirrin on April 15th 1802 and they proceeded to have a Family of ten children born between 1803 and 1820 . It is believed that sometime after this the family moved to Holland. Rathaspeck was in the hands of an English Family called Moody after this until the early 1900’s. The Moody built the present gate lodge – or “Doll’s House” in 1900. 

The Meyler Family came to Rathaspeck in 1911 when it was offered for sale and it was from the Meyler Family that the Manor passed to the Cuddihy Family. 

The site of the original Castle is unknown, but it is considered that the present Rathaspeck Manor Georgian Country Home, Ireland is built on the site. 

“Rath” means Fort , so the name of Rathaspeck stems from the Gaelic Ratheasbuig , meaning “Fort of the Bishop”. 

15. Riverbank House Hotel, The Bridge, Wexford, Ireland Y35 AH33

https://www.riverbankhousehotel.com

16. Rosegarland House, Wellingtonbridge, County Wexford – courtyard accommodation

https://rosegarlandestate.ie/

Rosegarland Estate offers visitors a unique opportunity to stay on an extremely old and unspoilt country estate. It allows you to step back in time when you walk along the avenues, woodland paths and old bridle paths which pass through the ancient woodlands and beside the River Corach.

Relax and unwind in one of our luxury self-catering cottages in Rosegarland Estate. Our four cottages are registered with Failte Ireland (the Irish Tourist Board) and have been awarded a 4 star rating.  Old world charm has been combined with modern day luxury in the cottages which are set in a picturesque courtyard. A welcome basket of home baked goodies will greet you when you arrive.

All the cottages have complimentary WiFi and satellite television channels which can be enjoyed in front of a Waterford Stanley wood burning stove.

Photograph from Mark Bence-Jones (1988).
Rosegarland Estate, courtesy of website.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988):

p. 245. “(Synnott/IFR; Leigh/IFR) An early C18 house of two storeys over a high basement was built by Leigh family, close to an old tower house of the Synnotts, the original owners of the estate. Later in C18, a larger two storey gable-ended range was added at right angles to the earlier building, giving the house a new seven bay front, with a very elegant columned and fanlighted doorway, in which the delicately leaded fanlight extends over the door and the sidelights. There is resemblance between this doorway and that of William Morris’s town house in Waterford (now the Chamber of Commerce) which is attributed to the Waterford architect, John  Roberts; the fact is that it is also possible to see a resemblance between the gracefully curving and cantilevered top-lit staircase at Rosegarland – which is separated from the entrance hall by a doorway with an internal fanlight – and the staircase of the Morris house, would suggest that the newer range at Rosegarland and the Morris house are by the same architect. At the back of the house, the two ranges form a corner of a large and impressive office courtyard, one side of which has a pediment and a Venetian window. In another corner of the courtyard stands the old Synnott tower house, which, in C19, was decorated with little battlemented turrets and a tall and slender turret like a folly tower, with battlements and rectangular and pointed openings; this fantasy rises above the front of the house. The early C18 range contains a contemporary stair of good joinery, with panelling curved to reflect the curve of the handrail. The drawing room, in the later range, has a cornice of early C19 plasterowrk and an elaborately carved chimneypiece of white marble. The dining room, also in this range, was redecorated ca 1874, and given a timber ceiling and a carved oak chimneypiece.” 

Rosegarland House, courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

The National Inventory tells us:

A country house erected by Robert Leigh MP (1729-1803) representing an important component of the eighteenth-century domestic built heritage of south County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one attributable with near certainty to John Roberts (1712-96) of Waterford, confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on scenic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds and the meandering Corock River; the symmetrical footprint centred on a Classically-detailed doorcase not only demonstrating good quality workmanship, but also showing a pretty fanlight; and the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression. A prolonged period of unoccupancy notwithstanding, the elementary form and massing survive intact together with substantial quantities of the original fabric, both to the exterior and to the interior including not only crown or cylinder glazing panels in hornless sash frames, but also a partial slate hung surface finish widely regarded as an increasingly endangered hallmark of the architectural heritage of County Wexford: meanwhile, contemporary joinery; ‘elaborately carved chimneypieces of white marble’ (Bence-Jones 1978, 246); plasterwork enrichments; and a top-lit staircase recalling the Roberts-designed Morris House [Chamber of Commerce] in neighbouring Waterford (Craig and Garner 1975, 68), all highlight the considerable artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, an adjacent stable complex (see 15704041); a walled garden (see 15704042); a nearby farmyard complex (extant 1902; coordinates 685132,615236); and a distant gate lodge (extant 1840; coordinates 685381,616928), all continue to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having long-standing connections with the Leigh family including Francis Robert Leigh MP (1758-1839); Francis Augustine Leigh (1822-1900), ‘late of Rosegarland County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1900, 277); Francis Robert Leigh DL (1853-1916), ‘late of Rosegarland Wellington Bridge County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administrations 1916, 371); Francis Edward Leigh (1907-2003); and Robert Edward Francis Leigh (1937-2005).

17. Wells House, County Wexfordself-catering cottage accommodation, see above

https://wellshouse.ie/self-catering-accommodation-wexford 

18. Wilton Castle, Bree, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Sean Windsor
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
Tel: 053-9247738
www.wiltoncastleireland.com
Open: all year

See my write-up: www.irishhistorichouses.com/2022/02/04/wilton-castle-bree-enniscorthy-co-wexford-and-a-trip-to-johnstown-castle/

19. Woodbrook House, Killanne, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford – section 482

contact: Giles Fitzherbert
(Tourist Accommodation Facility)
053-9255114
www.woodbrookhouse.ie
Open April 1-October 31

Woodbrook House, photograph courtesy of Historic Houses of Ireland website.

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

Nestling beneath the Backstairs Mountains near Enniscorthy in County Wexford, Woodbrook, which was first built in the 1770s, was occupied by a group of local rebels during the 1798 rebellion. Allegedly the leader was John Kelly, the ‘giant with the gold curling hair’ in the well known song ‘The Boy from Killanne’. It is said that Kelly made a will leaving Woodbrook to his sons but he was hanged on Wexford bridge, along with many others after the rebels defeat at Vinegar Hill. He was later given an imposing monument in nearby Killanne cemetery. 

Arthur Jacob, who originally came from Enniscorthy and became Archdeacon of Armagh, built Woodbrook for his daughter Susan, who had married Captain William Blacker, a younger son of the family at Carrigblacker near Portadown. The house was badly knocked about by the rebels and substantially rebuilt in about 1820 as a regular three storey Regency pile with overhanging eaves, a correct Ionic porch surmounted by a balcony and three bays of unusually large Wyatt windows on each floor of the facade.

Woodbrook House, photograph courtesy of Woodbrook website.

The drawing room is exceptionally large, with a fine chimneypiece thought to have come from the original house, while the amazing ‘flying’ staircase stands in the centre of a square double-height hall without touching the walls at any point. Each timber tread must have been individually fashioned by an especially skilled craftsman, and the staircase is knitted together by iron balusters which connect the treads. A remarkable tour de force of the joiner’s art, its closest parallel is the staircase at Chevening in Kent. 

The Woodbrook branch of the family inherited Carrickblacker, an important late-seventeenth century house outside Portadown, when the senior line died out in the 1850s and produced a stolid series of soldiers, sailors and clerics. A racier era began in Edwardian times when Woodbrook was home to a younger son, Edward Carew Blacker, a sporting bachelor whose weekly visits to London were necessitated by his close involvement in running the book at his club, Whites.

Edward usually found time to visit his mistress in Brighton before heading home to County Wexford but her presence was quite unsuspected until shortly after his death when his nephew’s family received a heavy parcel in the morning post. The package proved to contain the family jewels, presented piece by piece to his lady friend throughout their long association. She had always realised that they were not his to give away but felt unable to return them during his lifetime for fear of appearing ungrateful and causing him hurt. 

Woodbrook House, photograph courtesy of Woodbrook website.

Woodbrook lay empty for some years after E. C. Blacker’s death in 1932. The house was occupied by the Irish army during the Second World War and was then extensively modernised when his nephew Robert moved back to County Wexford with his wife and family after the sale of Carrickblacker in the 1950s. Eventually sold in the mid 1990s, Woodbrook and the remains of a once substantial estate was bought by Giles and Alexandra FitzHerbert in 1998. They continue to live in the house with their family today.https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Woodbrook

20. Woodlands Country House, Killinierin, County Wexford B&B

https://www.woodlandscountryhouse.com

Relax in comfortable old world charm in the heart of the Wexford Countryside at Woodlands Country House, a magnificently well preserved Georgian House with beautiful antiques. It is a charming and intimate place to relax, where fine food and furnishings are matched by warm and impeccable service that says you are special.

Woodlands Country House Bed & Breakfast is ideally situated near the market town of Gorey and the picturesque seaside resort of Courtown Harbour on the Wexford/Wicklow border in South East Ireland. The Country House B&B is only 1 hour from Dublin off the M11 making it an ideal location for touring the South East of Ireland.

21. Woodville House, New Ross, Co Wexford – 482, see above

Whole House rental County Wexford:

1. Ballinkeele, whole house rental (sleeps up to 19 people)

www.ballinkeele.ie

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.
Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The website says:

Make yourselves comfortable in your grand home from home. This Irish country house was built to entertain and is perfect for gathering family & friends together for a holiday, a special birthday or anniversary. With 7 bedrooms and dining table for 19 guests – there’s space for everyone. You’ll be the hero for booking Ballinkeele!


Built in the 1840s by your host’s family, it’s a the perfect blend of modern and antique with a bespoke modern kitchen, WiFi and (Joy of Joys!) a modern heating system!”

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The Historic Houses of Ireland website tells us:

In the first quarter of the 19th century the Maher family, who were famous for their hunting and racing exploits in County Tipperary, moved to County Wexford. They purchased Ballinkeele, near Enniscorthy, from the Hay family, one of whose members had been hanged for rebellion on Wexford bridge in 1798. John Maher, MP for County Wexford, began work on a new house in 1840 and Ballinkeele is one of Daniel Robertson’s few houses in the classical taste. The other was Lord Carew’s magnificent Castleboro, on the opposite side of the River Slaney, sadly burnt by the IRA in 1922 and now a spectacular ruin.   

The house is comprised of a ground floor and a single upper storey, with a long, slightly lower, service wing to one side in lieu of a basement. The facades are rendered with cut-granite decoration, including a grandiose central porch, supported by six Tuscan columns and surmounted by an elaborate balustrade, which projects to form a porte cochère.

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The garden front has a central breakfront with a shallow bow, flanked by wide piers of rusticated granite. These are repeated at each corner as coigns.

The interior is classical, with baroque overtones, and is largely unaltered with most of its original contents. The hall runs from left to right and is consequently lit from one side, with a screen of scagliola Corinthian columns at one end and an elaborate cast-iron stove at the other.

The library and drawing room both have splendid chimneypieces of inlaid marble in the manner of Pietro Bossi, while the fine suite of interconnecting rooms on the garden front open onto a raised terrace.  

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

The staircase hall has a spectacularly cantilevered stone staircase, with decorative metal balusters. As it approaches the ground floor the swooping mahogany handrail wraps itself around a Tuscan column supporting a bronze statue of Mercury, in a style that anticipates Art Nouveau by more than forty years.

Outside, two avenues approach the house, one which provides a glimpse of a ruined keep reflected in an artificial lake, while both entrances were built to Robertson’s designs.

The present owners are Valentine and Laura Maher who live at Ballinkeele with their children.” [ https://www.ihh.ie/index.cfm/houses/house/name/Ballinkeele ]

Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.
Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.
Ballinkeele House, photograph courtesy of website.

2. Horetown House, County Wexford (wedding venue, up to 24 people in house, plus shepherd’s huts)

https://www.horetownhouse.ie/

The website tells us:

Horetown House, photograph courtesy of website.

Horetown House is a private country house wedding venue in County Wexford in the South-East corner of Ireland. Situated among rolling hills in the heart of rural Wexford, Horetown House is the perfect venue for a stylish, laid back wedding. Our charming country house is yours exclusively for the duration of your stay with us.

Family owned and run, we can take care of everything from delicious food, bedrooms and Shepherds huts, to a fully licensed pub in the cellar. Horetown House is perfect for couples looking for something a little bit different, your very own country house to create your dream wedding.

Mark Bence-Jones writes (1988): p. 155. “(Davis-Goff, Bt/PB) A three storey Georgian house. Front with two bays on either side of a recessed centre. Triple windows in centre and pillared portico joining the two projections.” 

The National Inventory tells us it is:

A country house erected to designs signed (1843) by Martin Day (d. 1861) of Gallagh (DIA; NLI) representing an important component of the mid nineteenth-century domestic built heritage of County Wexford with the architectural value of the composition, one succeeding a seventeenth-century house (1693) annotated as “Hoarstown [of] Goff Esquire” by Taylor and Skinner (1778 pl. 149), confirmed by such attributes as the deliberate alignment maximising on panoramic vistas overlooking gently rolling grounds; the symmetrical frontage centred on a pillared portico demonstrating good quality workmanship in a silver-grey granite; the diminishing in scale of the openings on each floor producing a graduated visual impression; and the parapeted roofline. 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 interior where contemporary joinery; restrained chimneypieces; and decorative plasterwork enrichments, all highlight the artistic potential of the composition. Furthermore, a nearby quadrangle erected (1846) by ‘S.D. Goff Esq Architect [and] Johnson Builder’ continues to contribute positively to the group and setting values of an estate having historic connections with the Goff family including Strangman Davis Goff (né Davis) (1810-83) ‘late of Horetown House County Wexford’ (Calendars of Wills and Administration 1883, 318); and Sir William Goff Davis Goff (1838-1918) of Glenville, County Waterford; a succession of tenants including Joseph Russell Morris (NA 1901) and Edward Naim Townsend (NA 1911); and Major Michael Lawrence Lakin DSO (1881-1960) and Kathleen Lakin (née FitzGerald) (1892-30) of Johnstown Castle.”

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

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

[3] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15603115/enniscorthy-castle-castle-hill-enniscorthy-enniscorthy-wexford

[4] https://www.archiseek.com/2014/johnstown-castle-county-wexford/

[5] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15704226/johnstown-castle-johnstown-fo-by-wexford

Places to visit and stay in County Westmeath, Leinster

On the map above:

blue: places to visit that are not section 482

purple: section 482 properties

red: accommodation

yellow: less expensive accommodation for two

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

green: gardens to visit

grey: ruins

Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow are the counties that make up the Leinster region.

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

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

€ = up to approximately €150 per night for two people sharing (in yellow on map);

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

€€€ – over €250 per night for two.

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

Places to visit in County Westmeath:

1. Athlone Castle, County Westmeath

2. Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, County Westmeath

3. Lough Park House, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

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

5. Tullynally Castle & Gardens, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

6. Turbotstown, Coole, Co. Westmeath

7. Tyrrelspass Castle, County Westmeathrestaurant and gift shop 

Places to stay, County Westmeath: 

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

2. Lough Bawn House, Colllinstown, County Westmeath €€

3. Lough Bishop House, Collinstown, County Westmeath

4. Mornington House, County Westmeath €€

Whole House Rental/wedding venue, County Westmeath:

1. Bishopstown House, Rosemount, County Westmeath – whole house rental (sleeps up to 18 people)

2.  Middleton Park, Mullingar, County Westmeath – whole house rental and weddings

Places to visit in County Westmeath:

1. Athlone Castle, County Westmeath

http://www.athlonecastle.ie/ 

Cruising by Athlone Castle, Co Westmeath Courtesy Fennell Photography 2015, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

The website tells us: “Trace the footprints of the generations who shaped this place. From early settlements and warring chieftains to foreign invaders and local heroes. This site on the River Shannon is the centre of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Over the centuries it has been the nucleus of the Anglo-Norman settlement; a stronghold of the rival local families the Dillons and the O’Kelly’s; the seat of the Court of Claims; the residence of the President of Connaught and the Jacobite stronghold during the sieges of Athlone.  After the Siege of Athlone it became incorporated into the new military barrack complex.  It remained a stronghold of the garrison for almost three hundred years.

In 1922 when the Free State troops took over the Barracks from their British counterparts, they proudly flew the tricolour from a temporary flagpole much to the delight of the majority of townspeople.

In 1967 the Old Athlone Society established a museum in the castle with a range of exhibits relating to Athlone and its environs and also to folk-life in the district.  Two years later when the military left the castle it was handed over to the Office of Public Works and the central keep became a National Monument.

In 1991 to mark the Tercentenary of the Siege of Athlone the castle became the foremost visitor attraction in Athlone.  Athlone Town Council (then Athlone UDC) made a major investment in the castle creating a multi-faceted Visitor Centre as it approached its 800th Anniversary in 2010. A total of €4.3million euro was invested in the new facility by Fáilte Ireland and Athlone Town Council and was officially opened by the then Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring T.D. on Tuesday 26th February 2012.

Athlone Castle Visitor Centre is now a modern, engaging, fun and unique family attraction which harnesses most significant architectural features, such as the keep, to act as a dramatic backdrop to its diverse and fascinating story.

It houses eight individual exhibition spaces, each depicting a different aspect of life in Athlone, the Castle and the periods both before and after the famous Siege. Fun, hands-on interactives, touchable objects and educational narratives immerse visitors in the drama, tragedy and spectacle of Athlone’s diverse and fascinating story. 3D maps, audio-visual installations, illustrations and artefacts bring the stories and characters of Athlone to life and The Great Siege of Athlone is dramatically recreated in a 360-degree cinematic experience in the Keep of the castle.

As part of Westmeath County Council’s commemoration of Ireland’s world-renowned tenor, John Count McCormack, a new exhibition dedicated to the celebrated singer was opened at Athlone Castle in October 2014.

Athlone Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath_Courtesy Ros Kavanagh 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

Archiseek tells us about Athlone Castle: “Towards the end of the 12th century the Anglo-Normans constructed a motte-and-bailey fortification here. This was superceeded by a stone structure built in 1210, on the orders of King John of England. The Castle was built by John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich. The 12-sided donjon dates from this time. The rest of the castle was largely destroyed during the Siege of Athlone and subsequently rebuilt and enlarged upon. In the early 1800s, during the Napoleonic Wars, the castle was rebuilt as a fortification to protect the river crossing, taking the form we largely see today. The machicolations of the central keep are all nineteenth century. In the interior is an early nineteenth century two-storey barrack building. The modern ramp up to the castle has a line of pistol loops. The castle was taken over by the Irish Army in 1922 and continued as a military installation until it was transferred to the Office of Public Works in 1970.” [8]

Athlone Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath_Courtesy Ros Kavanagh 2014, for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.
Athlone Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath_Courtesy Sonder Visuals 2021 for Tourism Ireland, Ireland’s Content Pool.

2. Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, County Westmeath

Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021.

Mark Bence-Jones writes of Belvedere in his 1988 book:

p. 39. “(Rochfort, sub Belvedere, E/DEP Rochfort/LGI1912; Marlay/LGI1912; Howard-Bury, sub Suffolk and Berkshire, E/PB; and Bury/IFR) An exquisite villa of ca 1740 by Richard Castle, on the shores of Lough Ennell; built for Robert Rochfort, Lord Bellfield, afterwards 1st Earl of Belvedere, whose seat was at Gaulston, ca 5 miles away. Of two storeys over basement, with a long front and curved end bows – it may well be the earliest bow-ended house in Ireland – but little more than one room deep.”

Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021.
Robert Rochfort (1708-1774) 1st Earl of Belvedere.

Bence-Jones continues: “The front has a three bay recessed centre between projecting end bays, each of which originally had a Venetian window below a Diocletian window. Rusticated doorcase and rusticated window surrounds on either side of it; high roof parapet. The house contains only a few rooms, but they are of fine proportions and those on the ground floor have rococo plasterwork ceilings of the greatest delicacy and gaiety, with cherubs and other figures emerging from clouds, by the same artist as the ceilings formerly are Mespil House, Dublin, one of which is now in Aras.

Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021: “The house contains only a few rooms, but they are of fine proportions and those on the ground floor have rococo plasterwork ceilings of the greatest delicacy and gaiety, with cherubs and other figures emerging from clouds, by the same artist as the ceilings formerly are Mespil House, Dublin, one of which is now in Aras.
Hallway, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
Belvedere, County Westmeath, August 2021.
The portrait is of Charles Howard-Bury, who was one of the owners of Belvedere.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath. The Dining Room occupies one end bow of the house, and has a Venetian window overlooking Lough Ennell.

In Belvedere, dining was an opportunity to impress guests not only by the room bu tby the sumptuous meals, presented by immaculately dressed servants. The rococo ceiling of puffing cherubs and fruits and foliage is attributed to Barthelemji Cramillion, a French stuccodore.

The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath: The rococo ceiling of puffing cherubs and fruits and foliage is attributed to Barthelemji Cramillion, a French stuccodore.
The Dining Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.

Bence-Jones continues: “The staircase, wood and partly curving, is in proportion to the back of the house.

The Venetian window that lights the stairs, on the back facade of the house. The wooden porch below is an entrance into the basement of the house.
Drawing Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath. The drawing room occupies one of the bows of the house, and has a Venetian window overlooking the terrace and Lough Ennell.

Information boards tells us that the Drawing Room was the place for afternoon tea, after-dinner drinks, music and conversation. Belvedere’s last owners, Charles Howard-Bury and Rex Beaumont would have passed many happy hours relaxing and reminiscing about their wartime experiences and travels across the world, as well as planning trips to Tunisia and Jamaica.

Ceiling of the Drawing Room, Belvedere, County Westmeath.
The kitchen is in the vaulted basement of Belvedere and has an interesting ghostly display of servants.

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

“The Jealous Wall,” Belvedere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Howard-Bury brought a bear back from Kazakhstan!

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

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

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

3. Lough Park House, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

Lough Park House, photograph courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

Fee: adult €4

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

St. John’s Church, photograph courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

5. Tullynally Castle & Gardens, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath

Tullynally, County Westmeath, August 2021.

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

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

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

6. Turbotstown, Coole, Co. Westmeath

Turbotstown, photograph courtesy of National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

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

and see Robert O’Byrne’s entry about Turbotstown, https://theirishaesthete.com/2015/10/19/a-fitting-tribute-to-the-past/

7. Tyrrelspass Castle, Co Westmeathrestaurant and gift shop

https://www.facebook.com/tyrrellspasscastle/ 

Places to stay, County Westmeath: 

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

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

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

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

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

http://loughbawnhouse.com

Photograph courtesy of Lough Bawn House website.

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Lough Bawn House website.
Photograph courtesy of Lough Bawn House website.

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

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

3. Lough Bishop House, Collinstown, County Westmeath

https://loughbishophouse.com/

The website tells us:

Built in the early 19th Century, Lough Bishop is a charming Country House nestling peacefully into a south-facing slope overlooking Bishop’s Lough in County Westmeath, Ireland.

Breathtaking scenery in an unspoilt and tranquil setting, amid the rolling farmlands and lakes of Westmeath make Lough Bishop an ideal refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life. There are family dogs in the background and animals play a large part of life at Lough Bishop House.

Lough Bishop House is a family run business offering Country House Bed & Breakfast accommodation in a wonderful location in the middle of a working organic farm. We even have a purpose built trailer towed behind the quad bike to give guests a tour of the farm and the opportunity to get up close to the animals.

Following extensive renovation this attractive Georgian Country Farmhouse offers its guests luxurious bed and breakfast accommodations, peaceful surroundings and fine home cooked food much of which comes from our own farm, garden and orchard.

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

Mornington House, photograph courtesy of their website.

https://mornington.ie

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

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

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

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

The National Inventory tells us:

A well-detailed middle-sized country house, on complex plan, which retains its early aspect, form and much of its important early fabric. The ascending breakfronts to the entrance front of this structure adds to the overall form and its architectural impact. The facade, incorporating extensive moulded detailing and a very fine doorcase, is both visually and architecturally impressive and displays a high level of workmanship. The present entrance front (east) is built to the front of an earlier house, the form of which suggests that it might be quite early, perhaps early eighteenth-century in date. The 1896 entrance front was built to designs by W.H. Byrne (1844-1917), a noted architect of his day, best remembered for his numerous church designs. Apparently, Mornington is one of only two domestic commissions that can be attributed to this noteworthy architect, adding extra significance to this structure. The building was completed by 1898 at a cost of £2,400. Mornington House was in the ownership of the Daly Family in the early eighteenth-century and has been in the ownership of the O’Hara Family since 1858. It forms the centrepiece of an interesting, multi-period, complex with the outbuildings, the walled gardens and the fine entrance gates to the south. It represents an important element to the architectural heritage of Westmeath and occupies attractive nature grounds to the east of Multyfarnham.” [9]

Whole House accommodation, County Westmeath:

1. Bishopstown House, Rosemount, Westmeath (sleeps up to 18 people)

https://www.bishopstownhouse.ie

Photograph courtesy of Bishopstown House website.

The website tells us of the history:

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

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

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

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

2.  Middleton Park, Mullingar, County Westmeath – wedding venue and accommodation 

Photograph courtesy of Middleton Park House website.

https://www.middletonparkhouse.com

http://mph.ie

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

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

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

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Middleton Park House website.

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

Photograph courtesy of Middleton Park House website.

The National Inventory tells us:

A very fine and distinguished large-scale mid-nineteenth country house, which retains its early form, character and fabric This well-proportioned house is built in an Italianate style and is elevated by the fine ashlar limestone detailing, including a well-executed Greek Ionic porch/portico and a pronounced eaves cornice. This house was (re)built for George Augustus Boyd [1817-1887] in 1850 to designs by George Papworth (1781-1855) and replaced an earlier smaller-scale house on site, the property of a J. Middleton Berry, Esq., in 1837 (Lewis). The style of this house is quite old fashioned for its construction date and has the appearance of an early-nineteenth/late-Georgian country house. The form of this elegant house is very similar to Francis Johnston’s masterpiece Ballynagall (15401212), located to the north of Mullingar and now sadly in ruins. This house remained in the Boyd-Rochfort family until 1958 and was famously offered as a prize in a raffle in 1986 by its then owner, Barney Curly. This house forms the centerpiece of an important collection of related structures along with the elegant conservatory by Richard Turner (15318024), the service wing to the north (15318020), the stable block to the north (15318022) and the main gates (15318017) and the gate lodge (15318018) to the west. This building is an important element of the built heritage of Westmeath and adds historic and architectural incident to the landscape to the south of Castletown Geoghegan.” [10]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15400709/mornington-house-monintown-co-westmeath

[10] https://www.buildingsofireland.ie/buildings-search/building/15318019/middleton-park-house-castletown-geoghegan-co-westmeath